Author: Marc Alan Fishman

Webcomics You Should Have Read: ‘The Parking Lot Is Full’

Webcomics You Should Have Read: ‘The Parking Lot Is Full’

I beg of you, gentle ComicMix readers… take a journey with me back in time. Step one? Dust off a pair of “wide leg” jeans. Don your favorite pair of Airwalk low-tops. Grow your hair out a little, and put a Pearl Jam Compact Disk into your brand new Diskman. Step Two? Power up your personal computer. You know the one, with that brand new Intel Pentium chip the kids all talk about. Fire up that 14.4 Baud Modem, and hop on that newfangled ‘Information Super-Highway’. Welcome to 1993 folks! Now that you’re here, you should check out a little known webcomic called “The Parking Lot Is Full”.

The brief history on said comic comes from it’s own tombstone, procured from their site instead of that wiki-pedia thing you “next-gen users” all like so much…


“From 1993 – 2002, The Parking Lot is Full was the comic strip love child of artist Jack McLaren and writer Pat Spacek. Starting as crude little strips published in their university newspaper, the comic quickly took on a life of its own, eventually becoming one of the most popular and infamous comic strips on the internet. After nine years of ups and downs, the creators decided that they’d said everything they wanted to say, so the comic was wrapped up and all the toys put away.”


What made ‘PLIF’ (get used to this folks, cause “The Parking Lot Is Full” takes a while to type) so enjoyable was it’s fascinating combination of Gary Larsen-esque illustrations combined with sharp writing and a touch of the macabre. Unlike several previous recommendations here on ComicMix, ‘PLIF’ had no continuity really to follow. Yes, there are a few reoccurring sock puppets in the later half of the series, but there’s no backstory to follow (well, anymore…). And to be honest, the really juicy strips are true non-sequiturs.

I’ll be frank, folks, this strip features some of the most laugh-out-loud-but-frankly-I-shouldn’t-be-laughing strips I’ve had the pleasure to read for free on the ‘inter-webs’. There’s no need for lengthy exposition on the progression of the art; It’s crude, in gray tones, and unpolished as my car in February. There’s no need to wax poetic about the subject matter; Generally ‘PLIF’ stuck to a cycle of topics including childhood, sex, religion, and conspiracy theories (sometimes in the same strip!). Simply put, if the ‘Far-Side’ was rolled through a plate of broken glass, you’d have “PLIF”. Suffice to say the content can disturb as much as it can inspire fits of laughter… and that’s what I appreciate about it. Now to the cream of the crop (…ahem. WARNING. These Strips Are Not Suitable For Children, and most adults now that I think of it):


Well, this settles an age old debate.
Safe Sex, by PLIF
A Failed Experiment, by Ray Croc.
"I fell out of my chair the first time I saw this"… said my roomate.
You know it’d be true.
A lesson from the Street… Sesame Street.
If this Pre-Dates Animal Man, Grant Morrison should be worried.

So there you have it folks. Kick off the Airwalks, swap that Diskman for an iPod, and plug back into a nice cable modem. This trip back in time is over. Sadly, there is no more strips to be had after you’ve been through their archive. Do yourself a favor though… buy a collection of them in printed form from the ‘PLIF’ store, and show your support for those who dared release this evil into the world.

The Breakdown:

Drama: Well, this is kinda’ dramatic…

Humor: If you don’t find this funny, maybe you’ll find this funny.

Continuity: There’s some Sock Puppets that show up from time to time.

Art: It’s grey, it’s crude, and it’s wonderfully morbid when it needs to be.

Archive: From 1993-2002, you’re looking at quite a few strips. It looks like they didn’t update but several times a month at best… never the less, if you troll through it all, it’s a solid hour or two of fun.

Updates: Unless you suffer from that condition where you still believe it’s 1993-2002… alas, there is no more ‘PLIF’ to be had.

Risk/Reward: As always… it’s free… so there’s little risk involved. Unless you consider reading a strip like this to be dangerous. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘Penny Arcade!’

Penny Arcade!
It’s the trifecta of modern comedy: Sarcasm, Near-Cartoon-Levels-of-Violence, and The Deflowering of Fruit. I speak of a web comic that has consistently delivered all these aspects without fail for over 10 years. Since its creation in 1998, it’s spawned graphic novel collections, a charity that has raised millions of dollars for children’s hospitals, nearly half of my roommate’s funny tee-shirt collection, and its own convention to boot. I speak of Penny Arcade.

