|Original review author:||TheNobleSusieHaltmann|
|Webcomic name:||Vegan Artbook|
|Author:||Priya "Pupastuff" Kishna|
|Start Date:||Earliest comic is dated June 1, 2014|
|Defining Flaw:||Presents pro-vegan nonsense while demonizing all who disagree with it— which would have been irritating on its own but becomes absolutely infuriating once you realize that a lot of her advice regarding diet, if followed, could actually hurt somebody.|
The Vegan Artbook, as the name would imply, is trying to promote veganism. Veganism can be merely a diet without animal products, but it often comes packaged with a philosophy. This philosophy posits that it is unethical to use animal products at all as they are claimed to be responsible for a wide variety of stuff-- destruction of the environment, poverty, and animal suffering are most commonly pegged to animal product production. Not something I personally agree with, but fine. The majority of people identifying as vegans are nice, normal people, and a minority of people really do require a vegan diet. Within veganism, however, there is an extreme sect known as radical veganism. Radical vegans, or radveegs, take the normal vegan beliefs to their most ridiculous interpretation, believing that the vegan philosophy is a necessity for somebody to be considered a good person and that anybody, regardless of their situation, can go vegan. To justify these beliefs, strange perversions of science and philosophy are invoked. To promote these beliefs, radveegs act as hypocrites, gladly badgering, insulting, publicly humiliating, publicly fantasize about harm being brought to others, or sometimes even engaging in acts of ecoterrorism despite claiming that they have the key to being compassionate and respectful to all creatures on Earth. Oh yeah, and following radveeg advice could get you seriously hurt since unless you are that minority that can live on the strictest vegan diet imaginable, since not getting the nutrients you need can cause serious health problems.
As you might have already guessed, the Vegan Artbook tries to convert its readers to radical veganism, but ends up showcasing its worst aspects. For the sake of the health of those who at risk of seriously believing this webcomic or radveegs like Priya Kishna, I feel obligated to make review here.
Story and Plot
The Vegan Artbook uses the gag a day format, meaning that each plot is contained to one page. There have been two-parters, but they are quite rare. I feel this works in the webcomic’s favor as it lacks the substance needed to sustain a full plot arc before becoming boring and repetitive. The characters are very flat with little room for development— the only instance I can think of character development actually occurring is Dolly’s sudden conversion from vegetarianism to veganism (warning: first link NSFW), and even that had inadequate build-up for her to reach that point in her development. The plots the Vegan Artbook does feature tend to be overly simplistic and formulaic— there’s almost no plots that don’t amount to “silly villain says ‘ridiculous’ anti-vegan/pro-meat thing, noble, sensible, wise hero corrects and/or humiliates the villain.”
Sometimes, however, pages will have no plot whatsoever and simply use a quote or statement with an accompanying image. Alternatively, she posts cover pages of her books. As these pages have no plot to speak of, I feel they would be better described in the writing section.
Let me get one thing out of the way: Priya is a talented artist capable of making good stuff. Her good art is anime-esque, but not animu. In other words, while it resembles the style of Hello Kitty, it has enough originality not to look like a knockoff. It helps that she is very good at character design when she wants to be, with characters that have cute faces and wear clothing and hairstyles that are interesting and unique without being embarrassing. She is also good at color coordination, makes nice neat, clean lines, and never accidentally goes off model.
But you see, that’s the key here— Priya has to feel like making good art before she does so.
You see, Priya is what we call a lazy artist. She sometimes doesn’t bother to give one-trick-pony strawmen new characters unique designs, instead drawing vaguely humanoid, simplistic figures in a solid color. This is very jarring and not to mention inexcusable considering Priya’s talent—she has the capability to consistently draw interesting, well-designed characters, so I expect her to do just that. Actually, I’d expect her to do that regardless of her artistic talent, but its more frustrating when the artist demonstrates that she can design characters well but doesn’t. Her backgrounds are nothing to write home about either, often being a solid color, simple pattern, or generic setting. They don’t interfere with the foreground but are still rather disappointing— I don’t expect Lackadaisy levels of detail (though that’s always nice), but I do expect to be able to decipher where the characters are and be able to be interested in the setting, especially if the comic is trying to give a pro-environment and pro-animal message. To Priya’s credit, she does get better about her backgrounds later on, but they’re still pretty generic for the most part.
