21st Century Fox
|Original review author:||Groggarioth|
|Webcomic name:||21st Century Fox|
|Start Date:||February 14, 1999 (he says he has been writing this from 1998 on the artist page)|
|Genre:||Furry, Science Fiction, Romance, Comedy|
|Defining Flaw:||The artwork as stiff and stilted as the dialogue and boy is that stiff. Not to mention all those goddamn song lyrics.|
It may surprise none of you that I was once a teenager. That was when I first read this monstrosity. Coming straight from a binge of reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice And Fire series, I decided to look for something a little lighter. Well in this case, this webcomic may as well be thin air.
While it is possible to argue that this webcomic has never really taken a serious nosedive to the center of the earth, I would say there are two particular downfalls: The first occurs in strip #2. Now look at strip #1. Yeah, pretty big downgrade in quality considering the quality wasn't that high to begin with. In six months, Mr. Kellogg (HE'S GGGRRRRREEEEAAATT) could not draw a single page of similar quality to the first, and instead devolved into chicken scratches and horrible line work.
The other downfall, and probably the more serious one, is when the racism starts and keeps on going. Mr. Kellogg (anyone else hungry now?) seems to be trying to make a deep social/political satire with animals of certain types taking the places of various nationalities (scavengers for Americans, lions for Africans, tigers for the Chinese), but it doesn't work. Instead, it compounds the problem the webcomic already had with heavy-handed messages in the writing. There are frequent (and usually rather pointless) cuts to implausibly big-busted news readers, hammering you with the author's opinion of sexual saturation in mainstream media (more specifically the news), mixed in with constantly pushing feminism on the reader. Painting various nations with a single stereotype as well only serves to make the webcomic lose whatever romantic and comedic value it may still have had, and when it tries to regain them it flops around like a fish out of water.
Story and Plot
The story is surprisingly simple: Jack is an anthropomorphic male fox who is on the road for love and works fixing machines of THE FUTURE!!! (Yes, I do have to do that.) While everyone around him finds romance he is forever alone, and the constant crushing loneliness starts to take a horrible toll on his sanity and then...
Oh, who am I kidding? Jack finds his one true love, a vixen named Jenny, in under a year of pages. Within about three days worth of strips from that, his grand sense of self-importance says that nothing should ever go right for him and she disappears. After another few years of poor comedy and stupidity, the whole farce ends in a fairy tale romance between him and Jenny. Cecil, a giraffe who is Jack's best friend and partner, winds up with Beth and Barb, two female giraffes who throw themselves on Cecil to underline just how poor with the opposite sex Jack truly is.
From there on out, the webcomic becomes a poor mixture of soap-boxing, Gilbert and Sullivan references, derivative references to other little-known webcomics, casual racism (always fun), and bad romance.
I believe this has been said before, but this is not art. This is a torture for the eyes and soul. I could do better than this and I've been drawing for no more than six years. It does get 'better' for a given value of better (see next paragraph), but the anatomy is horrible. The eyes consume half the face, and the faces are comprised of a narrow tube for a muzzle/snout and a ball with bits sticking out for the ears.
It would unfair to say that it doesn't improve, but then the word "improve" is the wrong word. It gets coloured, and everything is slightly better proportioned, but --and it is a big BUT-- everything is still hand drawn and there is a lot more copy/paste. Lines are still untidy, and the characters still look stiff and unnatural.
On the plus side, there have been backgrounds all the way through the webcomic's thirteen-year run, all hand drawn, with horrible line work and jarring, uncomplimentary colours.
Writing, in itself, is based off of three things: characters, setting, and genre. I'm sure someone will argue that point, but to create a story that resonates with readers, you need a well fleshed-out setting with rules, you need to establish tone (genre), and you need a believable character who the readers can feel for, wallow in his despair when he fails, and share in his euphoria when he succeeds.
21st Century Fox has none of these things. Its tone is inconsistent and schizophrenic, the setting is this world in the future with anthropomorphic animals, and the characters, while they grow and mature, they never keep their character traits that made us want them to grow. The characters swap their defining traits for something new and never look back, often causing the few good characters to lose what made them good characters in the first place.
The greatest sin of this webcomic however, would be this: the writer cannot go a single thrice-damned month without putting song lyrics in there. Just forget for a moment that comics are a visual medium and not an auditory one. I have this exact same complaint with novels that do this; even if it is something commonplace (like the Gilbert and Sullivan) this webcomic oh-so-routinely decides to throw it at you like Jackson Pollock throwing paint at a wall. Music is based on melody and rhythm. When you write a song down, you lose the context of each word unless you write down the exact pattern of syllables, often making the words uncomfortable to read. If you don't want to do that, then the rhythm and flow of that song is lost unless the reader has heard that particular song, and this dampens the effect the writer was going for.
As I previously mentioned in the Downfall section, Mr. Kellogg (someone get me Frosted Flakes) seems to have a thing for woman's lib. A lot of side characters are either powerful women or potential powerful women who have been under the harsh whip of the most dreaded force on the planet, MAN!!! (Yes, man... insert rambling complaint on how evil man is portrayed in movies like FernGully, Avatar, yada-yada blah-blah.) This and the racism that becomes present in the latter half of the webcomic's current run really don't help to show that the writer has any idea how real people act.
I can't find much on Mr. Kellogg (no I'm not doing that bit anymore, it got old real quick), but the pictures he put on his author page either show he has a huge ego or a tiny penis. Then again, looking at the webcomic in its entirety, Mr. Kellogg probably has mental problems up the wazoo.
21st Century Fox has some good ideas which are slowly lost in the first five years when the writer shifts focus to a sci-fi epic, and all the character building up until then goes out the window.
Final thoughts: slow, boring, plodding, poorly drawn, poorly written, and just plain sub-par, but hey at least it ain't Fur Will Fly.
UPDATE: It has been almost a decade since the review was written, and I decided to check the webcomic out again, seeing how it is still updating. After seeing a few pages, I decided it would be quite appropriate to quote song lyrics myself, seeing that this webcomic still keeps doing the same thing:
Some things never change
You're still the same
Yes, from the Bob Seger song about the gambler. And this webcomic hasn't changed at all in the last decade-still the same garish and ugly art, slow pace, stilted character interactions and dialogue, and all the other flaws that prompted this review in the first place. I guess the author has his audience so he might as well keep things as they are and not bother trying to make any improvements.
- Interview Right wing sci-fi interviewer who seems to have a problem with furries.