Category Archives: Webcomic Review

Webcomic Review: Robot Hugs

Warning: The reviewed webcomic contains explicit content. Reader discretion is advised.

robot hugs rough

Have you ever hoped that depression had an official webcomic? Me neither. But there is one that stands out as being sadder than the rest. And by “stands out”, I mean “slumps down in quivering half-hearted mediocrity”.

Robot Hugs isn’t so much a random, slice-of-life webcomic with a well-defined premise as it is a webspace where the author can dump his sad doodles, and sometimes make long, rambling illustrated tangents on whatever social justice activism that holds his interest, usually things like transgenderism, which the author identifies as being a part of, and feminism, because the author so desperately wants the female community to accept him as one of their own.

Early entries to Robot Hugs are usually random, inane drawings that really have nothing to them. Take this random example:

2011-08-25-A good way to go

That’s not a random panel from a strip. The previous and following comics have nothing to do with it. This is the build-up, delivery, and punch line. There is only one panel in this entry, and that’s it. No point, no effort, and no worthwhile thought.

Stick figure art is something that can be done well. In fact, some pretty good webcomics have been done with stick figure art, such as Cyanide & Happiness. In the vast majority of cases, however, it’s a cop-out that’s used to produce a sub-par product with a minimum of effort while leaning on the crutch of “style”. In some of those cases, it’s how talentless artists are enabled to coast along with a minimum of effort. In the case of Robot Hugs, there is some small sign of improvement as time went on, but it usually involves the bare minimums of stick figure art, such as good color choices and better-defined lines. Expressive facial features are sparse, but that can be sold as minimalism. At one point, he even takes on shading, but gives it up before long. Robot Hugs takes a style that’s mainly ironically likeable for its minimalism, and takes it even lower.

And then, with no warning, the author backs down from all the progress that he’s made on his style and goes to a hand drawn style that’s even worse:

2017-11-01-analogue

To be fair, he does give a reason for why he does this. However, there’s something more to it, which we can read about on his profile: The author studies in UX/IA, which has to do with website design. So he actually does spend a significant amount of his life staring at display screens. However, when one looks at his own website, how exactly is he putting his knowledge in website design into practice? He’s obviously not new at this, as his archives indicate that he’s been at it since 2009, and he usually updates about a half-dozen times a month with webcomics that are sub-par in quality.

Considering all this, and assuming that the author is trying hard, I suspect that the source of his ongoing sadness is that he’s putting a disproportionate amount of effort into something that he doesn’t really have a talent for. As children, nearly all of us are told that “we could be anything we want to be”. This is a disastrously terrible thing to tell a child, as it sets them up to pursue interests that are outside their own talents, and develop such an emotional attachment to their pursuits that they make them a part of their identity, making it an even stronger hit when they fail to live up to the expectations set for them.

The author of Robot Hugs doesn’t want to stare at display screens for long periods of time, and his webcomic has been insubstantial in quality since its inception over 9 years ago. Perhaps it’s about time for him to admit that it’s not his thing to either design websites or write webcomics. What he does instead, I don’t know; that’s the kind of thing that he can only determine after careful consideration of himself and how he can benefit society. However, it’s clear that making webcomics is not his thing.

Unless you can look at this and think “talent”:

2017-02-17-types of rats

The parts of his comic that are the most well-thought-out would be his SJW ramblings, which is not a compliment. If your only exposure to the SJW ideology would be YouTubers who make fun of them, go ahead and read an opinion piece from a veritable SJW. What you’ll find out is that the aforementioned YouTubers aren’t making up strawman arguments, they are actually taking on the SJW ideology itself, exactly as it’s presented when SJWs speak for themselves.

Here is a link to an example comic. (WORKSAFE WARNING: If you click that link, your employer’s IT department might think you’re an idiot.)

And speaking of worksafe warnings, the following came from the Robot Hugs “About” page:

NSFW comics are generally labelled as such.

Except they’re not, so his archives are a minefield of cartoon penises and vaginas that you might object to if you are somehow upset by naturally occurring features of human anatomy, or if you have a problem with these things being drawn poorly. The main character’s nipples might be considered explicit, considering that he’s a biological male who identifies as a female. Would they be? Have we figured it out yet?

And, as if it weren’t already obvious that this comic stars a self-insert, the author uses the webcomic to give us life updates:

2012-10-19-New Tablet

Whoop-dee-doo. Too bad your new tablet didn’t do anything to make your comics any better. You know what would? Having someone else do your art. And your writing. And your website design, for that matter. In fact, maybe you should pull a George Lucas and sign over creative control of your comic. Too bad that a guy would have to be insane to take this mess on, and once they come to their senses, they’d deep-six the whole thing.

The author of Robot Hugs spends too much time trying to be something he’s not: a webcomic artist, a decent website designer, even a woman. He doesn’t have what it takes to do any of these things; it’s time for him to stop kidding himself.

Robot hugs gets a score of a-sad-excuse-for-a-comic out of ten.

sick score

Which would be a 0.5 out of 10. If you’re thinking of making your own webcomic, you can do a better job than Robot Hugs with just a little something called effort.

Webcomic Review: Assigned Male

ugly.pngYou’ve just been treated to a new flavor of ugly.

(Notice: This review refers to the author of Assigned Male and its main character with biological pronouns. When dealing with horse-puckey of this magnitude, it helps to keep at least one foot in reality.)

The author of Assigned Male is a self-styled first order left-wing mind who believes that he knows what’s better for us than we do, and he’s on a mission to save us from ourselves. The way he’s going about that is by writing a ridiculous webcomic that furthers his agenda. His whole mission backfired when the people who like his webcomic mainly like it ironically, while the rest of us ridicule it soundly.

Because it’s a given that Assigned Male is such a horrible webcomic, it’s predictable that it’s going to be getting a low score. You probably already know it’s bad, so this is another webcomic review that’s kind-of superfluous and it’s hard to say something about it that hasn’t already been said. Yet, the webcomic is so famous for being bad that it’s kind-of hard to ignore. So it’s like another Sonichu.

Transgenderism is one of the current perversities being propped up by the left-wing establishment, and people pretend to be tolerant of it for fear of backlash from said establishment, even though pretty much everybody is secretly afraid that their children may become one. It’s an issue where people pretend to be “progressive”, yet on a primal level, pretty much every sound-minded individual recognizes something is seriously flipping wrong. When someone pretends to be a homosexual of the opposite gender, it doesn’t tend to result in grandchildren for their parents.

There’s something that I’ve noticed when it comes to webcomics, especially when it comes to the bad ones: there seems to be a disproportionately high representation of transgender themes in webcomics as of late. It might sound like conspiracy theorism, but I personally suspect that there’s an agenda at play, especially considering that the transgender crowd just happens to politically align with a certain movement that believes that there’s getting to be just a few too many human beings running around.

Having said that, the type of transgenderism depicted is the no-op male-to-female variety. That seems to be the more prominent kind, because most doctors inform those considering gender-reassignment surgery that, among other forms of damage, those undergoing the operation permanently lose their reproductive capacity, and they don’t actually gain the capacities of their new gender. Most transgenders are discouraged by this, and settle for wearing a dress and accusing those who use the wrong gender pronouns on them of hate crimes.

If someone does undergo gender reassignment surgery, the usual result is crippling depression, as a body is no longer producing adequate hormones for their biological gender, so a person would end up chemically messed up even without taking a bunch of pills. The suicide rate for post-op transgenders is disproportionately high. Gender reassignment surgery is castration, and it messes a person up in the same ways.

