|Original review author:||oddguy|
|Start Date:||January 17, 2000|
|Genre:||Comedy at first, feminist propaganda now.|
|Defining Flaw:||The author suddenly changing the entire webcomic to serve his political agenda is what turned this webcomic into trash.|
In most reviews the downfall is the least important part. But in this one it is the most important one. The downfall of this comic is what changed it from "rather good" to "absolute shit." That is why a lot of this review will be focused on a comparison of the comic pre-downfall and post-downfall. I call this event "Ishida's Feminist Freak-out," so if you see me mention "The Freak-out" in this review, you should know that this is what I mean.
The downfall of this comic can be pinpointed to a specific strip. But first, there is a need to understand what the comic was before it went to shit. So, in the beginning, Sinfest was a simple daily comedy comic. It was about the misadventures of "Slick," an overconfident womanizer, and "Monique," a slutty chick who befriends him but rejects his advances. The comic went along well for a few years and had an interesting cast all of whom were simplified representations of big ideas. This included God, the Devil, Buddha, Jesus, a Chinese dragon god, a fat pig, a Christian fundamentalist and others. The cast manged to keep a fun dynamic and Ishida was able to discuss all of these topics without ever taking sides. As annoying as "Seymour" the preaching nutcase was, he was never evil. Some of the characters were caricatures, but none of them were ever straw-men.
The first sign of things to come was January 5th, 2008, when Ishida got it in his head that he is a political commentator. For some time, the comic became flooded with insane, paranoid propaganda. Talking about big issues was nothing new to Sinfest, but taking sides, making points and forgetting jokes was. The fans cried foul, and Ishida eventually stopped. All was quiet on the western front until early October of 2011.
On strip 4045 everything changed. A long forgotten, one-shot character called "Xanthe" reappeared. She is a little girl who rides a tricycle and fights chauvinism mostly by annoying random guys on the street. From that moment on the entire comic descended into a never-ending pro-feminism sermon. Everyone got pissed off, the fans jumped ship in a mass-exodus and Sinfest was officially labeled "shit."
The art isn't bad. It's one of the things that Ishida has not yet been able to ruin. I don't want to bash the art just for the sake of nay-saying everything so I'll just say that Ishida has done professional work as an artist so I would not have expected anything less of him for Sinfest.
So I give the art a pass. It's limited but fitting the subject matter. Ishida draws feet the same way he draws hands in the few comics where someone has their shoes off and I wish Squigley would go back to looking more like a pig and less like a blob in a baseball cap. Still, all-in-all there isn't anything to hate about the art. But the artists isn't an amateur so he gets no points for that.
The problems with Sinfest only really began after it made massive changes. Before that the comic was pretty good in my opinion. So I think it's best I separate this section into two parts as well.
As much as I wanted to hate Sinfest, I didn't. I heard a lot of criticism about it even before this fiasco and some of it said it had always sucked. I was ready to read something utterly awful, but instead I found something that was actually good. The biggest problem Sinfest had was not being funny enough. It was pretty formulaic as Tatsuya himself demonstrated, some of it was unoriginal to the point of making that old joke about "Who came first? The chicken or the egg?" at least five times and it had long spans of time during which every joke was a miss. But it wasn't bad.
The central plot was about Monique and Slick. She is an attention-whoring wannabe superstar and he is a womanizing idiot and both of them are sort-of arrogant but otherwise charming. The comic revolved around their friendship and Slick's infatuation with her. They are supported by a large cast of gods, demons and other mythical creatures which is where the comic really shined. These characters all represented big, universal concepts, which allowed the comic to discuss major topics like art, religion, love and relationships in a meaningful way. And despite doing all that it was able to remain light-hearted and funny. That was the key to everything. Whatever Ishida's opinions were he was able to keep them to himself. Everything was just a joke and it worked. The characters were gods but they were still flawed and human. No one was perfect, no one was always right everything was in good fun.
