Monday, July 03, 2006

Random Moments, by Kristian Correa, provides exactly that: disjointed comics ending in one unseen event after another. Yet, for all the “didn’t see that coming’s,” not one comic out of over 120 did I find appealing in the slightest.

Initially, I didn’t understand why I didn’t find this comic funny. Then I figured it out.

Random Moments is the bastard child of Penny Arcade and Control-Alt-Delete. Their art is unmistakably influenced by Penny-Arcade, and their humor, whether they know it or not, smacks with CAD-level “punchlines” (and by that, I mean the lack of). Rather than craft a joke, Random Moments instead resorts to none-too-clever insults, uninspired violence (or threats of), or an abstract sentence to stamp a conclusive “The End” onto the strip.

RM prides itself on the “random moments” it’s named for, but after so many “hilarious” non-sequitors, you start realizing that there’s no real humor behind them. Hell, the “random moments” ruin most of themselves out of their sheer inanity.

The comic takes a lot of art cues from Penny-Arcade. However, whether or not RM realizes it is unknown. They make references to PA, but not on the subject of the similarity of the art. All the same, after seeing Gabe’s art transition and improve over the years, to read what is essentially a PA art-clone is to let yourself down after every strip. “Hey, this looks pretty good… except that I’ve already seen it improve in Penny-Arcade.”

Random Moments simply has no idea how to execute a good strip. Here are examples of RM comics (bad), and other comics with similar jokes, but with better executions (good):

Old game jokes
RM: "Goodwill Goodness"
PA: "Call Upon Holy Might"

The Unemployed
RM (panel 3): "Monkeys Love Ben"
Medium Large: "(untitled)"

Random creature attacks
RM (panel 4):"Monkeys Love Ben"
PA: "Arthropodal Adventures"

To get into more detail, here are some specific entries that caught my attention:

"A Daily Shower, an Effective Spermicide"
I don’t understand this comic. Three characters are all doing their own thing. Character A is using the toilet. Character B, 20 miles away in another shower, is wanking. Character C is supposedly made to resemble Alex Guiness in his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Then, Character A flushes the toilet, Character B orgasms, and Character C yells out Guiness’s famous line, “it’s as if a million voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced,” all the while blocking the water coming from the showerhead, insinuating the water has suddenly spiked in temperature.

I don’t have any clue what happened. The comic is relying on the idea that all the events are “Coincidence? I think not.” But how are the first and last panels are connected? Is Character C in Character A’s restroom? That’s the only way Character A’s toilet flush would impact Character C’s shower temperature. And yet, there’s no mention of Character A’s and C’s interpersonal housing relationship, nor could there be within a singular stand-alone 5 panel strip. All the same, there’s no connection between Panels 1 and 5, rendering the whole comic confusing on such a basic level.

"Voted Out of Reality"
Out of 6 panels, 1-4 are spent with a miscellaneous “extra’ character listening through headphones to a Beyoncé song in the library. I don’t exactly know what the “click” sound is supposed to mean, but I think it’s that the extra character is rewinding the song to hear to the same chorus over and over. In the 5th panel, a random African-American woman runs into the frame and snaps the extra character’s neck, while one of the strip’s main characters, present all along, watches in horror. Ignoring the 6th panel punchline, which is dull enough, the strip fails for two reasons. One of which is that the random African-American character that ran in to snap the girl’s neck was Beyoncé herself, supposedly. However, because the Author’s artwork is crude, the famous Beyoncé was indiscernible from any other character. Besides, why would Beyoncé be upset with a character listening to her song? I don’t understand it. Honestly, if it had been a random character running in the comic would have be much more comprehendible, as a random character carries with it far less dependencies on logic. Hell, it could’ve been anyone but Beyoncé for the strip to make sense.

The second reason it doesn’t work is because music doesn’t work in comic strips. Songs in strips don't work for the simple reason that the average reader can only go on text and lyrics, making it that much harder for the average reader to understand a joke heavily dependent on sound, which for its obvious reasons cannot be rendered in text alone.

"Mind Wanderings"
When I first read this comic, I thought it was funny. Of course, that was before I read the last speech bubble. In the comic, Character A is interviewing a man. The man’s words become phased out as the strip progresses, as Character A’s imagination is running wild, and the end result is that the man turns into Raphael, from the Ninja Turtles. What sparked this? Was this another pure "random moment," or was there something I had missed? Indeed, when I went back to the beginning of the comic, the man’s name was “Raphael.” Having to go back to figure out the comic might sound laborious, but instead, it was a refreshing change of pace. This was one of the few comics that didn’t try to hammer itself into your head for you to get the joke. Instead, I had to decipher a joke, making the effort enhance the comics humor.

