|Original review author:||The Luigiian|
|Webcomic name:||School Bites (Hosting site Smackjeeves has been shut down.)|
|Start Date:||August 17, 2009|
|End Date:||Bitten the dust.|
|Genre:||Obnoxious cliché vampire crap|
|Defining Flaw:||CAN THE CHARACTERS KEEP THEIR CLOTHES ON FOR A FEW FUCKING MINUTES?|
You might ask yourself, "Who is Holly Golightly?" That is, of course if you know nothing about comics at all, you plebeian! For you see, Holly G! is a powerful woman, who has actual honest-to-God clout in the serious (not Internet-based) comic industry. She is a contributing artist for big names like Archie Comics and Chaos! Comics, has colored for serious comic artists like her husband Jim Balent, and has a resume of graphic-arts gigs that many would kill for. She has actual Goddamn talent, and has actually worked on comics you might actually have read. Seriously. She's that good.
So if Holly G! is a person that is known for being a part of fantastic stuff, like, well, this:
Surely you would feel cheated if the webcomic you were reading by her looked like, well, the below:
School Bites! is lacking in a lot of ways, but I think its biggest lacking is simply in Golightly's underestimating her audience. She expects the Internet community to simply like her work because she is a professional, and to overlook the fact that her comic isn't even close to the level of her professional work. It's just not. It lacks the nuanced writing and art that the other projects she's worked on exhibited.
Golightly has said that this idea came to her long before today's vampire fad took place, way back around 2005. Fine and dandy like sour candy, miss G! Too bad, then, that its timing makes it feel horribly cliched and even out-of-date. The fact that it's at a level lower than Twilight in storytelling just makes it feel even more cynical, like a product rather than a story. And while it's fine as an outlet of stress due to your hectic schedules, it's a terrible, terrible schlocky thing to sell as a graphic novel.
I suppose that comics like Megatokyo have set the bar pretty damn low as far as for-profit graphic novels go. School Bites takes us down another notch.
Story and Plot and Everything Else (It Just Works Better Without Art and Writing Reviews)
When we're dealing with comics like this, first thing's first, we have to figure out where the audience is. Who does Holly G! want to reach out to? It's not just a marketing question. Superman was written primarily with kids in mind, The Watchmen less so. Every audience has their own particular quirks and desires and reading ability and emotional level, and therefore every audience is different.
Writing for an audience is very tricky. General audiences demand storylines that are both engaging to adults and appealing to children. Naturally, they are the hardest to write. Comics for adults require intelligent writing and oftentimes complex mature themes. Comics for kids require something that they can both understand and relate to.
So where's the audience for School Bites! Well, I'm taking a wild stab here that Twilight fans- people who like vampire stories with a bit of romance- would be one audience. There's the Harry Potter set. And then there's the Romance lovers out there that she might be able to appeal to.
Our storyline centers around Charlotte Web, out whom we might expect some sort of fantastically woven, spidery tale. Alas, no. She ends up being turned into a vampire, somehow, not made quite clear. Kewl! she says, because naturally as a 16-year-old American girl obsessed with Twilight the notion of being transformed into a blood-sucking undead monster is both totally awesome and sexy. Um, sure, whatev hon.
Kewl! Let's follow some disease-ridden flying rat to a cemetery to become a vampire! That's totally awesome, also cool since there aren't any murderers or rapists hiding around in the dark or anything that could somehow harm me.
We find our lovely arterial parasite traipsing down literally the most attractive setting in the entire comic, a grove of still living wisteria that is the best this comic manages, ever, in literally its entire run. It looks fantastic and professional, for literally this one page, and then we meet the living embodiment of Lovecraftian horror.
Yes, she ends up naked. Suffice it to say, it is not a well drawn physique we see here. If I were a classy man, I would say this is a shittily drawn nude and leave it at that. But I'm not, so fuck that. The nipples, feet, toes, and nose are all terrible. She's got this bizarre look on this face that makes her look somewhere in the realm of a goldfish with the mumps, and she's blue, too, so make that a Smurf goldfish with the mumps. But oh wait, we're going for sexy here, so actually let's call her a Na'vi goldfish with the mumps. Also, one of her nipples is a couple inches higher than the other, did I mention that?
Before you can think to yourself, "Aw, that poor dear, she really did get molested by a New York transient, damn you Luigiian for predicting that", in the next scene her private parts get covered with hearts (thank God) and a bony hand reaches out to grab her. But have no fear, that's no bum! It's her new teacher! "Did I startle you?" she asks. Oh fuck no, it's totally normal to have random people grab at this character's nude body!
The teacher informs her that her clothes are in a safe place. Well thank God for that. But now it's getting weird, in a profoundly creepy way.
The Shadow Academy turns out to be a poorly Photoshopped photo of, um, a cathedral, or something. We can conclude, judging by the lameness of the Photoshop, that artistry is at Ctrl-Alt-Del levels in this comic.
So anyway, after gushing about how cool her new school is, except for the schoolgirl costumes, er, uniforms, she goes down the hallway wearing only the robe (BECAUSE SHE IS STILL NAKED, YOU SEE) and then meets her roommates, who are, predictably, ridiculously cliched caricatures. There's the furry slash catgirl, the fat nerdy one, the cheerleader and the Goth.
So anyway, now that we've went over the main characters' entire personalities (and, if you read through the comic, you will find that that really is the extent of their characters) lead bloodsucker drops the towel and everybody makes a big deal about her being naked some more. If you actually read through this you will find out that this fanservice (i.e. the lead ending up naked) happens several more times. And of course the furry slash catgirl likes the new freshman. So we know that there will likely be yiffin' going on later in the course of the story. Or at least SEXY KAWAII LOLICON BESTIALITY YURI FANSERVICE!!! *fap* *fap* *fap* *kill yourself* *fap some more* *cry yourself to sleep*
All of the characters now look like rejects from a Pink Floyd video. Or just rejects, full stop. They must be renamed, though, so a pixie bites them on the finger and names them Cherri Creeper (who is blue rather than cherry red, what's up with that), Fujiko (the furry), Anne Mia* (*pronounced "anemia") and "Hurray!" Sugar Shock! (the cheerleader).
