What's Normal Anyway?
|Original review author:||webkilla in November 2021|
|Forum Discussion Threads:||link|
|Webcomic name:||What's Normal Anyway?|
|Start Date:||2010 something|
|End Date:||2014 something|
|Genre:||SJW gender-blog comic|
|Defining Flaw:||About as funny as Hannah Gadsby (Hint: She isn't) and boring as hell while also being endlessly self-congratulatory.|
This was one of many found during the reviewer's work on Validation. Trans comics linking to trans comics, this one was just added to the list of future reviews.
Story & Plot & writing
So... first up, and this is fairly important for this review: In the "about" section, it states that this comic is NOT an autobiography. Sure, the cartoonist is a trans-man, just like the main character, but by the cartoonists own admission then his own life isn't as exciting as that of the trans-man main character of this comic.
Let that stew for a moment, and then factor in that this comic is by absolutely no means interesting or exciting either. This can clearly be seen via the first page, where you quickly get the vibe that normal people do not talk like that, and this comic is one of those where the main characters sexuality and gender identity are his only character traits. You can turn this around and point out the hypocrisy of this page in context of the comic's title: Because if the whole point of the comic is to question or challenge what are normal gender norms and whatnot, then why spend the entire first page of the comic rigidly trying to conform to gender norms (aside from the dancing bit)
It's a serious case of very mixed messages. If identify as male, must you then adhere to male norms? It is rather impressive to see a trans-webcomic fail on its very first page like this. It presents the act of being trans as being oddly performative, which sadly only gives more reasons for people who dislike trans people to believe they're not natural. This leads on to how unnatural the dialogue is:
The dialogue isn't much to write home about, with gems like 'lesbian bias' or lines that read like Tumblr posts. There are also the by now common trans-comic tropes of therapist who isn't understanding/supporting, or just general therapist cringe, or being over-the-top ecstatic about finally getting hormones and usual trying to bust the gender binary or people who haven't quite gotten the message that she is a he now, or the always riveting looking for a job. There are also a few of the usual comics about how unfair it is that people can't instantly identify my gender, despite still having boobs at that point.
This comic is a parade of sighs and eye-rolls. There is no real plot, beyond the fictitious slice of life of this trans-man and his exceptionally boring life. Do you wanna hear about how the hormones are making him get a hair ass? No? Well, sucks to be you! This comic very much so another fine example of a wannabe-activist comic that seems to be all about flaking out at minor inconveniences that even normal people get, but presenting them as something unique to trans people, like looking for a job, or feeling a bit awkward in a locker room full of naked men, or getting one's first workout high. These are incredibly mundane and boring events. Similarly, after the comic goes over the main character and his boyfriend getting top-surgery (read: boobs removed) the cartoonist goes into ghoulish levels of detail when it comes to describing the post-surgery discomfort, the bruising, the draining of the fluids, and generally how fucking nasty the whole after-care process is until the wounds heal up completely. It's shit like that which makes people go "Eww trans", not because of a phobia, but because trans-morons like this cartoonist seem to think that by putting crap like this on display is ok. Trust me, normal people do NOT put their own surgery scars and the draining of fluids on display for all to see, because that shit is nasty. Comics like this just give fuel to people who don't like trans people, because it's like looking at a pig in a dress for them, or a patch-quilt monster that claims to be a man. Here's a protip from an actual human biological male: Men suck it up, we do not talk about shit like that, because it makes you look weak and pathetic. Welcome to masculinity, here's your beer and bacon.
Now consider: The cartoonist said that his life is - by comparison to what's on display in the comic - a lot more boring. Makes me feel sad for the poor soul, because holy shit that must have been really boring. This reviewer pities this cartoonist.
Sure, there are some minor arcs - like getting a boyfriend or reconciling with the parents - but they seem so painfully cookie-cutter that there's nothing worth talking about with those arcs, other than pointing out the amazingly bad and stilted dialogue. This shit either needs a laugh track, or I need to chug more bleach.
The saddest thing about the comic's writing and story is that the comic basically ends with a 13 page prequel mini-arc that functions as a prequel, all about how Melissa the girl tried to come out as Mel the boy - because its the single longest coherent story in the comic, and while the resolution isn't exactly much of a surprise, then if the rest of the comic had at least had that kind of coherent narrative and storyline, instead of mainly being exceedingly unfunny gag-a-day shit, then the comic might just have been inoffensive enough not to warrant a review.
The simple hand-drawn art style works for most of the time, but compare the woman in the fourth panel on the left to the same character on the very last page of the comic - as shown below as well. The character apparently went full herpaderp, as did most of the other people around her apparently. The style itself is all black and white line-art with some basic bitch shading. Proportions are usually odd or wonky, many times limbs are curved rather than bending at joints like they are supposed to. Just look at the picture below, and tell me that those faces look like anything other than drugged out zombies. Then again, the comic is mostly just talking heads, with the occasional arm for gesturing.
Some trans-man by the name of Morgan Boecher according to what's linked in the comic's about page.
For a webcomic that claims to be all about challenging what it means to be normal, it really... doesn't. I think at best Morgan could be congratulated for having invented a written form of sleeping medicine, because holy shit this was boring to read through. This reviewer is quite frankly disappointed at how uninteresting this comic was.
Considering that this was most likely an attempt to score pity party points for having the most sympathetic disability, trying to make oneself out to be the most pitiful thing ever, so that loads of people will throw pity-bucks at your Patreon, because if you don't, you're clearly transphobic. Oh ya, that's the one saving grace of this comic: This reviewer never noticed that term - transphobic - while reading the comic, and there similarly was never any kind of arc about trying to date a normie and then getting rejected because of being trans. That would just have been too cliche.