Posts Tagged tasteless

Review: Less than Three

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m something of a prude, at least by the Internet’s standards. Granted, I was still a bit more prone to ribald jokes and unkind comments than the average student at my alma mater. The campus newspaper, The Daily Universe, was notorious for featuring letters to the editor whose writers were “shocked and appalled” at various things that got published and apparently shouldn’t have been. Some days I was amazed that the entire population of campus wasn’t stumbling around in a dazed pallor.

This stands in contrast to The Towerlight, student newspaper for Towson University, subject of recent controversy over an explicit sex column and publisher of the comic I’ll be reviewing this week. While that may seem to be an unfair introduction to Less Than Three (submitted for review by Steven Baird, who writes and draws the comic), it’s a bit more relevant than you’d think. Like the last self-submitted comic, <3 does its best to make NSFW seem like such an inadequate tag.

Originally intended to be a World of Warcraft comic, <3 shortly found itself in print and didn’t seem to know what to do from there. There were a few editorial cartoons and cracks in the fourth wall before the comic settled into a sporadic regimen of poop jokes, sex jokes, poop sex jokes, celebrity smear gags, more sex jokes, and loud left-wing politics.*

Some of the time, Baird’s comics rely on pop-culture references for their jokes. (As the saying goes, “Steal from the best.”) This includes sources as diverse as Peanuts, The Wizard of Oz, VG Cats, The Silence of the Lambs, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Resident Evil, Star Trek, Batman, and (perhaps most baffling) The Newlywed Game. His comic titles have also referenced Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, and Terry Pratchett (who is himself referencing Alan Moore). Of course, it’s somewhat depressing to see an allusion to Robert Burns tacked onto a comic about a mentally retarded ice cream cake.

Oh, well. At least he loves his mother.

Comic Rating: Two evil Snuggies.

* Political humor has its merits, chief of which being that as long as you express a popular opinion, people will laugh at your jokes no matter how tasteless or cruel they would otherwise be. The problem, however, is that it’s rarely done well enough to get people on the other side of the aisle to laugh. And once you start regularly expressing your political opinions in the middle of an otherwise neutral comic, BAM—there goes half your audience.

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Review: Crooked Gremlins

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail inviting me to review a comic. This marks the second time that I’ve received such an invitation, and since I took several months even to notice the previous one, I thought I’d improve my track record and read the comic for this week’s review. And that comic is The Crooked Gremlins, by Carter Fort and Paul Lucci. I was assured that the comic was “well within the parameters of [my] suggestion criteria,” so it was with an open mind that I set out to read. This was something of a disappointment.

Somehow the phrase “not work safe” seems insufficient when dealing with The Crooked Gremlins. To say that the comic puts me off my lunch would be to leave out all the other meals that have lost their savor. The comic reads like a transcript of conversations from a freshman dorm room. Probably the room that smelled a little off.

The comic is declared to be the chronicles of a rag-tag group of gremlins who, in the tradition of their kind, are devoted to causing mischief to the humans on the surface world (annoyance being far more cruel than mere death). And when it actually focuses on the high jinks* that result from this mission, the comic’s at least decently good.

But it doesn’t. The premise is tossed casually aside in favor of random spectacularly tasteless celebrity references. This of course includes political jokes (with the added bonus of painful stereotypes). When politics aren’t involved, then the raunchy jokes get tossed in. And failing that, there’s always the resident butt-of-all-jokes to torment.

What more is there to say? The art is decent and the site design gives a better attempt at breaking away from the default ComicPress template than a lot of the comics I’ve reviewed of late, but it’s so much pretty dressing around poop jokes and spelling errors (for future reference, a nave is an area in a cathedral, while a knave is an uncouth fellow). Like wrapping a dead rat in gold leaf, it seems like an awful lot of effort to put into something so offensive.

Comic Rating: One rather apparent author insert (just read the character names backward).

* Incidentally, the phrase high jinks is amusing in and of itself when you look at it.

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