Webcomic Review: The Adventures of Lil’ Chad

With all the bullshit that we’ve been hearing out of the likes of Disney, I’m for making alternative outlets of entertainment. But there is a challenge faced by those willing to make wholesome entertainment, and that’s making something that anyone is going to give a care about.

If something goes too far in being wholesome and family-friendly, they risk losing the interest of the intended younger viewers. It’s no secret that much of the entertainment that children consume today has a bit of an edge to it. This especially holds true as children discover anime. Even anime geared towards children, such as Yu-Gi-Oh, can have a dark element. It’s not counterproductive when you consider the fact that the world is a dark and dangerous place, a fact that the fairy tales of old did well to prepare children for.

Considering how saccharine The Adventures of Lil’ Chad is, it’s easy to see that it’s not going to do well in holding the interest of children. If given the choice between reading this webcomic and going outside, they’d take their magnifying glass with them and go fry some ants.

This webcomic is boring.

The Adventures of Lil’ Chad stars a little boy named Chad (of course) as he interacts with various characters in his family and neighborhood, and learns about the world around him. Which makes it sound like Yotsubato, except Lil’ Chad would be the empty, hollow, desiccated husk left over if Yotsubato had all entertainment value sucked out of it.

This comic’s right-wing politics become apparent in the very first installment:

That woman in the boots with the blue hair and with the “resistance fist” is the source of much of this comic’s conflict. She’s Chad’s aunt, and she just moved in because Chad’s parents help family out. She’s a left-wing feminist, whose preferred pronouns are “they/them”. And her name is Karen.

I hope you’re not making a drinking game out of this.

Chad’s Mom is Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Okay, not really. But tell me whether you see the resemblance:

Her personality is that she has none. That’s why her bio is about other characters:

Not that she’s at all alone, as none of the other characters have personality either. She’s just notable for having a deeper personality deficit than the rest.

Then there’s Chad’s Dad, Chad Sr.. Check out this beast of a man:

No, that is not Johnny Bravo. This comic wants you to believe that Chad Sr. got that way by lifting and consuming plenty of protein. I call bullshit. There is a limit to how far a person can get as a natty lifter.

Other characters include the male feminist Todd Soyer (yes, “soy” is in his name), Chad’s friend Ray and his father Curtis (both black, because this webcomic is not racist), and Chrissie, a 10-year-old girl who dresses like a trad wife.

Did a substitute teacher get chibified? Nope, that’s supposed to pass for a 10-year-old.

Look, we’ve got to talk about the panel layout. Here’s a full comic, presented in entirety:

The 4-panel comic layout has been criticized by popular cartoonists such as Bill Watterson for being restrictive, while some more optimistically view it as a challenge to work within. But I think we all know that most daily cartoonists aspire to see their cartoons become greeting-card sellers in the same sense as Maxine (who is funny), or Garfield (who is not). And they’re willing to cope with the limitations if that’s what it takes to turn their cartoons into goldmines of merchandise.

Webcomic artists are under no pressure from newspaper syndication to use a particular format. Meaning, these artists are free to use the boundless potential of webcomics with any panel layout of their choosing, or, as is sometimes the case, to abandon panels in favor of sequential drawings (such as Classes).

So, why? Why would a webcomic writer and artist agree together to accept a format that is universally seen as restrictive? Could it be that the writer and artist pair actually aspire to be under the thumb of newspaper syndication?

Speaking of, the writer had this to say about the process of producing The Adventures of Lil’ Chad in his blog:

I have never had more sympathy for George Lucas in my life before I actually had to revise and approve my creation for public consumption.

I was honestly taken aback by the sheer audacity it took for the author to make this statement. For all the problems that Star Wars has, it’s still a feat of worldbuilding, storytelling, and character development, and to top it all off, the production values are state-of-the-art. The Adventures of Lil’ Chad is dull and half-hearted, every step of the way, and can in no way be compared to the rich, chocolatey escapism dreamed up by George Lucas. I do not buy that the same kind of effort was put into this webcomic.

But maybe you can if you can look at this and call it “quality art”:

There’s no shading. Most of what’s geometric is viewed head-on, I suppose because drawing anything besides a right-angle is hard. I know that the rules of anatomy and proportion can be relaxed by saying that you’re going for something stylistic. But the colors are so garish that I suspect that this comic would be better if it were greyscaled.

Because I was curious, I opened the above panel with paint.net, then went to Effects > Color > Quantize, then turned the color all the way down. This was the result:

Sure, it still looks like crap. But it has a certain charm, like a cheap-o cartoon in a print college newspaper. And it’s much easier on the eyes.

Oh, and if you’re up for lulz, disgraced internet celebrity Jack Murphy actually makes a couple cameos. Which makes me suspicious that the author might be a member of Jack’s cult, The Liminal Order.

The above panel gains a new dimension in light of Jack’s cuckolding controversy.

Most of the comics follow the formula to either building up to a right-wing zinger or to a heartwarming moment. None of which I actually found funny, except the second issue, and none of them seemed more insightful than issue 14, which pointed out that steak is a whole food.

As a bit of an aside, I can point out that Chad’s family seems to have something against carbs. As in, they don’t have any, except on rare occasions. What I’m getting at is, don’t take dietary advice from comics.

As the token left-winger, Karen is the frequent butt of the jokes, assuming that Todd isn’t having aspects of his masculinity questioned. But there’s an actual point of character development after Todd is shrugged off by Karen, but rather than call her the next day, Todd takes a level in badass and benefited pretty hard from newbie gains.

Though it could be argued that he had more of a personality before, as the author seems to think that developing in character means becoming more like Chad Sr., Curtis, or Jack Murphy (pick one, all three are nearly identical).

There are also a few holiday specials. If the comic artist aspires to turn syndicated and eventually get their shit printed on overpriced greeting cards, it’s to be expected.

At the point where I left off, Karen leveraged her position as teacher to get an appearance on Chrissie’s live podcast.

Which is creepy on it’s own, but gets even creepier considering that the podcast studio appears to be in Chrissie’s home. Of course, Chrissie’s show would run afoul of the COPPA by reason of the fact that she’s 10 years old. Chrissie’s parents need a talking-to for allowing their elementary-school-age daughter to have such an online presence, assuming they’re the ones who bought her all that expensive shit pictured above.

But you know what? Maybe I’m overanalyzing things, again. Maybe it’s just a shit webcomic, and it’s another comic where the suspension of disbelief favors children being precocious, as was the case with Assigned Male, and other webcomics whose authors have long since forgotten what it’s like to be a child.

For those of you who decided to skip ahead to the score rather than read my review, here’s an arbitrary number that describes how I feel about this comic:

2 out of 10

This is one of those instances where a duo of artist and writer is involved in the production of the webcomic. Between the two, I think the art has the highest potential for improvement. After all, art is something that usually improves well beyond the kind of thing we see here, with a little practice. Improving shading, giving more attention to anatomy, proportions, and backgrounds, can each go a long way. From what I’ve seen so far, the potential is there.

But as for the writing, it’s just stupid. People usually grow up consuming entertainment media, and usually as a result they develop an idea of what makes a decent story and what makes characters interesting. If a person doesn’t learn these lessons after two decades of consuming media, it’s hard to tell just how much more it would take.

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