Escapist Webcomic Winner Chosen

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 11, 2010

Filed under: Column 54 comments

The winner of the webcomic contest has been announced.

This was actually a nail biter for me. I didn’t know who was going to win until today. I was pleased when my #1 pick Out of Tens by Grey Carter and Cory Rydell managed to win. You can read my comments on their comic on the linked page.

Girlies Don’t Game, Bumhug Parade, and Escapist Radio Theater were also favorites of mine that made the Honorable Mentions list, and I have some comments on those as well.

And few others I commented on:

Danny & Spot
Brave Face
Joy Stuck
Narcolepsy Incorporated

And finally, the full 21-page index of everything:

That would be this link.


From The Archives:

54 thoughts on “Escapist Webcomic Winner Chosen

  1. Randy Johnson says:

    When I saw the army of two comic, I thought of You, Josh, and I sitting on a couch playing it and that happening to us. Only difference being that Your beard would come in all thin and dull, mine would come in all curly and patchy, and josh would get this fantastic Amish beard.

    1. Shamus says:

      We should just steal his beard. I’ll take the chops and you can have the mustache. I’ll flip you for the chin.

      1. FFJosh says:

        Hey now, the chin is the best part!

  2. Phase says:

    I suppose Rutskarn didn’t win then? Shame, that.

    1. Shamus says:

      I didn’t see his stuff in there.

      I know he can do it. He’s already proven his writing chops.

  3. KT says:

    The Doctorpus won?

  4. krellen says:

    Your comments on Bumhug Parade are nearly as good as the comic itself.

  5. Galad says:

    Oh. My. Word. I sincerely hope the people/guy/gal behind Escapist Radio Theater start publishing those somewhere. Webcomic love at first sight. :o

  6. Augh – the science! It hurts! It hurts!

    I liked the winning comic, and I’ll keep reading it, but strip #2? Space ain’t cold; it’s vacuum. Nothing isolates quite like vacuum. Since the human body generates heat, you’re more likely to die from overheating than hypothermia. So, no, space isn’t cold – it’s got no temperature at all.

    Also, your blood doesn’t boil in space; your skin provides enough pressure to keep that from happening. You just swell up, and eventually die from heat shock, starvation, radiation sickness, dehydration, or the ever popular micro-asteroid-through-the-head syndrome.

    1. MogTM says:

      And (not to totally nerd out) if she’s talking about inside the ships in Mass Effect then it’s even more wrong. As the Codex makes a fairly big deal about, one of the major limitations in ship-to-ship combat in the Mass Effect universe is heat dispersion. In short, the problems the ships have are not with being too cold, but too hot.

      For once, the skimpy clothing might actually be justified.

      1. swimon says:

        It still doesn’t really fit the characters though. “Oh woe is me who was created to be perfect. Every success I acheive and everyone who likes me is not due to my abilities but due to the DNA my father made me from. I guess I have to focus on my career and put efficiency as my top priority. Oh and BTW don’t my boobs (which I don’t identify as my own but as engineering) look great in this giant clevage and with these high-heels (which are great for combat on alien worlds)?”

        It does make sense for samara though since asari don’t have any problems with sexuality it’s sort of the social norm to dress like a stripper. Then on the other hand it makes even less sense for tali to be dressed as eye-drawingly as she is (you can’t really argue that her clothes are revealing since she is in a space suit constantly but it’s not like the thing is designed to draw as little attention as possible either) considering how incredibly shy she is.

        This was probably my biggest issue with ME 2 actually (which I hope explains why this post became such a wall of text, that was not intentional). I’m guessing they dressed Miranda like that because they wanted to express how she is constantly in control trhough her clothes, which is a good idea but it becomes weird because it doesn’t seem believable that she would dress like that. In Tali’s case I’m guessing they dressed her like that so that she would become more attractive so that the possible romance between Shepard and her would be more believable which was probably necessary since that romance could possible have seemed a bit stale otherwise since we never really see her face. Again a good idea but it doesn’t add up with the character and that really pulled me out of the experience since it’s so obvious she was dressed by a game designer and not by herself.

        But yes there’s nothing about “the coldness of space” that should make them put on some clothes although maybe lose the high-heels on tuchanka.

    2. Dev Null says:

      Did you mean insulates, instead of isolates? Either is really ture, but insulates seemed more relevant…

      That space=cold thing always pisses me off too. Heat, if I didn’t get my science totally wrong, is essentially the speed at which the molecules are moving. A near-vacuum could therefore presumably be hot or cold – you’d never know until you actually found a molecule to bump into to check. (A true vacuum has no temperature, as you rightly point out, but I liked the mental image of that one lone molecule zipping around going “man!, its hot in here!”)

      I wouldn’t let pedantry get in the way of a good skimpy-costumes joke though. If you stopped laughing at the pseudo-porn costumes in games you might be in danger of taking them seriously…

      1. Yeah, sorry – my Norwegian peeked through there, where both are the same term (v. “isolere”, n. “isolasjon” – also used for solitary confinement, medical or penal).

        My main concern was with the alien atmospheres, not space itself. I mean, some of those places ShepCo go to can’t be too healthy on naked skin, right? Especially that place where you do the Tali recruitment mission.

      2. Matt K says:

        Sort of true (space itself is cold in theory), since the lack of molecules in space prevent heat transfer and the sun’s radiation is greater than your own thus further heating you up, one would be very hot in space. That said, the protective suits are so you don’t burn to death in space or freeze to death on a low temp planet (I’ve only play ME1 so mostly atmospheric planets were invovled) plus vaccum.

        1. krellen says:

          Assuming you are near a star. Lots of places you visit in ME2 aren’t that close to stars, and at least one is firmly in dark space, with no obvious “sun” anywhere nearby.

          And of course there’s the point about the vast temperature difference between shady and not-shady even when near a star. Space is a vacuum, but it’s net affect on temperature is still “really darn cold”.

          1. Matt K says:

            Fair enough, I’ve only played ME1 and your near a star is each mission.

        2. Mari says:

          It took me a while to find it but here’s where I referred my daughter when the question of the “temperature” of space came up: Is Space Hot or Cold?

          I’d call 2.73 K “cold”

  7. Robyrt says:

    I actually liked Out of Tens, although the room for a gaming comic / satirical review is rather crowded already. Hopefully having a non-token female presence will give them access to future untapped joke wells.

  8. MogTM says:

    I was interested to read your comments on Brave Face where you said

    (A common mistake is over-explaining the situation the the uninitiated before you send it up.)

    because, while I liked that comic, I simply did not get the 2nd or 3ed joke. Maybe I’ve gotten to out of nerd culture — I have been busy lately. However, it seems like there has got to be a bit better compromise between explaining the joke and leaving your potential audience in the dark.

    (Incidentally, what were those two comics about?)

    1. Nick Bell says:

      The second comic is a reference to Crackdown and its ability orbs. As you get more orbs, you can jump higher, allowing you to get more orbs. So its actually not that you’re out of touch with new stuff; its that you have forgotten old stuff.

      I have no idea what the third comic was about either. Some game with long load times.

    2. krellen says:

      The second comic is, specifically, about Crackdown and the super-powered soldier-cop you play therein. More generally, however, it’s about how silly the height of jumps you can achieve in most games really is.

      The third comic is specifically about Half-Life 2, its graphics, its loading times, and the long, drawn-out implementation of its episodic gameplay structure. More generally, it’s about how so much development and processing time is now gobbled up by graphics and art that games have necessarily become shorter, thus drawing out stories that would have once been a single game over a longer series.

      At least that’s what I got out of them. I’m not the author.