The early warning signs of what was to come started ringing in 2008. For a long period of time the comic became very politically oriented. Not that there is anything wrong with that as long as you do it right. But the way Ishida did it was awful. Every comic looked like a propaganda poster, every comic had an agenda and none of them were funny. Everything Sinfest once did right was now being done wrong. But this didn't last long and the comic went back to normal for a few years until the feminism freak out happened.
This all ended when Ishida discovered his passion for feminism. The first thing to go was any racist or sexual humor. The next thing to go was all humor along with romance, insight and the lack of prejudice. The new Sinfest focused on all the characters in the context of women's lib. Slick and Monique now hardly interact. They meet maybe twice a year and their prospective love-affair has been forgotten. The comic's old tendency not to take sides is also gone. Now it is clear who is right and wrong. All men are wrong and bad and all women are either pure and good or only do wrong because they are victims of a male-dominated society. They are only responsible for their actions when those actions are good, otherwise it is someone else's fault. The head feminist is a massive Mary-Sue who's last name is literally "Justice" and in close to 800 pages there are only two pages where The Sisterhood is the butt of the joke. Humor is also lost. Just like with his sudden shift to politics a few years ago he had, once again, forgotten that Sinfest is a comedy. He no longer bothers to even try to make jokes in most the comics. Instead of a punch line we now get a message. One funny thing about all that is that he now regrets once having made jokes about race that stereotyped African-Americans. However, that doesn't stop him from shifting the focus to his offensively gay character. Don't get me wrong, I liked the black jokes and saw nothing wrong with them (besides not being funny). I just think it's hilarious that if anyone were to mention to Ishida that his gay character (literally known as just "Gay guy") is just as bigoted as his old ghetto jokes he will probably have another spiritual meltdown and spend the next four years apologizing to the LGBT community while thinking it makes him worse than Hitler. Worse than that is the fact that a few of his comics that are actually trying to be insightful and political are actually a couple of the most insanely racist things I had ever read. In one of them he pretty much calls Obama an uncle tom and then makes more comics about how Obama secretly hates white people. Hilariously, I can't even tell if he is criticizing this or encouraging it.
But let us forget about all this for a moment. Let us instead talk about professionalism. I am going to go ahead and highlight this next portion because this is what I want you all to walk away with from this review.
You can not just change your entire fucking comic because you found a new hobby. You can not just change all of the character's personalities, the direction the plot is going and the central conflict of the comic because you feel like it. This is what Ishida does not understand. When people try to explain it to him he sticks his fingers in his ears and makes stupid, angry comics that are obviously directed at his readers. Here, look at some of them.
Those stupid fans. How dare they give you a second chance to stop destroying what you have worked on for years?
It's all "me, me, me". Why can't the readers understand that YOU, Tatsuya Ishida are the person this comic is really for? Not those dumb readers. Stop being so self-absorbed and understand that Ishida is the center of the universe. Stupid, idiot supporters.
Yes, go back to your room and suck on your thumb, stupid audience.
What Ishida fails to realize is that this criticism isn't about people not liking feminism. It is about people wanting their comic back. The problem is Ishida treats his characters as if they were people. So when readers tell him they want him to go back to making the comic like he used to he hears: "I want Monique to be a slut again so I can jerk-off to her some more". But no one is doing that (besides Ishida) because she isn't fucking real! What they are really saying is: "I want to know if Slick and Monique ever get together", "I want the comic to be funny again". But Ishida is too blind to see that. So caught up in his unnecessary guilt and delusion of self-importance that makes him think his comic actually makes a difference, that he can't see what's right in front of him.
