Actually I’ll get something off of my chest which has been seriously bugging me but because I’m still pretty much a newbie to this whole thing I felt it wasn’t my place to point it out but a nice bottle of Welsh porter and some good ol’ Aussie bashing (2005 Ashes DVD on the go) stiffens the resolve like no other.

I’m talking about the use (or overuse) of accents in webcomics. There are few but glaring examples where English accents really do get abused like some poor child extra from Oliver being sent to a Catholic orphanage.

One which really does like to take the whip to the English accent is the otherwise impeccably awesome Dead.Winter which is so awesome, so very very very very awesome. I really cannot emphasise just how bloody brilliant the comic is. The story, action and dialogue is absolutely brilliant. Seriously I can’t really describe how much I love this comic and if anyone knocks any other aspect of the comic I’ll defend it to the death.

But for one thing.

English. Accents. One huge mashup of various accents. The start of this solitary niggle in a fantastic sportscar of a comic began with the appearance of the central character’s aggressive consciousness which appeared in her dreams. Clad in armour with an eyepatch and a devil may care attitude she seemed awesome..

…until she opened ‘er bleedin’ mouth aye? Oi fink that she were takin’ da piss with that feckin’ accent which sounded loik somefink outta Mary ‘oppin’s or somefink!

Oi were aghast loik. Loik really really aghast an’ stoff.

Okay I’ll stop now. As you can see it made me cringe. Really did. Its like when you meet someone whose mere voice makes one wince and pray to yonder gods to deliver you away from this man. And so I tried to ignore the really awful slang and read through the comic and was handsomely rewarded.

However I knew that hard-girl Lizzie would make a comeback which she did as awful as ever but again I persevered because the rewards for enduring the awful slang would be handsome indeed and they were as it turned out.

Enter the second Brit.This time even worse than Lizzie. Some kind of Johnny Rotten kind of punk character who slipped between pseudo-Irish to Yorkshire only then snapping to cockney English.

Aye, an’ wen you ‘afta endure dis utter rubbish yer ‘afta knaw’yer teef or loik take a’stiff drink an’ stuff yer savvy?

After a migraine I found him tied to a horse ridden by a character whose accent was one of the better constructed ones of the comic. Thus, knowing our Paddy McRotten’s time on this earth was short I have relaxed again but felt I had to get this off my chest.

One thing I’ve found horrible to do is try and make someone who is for example Latin American sound Latin American without making him sound like Chico the stereotypical gaucho man. In fact its a struggle to make Kathy sound American without ending up making her a middle class English lass. So I understand that when you have a character who is British for example there is that huge challenge to make it sound British without sounding utterly silly.

However there is a wrong way and there is a right way.

I was asked recently by Jules to advise how to properly do the dialogue for Marsh Rocket’s British character but this advice can be applied to characters from other cultures. This is where diligent research and useless pub quiz knowledge come in handy.

The key is to look at how modern Brits speak. Look at YouTube, check out clips from British news networks and television shows and gauge what they say and how they say it.

Don’t feel compelled to slang it out. It ruins delivery, makes it harder for people to read and understand. It basically screams “HEY! GUYS! I’M FOREIGN! CAN YOU TELL BY MY ACCENT?!” which in a way feels extremely patronising in places.

Instead, pick your slang and your words carefully. Is the Brit referring to his lawn? Use “front garden” instead. Is the Brit getting something from the trunk of his car? He’s actually getting it from his “boot”. Is the Brit taking the elevator down to the first floor to leave the building? You may find he’s getting the “lift” down to the “ground floor.” Is the Brit being attacked on the sidewalk? Thats the “pavement.”

Its those little things which make all the difference. You’re subtly asserting the character’s nationality without turning him into a ridiculous stereotype more suited to appearing on WWE Raw facing off with Triple H.

Thats why I love Marsh Rocket’s Al and absolutely adore Dead.Winter…apart from hard-arsed Lizzie and…that gimp in the leather jacket whom both I absolutely detest.

EDIT 1st of Septmber, 2010: Sweet mother of god they’re all at it now. Again, another fantastic comic but when not even Scots can’t decipher the lingo and there are multiple debates over whether “effin” means “fucking” or “if” then you’ve failed to convey whatever the character is saying. The audience wants to read a comic and not sit there trying to decode the slang for twenty minutes.