Dreaming of Utopia
|here in the "Reactions" section.|
|Original review author:||oddguy|
|Webcomic name:||Dreaming of Utopia|
|Start Date:||February 3, 2013|
|Defining Flaw:||Everything about this comic is fine besides the fact it uses furries as a discriminated group which turns the issue from interesting to a bad joke|
This comic is so fucking stupid it's actually fun to read. Decide on your own if you want to read the review and ruin the surprise.
First of all, I want to point out that I will be doing this review from the standpoint of someone who has read the comic without first reading the various, overly long "about" pages that explain its setting. I am doing this in part because that was actually my mindset when I started writing this review, which was the first time it occurred to me that those pages might be worth checking out despite their length.
The second reason I am writing the review from that perspective is because I believe that this is the same point of view of virtually everyone who reads this comic. I base this on the fact that the only reason I am reviewing it in the first place is that over the past few months I have been repeatedly assaulted with links to it by people who know I run this site, usually with an attached comment reading something along the lines of: "Dude, you have got to check this crazy shit out".
So, in the interest of fairness, I would like to point out that if your read all the inclosed walls of text that come with this comic it becomes slightly less insane. But, since no one should have to do that, and since no one indeed seems to be, it is even more fair that I review it as the thing most people who read it will see it as: An insane fucking mess.
There is no real downfall, but the second panel of the first page is (for me) the first time I burst out laughing at how ridiculous the dialog is.
"Barky got off work a little early today. He's in a hurry to get home so he can groom himself!"
The "groom" wasn't bolded by me, it was like that in the comic. And this was the moment I realized what I was getting myself into. I'm not sure if that counts as a "downfall", but I need to write something in this section so there you go.
General Story and Plot
First let's start with the premise.
"Dreaming of Utopia" is set in an unnamed city in the mid 90s with small prefecture in it populated entirely by furries. In the various info pages it is explained that, despite being called "Furries" and wearing fursuits, these aren't actually furries but rather some sort creepy religion that shares almost everything with the modern furry fandom but is also a kind of nature-centric cult rather than a bordering-on-beastiality type fetish (I'm not sure which is worse).
However, since no one starts reading a webcomic by first going over five miles worth of side-page text, there is no way for you to know that and as far as the average reader is concerned it's a story about a city with a neighborhood full of an even creepier version of fucking furries (this would be a good time to mention I hate furries).
So the furries live in "Furtown" and are the victim of
fursecution persecution, which is understandable because they walk around in public wearing costumes intended to signify to people that they would like to fuck a cartoon dog.
We are intended to feel sympathy for them due to the unfair treatment they suffer, but honestly, if a furry town sprung up where I live, I would charge in there on a jet-powered steamroller and reduce the entire population to a collection of bloody, synthetic floor-rugs.
Overview by Chapters
A plot section is fine but to really delve deep into how stupid this comic is I think it's best to go chapter by chapter.
Chapter one begins with a dog furry literally named "Barky" walking down the street when he is assaulted by a "gang" consisting of three white teenagers dressed in something that might have been considered intimidating in the mid 80s. The gang do what one is expected to do when they see a grown man walking down the street in a full-body dog costume and beat the living shit out of him.
The gang talks like someone put a curse on an 8chan message board that made it come to life, spouting such wonderful dialog as: "Take your faggoty ass back to your faggoty friends in your faggoty furtown", and finish up by cutting off his tail (in what is supposed to be dramatic but instead comes off as hilarious), stealing his money and throwing him over the wall into the furry ghetto with his anus bleeding.
He's picked up by an ambulance, dies on the way and is taken to the morgue. A detective who is black and secretly also a furry (how unlucky can one guy be?) goes to the gang's hideout to investigate, where another living /pol/ comment thread takes place. Then we cut to the cat furry who found "Barky" whining to
"Woolfy" (I can't get over these retarded names), the paramedic who picked him up, (oops, this isn't "Woolfy", it's "Reddy". He's a different fox furry but I couldn't tell them apart) about some bullshit that makes Reddy the only character in this comic I like because he gives as little of a fuck about that shit as I do. And then blah blah blah this chapter is too long so I'll speed this up.
Reddy tries to get laid with another furry which is gross, detective black furry meets with his stereotypical police chief, the cat guy goes to a funeral, more stuff happens, the gang kill another furry the end (thank god).
Tales of Furtown: It's good to be a furry
After a couple of PSAs about fursuit making and some random art, chapter 2 begins (this is actually just a mini-chapter).
