Schlock

I’ve looked at my archives and realized one of my – at this time probably my MOST – favorite online comic hasn’t been mentioned. Review and link time.

Schlock Mercenary. Current page. First page in the archives. The author’s “start here” page for new readers. (Personally, I recommend jumping in on the first page. The ‘start here’ is neat and all but you miss much in my opinion.)

I read Schlock Mercenary because it’s fun and interesting. Howard Tayler (the creator/author/artist) usually aims for funny, occasionally aims for pathos, and every so often for philosophical. Delightfully he usually hits the target at which he’s aiming. Sometimes he also hits Great.

Schlock is a semi-shapechanging blob who, in the first page, joins the mercenary company Tagon’s Toughs. The subsequent story is the life and times of Schlock and several other characters we come to know through their connection with the company. The artwork for the first couple hundred pages is poor to mediocre, but acceptable because the story moves and most of the jokes are funny. Howard improves as time goes along, and between story and art has done well enough his comic was recently nominated for a Hugo.

A jaw-dropping point, a by-the-way bonus of admiration, and one more indicator of how much I like it.

First, while you’ll know if you’ll like it within the first 20 or so pages, I highly recommend that you NOT plan on reading the whole story in one night. See, Howard has done something darn near unique. June of this year was his ninth year, and he’s never missed a day. Every day, seven days a week we get a new page. No, he doesn’t do that every day; he builds a buffer of several days of backlog. His system automatically pulls the next comic at some time in the wee hours (US time) each and every day. Phenomenal. By the way, that means there are over 3300 pages of comics to read. You will not run out swiftly.

Second, by the way. Howard has written what I consider the best counterpunch (pro evolution) in the evolution/intelligent design controversy I’ve seen. Note, please, that Howard is far from an atheist or agnostic. He doesn’t proselytize, but he’s made no secret. It is not the rebuttal of someone who does not believe in God. It is, instead, intensely respectful of… “What is Man, that though art mindful of him?” Read it here.

Third, an indicator. Every morning when I open my browser, I pop open four pages. My homepage is set to the local NWS forecast. I open my RSS reader (google reader) and my primary email. And I open Schlock Mercenary. Of these four, Schlock gets read first. I read 20 to 30 comics a day, but Schlock is first. I read 40 to 50 blogs, a dozen magazines and newspapers – but Schlock is first. I don’t have to put it in an RSS feeder as I never forget the url.

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