Friday, September 26, 2014

Best Overall: Humor

When I was first starting this project, I decided to base it on The Standard, and thus I went in and reread the first year of Schlock Mercenary.  Then I decided to do something else, and yet, that first year still fit.

In many ways the first year of Schlock really encapsulates the humor of the comic since, let's be clear, it needed it.  Art wise, Schlock wasn't much to look at, to the point that the note block (which I'll talk about more in a bit) for the first strip suggests moving to a strip almost ten years later, just because of the art.

At the same time, there also isn't much story to begin with.  It does build up, but the first month of strips or so are basically one off jokes.  The same goes for the characterization.  While Schlock himself has always been kind of one dimensional, and thus fills in quickly and easily, the rest of the cast lack, well, everything.  It takes years for many of these characters to mature to forms that seem familiar to readers of the current strips, so that first year is pretty devoid of these elements.

Thus the comic must rely on humor to bolster itself, and it obviously worked.  The amazing thing is that the nature of the jokes hasn't changed since that day back in 2000.

The jokes are mostly word plays, snarky replies and the occasional physics joke.  The back and forth commentary is sharp as ever as one reply leads to another.  Ennesby is introduced shortly into the comment and he'll eventually be the avatar for this kind of humor.  Not that the rest of the cast was ever slow on the draw, and really it makes up the bulk of the humor not just of the first year, but of the comic as a whole.

That said, my favorite jokes are the physics ones.  These are typically explained in the "note block" at the bottom of the comic which either explain some obscure backstory element that's necessary to understand the joke, or to spell out the numbers.  And my goodness are the numbers entertaining in Schlock.  Howard manages to break down complex equations and actions and use them to describe, well, a joke.  It's the core of much of the humor I enjoy, you know, given the physics degree on I have on my wall.

Just like Sluggy Freelance, I found the first year much quicker than I would have guessed.  Before the year is out, the Toughs have a new ship, Petey is a force to be reckoned with, teraporting is normal for the team (but not open sourced yet), most of the central cast has been introduced and the underlying background plot for the rest of the comic has been initially established.  What originally felt like years went by quickly, but I suspect that if I did a lot of these re-readings of old comics, this would likely be normal.

And yes, the humor is well established.  There will be more polish later on as Howard got better and better at writing the jokes, but for the most part the essence really didn't change much.  I think that first year really lets the humor outshine everything else, and shows how the comic really established itself early, and once the ball got rolling on the other fronts, the readers were set to stay for the long haul.

Next time, Story.  Until then kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment