Tag: PBS

Webcomics worth a watchful eye

Webcomics worth a watchful eye

Oh boy, this is a topic I’ve wanted to dive into for some time!

I consume a lot of media. Movies. Books. Video games. Podcasts. YouTube videos.

But also webcomics, which is a subject I haven’t had too many occasions to touch on despite it being one of my favorites.

The closest I’ve gotten was briefly mentioning my time with Homestuck the day it ended.

That particular comic was a different experience, however. My time with it was more concentrated to high school where updates were exciting events. It was much more of a social, community-driven interest for me.

I spent a good amount of time reading fan theories on Tumblr (recently in the news) and fan fictions on Wattpad (which I was surprised to find out still exists).

I went as Dave Strider to Anime Expo one year.

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Had to dig through the dark bowels of my early Facebook posts to find this…

I even started planning out this big Dungeons and Dragons-esque fan roleplay with my friend Sam.

Found the planning sheet for that when I was cleaning out my old Mac, and I think her reaction to it says everything:

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All that doesn’t take away from how excellent the webcomic itself was. Even before it was finished, there were some great think pieces about it — my favorite being from PBS Idea Channel.

Finding out that video is almost seven years old hurt my soul… So let’s move into contemporary subjects.

More of the webcomics I read today are quiet, personal experiences. Super fun and often passionate projects from individual creators and small teams that haven’t reached the scope of something like Homestuck.

The most recent of which, Kid Midnight, being my spark to finally talk about them.

It all started yesterday when I was catching up on a few episodes of the podcast Still Untitled (most notably starring Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame). The usual suspects were discussing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Ben Acker, who plugged his recent venture with the artist Natalie Nourigat.

His pitch was that the comic is an autobiographical story being drawn by a facsimile of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, as he tries to decide whether he’ll be a superhero or go to art school.

That was enough to sell me, but after reading through the seven current ‘episodes,’ I feel it sells the project short.

Kid Midnight is all about that sidekick dealing with not just career goals, but also the other trappings of adolescence. Love one is too scared to admit, popularity, imposter syndrome…

All guised in an incredibly charming, funny and beautiful comic.

Just go read it. I promise it’s worth the time, and you can bang out what’s there in a half hour tops. When I write this, anyway.

Next on my docket of favorite webcomics to suggest is Erma, by Brandon Santiago.

The elevator pitch for this comic is simple: Imagine if the monster from The Ring was actually a lovely, sociable woman who married a human that writes horror novels.

The comic centers around their young daughter — Erma — as she goes to school, spends time with her friends and does supernatural stuff.

It’s honestly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read. You get a brilliant contrast between horror tropes and “scary” images that are followed by Erma watching Warrior Unicorn Princess with her babysitter.

The comic begins with one-off stories like you might see on the funny pages. But eventually there are sprawling story arcs — the current one about Erma and her family going to a Yokai village in Japan to meet her Yakuza-esque grandfather.

It’s wonderful to see the passionate community blossom over time, and the author has recently announced plans for spin-off comics being drawn by other artists and a phone app. There’s a lot to love!

For the final stop on my tour, I’m going to go in a bit more of an obtuse direction.

Tales of Elysium is another long-running comic from a team called Sleepless Skink Productions that presents a vision of Pokémon similar to the Mystery Dungeon series.

Except with a far darker tone and narrative.

The story centers around a Riolu named Leon and a Totodile named Vagus as they get sucked into conflict with a demented band of Pokémon and their feral underlings who hope to… Well we don’t totally know yet.

Presumably destroy all of the surviving members of an ancient civilization so they can take over the world.

We just haven’t gotten the full backstory at this point.

The story is quite long with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and there are just as many quiet, enthralling character moments as there are swashbuckling Pokémon battles in a gruesome, more realistic style than you’ve probably ever seen.

I would argue the art direction of Tales of Elysium is its strongest selling point. Every single panel is immaculate — almost TOO good for a project focusing on Pokémon.

Though I wouldn’t say that because I adore Pokémon.

Also because the story and characters that have been created for that world more than justify a beautifully dramatic art style.

So there you are. Three different flavors of comics for your viewing pleasure.

Though I’m still fresh to Kid Midnight, I would definitely say it fits into my pantheon of weekly reads alongside Erma and Tales of Elysium. Catching up on my comics each Friday has become a favorite wind-down activity for me.

However, I’m always looking out for more!

If there are any webcomics out there that you love, please don’t hesitate to let me know about them. I’d love to expand my scope even further.

Teaching Styles

As most students will tell you, over the years you begin to notice patterns in how some teachers decide to present their material.

Obviously some will be more lax while others are more strict just in general, but there are deeper distinctions when it comes to specific aspects of teaching that everyone approaches differently — especially at the college level.

For instance, one professor may only do the bare minimum of testing requirements to supplement one’s grades. Only a midterm exam, a final exam and a written paper (which is required for just about all undergrad classes in the CSU system at least).

Meanwhile, another teacher will inflate grades by doing something like scheduling a smaller quiz on material every week.

It all depends, and while there’s likely some answer to be drawn from somewhere on which method is more effective in hammering in material, it’s kind of just a subjective what one person prefers sort of deal.

All of that said, I wanted to write this quick blog post today before diving into this 13-page piece I have to read to talk about a decision in how to teach that I’ve discovered I really don’t enjoy.

Not involving that class with the 13-page reading assignment though. I’m probably going to keep these more annoyance-centric school blog posts anonymous.

Just in case.

This semester, one of my professors encouraged us to print out each chapter’s PowerPoint so we can follow along with it during lectures.

I’m not personally a fan of doing that sort of thing. I find that I retain more information when I’m writing everything down myself (something that I believe does have some precedent in research studies), so if I just have a print-out describing everything in the lecture it seems less effective.

So I decided to skip out on printing the PowerPoint and instead relied on good-old-fashioned note taking as usual.

Except apparently that suggestion to print out PowerPoints for each chapter was more of an expectation that we would be doing it.

Because this professor apparently zooms through his lecture so fast that I now have to go back and copy everything down off of the PowerPoint online so I can fill all the gaps I left before our quiz on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, especially in an upper level major course, I understand the desire to let students be somewhat self-reliant and go quickly through a lecture so that there’s time at the end to do other things.

We did get out of class at least a half an hour early as a result of going through things that fast. I won’t necessarily complain about that.

But to be completely honest, I would have preferred to get out of that class on-time if it meant going through the lecture at a slower pace so everyone could understand it better, regardless of how they take notes.

Yet in the end I suppose that’s a personal preference, so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s simply a form of teaching that I don’t really enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t figure out how to adapt.

I’ll probably just print the PowerPoints from here on out.

To end this off, I figure I’ll throw this general topic out to you all in the audience. Have you encountered any teaching practices that you don’t enjoy? Or maybe the opposite, any teaching practices you really enjoy?

Let me know about them in the comments! I’m interested to hear about some preferences today