      1. lebkin says:

        I wish he had picked a better image. That didn’t say Half-Life 2 to me at all. Once you pointed it out, I was like, “oh, ok. That’s Half-Life.” But a better image would have made it much more understandable.

        1. krellen says:

          The pencilled-in guy at the end had a Lambda badge around his neck; that’s what tipped me off.

  9. Mari says:

    I had bigger love for Joy Stuck than you apparently did. But then, I’m in one of those under-represented gamer marriages and always hopeful of finding someone who can make others laugh at my life.

  10. Sheer_Falacy says:

    I’m reading through them, and I just read Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. The name itself is just so silly, and the juxtaposition of Bubbles in a daycare center is at the same time hilarious and completely logical.

  11. psudonym says:

    I hate to be the jerk pointing this out but… Danny & Spot is definitely an old comic. Like, I remember falling across it maybe a year ago.
    This guy’s been promoting his comic everywhere.

    Anycase, thanks for the comments again!

  12. Irridium says:

    I liked the Manly comic personally. The parts with Kratos and the Big Daddy had me close to tears.

    I also loved the Mass Effect 2 page in the winner’s comic. I can’t tell you how many times I shouted at my teamates for wearing nothing but a breathing mask into outer freakin’ space while I had to where a full space/combat armor suit…

  13. Galen says:

    So, out of tens. Wow, I’m actually surprised you didn’t do that very DRM strip already. Not that it wasn’t absolutely hilarious (since it was). I think that of the few I looked through Out of Tens was definitely my favorite, so hooray I have a new place to sink my time.

  14. Josh R says:

    My head hurt reading through some of those honourable mentions, so I think I’ll pass on reading all 21 pages.

    The best thing to come out of reading these was the PBF link.

    I wonder if The Escapist will relinquish their copyright ownership of these comics enough to let the writers publish them on their own websites. Major dickmove if they don’t.

    1. krellen says:

      I haven’t looked at the terms of the contest, but I suspect it’s like most others, which means the Escapist (currently) owns those specific four strips from each entrant (though any that had been previously published, like Narcolepsy Incorporated, might be exempt from this), but I don’t think there are any terms they could have put down to make the ideas of the strips – the characters, the name (except for obvious parts of Escapist Radio Theatre), and the concept – off limits for their creators. It is very very hard to assert ownership of someone else’s ideas.

      John Fogerty being sued for plagiarising himself (he won handily) is a prime example of this.

    2. Shamus says:

      As I read the rules, they specifically do NOT claim any IP in the contest.

      1. Matt K says:

        If that’s the case then the runner ups would have to be stupid not to try and run with this.

        I enjoyed your commentary on the comics and there definitly were a few gems in there including the winner (oh and Manly Comics which was awesome and Radio Theater which has some promise).

  15. B.J. says:

    Sorry but Out of Tens fails with it’s second strip. Space isn’t cold.

  16. RedClyde says:

    I liked some of these a lot. But they are all new comics, that may or may not be continued by their creators, yes?

  17. ccesarano says:

    THe only comics I read were the ones you linked here, and I definitely think you made the right choice. I used to LOVE reading webcomics, but at some point…I got so sick of it. There is so little professional work done in terms of writing that it really hurts to see sometimes.

    It’s nice to see that an interesting comic won, though I’d like to see Escapist Radio Theater try more elsewhere.

    I give you major credit in terms of being able to read all those entrants. Just from other ones you commented…augh. Painful. But curious, if someone had a comic and would like it critiqued, would you be against it?

    1. Rhykker says:

      It’s a slippery slope. Even if Shamus does want to, then he’ll quickly find himself inundated with critique requests. And he’s busy enough as it is, without having to become a full-time webcomic critic…

      Reading is one thing. But having to give intelligent feedback…


      1. ccesarano says:

        This is true. Even if my intentions are merely for it to be personal feedback and not public, that sort of thing can become…very demanding.

        Ah well.

