Murry and Lewy
|Original review author:||Shan|
|Webcomic name:||Murry and Lewy You may well have to go to archive.org though.|
|Author:||Darren "Naga" Brown and Thomas F. "Thom Khatt" Revor|
|Start Date:||September 7, 2010 (coming soon page)/actual first page October 2, 2010|
|Genre:||Genderbender comedy (except for one horrible moment when it isn't - see Downfall)|
|Defining Flaw:||Tonal whiplash, as of time of writing (21st-24th October 2015) ongoing inadequate website maintenance and updating schedule|
Days failed to load
Days since October 21st when site was first discussed for inclusion and has been found inaccessible depsite daily attempts to load. Last seen to work by me around September 25th when the last new page as of this date went up.
This is no way to run a railroad, as they sometimes say.
"Not just another comic about guys turned into girls." according to the Topwebcomics banner. Not like we didn't need another one of those. The description below the banner says "Two guys who find out that magic is real, the hard way. They're transformed in to [sic] women." Pretty much what it says on the tin.
Public declaration, I discovered Exiern through this site. I like Exiern enough to have read it all, read its alternate reality spin off, keep reading it, exchange the creators and other readers in online communication and even give them money. So it's not like I'm openly hostile to any form of fiction just for existing and using this premise in and of itself. My views on Exiern are just my personal ones and not necessarily shared by anyone else on this site.
Once again, just my personal view which can't be assumed to be attributed to anyone else here. I absolutely hate being publicly critical of anything. I know that the mere act of creating something and putting time and effort doesn't make it immune from criticism. If the general consensus is that something's bad, well it's bad. I also know that just because the critic isn't or can't create the thing they're criticizing, that doesn't act as a a bar from giving their opinion (yes that's a good question, why am I here and contributing then?). However, I still hate doing it even though there's a vital role for it. However, I feel much less bad about it when things like what I've listed as the downfall of this webcomic happen. I was just that offended by it. Believe me, if I think you've rated a mention here, you've really hit a nerve. Well, that's enough of me covering my own ass.
Well, as said, it's a "screwball" comedy about two guys who are flatmates and one day, after what was presumably a drunken escapade of some sort, they both wake up and find their bodies have been turned into those of women. There's a whole series of comic mishaps from that point but, at least in my opinion, the page that sinks the whole thing beyond the point of no return is one where, while shopping for new clothes, they meet a woman in the store who knows what's going on.
Our hapless twosome eventually piece some of it together, in that at a bar while drunk, Murry had accidentally groped a woman and both he and Lewy found themselves out the back and had their bodies turned into women by a sorceress as some sort of punishment. So, basically the message seems to be that men who humiliate women are humiliated by being turned... into women, so they can also be humiliated as their punishment? The message seems to be kind of mixed which is probably more charitable a description than it deserves.
Are women supposed to be considered less than men, hence that's the punishment? I suppose it's so they can see how it's like as women on the receiving end of men like them but the whole idea just doesn't work for me. To be honest, I've never really gotten this as a punishment for supposedly misogynistic men.
Lewy having this happen makes even less sense as apart from being in vague proximity to Murry, didn't even do anything.
That's not the bad part. The bad part is the woman in the store who tells Lewy about what she knows, apparently these magic casters, witches, whatever have been running rampant and gender bending a lot of men in the nearby locale before the two heroes of our story. It's bad enough that doing this is vastly disproportionate to whatever these men did to have this happen to them, assuming they had done anything at all in the first place.
The glee which the people responsible seek out and bait their victim is decidedly off-putting, especially considering anyone not behaving as expected of 18th century men as seen by Jane Austen seem to be fair game (believe me, in real life, people of that era frequently got up to some freaky stuff). The fact that Murry and Lewy were in a topless bar and served alcohol that made them very drunk makes me think this is the gender bending equivalent of being an undercover cop desperately pestering people to buy weed until they buy some to make you go away than anything else, at which point you arrest them. For example, at one point they're seen giving tickets to the same establishment that Murry and Lewy fell afoul of to a couple of men just for for some things they said. Seems what's coming to them is quite disproportionate.
