|Original review author:||webkilla - written around January 2020|
|Forum Discussion Thread:||Link|
|Author:||Alina Pete (Artist, Writer, Creator) Layne Myhre: (Writer, Editor)|
|Start Date:||November 27, 2006|
|End Date:||Not any time soon|
|Defining Flaw:||This used to be a good webcomic, but it got ruined by the Cerebus effect - the slow creep of SJW drama tainting the main character and the plot|
Webkilla is an old fan of this webcomic, being an avid lover of RPGs, board games and LARPing. He's also a miserable old asshat who likes to review bad webcomics, so when this webcomic took a nosedive... well, it was only a matter of time.
When the plot started to revolve around polyamory drama rather than gaming, what did you expect? It all started around March 2015 when the girlfriend of one of the supporting main characters started hitting on the main-main character. Oh, the drama.
The artwork in this webcomic is quite competently drawn: you're never in doubt of what emotion the characters are supposed to express, and the art equally jumps quite well between what the characters are imagining that they're seeing, to what they're really doing. This is exploited at times for plot-related reasons, but it's also used well to show who they are in their games.
Basically the artwork is simple, on the toony side, but more than realistic enough when needed. One of the better webcomics to also nail the difference between high and low-end LARP gear for the lulz.
Writing and Plot
Right - so if the art is good, that means the badness is found with the writing and plot, right?
As detailed earlier, then the webcomic starts with Mark slowly coming to terms with his geekery. He appears to be a recent college graduate with a boring office job and money to burn, so... ya. From there it's slice-of-life fun times, introducing him to the joy of vampire LARPing, Dungeons & Dragons, and all kinds of other games. This is all good.
Mark is supposed to be the audience insert, who knows nothing about the stuff going on, who has to have everything explained to him - though after the webcomic has run for over a decade, you'd think he would be written as less of a clueless moron. No, he arguably gets worse.
The first sign of bullshit comes with Mark's initial girlfriend Jess. We learn early on that she's not into cosplay and geeky stuff. Inviting her to a game night ends predictably poorly. Now, this part is NOT the bullshit bit, because we're actually told that she's ok with Mark's hobby if it makes him happy and they actually talk about it. The problem is that we have to be reminded how much of a normie she is as if that's a bad thing.
This reveals one of the core problems with the webcomic: it wants to push the geek 'lifestyle' as the norm, as the good, while more trad-con lifestyle (going to church, wearing normal clothes and whatnot) is somehow bad/boring/not good. I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it just doesn't make sense.
This, of course, ultimately results in the relationship becoming strained, and after having missed a date, Jess finds some RP-chatlogs that she mistakes for him cheating on her, leading to a confrontation and a bit of shouting. Somehow Mark is shown to be the one who feels as if he did something wrong there, despite it having been Jess the one who had gone through his e-mails. This becomes a running theme later on.
So ya, basically the entire "first girlfriend" arc is a case of her being a meangirl-style normie who constantly put down Mark over his hobbies, made fun of him, but would turn around and claim victimhood the moment he didn't like the things she liked. Not exactly the best of writing, but if the two had been written to talk it out properly instead, it would have made the webcomic so much better.
But we can't have the normies being reasonable here, you see.
Beyond drama bullshit like that, there are tons of one-off bits, like a moronic strawman arc about fake geek girls and the neckbeards who hate on them, being presented in an about as one-sided as possible fashion. No mention of boobie-streamers exploiting thirsty gamers, or shit like that, no. It's the stupid white male neckbeards who are wrong, that's that.
Ok, but that's terrible - how about we make it worse? Let's introduce a fat blue-haired eternally annoying cheerful manic-dream pixie girl who complains about how her mom dislikes her life choices. Considering that her life choices initially appear to be a mix of twinkies and blue hair dye, then... ya. She is introduced as a furry with "Tumblr fanatic" as a personality trait. Mind you, Jodi is but a minor supporting character who shows up in some of the LARPs shown in the webcomic. She even wears the classic "problem glasses" and shows up at the goth club wearing rainbow pompoms because... special snowflake? She brags about bringing her furry fap-fiction to a professional writing workshop because, being an eternally happy-go-lucky moron, she can do no wrong.
But anyway, minor character - but annoying as hell.
However, it's around the time of Jodi's introduction that we also get this event with "Ravenia". For context, that girl had been dating Dustin, the chubby neck-bearded guy in the main cast's gaming group, for quite a while in the webcomic. And yet she just hit on Mark, in full public view. Oh my, oh my, what could this possibly be?
Now, as a plus to the writing, Mark is shown to be quite uncomfortable with cucking his friend, and feels very conflicted about the affection she's showing him. So what's the problem? Well, it's simple: Mark is too much of a normie, because he's never heard of polyamory, aka "I'm a whore who wants multiple boyfriends" as if that's supposed to be socially acceptable.
In true SJW bullshit style, this grand revelation, of course, blows Mark's mind: because the glorious special bullshit sexualities are always better and more interesting than normie straighties. Makes me wonder why there's no gay couple in the webcomic. We even get the term "cis-heteronormativity" dropped. We also learn that Dustin, the chubby guy, actually knows that ravenia dates other people, because he is a nice and progressive cuck.
Now, this reviewer is well aware that using harsh language like this to describe this form of relationships can come off as very mean-spirited - but the webcomic makes the mistake of trying to shove such a lifestyle and relationship style down the reader's throat, as if it's perfectly normal and acceptable. It isn't. Why it's not good- I'll leave to experts to explain why is a bad idea, but I think most people can think of a few reasons why dating multiple people at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, the real-life examples of relationships like that are cringe as fuck. It's just not viable, and the webcomic pushing it as such is akin to Oh Joy Sex Toy trying to push being a cuck as a legit "fetish".
And once that theme of polyamory got introduced into the webcomic, shit just went downhill.
Finally we get to Mark being straight-up openly uncomfortable while dating Ravenia, and half-a-year later, we get the fateful night: the LARP where Ravenia brings yet another dude she's dating along to the event, and we clearly see Mark being very uncomfortable with it, but because shitty writing, he doesn't say anything about it, despite him having been able to talk about relationship issues with his previous girlfriend.
...and of course the third dude is some blue-haired twink we've never seen before and Mark describes him as if he's the vampire from Twilight who, if nothing else, comes off as quite effeminate. Dustin, the fat one, is of course completely cool with Blue-Hair McTwink being there. Even Sarah thinks the new guy is hot, just to hammer home how much of a Gary Stu this fucker is.
Oh, and a point of detail: this twink is the only male character where the cartoonist draws his lips. Basically a much larger degree of effort to make him look sexy.
Then we get another case of Mark's overactive imagination making him think he's seeing Jess; the - by now thoroughly vilified - "evil ex-girlfriend", talking with Ravenia instead of the twink. Mark ends up having a talk with Dustin about this - apparently she's been dating the twink much longer than either of the two main characters - and Dustin, having been well-established as a subservient cuck, seems perfectly okay with that setup for no apparent reason. But Mark? Not so much.
Ugh... going through this arc from start to finish - it's so poorly written. We are shown Mark being uncomfortable with the idea that Ravenia was cheating on Dustin to date him from the get-go, and then even more so when he learns that she's been seeing a third guy for even longer. Makes perfect sense for a normal sound-of-mind human being, but it's Mark who's made out to be the one in the wrong for accepting that his girlfriend is a cheating whore who can't settle for just one boyfriend.
The problem is that we never see Mark actually trying to broach the topic with the girl, unlike with Jess where they did actually talk about these things a few times! The only time there's ever any kind of anything about it is when he lashes out and punches the twink, getting banned from the LARP he was at and ruining his relationship with the girl, because herp-derp normie cannot be into polyamory because herp-derp normie is idiot.
It's so much build-up - but without any "middle section" where we see him trying to talk about it, like what a sane human would do. Instead, we just get him going into a depressive spiral where he blames himself for not being a good cuck who's cool with his girlfriend seeing other people on the side.
Later, at a therapist (because of course it's him who needs therapy), Mark blames daddy issues as the root of his inability to accept the SJW bullshit - because all SJWs have daddy issues, so of course the main character of an SJW-written story must also have daddy issues. We legit get a "hobby that you do in your spare time for fun" being presented as a deeply closeted gay struggling with his sexual identity.
Because being a normie is the wrong state of being, remember? Being a geek is the new normal... but that also means that you have to be down for being a cuck, apparently.
Aaaaaaand, that's pretty much where the webcomic has gotten to so far at the time of this review (early 2020).
It's quite sad: the Ravenia character could have been used so much better, to exemplify the kind of parasitic leeches that do exist in gaming communities. This reviewer, being an old LARPer, knows what he's talking about: not exactly "fake geek girl", but the kind of woman who gravitates to geek communities in search of thirsty men to latch onto and suck dry, knowing that there'll be plenty of lonely geek men to prey on. But the cartoonists here seem hellbent on only ever presenting the geek and gaming community as a pure positive, with no faults of their own. It's only the normies who get to be the bad guys in the webcomic.
