|This webcomic has had a reboot since this review was written. It may be the case that the creator has used this opportunity to improve the webcomic to the extent that this review may no longer apply. But probably not.|
|Original review author:||The Luigiian and Lesbot|
|Author:||Tim Fu... er, B^U... er, Buckley|
|Start Date:||October 23, 2002|
|End Date:||Ongoing; rebooted November 24, 2012|
|Defining Flaw:||Copying Penny Arcade and doing a piss-poor job of it.|
|Things that are fucking terrible about this webcomic:||Assembled art (no, seriously) and backgrounds taken directly from Google Image Search; weak writing that replaces humor (90% of strips) with violence and drama (10%) with
|Things that aren't terrible but could use improvement:||Ummm... it's... always colored? C'mon, we're just trying to get this comic to be marginally better than Megatokyo. But yeah, what are we saying? CAD will never improve, no matter what we do.|
Many particularly bad webcomics have caught our attention in this wiki. There's Jack, the horrid furry comic set in Hell, appropriately enough. There's Chugworth Academy, a misogynistic and weeaboo defiance of God's existence. Megatokyo, the titan of horrible anime comics. And now, we have Ctrl+Alt+Del.
Ctrl+Alt+Del is the shit webcomic of shit webcomics. It is the prototypical example of a bad webcomic, with lazy art, bland to non-existent humor and no regard for comedic timing, a Mary-Sue protagonist, and an author who's a total and complete scumbag. It is a true, shining example of why sites like this wiki exist. The worst of the worst. A bastion of mediocrity. A treasure trove of tripe. And the best part; to this day, the author still refuses to acknowledge how universally loathed and mocked he truly is.
Ctrl+Alt+Del apparently began as a joke between friends, discussing how the idea of a comic about two guys sitting and playing videogames wasn't very original. A normal person would've stopped there, maybe stick a comic or two up on the fridge to chuckle at when getting a drink. But Buckley, not normal or anything like it, looked at his shoddy little four-panel creation and saw PROFIT.
Story and Plot
The main protagonist of Ctrl+Alt+Del is the author's self-insertion character, Ethan; an archetype "wacky" and "random" character that teenage nerds with unrefined senses of humour feel like they can relate to. Ethan is advertised to us as a man who lives to play videogames; his entire existence, needs and thought allocation (which is spare at most) goes to this form of pixelated entertainment. At least, that was the original description. Lately Ethan has given up wacky-gamer-stupidity in favor of regular-Homer-Simpson-ripoff-stupidity, and hung up his controller in favor of taking part in long drawn-out plotlines about tragic miscarriages and broken friendships.
You know, the stuff gamers really want to read about!
Tied to Ethan are his flatmate Lucas and his OMG GIRL-GAMER GIRLFRIEND Lilah, who sit around playing video games until Ethan comes up with some stupid scheme to enjoy videogames more/get more videogames/play more videogames. This eventually fails horribly and everyone has to work together to fix it. Occasionally this crack team of wasted life experts is punctuated by a nerdy Linux-loving guy (who of course knows nothing of videogames and hates Microsoft) and his pet penguin. Ethan also built a robot made out of Xbox parts (WTF?) for delivery of all robot cliches. Also recurring is Christian, a millionaire who runs about trying to get into Lilah's pants, somehow forgetting he is rich enough to buy at least five women more attractive without having to put up with Ethan's whiny shit.
Every now-and-again Buckley tires of toying with his tiresome cardboard-cutout cast and scrapes the bottom of forums and chat rooms for some temporary gimmick to keep his bleating crowd in the pen. Sometimes he throws together a half-arsed, over-explained fanboy joke about the latest hot release, as if to say: "Look; videogames! Cause this comic is about games, right? I haven't lost myself in the deep, clawing mass of my own ego! Honest!!" Sometimes he comes home drunk and lonely and scribbles four panels of his psychotic alter-ego "Chef Brian", taking his desire to be in with the random and wacky crowd to a desperate new level.
