Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lunchbox Funnies online comics

Lunchbox Funnies online comic collective

When I read about the launch of www.lunchboxfunnies.com, the new all-ages webcomic collective, my excitement about new all-ages material was tempered by the fact that I’ve never been a big webcomics fan. I’d rather see a two-page spread all at once and not have to scroll and click. That, and the computer screen gives me a headache if I look at it too long.

But the mission statement for Lunchbox Funnies is so dead-on, I just had to give it a try:
The term “all-ages” has become something of a mantra for our creators. We’ve each been working towards creating highly entertaining comics that can be enjoyed by beginning readers, teenagers, and adults alike. We’re convinced that “all-ages” doesn’t mean “just for kids,” but rather it’s a label that should apply to entertainment that allows for shared experiences across generational lines. Our creators benefited greatly from quality all-ages entertainment growing up, but these days stories that can be enjoyed by children and adults seem incredibly rare. Lunchbox Funnies wants to change that.

Ah, someone actually gets it. But are the comics actually all-ages? And are they any good? We took it upon ourselves to find out. I clicked and clicked and clicked some more, got a headache, took a break, and clicked some more. And I smiled and I giggled and I laughed. The best part, however, is what happened when I turned the girls loose on the site. It was completely silent in our house for several hours except for the occasional chortle, giggle, or guffaw. That alone makes this site a success in my book.

Here’s what we thought of each of the eight webcomics in the collective. Our reviews include the number of clicks (think “pages”) available as of this writing.

Aki Alliance by Ryan Estrada

I got a few chuckles out of Ryan Estrada’s story of “one girl's battle to make friends with everyone in her class, whether they like it or not.” Each chapter features Aki trying to make another of her classmates into a friend – all on a bet. If you like smart-alek humor, definitely give this one a shot. 36 clicks

Sarah says: My favorite part about Aki Alliance is the part when Aki’s mom talks instead of the Dad. I also like the part when the kids talk in a funny made-up language. I can understand it because I know that they separate the letters in to different colors so you just read the black letters. I want to read more because I want to see her make friends with all the other people in the school.

Astronaut Elementary by Dave Roman

I had a hard time getting through about the first 18 clicks or so – the quirky way the characters speak just got annoying after a while – but I started to get into it when I got to the “anti-gravity drill” storyline and enjoyed it from there on. Be warned that the second page is somewhat inappropriate for young kids, so you might want to skip that one. 30 clicks, some much longer than others

Shelby says: It’s a series of different comics that have a story about a different character. There’s a snotty brat rich girl, a bunny, a regular girl, and a boy who lives in a robot’s head. It’s really long, so I didn’t read it all yet, and some of the pages take a while to download on my computer. Someday, if I have enough time, I will finish reading it.

Butterfly by Dean Trippe

Butterfly is a cute, little superhero sidekick and most of the other characters in the strip are parodies of existing superhero characters. I think I’m missing something here – even though I started reading at the oldest strip in the archive it feels like I came into the middle of the story and I’m not quite sure what’s going on. It’s always hard to start a new title and establish characters, so maybe I just need to stick with it until it gets rolling. And maybe if I read more superhero comics, especially DC titles, I’d get more out of this one. 38 clicks

Sarah says: It just didn’t make sense to me because it didn’t introduce you to any of the characters – it just sort of started.

Cow & Buffalo by Mark Maihack

Stupid Cow + smart Buffalo = funny. I really enjoyed the early strips in black and white – pretty funny stuff. But when Maihack started adding color shading, well, it just isn’t my cup of hot chocolate. For me, it actually made it harder to see the characters. I also liked the writing up until about the same point, but I just didn’t find the time travel storyline as entertaining as the earlier stuff. Many, many clicks, going back to 2003

Shelby says: The cow is a boy with udders – it explains how that happened and it’s funny. They try to eat the hen’s eggs and they tease her like on one that’s Halloween costumes, they say, “What are you dressed up as?” and she says, “I’m a witch,” and they say, “No, really, what’s your costume?” It’s funny.

Lunchbox by Ovi Nedelcu

Sarah says: Lunchbox is about a girl and her little brother, but the brother is a baby but speaks long words. They’re not very good friends. The girl is basically a brat in most of the stories and the little boy is cute and kind. Each picture is a separate story but about the same two characters.

Hard to tell about this one as there are only 7 strips so far. All I can say at this point is that the humor is very biting. I enjoyed Ovi’s Pigtale, so I’ll come back for more of Lunchbox to see how it plays out.

Silent Kimbly by Ryan Sias

Silent Kimbly is a collection of one-shot puns which run the gamut from real groaners to genuine laugh-out louds. I can see these being used in a classroom to teach homonyms, heteronyms, homographs, and other odd fun with the English language. I recommend that parents and kids (or teachers and students) read it together so those with more life experience can explain some of the jokes to the younger readers. 292 clicks –the puns start around the mid-fifties

Sarah says: It’s like Amelia Bedealia because it has different meanings for the words that make it funny. It’s not a story but each picture tells its own joke. Most of them made me laugh, but certain ones (like the “bottom of the bathtub”) just made me go, “Eeeew!” I think it would be good in a second grade class or older to teach kids about double meaning words.

Wally & Osborne by Tyler Martin

In the same spirit as Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes, Tyler Martin makes all-ages comics really funny. Wally & Osborne is a Sunday funnies style strip starring a penguin and a polar bear in Antarctica and it will definitely make you laugh. Much of the humor revolves around something very bad happening to Osborne the penguin (a la Coyote & Roadrunner) and/or various bodily functions, so I suppose if a parent were worried about violence and bathroom humor they might want to skip this one, but it’s no worse than most cartoons. Recommended for most everyone and should definitely be in the funny pages of all major newspapers! Mucho, mucho clicks going back to June 2005

Shelby says: The polar bear is Wally and the penguin is Osborne and they tease each other. Sometimes they’re really stupid because they get themselves trapped or hurt or in some kind of trouble. I liked it because it’s funny when their teasing works on each other.

Zip and Lil’ Bit by Trade Loeffler

In my opinion, this is the best of the bunch. Completely charming and old-fashioned in the best way, Zip and Lil’ Bit really needs to be put in print. Go read it right now – it won’t take too long and will totally be worth your while. On a technical note, I liked that I could set the screen at just the right spot and not have to scroll at all as I went from page to page. 48 clicks

Sarah says: It’s awesome and would make a good text book (without pictures). It’s interesting because it has a strong amount of mystery-ish stuff. Lil’ Bit never really has a speech bubble – she only whispers into people’s ears and then they say stuff like, “Hey, that’s a good idea,” and then they say what she told them. There are two Zips, the upside down Zip and the regular Zip. They both think each other are upside down. They switch places and most of the story takes place with the actual upside down Zip. I can’t wait till Sunday to read and find out what happened to right-side-up Zip!


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