But the bottom line is that this is utterly lazy and unprofessional of him. And make no mistake, he worked for a real comic company and had Sinfest books published with the help of a real publisher. For all intents and purposes he is a professional artist and is to be expected to conduct himself like one. Which makes this thing an utter disgrace. One day he got into feminism and wanted to make a comic about it, but he didn't want to lose the name recognition of Sinfest or put in any extra effort into drawing another comic so he just changes the character's personalities and motivations and lazily lamp-shaded why they suddenly changed. The mature thing to do would have been to simply keep the comic the same but remove the parts that he now thought were offensive and on the side made a new comic about feminism with new characters. Or, if he now hated Sinfest so much, just stopped making it altogether. This half-assed solution where he tries to string along his old fans on his new crusade with a comic the characters of which are now themselves in name only is a fucking insult. Combine that with his pathetic back-and-fourth with his readers who are trying to explain to him what he is doing wrong (setting aside those disagreeing with his views) and you are left with something I can only describe as: MOTHER. FUCKING. UN. PROFESSIONAL.
You know what? Let's compare some of the old strips of Sinfest with some of the new ones.
Now? HOW DARE YOU IMPLY WOMEN LIKE PORNO! Ishida of today would have a hard time debating himself from a few years ago. That's why since he became a radical feminist he mostly deals with valid arguments by ignoring them (I'll show you in the next section). But what does he think of porn now? -
Which is funny because he still doesn't know "Male Gaze" is (Hint: it's a term in cinematography Ishida, you dumb shit).
He made a pro-life comic! This one is a joke but it sure as shit makes a point! "Abortion is murder and only evil, crazy people disagree with that"! I would love to watch someone show this comic to him and watch him back-paddle while trying to reconcile why women's rights are now more important than something he admitted he thinks is murder.
The point of this little exercise is this- Look at the old and the new strips. Do you feel a difference? The old ones are charming. They make their point without assaulting anyone and try to be funny. Now compare that to the recent ones. Preachy, one-sided, unfunny. But more than that, the old ones are just right. They make real, insightful observations. The new ones just make wild assertions without explaining them.
Ishida & Feminism in General
Let me start by saying that neither me nor this site have anything against feminism. Although we have criticized festering turds like Gyno-Star for their moronic brow-beating, we have also mocked the call to femicide that is Least I Could Do. We are as fast to insult the religious as we are the atheistic, the left, the right and everyone in between. We don't take sides, we hate you all.
Now, even though we are in no way a political site, the topic of Ishida's moronic opinions deserves it's own section. Ishida fancies himself a radical, second-wave feminist. In his mind all of the world is run by an evil patriarchy that keeps all women under its boot. This being true or false is besides the point (hint: The correct answer is "false" by the way). The point is how utterly clueless, extreme and incompetent in commenting Ishida is in regards to all these things. As I have already shown he has no idea what the term "Male Gaze" actually means. In one comic he references "[www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2012-05-06 The S.C.U.M Manifesto]" as enlightened feminist literature. "SCUM", for those of you who don't know, is a book written by a crazy lady in jail who once tried to assassinate Andy Warhol. The book is about how women need to raise up and kill all men to make the world better. I doubt Tatsuya actually believes that, I think he doesn't really know what this book is about.
His main crusade is against porn. But, again, the issue isn't if he is right or wrong. The issue is how he treats the subject. Most notable is how he handles opposition. First of all, according to Ishida, all of third-wave feminism is a ploy created by men to make women into sluts. When I read this strip I had to stop for a moment because I had rolled my eyes so hard I contracted vertigo. But remember, only men are guilty. Women who actually believe in sex-positive feminism are never mentioned because that would force Ishida to admit that a woman is *gasp!* wrong. So that takes care of the actual movement, but what about their ideas? Simple, why address them when you can simply mention and off-handedly dismiss them? And so Ishida has single-handedly solved the problem that once tore the feminist community apart by simply saying "nope" and "it's all those evil men's fault!". Not that you can ever accuse any feminist of misandry because that's not a real thing. Ishida doesn't explain this opinion either. Apparently you can hate every other demographic but men are immune to it. Oh, and don't think that being gay will save you from Ishida's warped world view. If you are gay and have done a single thing to ever hurt a woman's feelings you are part of the global male conspiracy. After all, women are strong, independent and can do anything men can do. And that's why you must always treat them like delicate flowers and forever punish yourself if you ever so much as stood too close to one. That's feminism according to Ishida.
