Creator/s: Bill Taylor
Run: 1/11-current
Schedule: Su/Th
Section/s: Strips 98-121

Website: The site has a light, psychedelic feel to it that works for this kind of comic. The creator also has some cool voting incentives and has a lot of interaction with the readers who post comments.

The cast page has white text on a light background, making the words difficult to read. The HTML in the cast page also isn't very good -- a table format would look better, and the readability problem could then be fixed by giving the cells their own background color.

The change-on-hover navigation buttons are a nice touch. By the way, for all you aspiring webcartoonists out there, here's a trick you can use to do this effect pretty easily:

< a href= your link url onMouseOver= "if (document.images) document.abcdefg.src= 'image url 1';" onMouseOut= "if (document.images) document.abcdefg.src= 'image url 2'; >< img src="image url 2" name=abcdefg border=0 >< /a >

Just replace the bold parts with real URLS, and replace "abcdefg" with whatever you want, and you're good to go! Try it! You could even use animated GIFs as navigation buttons this way.

Oh, and I expected the banner at the top of the site to link to the comic's home page, but it actually goes to some random Photobucket page.

Lastly, the creator's done an excellent job of sticking to his Sunday-Thursday schedule.

Writing: So we've got a slice-of-life gag comic wrapped in an epic science-fiction plot. It seems like a decent setup, but my overall impression's that this overarching sci-fi concept's not meshing well with the funny parts. This is a comic simply trying to do too much at once. The story's that the loser protagonist is extremely important for some unclear reason, and there are some people trying to kill him while others are trying to protect him. There's time-travel involved, too; it's actually kinda like a silly, actionless version of The Terminator. The comic always seems to be unsure of itself, as if it's saying, "Hmmm. Should I use this strip for plot development, or for a joke? I guess I'll do both." It's possible to do both, but the creator seems a little overwhelmed with the task. In fact, my favorite strips of the ones I read are simple gag comics unrelated to the plot, like this one and this one. It's hard enough just trying to write a funny gag strip; writing a funny gag strip that's also an epic sci-fi story at the same time is even harder.

Tripp has a catch that's pretty obvious in the comic and its banners: the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe's in it. It's a cute idea, but most of his role's just doing and saying goofy things that you wouldn't expect, as well as being the comic relief to complement Tripp's seriousness. Personally, I don't find the Poe concept particularly clever or funny, and he's definitely my least favorite character in the comic, usually just popping up at the end of a strip to deliver an irreverent joke. I'm also not a fan of how Tripp is handled as a character, because everything that happens just seems to be iterating on how much of a loser he is, and it gets old pretty quickly. The creator's solution seems to be to raise Tripp's loser status to epic proportions, but it seems a little heavy-handed. His involvement in the love triangle with Coco and Proxy also seems forced -- it's amusing that these two attractive women are competing over a loser like Tripp, but the comic does a poor job of supporting the plausibility of this scenario.

My favorite character's probably actually the Marlboro Man who pops up in Tripp's dreams once in a while. He's basically Tripp's id, and it's cool to see Tripp's psychology represented visually.

Art: It's clearly very competent for a gag comic, and it's more like what I'd expect to see in a full-page serial. The most unusual thing about the artwork is the wavy, distorted effect placed on top of the backgrounds -- this helps give the comic a "tripping out" feel, as well as making the mundane settings look a little more interesting. The creator seems comfortable drawing the realistic anatomy, both with the male and female characters, and the coloring's simple but attractive.

All of the characters have pretty interesting and distinct designs. Tripp, with his messy hair, baggy eyes, and dress shirt, makes a great office pawn, and reminds me of Edward Norton's character in Fight Club. The two female love interests look very different, with Coco being the hot bombshell and Proxy looking like "the girl next door." Luke's perfectly geeky, and Poe obviously has his own thing going on.

Tripp suffers a little from the repetitiveness of the waist-up shots, but this is to be somewhat expected in a dialogue-heavy gag comic, and the creator does a pretty good job of varying poses and facial expressions. The backgrounds are also fairly detailed, and the creator does a good job of changing up the setting to give the backgrounds some variety. For example, a strip like this, which could take place anywhere, is set in a fast-food restaurant, which makes it look a little more interesting.

Lastly, Tripp's weak, deflated speech bubbles are a nice touch for emphasizing the wimpiness of his character.

Overall: From reading Tripp, I feel like its creator isn't very comfortable mixing the humor and plot elements of the writing. The humorous parts seem too forced to be particularly funny, and the plot parts are too vague and silly to be compelling. It's certainly an ambitious approach, though, and while the creator doesn't execute it very well, I give him credit for trying to do something out of the ordinary. I expect Tripp to eventually settle on being either a goofy comic with a little bit of a plot, or a serious comic with some humorous elements. The art's already quite good, so I can see the comic catching on if the writing gets more clever and focused.


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