Recently, when keeping up his his comic's irrealistic plot becomes too challenging for the poor overworked dear, he just quits altogether and fantasizes about being a wacky space archaeologist in an interactive novel. Of course, he can't be expected to create new characters, so he
rips off all of fucking Star Wars ever makes clones of the CAD cast. I wonder how he'll transfer Lilah's likeness into this... unless the hideous slug alien is already it. Nah, too much personality. And the slug's definitely hotter.
There's almost nothing to review here, such is the level of laziness apparent in Buckley's drawing style. Admittedly he's improved from 2002, but frankly, who cares? His level of "improvement" essentially boils down to adding shadows to his characters. And get this: When he copy-pastes the characters in different poses, the shadows don't change position to compensate. Consider the first two panels in the linked comic. In the first, light is shown on Lucas' torso, making it appear as if the lighting is to the right. In the second, light is still shown on Lucas' torso, even though he's now facing the left, so that it appears as if the lighting has switched direction. I guess the light's coming from the front, but if that's true, what the hell is up with the shadowing on Lucas' shirt pocket? Why is it shadowed in the part closest to the camera? What the hell is with the background color changing from dark green to light green as you go down? If the light is from the top, why are there shadows on the tops of their shoulders? Bah, to hell with the shadowing, it's horrible and illogical.
Also: Notice that Lilah's left arm doesn't have a shirt sleeve.
CAD backgrounds have not improved at all from early comics. They're bland and boring. Bill Watterson would vomit at the lack of attention to detail in CAD comics, especially considering the sacrifices he made for his famous Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson, as a quick comics lesson, actually demanded that he not be forced to deal with mandated panel divisions in his Sunday comics, so that he could be creative and unique in his usage of space and panel design. Buckley? He has kept the same four panel layout since the beginning of his comic, and has never made any real changes. Whatever inner child he ever had is clearly dead and rotting, deep within his Buckley's black, festering soul. Otherwise it would scream out for some modicum of imagination in art, some kind of hearkening to the childlike love of beauty and wonder. No, Buckley's inner child is dead, buried, and unmourned, and the matured vessel it once inhabited is the pale shell of a withered, cynical, easily-wounded failure of a man.
The writing is worse than the art in this abomination. It goes without saying, but let's just do it: It's terrible. Buckley has used so many words in his writing that it makes the Bible look like a limerick by comparison. You really can't be nice about it, especially considering how stupid the words are, and considering that he expects you to read every single one of them. Comics are a visual medium, don't forget; the pictures are meant to tell the story, not fill space between the fucking mountain of useless inane WORDS.
Consider this strip as a fine example of Buckley's writing talent. The new game-store clerk, that just got hired there, is already trying to jump Ethan's bones. It turns out that she was paid to do that so Lilah's ex-boyfriend could convince her that Ethan was cheating on her, but that issue resolves itself, then Lilah apologizes to Ethan because it was all her fault, I guess. Remember kids, Ethan is totally not a Mary Sue.
From the beginning Buckley shot himself in the foot by making Ctrl+Alt+Del reliant on humor. The man has proved time and time again that he has no idea how to properly structure a joke, often excitedly blurting the punchline out in the first or second panel, leaving him to drag the joke along for another two or three unfunny and inane panels before finally killing it.
CAD began in a style not too unlike newspaper comics; something trivial and amusing (well, it tried) to read at work when you were bored, have a chuckle at and move on. Most likely Buckley never put any effort into the actual art because he thought he could push this thing along on the jokes alone; a simple style is okay for a simple little gag strip that you're going to forget by the time you've had your next coffee. But at some point
Ethan Buckley broke out of his straight jacket and decided a shitty little copy-and-paste comic was the perfect medium for tragic, emotional tales of human woe. That gamers looking for a little giggle would somehow appreciate depth of plots like miscarriages, failing relationships and the like. He - for whatever reason - thought that he could trade in the randomrofllol for OHGODWHYYYY and everything would carry on as normal.
Now I do not know if you read non-web comics. You could very well be the Pope reading this right now. So I will explain this as clearly as I can. It is okay to make a comic with a deep plot and a lot of emotion. But to do this you need to work in pictures. Comics that rely on plot rather than humor should ideally use a lot more detail in their art than others; they need to show the characters' body language and facial expressions, they use light and shadow to set the mood of a scene, they build up to important plot points with a lot of foreshadowing and visual hints, and the characters are well thought out and human.