But like I said, I hadn’t read the last speech bubble. Reading that last bubble, I realized the joke doesn’t hammer itself into your head… it kicks you in the fucking face to make sure you understand why it’s supposed to be funny.

Featuring Never Before Seen Characters!"
How is the second panel character a ghost? Because he has small splashes of purple goo around his hat? How does that make him a ghost? Then, the 3rd panel consists solely of a closeup shot of the female characters breasts.

What.

There is no point to this strip. It starts off as a parody/takeoff/whatever of VH1s “I Love the 80s” series, almost in a direction of “Please stop making these series VH1,” but then the strip loses track of its own thoughts and ends with breasts.

Why.

Is it because the author’s proud of his own art skills for him to render bosoms in a digital cartoon strip? Is it because the character of Kris is based off of a friend and this is same vague inside joke between them? The strip doesn’t explain a damned thing and is better off not existing.

"How Every Porn Starts"
If the last panel of the previous VH1 was a celebration of his artistic ability to draw female breasts, he may want to hold off on that.

"A Night Out With the Fruit of the Loom Gang"
Can’t think of a funny way to end the strip? Use the Family Guy method and end with a character expressing a desire for mind-altering substances!

"Family Friendly"
So much set-up, so little result. The strip is ruined by how the final panel is clearly a blown-up gif, which clashes entirely with the cartoony style the author’s working in. The clash between the two removes the reader from the strip entirely with the realization that the strip is only a strip.

"Special Bonus Comic"
Likewise the same case for the next strip. Hey! No need to put effort into drawing something… just use an image from the internet and save yourself the precious time it would take to run a decent comic!

It’s especially worse for this strip since even the arrows in the 4th panel have a pixellated quality to them.

"People Watching"
Second panel. Stolen line from Futurama, or Futurama homage? You decide the fine line.

"Golfing Buddies"
… the fuck? Two comics in one archive slot, the second of which being a diced-up and re-pasted version of the first. And isn’t it great how the cyborg character’s head plate switches from his right to his left side? Yeah, it’s not obvious you took the last panel of the first comic and reversed it to become the first panel of the second comic. Oh no, not at all.

***

To be fair, after the "Golfing Buddies" strip, it seemed as though RM reached a point where it wanted to be. The art was certainly improving (although still too PA-heavy to really be something to remark upon), and the jokes progressed logically from “setup” to “punchline” (unlike "A Daily Shower, an Effective Spermicide")… however, no strip really caught my attention nor would I call any of them actually “funny.”

If you like CAD, you’ll probably enjoy this comic. That’s not an insult nor an attempted witticism, it’s merely truth. Their humor styles are very similar, and it’s probably for that very reason I don’t find it appealing in the least.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAVE YOU GOT AIDS AND DIED YET CAUSE THAT WOULD BE FUNNY, UNLIKE YOUR BLOG.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Kris said...

As one of the characters/friends in Kristian's comic, you should understand that this comic is done soley for his friends. The jokes are inside jokes made between us, and many of the comics themselves are influenced by stories told to Kristian by his friends.

As for the Golf Buddies comics being similar, if you had read the news before them, you would've seen that Kristian drew the panels and two of our friends wrote different text for them. So he's not just redrawing the same comic or flipping panels, they were "fill-in-the-blank" comics because Kristian wanted to see what his friends could come up with.

Is it because the author’s proud of his own art skills for him to render bosoms in a digital cartoon strip? Is it because the character of Kris is based off of a friend and this is same vague inside joke between them? The strip doesn’t explain a damned thing and is better off not existing.

Again, if you had read anything on Kristian's page, you would know that all of these characters are based on real people. I am Kris, and yes, it is an inside joke between my friends, which is why the comic is that way. The comics are written for Kristian's friends to enjoy, and all of them know me and know the inside joke, so it's not vague. And since when are webcomics supposed to explain anything? Kristian writes his comic to amuse his friends, and it works. So if you don't like it, don't read it. You don't know any of us in real life, so that's why you wouldn't find the comic amusing.

But to take another person's work and say it shouldn't exist is ridiculous. Who the hell are you to say Kristian shouldn't be drawing this comic? Last time I checked, God didn't have a blog. And if he did, he wouldn't spend his time bitching about comics he knows nothing about. It's not like Kristian is spending time raping puppies or eating babies, he's drawing a webcomic to amuse his friends. So you have no right to say what a person should or shouldn't do. That is the most offensive thing in your post.