It also seem that Alina, the maker of the comic, feels that she's run it into the ground as well, seeing as after all this shit happened, she announced in the started of 2020 that it would be last year of the comic. Hilariously, in that blog post, she claims that all the main characters "Mark, Sarah, Joel, Abbie, and Dustin are archetypes as much as they are people" - to which I would deeply question what kind of archetype she thinks that a "normie who isn't comfortable with polyamory, who is a bad person for that" is? She also openly admits to have changed the focus of the comic, for while the "first chronicle" was all gaming focused, then the second chronicle was, in her words, focused on their "out of game" lives. Oh sure, she promised that the wrap-up to the comic would be satisfying and heartwarming. I'm sure they said the same about Rise of Skywalker.
Update 1: After a hiatus following Mark's meltdown and apparent epiphany at a shrink, we see part of the gang + other side characters playing D&D, when we're suddenly bashed in the head with the notion that Drow are racist charicatures of black people. Because that totally makes sense, right? And on that note, it is apparently extra cruel and racist to make your D&D game revolve around killing dark elves when you have a black person in the group. This insertion of racism into D&D marks a new low for the comic with regards how it otherwise handled D&D quite well in the past. It certainly doesn't bode well for this supposed finale for the comic.
update 2: After that D&D session, Abbie (the author self-insert, important to remember here) is feeling all down and shit. We're then also shown that she'd recently had a falling out with Sarah recently when Sarah had teased Abbie about having a crush on some fictional anime character. During a conversation with the fat furry fuctard character Abbie complains that everyone is encouraging her to date someone, to which the furry suggests that she's aromantic which Abbie denies, but then we get a panel where we're shown Abbie looking at a whole host of various bullshit sexuality terms. And of course she ends choosing one of the stupidest and most meaning-less combos with the even worse argument that its because the flag for it looks cool.
Update 3: Remember the fat furry tumblr-haired woman, the we just saw introduce another character to the tumblr-sexual spectrum? Ya, she apparently also now attends renfair in her fursuit which the other people there really don't like - but fuck them, because a random kid might like a cartoon maskot. This one page perfectly sums up the SJW bullshit of the comic at this point: Screw the dedication and craft for your geeky hobby, rainbow social justice is more important. Never mind the fact that any renfair organizer worth their salt would kick out a joker like this, because if a renfair devolved into fursuits and bullshit then the actors and people who put time and energy into real period accurate gear and garb would stop showing up... and then you'd have a furry con, not a renfair
Never mind the fact that all those bullshit sexuality terms are highly dubious in nature, but for fuck's sake wasn't this comic once about a guy trying to come to terms with his inner geek and love of roleplaying? This is the farthest the comic has ever strayed from its original path - and this review doubts that it'll ever manage to right its course again.
This review will be continually updated upon the conclusion of the comic, or in case something sufficiently stupid pops up.
The webcomic's about page has all the info. Alina is the woman who seems to do all the artwork, and one of the main characters is her author self-insert. She is also a native Canadian Indian. Layne is the editor and such, and that's that when it comes to the webcomic. Layne's brother did the website, and from the looks of it, he did their website fifteen years ago and hasn't touched it since, with much of the comic archive dropdown appearing to not have been updated since mid 2015, strangely around the time the comic truly and utterly went to shit.
The webcomic suffers from wanting to portray every kind of geekdom and fandom as a purely positive thing. Ignoring the few strawman strips and mini-arcs about neckbeards raging against fake geek girls and whatnot, the webcomic fails at showing the reality of geek communities: it's not a singular community, it's a lot of small ones, and they don't always get along. Furry lifestylers, like the one shown in the webcomic, would not be accepted so openly by "normie D&D player"-style geeks. This attempt at trying to portray even the weirdest fringe geekdoms as normal and socially acceptable equally carries over into the webcomic ending up trying to push polyamory on the reader.
While the webcomic isn't anywhere near done at the time of the review, it has most certainly jumped the shark hard with the front-loading of SJW bullshit at this point. This reviewer does not foresee any improvement in the near future. If you stop reading the webcomic around February 2015 in the archive, you'll be pretty 'safe' with regards to the bullshit. Afterwards, shit goes downhill fast. It's never fun to see an otherwise good webcomic turn to shit, and its always worse to see it turn to shit with the cartoonist hailing it as a good thing.
If any kind of grand moral lessons can be drawn from the comic, then this reviewer would argue that it would be these two:
1) Being a geek is ok (Especially now that Marvel movies and capeshit is mainstream now)
2) You still need normie friends who can keep you grounded, so you don't end up thinking that you're the bad guy when your girlfriend wants to sleep with two other guys.