  18. Shawn says:

    I liked the winner, the Army of Two strip was by far and away the funniest thing I read of the entrants. Of the honorable mentions, I also really dug Paused, mainly for the “So, yeah, I’m a dinosaur now” bit.

    And yes, Escapist Radio Theater was really, really good. I do think it would work somewhere on it’s own site rather than as part of the Escapist though. (It would likely need a new name.) If you hear that they’re continuing that one, let us know.

  19. Alejandros says:

    There are some really strong entries in there. Has the Escapist considered offering more than one person a similar contract, based on the quality? So many of these I’d love to see more of. (Although I’ve only been looking at the honorable mentions. I peeked into the All Entries section, and the quality can drop off there.)

    I have to ask, why do so many comics have your comments, when the other judges have so few?

    1. Shamus says:

      There wasn’t any set guidance for how much we should / could write. I think everyone else just wrote about their nominations. I just sort of went nuts and wrote about a bunch of others.

  20. D says:

    I am very pleased to see Out of Tens win… but I’m hoping to see Girlies Don’t Game picked up somewhere soon.

  21. Max Bola says:

    Hi Shamus!
    I just wanted to thank you personally for your comments on “The Last Shot”. I hope you enjoyed it, even though it was a bit “unusual” for a webcomic.

    I think “Out of Tens” was a great choice and I’m sure it will get better with time, but anyway my absolut favourite is “Girlies Don't Game”. I love the charming art style and I think the main character has a lot to offer.


  22. someboringguy says:

    It’s no wonder that guy won, most of the comix suck big time.
    And I’m not trying to be mean, or to troll, but after coming with an optimistical attitude to the escapist site, trying to get over things like poor art or clishes and seeing all that unimaginative, unfunny … piece of work, I can only say this.
    Those people lack humor. They don’t know humor. For them humor is something alien.
    How can someone do something so utterly humorless???
    No really, how could?The artists, most of them do a very good job, but the writers…they must get payd nickles and get revenge buy doing a halfassed work.

  23. KremlinLaptop says:

    I think that ‘Out of Tens’ is the most likely of the comics to pick up readership, but I also think ‘Bumhug Parade’ would have been the most likely to be pick up a following and definitely has potential.

    The biggest problem with comics like ‘Out of Tens’ is the huge potential to fall into trap of becoming just another gaming comic, I mean with the last strip this is already rearing its head a little bit. The setup is asking about what companies are doing to fight DRM, fair enough, could have a nice punchline. The final punchline is how 360’s RROD and need to be replaced.

    That’s… I mean it’s not CAD bad, even if there’s a bit too much explaining the joke (third panel could go almost completely without words and probably be better for it. Also the triangular corner mouth on the guy viewed from behind is weird), but it’s still a bit of a stale gag. A lot of potential to fall into traps of becoming formulaic – especially with a cast and apparent story arc jammed in there.

    That said the third comic is brilliant and if they come up with more of that and less RRoD jokes then that’ll be good. Then they’ll just need do something to not only stand out as being good but also unique, that’s a bit tougher. That third comic is just damn good though and there were so many damn ways it could have been fucked up, I think the worst offence would definitely have been if there was some dialogue in the last panel like “Ow, my ovaries.” Brevity (soul of wit, yo), showing instead of telling and ending on a strong note? Yes, yes and yes.

    Anyway, best of luck to them. I’ll definitely look in now and then to see what they do.

  24. someboringguy says:

    Ok, so it seems that there are also good comix among them.I’ve simply had bad luck, because of 5 pages there were only humorless ones.”Tokens” seems well enough.

  25. Shamus says:

    Yeah, remember in Apollo 13 when the astronauts were freezing their butts off because they accidentally turned up the air conditioning too high?

    You DO radiate heat in space. Not quickly, but you do. In *deep* space, you will easily radiate heat faster than you produce it, resulting in a net loss.

    Space IS cold.