Normally if I see something I don't like, I'll stop looking at it. I don't continue to look at it, and take notes on it, so that later I can share my hatred with the world wide web. If after reading the first few comics you weren't amused, you should've just opened a different page in your web browser and moved on with your life. I don't see the point in you writing such a negative post when you could've just moved on with your life and found something better to waste your time on.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the epitome of hypocrisy. You not only go incredibly far out of your way to rip apart someone elses work, but you do so when you yourself are author of an absolutely awful comic.

All your blog post proves:

(a) You are stupid. You cannot even understand simple jokes relating to water temperature while showering. Have you never showered before in your life? If you said no, I would believe you.

(b) You are lazy. You did not even bother to read the posts corresponding to comics that would have explained things you are complaining about. Disliking something and expressing that is not a bad thing. Doing so while being uneducated on the subject is.

Conclusion: You are an arrogant untalented prick and you should stop polluting the internet with your useless opinion and garbage flash comics.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Carzorthade said...

Good points, Kris. Knowing all that, I do respect that he’s making the comics for himself and his friends. But, regardless of who the comic’s intended for, it’s available to everyone on the internet, and therefore means he’s subject to criticism from all angles.

Besides, claiming that he’s making the comic just for his friends isn’t true, considering that he’s advertised RM on SMBC, which is how I found the comic to begin with. Advertising means he’s actively looking for more people to read the strip… people that aren’t his friends, nor know anything about him.

“You don't know any of us in real life, so that's why you wouldn't find the comic amusing.”

Exactly.

As far as arguing that if I didn’t like it, I should just stop reading it and move on, shouldn’t you do the same? If you didn’t like my critique, why didn’t you move on? Aren’t you telling me what I should and shouldn’t do?

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Kris said...

I left a suggestion for you. Just like I suggested to you that if you didn't like the comic you should've stopped reading it, I followed my own advice. I tried a few of your comics, didn't find them funny, and moved on. I didn't go write a long tirade about it on my blog.

And yes, he's advertising now. Because he is trying to take his comics outside of just our group of friends. But even with the comic headed in that direction, the archives are still a lot of inside jokes, that's not going to change. And since he's started advertising, there have been quite a few new readers who have left positive feedback on it, and none of these people know our group of friends.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For someone who did not find said comic to be entertaining, for that is the purpose of a comic, you spent an absurd amount of time going through the ENTIRE archive and wait, not just reading, but DISSECTING to the most philosophical level every pane. You are amazingly hypocritical for anyone to take you seriously. And I quote, "Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but you're a total bitch."

8:29 AM  
Blogger DeJinn said...

It amuses me how some people think that spending an entire afternoon reading the full archives of a mediocre comic just so that he can write valid criticism about it is somehow intellectually lacking.

It's called research. Maybe you'd like the comic to be judged on only the latest strip? Maybe a storyline or two? Oh wait I've got it, maybe you'd like criticism about the best strip in your archive! Or how about only good criticism without any insight whatsoever!

From what I understand this is a webcomics blog. As such it's intent is to praise comics (Gone With The Blastwave, Cheshire Crossing) or blast them (Case in point...).

Either way it's Carzor's blog and he's entitled to write about whatever he wants.

You should be thankful for getting free traffic sent your way (Maybe people saw yuor comics and thought "Well maybe they aren't that bad), and for not getting a review that says "OMG THIS SUXXORZ!!11!!1!", but rather a well written critique on your work.

Suck it up.

And you're right Kris. Webcomics should not explain themselves anywhere. Which surprises me why you wrote a reply to this blog in the first place.

I am also quite amused at people calling other people "hipocrites" while leaving comments as "anonymous".

Personally I'm glad you've been getting positive feedback from readers. I'm just left wondering if you even are aware that bad criticism can be used in your favour as well.

You botched it this time though.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to hear that Random Moments is intended for friends of the author only, regardless of whether or not it's true. I was very upset before, believing that someone would publish something so consistently disappointing. I felt it deprecated the human race as a whole. Now though, I realize that the comic only deprecates a very tiny portion of the human population. Thank you, Kris. You've restored my faith in humanity. Well, most of it anyway.

- Reader of RM.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other anonymous person, what is that "total bitch' quote from? I keep thinking High Fidelity, but I know that's not right.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Gregg said...

It's from Family Guy, Stewie said it.

7:39 AM  

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