Also, unicorns aren’t real.

It may seem like a sufficient introduction to red pill the trans agenda to death, but there’s something more to what’s going on with Assigned Male. If Sophie Labelle, the author of Assigned Male, were yet another transgender snowflake using the webcomic format to have her characters vicariously win the victories that he does not win in real life, he’d only stand out for how zealous and militant that Assigned Male makes him look. But there’s something more to it.

Sophie Labelle is a known and professed child recruiter.

So, you know about that webcomic that he has which indirectly promotes castration? Its target audience is the most vulnerable members of society. Sophie Labelle is just the kind of guy you should want to keep your children away from, and he’s determined to use his webcomic to get at them.

You know what? A review provides more dignity than this trash pile of a webcomic deserves. Why don’t I straight-up bash it?

Sophie Labelle does not know how to draw, but that doesn’t prevent him from trying. After all, he’s got an agenda to push, and he’s not going to allow something like an inability to properly express himself artistically stand between him and the children he’s trying to prey on.

I went and pulled a random example of Sophie’s art, so I’m not being unfair in presenting this as an accurate representation of how badly this webcomic hurts to look at:

assigned male discussing batman.pngThe characters in Assigned Male discussing media we’d rather be consuming.

When you’re trying to present transgenderism as beautiful, then you want to depict them beautifully. Otherwise, your endeavor is going to be self-defeating. Because as they are, the cast of Assigned Male, the main character in particular, looks like they were stuffed into a potato sack and beat against a jungle gym.

I know that when someone uses webcomics as the vehicle for their agenda, they may say that the quality of their art really isn’t the point, as an excuse to produce art that is sub-par. If that’s the case, why even use a visual medium at all? If your art is something that a reader can make fun of, that would end up being a liability for the overall message.

The art in Assigned Male does improve somewhat, as Sophie eventually decides to shade his characters. They’re still ugly, but in a different kind of way. After the style change, the children in the comic look like middle-aged dwarves.

The self-insert main character of Assigned Male is Stephie, a boy-to-girl no-op transgender child who is pretty much everything you’d be afraid of in a transgender you’d meet: overly-sensitive and hard-rails into throwing temper tantrums at every perceived slight, no matter how unintentional it may have been. While this already makes him rough-him-up-and-dump-this-mess-across-town material, in execution, the comic itself makes him much more unbearable.

stephie sans.pngMain character Stephie, ruining Sans for those who like Undertale.

For example, the comic opens with a short story about Stephie going to the doctor’s office with his parents, but Stephie storms out after he discovers that their records still indicate that he’s a boy. Because the physiological differences between males and females may necessitate differences in medical treatment of patients, one would think that Stephie would be understanding that doctors would want a pass when it comes to his game of gender pretend. But no, Stephie’s delusion is more important to him than his being treated for the illness that he went to the physician for in the first place. Much later in the webcomic, the issue of gender for medical identification comes up again, showing that Sophie still hadn’t learned his lesson.

Most of the conflict in Assigned Male involves Stephie taking on some kind of strawman representing whatever argument that Sophie feels like taking on. If that sounds familiar, it’s like another comic I’ve already reviewed, Vegan Artbook. But the comparisons don’t end there. Like Vegan Artbook, some updates are one-panel atrocities that throw some blurbs out there that sounded clever in the author’s mind. Here’s an example that pretty much sums up what’s wrong with Sophie’s outlook:

stephie delusional.jpg

Until you’ve read a medical encyclopedia, right? No, it turns out that Stephie is more comfortable with kidding himself. What Sophie should understand is that the truth of any matter is never determined by mere belief. That’s the important understanding that separates those in touch with reality from those who are deluded. Again, because this is important: The truth of any matter is never determined by mere belief. Either something is true, or it is not. The only fact that pretending changes is the fact that you’re pretending. Societal distinctions of gender are based on the reality of biological sex, and any perception about it doesn’t change that reality, it merely flavors it.

Now, where can we find something scientific to illustrate the gender differences in a simple and straightforward manner?

Pioneer 1 plaque man and womanThe Voyager plaque says “Hi”.

Another thing to know about Sophie is that he has no problem with attempting to use his webcomic to talk way over your head. Stephie and the rest of the children in the cast talk like English majors in their senior year. And Stephie is supposed to be 11 years old.

you kids following along.jpgYou kids following along at home?

I have my doubts that that’s the way children in Canada talk. And this is supposed to be a webcomic that’s targeting children?

If you’re an adult and don’t like his webcomic, then you’re not the target audience. But if you’re an impressionable child, then Sophie has no qualm with intellectually substantiating his nominal designation. Sophie punches below his weight class, and punches hard.

You probably don’t need to be told that skepticism is a great thing to bring with you if you were to plan on reading Assigned Male for yourself, but the author does use the comic to make numerous claims as though supported by studies. It’s an intellectually dishonest move that preys on the unsuspecting and shifts the onus of verification onto the readers that might not bother to look into the claim being made. It’s hard to expect more from a person who doesn’t just feel entitled to his own opinions, but also feels entitled to his own facts.

Another thing to know about Sophie is that he does get trolled pretty hard. Surprising, right? Some of his comics are specifically-designed to answer critics, such as this one:

ta.jpg

Not really all that funny, especially when you realize that Assigned Male was written to prey on children. If someone points out how badly your webcomic sucks and they are outside your target audience, your webcomic still sucks.

Here’s another example comic:

kids talking.jpg

Talking heads is pretty much what it comes down to. It seems like the assumption is that the suspension of disbelief favors conversations that are highly unrealistic for children to actually have. The dialog is so ham-fisted that it doesn’t seem to go with the faces, which are actually conveying emotion. It’s hard to imagine a pair of robots having a conversation so dull.

By now, you’ve seen a total of 4 different comic formats used by Assigned Male presented in their entirety. In webcomics, there’s less pressure to maintain a consistent format, which frees up webcomic artists to express what they want to with fewer restrictions of the kind that you’d see in a newspaper’s funny pages. However, sometimes it’s obvious that an artist like Sophie is settling for something simple (like the one-panel splash pages) because that’s what he feels like he’s up for making. That’s his choice, but it does take some effort to pull off in a way that doesn’t seem lazy.

But hey, Assigned Male was never about the reader’s satisfaction. It’s about the agenda, and how the author feels about himself for pushing it. If there’s something that bad webcomics like Addanac City and Robot Hugs can do to improve, it’s give a care about the reader’s experience. It’s what a webcomic author can do to keep their comic from being mere participation in the medium like Boss Rush Society, or a self-serving suckfest like Vegan Artbook. Because as it is, Assigned Male is like a crusty lover whose mission is to blow his load then say he’s done.

Now onto the score. I’ve already shown my hand when it comes to my opinion of Sophie Labelle’s agenda, but the fact that he’s targeting the minds of children pisses me off enough to take away any points that his comic might have otherwise gotten.

Assigned Male gets assigned a score of 0 out of 10.

zero.png

Sophie has actually succeeded in having another review taken down because he didn’t like it. I kind of wonder whether he’ll find this review, read it, and blow his stack.

Webcomic Review: Sonichu

CWCSonichuLeer.jpgMain character on left, title character on right.

Here we go, it’s a review of Sonichu.

Sonichu is a terrible webcomic. It’s famous for being bad, and it’s the deuce in all categories in which something can fail. But I’m not likely telling you anything you don’t already know. At this point, we know that Sonichu is the worst webcomic ever made. You might have guessed that I’m going to give this a score of 0 out of 10. You might have even heard about how bad it was from a friend. You might remember how he went on and on for what seemed like hours about how bad it was, like he’d continually find something wrong about it. His description may even have made you so curious that you decided to check it out for yourself. At that point, you’ll have discovered that not only was everything he said about the comic true, he was only scraping shavings off the tip of the iceberg.

