Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 07:11 on 21-04-2014, Tamara
Yeah, it's not like "reform Hugo voting" is a new thing, but this is someone who obviously and transparently managed to kind of game the system. That is, what they did was perfectly fair, as far as anyone can tell, but clearly against the spirit of the nominating process, which wouldn't have been possible with a broader pool. Most other criticism has been a vaguer, less concentrated thing - ballots aren't representative...ballots aren't good...well, representative of what? What's representative, what's good? It's much easier to agree that the success of a systemic campaign by a small handful of rightwing fucknuts to influence the ballot is not representative or good.
at 00:53 on 21-04-2014, Michal
This should totally be a red light for the narrow Hugo voter base (and this was it's best year ever...) Reform! Reform! What do we want? Sensible bureaucratic measures taken to consider a broader nominating pool!

I can see some good things coming of this.

a. Larry & friends could experience huge blowback for their vote stacking and end up ranking below "no award." Even if that doesn't happen, none of them come out looking all that good for their efforts ('cause seriously, getting an award this way just comes across as sleazy).

b. If it's this easy to game the Hugos there will be more pressure to change the process...though all the complaints and anger over previous Hugos didn't manage to achieve that.

c. Way distant third: Voxy's novelette will probably be in the Hugo packet. His books are put out by a small Christian press that gets very little attention and his Amazon/Goodreads reviews are almost solely drawn from the sycophants on his blog (plus he attacks or tries to pull down negative reviews with a vengeance). This is possibly the first time his fiction will come under critical scrutiny from outside his fan base...and the resulting explosion on his part is going to be mighty fun to watch.
His fiction is terrible.
at 11:30 on 20-04-2014, Jamie Johnston
Hopping in slightly late (as usual) to the webcomics thread. It's been ages since I caught up with Bad machinery but I used to really like it. In fact the only reason I haven't read it for so long is because I keep waiting for a nice chunk of free time to enjoy the catch-up. Also Girls with slingshots, which you all probably know about already, and Nimona.

For short funnies with no particular ongoing narrative I enjoy Buttersafe, Poorly drawn lines, The non-adventures of Wonderella, and (like everyone else) Hark, a vagrant!. Kate Beaton's tumblr is also worth checking out for in between Hark updates.

A recent discovery somewhere between 'ongoing story' and 'joke of the week' comics is Chaos life.

It's been nice to see other people's recommendations, quite a few of which I hadn't heard of and shall check out!
at 07:24 on 20-04-2014, Tamara
Oh, and XKCD has a nomination too ;D
at 06:56 on 20-04-2014, Tamara
The Ayn Rand nom on the Retro was a nice touch too...WTF was my response too, word for word. (hadn't been aware of this...campaign.) This should totally be a red light for the narrow Hugo voter base (and this was it's best year ever...) Reform! Reform! What do we want? Sensible bureaucratic measures taken to consider a broader nominating pool!
at 23:48 on 19-04-2014, Michal
What the fuck?

(Scroll down to the novel and novelette category. Larry's logrolling campaign worked.)
at 11:54 on 18-04-2014, Adrienne
(Also it contains Grace Park, and she is fantastic enough for any five or ten normal people all by herself.)
at 11:54 on 18-04-2014, Adrienne
On a completely different subject, I've been binging on Hawaii Five-0 (the rebooted show, not to be confused with the original, which is "Hawaii Five-O") and it's quite fun. Standard procedural, but holy crap there are a lot of actual native Hawaiians (and other Polynesians) in it, and they aren't just playing random cardboard stereotypes. It's pretty refreshing to see.
at 13:25 on 16-04-2014, Alice
(Re: that last note, it's not a huge part of the story in terms of page count or even plot, really, but it's a big part of (again, spoiler-ish)
a prominent character's backstory
at 13:20 on 16-04-2014, Alice
Adrienne: I'd love to read a review of Digger! I couldn't write a coherent one, I don't think, but would look forward to discussing it.

Melanie: Glad you're enjoying it!

Generally: I forgot to say that I would probably add a trigger/content warning to Digger for descriptions of (past) domestic abuse, and what I suppose would be labelled (spoiler of sorts? Also correct me if I'm wrong)
post-partum depression
. It's not a trigger for me personally, and I found it very well written/presented, but my goodness is it heartbreaking.
at 06:38 on 16-04-2014, Adrienne
(Hell, I may have been inspired to submit a review of it to Ferretbrain. We'll see how that goes.)
at 06:33 on 16-04-2014, Adrienne
(Now I've been inspired to reread it, too.)
at 04:36 on 16-04-2014, Melanie
I'm totally reading it right now. This is great!
at 03:24 on 16-04-2014, Adrienne
OMG, Melanie, Digger is SO GOOD. Seriously. The hyenas are one of the best-realized alien societies I have EVER read. (I'm using 'alien' in the broadest sense.) Digger herself is a fantastic protagonist. Read it as soon as you can!
at 03:04 on 16-04-2014, Melanie
Oh, I love El Goonish Shive! And Order of the Stick. I'm also really fond of Freefall (although I have to confess that it's also pretty slow-paced) and Gunnerkrigg Court. I also started reading Awkward Zombie recently, and if you like Darths & Droids then Friendship is Dragons is along those lines, except for My Little Pony (although this is kind of an awkward time to rec it since they're doing guest strips currently).

I find Oglaf kind of hit and miss. Sometimes it's really funny but then occasionally there's... rape jokes, like the thing with the "statues".

I actually hadn't read Digger, even though I keep hearing about it, so thanks for the reminder. :D
at 15:59 on 15-04-2014, Alice
Wholeheartedly seconding the Digger recommendation! While I've been following Ursula Vernon's blog for a while, I never quite got round to reading the comic online. But then I got a paper copy through the 2013 Kickstarter, and love it.

As with paper comics, I never know what's out there in webcomics and basically default to reading things I'm linked to. I gave up on xkcd years ago, still check back in on Dinosaur Comics every week or so, and at this point pretty much only read Questionable Content out of nostalgia for the old days when it was all jokes about indie bands. (Also, I can't put my finger on what it is, but I find Jeph Jacques -- the author -- just ever so slightly off-putting nowadays, for all that he seems to have good intentions re: diversity/representation.)

Then again, I don't consistently read (m)any blogs or review sites -- apart from Ferretbrain -- either, these days.
at 08:07 on 15-04-2014, Adrienne
Oh! Also Digger, if any of you have somehow not read it -- it's completed rather than ongoing at this point, so you can take the whole thing in one big gulp. (And you will. I promise.)

It actually won the Hugo a couple years back, and I was amazed -- Hugo voters generally don't have that much taste.
at 06:16 on 15-04-2014, Adrienne
As to webcomics, I've found Goblins to be charming, though I am months behind on it at this point. (Saves-a-Fox is one of my favorite characters ever, in any medium. Because fuck destiny, that's why.) It also, at one point, manages the difficult trick of handling a sexual-slavery subplot without being either dismissive or patronizing, and without depriving the survivor of her agency in deciding what to do about the whole thing. (Although as ever, ESPECIALLY with rape plotlines, YMMV.)
at 00:16 on 15-04-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
El Goonish Shive is hella cute and good, but continuously frustrating because I'd just like things to move a bit faster.
at 00:00 on 15-04-2014, Robinson L
I've taken a look at a couple of webcomics over the past few years, but I can only think of three that I follow consistently: Darths & Droids, El Goonish Shive, and Strong Female Protagonist (which, despite a title which makes me wince every time, is a very well-written comic about a nigh-invincible young woman with super-strength trying to find her place in the world and, having given up supervillain fights, learning that it's a lot harder to change the world than it is to save it).

I know the Darths & Droids folks released a statement after the sequel trilogy was announced, saying that the timing is great because they expect to be wrapping up Jedi by about that point anyway, and expressing their confidence in being able to do a decent job on the sequel trilogy, regardless of whether it's any good or not. As to their first claim, at their very roughly estimated pace of 18 months and 225 comics per movie, I reckon they'll actually only be halfway through Jedi before Episode VII comes out - which is okay, because it means there won't be a huge lull between VII and VIII. It would also mean, though, that they'll probably a ~18 month gap between VIII and IX (and that's assuming they're very fast at storyboarding). I'm also curious about the story line, since they do seem to have these things planned out well in advance (even the the GM's plans always go completely off the rails), and it'll be hard to do that going into VII when they have no idea what will happen in VIII let alone IX.
at 03:53 on 14-04-2014, Arthur B
What of Oglaf?

Oglaf is a comic which I feel shouldn't actually work in principle because there's so many ways the concept could just go awful, but somehow they pull it off anyway.

Re: Dinosaur Comics - I think it's an interesting experiment in the medium in the sense that North keeps having to find interesting ways to repeat the same panels every day (kind of like David Lynch's Angriest Dog In the World) and I think it's got to this point where it's mainly a soapbox for North's sense of humour, which is fine because he's a very funny guy.

Re: Darths and Droids - I do wonder how they're going to handle the sequels, because they seem to have had some impressively long-term planning going on with the story and presumably that was all set up to conclude at the end of Jedi because Darths & Droids started back when Lucas was fairly confident that there wouldn't be any sequels.

I kind of think it'd be fun for them to handle the sequels by having the campaign shift to a rotating-GM setup rather than being handled by one creative mind refereeing everything, because... well, you see where I'm going with that.
at 20:51 on 13-04-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
That Garrity thing is great! Reminds me a bit of this thing I stumbled on through io9 I think?

For OotS, I always thought it was that it doesn't really take advantage of comics as a visual medium. Lots of people standing in very static poses with huge text bubbles, that sort of thing.

I think that seems to be a valid criticism, to a degree. There is a lot of action at times but there's nothing wrong with not liking it. I know of several people who just don't like stick figures and thus no OOTS for them.
at 20:45 on 13-04-2014, Michal
The only webcomic I follow now is Hark! A Vagrant. Nothing else tickles my historical/literary funny bone in quite the same way.
at 18:31 on 13-04-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Truth be told, I don't really read webcomics anymore; I just have a weakness for rubbernecking at the occasional drama and terrible personalities. The only thing I read regularly is Shaenon Garrity's side-project Monster of the Week, which just her rewatching The X-Files and recapping it in comic form. (I suppose Watamote technically counts as a webcomic, but I don't know how that works in Japan.)