Another aspect of Priya’s laziness is her tendency to rely on what I like to call VG Cats Mutations, or VGCMs for short. Named for the webcomic VG Cats which specializes in these types of forms, a VGCM is an off-model facial expression of a character used to indicate that the character is doing or saying something stupid, or otherwise being really silly. Its supposed to be funny, but it actually looks awkward at best and downright demeaning at worst. Despite how bad it looks, its appealing to lazy artists as it conveys stupidity without requiring a lot of effort. Vegan Artbook seems to get worse and worse each month in regards to falling back on VGCMs, and while they are most commonly employed to make the villains look ridiculous, even the heroes get in on the action every now and then. I’ve collected a few examples of this from the comic: The quality of Priya’s artwork tends to take a nosedive for the quotes-only pages. While some of the art is good, its usually noticeably lower quality and more simplistic than her usual artwork. Sometimes, though, she whips out some freaky eldritch abominations she calls “animals.” I don’t know how the heck she comes up with the perfect blend of human and animal features to ensure maximum creepiness, but she sure is talented at it. Seriously, why on earth would she think its a good idea to put human-like teeth on an otherwise perfectly ox-like face, then augment human muscles to its ox body and have it stand upright with its ox feet? That ox looks ripped too… I think we may need to call the exorcist. Worse, this ox is not the only or first member of his kind. She has also featured a crude, dead-eyed alien, what I can only describe as a cigarette-smoking robot pimpfarmer, a dead eyed calf cocking its head in an unnatural way, a demon cow cursed with the teeth of a giant, and so, so much more. Her cover art for her books isn’t bad but much like the quotes only pages, they sometimes employ freaky imagery. Here, we see a girl who is clearly being haunted by bunny ghosts in her sleep. I have no words.
And yet, that isn’t the worst art the comic offers. Try on this for size: social justice torture porn. No, you are not misreading— Priya thought it fit to include horrifically gory and/or explicit art of animal suffering. Some of it she draws herself, in the same cutesy style as the rest of the comic— usually she does this when its humans that are being tortured. Some of it is not. Yes, you heard me— she includes real images of real animals covered in blood and suffering. Ok, sometimes they’re not suffering— sometimes they’re dead or going through a procedure like artificial insemination that isn’t actually as bad as it looks. All of them, however, are incredibly graphic. And this does not come with any kind of NSFW tag or warning— in fact, it isn’t uncommon to find the social justice torture porn placed right into an otherwise cutesy comic. In the words of The Cute and Cuddly Cast page on this wiki:
In other words, Priya’s artstyle is not suited for these violent images, and her usage of such cheapens the impact of the images in question. She literally only uses them for shock value— considering how they’re often accompanied with cutesy stuff, sarcasm, silly antics, and other callous douchery, not once do I ever get the impression that she legitimately cares about the animals and people that she depicts as suffering. After all, if she did, she might want to show a little, oh, I don’t know, respect to those depicted. I reiterate— the majority of the violent imagery is real, with real animals. And a disturbingly large amount of them are exactly as bad for the animal as they look— though even those that aren’t (whether because the animal is dead or more rarely, because the process actually doesn’t hurt them) are still really offensive as they distort standard practices into being evil when they aren’t. Using the images for what amounts to cheap shock and emotion baiting is incredibly demeaning to the very real problem of abusive factory farming practices and does absolutely nothing to aid Priya’s cause.
I’ve avoided linking the social justice torture porn thus far because it really is horrific. But if you of strong stomachs truly want to see some examples of them, click these words for artwork and click these words for photographs.
In conclusion, Priya is an artist who should know better but doesn't act better. Any merit derived from her good art is undone by her bad art, and her use of graphic imagery is not only offensive, but exploitive of the very animals she claims she wants to protect.
Well, we’ve reached it. The worst part of the Vegan Artbook— its writing. Its horrible, self-righteous, demonstrably false to the point of potentially hurting somebody who takes its advice, writing. The characters are absolutely critical to showcasing Priya’s interpretation of veganism and advice on how to fit Priya’s vision of veganism— as with all political comics, if she plays her cards wrong, the hero characters will be unsympathetic which in turn makes the ideology they’re spouting unappealing. So let’s look at the most common characters:
Brie: Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room— brie is a kind of cheese made from cow’s milk. As in, not vegan. Why Priya would choose that name of all names for her vegan mouthpiece I don’t know— my best guess is that it is reflective of her ignorance about animal products. As for the actual character, Brie has been a vegan since she was very young and often flirts with fruitarian and raw vegan diets. This of course, makes her the most noble character of all and she is never, ever depicted as being wrong. As a result, she is extremely bland, though Priya’s poor writing skills means that Brie manages to have flaws anyway. She is highly misinformed on nutrition, frequently illogical, can act condescending from time to time, and generally comes off as a bitch in sheep’s clothing, or a person whose sweet and innocent facade covers a cruel personality. These are not intentional as far as I know and are to the detriment of the character and the ideology she spouts, as they kill any relatability she had left after being treated like she’s perfect, and makes veganism look completely irrational. Another issue that she is supposedly still in school, yet she’s expressing verbatim the ideas of Priya, a fully grown adult. This shatters my suspension of disbelief, making her hard to take seriously because she is unrealistic for her age. Though she is not the worst characterized person in this webcomic, she is easily the most common vegan mouthpiece employed by Priya and thus the most annoying.
