Comical Musings


Metapost: Clarification

by on Dec.07, 2009, under Metapost

It seems I’m finally getting noticed enough that differing opinions are popping up. And this is a good thing. Respectful disagreement is how I learn new things and figure out whether I should change my opinions. Or, in other cases, where I should clarify my opinions so things make more sense. So in that spirit of clarifying, let’s get a saucepan, ask a few questions, and melt things down until the solids sink out.

What do you mean, my comic’s not safe for work?
I understand that not all workplaces are the same. My summer jobs included dishwashing, amusement park ride operation, minor web design, state park maintenance, and editorial interning. You can get away with a lot more salty language and dirty humor around guys who power-wash latrines every Tuesday than you can with interns on a Christian-saturated campus.

That said, here’s my standard for “work-safe.” In my current job (staff writer for a non-profit), my only co-worker is a mother of two in her forties. My boss is also a mother of two, and she’s known my parents since before I was born. Your comic is work-safe if I can safely imagine reading it with one of them looking over my shoulder. If sex happens on-panel, or if someone’s ripping someone else in half, or if references to the reproductive system make up half of your punchlines, then I’m going to call it NSFW. Or if I’m reading your comic and my five-year-old nephew wanders into the room and asks, “Unka Simey, what’s that?” and I can’t answer without using a euphemism, then I’m going to call it NSFW.

What do you mean, my comic’s tasteless? Are you some kind of prude?
Well . . . yes.

I’m the son of an erstwhile Latter-Day Saint bishop and a schoolteacher, and I picked up a certain amount of their sensibilities. A comic that aims for the lowest common denominator really doesn’t appeal to me. I haven’t been in junior high for more than a decade, and even then, that sort of humor wasn’t really entertaining to me.

This isn’t to say that I’ve never laughed at a dirty joke. What I’m saying is that dirty jokes have to be told with the same amount of finesse, the same skill in timing, the same cleverness of wit as any other joke. You can’t just use a reference to the reproductive or excretory systems as the punchline.

Here, let me give some examples. In one of my favorite movies, Clue, there are a number of bawdy jokes and ribald actions—but they’re only a part of the humor, and they’re not dwelt on. In Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a nude Wallace is forced to cover himself with a cardboard cheese box; if you blink, you’ll miss the warning on the side of the box that says, “May Contain Nuts.” The jokes are dirty, but they’re deft.

In short, you can have the artistic talent of Botticelli, the narrative skill of Homer, the allusory prowess of Terry Pratchett, and the electronic wizardry of the HTMLGoodies staff . . . and I still won’t read your comic if you have the wit of Judd Apatow.

. . . Oh. So why’d you give that other comic a better rating than mine?
Because the rating system has as almost as much significance to the review as my choice of font color for the title of the blog. My general philosophy is that if you aren’t able to glean my opinion of a comic from the review itself, then a number at the bottom of the review really isn’t going to help matters. The rating is pretty much an opportunity for me to make one last attempt at a witty comment about the comic I’m reviewing.

A higher or lower number doesn’t mean much of anything; if it did, then people might wind up thinking that Furthia High, with a review of eight kicked puppies and a restraining order, was my most favorable review. And that’s just wrong.

So having taken the butter of my blog and made it just a little bit more ghee-like, I hope this resolves some reader issues. I’ll be back to reviewing next week.

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Metapost: Ratings? Whatever is this?

by on Aug.17, 2009, under Metapost

In the interest of making this blog seem more like a professional review site, I’m instituting a ratings system for the comic reviews. In fact, I’m going so far as to add ratings to my previous reviews just to maintain consistency.

What the ratings actually mean, however, is up to you to decipher.

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Metapost: Cardboard Tidings

by on Aug.10, 2009, under Metapost

Sad to say, but I’m going to have to skip doing a review this week, since I’m packing up my apartment and moving across the country. Seeing as I’m already exhausted . . . I don’t want to think how much more tired I’m gonna end up being. I’ll try and have a new review up and running next week.

Just so you don’t feel like I’ve left you entirely high and dry, check out Butterfly, by Dean Trippe. It’s sort of the antidote to all those grimdark antihero comics out there. (The archives actually start here, so if this were a full review I’d have to ding him for poor archive design.)

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Metapost: Credentials, etc.

by on May.25, 2009, under Metapost

I understand that making a venture into the wide world of webcomic critique is fraught with peril, flames, anger, and the occasional dancing llama or two, and somehow that doesn’t seem to be stopping me. What makes me so brazen as to think that I’ll do any better at it than the other reviewers, or make my name known, or somehow survive the flames that the people over at Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad habitually attract?

. . . well, I don’t. I just figure this will be a way for me to get my opinions written down, and I get to feel important for having published my opinions in a public forum.

So what qualifies me to critique others’ webcomics? Well, for starters, I’m an English major, editing minor, with plenty of grammar, spelling, and usage classes in my repertory. I usually know how to use the language and how it works. Naturally, this means I’m merciless about typos (make your spelling/grammar Nazi comments now). Likewise, I’m a certified Gadfly (among other titles) with experience both in critiquing others’ work and in making webcomics myself. I’ve made enough gaffes and blunders in my time to be able to see them.

Now that we know all this, what are you going to find in the reviews? I figure this will mostly be commentary on art styles, humor, plot points, and whatnot. Expect both sarcasm and politeness, random thoughts on nothing, and the occasional creative endeavors of my own to pop up. And while yes, I do admire the cartoonists behind some of these comics and have met some of ’em in person, I don’t plan on pulling too many punches about what I like or dislike about their comic. (I understand that this is the equivalent of beating up someone’s baby in front of them, but then I’ve always taken a page out of W. C. Fields’s book, even concerning my own relatives.)

So … look forward with amusement or dread.

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