In concept it is merely a riff on the (now) age-old Beavis and Butthead theorem: Two dudes and a TV. Swap the TV with a video game system (or PC, or Tabletop RPG), and swap the aforementioned dunderheads with the highly sarcastic Tycho Erasmus Brahe and his friend, the sometimes-sharp-as-a-marble Jonathan "Gabe" Gabriel . The two will comment on various video games they are playing, or wax poetic on other whims and flights-of-fancy we nerds take to heart.

The strip is written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik. Over time the strip added an additional (beloved) character or two… and will (from time to time) not include Gabe or Tycho in lieu of an in-game strip. Be forewarned (if you’ve not been clicking on the links above, because you’re patient unlike me) the boys do love the potty humor and foul language. Never-the-less…. violence, swearing, and video games has always made for excellent laughs.

The guys have a wonderful store chock full of tee’s and hoodies adorned with cute catch phrases only "very cool and socially acceptable" people like us understand. They also recently added a feature allowing you to order any of their strips in a nice high res print, suitable for framing and posting with intent to have your co-workers acknowledge your exquisite taste. Suffice to say, the guys over at the arcade have spent a good long time perfecting their craft, and three days a week you can get your fill. There’s a great archive to dig through, and their news posts, while not as auto-biographical as their Texas counterpart Scott Kurtz, offers some great thoughts about the game industry from time to time.

Some Strips of Note:

The Breakdown:

Drama: Well, aside from the "sagas" from time to time, (see Cardboard Tube Samarai above) there is little is any drama. And it’s probably best that it stays that way.

Humor: Covering everything under the sun in nerditry from video games, role playing, computers, to insider-only game industry humor…all under the banner of cartoon-violence, swearing, and general bafoonery.

Continuity: Well, Gabe and Tycho have been long time friends, but that aside, really, there’s little you’d need to know to start laughing your pooper off.

Art: Mike Krahulik’s artwork has taken considerable leaps over the last 10 years. At the beginning, backgrounds were simple, and the colors were flat. Over time, Mike’s character stylings has gotten looser, and to his credit, far better. The exaggerated figures emote wonderfully. i dare you not to laugh at Gabe’s face when he wishes Tycho vast amounts of pain. At present, the strip is a great example digital painting technique, with a vivid color palate that always compliments it’s subject matter; Be it in Fantasy, Space, or just ‘Guys on the Couch’.

Archive: The strip is over 10 years old… Generally three strips a week over the course of 10 years? By my math that’s over a boatload.

Updates: Currently updates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Risk/Reward: It’s a free web comic folks. By my dime, it’s well worth your time if you like topical nerd humor with a dash of blood, guts and laughter. Plus, every now and then you get a strip like this.


Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo coming from Reed in 2010

Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo coming from Reed in 2010

The city of big shoulders will soon hold up a second "as major as you can get in the midwest" comic convention. As announced today by the fine folks who bring you the New York City Comic Con, the newly dubbed Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (or for us locals, the aptly catchy ‘C2E2’) will take the city by storm April 16th-18th, 2010 in the ‘As Deep As Our Pizza’ McCormick Place Convention Center.

Boasting the fastest growing attendance list in recent memory, Reed Exhibitions promises to come to town with guns a’ blazing, Capone style. Lance Fensterman, Vice President and Show Manager (for this year’s impending New York Comic Con, and the aforementioned Chicago show) wants to let the fans know that they are “aiming big”:

“We plan to apply everything we have learned in launching and building New York Comic Con to our Chicago event and we intend for it to be a major attraction right out the gate. Of course, this not only means providing a customer friendly atmosphere but also providing dynamic programming that boasts top talent from across the pop culture spectrum, including artists, creators and celebrities from Hollywood, TV, comics, books, video games, toys,  Anime, Manga and all other applicable aspects of the popular arts.  But, most importantly, we will also seek to make adjustments so that our show reflects the essence of Chicago.  This will be critically important.  The city itself will form an important part of our identity.”

Prior to this, Chicago has been host to Wizard World Chicago, as well as the new-and-not-created-by-corporate-overlords-grassroots Windy City Con. Given the recent announcement of Wizard World Austin’s demise and the postponing of Wizard World LA, it seems the wave of change hitting the nation is hitting the con circuit too.