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Web Comics: Megatokyo

June 9, 2008

Hello and welcome back to cOmic eXpress. It’s Monday, June 9th

I’ll be continuing my look at some free online comics this week. Today is Megatokyo. Wednesday will be Real Life Comics and we’ll end the week on Friday with PvP online. Now that you know the plan lets get into the juicy bits. 

Megatokyo and the others mentioned are web comics. All three now offer book collections but they were humbly started on the web. 

Background: Megatokyo was started in 2000 predominantly as a gaming/anime comic. In the ensuing years it has changed quite a bit. The original creators Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston (the basis for the in comic characters Piro and Largo) split up due to creative differences but Gallagher has continued with the comic. 

Using the split to take the comic where he wanted Gallagher introduced an over-arching story-line, multiple other characters, and has made the comic go from day to day funnies but to more of a manga-esque story. 

Generally, Gallagher updates on a M,W,F schedule but the man is the most erratic updater of all time. He always profusely apologizes for it and does provide a kind of filler art on the days when he can’t provide a full page but it has gotten old over the years. 

What really sucks is Gallagher’s friend Dom when he does filler art for Gallagher’s missed days. They’re not funny stick figure drawings about nothing that really pertains to the comic. Occasionally, the writing is funny but not enough to make inserting them into the comic. It’s a bit annoying really.

Fans who like to meet the creators of the comics they read will be pleased with Gallagher. The new father generally goes to A-con, Sakura-con, and a couple of other smaller ones through out the US. His baby might hamper that these days but from the sounds of it he still plans on hitting a few cons. Megatokyo is his job. 

The Comic: The basic plot line of Megatokyo is that two Americans, Piro and Largo, end up stranded in Japan with no money. At first they live with a friend but he leaves to America and they boys have to find a way to survive. Piro speaks Japanese fairly well and Largo just likes b33r and games and only speaks English. Somehow they get a job at a manga store and have lived above the store ever since. 

The first year of the comic has a semi-story line but it is mostly stand alone dailies. After the creator split the story starts to mesh more and has a general direction. It still has funny moments with many ridiculous things happening in the story. For example, recently Tokyo has been under attack by a zombie horde, a godzilla type creature, magic girls, and fan-boys after Piro’s female friend. Wild.

One of the biggest problems that I’ve found with this comic is the erratic updating. It generally follows the monday, wednesday, friday schedule. What it really hurts is the story line. When you spend 3 or 4 days between a Friday comic and then have to wait till wednesday for the next part of the story you tend to lose it a bit. 

However, Gallagher has released 4 collections of the comic. It really helps bind the story together when you can sit down and spend some time reading it page after page instead of waiting for the next update. The dialogue and art is really good. I would recommend checking out his novels before hitting up the website to follow it. 

I would describe Gallagher’s style as American manga. He has a deep love for Japanese anime and manga and you can see the influence of it in his art. He also has this weird thing for sad girls. The story does make sense if you can sit down with it and over the past eight years he has really developed the characters into people with a history that you understand and can empathize with. Even some of the less likable characters like Dom and Tohya are people that the reader knows and understands their motives. 

My recommendation: I say check it out if you like manga. I recommend picking up the collections 1 – 4 and then maybe going to the website. Even then though I’m thinking about no longer reading the website and just waiting for his collections to come out. I’m going to give Megatokyo a higher grade than it deserves. I know the Dom comics are terrible, and the updating is erratic but based solely on the collections, the art, and the fact that I’ve been reading this comic since 2002 it gets a:

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Scyo.

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. mentatjack permalink
    June 10, 2008 2:31 am

    I read Megatokyo early on and it actually got me more into web comics in general, but I fell away from it because of the erratic schedule you mentioned.

    Can’t wait for your reviews of Real Life and PvP online. You might consider Penny Arcade as well, it kinda feels like a part of this group to me.

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