|Original review author:||William Seagate; contributions by Lesbot|
|Webcomic name:||VG Cats|
|Author:||Scott "Pantsman" Ramsoomair|
|Start Date:||September 1, 2001|
|End Date:||Ongoing; recently resumed after a two-year hiatus|
|Genre:||Technology and Video Games, Comedy.|
|Defining Flaw:||Derivative, Unstructured, Boring, Unfunny and Disgusting.|
Video games have been around for a while now. Their history is long and complicated, with many stages and generations, different companies and personalities coming in and out, and many technical discoveries and innovations that shaped the landscape of what we see today. Video game webcomics, on the other hand, are much simpler. Penny Arcade was created, went popular and started making money. 8 million imitators followed.
Now we got to deal with an endless stream of gaming webcomics, most of them just fourth-generation copies of Penny Arcade that exist solely to cash in on an old formula, rather than contribute anything fresh or worthwhile to the webcomics medium. VG Cats in particular has mutated so much from the gaming webcomic formula that you'd think there would be something original about it. But no, rather than add on previous experiences, VG Cats seems to be more hollow and bland than anything before it. There's a strong absence of structure and characters, and its idea of humor comes closer to shock value than actual jokes or comedy writing. VG Cats is mediocre by gaming standards, and just plain terrible as a webcomic.
But short declarations are useless. Let's get into the guts (there's a word we'll be saying a lot in this review) of this webcomic.
Story And Plot
Leo and Aeris are the two cats the title of this webcomic alludes to, but you would be hard-pressed to call them main characters. Though they certainly appear in the webcomic a lot, the actual focus of the webcomic are one-off videogame "parodies" (I'll discuss the validity of that later on) and random jokes.
In what we do see of Leo and Aeris, their character traits are very simple. Leo is the classic dumb happy-go-lucky gamer who just fools around making random references and causing trouble. Aeris is more of a hardcore gamer, also tougher and more aggressive than Leo. Whatever strips feature them are either random situations that reference games or parodies where they participate and poke fun at games.
Its first two years are fair enough, I think. The problem starts when you realize that after about 30 or 40 strips, two whole years' worth of VG Cats, you still don't fucking know who those two cats are. They've barely talked to themselves in all that time, both in and out of game parodies! How can that be accomplished?! Also, the punchlines start to suffer after the first dozen or so updates. Pretty soon the comedy of VG Cats boils down to some violent punchline (hurr, hurr, the kitty cut his own arms off, LMAO!), snaps at retarded people, bodily functions, sexy time, condoms, or some plain ol' silly expressions. These bad jokes gradually descend deeper and deeper until they reach improper sex stunts, raping, nudity, penis disfigurement, sodomy, carnage after carnage, pissing, author self-indulgence, and just about any low subject one would hope not to bring up in public. People, I'm talking about 2001-2004 here! By the time we get to 2005, it's at least two of the latter for each strip. By 2008, two per panel.
As if all that weren't enough, the icing on the cake is Ransoomair's inconsistency with updates. To the point he makes jokes about it. You know, nothing like laughing at your weak points instead of fixing them. That's how the whole Pantsman character was introduced to begin with. If you calculate all the strips up on his official archive, and divide by years, you get around 37-40 strips per year. Not even once a week. Sure, some strips are huge as the moon, some are one fucking panel, but he can't make every week. One needs to have discipline when updating, especially in a webcomic, and especially if you want people to like your work long enough to buy your T-shirts. Indeedy, VG Cats is as commercialized as shit. Ironically, we're not too far from being offered T-shirts with shit jokes. Just wait for the next batch. Also, there's an aborted animation series. Scott is just so unlike Buckley, amirite?
Much has been said about Scott. Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad author John Solomon claimed he's full of rage and dislike, especially about conventions. There used to be a strip from VG Cats where the cats mocked and screamed at con attendees, but was taken down. There was an argument about Scott throwing his con badge at somebody after having difficulties with the placing of his booth. Also, he considers himself to be a TOTAL FUCKING BADASS guy (at the same time he's a sweet prince, you see!) who has very important opinions about videogames. You know, when he actually updates.
If we were to guide ourselves by the input in his comics, we can guess that he is: (Warning: Not safe for work, home, family or humans, for that matter.)
- A misogynist
- A fanboy (yet he hates the company he idolizes)
- A sodomist
- A total asshole
- A delusional prick
- A fucktard
- A creep
- A BADASS MOTHAFUCKA', (can't you see? Ain't no comic artist better than me! Except Tycho and Gabe, of course)
- A fanboy, yet again
- Pretty much fucked up...
- I mean REALLY.
Scott's art is good, actually. It's nice to see a man in the Top 10 Chart of Hits and Praise who has actually cared about changing and improving over the years. Look at 2001! Be careful, though, as most strips have been replaced with redrawn versions. Now look at 2004 to 2005! I really think that this is the strip's peak regarding art quality. Look at the bright colors and the stylized art, and the shadows, and the backgrounds... Just don't look at the writing (yet). It has always sucked.
However, there is one ugly, shadowy trend in his art that escapes any improvement. Namely, his silly expressions. The silly, intolerable, ugly-as-fuck expressions. It's starts to manifest between 2005-2006. It tones down for a while, with Ransoomair using helmets and other such devices to obscure the characters' googly eyes. But it can only be avoided for so long. They come back! And uglier than ever.
Mr. Ransoomair must think that, now that he has a digital tablet, he's obligated to do more facial detail. He said something along those terms once on his blog. But this is too much. Sadder than that is the fact they seem to all be more intense towards the end of the strip. In many occasions they become the fucking punchline! One can understand his logic: if your writing is shit, you should find some way of making the art take over. No words, just drawing. It has been done, and it has succeeded, but not here. I'm really sad such a promising art for comedy media has been overridden by writing so poor that it requires aborted fetuses and other such degenerations to call the attention of the Internet. If Ransoomair ever considers improving his writing, or submitting to an actual writer, those cancerous tumors that currently harm VG Cats could be removed before it's too late.
In a review of the webcomic Zap!, Solomon mentioned how a good grasp of art can be totally negated by some writing that makes them do sick or stupid things, or makes them talk or act like idiots. VG Cats clearly illustrates this. It really doesn't matter how good you can draw, if you're doing it for something like this. If you're too scared already to look into those links, or if the planet-sized strips tax your connection too much, those two were examples of how his art capabilities are invested into horrible stuff nobody would ever want to see. This example, on the other hand, shows how his art can be wasted on bad writing.
Like I mentioned before, VG Cats has a special distinction from other gaming webcomics. Shitpiles like CAD and PVP engineer a crude, terrible plot, focusing on lacking development of their "original" characters and punchlines, but hey, points for effort! VG Cats doesn't even try. There is no plot coherence at all in this comic, excepting how 3 of the last strips have centered on the subject of Leo getting ABORTED FROM TIME. Hurr, hurr, how clever of you, Mr. Ramsoomair. That totally doesn't remind me of anything. Who would miscarry himself into that thought?
Also, we don't know much more of the protagonists beyond Leo being a retarded bitch, Aeris being a psycho bitch, and Pantsman (Scott's Panty-Sue, tee hee) being an asshole that rules the fucking world. The whole comic is just a row of non-sequitur game parodies and soapbox ranting linked by the fact that some cat puppets sometimes fill-in for the referenced game characters. That's right, in a comic that barely has any established base, the protagonists don't even appear in many strips. While that is a common thing about some gaming strips, VG Cats takes it to the point you can spend months without a word from Grey and Pink. Why is this thing even called VG Cats? I suppose "Video Games" would be way too vague a title for a comic, and besides, Scott is such an original guy! He seems to be the one who made "The Cake is a Lie" popular! Balls to that...
Have you noticed I have not yet begun talking about dialog, joke construction, or unfunniness? We got a lot to go through still!
His punchlines suck. He relies on the most basic element of parody: the exposition of something someone else made... with a twist! He does not enact on a situation that resembles some event of public knowledge. He does not develop such situation to its most funny consequences. He does not make subtle jibes at it. He just makes the sprinkler a religious fanatic! He just repeats unfunny jokes over and over. He turns everything into sex, or violence, or sexy violence, or violent sex! Really, possibilities are endless!
When the parody shit hits the fan, most other strips are about some serious ranting. You see, my man Scott has some deep thoughts about the videogame industry. He knows some deep stuff about Pac-Man (once again, sex sells!). He wants to warn you about how bad Smooth Moves, C.S.I., and Hitman are. He is insulted that you don't believe anime sucks and fans take things too seriously. He knows Nintendo has gone money, and encrusts it in very subtle food characters (this would be the only creative use of parody he has done, had it not been used for his fanboy opinions). He is the voice of God about how Jack Thompson is an asshole. He feels pretty badass for confronting him, with such witty responses as "Hi, I'm Parody!" (No, you're not!). He knows his shit! I can just see him biting his tongue, realizing somebody else had already shouted out "Don't fuck with us!" to the void. Buckley and half of nerdiland, that is.
Wrapping up, I think his most used punchlines involve:
- Heh heh, poop
- Heh heh, penis
- Heh heh, boobies
- Heh heh, silly expression
- Heh heh, _______ sex _______ (disgusting, symbols, disease, need, lacking, rape etc.)
- Heh heh, violence
- Heh heh, "fuck"
- Heh heh, hatred
All this is, you know, pretty standard. That's all us grown-ups laugh about, right? If Gorons have stone-hard nipples, we LOL for days in a row. If Mario rapes Toad, we go LMAO all the way to the t-shirt shop. If the author flips it on their fans every possible chance, but still asks us nicely to buy his stuff, it's damn fine.
If people fucking explode, or die from Viagra, or get their penis chopped off, or ARE a giant penis, or commit abortions, or unearth freshly-used condoms, or make dead fetuses dance, we all laugh, right?
NO. We fuckin' freak out. We might get amused a couple of times, but in the end we feel bad about it and guilty. And in such a repetitive fashion, in such quick descend, we feel alienated. Who's the sick fuck who can't think of nothing but sex and violence? This is the kind of guys that gives gamers such bad name. Yet he's up there among the most visited webcomics, along the likes of CAD and Penny Arcade and Can I Haz Cheeseburger, or whatever it's called. Is this a symbol? Sure it is. It is a symbol of how fucked up the masses can be. When you force-feed them shit for so many years, they learn to conform. That's why a few heads need to be bonked. That's why this idiot needs to be pulled down from his high horse.
This is horrible, horrible stuff. If anybody amongst the readers really feels this kind of comics are good and nice and adequate, go show the fetus dancing strip to your parents, your girlfriend, your work associates, or even to your fucking friends. Don't explain anything to them, just say "I like this man's work. What do you think?" and do that twisted smile Leo seems to have imprinted on his soul. Half of your subjects won't want to look at you for months. That's a reality check for you guys: this is NOT funny. It's not even conceivable to most of the people you know. Snap out of it.
VG Cats is a webcomic that should be classified as some sort of fetish. They should be on their own category along fans of Happy Tree Friends, with sex depravation on top of all the gory violence. Actually, Happy Tree Friends would be an example of how violence can be used in a funny way (albeit not easy to digest by many, including myself). Compare it VG Cats, it fails. VG Cats is perverse, my friend. It's what Buckley is afraid of turning into if he ever decides to lose that last ounce of self-respect. There have been lots of mentions of lack of self-respect in this review. That is because no human should feel proud of creating this comic. It is vile, vile shit. It's like that guy that makes daguerreotypes of actual dead corpses in strange poses. He thinks he's mastering some sort of art type, but he's really just showing the world what a twisted, bizarre individual he is. It's some sort of Rule 34 of gaming comics: for every game that exists, there is some sort of sex or violent twist Ramsoomair can provide.
Don't submit yourself to this comic if you don't think you can stomach it. And even if you do, don't expect much of it.