    1. KremlinLaptop says:

      The reason those astronauts were freezing their butts off was because they had something to radiate all that body heat into. If you are in an enclosed environment with no heating of the air in it and it’s exposed space then yes, given that you have oxygen and water, you will probably die of hypothermia as it cools.

      If you’re exposed directly to space then loss of heat is not that dangerous, you’re insulated for all intents and purposes. To lose heat through radiating it faster than you are generating it means you need to have something to conduct that heat, which means there needs to be matter around. Space is a vacuum, while not completely devoid of matter there’s still not very much of it.

      Evaporating spit and eyeball juice will cool you and how, but that’s still not as bad as your ‘blood boiling’ and your body bloating up to a few times its usual size because suddenly a lot of your blood ain’t liquid anymore.

      Fact is, space just isn’t that cold — not matter how deep you go.

      Edit: Would like to point out I didn’t really have that much of a problem with the line though, it’s not scientifically sound but there are so many lines about the “Cruel cold vacuum of space”, “the dark cold depths” etc etc that it’s sort of accepted trope that you turn into an icicle if you get kicked into vacuum.

    2. wtrmute says:

      The Apollo XIII have a much much higher surface/volume ratio than the Normandy and basically only lead batteries for a power source, so it’s much easier to cool down. When ships start having enough juice to do the Earth-Mars run in less than a year, heat dissipation starts becoming a real limiting factor in Spaceship design.

      In fact, I predict that when our descendants in the 24th Century look back on our Sci-Fi productions, the thing that will jump out to them the most is probably the lack of radiators on all space ships. And after that, the space friction, but that is off topic, so I’ll stop now…

  26. Rhykker says:

    Well, first off… “Space” itself is not cold, no, because “space” is essentially just that–empty space. So to be pedantic, space can be neither hot nor cold. However, the obvious implication is relatively: when it is said that space is cold, what is implied is that a human floating in space would be cold.

    Moving on… A vacuum is the ultimate insulator. If a human were floating in space (which I’m not sure is the implication in the comic), then the most effective means of heat dispersion (e.g. conduction, convection.) would be be unavailable, leaving only the inefficient radiation of heat. Of course, if the human were in contact with a cooler object, conduction would suck the heat out of said human.

    Without going too far into the mathematics, calculations of blackbody radiation using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation give varying results depending on your input assumptions, however the general consensus is that, if the body is located at Earth orbit (i.e. in relative proximity to the Sun), the body is more likely to overheat to death than freeze to death, because the body would absorb the Sun’s radiation faster than it can radiate its own.

    However, in deep space, far from any significant source of heat, the general consensus is that it would take on the order of hours to freeze to death as the body’s heat slowly radiated away.

    So… Is space “cold?” Maybe. It depends on how far you are from a star. To say that space is “known for being really cold” (to paraphrase the comic) would be incorrect. Again, to be pedantic, a more appropriate statement would be that space is “believed by many to be really cold.” In any event, I do not believe the author’s knowledge is at play here, but the character’s (she is no scientist, after all).

    Further, in the first panel, we observe a ringed gas giant–implying that the ship is not in deep space, but in a solar system. And we cannot infer that the gas giant is located at Jovian orbit distances, because most discoveries of exoplanets to date have been of Jovian-sized planets at roughly Earth-orbit distances. However, the implication may be that they are leaving the solar system and going into deep space–I haven’t played the game, so all I have to go on are Shamus’ and Yahtzee’s comments.

    Sources: My degree in planetary science, but I haven’t dealt with blackbody radiation in a while, so I could be sketchy on the details.


    1. krellen says:

      You still radiate in a vacuum. And most of space is cold, because most of space isn’t anywhere near a star or any other highly radiative source.

      So space is, and should be, “known for being really cold”; the average state of a body in space is “losing heat” – ergo, space is cold.