Buckley's comic does not use this level of detail. His characters are more caricatures than humans; his backgrounds are either plain or ripped directly from Google; his use of shading is, as already mentioned, fucking abysmal. What Buckley has basically done is try to inject a graphic novel storyline into a gag strip. This is no different from if Jim Davis were to draw a Garfield strip where Garfield tells Jon that he has caught feline AIDS (yes, there really is such a thing), then they spend the last two panels crying.
And that is fucking infuriating.
If you don't know Tim Buckley, you don't know the Internet. He's pretty much the penultimate example of everything that is wrong with Internet users, right down to the unfounded-but-still-disturbing rumors of pedophilia, his creating a charity to try to spite Penny Arcade's charity, his penchant for banning anybody who says anything even remotely negative about CAD on his forums, and much much more.
He also trolls Wikipedia, looking for entries on other webcomics and vandalizing them, replacing, for example, an entry on the webcomic Player Versus Player with "PvP sucks." If you need to know anything more about the way he acts, just look at Ethan in CAD. The two are pretty much one and the same. Because Buckley got a tongue piercing, so did Ethan, as just one example.
In reality, Buckley is not the Ethan he wishes to be. He is not a genius, nor an artist, nor a playboy, nor a king. He is a shallow, desperate, lonely loser asshole whose only contact with an actual human being is the undying affection of his shallow, desperate, lonely loser fan base. He's a chauvinist prick, an obnoxious jackass, a moron, and a cancer on the sequential arts. He's a pedophile. He should be ashamed of himself. And that's just the author.
Ctrl+Al+Del is not a good comic. If you take away the pictures, it is not a good book. It is boring, over-explained self-indulgent rubbish, comparable to the entrails of a dead badger smeared across the road on a rainy workday morning. A lot of it makes no goddamn sense, and what does is usually so clichéd and dull it is not worth looking at. The art does not make up for the terrible writing. The writing does not make up for the terrible art. There is only one possible positive thing that can be used as a slogan for this shitty, unlikable trash.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Sometimes it mentions videogames.
The reboot of CAD came something as a shock to the regular readers. Not because it improved anything, nor because it didn't answer any questions, but because Buckley effectively said "fuck it" and scrapped everything. Granted, the comic was cliche to begin with, but it did have something that worked...barely. However, what began as a video game comic, quickly devolved into some kind of teen romance/bromance drama of some sort which you'd be hard to pin down. Featuring plots like a character's wife having a miscarriage, and then ending with this really convoluted story where Ethan moves forward in time and then kills himself to "save" humanity. Well, if the comic was hard to follow to begin with, that only took the cake.
The Reboot itself is interesting, in that Buckley has steered away from any real plot or story, and seems more intent on centering on the gaming side of things (like CAD did in the first place.) That isn't to say it's been smooth rolling since then, but that it's at least going in the right direction. Mind you that direction is still away from keeping avid readers coming back, but at least he's picked something and generally stuck with it.
Writing hasn't improved in the series, and if anything has gotten worse. It's as if killing off Ethan and the others killed whatever little bit of Buckley's brain remained, leaving readers with a hollow shell that has no idea of what humor really is.
- The Lazyness: a BWW article about why laziness is a bad thing when it comes to making webcomics.
- The Wall of Text: a BWW article about why pacing and brevity are so important.
- The Mary-Sue Character: a BWW article about the wrong way to write a protagonist.
- Buckley did a cartoon series of his comic. Rest assured, it's worse than all his comics put together.
- Buckley's Winter-een-mas page.
- CADipedia: A CAD wiki made by the members of the website Something Awful.
- A genius at work; Buckley gives away his copypasting technique on Youtube.
- Encyclopedia Dramatica's article. Beware, all of ED is NSFW! But here's an article that really rips into CAD.
- One more for the "artist".
- In the penultimate strip of the old version, Ethan resets the universe - and does not press Ctrl+Alt+Delete. You had one job, Buckley, and you fucked it up.