So... You're a Cartoonist?
|here in the "Reactions" section.
|Original review author:
|So... You're a Cartoonist?
|Andrew Dobson AKA Tom Preston AKA CattyN (His DeviantArt has been deactivated, probably because of receiving too much negative vibes.)
|December 7, 2007
|The website still exists, but there are no comics anymore on it.
|Comedy... sort of.
|Strawman comics, unfunny humor.
I was going to tackle some smaller fish before trying to review this pile of used toilet paper masquerading as a comic, but as time passed on I could no longer stand to not have this comic reviewed on this website. If he hasn't already, then I predict Andrew Dobson will soon gain the dubious honor of joining such names as Tim Buckley and Jay Naylor in the list of world's most hated webcomic artists. The man's paradoxical commitment to being lazy, all the while looking down on everyone that is not him regardless of how much more talented they are than him, makes me want to beat his fat face in with a hot frying pan.
This comic was not even remotely funny from the very first strip, but Andrew Dobson's recent venture into story arcs is what shifted this comic from "just bad" to "what the fuck is this shit?"
Humor (or lack thereof.)
Up until recently the comic was humor based, basically the "struggles" of an average cartoonist that other people in the field might relate to. This is the first problem: he appeals to far too small a demographic. The jokes are supposed to be targeted towards aspiring cartoonists from the perspective of a "professional" or problems other pros might recognize and sympathize with. This is also a problem because his audience consists of the bottom-feeders from DeviantArt, who are aspiring cartoonists in the sense that the first syllable of "aspiring" would be enough to accurately describe them. In other words, So... You're A Cartoonist? is basically to the art world what Dilbert is to the corporate world. The main difference is that Dilbert actually manages to be witty at times, and the members of its target audience at least have jobs.
The "humor" behind SYAC basically follows this simple step-by-step process:
1. Something mildly unpleasant happens to Tom Preston (stand-in for Andrew Dobson.)
2. Preston feels mildly unpleasant.
3. The end.
There is never a punchline EVER. Anything that does seem like a punchline is probably just you punching yourself in the face from having to read this thing. It's all just Dobson trying to squeeze comedy out of his minor inconveniences with enough force to crush a lump of coal into a diamond, but oddly not enough to release his mayonnaise (which is probably why he's so frustrated all the time). This webcomic is by someone who thinks the term "observational humor" means "observation=humor". That is why every joke is just stillborn.
Story and Plot
Lately, Dobson has moved to making story arcs. The purpose of these, just like his joke strips, is to portray himself as a helpless victim of annoying and stupid people (not taking into account that his internet persona is basically just that). The weird thing is, the strawmen that he attempts to make into his antagonists make more agreeable points than he does in their fictitious debates with him.
Hell, you know what? I don't want this next part to be in a vacuum, don't take my word for it, please read the next thirteen pages and then go on with this review. Done? Okay, let's continue.
The "harsh lesson" arc.
We start off with "Tenko", a young kid who is clearly a surrogate of Dobson. The kid is characterized by being overconfident of his own skill as a cartoonist while refusing to improve. Dobson seems to try to criticize these attributes, despite being guilty of them himself... is that irony or hypocrisy? I can't tell. Anyway, the child's name is strategically chosen to imply a love for anime. This only acts as further proof that "Tenko" is Dobson, who blames his early years of weeabooism for his failure as an adult. The introduction ends and the "story" begins. Tenko's art teacher is sick and is replaced by the straw-man that Tom often uses to mock anyone who criticizes him. "Carl", as he is called, tells the kids to draw "The Thinker", which is meant to symbolize his strictness and unreasonable standards as an advocate of the classic arts. This is made twice as hilarious by the fact that Dobson himself cannot draw "The Thinker", proving that his own straw-man's criticism of him is justified. Then
Dobson Preston Tenko John Snow (Tenko's real name) gets a shit grade for his shit art and goes off to confront Carl. Carl on his part explains to the kid what he has done wrong, all the while praising him and calling him "gifted" and "talented"... if you are paying attention you will notice that in this comic Tom's one character that represents himself is giving compliments to another character that represents a younger self. Meaning that, in essence, this comic is about ANDREW DOBSON giving compliments to ANDREW FUCKING DOBSON!
That's right, this is his idea of a "harsh lesson"! This is him experiencing introspection! A circle-jerk consisting of Andrew Dobson, Andrew Dobson, and Andrew Dobson with Andrew Dobson in the middle, licking the warm man sauce of adulation off his face with delight. His own goddamn man sauce, to be exact!
But it doesn't stop there. Dobson- I mean, Tom... sorry, CattyN... oops, wrong again... John "Tenko" Snow then rejects the advice spitefully, verbally backlashes at the teachers (but not to his face) and returns home to sulk (much in the same way that Dobson deletes negative comments and mocks their writers in his comics when they are in no position to reply).
