Friday, December 16, 2011

Not So Wild Review: Sinfest

Since I don't want to spend time recreating a post that blogger ate, I guess I'll do a Not So Wild Review.


I read a lot of comics, and as I've said before, I divide them into 4 categories:  Novel, Epic, Adventure and Classic/Daily comics.  Usually I have one or two ideas of what each entails, a prototype for the category.  Sinfest is the prototype for the Classic one.

Once upon a time, Tatsuya Ishida, the comic's artist, wanted to get Sinfest into newspapers.  I think he was rejected about 15 times or so, enough that he said screw it and dedicated himself to the webcomic.  I think that was probably a good thing as the comic syndicates would likely have demanded it be neutered and all the humor of the comic would have been lost.  Sinfest doesn't have an overarching story, but does have character development.  There are no "adventures" but things happen over the course of the comic.

But let's get down to the review portion and start talking about it.


The two main characters are Slick and Monique, but even then, the secondary cast has taken a lot larger role in recent years.  For a comic that is built on short story arcs and daily jokes, however, the various characters develop over the life of the comic.  Slick once wanted to be a pimp, but is he really?  Yes, he still has some of those traits, but he's a much better character than he once was.  Monique has done much the same, questioning her own appeal and, very recently, going for a more androgynous look to try do define herself.

Calling the rest the "secondary cast" is hard, though, as they span quite a variety and get reasonable amounts of time.  Li'l E currently is getting a chance to reexamine his life while the Devil seems to be tracking his movements.  Fuchsia, a devil girl, walks out of her job with the Devil to pursue her love for Criminy, a boy who loves books.  Even Squigley, the over eating, pot smoking pig, got a whole storyline where he wondered around as a hobo.  None of these characters are quite what they used to be at the start of the strip (well, God is still a bit of a dick).  At the same time, they are, fundamentally, the same people.  Reading a strip from early on and then fast forwarding to the present isn't as much a jarring change as you would think, though it would leave more than a few questions.


There are no adventures in this comic really.  There are stories, but they rarely go very far and wide.  Squigley's adventures as a hobo are about as close to a full fledged adventure as the comic ever got, and even then it wasn't quite what would classify as an adventure in comics of the type.  There are no great villains running around (the Devil doesn't count), or quests to undertake.  These are people living relatively normal daily lives, well as normal as having a Reality zone next door, the Devil playing basketball with Jesus, books that attack people and 2010 pulling a Themal and Louise vs Death.

All that sounds exciting, but they are only loosely connected.  The comic isn't about the adventures, it's about the characters and their common foibles.  Sex, drugs, religion, pop culture, popularity and even love all appear in one form or another and the individual vignettes that pepper the strip help to explore them.


Sinfest is, at it's heart, a daily joke comic.  Nearly every strip is punctuated by some kind of joke or twist.  Slapstick is rare, but it happens, and almost never is there a pun involved.  The jokes aren't more about setting up the moment and delivering in the next up.  It's an interesting pacing for this kind of comic as the set up is often as funny as the punchline, if not funnier.  Honestly, as time has gone on, the comic has felt less funny to me, and more insightful than it probably has any right to be.  Laugh out loud moments in Sinfest are kind of rare, but there's almost always a bit of a chuckle to be had.

And when things get too intense, Tatsuya pulls out Percy and Pooch and runs a week worth of strips featuring them.  In a way, they represent a more conventional kind of comic, jokes built around a dog and cat and their interactions with each other, their owner and their limited world.  These moments provide a light moments that are almost always funny, especially from a pet owners perspective.  Kind of like how Garfield USED to be in it's nature.


Comparing the early strips to the later ones really isn't that huge of a leap.  Oh, the earlier strips are cruder, but the basic characters are fairly well defined.  The big difference is shading, as in there's a lot of it in the modern strip as opposed to the early days.  The characters have gotten smoother and more streamlined, and the art has improved, but I wouldn't call the differences radical.  More like a well practiced hand at work.  The art is very good, and stands out even more with the color Sunday strips where Tatsuya gives himself more space to work with.  There are details that aren't detailed, but you can see them well enough.  Once in a while he'll do a calligraphy strip that shows line and form merging from a regular image into a written character (I assume it's Chinese, but I don't know for sure).


Sinfest is one of those comics I've come to expect to just BE there.  And as the comic has evolved from a straight up daily joke comic into what it is now, I find myself enjoying it more and more.  I haven't always felt that way, but even in writing this review I found that I really like this strip much more than even I thought I did.  It's a good comic and one that deserves to be read, long term or short.

Until next time kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment