Monday, August 14, 2006

A Fairly Twisted Reality, by Trebor Almasy, is an incredibly flawed comic. If it’s not the art, it’s the writing. If it’s not specifically either, it’s a one-two punch combination of both. Almasy’s art is heavy on the black lines, and his writing is either constructed so consciously offensive that he forgets the punchline altogether, or the joke is so basic and simple that the punchline is hard to find because it’s so obvious.

Critiquing the art is especially difficult due to the author’s insistence on “re-drawing” earlier entries in the archive as “Special Editions” (or “SE’s” in the title of the archived strip). On the one hand, who wouldn’t want to replace the earlier, poorly-drawn-by-comparison-to-the-newer-stuff comics with the updated art? But on the other hand, a typical web cartoonist’s art is constantly improving, so trying to replace earlier art is a Sisyphean effort, as the comics you redraw end up as older art you’ll eventually want to replace again: there’s simply no end in sight. Instead, Almasy is better off concentrating on the latest strips and letting his past serve as reminders of how far he’s come.

Since his old, middle, and new styles are so intertwined, I may as well critique them as they come. Almasy has a big problem with necks, seen prominently in what I assume was his beginning art style. The characters necks are nearly the same thickness as their heads. And yet, he has yet to have a single bodybuilder in his comic. While the neck size improves with his latest style, you can see in his newer comics, the “bodybuilder neck” shows itself when he tries a flat, profile view of the characters.

In other art problems, Almasy joins the ranks of early Christian and Byzantine artists in drawing children as tiny men. That, and I found it interesting that although his art typically his art improves with his later styles, but he did a better job drawing a vagina in his earliest style than he did when he was farther along.

While the art improves along the course of the comic's archive, the writing does not. On the very surface, Almasy’s writing suffers from some really simple spelling and grammar problems. For example, it’s confounding how he spells “Abstinence” correctly in this strip’s title, but not in the strip itself!

But, that instance pales in comparison to this comic. Go on, read the first panel. I’ll wait.

Finished? Good. Almasy? Would it be so hard to do a quick re-read of your own script before you upload the comic? You’re making the dumbest of mistakes, like using “to” instead of “too,” and forgetting r’s for “your.” This is simple stuff!

Spelling and grammatical errors aside, Almasy’s strips come in two flavors: extremely convoluted, or stupendously simple. And then, sometimes the comic comes flavorless, without any punchline at all.

Then, when it's not specifically the art or the writing's fault, there are some severe technical issues with specific strips. Hell, “Johnny Thunder” could be a CSI episode with its biggest problem: the exit bullet’s trajectory doesn’t align with the entrance wound.

There’s only one reason for this… another shooter. Actually, more likely he wanted the bullet to leave between the eyes, but if he did that the bullet would only skim across the top-most part of the skull. But, if we went for the more satisfying “back of the head” shot, the bullet would exit the mouth, which isn’t as picture-esque.

It’s really sad that these techincal problems weigh down these specific strips so much. Take this comic, for example. I like this joke, I honestly do. But in the last panel, with the truck so prominently displaying its logo/slogan, it distracts the reader from the punchline, splitting their attention from the far funnier matter at hand, which is the man being run over. Sure, trucks have logos. But with the way the logo’s so far up in the front of the truck (as opposed to the middle of the truck, which extends past the panel), it’s painfully obvious Almasy wanted to weigh down the strip with another dildo joke.

I could go on and give more attention to more flawed strips in the archive, but I think you get the picture. While it's clear from the archives that Almasy's art is getting better as he goes along, his writing has not improved. Jokes are inherently flawed in their structure and payoff. He has great ambitions in his ideas, but they often fall flat in that he doesn't think out each comic's logistics before comitting them to paper, so to speak. Almasy would be best to read through an archive of a more successful "professional" strip, be it in print such as "FoxTrot," or online like "PvP." While they might be bland to his tastes, their jokes have a very clear structure with a definite set-up and punchline, something AFTR lacks severely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go fuck a dog. that's what I would do right now.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sleep with mice.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Doggy ran away. :(

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is my doggy?

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I found him.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nevermind, that's my dick.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh well, I enjoy the strips even if you don't. I make mistakes too, and my art is crap, but bleh to that and bleh to negativity.


1:40 PM  
Blogger Ethan said...

Well, now that Smeep is done.

Ya, go fuck a dog.

I mean it in the nicest of ways.


3:23 PM  
Blogger Shlikith said...

I like to eat cake.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I only read the bit about the bullet trajectory. It depends on the calibur of the bullet. It is not uncommon for some bullets to rattle around inside the skull and have seemingly bizzare exit wounds. Just FYI.


9:53 PM  

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