Then suddenly out of nowhere, he inexplicably becomes the fucking modern day DaVinci and ends up drawing a masterpiece. And then the credits roll. The final message Dobson tries to convey via this comic is the importance of accepting constructive criticism and the need for practice to improve your skill. So if we are to learn anything from this, it's that you accept constructive criticism by being a stubborn little cunt who barks at dissenters, and practice consists of sitting in your room waiting until a plot device sets in and grants you the ability to draw the Mona Lisa with your cock. The saddest part of this is that, as Tom preaches to his audience (subtly!) he completely overlooks the fact he has yet to take any of his own advice to heart.
In the end this piece reeks of hypocrisy with an undertone of "it's not my fault! It's anime!" and a subtle hint of self-insert Mary-Sue. Clearly a classic tale for all to enjoy, right? Haha... NO.
The "Persistence of vision" arc:
This story is about a girl named "Cleo" who likes to draw comics and has her two best friends as her writers. Although the fact they are in middle school and she is not publishing her work raises the question of why she needs writers in the first place. If you think a boring friend project is dull subject matter, then you are obviously not Andrew Dobson (pat yourself on the back), who writes the entire thing in a sickeningly melodramatic tone. So "Cleo" becomes unsettled with the subject material that she is asked to draw and does the exact opposite of what her friends ask. And if you think the girl blowing an immature shit-fit over a friendly in-joke is the one being criticized here, then you are once again not Andrew Dobson (once again, pat yourself on the back). You see, her friends are characterized as the epitome of annoying yaoi fan girls and are supposed to be the villains. This commentary seems like a massive act of hypocrisy on Dobson's part when you are reminded that he himself has not one but TWO comics both of which are about lesbians. At one time he tried to play one of them off as "a serious story about the difficulties of homosexual relationships." but I take this with mountainous amounts of salt coming from the man who sells "lesbian kick!" T-shirts. Anyway, as you all might have already predicted, the story ends with her friends apologizing to her (for what?) because she is so talented and awesome... the end.
That's right, that is the whole story. It takes him an entire short story arc to write something I could have easily summarized in a single sentence. And the message he put all this effort into conveying is about as thought provoking as a "Blue's Clues" episode. One of Dobson's main problems with these story arcs, and to some extent the primes of the entire comic, is that he has nothing of value to say about cartoons or cartooning. So his hidden "morals" that he tries to preach are the most obvious things you could possibly think of, presented in the most straight forward and uninspiring way imaginable. The lessons of the first arc were simply: "practicing is good, criticism is important", and in the second one they were: "fuck criticism, do whatever you want". And as a result of all this, anyone who looks for a deeper meaning, like the kind you would expect from a real professional, will find some truly unsettling hidden meanings in these arcs. In this one the bad advice Tom gives out is how you should undermine teamwork and go behind people's backs about your problems instead of confronting them. And your reward for this will be praise and admiration. That's how things work in "Dobson world". In the real world doing things like that will gain you contempt from your peers and possibly lose you your job. So Dobson is essentially the "Advice dog" of the webcomic world.
But the most unsettling thing about these new story arcs is the fact that the main characters look like every other character Dobson draws. "Tenko" is drawn the same way he draws a young version of himself and "Cleo" is just a female version of that. In fact, almost all his main characters look like
him the way he draws himself, regardless of gender. This might have something to do with his past history of pretending to be a girl on the internet, but we'll get to that later.
The art... oh god... the art! You might be looking at this and thinking "What are you talking about? Sure it's not amazing but it's not that bad!" The thing is, though, this person has a degree in cartooning and animation! On this wiki we often laugh at amateur artists who have no official training in this field and mock their best efforts, which may seem a bit mean, because it is. However, with this we are essentially laughing at the mistakes of people with no academic training; but if you can't make something good to upload to the internet then don't upload anything at all unless you really want constructive criticism to improve (and from what I've seen that's never been the case... EVER) and if you already did post garbage for all to see then you certainly shouldn't be asking money from other people for it unless you're some kind of self-important cheapskate. Oh wait...
So considering that this guy actually has a degree, what excuse does he have for making something this mediocre?! Everyone has rigid body language, eyebrows can't seem to stay attached to people's faces, and anyone who is not a caricature of someone Dobson hates has the same face! At one point he tried to do one of those "Draw 100 characters" memes and the result was this. Here, look at this:
He copied that same bar in all four panels in at least three strips. Later he tried to comment on the accusations that he copies and pastes too much again by drawing one comic by hand. That time he drew the characters inconsistently in each one.
