|Original review author:||Long Tom|
|Webcomic name:||Stalag '99|
|Author:||"The Unusual Suspects", main author Kelly "STrRedWolf" Price, contributions by others|
|Start Date:||September 5, 1999|
|End Date:||July 2, 2010|
|Genre:||Furry, Science Fiction, Fetishism|
|Defining Flaw:||Grotesquely weird (and poorly-drawn) furry characters, too many reused pictures, too much text, too much technobabble, story is meandering, scattershot, and random.|
Ugly, stiff, flat, repetitive, and software-drawn. The same pictures are often reused (with minor tweaks) in each panel of a strip, or even over multiple strips.
An actual plot comes late to this webcomic, and even then it is meandering and random.
Neither interesting nor developed.
The webcomic's title is nonsensical. It was started in 1999, but stalags were German prisoner-of-war camps that existed during World Wars One and Two...which has no bearing that I can see upon the scenario.
Ugly, grotesque, meandering, scattershot, random, and boring, but what really stands out is the fact that this webcomic reuses the same pictures over and over again for most of its run. Talk about artistic laziness!
This webcomic was listed on the to-be-reviewed section of the BWW forum. Easy to see why.
The webcomic always sucked.
Story and Plot
The scenario depicts a future Earth where humans share their world with a furry race known as "Canmephians", who are divided into two groups: Wolfskunks and Drygers. Wolfskunks are all hermaphrodites while Drygers can be that, male, female or simply genderless. On top of that, these creatures have a wide variety of weird body types. How weird? See the description in the "Art Review" section below..."Weird" is an understatement and "Creepy" doesn't even begin to describe this (An additional race, the Cobrawolves, appear later in the story, who are a conquering race the Canmephians must wage war against).
The pronoun for hermaphrodites is "Shi", while the possessive word is "Hir" (The webcomic has a number of misspellings, but those terms are deliberate). This may be the author falling in-line with an odd transgender campaign that is trying to add new pronouns to the English language for addressing people of a "Third Gender". There are like six of these that sound almost exactly alike and require to rework the entire English language to accommodate for a group that numbers less than one percent of the population. Of course, these terms are required for the purpose of this webcomic, so I'll use them in this review.
The story begins at the University Of Maryland campus in the late 1990's (contemporaneous with the time the webcomic was first being written), and the standard college hijinks take place. Our heroes go to bars and testify to Congress about Microsoft and its monopoly, though the Canmephians' hermaphroditic nature causes some awkwardness (Um, they live on Earth and people wouldn't already know about that?). They also testify about a "cheeze" embargo and how "cheeze" is hazardous to their kind. Another hazard they face is then-President Clinton. (Later everyone in the story is suddenly in the 25th Century. Don't ask.) Holy TwoKinds! It turns out these furries also lack genitals or nipples, hermaphrodites or not. All the same, biology for them is quite a problem. But at least the "cheeze" embargo problem is resolved.
If the preceding sounds random, it is. It takes about a year before the author finally comes up with a storyline of sorts. First the author tells us some history of the Canmephian universe, before describing how RedWolf joins the Canmephian military and becomes an admiral. (Author's note: in the United States military, one can only become a flag officer after being approved by Congress, and presumably one cannot possibly become a flag officer in any nation at all without some sort of political sponsorship.) Shi is given a spaceship and a mission to rescue a space station which is under attack. RedWolf takes out the raiders attacking it and restores order to the station. And now the raiders are the ones in trouble, as well as Mir, the traitorous crew member who had betrayed the station to them. RedWolf also has to deal with a mutation problem. A more detailed explanation of what had happened is provided, and RedWolf's next task is to negotiate bringing Rashana into the military as a lieutenant. The station is restored to normal, though at a heavy price.
Then RedWolf receives a mysterious visitor who tells hir a bit about hir future. Then comes a Christmas poem, and among RedWolf's tasks besides getting a crew for hir spaceship is feeding orphans. Mir and the raiders are executed, and RedWolf comes up with a new project.
Now begins "Book One". RedWolf reintroduces and describes hirself, and the new story begins. RedWolf's first tasks are to establish a spaceport, reconnect with his goylfriend (they're hermaphrodites, remember), and rebuild their embassy on Earth. A fur named Cynthia arrives and wants to join the service, in hir case to escape hir awful foster family. Shi goes through a sequence of weird tests and gets a job at the embassy. Unfortunately revamping the embassy requires no small amount of work on RedWolf's part.
After another recap, RedWolf has to deal with a derelict spaceship which also has an alien being on board. This being turns out to be a Cobrawolf named Aticston, and RedWolf and shi converse. Aticston learns how Canmephians' lives are more desirable than those of the Cobrawolves, and shi soon joins up with RedWolf. Later, RedWolf gets a visit from a... ghost? Actually, the "ghost" had appeared to RedWolf at crucial times in hir life. And we learn how RedWolf had earned hirself a fortune.