The nerd girl is a Jew. What a fascinatingly trivial thing. I'm sure the Jews are just thrilled to be depicted as bloodsucking vampires. This triviality is never exploited for any reason in the entire comic. She's a Jew. Okay. What is the point, exactly? Although I could ask that about many things. Like, uh, this. Cute guy ahoy!
A couple comics later we are introduced to the next Lovecraftian horror of the comic, a fucking green alien who acts like an idiot in every scene. In this scene, he's stuck pastries on his ass (get it guys? BUNS? HONEY BUNS? HAR HAR). A few pages later he's found rummaging through the girls' personal belongings.
Now, we get on to the asinine "why in the fuck she's a vampire" story. Turns out this happened, and yep, I definitely don't give a shit. Firstly, it's so fucking cliched that unless you've never read or even heard of a vampire romance story, you already know about the implicit sexuality, understand the overtones, and therefore don't need this bit. "I think... he's the one who changed me." Fucking please.
Secondly, it ends up being virtually meaningless and changes the storyline virtually nil, as apparently C. Creeper has short-term memory loss. As the comic moves back to the main story, Cherri wakes up, and now POWER OF CUTENESS AWW BUNNY RABBIT everything's OK again, no questions asked.
Of course another character says she needs to cool off after her nightmare, thus leading to fanservice skit #2, "Let's take a shower". Also known as "let's masturbate to the Smurf". No thanks, I'll pass. Then some more goofy class shit, learning "how to suck somebody's blood" (Part 1: How to hit the artery. Part 2: Injecting painkillers. Or is that mosquitoes?) Cherri faints because she's asked to suck a cute boy's neck (bloody hickey, ouch) and finally more cute boys.
Basically, there's your comic. Cute boys, followed by fanservice of the lead taking off her clothes, the green alien vampire doing retarded shit, and then, more fanservice of the girls taking off their clothes. There are some hilariously terrible bits here and there. Like, for example, when the girls find out that the green alien can bake cakes they apparently forget that the fucker actually rummaged through their panties and is incapable of not being retarded, because after CUTENESS!!! and YURI ROMANCE!!! they invite the pervert fucker to go with them to town for drinks and shit. And then they go skinny dipping in front of him. Or something to be continued. Who knows? Will some bishie teacher come out and catch them before the uniforms come off? Or will Imp finally get to see vampire pussy?
Well, as it turns out, both happen. The girls dive in and some random guy comes around to witness the fat one (er, Cleobatra, lol no) just as she's stripping to her undies, which is compounded in its ridiculousness by the fact that the Jewpire does a little dance while she strips which can only be described as a female version of the Truffle Shuffle. The other girls, presumably already naked and in the lake, are not witnessed by said guy, who was apparently just out for a stroll and totally not a voyeur or anything. Why? Why can he not see the others? Why do the others not end up equally embarrassed by this intrusion? I guess they hid or something. So she talks to the guy for thirty minutes. In her underwear.
I can only imagine her friends must have been getting pretty goddamn pruny. Y'know, what with spending thirty minutes in the nude in the middle of the night. In a freezing cold fuckin' lake.
I don't harp on the nudity and skinny dipping plot and shower scenes and clothing malfunctions simply because it's stupid and senseless and doesn't need to be a part of the comic. Hell, I don't even harp on it because it's shallow badly-drawn fanservice pandering. I harp on it because it's the only thing that happens in this comic. I cannot stress that enough. Someone sees a lake? Skinny dipping time. Somebody have a nightmare? Go take off your clothes and take a shower. End up trapped in a cemetery after being transformed into a vampire? Well, by Gawd the first thing that needs to happen is a random bat coming out of nowhere and taking all of your human clothes to some undisclosed location, leaving you cold and naked and getting accosted by random strangers. But yeah, being a vampire is totally kewl!
Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
As if the above isn't bad enough, what started as an okay comic, quickly devolved over the course of the series into something...less. That's a nice way to put it. Now, the comic rarely if ever updates, and when it does nine times out of ten it's not about the comic, but some weird ass art about her cat...or a badly disguised ploy for money. By badly disguised, I mean even a blind man could see the e-begging. You have to wonder whether or not the comic can be salvaged, but for the love of all that's holy, don't ask about it on their forums. Even simple posts asking for when the next update can be expected earn you a ban.
Recently UVB-76, a.k.a. "The Buzzer", a mysterious buzzing numbers station located deep in the heart of Russia, built at the height of the Cold War, changed its tone for the first time in thirty years. Some say it foretells doom, and the end of the world. Others say it rattles off where the latest oil rigs are being built. Others say it is a form of mind control.
All are wrong. Except those that know it foretells Armageddon, of course.
The truth is, aliens discovered this comic just recently. Reading it, they realized the human race has reached the end of its creative talents, and nothing more can ever be created that is good and beautiful ever again. Because this comic is a black hole of talent and love and happiness. It is everything that is wrong with webcomics, congealed into a single, rancid pile of cliches and fanservice. It is horrible. And "The Buzzer" is broadcasting to the aliens of Ashtar Galactic Command that it is time to end humanity.
We will never reach the golden age of Aquarius because of this comic. Thanks a lot, Ms. Golightly.
UPDATE: Smackjeeves has been shut down, and this webcomic along with it.
School Bites is part of a series about keenspot