Shawn: Priya seems to want Shawn to be Brie’s evil counterpart— he has absolutely zero positive traits mentioned in his bio, has never desired to be vegan at all, and is always depicted as wrong in the comic. Priya’s poor writing skills come to hurt her again, however, as despite his faults, Shawn is actually one of the most sympathetic and interesting characters in the webcomic. This is in part because he’s the buttmonkey of the comic, being subjected to ridicule from the other characters almost every time he’s featured on a page, and is occasionally physically harmed. This is all treated as something that he brought onto himself and deserves, but I find it hard to believe as he seldom does anything more harmful than make insensitive statements. In other words, the abuse heaped on him feels excessive. There’s also the fact that, though he is a terrible debater and a jerk, it’s not uncommon for him to actually be right. He states that the vegan characters should respect his decision to eat meat, that its wrong to send random people unsolicited postcards of a naked woman and her babies posed like a mother pig in a factory farm because its exploitive and objectifying to women, and much more. Yet every time, he’s treated as in the wrong, stupid, in denial, etc. With all that in mind, its hard not to feel bad for him and sympathize with his frequent outbursts of anger and frustration. He’s the most common villain too, which makes it difficult to ignore his torment.
Dolly: Dolly is unique in that she is intended to be considered good at heart despite starting out as non-vegan. Unfortunately, Priya bungled her writing and as a result, she was essentially a Shawn clone for a few years, minus the abuse inflicted on him. She is also unique in that she has actually gone through some character development, becoming vegan as of "I have no problem with it." This act solidified her as being a clone of Brie, a personality she's remained consistent with since that issue. Her concept is the best of all the characters, because it seems that Priya actually tried to develop her and have her personality be defined by more than just her diet beliefs. Unfortunately, she embodies the problems of Shawn pre-conversion and the problems of Brie post-conversion.
Priya Kishna Legua: Legua has almost an identical personality to Brie. Rather than being merely an author mouthpiece, she seems to be an outright self-insert, bearing a close resemblance to Priya herself and promoting all of Priya's beliefs. Basically, she has the same problems as Brie, with the added issue of being a failed attempt at self-aggrandization. She also likes Sterk. She was the most common character in the webcomic's early days, but has since been overtaken by Brie, though she still appears often.
Putty Robots: Putty Robots aren't an official group of characters, but villains that fit their description are common enough to be worth a mention. Essentially, these are the lazily designed villains who are given solid color, usually orange or red but sometimes other colors, skin and rarely an outfit (most are naked though). The shading and oversimplification of their design and movements makes them look kind of like putty figures that move via robotics, hence the name. Another aspect that resembles a robot is their personalities-- they are seemingly programmed with one belief that contradicts Priya's ideology, and one bad defense for said belief for the heroes to easily take down. And that's about it. Upon being defeated in debate, they typically disappear without a trace to be replaced by another Putty Robot. Sometimes, characters like Sterk will kill the Putty Robot, and they bleed profusely when this occurs. As demonstrated by the cigarette-smoking robot pimp farmer, however, some putty robots are able to develop their own personalities and start happy families and successful businesses. This is quickly thwarted by our heroes, as Putty Robots are never, ever allowed to win. Needless to say, they are flat characters with little purpose but to be strawmen for Priya's beliefs-- and some still manage to be more sympathetic than her heroes considering the abuse they go through.
Sterk: The least likable character in the entire webcomic, and a good candidate for one of the worst characters ever in the history of webcomic characterization. He is not a Brie or a Shawn clone-- he is his own special kind of suck. Namely, he actually maims and kills people on the behalf of veganism! No wait-- he merely takes pleasure in twisting the words of carnists for giggles, and also so that Priya can blame THEM for him maiming or killing them! Because when it comes to murder, its always the victim's fault-- they should have just not disagreed with him, then he would have let them go! How dare they have an opinion that doesn't match
Priya's his! This is despite his bio claiming that he might not even be vegan, making him a massive hypocrite. He is an ample provider of the hand-drawn variety of social justice torture porn, and its not uncommon for the webcomic to act like his killings and maimings are perfectly justified too. Priya tries to pass him off as morally ambiguous and liked by nobody-- but frankly, this guy is an evil ecoterrorist that Priya agrees with and justifies the actions of, and while he does indeed act alone, the other characters sure don't seem to mind him too much. They're more than happy to cast the blame on designated villain character, like the Putty Robots or Shawn, instead of the sociopathic ecoterrorist. Sterk is also a proponent Priya's ideology, so he bring up a lot of disturbing questions. Does he represent her violent fantasies? Considering that her self-insert, the "caring Legua" (her words, not mine), is supposedly the only one that likes him, does she actually support maiming and killing non-vegans? Is this her idea of compassion?
Nothing fancy, just a quick bio. Make fun of them if you want to. List every juicy detail you can find on their being an obnoxious prick if you feel like it, or just roughly tell us what they're like.
Write something here tying your article up.
Place links pertaining to the webcomic here.
- [url spacebar title for link] plus anything else you want to add dangling behind like this.
- [url spacebar linky] just press enter for each new one and you've got a brand new bullet to start you off.
- [url spacebar linkster-poo] seriously add something here I'm running out of inane shit to say