Oh Joy Sex Toy
|Original review author:||Various (Everyone possible was called in as an emergency action. It was Avengers Assemble, Agents of SHIELD and Hydra all rolled into one for this one): Shan, Plarblman, Webkilla, and Lt. Art Major.|
|Webcomic name:||Oh Joy Sex Toy|
|Author:||Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan|
|Start Date:||April 2013|
|Genre:||"Sex Education," Comedy|
|Defining Flaw:||Unsexy, unfunny, and not all that educational either|
This one came up in the forums back in early June 2016 just for general discussion originally and there was some debate among many of the forum members over whether it qualified as something reviewable given its lack of an actual story and being intended more as self-help/educational material, never mind if the content was actually bad enough for inclusion. General discussion of various pages had been happening on and off for the best part of a year without any firm consensus of what action or even if any action should be taken for most of it.
Then April 4th 2017 and The Day of Infamy happened: The day of the cuck.
The strip "What the Fuck's a Cuck?" has been widely mocked throughout the internet, and with good reason. The strip aims to "educate" readers on the 'fetish', though they present it in the most cringeworthy way possible. Not only do the authors attempt to de-stigmatize what will always and only ever be a niche fetish, the comic has a weirdly defensive tone and feels like it needs to justify this fetish's existence. Most people won't care what your fetishes are so long as you don't discuss them in public; trying to justify, for example, why you love wearing adult diapers and defecating in them will make people want to run away. They also try to present cucking as the best thing ever, even having the audacity to claim that it "takes a lot of bravery and strength." Riiiiiiight. Because by the sound of it, Joe isn't trying to convince us so much as convince himself that he loves being cuckolded, with lines like "It stings, but it turns us on" after being insulted to his face by his wife. It is also full of unintentional hilarity, as many have taken to photoshop and exploited numerous poorly-thought-out pages. Rarely does a single comic strip become so noteworthy of being ridiculed; the only other contenders are Ctrl+Alt+Del's "Loss" strip, or Questionable Content's "You and Me" strip.
Cringeworthiness aside, the strip does fail to do an adequate job of educating the reader on cuckoldry. For starters, it opens on someone asking why the term "cuck" has become so common as of late. The reason, which they completely gloss over, is that it is used as an insult for someone who willingly allows himself to be exploited even though he gets nothing out of it (can be applied both inside and outside sexual situations). And the major concern everybody has with cuckoldry, that it can be used as a post-hoc justification for cheating, is completely ignored. For instance, if the cuckee is codependant, sexually inexperienced, or otherwise easily taken advantage of, their partner may convince them that such an arrangement is for the best, regardless of their true feelings. One red flag would be if one partner wasn't open to the idea of the other partner getting a new sexual partner, even if they are already cuckolding them. See, that would all be important things to mention up front. Instead, the authors only concern is directed toward racial implications of cuckold porn, which, by comparison, is vastly less important. For an educational comic, it does nothing to address people's number one concern, and just assumes that anyone who engages in it will get all the listed benefits out of it. I could care less if it were someone thinking cuckolding was a good idea, only to find themselves badly mistaken; it's when they've been misled by someone else that we have a problem. When Rick and Morty has a more believable depiction of cucking, you know you've screwed up.
Alright hopefully we won't have to type the word "cuck" one more time after this, because GODDAMN is it annoying.
The default art, as done by the Erika Moen, is passable - but exists only in a pink, black and white spectrum of colors. It is but a red nose away from full of Tumblr-grade SJW art.
Half the strips are guest comics - the quality of their work varies immensely, as they seem to be largely allowed into the webcomic based on the story they have to tell, not how well they can draw it. That said, then sometimes the guest comics are of a quality that completely puts the regular strips to shame, other times they're Tumblr-grade art projects - but mostly they're of a far better quality than the regular strips.
Make of it what you will, but if Erika were a competent artist, she would not be drawing these lewds for "educational" purposes.
The webcomic can largely be divided into roughly two different sections: sex education, and sex toy reviews. Bear in mind, the creators of this webcomic consider discussion of fetishes such as Cuckoldry as part of sex education. Their sex toy product reviews - which is about two thirds of the webcomic - seem reasonably balanced. They aren't afraid of pointing out what they feel are product flaws or downsides. The webcomic's main issue with writing is rarely due to the quality of the writing; rather, its how close or far from reality it actually is. A nice personal anecdote can be fun to read, but that doesn't mean it's true or educational whatsoever.
One example of this is the page on fursuit sex, called "Murrsuits" - because just like the page on cuckoldry, it completely fails to explain that, among the furry fandom (are we seriously defending furries here? I guess we are), the actual amount of people who dabble in fursuits is a very small minority. Of those fursuiters, the few who dare to risk their (often quite expensive, as in costing thousands of dollars) fursuits with sexy times, are but a niche within a niche. But the webcomic says nothing about that, which is really fucking odd since a year prior to the murrsuit arc they had one on normal fursuits, where they specifically state that sex in fursuits is as common as non-blurry photos of Bigfoot, but this isn't referenced at all in the murrsuit arc.
It's a common flaw in the writing of the webcomic: They'll praise your kink to the high heavens as being something you can have lots of sexy fun with, but will completely fail to mention that maybe only 8 other people on Earth engage in it. In this sense it often seems just a little too out of touch on how niche the kinks they describe are. To make it even stranger, their strip on furry fandom as a whole is far more balanced and sensible, but the kicker is that each of the three strips were made by three different guest artists - none of which seemed to check the previous strips for reference.
This brings us to another issue of the fluctuations in writing quality: The guest comics. During these comics, as mentioned in the art section, it seems less important that the guest cartoonist is a competent cartoonist, and more important that they have a story that tickles the owners' fancy. Some are just fine, others... less so.
