Poison Ivy Gulch
|Original review author:||GJon|
|Webcomic name:||Poison Ivy Gulch|
|Genre:||Newspaper comic format with a vaguely "Wild Western" theme.|
|Defining Flaw:||Lazy concept, lazy execution, and mostly plagiarized punchlines.|
For those unfamiliar with Max West, you can get the gist of him and his comics from the Sunnyville Stories page.
To sum up: After being kicked out of the furry fandom for being too antisocial and bitter, Max has gone on to create multiple print and web comics, all of which are thinly-disguised ripoffs of 80's and 90's cartoons. Sunnyville Stories is the anime Maple Town with the names changed and mommy issues added in, and since then, Max has gone on to create a Zatoichi clone, a Van Helsing clone, and a Karate Kid clone. If you haven't heard of them before, that's no surprise - when they fail to garner Max the praise he so deeply desires, he abandons them in a public tantrum and moves on to the next bit of plagiarism.
Poison Ivy Gulch is the latest in his string of low-effort, low-inspiration attempts to gain a following.
A clumsy mashup of aging newspaper comics The Wizard of Id and Tumbleweeds, Poison Ivy Gulch is only notable for being 80% recycled punchlines from other sources.
Seriously, most of the time, Max doesn't even bother to change the words.
Story and Plot
In the style of daily newspaper comics, the characters are basic stock stereotypes that just serve to deliver a punchline. The characters themselves are rarely relevant to the delivery, as most of the punchlines are of the wacky coffee mug variety.
In his typical style, Max phones in every detail of his art. Most characters are so poorly designed, they can only be shown in profile or straight on, even when it would help the delivery of the joke to throw in some variety.
Additionally, while the "Old West" doesn't have a huge range of background settings to draw from, it's a highly iconic genre with lots of well-established tropes and symbols. Max uses none of them. If it weren't for the characters' vaguely frontier-style clothing, you wouldn't be able to tell the theme at all. Most backgrounds just get a few boxes and a window at most, and many comics just have no background at all.
Nature's splendor, ladies and gentlemen:
As Max is not actually published in any newspapers, the tiny black-and-white imagery is a limitation he's taken on for no real artistic reason, but it probably saves him a ton of time.
Lastly, Max absolutely can not wrap his head around the shape of a cowboy hat.
As mentioned above, Max rarely writes new content for this comic, preferring to outright plagiarize the punchlines from other famous or formerly-famous properties. Considering how well-known some of the sources are, it's amazing Max thinks it's not noticeable.
Since there's not a lot to critique about stealing punchlines, we'll just do a little experiment instead: For each published strip thus far, we'll pop the punchline into Google, and if there's a clear instance of plagiarism, we'll list the comic here:
This punchline is from an early Family Guy episode.
This punchline is from Calvin and Hobbes.
This punchline is from a Three Stooges film (not to mention a million other sources, but in this case, Max ripped off the entire thing.)
This punchline is so old and toothless, it's literally used to sell caskets.
This punchline is a stock Looney Tunes gag.
This punchline is an old, old chestnut that gets trotted out for politicians.
This punchline is so damn old, it even shows up in management blogs.
This punchline is another ancient one, dating as far back as Boy's Life magazine.
This punchline is one of those weak-ass jokes that shows up everywhere, even in management joke blogs. If multiple blogs on management techniques haven beaten you to the punchline, you need to rethink your approach.
This punchline is another Boy's Life magazine special.
This punchline has been done a few times, but Robin Williams did it best.
This punchline is another standard Looney Tunes bit with the tail removed.
This punchline is a quote by Ambrose Bierce.
This punchline... Boy's Life again? I hope he's paying them royalties.
This punchline is another staple of lazy children's joke books and popsicle sticks.
This punchline is another stock coffee mug and t-shirt trope.
This punchline is probably as old as Quasimodo himself.
More than 70% of the archive doesn't pass the most casual internet search for plagiarism. Great job, Max.
The Sunnyville Stories page has the bulk of Max West's bio, but it's worth repeating here that Max is a Shy Trump Republican who screams on Twitter at any non-American who has opinions about the U.S.A. He is unable to get along with anyone, even other furries and comic artists, and his fear of the modern era makes him retreat into the bland safety of 80's pop culture.
Also note that, like every other Max West property, Poison Ivy Gulch features two Max staples: a busty woman and her mouthy kid sidekick, and faking fanmail.
If at first you don't succeed, cry, cry again. Max perpetually seeks recognition and applause for doing the minimal amount of work possible, and Poison Ivy Gulch doesn't even bother to file off the serial numbers from what it stole. If you took out everything that wasn't created by Max, all you'd be left with is a vaguely-cubist hat.
This strip, where Max misses the framing of the joke so badly, there's no punchline... just a Muppet-y dude executing someone before mocking them.