The author presents several strips using the "Poser" program, and they're hardly better than the regular artwork. The next story arc features Canmephians getting huge and muscular... In fact, the theme is extreme bodybuilding and musclefur competitions. Yes, in this story arc (actually titled "Muscle Beach"), the characters go to the gym and turn themselves into gargantuan musclefurs. But now we have legal problems involving the legal recognition of hermaphrodite furs (Funny that that would even be an issue with the fact that Earth already has naturally hermaphroditic creatures such as earthworms and slugs). Anyway, the musclefur competition begins. Presenting contestants one, two, three, and four... And this is who won! Now the author combines Poser graphics with his ordinary artwork, but they work no better in combination than they do separately. Also, even hermaphrodites (Canmephian ones, anyway) can suffer gender confusion.
The new embassy is completed, so it's time to party! And Canmephians can cook without stoves! Afterward, Tygris returns, and RedWolf asks about hir anatomy. And the author takes a few strips to mock anime fans. (This from a middle-aged furry who's into bodybuilding rat-skunks with enormous breasts and has been drawing a webcomic about them for over a decade with the skill of an eight-year-old child. Isn't that the pot calling the cauldron black!)
Humans finally actually appear in the story, and their role is not insignificant either. Namely because one literally melted like the Wicked Witch of The West from the Wonderful Wizard Of Oz stories, and RedWolf must perform an investigation of this incident. Shi gathers a team to visit Mark Johnson, a brother of the victim whose other siblings died the same way. RedWolf talks Johnson into making a trip to do a medical check, and they discover that Johnson not only has Canmephian DNA in him, but can even shape-shift like RedWolf can. But RedWolf has to train Johnson to properly use his newfound ability.
Then there is a "Book Two" followed by a "Book Three", but I only barely skip-read through those. It was obviously simply more of the same: poorly-drawn and repetitive pictures, a random and confusing storyline, and incomprehensible technobabble. As the old saying goes, you don't have to eat the whole egg to know that it is rotten.
The webcomic ostensibly has a plot, but it feels less like a narrative than a stew of events that don't really follow a pattern. Things happen, but there is no sense of overall development, and characters come and go so erratically and randomly that it is too difficult to figure out who is who and where they're supposed to be. (Whatever happened to Aticston?) Furthermore, the webcomic is full of technobabble that is not explained to the reader. What is a "lart"? What is the story with the "multiple" and "prehensile" mutations that were mentioned earlier? I have no idea what any of those things are and the author doesn't really explain those.
On top of all that, after eleven years, the webcomic abruptly stops without even any sort of conclusion.
The art is mostly stiff and unattractive monochrome line drawings with no shading or depth, with occasional Poser-created pictures thrown in. Pictures rarely have backgrounds, and people tend to be positioned too closely to one another, as if the artist were trying to cram too much into too small a space.
Worse than that, however, is that the webcomic shows mostly talking heads and you rarely see a full body shot. You might ask: "What's wrong with that-some cartoons are about talking heads?" But this is a webcomic about furries with unusual body types; what's the point of having unusual bodies if you rarely even show them, let alone depict how such bodies can be advantageous or disadvantageous? Also, a lot is depicted in text what could be shown visually. Comics are an inherently graphic medium. If you wanted to make a science fiction story using text, why bother with the talking heads?
At some point in the strip's run (if not since the beginning), the pictures have obviously been created by imaging software rather than drawn by hand. Also, at about this point in the webcomic's run, the author starts reusing the same head shot pictures over and over again in each strip, with only minor expression changes differentiating between panels. One would get the impression that if the author felt at that point that his webcomic was no longer worth spending any more than such minimal effort upon it, he would have simply dropped it. Yet for God knows what reason, he actually continued it for nine more years!
However, I think what stands out most in this webcomic and what turns most people off to it is the character design. Imagine this: Four-armed, six-fingered, hermaphrodite, body-building, furry hybrids with size FF tits. Again, a humanoid wolf/skunk combo with both a dick and a vagina, breasts the size of wrecking balls and muscles like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some even have four (or more) eyes, and I don't mean wearing spectacles, while others have additional heads and limbs and god knows what else. Oh yes, they can expand their bodies by eating a lot, too! Holy Boston and Shaun! And this is what the creator of this webcomic gets off to. Besides being horribly drawn, it is what he chooses to draw that is most horrifying. Out of all the crazy, sick fetishes we have had displayed here on this site, this one is a top contender for "Most Disgusting". The only thing I can think of that can compare is the monstrosity from Latex BLUE that was a furry centaur with four tits, tentacles and a six-foot dick. I would love to see those two collaborate just to witness what kind of horror they could come up with. Probably something that would make H. P. Lovecraft hide under a bed.
Ironically, though, while I found the fundamental concept of the character designs disgusting for the reasons just described, the artwork is so wretchedly flat, stiff, and dull that I could not bring myself to place a "Disgusting" tag on this review because it couldn't get any reaction out of me except boredom. It manages to make the artwork of Jack look good (or at least interesting) by comparison.
If you are a novice artist, take in mind that bodies like this, without all the oversexualized feat can result in a very interesting and attractive touch to your webcomic. However, mix some fetishes with it, kill variety, and screw on quality and this is pretty much what you like.
The webcomic starts with a year of randomness, then the author finally comes up with a plot of sorts. Unfortunately, the story is depicted mostly with detached heads over empty backgrounds having conversations, and rarely do we see any actions depicted visually. Anything that isn't described in conversations is usually told using walls of text. "A picture is worth a thousand words" goes the old saying, but the author evidently prefers the thousand words. This makes a storyline, which is already complicated and confusing, even harder to follow. The story itself jumps from one situation to another to another, leaving a lot of loose ends. While the webcomic does provide some jokes, they invariably fall flat.
Characters from other webcomics such as Freefall and Bruno The Bandit appear in this webcomic occasionally, but the author admits to putting them in without prior permission from their respective authors.
The author claims that Stalag '99 is about "How hermaphrodites would be if they acted normally, like normal beings (like you and me) and much unlike sex sluts". So he seems to be calling all hermaphrodites nymphomaniacs... Classy. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he must have meant he is trying to fight the stereotype of hermaphrodites as it appears in other webcomics and stories online, but he fails at that too with strips like this, this, this, this, this, or this scene. And this is just a sample of the many strips with such subject matter. No, of course they're not sex sluts. And don't you dare call this an inflation fetish webcomic! Nosiree, Bob!
Kelly A. Price is a 37 year old furry, computer nerd and administrator of Keenspot for many years now (real crack team they got over there). I only know a few things about him besides that. Firstly, he regularly attends furry conventions and takes credit for the "Hybrid Furry Craze". In other words, he takes credit for a niche group splitting off from an already niche group in an attempt to either be bigger special snowflakes or bigger perverts. All this tells me about him is that, since he is two furries rolled into one, you will have to wash your hands for twice as long if you ever touch him.
I don't know if he is a Keenspot admin as a job or as an unpaid volunteer because, according to some sources, Keenspot admins do it for free. However, a few years ago he was mentioned in a Websnark blog-post and in response wrote this on his LiveJournal-
Not that this reflects badly on him, it's just always fun to see what kind of classy operation Crosby is running over there.
Besides that he was also involved in a short-lived drama with Something Awful when someone posted about him there and they ended up flooding his account's comment section with insults and the like. In response he warned them that he is logging their IP addresses like an old man yelling "I know where you live! I'm telling your parents!" at some kids who set a turd on fire next to his front door.
And on some final notes:
1. He hates Penny Arcade because they once said something mean about furries so now they are his mortal enemies.
2. And also, he's bald. I know this seems like a cheap shot, but WikiFur felt it was important enough to mention on his article for some reason.
If the author genuinely intended to make a good webcomic, he could have done so. Eerie cuties, before it degenerated into pornography, started off with the concept of what would happen if various legendary monsters were mixed together in a monster school-and the idea was cleverly realized. Stalag '99, on the other hand, has the premise of a race of furries with a wide variety of exotic body types and a wide variety of exotic powers who come to a future Earth...and comes up with a badly-drawn and badly-written and boring webcomic that wouldn't appeal to the writer's fellow fetishists, let alone anyone else.
- This webcomic in paperback collections for sale at lulu.com. Has anybody actually bought any of these?
- Stalag '99 is on the TV Tropes list of horrible comics.
- Twisted Kaiju Theater - A webcomic that actually did mistakenly create a new fetish community.
Here are some of his social media accounts and stuff like that.
- The Stalag 99' Livejournal.
- You want all his personal information? You can find it here.
- His DA page - Where he seems to be pretending to be 27.
- Some sort of strange archive of his shit.
- His Flicker - Come look at two hundred pictures of a grown man walking around a convention in a costume.
- His FurAffinity account.
- His WikiFur article.
- His twitter.
- This is him on Wikipedia.
- On Reddit.
- On YouTube.
- On FurBuy - Where furries buy and sell their old fursuits they used to jerk-off in to one another.
Oh god, he has like 50 more accounts on other sites... Forget this.
Stalag '99 is part of a series about keenspot