But you know what the worst part is? His stubborn refusal to learn, improve or implement effort of any kind into his work. Instead, he just blames everyone else for his mistakes. He has a long running"crusade" against anime. An art style that is in his eyes is the epitome of fail and the thing for which he blames his own incompetence on. You see, Dobson used to draw in an anime style, but anime sucks so now it has crippled him to real art for life. Yeah, that's actually something he repeatedly tries to imply. Let's forget for a moment that even amateur manga artist are still far better then him, wait, no, let's not forget that! Where the fuck does he get off belittling an entire art style practiced by thousands of actual artists, all of whom are better then he could ever dream of being? Not only that but he also blames anime itself for him not being a good artist! Another imaginary enemy of his is the fact he didn't pay attention in figure drawing class. Despite this being his own damn fault he completely avoids taking responsibility for it like, say, going up to his professor, apologizing for not paying attention and getting back up to date with the info? He acts as if not learning it when he was in art school means that path is forever blocked before him like some kind of secret boss in a Final Fantasy game that if you pass him by without beating him you can never get another chance and reach 100% completion. And he keeps going on and ooooon about it! "Pay attention in class! learn from my mistakes!", "Don't draw anime! learn from my mistakes!". And in a way he is right, you should learn from his mistakes, the biggest one being how not to act like an immature manchild with no sense of personal responsibility.
Lastly, I would like you all to look at this strip where he practically boasts about using the fill bucket on his comics. Now look at this one where he complains about his finished work not looking as good as the sketches. Gee, I wonder why that is...
Let me take you back in time a few years, to a sick fetishist community, where a young lady suddenly appeared. "My name is CattyN and I love inflation art!" she said, and soon amassed a gallery of her favorite fap material. The other community members rejoiced, because seeing as how these websites are usually occupied predominantly by lonely, perverted, men who live in each of their mother's basements, a girl fetishist just like them made them cream their pants more than the smuttiest inflation piece could ever achieve. However, this girl fetishist was more like them than they could ever know or (do not) want. CattyN was, in truth, a fat, hairy, rapidly-balding man named Andrew Dobson.
Yes, in his desperate search for attention, Andrew impersonated a girl and posted horrible fetish art. In the end he grew tired of this and left the community. But the pictures quickly resurfaced and at one point he was even blackmailed to make more fetish art. At this point he could have simply admitted to it and not mention it again as damage control. Instead, he carried on by making angry rants and calling the community and its members names in a hilarious case of the pot calling the kettle a pervert. Andrew did, in fact, benefit from the end result, because this fiasco gained him yet another imaginary enemy he could blame for his own shortcomings. Now whenever he is faced with valid criticism he simply writes it off as trolling.
Eventually, this anti-criticism attitude of his evolved and grew stronger. Over time he has gained an almost Buckley-esque level of infamy for never accepting any criticism while constantly criticizing everyone else, blaming anyone and everyone for him not being a good artist, and at the same time giving people advice that he himself fails to follow in a massive show of pretentious hypocrisy. His other antics include: Trying to force a meme that he then posted on 4chan in hopes it would catch on (it didn't), he also has a tendency of taking popular art and making shittier, downgraded versions of it. But most of all it's his attitude toward improvement. While most people go to school to become an artist, he went there to sleep through his classes so that he can call himself an artist. While most people try not to mention their lazy shortcuts or make excuses, he practically gloats about them. While most people improve their craft, he just gets more and more lazy. (He can actually draw shit. Bet you didn't expect that.)
Lastly, there is his eclectic gallery of "edgy/controversial" opinions (What a rebel!) These are not so much controversial as they are completely mundane and incredibly stupidly presented. Yet he thinks these are the reason people dislike him. This gives me a huge flashback to writing the Bittersweet Candy Bowl review. In both cases we have someone who thinks people avoid his company because his ideas are unique and he is a maverick, while in reality people try to stay away from him because his ideas are idiotic and he is an asshole. It's also important to mention that this gallery is, in fact, eclectic, meaning that he squared his multiple comics for whatever inspired any controversy (hardly at all), and collected them into one gallery. Can you say "attention whore"?
I could go on and on about this guy; what I've said so far is just the tip of the iceberg. But let's just recap with this:
Every aspiring artist should read this comic, but you will learn far less from the "morals" of his stories than you will from its author's mistakes. And in reply to the comics titular question "So... you're a cartoonist?" No, Andrew. No you are not.
- Draws this comic for Brent Black. - I guess his own material wasn't unfunny enough. It seems to have been discontinued as well.
Opinions and other links:
- This guy makes lots of "fanart" for Tom.
- Webcomic Relief on YouTube also has a review of So...You're A Cartoonist?
- Someone wrote a song about him - called "Tom Dobson is a Rancid Cunt".
- Some people from the ED forums order a commission from Tom just to see how he does - He acts like an ass to his paying clients.
- Special Tumblr made out of that thread to post art.
- Check out this funny little parody where someone combined an old and a new SYAC comic to have Preston arguing with himself.
- Evil Tom Preston - A parody that shows Preston comics in opposite world where Tom is not an asshole.
- Archive of his posts as CattyN.
- Preston sucks so much making fun of him is now a meme.
- Video of the time someone splashed water on him at a convention.
- "Why People Hate Tom Preston" Tumblr.
- CattyN art archive.
- More hate Tumblrs.
- MORE PRESTON TUMBLRS!!!