Monday, October 17, 2011

Ye Olde Pet Peeves

It's not like I was hoping for an apology from Skipping Out creator Eric Schlegel. But I'm still disappointed to see that after all the hate I - and a handful of others, on Tumblr - directed at their trans hate fest earlier this year.. has had zero impact. If Schlegel saw it, he's made no mention, and there's definitely been no note on trans issues that might make things somewhat better or more understandable. Meanwhile, the comic is drudging on in its usual style. The strips are less and less frequent in coming, and the characters and plot are going nowhere. Oddly, the header keeps changing now and then even if there's no new strip.

Another comic that never changes is Questionable Content. Actually, there was a rather ambitious and successful visual thing with the camping trip a while back, but out of the main characters, only Marten was there. I just don't feel much for Padma or her niece or this new guy whatshisface. It almost seems like Jeph Jacques gets sick of his characters and discards them to show us some new people. The new characters are then faded out into a small role or disappear completely, while new ones take over. In fact, the only real exception seems to be Hannelore. This has been going on since the beginning of the strip. (See also: Sven, Jimbo, Raven, Penelope, Tai,  Faye's sister, Marten's band, etc.)

It's been my pet peeve for a long time, but I've really almost quit reading QC. Its incoherent time frame and narrative structure has gone on for so long that it's become a thing. It's like, the QC style, and this is not a style I particularly like. Either Jacques is not my kind of author, or he doesn't know at all what he's doing with the comic.

Well Done, Sinfest!

Sinfest has always been awesome, but it totally blew me away with this feminist comic. Patriarchy - it's everywhere.

Funny, nerdy, non-preachy, and so very true. A+.

Everybody Poops

Moments you might want to share with the world: finding a dry wish fountain.

Moments you might not want to share with the world: your son's poop was shaped like the number 2.

Learn the difference, James Kochalka. How do you think Oliver will feel when he gets older and sees this?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Questionable Bodies

This week in QC: Jeph Jacques decides to stop drawing Marigold's AnthroPC Momo as an adorable little chibi, and turns her into another thin girl instead. BLAH. As if that isn't bad enough, we get a dose of the old "if you're not skinny, you're fat" crap. So Marigold should just exercise more and eat better, and she'd be skinny like Dora and Hannelore, right? Now where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, every single time Faye's eating is mentioned.

Sometimes I get an overpowering urge to rewrite a comic. So here we go.
Momo: "If you are unhappy with how you look, you could eat better and exercise more."
Marigold: "Right, that would solve my body image issues. Thanks for the tip."

Or maybe:
Marigold: "You know what, if you get an attitude, I can take your chassis back and switch it to a fat one."

Or even:
Marigold: "Well, but I like eating and don't like exercise. I'm still allowed to have bouts of low self esteem, right?"

Anything other than "That's so much work!" See, it's all about willpower. Thin girls are thin because they work hard, and chubby girls are chubby because they don't do anything about it. As soon as you pick up the slack and start exercising, you get skinny, simple as that. It's particularly ironic that Momo, who did absolutely nothing to earn her figure, is saying this.

The problem with how women - and men too, as a matter of fact - are depicted on QC is twofold:
1. everybody is skinny, apart from a few people, so their slight chubbiness stands out as an anomaly. This is the opposite of how things are in the real world. There are quite a few skinny people, of course, but they're not the norm, and a girl of Faye's or Marigold's size wouldn't raise any eyebrows.

2. Every time Jacques tries to address body image and beauty ideals, he ends up being an ass about it. I'm not sure if he means to be; probably not. I'll admit that it's a really difficult topic to write about, and it's hard not to make some generalizations, since we do live in a culture where skinny is seen as both healthy and ideal. But I do feel like he should look into the issues a little bit before he writes about it. I'm tempted to say "no female body, no opinion", but I won't, because men can and do understand the pressures women are under.

If, by any chance, I've  misinterpreted Jacques and he actually means to say "it's tough to be a chubby girl when everyone else is skinny", I have this to say: learn to write outside of the box of "skinny girl lectures chubby girl about lifestyle". I remember one sweet conversation Faye had about her body with Marten, but every time she brought it up with the other girls, she got this same attitude (including Penelope dragging her to the gym for a torture and taunting session). The question is why Faye chooses to hang out with such bitches.

Last time I dared question the brilliance of Mr Jacques, I got a mob of angry QC fans attacking me for a month, including snide comments on the comic's forum. So if you're a fan and think this is unfair, argue your point in a calm manner. I'm not going to publish flames.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Everest.

So it's Guest Strip week on Questionable Content. I hope it ends soon, if this is the guest artists' best effort. WTF is "My Everest"? Is it supposed to say Mt Everest? Are we body-shaming Faye again? Wouldn't Hannelore know that the buttHOLE is small even on a big butt? There are so many things wrong with this. On the other hand, the fans of the strip must feel right at home, because the dialogue, setup and punchline really sound like Original QC. This travesty was brought to us by Dave Willis, and I didn't click on his comic link, because I've seen enough.

Although I did really like this guest strip by Dave Kellett (are they all called Dave?), which poses the question "why do we never talk about how weird it is that there are all these flippin' robots around???" Yeah, why don't they? Is the strip supposed to be set in a possible future, or in an alternate present? (I guess, by the indie bands mentioned, an alternate present time where nothing but the robots is different from our world.) I wish Jacques explored this, or lost the robots if all he wants to do is relationship stuff and indie band references. It just seems a bit gratuitous. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Drive-By Notes, Part 4

I'm still not totally sure what sprites are, but I'm really liking this personality test at Roby's Sprites. Both the questions (complete with typos) and the answers are pretty accurate.

