August 6, 2022

Remembering A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible

If you haven’t read these comics before then do so now. I have many good things to say about this website—not just the comics, but also the site itself. Pay attention to the archive’s background, with its custom wallpaper. Look at the banners at the top and bottom of the page. If you inspect the site’s source code, you’ll see these banners actually consist of multiple images stitched together. (Yes, all of the layout is done in <tables>! And it still works nearly two decades later.) Notice all of the raster icons—not some vapid vector graphics, but individual digital paintings. This kind of website is rare these days.

To describe the comics, I’ll take this one as an example. First, the writing: The dialogue is uncanny. The story begins and ends at seemingly arbitrary moments. Bizarre details are described either bluntly or not at all. This is writing that shouldn’t succeed, but somehow it does. It’s candid, and it works well in this short story format. (For contrast, you may try Nerds of Paradise by the same writer. It has its moments, but the same style just doesn’t work as well with longer comics. Also the art isn’t as good.)

As for the art, it’s easy to see why it works. The color scheme is attractive and meaningful. Everything is drawn in a sort of painterly style that gives the comic life. The story freely flows across the page, and the layout borrows background elements—windows, pillars—to make “panels” that break up the action.

There are hardly any bad comics, although some are certainly better than others. The very best are these:

Read these if you’re in a hurry. Read all of them if you’re not. It’s remarkable that a unique site like this is still around over 15 years after its heyday, and it should be enjoyed while it lasts.

Psst! They had a forum, too! It’s archived.