That Sonichu is bad is public knowledge. It’s so infamous that it’s even caught the attention of some of Sega’s staff (and it likely horrified them). As far as I can tell, pretty much everyone who has heard of Sonichu knows its bad, which renders a review superfluous.

Yet, I’ve decided to write one. I’ve read the webcomic, and perhaps I’ll feel a lot better for having reviewed it.

If you’re planning on reading Sonichu, be warned that it’s weapons-grade terrible. Sonichu is so bad that your brain may interpret the comic as an attack against it. Sonichu is so dreadful that it integer underflows and somehow becomes strangely great. It’s still a bad webcomic, but it’s bad in a way that only a total mistake can be. A grand assembly of sadistic minds have conspired to develop inhumanity to their fellow man, resulting in the likes of MKUltra, and an autistic man-child with his head in the clouds outdid them without any effort.

Sonichu is such an immense beast of a webcomic that it’s hard to get through a review of it without breaking it down into sections.

Art

sonichu bad art.pngCan you find anything right with this picture?

Sonichu has the worst art in the universe.

What the author Christian Weston Chandler draws wouldn’t even be accepted on the amateur level as rough sketches, yet it’s what he decides to go with for his comic. It’s painful to look at. The crooked line art, the garish bright colors, his insistence on using Crayola markers to color, Chris doesn’t bother to get anything right.

The line art in Sonichu is jagged and unrefined. Mistakes he makes are not properly corrected; instead, he attempts to compensate for them by doing things like drawing over them and hoping his readership won’t notice. That’s assuming that he does attempt to correct his mistakes at all.

It’s tempting to say that one should not color their work using Crayola markers, but there are some artists out there that can masterfully employ them to make some pretty outstanding work. Chris is not one of those artists. It seems like Chris lacks the coordination to color within the lines. Not only that, Chris is not skilled enough with Crayola markers to avoid their key flaw: that overlapping strokes result in streaks of darker color than what is intended.

Chris is inconsistent in how he draws his own characters. If he wasn’t so easily identifiable by the shirt he is depicted as wearing, one might assume that different occurrences of Chris’ self-insert were actually different characters, as their body shape, facial structure, and proportions can radically change from one instance to the next.

At one point, Chris decided to adopt a more anime style for the comic. What this amounted to was drawing the eyes differently. That’s pretty much it, and it’s hard to notice considering the difficulty Chris has with consistency.

Chris simply doesn’t have artistic talent, and if he did, he didn’t use any of it to make Sonichu.

Characters

I_am_not_Gay.jpg

Sonichu has the worst characters in the universe.

The characters in Sonichu generally fall into one of just a few categories:

The male heroes
The male heroes are mainly the same as each other, just with different colors and slight variation in physical features. Each of them, including the title character Sonichu, have exactly the same motives: To shack up with a female and to help Chris with whatever it is that he’s trying to do, which is usually attempting to shack up with a female. Even Blake, when he heel-turns from being a bad guy to a good guy, quickly becomes indistinguishable from the other males except his color.

The female heroes
The female characters are basically similar in motivation to the male characters, but the main difference is their primary sexual characteristics, and the males are their targets of their affection.

The bad guys
An assembly of copyrighted characters that Chris doesn’t have the rights to, and people Chris knows about in real life that caught his ire, with at least one OC thrown in (Count Graduon). All have pretty much the same motivation: to prevent Chris from finding a girlfriend. Too bad Chris never bothered to establish what exactly they’d have to gain from this endeavor when they could instead try to take over the world or something.

The various permutations of Chris
Chris’ self-insert. His goal is to shack up with a woman. It’s considered a sign of lazy writing when an author uses a self-insert for a main character, but in later issues of Sonichu, Chris installs several self-inserts. I’ve actually lost track of them all.

The heroes in Sonichu are actually morally worse than the enemies that they fight. Disproportionate retribution is a recurring theme in Sonichu. For example, Chris feels justified in cursing a man, causing him to lose his family, just because he was doing his job as a security guard in asking Chris to leave a store he was staying in for too long. Another man had his face raped because a company he ran posted drawings of Rosechu (one of the female heroes) with a penis. In a special episode, Chris shot a man in both kneecaps because in real life he impersonated Chris and Chris was interested in his girlfriend. Chris stages a mock trial so he can sentence to death four men that he didn’t like, and had himself and his characters personally attend to the executions. And there’s more. So much more. The hero-centered morality in this story isn’t just awry, it’s perverse.

It’s bad enough that the characters in Sonichu are so horrible, they were also stolen. Nearly every character owes more than simply inspiration to existing copyrighted characters. Most of the hero characters are obvious recolors of characters from Sonic the Hedgehog, a brand that’s already famous for its recolors and template-driven designs. These characters also have elements of design from Pokemon characters. As if that weren’t enough, he pretty much used pokemon as characters outright, such as Reginald Sneasel.

There are OCs invented by people other than Chris that have been included in this comic, such as Jiggliami and Megagi, whether or not they were used with permission, some of which belonged to people who were trolling Chris in an attempt to influence his webcomic while it was ongoing. What personalities and goals that these characters had depends on whether they aligned with Chris, meaning that they too fell into one of the categories outlined above.

Every character in Sonichu are objects in Chris’ power fantasies, and Chris does jack all to develop them beyond this end.

Story

expositional abuse.pngNotice how even they look bored to tears.

Sonichu has the worst story in the universe.

When one would hear the characters and their abilities described, one would assume that Sonichu is an action comic. After all, what else would a writer do with super speed and commanding electricity for attack? But while there are action scenes employing these abilities, Sonichu is primarily a relationship comic, with the main point of the comic being whether his electric hedgehog pokemon characters find partners, which they quickly do. But Chris doesn’t find his girlfriend as quickly, so much of the story focuses on that.

The narrative flow is dictated by Chris discovering concepts that he finds interesting in anime, video games, or whatever, which he then implements into his comic. Then, when he later loses interest in the concepts, they are quickly and quietly dropped, not likely to be brought up again until the readership reminds Chris that it seemed as though he might have been going somewhere with them. Then maybe Chris reintroduces them, likely to try to conclude that particular story arc because he’d rather be working on another concept that he found out about from some other media franchise.

Sonichu’s story as it is today can be broken down into four main parts:

The Sonichu Episodes
The first episodes focused mainly on Sonichu and his adventures with his recolor friends, including Sonic the Hedgehog. It largely reads as an insipid crossover fanfic written by a five-year-old, except it was written by a man in his twenties.

The Chris-Chan Episodes
The self-insert takes over, and from here on out, the comic is mostly about him and his love quest.

The To-the-Hilt Insane Episodes
Wow. When did it seem like a good idea to Chris to include in a comic intended for kids a sex scene between his cartoon hedgehogs, complete with an explanation for how their genitals worked? Or to commit mass-murder against a bunch of people who were merely hypnotized? Or to off one of the characters with a bomb behind a toilet? There’s so much more, too. Chris would later retcon huge chunks of these episodes.

The Boring Episodes
After a years-long hiatus, Chris continues Sonichu by shifting the attention to other characters, including a bunch of new obvious self-inserts. What’s worse than a comic starring Chris? How about a comic starring a whole bunch of Chris? Even though Chris really unleashes the plagiarized concepts, this set of comics is horribly boring.

Chris is so lazy with storytelling that he often leans on long walls of exposition, some of which nearly the whole page long, instead of breaking down what is being spoken to a number of different panels with accompanying visuals. Comics are a visual medium; as such, a rule of storytelling in comics is “show, don’t tell”. When Chris gets into long walls of exposition, it’s obviously an attempt to move the story along to the point that Chris would prefer to be working on by fast-forwarding past this thing called “developing the plot”. If you’re using dialog to convey the gravity of the situation in a visual medium, then you’re not likely using the medium to its full potential.

But hey, it was obvious to begin with that Chris wasn’t using the comic medium to its full potential. There was a point in which the dialog was numbered so the reader would know what order to read it in.

Saying that you read Sonichu for the story is like saying that you eat muffin bottoms to fight communism; the endeavor and the cause just don’t go together at all.

Verdict

Sonichu is the worst webcomic in the universe. Do not attempt to write a webcomic that’s worse than Sonichu. You wouldn’t be funny, and you’d be committing a crime against humanity.

Sonichu gets a score of Sonichu-itself-out-of-ten:

sonichu out of ten.png

Which would be a zero. It’s the worst there is.

But as bad as Sonichu is, it’s actually quite interesting. It’s a window into a mind that is distressed. Because of Sonichu, we all know Chris-Chan like we would know a brother. A beloved brother who is truly disturbingly fascinating.

Sonichu truly does zap to an extreme.

Vegan Artbook revisited: answering another vegan lie

straw man

Sometimes, I go back to a webcomic that I’ve reviewed to see what the artist has done with it since. I decided to check out Vegan Artbook, and found that it had two updates, one of which addresses a point that I’ve made in the review.

As much as I’d like to think that this means that the author has read the review and has taken it to heart, taking it as an impetus to improve, if you were to read her latest update, you’d see that this is not the case. The point that I made was that veganism propagated through dishonesty and predation on ignorance.

Here is what Vegan Artbook has to say about that:

p32ONLINE

You can see what I meant about the comic declining in artistic quality, but that’s not what I’m arguing against here.

Putting aside that she speaks of meat and vegetable industries as though they were in competition, the main problem with her argument (putting aside her incessant use of straw man fallacies) is her use of cherry-picking, which stands out like neon breast implants. She mentions those huge celery, pear, grape, and peach industries as those who don’t “hire PR agencies to write newspaper articles for them every week”. This says nothing of the apple industry, or for that matter the broccoli, turnip, mushroom, or even the mammoth, heartless, soulless zucchini industry, with their briefcases packed with freshly-printed hundred dollar bills. Did she leave them out because they do this?

I know that the typical vegan worldview pictures the meat and vegetable industries as being in some kind of competition. But in reality, the two fall under the banner of “agriculture”, and are happily married. They do stuff with each other, and they even have awesome children such as hamburgers. And jockish duds such as gummy candies.

So, why does the meat industry want PR articles written? The answer should be obvious: because vegans make up lies about them incessantly. Priya is the cause of the problem that she’s complaining about! What she’s doing is called defamation. However, it’s pretty hard for an industry to go after ordinary members of the public for a civil defamation suit. It’s more cost-effective to use PR to undo the damage that they cause.

No surprise; vegans lie to propagate their cause. Here are a few examples:

  • A few years back, vegans said that eating meat made it more difficult for men to maintain an erection. If this were true, you’d think that vegans would make up a higher percentage of the population by now.
  • They said that the Bible promotes a vegetarian lifestyle. It does not.
  • They say that it takes N gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. Like with the gender wage gap, the fact that the number fluctuates so wildly indicates no consistent source, and someone is making it up.
  • They also say that vegans are smarter. The vitamin deficiencies of a vegan diet directly results in irreversible neurological damage.

And there’s more. I can keep going. Their willingness to lie is symptomatic of the post-truth mentality that plagues left-wing fringe movements, which are already predisposed to the thinking that lies are justified if they somehow benefit the cause, rather than the liability they should be viewed as.

I’m going to conclude this with the same point that I’ve made in my review of Vegan Artbook:

If it’s necessary to lie to get people to accept what you’re trying to sell them, perhaps you shouldn’t believe it, either.

Webcomic Review: Addanac City

addanac city miserable

One of my favorite comics while growing up was Calvin and Hobbes. It was about a boy, a stuffed tiger that seemed real to him, and it had tons of social commentary.

Being a kid, I didn’t immediately understand what Calvin and Hobbes was about. To me, it seemed to be about what a bad kid Calvin was in spite of his intelligence, and the misadventures he could get into when his imagination would run away with him. It wasn’t until later, when I had grown up and long after the comic had concluded that I realized just how much of it was clever criticism of commercialism and syndication of the comic industry in particular.

Of course, I was a kid, so there wasn’t much expectation that I’d understand just what Calvin and Hobbes was really about. But imagine if someone not only missed the point of the comic, they made a comic that attempted homage, claimed the original as its inspiration, did everything that the author of the original pined against, and failed in just about every way imaginable.

You really don’t have to imagine such a thing, because Addanac City exists.

addanac city hank

Addanac City features Hank (pictured above), the worst possible thing that could happen after a night of drunken sex that you don’t remember. But while Calvin misbehaved but was generally relatable, George Ford (the author of Addanac City) went well out of his way to make Hank out to be a horrendous child with no redeemable qualities. So yeah, Addanac City goes the Allen Gregory route in storytelling where the main character is so abrasive and rancid that it befouls just about everything else that the comic is attempting to do. Not that it was doing any of it particularly well to begin with.

Addanac City is supposed to be a gag-a-day strip. It fails every single time because the jokes are so horribly repugnant that it’s almost as though someone were struggling to make something bad on purpose.

I was going to post an example here, but I decided to instead post a link to the archive. Go ahead and pick any one at random. There isn’t a single one that won’t prove my point.

Speaking of the “bad on purpose” thing, people can quit it with the whole “make-something-that’s-only-ironically-likable” dealie. I know that it seems easier to win a race to the bottom, and thus stand out as being the worst at something. But there are so many people running that race that it’s an actual challenge now and takes some effort to “win”. Because of this, it’s harder than it’s ever been to plod along with a minimum of effort. So, why not put some effort into making something that’s actually a positive contribution? Besides, Sonichu exists, so you’d already be beat, anyway.

Because it’s classified as a gag-a-day strip, George doesn’t have to bother with something called “plot”, freeing up his precious little effort for characterization. But he didn’t bother with this either, because the personalities of each of his characters are various degrees of fulminating rectum. Even Susie Derkins Christie, one of the victims of Hank’s antics, has her moments.

As far as art goes, each of the characters are to the eyes as farts are to the nostrils. It takes someone with some funny preferences to not be totally disgusted. George takes the concept of cartooning to mean that there’s no need to consider either anatomy or consistency. While it’s acceptable for cartoons to have colors that are vivid, George makes them so stark that they’re an attack on the eyes of the person who views them.

Another example is not being posted here. Here’s another link to the archives. You can pick any one; the art hasn’t improved at all since the comic’s inception.

There is an inconsistent use of gradients for shading, which makes everything that’s not shaded look flat, and in some cases, clothing textures are Photoshopped in for some outfits, but not for others. It’s as though George wanted to use some Photoshop effects for his comic, but neither knew how to use them properly or consistently. The result is a comic with a mish-mash of improperly applied effects with bright, painful colors.

Okay, fine. Here’s an example:

addanac city bad

See all the problems? Now you know why I don’t want them on my blog. I don’t want George Ford’s content dragging mine down. I also don’t want men blaming me for erectile dysfunction or women blaming me for not self-lubricating.

Everything about this comic conspires to make it terrible. What makes it even more of an insult that he’s comparing his work to Calvin and Hobbes. If any humorous irony can be had from this, it’s that the author is so inept that he doesn’t recognize his comic as being the very thing that his source of inspiration warned against comics becoming: a bunch of illustrations for bad jokes that can be completed to the author’s satisfaction before lunch.

If you want to see something really interesting, here’s a YouTube video of George having one of his comics read aloud:

What’s interesting about it? That he got a woman to read it with him. And that woman is his wife. HIS WIFE. Something to think about if you’re one of those lonely men who find themselves wishing for a woman with low enough standards.

Now for a score that reflects how this comic holds up against my own standards:

0.2 / 10

You know how I usually find something funny in the comic to use as it’s score? Not this time. I just don’t want to go back there. Jack was a better webcomic than this. Vegan Artbook was a better webcomic. Even Boss Rush Society holds up as a better webcomic. Addanac City is just a mess.

Webcomic Review: Vegan Artbook

soThe moment you realize that only the first two letters of that rebuttal are necessary.

If smugness had an official webcomic, that webcomic would be Vegan Artbook. The sheer amount of arrogance we are dealing with here would take Satan aback.

Vegan Artbook is about a group of vegans and their interactions with non-vegans. Those interactions boil down to how vegans are such great human beings, and how non-vegans are the cruelest, stupidest, most short-sighted monsters that the artist can imagine.

You could attempt to contact the artist directly and let her know that she’s wrong, her positions are all oversimplifications, many of her “facts” are misleading, and throw numerous scientifically-supported facts firmly grounded in nutrition, biology, and physiology, with supporting documents from reputable sources that can be checked with Google Scholar, etc. Then you’d read a few of her comics and come to understand that she’s aware of these facts, and just doesn’t care. If she cares enough about what you have to say, she’ll draw a caricature saying it which will usually have squiggly arms, buck teeth, acne, or whatever she can think of that would make you seem like a monster. Then she’ll honestly wonder why her webcomic has critics.

To her credit, however, she actually does delete some of her comics if someone can succeed in convincing her that making them was a terrible idea. Here’s one that was edited:

vegan artbook spot the differenceOld, left. New, right. Can you spot the difference?

Or this one, which was deleted from her page altogether:

vegan artbook 79 strawman deletedGather around! Vegan Artbook is going to teach us what a straw man fallacy is.

So, let’s not give up on the artist altogether. Let’s keep going! With enough persuasion, she may just delete every single one of her comics, and finally come around to being a decent, normal human being! But let’s not get our hopes up.

Vegan Artbook does have a cast of characters, but calling them characters is unfair to any other comic that has characters and to the definition of the word “character”. While there are different personages with distinct appearances, each of the protagonists are mouthpieces for the artist’s agenda with no deviation in the slightest. There’s a girl named Dolly that starts out as a meat-eater, but shortly into the comic, she changes sides and loses any aspect of her character that differentiated her from the rest of the protagonists, besides the color pink.

The antagonists are portrayed as varying degrees of insane, and they usually only serve as faces to say whatever argument that the artist feels like arguing against on that day, whether it be a ridiculous straw man argument or something that the artist doesn’t realize sounds reasonable and rational. But by the end of the page, they’re usually reduced to being unable to argue further, often by the counter-argument the artist wanted to convey or some quick zinger.

The art in Vegan Artbook seems competent at first blush. It’s so cute, that I just wanna huggle the entire cast, even as they call me a vicious monster! But then you realize how wrong you are for liking it because Priya went to the Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V school for webcomic art. Because of this laziness technique, she only has to draw each character once, and if she gets it right the first time, just modify the facial expressions, and it’s smooth sailing from then on out.

While most webcomic artists improve with time, the art style in Vegan Artbook is one of the few to have actually gotten worse. While her earlier comics were vibrant and colorful, Priya’s latest comics (which star a self-insert, tending Vegan Artbook towards Sonichu territory) are done in a monochrome with brown. This is somewhat reminiscent of old sepia-colored photographs, but is entirely inappropriate for a webcomic done in a Sanrio style. I’m puzzled as to why she would choose to do this. My guess is that the artist thinks that this is somehow more eco-friendly, but that would only matter for the printed books in her online store (which are still printed with bright colors), not for something transmitted as data and displayed on a monitor, which uses no ink or trees.

Then, with no warning, the comic hits you with gore. Some panels are filled with photographs of gory images that the artist uses to show just how ugly the production of meat is. This comes with no warning for those who happen to be reading her comic at work, which can actually make her comic a disservice to the careers of its intended audience. As you could probably imagine, some of the images used are discredited photographs that were once used in PETA propaganda.

For most of this review, my focus was on the webcomic itself. But for a moment, I’d like to indulge by taking on the author’s philosophy, seeing as it takes center stage in her comic. Like many SJW comics, not every page of Vegan Artbook is a comic page. Some pages are “splash pages” or “pin-ups” that convey distilled smugness. The following summarizes the purpose of the author’s personal philosophy pretty well:

IMG_0587

Vegans and vegetarians alike bloviate about how it’s their mission to limit suffering, harm, or whatever they choose to call it. When you talk to one enough, you’ll find that that’s what their position pretty much comes down to. However, their entire endeavor is self-defeating, which becomes obvious when you make the following observation:

Suffering is an intrinsic part of life.

Think about it. You suffer day after day. You suffer because some jerk cut you off on the highway. You suffer because you slave away with MS Office in a cubicle for 8 hours a day working with people who have no idea what you do and therefore assume that you have no value. You suffer because congress votes your constitutional freedoms away while shooting down any solution that could make anything any better for the rest of us. You suffer because your teenage children think that they know better than you, even though you’ve been around at least twice as long as they have, and they’ve spent half their time alive soiling their undergarments. And none of this is unusual.

Then you look at livestock. They never have to worry about paying the bills or having their property repossessed. They never have to worry about starving, or being hunted by natural predators. They have it well until the day that they’re slaughtered and made into someone’s food, which is done with a manner that’s quicker and far more humane than a natural predator would. Livestock have it so well.

In spite of this, the suffering of livestock matters more to vegans than the suffering of their fellow human beings. This is what makes them so reprehensible. But there’s more to it. They say that they’re in it to limit suffering, but they always draw the line when things get too difficult for them.

There are two things that vegans could do if they really wished to limit suffering. I wouldn’t even bring these ideas up if it weren’t clear that I disagree with them (which I do). I bring them up because I want to make it known just what veganism and its underlying philosophy leads to when followed to their shared conclusion. Here they are:

  1. Stop procreating. Throughout a person’s life, even if they’re vegan, they consume plenty of resources, including the indirect deaths of numerous insects, small mammals, and other animals that are killed in an effort to bring these resources to you and your children. This includes the numerous rodents that are directly or indirectly killed as a result of grain harvesting.
  2. Taking your own life. If you do this, you’ll immediately stop consuming natural resources and stop causing indirect deaths that make vegan diets possible. Also, numerous insects and microbes get a free meal, so there’s that.

I could also bring up the possibility of going on a shooting rampage, but some vegans would probably actually consider it, and it’s not necessary to go that far to point out how morally moribund that the vegan philosophy is.

But I don’t just dislike Veganism for what it becomes when it’s followed to it’s conclusion. I hate it because it propagates through dishonesty. Veganism makes more vegans by preying on the under-informed, including those who are unaware of the necessity of iodine and B vitamins in neurological health, resulting in the brain damage of those who adhere to the vegan diet, and starting a vicious cycle which makes the vegan’s victim more likely to accept anything that they say.

Vegan Artbook lies to you all over the place to try to sell you veganism. That’s why this comic upsets me so much. Vegans themselves should stop and reconsider what they’re doing. If it’s necessary to lie to get people to accept what you’re trying to sell them, perhaps you shouldn’t believe it, either.

Take the comic’s opening salvo:

1ONLINE

It’s a popular belief that Calcium is all that’s needed for strong bones. Calcium’s absorption into the body is aided by vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium. All of the above vitamins and minerals are in milk. This makes milk pretty much ideal for bone health.

Now, look how that comic is numbered. Yep, this is Vegan Artbook number one. That’s the artist’s commitment to research and starting strong with statements supported by facts.

Oh, by the way, Priya actually compares meat-eaters to Hitler. You know, the most infamous vegetarian in human history?

And there’s more. Lot’s more. This review could have easily turned into a point-by-point rebuttal of every stupid and naive claim that’s made in Vegan Artbook. But then it would be super-long and not really be much of a review. Still, it bears mentioning, considering that Vegan Artbook is one of those webcomics that is made with the intention of teaching, in which case it matters all the more that she gets the facts right. It doesn’t help that her idea of teaching is to repeatedly call everyone who disagrees with her stupid until they stop.

And speaking of stopping, I’m going to stop this review and give the webcomic its score, which is a the-reason-I’m-ending-this-review out of ten.

VV57Notagain

Which would be a 0.8 out of ten. A person can only take so much of this. Besides, I’m going to head out and see whether spite makes hamburgers tastier.

UPDATE: It does. The fact that I get vitamins from it that vegans only get from BS sources if at all is icing on the cake. Carnivores have more fun.

Webcomic Review: Jack

00817201

I’m aware that there is another webcomic by the same name that came before, and that it’s somewhat stylistically similar. But that’s not the strangest thing about Jack.

This webcomic is classified as “horror” on The Duck, but I really don’t know how to classify it because most horror comics demand that it be taken seriously. Otherwise, it’s a particularly sick comedy. But hey, it doesn’t do particularly well at either, so whatever frame of mind you get into as you read this, you’re not bound to enjoy Jack very much.

Jack stars the title character, who is a man in a hockey mask who was supposedly a fugitive of some sort. Jason Voorhees would find this lame. The comic starts out with Jack on a stake, being threatened by a man leading a lynch mob, with Jack and the lynch mob trying to talk the man out of killing Jack. There is a highly unrealistic conversation about the legal consequences of killing Jack coming from Jack himself, because apparently it’s completely realistic to expect that a raving lunatic with a lynch mob at his side would be dissuaded by the legal repercussions of what he’s doing. From then on, Jack is released and sets out to avenge his kidnapping with homicide. But, as it turns out, Jack was actually killed, and Jack was telepathically tasked with rescuing the corpse of the alligator that ate him from the guy who left him to drown by the alligator itself.

Confusing? This comic is only getting started.

In the next story arc, Jack goes to a bar. A prostitute offers him some fun for some money, and Jack refuses. The prostitute does not take this well, so her pimp has him kidnapped in retaliation.

Fast fact: generally speaking, prostitutes don’t get upset if you don’t feel like having sex with them. They’re in it for the money. If they have bills to pay, and you don’t want their services, they’ll just move along and find someone who does.

So, what does the couple do with Jack? They rape him. No really, that’s what they do. We’re already past the point of “what-am-I-even-reading”, so it’s amazing that this comic can further continue its plunge downhill. But it does, and the hero is rescued by some random furry who happened to be walking by.

You read that right. This comic has furries. The author wants you to take it seriously as a horror comic, and it has furries. And you’re supposed to take it seriously. And it has furries.

jfg9erwq’a;slidp9uwer’,wefajiOPK0DqfrAOU8SAR;MAD0uaemlktaer;;;

Where was I? Oh yeah, after this, Jack goes to jail, where he’s allowed to keep his mask, because it seems like standard procedures are suspended in this comic that you’re supposed to take seriously. It’s there that Jack meets someone who knows the people he just killed, and he somehow cuts his ears off when they’re behind the straps of his mask, and Jack does nothing to stop it, even though no one is holding his arms down.

00209491Is it too much to ask that he struggles or does something more than look slightly peeved that he’s being disfigured with a knife?

That’s not an anomaly, either. That’s just how fighting is handled in Jack. Every blow is taken directly with usually no effort on the part of the assailed to practice basic self-preservation. An enemy can be completely upon his victim, with every perceivable advantage, but it’s still the victim’s turn to attack, and the assailant won’t so much as resist until their opponent has finished their attack. Because of this, the fighting in Jack is so stupid that it’s fun to read in a way the author probably didn’t intend.

Yes, I know that the point of all this suffering on the part of Jack is to show how he’s breaking down to the point that he’s the psychopath that he ends up becoming. I know, but I don’t care. This comic is so stupid and poorly-executed that what’s supposed to be tragic instead comes off as funny.

In Jack, there isn’t really one consistent art style. Jack comes off as an experimental comic in which numerous artistic styles are tried, but nothing is really stuck with. The result comes off as something that some high school student drew to show his friends how crazy he/she is so they don’t mess with him/her. Then they honestly don’t understand why they’re still being relentlessly made fun of.

There are parts that are mostly monochrome. The exception would be the blood, which is colored in red, as though we’re supposed to have our attention drawn to it. Aside from this indulgence, this is easily Jack at its best-looking, as it shows that the artist is competent at shading.

Other parts of the comic are full-color, but the colors are bright and garish, and appear to be colored with Crayola markers or an equivalent. Crayola markers are terrible for coloring, and are usually only used by children who don’t have a more sophisticated option available. It’s super-easy for strokes to overlap, which in the case of Crayola markers, results in darker colors where it happens. Someone who is masterful can take advantage of this to create depth, but this isn’t a skill that the author of Jack appears to have.

Then there’s the anatomy. Most humans are skeletal in appearance, which can probably be sold as being stylistic to go with the punk-metal horror style. However, you also notice how muscle tissue is misplaced in such a way as to interfere with a sense of depth, and you know that this comic is drawn by someone who is terrible with anatomy.

Being a furry doesn’t get you off Scott-free. The author only knows how to draw wolf snouts, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t still attempt to put other animals, such as rabbits, into her comics. Behold:

00102927Is it a rabbit? Is it a dog? No! It’s just ugly.

This comic starts out confusing, and then descends into unintentional sick humor. Or was it intentional? It’s hard to tell. Maybe the artist is some kind of super troll, and everyone who points out this comics numerous flaws is playing into her hands in some way that can only be done by making a hilariously bad webcomic. Sounds like an airtight explanation, until you figure that there’s no perceivable benefit to doing such a thing. It’s just easier to say that she’s a bad webcomic artist. Hanlon’s razor and such.

Anyhow, on to the score, which is a there-there out of ten:

there there out of ten

Which would be a 3.3. Because it’s not all bad, right?

I get the idea that this comic is intended to be enjoyed when in a certain frame of mind, which would be achieved by playing heavy metal from your speakers, drinking Kentucky bourbon, and banging your head while making a goat sign. But you could enjoy all that even more by not having this comic have anything to do with it.

Webcomic Review: Rain LGBT

not cleverNo, it’s not.

We have yet another one of those. By now, you should know what I mean; yet another wannabe non-Japanese manga artist attempting the manga style.

This one has a very obvious agenda. And no, I didn’t pick this one out just to hammer on something with its subject material. It just happened to be a webcomic that caught my attention.

Rain stars a boy named Ryan, and the story picks up with his first day in high school in which he dresses up as a girl and starts going by the name “Rain”. By the way, I’m referring to Rain with pronouns corresponding to his biological gender, because it’s easier to touch on issues such as this with at least one foot in reality. Because science wins.

And speaking of reality, no, science cannot change a person’s biological gender. The most that a person can do in that regard is have their body butchered to closely resemble a person of the opposite gender. This means that the legend of the “sex change” operation is only a myth. Most trans people who learn of this get discouraged and settle for wearing a dress and accusing those who use their biological pronouns of hate speech.

But hey, this is a webcomic, so there’s pretty much no such thing as too fantastic. They’re expressions of someone’s fantasies, so they can be about any made up thing they want. The author’s fantasy in Rain is that a cross-dressing high school boy happens to find some of the most supportive friends he can happen across, all in one place. In fact, almost the entire cast encompasses the wide range of diversity in sexuality, which would be pretty amazing in real life considering that the school setting for Rain is an American school, where anyone can be picked on at any time for any petty thing.

Because this is the fantasy of someone with an agenda, it should come as no surprise that there are straw men for the heroes to ideologically trounce. And in Rain, the main one is Gavin, who is initially depicted as being a cisgender bundle of toxic masculinity. Gavin was Rain’s childhood friend who finds out that Ryan is going by Rain and dressing as a girl, and he does not take it well. No prize for guessing that we’re allowed to think that he’s a jerk, but he does get over it. There is also the principal himself, who can be called an old stuffy suit.

The conflict in Rain comes mainly in verbal interaction between the characters, rather than physical action. Considering this, special care must be taken to prevent the comic from descending into a collection of talking heads. Care to guess whether this happens? Sometimes, large portions of the comic are dominated by large walls of text, such as this particularly egregious offender.

This is certainly the worst one in the series, though the next page is also pretty bad. When writing a webcomic, it’s best to keep in mind that what you’re authoring isn’t a light novel, it’s a visual novel, and one of the main rules for writing for visual media is “show, don’t tell”. The potential to engage the audience by conveying plot development visually is wasted with walls of exposition. And it comes off as lazy. Even if you take the effort to redraw your characters in each panel, the talking heads approach to storytelling is just bland. Check out this example.

There’s pretty much nothing exciting about it. And it’s the kind of thing that you can look forward to in each exciting installment of Rain.

And speaking of lazy, let’s talk about Rain’s artistic style. As mentioned already, Rain is done with an attempt at manga style. All the tropes associated with manga style are there: oversized eyes, tiny mouths, pointed chins, etc. It comes off as a cheap shortcut, because it pretty much is.

When you criticize someone for using the manga style as a crutch, they usually go on the defensive, and claim that it’s their style. Which it isn’t. The manga style has evolved over the course of decades at the hands of countless professionals including animators, mangaka, and freelance artists. They did not do this just so someone can claim it as their own. And for that matter, why anime or manga style? Why not the style that Jim Davis uses for Garfield? Or the style that Berke Breathed used for Outland? Why do so many people think that they’re being cutting edge for using a style that has been used in Japanese cartoons for the better part of a century? For that matter, why not use the Disney style that inspired it?

I do want to make it clear that I like the manga style, and you’re welcome to try it if you can do it justice. LittleLynn84 doesn’t do it justice. It’s hard to choose one stylistic mistake to pick out as the worst. Such as that the eyes seem just a tad too close together for how big they are. Or how the faces look too elongated, despite having little forehead (note: manga style characters usually have large foreheads, even if they’re covered mostly by bangs). Or the fact that LittleLynn84 doesn’t seem to like to shade. It all adds up.

Ironically, the people most likely to be offended by Rain would be trans people themselves. This is because Rain referred to his condition as “dysphoria”, a word that is used by opponents of the trans movement to point out that “gender dysphoria” is officially recognized as a mental illness by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a disease that usually runs its course in just a few years. And yes, I actually recalled the name of that book from memory. Go figure.

Of course, it doesn’t help the trans cause that it’s being championed by such an insipid webcomic. Because as it is, even a trans person would find very little to enjoy. In fact, I admit that I didn’t even read the whole thing. I got 150 pages in, and after that, I flit about to look for signs of stylistic improvement and to see whether the story picks up. The author uses a different tool for drawing, but that’s about it. Usually, when a webcomic continues for nearly 1000 pages, there’s some sign of improvement somewhere, but in Rain, there is none. Even the storytelling remains just as dull and uninspired. There was so much potential and so much unbroken ground in the subject matter, but it was largely squandered.

Don’t believe me? The last several issues were spent leading up to a prom that still seems far off. If you’re going to build up to something, then the build-up itself has to be entertaining. Otherwise, it’s going to seem like there’s nothing going on in your comic. And that’s Rain in a nutshell. It’s a long, painful, ugly comic where nothing happens.

Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of Kagura from Azumanga Daioh, for some reason:

woe indeed

Oh, hold on. That’s not Kagura. My mistake. Here’s the real Kagura:

kagura azumanga

Now to give Rain it’s score:

3.2 / 10

Yeah that’s right, nothing cute this time. Just a number. As I see it, if LittleLynn84 doesn’t want to make a halfway-decent webcomic, then I’m under no obligation to give it a cute score, as I’ve done with the others up to this point.

By the way, the fan art looks awful, too. But considering the source material, the fan artists didn’t really have much to work with. The very fact that something like Rain resulted in such a volume of fan art is sobering in its own sense.

Webcomic Review: Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets

save yourself

Can we agree at this point that randomness alone doesn’t make something funny? I understand the mechanics of humor: it involves building up a person’s expectations and then presenting them with an unexpected outcome. Randomness involves unexpected outcomes. But when randomness is the only element used, it loses its effect.

The webcomic we’re looking at today is Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets. My first problem with the comic would be its name. Hot Pockets suck. I’ve spent much of my adult life living like a Spartan, so for me, something like Hot Pockets was a “too-rich-for-my-blood” kind of thing. But one day, I tried them, and I was disappointed. They come with those weird cardboard boxes that are gray on the inside, likely to use to attempt to heat the things evenly. They fail. Usually, one bite can be as cold as ice, but the next is so hot it burns your mouth so that nothing tastes right for days. And if you made the sad mistake of getting the kind with pepperoni, have fun having the skin on the roof of your mouth stripped away by the hot oil.

hot pockets yuck.png

Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets doesn’t star Yuyuko. It stars a couple self-inserts named Xephious and Dzelda. That’s right, this comic has two authors. When we get into just what this webcomic is made of, it’s going to be apparent that the authors were sabotaging each other every step of the way, and the result was Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets.

One of the authors has their age as 28 on their profile, so at least one of them was college-aged when they started on this webcomic. The profile of the other one includes the following tidbit:

dzelda's profile

That’s an endeavor that definitely failed. And considering that her webcomic is Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets, it’s safe to say that she’s done enough to contribute to it.

Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets takes place in the fictional realm of Gensokyo, which is the intellectual property of ZUN of Team Shanghai Alice, the creator of the Touhou Project series of video games. Obviously, the authors aren’t going to go professional with this, but it is a common mistake among webcomic artists to believe that they can go professional using someone else’s copyrighted material. What’s more, characters from Touhou are also used, further anchoring this webcomic to an intellectual property that the authors don’t have rights to.

clone cap

The picture above should give you a good idea of what to expect from this comic’s artistic style. While the chibified anime style comes off as a cheap shortcut to begin with, this comic uses what appears to be the same template for every individual character. I feel I’ve seen the same style used for Touhou characters before, which makes me further suspect that the authors are using yet more properties that aren’t their own.

Like I’ve said already, this webcomic is random. There’s practically nothing in terms of storytelling. There’s something about clone capsules and Utsuho having her arm cannon stolen, but that’s about it. There’s even a random demotivator thrown in there for good measure. May as well; just about everything else about this comic is template driven, just like this meme was when it was relevant over a decade ago. I have my doubts that the art used for it was their own, though that part doesn’t seem to be from any cut-and-paste template I’ve ever seen.

Failed storytelling aside, the wordbubbles suffer from “tiny text syndrome”. I’ve found myself using the zoom function on my browser to try to figure out what the tiny text says, but Xephious has found another solution on this page: to provide a transcript in the comments section. That’s nice, but how about getting the word bubbles right while you’re still in the process of editing your comic? Not that I’m expecting much in the way of technical expertise from someone who asks in the comment section “how to compress an image without stretch/skewing it”.

It’s about time to give this comic its score, and I give it a Nitori’s frog out of ten:

nitori's froggy

Which would be a 1.6. And I think I’m being generous with this one.

Webcomic Review: Classes

classes webcomic 1.png

I did not alter this.

Today, I did something painful. I’ve read through another bad webcomic. This one is called, “Classes”. It’s a name that’s strangely fitting, because it’s one thing I can recommend to its author.

Classes is easily the whitest webcomic I’ve ever seen. Don’t believe me? Read any page of the webcomic for yourself. Such as this one, which happened to be the most recent one as of this posting. Then do your eyes a favor and return to this page, quick.

I can assume that the reason why this webcomic is so white is because the author is trying to make it stylistic. Most pages don’t use panels; the comic reads from top to bottom with sequential drawings. It’s an interesting idea, but the result is a webcomic that hurts my eyes. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded narrowing the many super-wide margins, because as it is, Classes is like staring into an LED flashlight.

classes webcomic 2

He’s not alone.

If you’re a non-Japanese artist and you want to draw in the manga style, go right ahead. I don’t mind it. I’m not one of those super-snooty weeaboo freaks that think that only the Japanese can do the style right. But be aware that not everyone who attempts to draw in the manga style is good at it. In fact, there are people out there that draw in the manga style for the wrong reasons.

When some people see the manga style, what they see is something stylistic and visually appealing that they’d enjoy drawing and that their audience might enjoy seeing. They would be the people drawing manga for the right reasons. When other people see the manga style, they see a formulaic and easily-replicable art form that they could use as the visual vessel for their poorly-written stories with minimal effort, which they can sell by saying that they’re being stylistic. They would be the ones that decide on the manga style for the wrong reasons.

Yes, I know that there are high-quality manga out there. Some of the best ones have a simplistic and messy style, such as those drawn by Ueda Hajime, while others pay heavy attention to anatomy and composition. Those manga aren’t a problem. What’s problematic is when the manga style is used as an excuse to put less effort forward.

A novice artist might discover the manga style, then start drawing his characters with rounder faces that look flatter when viewed head-on, and drawing pointed chins that often disappear when a character’s profile is viewed. Part of the style. But then you notice that they’re drawing each of their characters in the chibi (simplified and child-like) style, and you suspect that they’re cutting corners, as Japanese artists typically only use the chibi style in certain circumstances. Even that can probably be sold as being stylistic (not that Teen Titans Go is off the hook).

But look closer, and you’ll see the mistakes. Okay, you probably don’t have to look close. The art has a rushed look to it, like manga is going out of style, and someone is in a hurry to make a quick buck off of it, even if they don’t know how.

One of the biggest mistakes that novice manga artists make is drawing the eyes as blank and shallow. Unless the character you’re drawing is in some catatonic state, the eyes should always look deep and expressive, even when it’s clear that everything else about your character is heavily chibified. Consider this example:

Umaru eyes

To make your manga characters really pop, you get the eyes right, even if you get nothing else right. There’s a reason for this: when people look at other people, their gaze is naturally drawn to the eyes. When looking at a person’s eyes, it’s easy to determine their mood and sometimes even their intentions. Because of this tendency, manga style is easy viewing because the eyes are larger and easier for viewers to find.

How does Classes do eyes? See for yourself:

classes webcomic 3.png

If you’re curious, that’s how the eyes for characters in Classes look by default.

I’ll give the author of Classes this much: she does choose her colors very well, and the shading is okay. Still, it’s pretty obvious when an artist chooses a semi-chibi manga style to hide the fact that the artist has a difficult time drawing things such as clothing. Yes, I know it’s challenging to keep track of things such as pressure points and how they would affect how a fabric wrinkles. But if a person doesn’t bother with that, the clothing can look like it’s skin-tight, or even floating in place.

As for the story, Classes is about a group of children who join a military academy that uses elemental magic. It’s about as cliche as it sounds, but because it’s in the anime style, there’s bound to be an extremely dangerous and competitive shounen-style field examination led by a severely disinterested proctor. Is that in there? Yep.

And while we’re discussing worn-out conventions, this thing where the characters are color-coded by the elemental magic types that they use is beyond stale. Sometimes, I suspect that writers do this to keep things straight for themselves. Is it too much to ask that writers express the creativity necessary for their characters to deviate at least slightly from the standard archetypes? Even the personalities of the characters seem to follow the color-coded conventions. For example, one character uses the ice element and has blue hair. No prize for guessing that she’s aloof and distant, that would be too easy. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s not much of a leap to imagine that she’s an overpowered child. It’s almost as though Classes was optimized for TV Tropes.

The main character is Kiwi, a young girl who is unrelatably irresponsible. If you thought Giga from Boss Rush Society was bad, Kiwi will make you wonder how even a fictional universe can host a creature so prone to bad decision-making.

I know that giving your characters flaws can make them more relatable, but going too far with the flaws can have the opposite effect. To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, Kiwi missed her own graduation just to goof off, and ended up missing out on gaining magical powers. She was allowed to graduate anyway, and was allowed to take the field exam without them, which goes to show that some people wanted her to die. She was also responsible in part for a huge disaster during the exam, wherein she was provided with just the substance needed to do so by chance.

Also, to give you a heads up, the narrative is sometimes broken without warning by non-canon sequences featuring the dog doing things like gender-swapping experiments. It’s tricky enough guessing the genders of some of the characters already, so these sequences didn’t help. They add nothing to the comic except to pad it out, which can really hurt if you just want to get it over with so you can get to writing a review about it.

I think it’s about time I got around to giving this webcomic its score. I’m a little surprised that I went out on it as much as I did, but Classes made some mistakes that brought to mind some problems that I’ve been noticing in creative communities, so I took an opportunity to vent a little bit. I know what some of you may be thinking: “But Raizen, webcomics like this are free. You get what you pay for, right?”

You know what else is free? Malware. And malware does take something away from people: their time. Time is something that a person only has so much of, and once they spend it, they don’t get it back. If someone doesn’t enjoy something, they feel like their time is wasted. A moment enjoyed is not wasted. Based on this criteria, I can give webcomics like Classes a score that reflects how I feel about the time I’ve spent with them. And on that note, here’s the score for the webcomic: Angry out of ten.

angry manga out of ten

Which, if you prefer numbers, would be a 3.2.