Review: The System


Cut-and-paste comics are a difficult beast. On one end of the range, you have cartoonists playing around with recolored video game sprites (and in some cases not even recolored). On the other end of the range, you have comics that are painstakingly assembled from massive indices of gestures, postures, facial expressions, and backdrops. There are various gradations in the middle, each with their advantages (most often convenience) and foibles (usually monotony); as a result, unless the art is patently terrible, what really makes the comic sink or swim is the quality of the writing.

This brings us to The System, a cut-and-paste comic by Ross Nover. The System makes use of the generic figures that you see on mass-produced safety signs everywhere: the Man, the Woman, the Cyclist, the Walker, and so on. (This would be a good time to point out that the archives are a pain in the neck to try to find your place in. It’s not until Comic 268 that they get titles instead of numbers; before that, you’re stuck clicking and hoping.)

The comics where Nover does his best (in my opinion) are the ones where he plays with what the symbols mean. I’m also partial to some of his pun comics. However, those don’t happen all that often. Most of what you’ll find in The System is a lot of awkward pseudopunchlines, visits from Jimmy the Murderdog, comics that aren’t comics so much as fourth-wall-breaking excuses for a lack of comic, and scatology. Lots and lots of scatology.

There’s also the dictionary comics, wherein portmanteau words are set up for a quick attempt at a few puns. Or another poop joke. To be honest, sometimes looking for the satire or the memetic repetition is like searching for a needle in a septic tank.

The slogan for The System is, “Comics will be posted until morale improves.” The saying this is based on starts with “Beatings will continue until …” and, well, even Nover admits that the comic is something of a dead horse. And with the hundred-post review comics . . . it feels like a cut-and-paste comic with cut-and-paste jokes.

I still like this one, though.

Comic Rating: Four rounded panels and a load of snark.

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  1. #1 by TLatshaw on 26 October 2009 - 12:22 PM

    I really like the concept. You’ve seen these sorts of parodied signs all over, but I never thought of making a comic out of them.

  2. #2 by Rosscott on 24 November 2009 - 1:03 PM

    Thanks for the review! While not the most favorable sure, thanks for reading it and thinking about it as much as you clearly have. Expect more puns and less poop jokes?

    • #3 by Luprand on 24 November 2009 - 6:12 PM

      I’ll be the first to admit that I’m something of a prude where poop jokes are concerned. Maybe it’s trauma from junior high or something, I dunno.

      But at the same time, when I write these reviews, I tend to share my favorite jokes with whoever happens to be within earshot, and I did share a lot of your gags (especially Overt Ops) around. And I’ve wound up using “figure out purple” to vent steam occasionally. So there’s definitely stuff I enjoyed about your comic.

  3. #4 by Rosscott on 27 November 2009 - 3:47 PM

    No worries. I shouted “Figure Out Purple” the other day at a guy, he almost hit the car in front of him looking at me.

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