Monday, July 13, 2009

Will Write for Chocolate

Let me come out and admit this transgression of mine upfront. I can’t really hide it much longer. I am not a webcomics kind of person. I know, I know, I’ll turn my nerd badge in at the nearest precinct station. Feel free to tell me what a jerk I am - most people I know have already done it once or twice before.

Webcomics seem to be one of the most polarizing concepts to have ever hit the Internet. I have friends who swear by and will waste unknown amounts of time defending this webcomic or that one, praising an artist for coming up with quirky new strips and lambasting the ones who aren’t funny or don’t produce at proper speeds. I’ve actually seen people I know get into real arguments over which strips they read and which ones they think are garbage, insulting friends with dissimilar tastes. It all seems rather strange to me.

I’ve read a few, and despite some being funny (Achewood, Sinfest, Penny Arcade, Perry Bible Fellowship and a few others) I’ve never really found myself hustling over to a website moments after waking to see if an update has been posted yet. On discussion forums I find myself not even checking out the threads dedicated to webcomics because I will always be undoubtedly the farthest behind in terms of being up to date.

I’m perennially behind on most things, be they books or movies, but for webcomics I sometimes feel like it’s for the best that I don’t try so hard. I can barely even remember characters’ names. That’s how bad I am with them.

One comic I do find myself going back to on a semiregular basis is Will Write for Chocolate, a weekly strip written and drawn by Debbi Ridpath Ohi that deals with the lives and careers of a motley group of various writers living under the same roof. You’ve got your nonfiction freelancer, your poet, your childrens’ book writer, each character bringing something different to the strip.

There’s a lot of chocolate, too, which is never a bad thing.

The reason why I like this comic despite my usual ambivalence to the form is rather obvious. Like stand up comedy, comic strips appeal strongest to audience members who can find something in the material to identify with. Will Write for Chocolate deals completely in the humor (and often agony) of writing, touching on topics like rejection, self-doubt, short attention spans, the distracting power of the Internet and the often confusing pain that comes along with starting a new project. It deals in something I already have a vested interest in, instead of trying to entice me with jokes I only half understand.

Ridpath Ohi also does magazine-style single panel comics unrelated to Will Write for Chocolate, which she posts on her sister site Inkygirl. One in the ever changing rotation deals with a hungry literary type trying to decide on a restaurant, weeding them out by recalling misspellings and grammatical errors on their menus. This is funny to me because I have done that several times myself.

I’m glad I’m not the only one.

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