|The Order of the Stick|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, comedy, speech bubbles.|
|Launch date||Be damned if I know.|
|Update schedule||Don't even mention it.|
|Art style||Don't mention that, either.|
The Order of the Stick (OOTS), written and illustrated by Rich Burlew, is a fantasy stick figure webcomic. To go more in-depth; 'fantasy’ means it features magic, ‘stick figure’ means the art is blatantly lazy, and ‘webcomic’ means the whole work is a foul, deprived attempt at replicating real literature.
While the comic is primarily distributed online, it has been published in several book collections; mostly to sate Rich's ravenous greed. For some reason, people actually purchase these books, regardless of the fact that they can read them for free online. This is a baffling conundrum that has never failed to stump critics.
Imagine a place where your worst nightmares mix with your wildest dreams. Where your deepest lusts fuse with your primal fears. A place where tobacco is the primary source of food.
I have no idea what you are imagining right now, and I have absolutely no clue what it’s got to do with anything. Let's get back on topic.
The OOTS story takes place in a world run by D&D rules, and follows the tale of a band of incompetent heroes as they attempt to stop an evil-lich-king-sorcerer from taking over the world. The adventurers are: Roy; the sane one, Durkon; the boring one, Belkar; the evil one, Elan; the stupid one, Varsuvius; the verbose androgynous one, and Haley; the girl. And in case you need clarification, yes - Rich has the creativity of a decomposing goldfish.
Luckily (or not so luckily), Rich makes up his lack of imagination with his wordiness. It has been said that he could scrap the comic format altogether and just draw speech bubbles, because it wouldn't make much of a difference.
To put it simply: there are a shit-ton of speech bubbles. White speech bubbles, red speech bubbles and even some black-with-purple-outline speech bubbles, all filled with the intoxicating stench of deep internal monologues and long-winded moral debates. Trying to read one page takes about twenty minutes, just because of the overwhelming mountains of text that explain every single detail even slightly relevant to the dragging plot - they block characters and overflow off the page, slowly suffocating you under the staggering weight of unwanted information, driving out every last particle of goodness from each and every pore of your body and filling it with dead, dark hatred that ranks of pure malice distilled in the fires of the Devil himself.
What was I talking about again?
Granted, Rich has made some improvements over the years, mostly to his 'art'. Developing the highly-sophisticated feature of straight panel lines, for instance. And having character's hands actually hold their weapon, instead of just hanging about nearby as the sword levitates like some unexplained magical crap. He still has to fix up those eyes, though. Uneven as hell.
- Roy Greenhilt: The leader and primary meat-shield of the Order. His last name is 'Greenhilt' due to the fact that his armor is blue. Definitely not because his sword has a green hilt. That would be silly.
- Durkon Thundershield: The dull, dwarven Cleric of the team. He's that dull I can't even think of anything funny to say about him.
- Elan: Elan is the brains of the team. He is quick-thinking, logical and extremely intelligent. And if you don't want to click those links, just know that they support everything I just said.
- Haley Starshine: The greedy rogue, Haley left the Thieves Guild to become an adventurer. The Guild declared her a kill-on-sight enemy, so naturally she decided to return there in Book 4. Hilarity and hijinks ensued.
- Varsuvius: The gender-ambiguous high elf mage of the Order. Varsuvius cast a mass-murder spell, and months later, cried when he/she realised it had made him/her a mass-murderer. He/she also got a haircut somewhere along the way.
- Belkar Bitterleaf: He is a sexy shoeless god of war. No more needs to be said.
- Xykon: Xykon the Sorcerer is the main antagonist of the comic. He is skeletal in appearance, probably because he is a lich. A dead sorcerer with his sorcerous soul stored away. Undead! (He is also the main antagonist.)
- Redcloak: Redcloak is Xykon's right-hand goblin. He has often referred to as one of the most tragic characters in the comic, since the time he accidently deleted all the backups on his Mac. Redcloak is named 'Redcloak' due to the fact that he has black armor. Definitely not because he wears a red cloak. That would be silly.
- Tarquin: Tarquin is Elan's father and one of the primary villains. No matter what, Tarquin is always correct, always the coolest and can never be beaten, as Rich never ceases to remind us. It's a universal constant, like gravity. Or all those speech bubbles.
- Tsukiko: A Mystic Theurge necrophiliac who was in love with Xykon. She died in comic 830, when she made the mistake of having a group hug with some wights.
- Nale: The leader of the Linear Guild (the Order's mirror counterparts), Nale is Elan's identical twin. He has often impersonated his brother to use his credit card, and write embarrassing posts using his Facebook account. Once or twice he even tried to murder him.
- Blackwing: Vaarsuvius's raven familiar. His name is 'Blackwing' due to the fact that Rich Burlew has the creativity of a festering mongoose. Also, because his wings are black.
- Miko Miyazaki: A crazy paladin girl who murdered Lord Shojo and decided to blow up Azure City Castle.
What art style?
Oh, you mean the stick figures.
Moving right along.
Rich Burlew currently updates the comic at such a depressingly slow speed that some have likened its appearance schedule to that of Halley’s Comet. Most agree that that is a gross understatement, however.
Rich takes more time to draw one page of his stick figure comic then most writers take to write a whole book, or even a whole book series. Some say it’s a sick attempt at torturing his readers, others argue pure incompetence. It is certain, however, that Rich updates so rarely it is probable that you will never witness an update within your lifetime. Long-time readers still look back fondly at the days when the comic updated more than once a decade; now, however, it has slowed to an anaemic five hundred squillion years for each update (when Rich is in a good mood). And that’s when it’s not on indefinite hiatus.
The OOTS forums are hosted on the same website as the comic. Here, hoards of geeky users discuss and post about anything they want. Just as long as they don't talk about the abysmal update schedule, of course. Or mention real-world religion. Or politics. Or say the word 'dick'. Or post slightly off-topic. Or spell a word wrong. Or post without the exactly correct character count.
But other than that, they are free to discuss whatever they want.
Despite their good-enforcing Nazi admins, thousands of posters on the forums still manage discuss roleplaying games, webcomics, movies, books, fan art, personal problems, play-by-post games, and kick-the-can. Sometimes, they even get around to talking about OOTS!
- ↑ Partly so he can feed himself, too.