It tells the story of a character I couldn't bother to check the name of so I will just call him "Dog-fucker". Dog-fucker goes out looking for a job in his dog fucking suit and recounts in detail the "shocking" mistreatment he suffers simply for casually walking around the street dressed like a Disney mascot. In one particularly funny moment people sharing an elevator with him insult him behind his back with exactly the kinds of things people say about furries online (that they are zoophiles and for some reason always gay) despite the fact that actual furries aren't supposed to be a real thing in this comic.
Surprise surprise he doesn't get the job even after going through the trouble of looking professional by wearing a bowtie over his fucking dog costume and goes home.
In this chapter someone has been pushing furries onto the tracks of the subway and killing them. Detective I-can't-spell-his-stupid-name is on the case and soon discover the culprit is one of the subway's maintenance people who is insane and thinks furries are real giant animals that only he can see. During the arrest the killer accidentally jumps onto the train-tracks and dies and detective what's-his-name walks away thinking justice has been done.
This says less about prejudice and more about the american justice system where mental patients get locked up and Texas executes the retarded. Good job detective furfag. Maybe next you can go run over some autistics with your car.
Where do Furries Come From?
This mini-chapter is where the comic hits creepy territory. While in the real world the answer to the chapter's titular question would be "Parental neglect", in the comic it is explained that when a furry couple has a child they immediately begin to indoctrinate him in a cult-like fashion. First by dressing him up in a costume from the moment that he is born and next by keeping him from ever seeing any regular people so that he doesn't realize this isn't normal.
This chapter belongs in a fucking horror story.
There is nothing interesting in this chapter. The "Skullz", that gang that consists of 8 chubby white boys, sit around talking shit for 10 pages and then beat up another furry and steal his money. The end.
Mister Saturday Night
Another pointless chapter that has nothing to do with this comics' topic. Cat guy and Reddy go hang out at a bar and the episode focuses on how the cat furry is a socially inept, dinosaur loving loser who can't get laid because he acts like an autistic. Him and Shin-Goji would have a lot to talk about.
The art is competent but a bit inconsistent. Mark is obviously inspired by newspaper comic strips (his previous webcomic was basically "Peanuts" with different characters) and it shows. It gets to a point where you have a creepy-looking realistic doctor talking to another doctor who looks like an adult Charlie Brown (deformed head included) about a cartoon dog that was beat up by a bunch of "Archie" characters. My second minor problem is that all the animals characters look almost the same. I can't tell one fox guy from the next so I don't know if there is two of them or five. The only reason I know there isn't only one is that two of them are talking to one another at one point. As far as the rest go, I don't know. You can go by the name, but that doesn't fix the fact they look the same and I get confused. But even when the characters are dressed as dogs (which should allow for more diversity) they all seem to be from the same breed. I guess I'm a racist because they all look the same to me.
But my biggest gripe with the art is that it's dishonest. Furries don't look like that, or at least fursuits don't. Even if these are some sort of high-quality suits it still doesn't account for them having facial expressions. Mark even addresses this in his F.A.Q saying that he has no excuse and it's just like that because it is. But even if he said that they have some kind of animatronic head-gear, it still wouldn't fix the core problem of him having to warp reality to keep the entire comic from looking like a joke.
Real-life fursuits looks stupid. They have gaping, constantly smiling mouths and big, never blinking eyes that make the way they all look a combination of funny, creepy and pathetic. If he had drawn the DoU fursuits to look anything like real fursuits do, all drama that isn't already sucked out by the ridiculous premise would have been killed by how dumb everything looks. A point no one illustrates better than his own fucking fans. In his fanart gallery (most of which I suspect was donated by trolls since one of the artists identifies himself as "Dick Wolf") some particularly insane fan made an actual fursuit based on his design and posted pictures of him/herself wearing it.
He/she then went out to some fast-food joint and terrorized the terrified looking employees.
This isn't me picking out the worst looking fursit I could find online to make a point. These are literally his own fans doing their best to honor his work and making it look worse in the process. Imagine what it would be like reading DoU if the entire cast looked like that. Actually, you don't have to imagine it because I had a friend of mine take this and make this improved version for me:
Not so sad anymore, is it? Or at least that's what I would say if it had evoked any emotion in me in the first place. Making the fursuits more realistic flushes all the artificial drama right out of this scene. Then it becomes exactly what watching a fully costumed furry get beat up by a street gang would be - Hilarious.