A nasty example of this is the comic about a 'appearance', done by a supposedly trans person because it reads like the tumblerest of tumblr blog posts. The line "gender nonconforming child" is used, as is "cis-dominated world". It is just made of cringe - even if it might all true, it's still just presented so poorly. For example: At one point the guest artist claims that as a 14 year old he (this was before becoming trans) was a pimple-faced anime fan... and for some strange reason someone called him ugly? Really? Being a 14 year old anime geek couldn't possibly have anything to do with feeling socially ostracized? Nope, it was because he was gender non-conforming, obviously, because fuck any other possible explanation. Then again, having someone boil down their entire life experience with coming out as trans to a two page comic - maybe not the best format to tell such a story?
Again: The webcomic's overall writing is good when it just focuses on product reviews. There's very little to mess up in those, even though they are largely based on their own personal experiences with the products, but they're at least honest about that.
Outside of guest comics, the largest number of flaws with the webcomic's writing come when it delves too heavily into opinion territory - when the authors want to push a message. Like, their page on 'Queer theory' because then shit gets really fucking preachy.
Other times the issue is more that the authors seem to like inventing or promoting 'new' fetishes that aren't really fetishes. Again, the original example with trying to promote cuckoldry as a legit fetish ranks high on this, but you liking to get punched in the nuts isn't actually a unique fetish, as much as it is just a niche of BDSM.
Another note on the writing, chiefly for the non-guest strips, is that the authors really like to use terms like "queer", "cisgender", "genderqueer" and other Tumblr-grade SJW terms. They don't use them all the time, but they stick out when they are being used.
"Informative Value" Review
This webcomic is different to most others in that it presents itself as providing factual information about some potentially serious conditions. We're going to use just one page to demonstrate how well they do this on average: Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Information is presented in a very torturous path all over the page that is incredibly cluttered with graphic interference. The presentation failure isn't that far removed from constructing any other kind of comic page. The more critical issues are omissions of important information. Here's something missing from their page but found in this article: "An 'urban myth' that lesbian women do not need pap smears because they do not have sex with men means they are putting their health at risk, a study from the University of Sydney has found."
Their page did not mention any of this.
Continuing on in that same article. "While women most commonly acquire HPV through sex with a man, it can can also be transmitted through genital skin-to-skin contact, or sex toys, making pap smears important for LGBTQ women as well."
Oh wait, their "informative HPV comic" didn't mention sex toys at all either.
YOU HAD ONE JOB OH JOY SEX TOY
And for goodness sake, if you absolutely must share your sex toys - make as sure as you can that you wash them properly first before sharing! Now that's some advice you won't currently get from the subject of this review.
Erika Moen is the artist and one of the co-writers for Oh Joy Sex Toy. She was also very gracious to present her life's story in a single comic strip so that I can be lazy and not have to write it out myself. The TL:DR is she was a college lesbian, who later got a male boyfriend, but didn't "feel" bisexual so now she calls herself "queer", complete with pink SJW haircut - and she has an art degree.
Matthew Nolan is the co-writer, editor, and colorist. But only one color, the color pink. His past work involved entering the matrix, a project which has mysteriously disappeared. Now his career has been permanently derailed as a webcartoonist and a sex toy vendor. He could have been cool.
The weird part about them, as odd as it is to say, is that as a couple they seem too normal. Here's a strip where they go to a swinger's party and end up doing fuck all. For a couple who constantly write and draw about fetishes, the fact that they come across as so mundane feels incredibly out of sync with the comic itself. Especially the quip about them getting weirded out at the idea of having sex with fans of their comic (which is extremely ironic given that Nolan met Moen by being a fan of hers); that's where they draw the line? Normally I wouldn't care if a fetish artist was too timid to act out their fetishes in real life (which can be a good thing depending on the circumstances), but it's really incongruous coming from someone who goes out of their way to describe any kink as the most amazing thing ever and that everyone needs to try cuckholding/testicular punching/Jagerbomb buttbongs/ insert obscure fetish here. It just makes you look like one of those pseudo-hip suburbanites who are all talk and no game; why should anyone take them seriously?
Style and content-wise this webcomic can be compared to Strong Female Protagonist. It is full of SJW cringe, and is done by a pink-haired SJW and her male footstool.
It's obviously a passion project - but they also sell sex toys and other things, with quite a few of their later product reviews being made because sex toy companies sent them freebies to test out and review. Not to get all GamerGate Life on this, but ethics in sex toy review journalism has to be a thing somewhere. They plug a ton of porn sites, sex toy brands, lube brands - and they are not afraid of putting up Amazon and other promo links that get them a percentage if you buy stuff via those links. This does bring into question how biased they are, but as pointed out earlier, than many of their reviews do point out potential negative aspects of their various products, so it's just pure positive coverage. For all our sakes, we should hope that Moen and Nolan are keeping their noses clean, because otherwise the entire United States justice system might collapse from collective secondhand embarrassment, if they were to trot out Oh Joy Sex Toy as evidence in an Anti-Trust case. It would be a sticky situation.
The guest comics are a mixed bag, and make judging the webcomic overall difficult: With such a wide range of guest comic content and topics, and an even wider range in quality of art and writing, then nailing down the main webcomic's qualities becomes difficult. In general the guest comics work best when they're just doing product reviews, but are worst when they're personal opinion pieces that should probably just have been Tumblr blog posts.
A lot about this webcomic will boil down to personal opinion - as a discovery site for brands and types of sex toys you might never have heard of, then it's probably fairly good. But I do not need to be lectured about queer theory, the glories of being cucked, or having my nutsack punched, when looking for that kind of content. It's a pink lubed up mess, but largely a well-meant lubed up mess.