    2. silver Harloe says:

      The radiation-heat-loss argument can not just be isolated to “within the proximity of a star or not(*)”: If you’re in the penumbra, you can’t expect just a whole lot of heat to reach you from the sun, so your infrared emissions (which turn out to be a significant source of heat loss even on the surface of the Earth: ) would be a lot closer to the “deep space” scenario.

      And the human body isn’t air tight. So, barring a space suit, I would expect a great deal of heat loss from energetic gasses escaping the body (first through the orifices, then through the pores, finally through cellular disruption). While it would take a long, long time for a human body to completely evaporate, the heat loss due to evaporation would be lethal fairly rapidly, and bring the body down to “ridiculously cold” temperatures after a while (though I’m not sufficiently expert enough to put time units on those vague time spans).

      (*) except, of course, statistically, you’re really unlikely to happen to be in the penumbra of a planet if you’re near a star. then again, statistically, you’re really, really, really unlikely to be near a star, so the average condition of space has you losing heat via radiation and evaporation. Which is why it can be considered cold.

      1. Doug Sundseth says:

        Best available evidence (limited) and theory indicates that life (especially sentient life) is quite likely to evolve near stars. It is hard to get far away from stars. Thus, you (where “you” can be read as “sentient being”) are statistically overwhelmingly likely to be near a star.

        Next, “barring a spacesuit”, your least pressing problem is going to be temperature. If you’d like to continue that line of argument, we can also add the similarly spurious argument that “you” includes everything you outgas, in which case your temperature is going to be quite close to 310K. After all, that’s where it starts and only radiation will drop or raise the total kinetic energy of the aggregation (and thus the mean kinetic energy of the molecules).

        “Space” does not have kinetic energy or molecules, therefore its temperature is explicitly undefined. More broadly though, hard vacuums (what most people mean by “space”) can have any temperature at all and can result in changes of temperature of macroscopic objects in either direction and at any rate.

        What temperature is space? I’ll answer that if you answer, “How heavy is a rock?”. In both cases, the answer will be arbitrary.

        1. silver Harloe says:

          Hey, I didn’t say that in the “barring a space suit” scenario, heat loss would be your only problem.

          1 “A grain of sand exists, somewhere”
          2 “You are soooo wrong. There are billions of grains of sand.”

          I’ll give you the “hard vacuum can change temperature up or down” point. Because, of course, we define vacuum as the lack of presence of “stuff” but usually allow any number of photons in, so naturally, absent qualifications of radiation, hard vacuum can always raise temperature, at virtually any rate. Though I suspect there’s a maximum rate at which one can lose temperature in hard vacuum, having to do with the objects own ability to radiate.

          I’m not sure I’ll give you the “very likely to be near a star” argument for two reasons. First, most space opera is about interstellar travel. Secondly, when people say “it is cold in space,” they generally probably mean “deep” space, or at least “deepish” space.

          A radiation-free hard vacuum, I’ll argue, can be said to be “cold,” however, for a new reason I did not previously discuss.
          This reason is so plain that I should have thought of it yesterday and used it to begin with. As you say, a radiation-free hard-vacuum lacks particles to contain kinetic energy, and, lacking radiation, we can also discount the temperature of photons. Therefore it cannot have any heat.

          But consider the definition of cold. While heat has physical basis, “cold” does not – cold is merely the absence of heat. To say “it is cold in space” is to say “there is not much heat in space.” The more vigorously one argues that there is not heat in space – not even a basis for heat to exist in space – the more one proves that is cold in space.
          (Since the majority of space is nearly as free of infrared radiation as it is of matter).

          1. silver Harloe says:

            Incidentally, this argument that space is cold exactly parallels the argument that space is silent.
            “Space lacks the medium (fluid/matter+radiation) to have any (sound/heat) at all. Therefore the property of “absence of” (sound/heat) can be said to be maximized.”

            So I’m totally agreeing with you, that space cannot have a property of ‘heat’ at all :)

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