So let's see what the Webcomics List has to offer, haven't done these in a while.

1-600. I'm not sure what to say about this. The drawings are cute, but the speech bubbles kind of fill the small panels, and it looks crowded. It might work better with bigger panels. The meerkat arc doesn't make much sense to me, so maybe I'll flip back a few strips... No, I don't really see the arc emerging. Slightly confusing to jump into. I really think there should be more and/or bigger panels, this reads too much like a newspaper strip, and the format doesn't do the drawings justice. The art is actually pretty good.

At Wit's End shocks me with the completely black silhouette characters. Why is it shocking? It looks like a simple enough pun strip, but the characters look somehow scary, like they're meant to represent dead people.  It could be a cool original art thing, but the panel division - again, small newspaper-strip esque panels - and puns are far from ambitious. I closed the tab when I came to this one: "That's why they call me 'The Too Fat to Ever Be Loved' Tie Guy". The character is not fat; it's a horrible thing to say even if he was; and I just arghhh whatever. Stop knocking fat people for no reason, random webcomic artists. Moving on.

Buni has some refreshing originality to offer. Very cute drawings with very dark stories and no dialogue whatsoever. It's reminiscent of some silent Perry Bible Fellowship strips, which is always a good sign. I will visit this strip again. (Here, too, bigger panels wouldn't hurt, but it doesn't bug me as much when the content is less newspaper-strip-y.)

Does Not Play Well With Others: nice title, but I always lose interest if there's that much text in small panels. It takes away from the art, which again is cute. Trying to read the text, I'm running into "[reference to this and that character], [gaming] and [possibly character-driven pun I don't quite get]". So it's also a comic that requires a bit of reading to get into. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm drive-bying right now.

Frankentoast. Loved the title, but the strip is - a sick child asking, "Am I gonna see God, Mommy? Am I gonna die?" Is this supposed to be funny? I... don't get it. Flipped back a couple of strips and I still don't. get. any. of. these. Is it me or is it the comic? It seems like it could be creative; it's a one-panel strip, which I usually like; but the humor just doesn't compute. Weird.

Flakeday. This one's really interesting. There's a unique perspective going on here that I like. It's sort of like a diary strip, but half-imaginary. The art is simple, but skilful, and the color scheme seems to be sepia, which fits well. I like this a lot. Favorite line: "I think we've been neglecting our cat. He's put on some weight and started talking too." :D

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slices of Life and Other Issues o' the Week

This week in Questionable Content: Marten realizes he must be... a townie. I'm not sure why that matters, and I came to ponder on how often QC actually does strips where Marten says he's not something and the others say he sure is.

If Jacques wanted to do something fun and new, why not go meta? The kids love meta these days. Watch an episode of Community and learn! Make fun of why Marten goes out for coffee every day. Make him question the need for such a routine. Have him pick up some new hangout and be all "Hmm, this doesn't really fit this strip". It's the lack of taking this sort of risk that makes the strip boring to me.

Edit: revising this post, I realized the strip kind of went meta with introducing the "bizarro coffee shop". Not only do the employees look like the regular cast, they also act the same. So Jacques kind of is making fun of his own concept. It was fun - for one strip. But making them regulars, which seems to be happening, kind of kills the joke.

Edit 2: flipping back through the strips to find the first bizarro coffee shop one - I realize many, many strips start with the word "so". As in, "so you really lived on a space station", "so I think Cosette will move in with me". It kind of suggests this constant stream of dialogue and events, but I suspect Jacques uses it to remind his readers of story strings he hasn't addressed in the last few months.

Slice of life must be hard, because picking the slices to present is the biggest problem. Which brings us to  American Elf: Uh, yeah, people have dreams about other people's genitals. It's just a little creepy if you dream of your kid's penis and then tell the whole world. Or is it? Kochalka seems to have this childlike innocence about genitalia, poop, and various other things that grown ups generally don't talk about. I love his childlikeness, but I guess I draw the line at these taboo topics. Should I? Am I being a prude? Why do I always question myself when I criticize Kochalka? He's not a god. Please don't show your kids' genitals in your strip, people. I know it's not meant sexually, but eww, and what if some kids from his school read it? Moving on.

After such deep and disturbing pondering, Buttersafe gives us more Robot Cat, and I really don't have more to say than - hee, so cute! He looks just like my kittywitty! *coos* (Is being a pet owner mushing up my critiquing skills?)

Marc Johns gives us 100 % natural arm hair. I... :D Johns' talent is, above all, relating random things to each other in a funny way. Not a lot of comic artists know how to do this. It must mean his brain is a little weird and jumps into weird places all of a sudden. I love that.

..while Sinfest's strength is making fun of cultural phenomena and people's silly beliefs. "I'm back. And I'm buff." is so perfect.

At Abstruse Goose, we have a very sad bee story. I love the level of detail their language has.

Question Duck finds his match: Answer Chick! Awesome. Ah, I see this is in fact a guest strip by the author of Roby's Sprites! I realize I don't know what sprites are. I'm such a comics noob. I should look into this and make a separate post. Maybe the sprite-related Question Duck gives some clue.