Well, now that he had found all men guilty of everything and rebuffed all his dissenter's arguments by ignoring them, Ishida can go back to being a pro-feminist man... Nope! He can't! Because according to him all males are evil and can never really be feminists! What the fuck does he think that makes him then!?! At this point the world went dark for me. All I could see was a big, gray blob. Eventually I realized that I had rolled my eyes so hard I was looking at my own brain, which was clearly pulsating in pain from the stupidity of what it had just read. And so, Ishida's self-hatred takes him to a new low from which he will not recover until he finally slices off his own dick.
Pre-freakout: A slutty, yet likable, attention whore. She wasn't bad, she just liked shaking her ass for attention.
Post-freakout: Shaves her head and vows to spend the rest of her life fighting men. No longer acts like herself in any way.
Pre-freakout: A short, horny, would-be pimp. He is over-confident and in love with Monique but is unable to forgo his macho exterior and tell her how he really feels.
Post-freakout: After the "reboot" there wasn't much left for Slick to do. He couldn't keep wooing Monique not only because he now represents everything that Tatsuya thinks is wrong with the world, but also simply because he is a man and thereby evil by default. So to fix this and keep the main fucking character of the comic relevant Tatsuya came up with a brilliant solution... Make him Satan. Not literally, but now all his past behavior over the last 10 years manifests itself as a demon living inside him that is making him watch porn... yes, seriously. I Guess that makes sense because demons are horny (*ba dum tss*).
Pre-freakout: Uses sock-puppets to make fun of the rest of the cast and is sometimes used to comment on religion and the state of the world in what was (mostly) an inoffensive manner.
Post-freakout: God has nothing to do with feminism so he isn't important anymore. Let me say that again. The creator of life and the universe is insignificant because he can't be used to make comments about how bad men are. Shows up less and less.
Pre-freakout: Charming and fun, the devil was just... the devil. Sometimes he would be used as a metaphor for a strip or two, but mostly for humor's sake.
Post-freakout: The devil is chauvinism and chauvinism is the devil. All the world's misery takes a back-seat as Lucifer is now preoccupied with keeping women down. As far as heavy-handed metaphors go, this one would need a crane to lift its hands high enough to masturbate.
Pre-freakout: It was just Ishida living a slightly less sad and miserable life than I would imagine he actually does.
Post-freakout: Ishida is now a sad crybaby. He only draws comic about himself anymore where he is either being punished for not being a feminist or apologizing for it.
Pre-freakout: Never talks and goes around bringing joy to the world. He was a minor, but very cute character.
Post-freakout: The only male character Ishida couldn't find a way to make into a potential rapist so he had to go. Mostly forgotten now.
Pre-freakout: A pig who epitomizes twenty-something year-old slobs. Drank, did drugs, jerked off, had fun.
Post-freakout: Obviously all men are pigs in Ishida's mind now. However Squigley could still be used as (yet another) representation of how guys are evil. All he does now is act as a straw-man of the opinions of men who like porn.
Pre-freakout: Adorable book worm. Cute and harmless. Has a relationship with one of the devil girls that almost gets ended due to the freak-out.
Post-freakout: What happened to this character is a real shame. Despite never once doing a single thing to harm any female he still gets hassled by the feminazi brigade. You see, it isn't enough for him to be kind to women, he has to be subservient or else he is the enemy of feminism. In a desperate struggle to justify making EVERY male character guilty for misogyny, Ishida brings up an old plot-line from years ago where Criminy briefly dates a nameless stock-character and the fact he never called her as his indictment in radfem court.
Uncle Sam & Lady Liberty
Pre-freakout: A superfluous addition to the comic from Ishida's first freak-out who were used to criticize the U.S's foreign policy. Might have been clever were it not for the fact that in that period Ishida stopped trying to make jokes and instead focused on Aesop.
Post-freakout: These two become the crown jewel of mixed metaphors when foreign policy and domestic spying become a metaphor for rape and vice-versa. In every comic they show up you can't tell the three topics apart because they have been combined into one, incoherent mish-mash of buzz-words.
Pre-freakout: A christian fundamentalist who Ishida was able not to vilify for most of the comic. Although later he wonders into "The Reality Zone" where his religious paraphernalia bursts into flames as a sign that he is Evil. The devil also can't enter the reality zone because he isn't real. And so ends Ishida's long tradition of not preaching his religious views and another positive aspect of this comic turns to shit.
Post-freakout: Seymour now mostly interacts with characters that are involved in a story-arc that remains mostly unconnected to any pro-matriarchy preaching.
Pre-freakout: Only appeared in one strip and are forgotten.
Post-freakout: Mary-sue defenders of all things good. Or just man-hating bigots who are so extreme that you would think they are a parody of modern feminists.
Devil Girls & Others
Pre-freakout: Death, Jesus, an Asian dragon god, a number of demon girls who work for the devil, a little kid who worships him, angels and others were all a part of a larger group dynamic that revolved around them fighting, falling in love and commenting on the world on a grand scale.
Post-freakout: All minor characters have either been reassigned to some sort of feminism-related plot or mostly forgotten. There are a few side stories that have been left untainted by feminist ideologies and, as a result, remain interesting.. But over time Ishida has begun slowly creeping that shit in there too, even if it has nothing to do with anything. Either that, or the story arc gets left in the dust, never to be heard from again.
I don't really know much about Ishida. He mostly keeps to himself and there is only one picture of him online. What is known about him is that he used to be a penciller for Dark Horse Comics meaning that technically he is a professional artist. Besides that there was the time Dave Kelly made a parody of Sinfest and Ishida made an implied threat to sue him. Proving both how well he handles criticism and that he doesn't understand the difference between parody and plagiarism in one fell swoop. You can read all about that here.
Also, wikipedia says that Sinfest had been rejected by newspaper comic syndicates 11 times as of January 25, 2006. I am guessing that number has gotten higher since then.
So, what happened to this comic? What happened to Tatsuya? Did... did he rape somebody? Because this change in the comic was really abrupt. I mean it was CADbortion level abrupt. On strip 4045 The Sisterhood showed up and it was part of a joke about how insane and reactionary feminists can be, and on strip 4046 all men were evil, all women were victims and everything was the devil. Maybe after he made the first strip of the two he Googled "Feminism" for the first time in his life and is so impressionable that a couple of hours on wikipedia were enough to entirely change his world view. Or maybe we never understood Tatsuya in the first place. He agonizes so much about his old strips nowadays that it makes me think that what we believed to be harmless jokes at the expense of clearly flawed characters were actually driven by a real and deep-seeded hate for women and blacks that he now regrets. These might seem like wild allegations but I am really struggling to find a logical cause that can make a man completely change his outlook on life over the course of a day. A reason that does not include tying him to a chair and making him listen to "The Vagina Monologues" in "Clockwork Orange" style.
Whatever caused this, Sinfest is dead. Ishida can fix it and go back to doing it right for another decade, but all people are going to say from now on when this comic is mentioned is "Remember that time Ishida went ape-shit about feminism for a few years?". The only thing keeping people from dubbing it "Shitfest" is that there is already a webcomic called that.
- "Sinfest is Ruined" - A mock tumblr about Sinfest... kinda dead.
- ShittyWebcomics tumblr posts about Sinfest - Almost 40 pages worth.
- TV Trope's Dethroning Moment of Suck article on Sinfest.
- Part one and part two of the sinfest review on "The Webcomic Police".
- Another one...
- And another...
- And another... - This one is a poll on his own forum about his fans being sick of this.
- And another...
- And another...
- And another... - Even Reddit hates it.
- And another...
Sinfest is part of a series about keenspot