Wally & Osbourne

What Did I Learn?

weekly webcomic reviews by Delos

(this is a slightly edited repost)

Today, let’s look at Wally and Osborne by Tyler Martin. Yes, I know it hasn’t updated since early 2007 but work with me here. This comic has a number of interesting things about it. First of all, you’ll notice the solid artwork and limited color scheme. Reading through the archives, I was entertained more and more by the variety of how these few colors are used. This is definitely a case of how simple ingredients can be combined in almost limitless ways – like the game of Chess.

There are many humor comics which don’t always strike me as funny or amusing in some way. That’s okay, it just means that that joke just doesn’t jive with me. It is somehow outside my experience and I can’t expect to find the humor in it. And that’s where comics like Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes (among others) are considered works of genius. These classics somehow manage to individually reach us no matter who we are or where we come from. What did I find in this one?

Every single Wally & Osborne comic I read in the archives was entertaining. I can see a lot of classic potential in the writing and snazzy crisp artwork. I am surprised at my own amusement. While I have a good amount of curiousity in me, I have only passing interest in the Antarctic, polar bears, sea lions and freezing temperatures. I did not expect to relate to a penguin and a polar bear, much less find antarctic trivia interesting. This will help teach me to be more open minded about what subjects an audience will find amusing. My thoughts were very limited as to what sorts of jokes I would find. Sled jokes, blizzard jokes, icy predator jokes- sure. I certainly never imagined that topics like BASE jumping or toothbrushing would find themselves logically and seamlessly a part of the comic. Once again, I have to remind myself not to be so close minded about a comic’s potential.

Do I think that Wally & Osborne is the next classic like Hagar the Horrible or Dilbert? I can’t say. I really think it’s not that simple, but you will not get there without something people will relate to. Wally & Osborne has a lot of potential in this regard.

I also have to talk about the site layout. It’s really effective. I can summarize it by saying that everything has a place that suits its importance and logical necessity of use. It really encourages you to explore the site. As for the details: The ‘new reader’ button is a good thing to have and it is perfectly located on the top left. The top right has a Project Wonderful ad bar which is just in the right spot to be out of the way yet still provide maximum exposure. Below them is the title image and a menu which has the basics – again, this is just enough page presence to be noticed but easily overlooked by those who aren’t looking to be distracted by such things. Below this is the (properly) largest thing on each page is the comic which stretches from side to side on a 1024px screen. Under the comic are three columns on supplementary information. The leftmost column has menus, search and archives, which are sorted by calendar, latest five comics and monthly lists. The right column has rss feeds, sister comic adspots and a weather indicator for the Antarctic. (That’s an expecially nice touch.) The middle has the artist comment blog with visitor comments enabled. This is a WordPress site with the Comicpress theme, developed by the artist (if I read right.) It also has some nice textures and images that subtly mimic the colors from the comic. I ought to integrate some of these things into my own site. (Ed: This was written just before it became the standard.)

What did I learn?

How can my audience relate to my work? Can I make it easier and more interesting for them by opening up the topics in the comic? Can my presentation be better? What can I offer my visitors that might interest them further? As usual, I’m left with more questions than answers but I’m sure you’ll find Tyler Martin’s Wally and Osborne as amusing as I have.

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