In the end, once I started imagining the comics' fursuits as real fursuits I couldn't stop. So while I was looking at this:
All I was seeing was this:
Just like everything else in this comic, the writing is mostly fine but has some truly awful moments that completely take you out of the experience (if you can even get your mind off the fact you're reading about furries for long enough to get immersed).
I've already quoted the first time this comic unintentionally made me laugh. Time to show you a few more.
It's this kind of stuff that quickly turning this comic into a laughing stock. The rest of the comic has a pretty adult tone but the plot is fairly solid and the dialog isn't too badly written so, as long as most of the characters aren't too out there (and they aren't, just somewhat cliche), everything should work. But every line that is dramatically delivered is ruined by the entire cast being dressed as Loony Tunes.
Actually, I take back what I said about the characters. The black, hard-boiled "I'm getting too old for this shit" detective and his angry "You're a loose cannon! Get out of my office!" boss are so stupid they feel like a parody.
Mark Savary seems okay. I don't know much about him because I didn't dig very deep. All I could find was another comic called "Autmn Lake" that he made before this one and thought about plowing through it to look for something to say about him but saw no point. The previous comic had an arc about furries right near its end so I'm guessing that's what prompted him into making DoU.
Other than that all I know is that he's a middle aged man, he has far too many ways to beg for donations on his site and that he probably doesn't take criticism very well because DoU features two clothing brands called "Awful Something" and "Chan-Four" worn mostly by gang members and general assholes. It's just a wild guess, but he probably saw one of the threads making fun of him or had someone from one of those sites email him since his contact pages says he won't answer trolls. More funny is the fact he sells mugs and stickers with the "Awful Something" logo in his store. I'm surprised Lowtax hasn't tried to sue him yet. So maybe he'll find this review and next time someone in the comic is wearing a hat it will have "Wiki Bad Webcomics" written on it, or something equally stupid.
Lastly, he really fucking hate republicans. In his various "About" pages (that all read like Chris chan explaining Rosechu's reproductive system) he mentions conservative media in the same breath as racism, homophobia and antisemitism like a man listing off the various flavors of a single brand of gum.
Mark contacted me over twitter with some corrections. He pointed out that he is not mad at criticism and that the mentions of 4chan and SA were just jokes. I talked to him and he seems like a reasonable guy so I believe him.
Imagine you get invited to a concert. Imagine you go there and realize that the piece that's going to be played is called "An Ode to Farts". You're surprised but decide to check it out anyway. You go in, sit down and listen to the music. It's nice. It isn't amazing but there isn't anything wrong with it. However, slowly you begin to notice that something is wrong. One of the instruments is making a strange sound. You look at the stage, trying to pick out the offending party, and that's when you notice that one of the musicians is just a guy making fart noises into the microphone. And for the rest of the evening all you can focus on is him.
That is what reading "Dreaming of Utopia" feels like. It's an oddity. It feels like something that was written by a fairly competent writer. Someone who has some flaws, but nothing you couldn't overlook if it wasn't for his work's topic. You start to wonder: "Does this guy not know what a furry is?", "Is he some furry lunatic who honestly believed that this is what being a furry feels like?", "Is this some sort of joke?". In fact, so many people assume this is some sort of elaborate prank that he had to point out he's not a troll in his F.A.Q. The mystery can be solved by reading his long (and somewhat creepy) info pages, but most people don't get past the point of laughing at this comic and moving on.
The way to do this comic right would have been to use a real minority. Mark explains in his F.A.Q that he didn't want to do that because he was afraid he would get it wrong or would come off as patronizing, so he used furries instead because they aren't a race but know what it's like to be discriminated against (although in the question right before this one he says that “Fursecution” is a bunch of bullshit and there is no such thing). He said that this also allows him to have some artistic license with furries to the point of changing what they even are.
And herein lies the problem. If he didn't want to use a real minority he should have made a fictional one up. This idea of taking a rightfully hated, gross community of disgusting fetishists and converting them into a religion while keeping most of their real world characteristics gave him the worst of both worlds. At the very least he could have started the comic off with an explanation about what these furries are which would have made the story seem slightly less insane. Having done none of that the story just comes off as stupid and crazy.
Although, even if he had done any or all of those things, the best he could have hoped for is making a slightly above average comic the central message of which would have been: "Racism is bad".
Not exactly breaking new ground.