She talks about the different outcomes of the various victims of this and then gets to one case in which it's clear from what she said that all this 'wacky' forced genderbending led to at least one suicide.
Here's the page preceding the one in which alludes to it, as the second to last panel ominously says "He could have been turned to much worse". I wish I could show you the actual page but even on archive.org the image is broken. You can see it on the thumbnails for June 21st 2011 but it's really tiny so not actually much help. At this point you're just going to have to take my word for it. I could have sworn it included a funeral scene but maybe I'm actually remembering it wrong. However, as I can't look any closer ...
Look, from what I remember, it's a really morbid scene of someone who, for whatever transgression they committed, had the same thing happen to them as Murry and Lewy did. And after being stuck in a body that wasn't theirs for long enough, it's all but stated they killed themselves.
No, just no. That's where this webcomic sails past the moral event horizon. Given both the comic pitfalls before and after this page and the fact this is a serious real world problem (though in real life it's technically the reverse situation of people being born into a mismatch as opposed to being put into one), the tonal whiplash is enough to put you in a neck brace for at least a month. There's really no coming back from something that offensive.
More often than not, trying to load the page will get you a white screen with only this text in the lefthand corner Http/1.1 Service Unavailable: I've intermittently gotten it to load in the past but not once during the period of the 21st to the 24th of October when this webcomic was discussed for possible inclusion in the forums. No matter how good or bad your wevcomic is, it's not going anywhere if no-one can ever read it. Yes there's archive.org but firstly it's incomplete and secondly even if your webcomic is good, making people jump through hoops to find it is never a sound business plan. Also, too many of the images just give the 'broken image' symbol in the archives.
Secondly is updates. The Patreon pages says they'll do one page of this webcomic and one page of their other one (Crossworlds) a month at $100/month and two pages a month at $250/month. Until a recent page on September 25th, 2015, the previous page of this webcomic was May 28th. The one before that? December the 9th 2014. You really have to at least go some way towards demonstrating that you'll deliver the promised product on time in return for the money being paid and this track record isn't at all convincing. Anyway, the Patreon is at $96.50/month at the moment so it's all technically moot then, despite the fact being $3.50 short shouldn't really be enough to excuse not fulfilling their obligations to their donors in my opinion.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that if you want us to give you money, please demonstrate why we should do so in advance by building up a prior track record of meeting performance goals. It's practically Patreon's actual mission statement.
Also, as for the Patreon goals themselves, might also want to make clear what the goals milestones are too while cleaning up the confusing state it's presently in at the time of writing.
$100 per month
At the $250 goal, we will publish one page each every month for both Murry & Lewy and Crossworlds (So what is it? at $100 a month or $250 a month?)
$250 per month
At this goal, we will publish Murry & Lewy twice a month!
Not only that, we will also release (for everyone!) a bonus image, suitable for your computer desktop! (Yay?)
$500 per month
At this goal, both Murry & Lewy and Crossworlds will be released twice a month! (So what is it? at $250 a month or $500 a month?)
$750 per month
That's right! At the $1000 per month goal, we will be releasing Murry and Lewy every week! (Once again what is it? at $750 a month or $1000 a month?)
$1,000 per month
At this goal, a special Murry & Lewy or Crossworlds prose will be released, possibly with some illustrations! Plus, additional bonuses to be named later!
(Prose? Seriously? Maybe some pictures?)
Might also want to work on the name of the webcomic itself, it's twice referred to as 'Murry &'. Then there's the fact that so many webcomics update so much more often for so much less money too. That's even before we even touch on the relative merits of their art and writing versus this one (Preview: They're winning by quite a lot).
Story and Plot
Well, as with everything above, I'm going from memory as presently the amount of effort to read the whole strip is made quite difficult by the technical side of things. As of writing this review, I haven't been able to get the site to load once today (or the next three days as it turned out). Basically, if you can think of a comic situation that occurs from men being stuck in a women's bodies and both having to adapt while making an effort to get their original bodies back, it's probably happened here already at least once. Usually with Murry, everything from boob jokes ('oh look, I now have boobs, let's play with them'), to cluelessly walking about in public in women's underwear to making a pass at a male cashier at a supermarket. Lewy makes a pass at a waitress when drunk once. There's also some highly disturbing dreams of a sexual nature that I absolutely refuse to talk about (just realised how that sounds - not mine! Ones the characters in the webcomic have just so we're clear). Don't even think of asking, I'm busy having my brain bleached.
I can't be completely sure though because I can't presently recheck it all, even with the help of archive.org. So if I've gotten any details wrong, it's because I can't see it to check what I remember. I promise I'll actually fix any egregious errors when I can get a look (at latest count, it hasn't worked once between the 21st and 28th of October inclusive and counting - yes I'm checking regularly because there's at least one picture I want to nab that explains why I am so critical of this.)
From what I do remember, Lewy loses his job because he stops going into work. I'm somewhat alarmed that his workplace (which was about to give him a big promotion) decides to sack him via his answering machine after a week of noshows, instead of at least checking to see if he was unconscious in hospital or something. It's not like there wasn't a premise in a guy trying to keep his job after finding his body changed into that of a woman one day before a vitally important presentation at work, the Argentinians managed to turn that premise into a 150 episode drama called "Lalola", which itself was remade in other countries 12 more times. The Chilean remake once was and may well still be the longest running drama in the country's history with 276 episodes. The Russians weren't too far behind with 240 episodes either. What I'm trying to say is that the concept for better or worse has been covered a lot in the past from several South American countries to Indonesia.
But OK, fair enough they didn't go that way (after all, I've just shown that area is well and truly tapped) and they skipped over the whole trying to keep the job thing. Lewy ends up having to get a job at a Burger place because his new identity has no qualifications to go with it. Murry went from being an unemployed slacker on the couch playing video games and contributing nothing to expenses to... an unemployed slacker on the couch playing video games and contributing nothing to expenses. As an added 'twist', Murry isn't in a rush to try and change back and is in fact actively starting to resist efforts to do so. but the trope of men finding they actually prefer being women after magically being turned into one is an increasingly tired trope (and flies in the face of reality).
To be fair the were a couple of funny moments, one when Lewy is freaking out about being recognized in public as being who he was and Murry saying not to worry about it and that it seems unlikely followed out by someone calling out "Nice tits Murry!" and Murry cheerfully waving back and yelling "Thanks, they're new!". Then there's when Murry's mother drops in unexpectedly and after some small talk she asks Murry "Didn't you used to be a boy?". Lesson for both parents and children, keep in touch on at least a semi-regular basis even if it's only by phone or email because if it gets to the point where you're forgetting such details, you may all have a problem. Though straight after that, Murry's mother gives Lewy a hug for also changing "in solidarity" which makes you think she's not the sharpest tool in the shed.
One of the magic users responsible mentions that he has a curse of a yet to be defined nature and that may have something to do with it or maybe it actually will turn out to be something as simple as Murry was actually a transgender woman even before this magical transformation but was too lazy to ever do anything about it until it, like everything else, was handed over without any effort required to make it happen in the first place. Well, it'd be a new spin on such a scenario but the website updates far too infrequently even when it does work for me to care to find out.
At some point they discover there's a whole world of magical beings around them who can do all sorts of things except change them back because reasons. They can be turned into sphinxes and centaurs temporarily for the theme of a magical transformation party but somehow turning them back into a shape that is their original bodies is a bridge too far.
Presently it's taken almost a year to cover three pages of the latest arc where they've unexpectedly found themselves babysitting some magical people's kids. This has so far covered Murry seated on a couch playing a video game, hearing a doorbell, answering a doorbell, unexpectedly being handed some kids to look after and Murry coming out of the shower finding some kids in the apartment that weren't there before, one of whom is asking for the wifi password. At this rate, we might see a device being connected in time for 2017.
I wish I could show you more but the site is perpetually down. Though if you look at all the female characters here on the Patreon page, there seems to be very little variation among any of them. Murry looks a lot like Kalif who looks a lot like Nahrm who looks a lot like Blossom.
They got a new artist (who as of the end of October has done page on September 25th - at least it's now in colour) so the previous one can supposedly concentrate on Crossworlds (this site's currently loading). Which last had a page on August 6th and before that April 3rd and then January 15th. It's OK to say if there's other things going on in your life that are more important. You don't even have to give details as it's none of our business, these are only webcomics.
If not, the update schedule for either of these is too infrequent and too irregular to build momentum even before we get into the issue of whether they're any good or not.
I think it's more or less been covered already. Basically, pick a tone and stick with it. If you want to do a comedy that's fine. There's plenty which have also managed to broach more serious underlying issues. If you want to do a serious drama examining the major issues for people living in this situation but also inject a degree of humour, that's also fine. Even when real life is grim, it's more often than not not unrelentingly so, usually a little sunlight breaks through occasionally.
What you don't do is start off with some slapstick humour, lurch to a page where a bunch of seriously disturbed witches on a transformation fetish rampage drive at least one person to suicide and then veer back into the slapstick as if nothing has happened, because that's just horrible.
These three consecutive pages sum up everything that's wrong with the writing of M&L better than I ever could using words:
This is not good (↑).
This is when the whole premise permanently ceased to have any chance of being funny.
This is very bad (↑).
After that ultimate downer (↑), let's get straight back to the smutty comedic antics and never ever speak of what just happened in the last page ever again. As a result, somehow this is even worse than what just happened on the previous page.
I Don't know anything about them. This is the relevant section from their Patreon page.
As a general rule, best not to declare yourself as humorous or even serious and let others do that if it's valid. To be fair, this isn't the only Patreon page guilty of that in its pitch.
They have received about $97 of the $100 they are asking to update the webcomic regularly (well if you want to call once a month regular), but have so far failed to do so. Draw your own conclusions. In any case, it might be for the best, because I honestly don't want more of the garbage to be created and anyone who was dumb enough to willingly pay for it deserves to have their money stolen.
Just noticed a donation page for one off donations as another option instead of regular Patreon payments. Given Paypal's notorious puritanism when it comes to this sort of thing, I'm surprised this is still being allowed to fly. It gets even worse when you move the arrow over the illustration. Seriously? I'm going to put it down as at least NSFW and then go bleach my eyes and my brain again. Honestly, what is wrong with you people?
UPDATE: The webcomic has failed to update since June 13, 2016, and it's now 2017. I wouldn't be surprised if the authors had been paid to put a stop to this thing.
Nothing that hasn't been done better by other people, all of whom managed to avoid casually mentioning suicide before awkwardly acting like nothing happened like a clown who didn't have time to change out of his work clothes showing up at a funeral and trying to play it cool. A general lesson not just for this webcomic but for anything dealing with gay and transgender issues, if a webcomic like Exiern, which is fantasy/comedy, is kicking your ass up and down the street in how it handles sensitive issues despite pandering to horny gender-bending fetishists ten times more shamelessly than you*, maybe you're doing it wrong.
Fix your website. Update your website with new material on a more regular basis.
This webcomic is best avoided because it's done better and less insensitively by just about anyone who isn't an obvious fetish comics officiando, and some that are. If you like this sort of thing, feel free to read it anyway. And if you don't like this sort of thing, well it's this sort of thing.
(*To be fair, the vote among the Exiern Patreon readership to keep advertising in some form and keep at least the current output versus drop the rate of output to compensate for the loss of advertising revenue and have totally uncensored pages went 11 to 5 to the former. So you know, we're not all complete perverts. Well, not completely. Well, not all of us anyway.)
Web archive of the comic - You can get at least some of it through here if you want, since odds are the actual site is offline.