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Eric: I have this horrible feeling this is all supposed to be symbolic, too.

(From Sluggy Freelance! Click on the thumbnail for full sized comfy chair.)

Okay, I admit it. I'm just not getting this. At all. Even a little.

First off, I have no fucking idea what's going on any more. And please understand, this is not a request for explanations -- my point is, I've read every Sluggy Freelance every day for years. I know the Sluggy backstory pretty damn well. I can theorize about Oasis and detail demonic incursions and discuss holiday destruction with the best of them.

But this? I don't get this at all.

The problem is, he opened with an entirely new cast, featuring a cute scientist babe in a jumpsuit. I was in favor of this, because dude -- cute scientist babe in a jumpsuit. She then jumped into Nonspace and saw Herne the Hunter or something and then....

...um....

Now we have another new cast, only none of them are cute anything babes. We have next to no reason to care about any of them. And we have Bun Bun.

Bun Bun.

The joke has officially worn thin enough that teenaged girls wearing said joke would be sent home to change, lest they inspire lustful thoughts in the parts of Chem teachers. Bun Bun is a cute widdle bunny who's a deadly killer. We get it. We just have no reason to care any more. Ooo! Bun Bun managed to take over a flotilla of pirate ships in nonspace! And Bun Bun's still a casual bastard. Whoooooooooo....

Whatever. The last time I was interested in a Bun Bun adventure on its own merits was when he had amnesia. The Holidays Wars I enjoyed on a visceral level because I could accept the pseudomythology going on. Here, we just don't have any reason to care.

It's been easy to tell myself it doesn't matter that I don't care about -- or can name -- any of the new cast members, because I still find myself laughing. More and more rarely, but Abrams knows how to execute a joke in a strip, still. Today's "comfy chair" line is a case in point. That's actually funny.

I just can't for the life of my remember why the pirates are breaking in in the first place, despite having read it just a few days ago. If I reread the relevant bits right now, ten minutes from now it'd be gone again.

I miss Torg. I miss Zo‘. I miss Riff. My God do I miss Aylee.

I'm still here. Abrams has earned that much. But the strip's slid into the "Why do I read this strip again?" category, and that's not good. Not because Abrams will care if he loses me, but because I've actually been one of the holdouts where Sluggy is concerned.

On the other hand, "Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days" has been excellent, so far.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 22, 2005 1:45 PM

Comments

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 22, 2005 2:10 PM

Thank you. This needed to be snarked.

I want so badly for Sluggy to return to the olden days. I want so badly to start reading Sluggy again. I want so badly for it to be Torg and Zoe and Gwynn and all the rest of the gang... for it to be zany adventures and playing Playstation 2 and occasional Oasis and other such stuff...

I don't want Sluggy Freelance to be on my "You Had Me But You Lost Me" list. But until it improves... until it gets out of the clouds and returns to what's important and STOPS JERKING THE FANS AROUND... I'm not going to read.

Except for Saturdays. Because the Riot Grrl Scouts is amusing and fun. ;)

Robert A. Howard, Tangenting across the Internet

Comment from: JoeFF85 posted at March 22, 2005 2:17 PM

I love Sluggy. It was my cherry webcomic. I'm a Sluggite. I used to spec in Sluggy Related Chat. I used to vie for 'first post' in Reactions. I still run and participate in RPGs in FRPG and GRPG.

But I don't really feel this storyline either. Cute scientist babe was OK. But then, as a friend of mine said "WTF Spacemoose?" happened. ANd now we have Bun Bun, who has no character development whatsoever, and annoyingly inneffectual aliens, and Cow-lick (I can't remember his actual name) the first mate, and other-pirate-captain guy.

However I think I can at least guess whats going on. Bun Bun wants to find a map to an alien ship, so he can leave tiemless space. These space-moose dudes wither have the map, or know where it is. ALso: some other as-yet-unseen captain guy is capturing peopkle so he can use force to set up some method of having renewable time in timeless space.

I think. But I don't care. I also want the main cast back.

Comment from: jrleek posted at March 22, 2005 2:31 PM

This sluggy storyline reminds me of a SciFi shortstory. In general, in a short story you don't have much time to develop characters or a lot of background. This means that character driven stories and event based stories are both pretty much right out. So, SciFi shortstories nearly always come down to one central "idea" that is being presented. In sluggy's case, I think this is a milieu story. It's interesting only insofar as the enviornment is interesting. It's not really about the characters, which is unsual for a sluggy storyline. Since most people read sluggy for the characters, most people are going to find the storyline boring. Initally I did as well, but now I'm enjoying it as a milieu story. It's not sluggy, but I'm enjoying it anyway.

Comment from: augustusGloop posted at March 22, 2005 2:36 PM

Hi, I found this site last week and have to say that you're filling a great need in webcomics. Thank goodness it's someone like you and not someone more mean-spirited.

I had to register to comment on this because Sluggy is one of my loves too. That said, I've been reading it long enough that there have been SEVERAL times where I lost interest and it seemed like it had lost its touch. The period between DDA and TWR is an example. All the "Leo", "Kent" storylines were blah. Even the Sam storyline wasn't really that interesting or funny.

But the amazing thing about Sluggy is that unlike other webcomics that lost my interest, Sluggy has always bounced back. There just seems to be so much STUFF in it that each storyline can almost be treated separately.

Regarding the current story, I actually don't mind it that much. I'm actually somewhat anti-Bun Bun, and have only liked ONE of his solo stories. The Easter Bunny, North pole, Santa feud storylines were always periods of boredom for me, until Pete surprised me with Holiday Wars.

In that context, I'd actually rank "Oceans Unmoving" as second on my list of Bun Bun Stories. Behind Holiday Wars, but above things like "Goldfinger", or the story with the mech-Easter bunny.

I'd also rank Oceans Unmoving as above "Gofotron". Remember that phase? That was a LONG dull period of Sluggy.. at least at the time. Amazingly, it doesn't seem so bad when you go back and read it in the archives.

Or how about the Harry Potter stories? (the second was better than the first, but still..)

In any case, I just wanted to share that I've been through disappointments with Sluggy before, so I understand how you feel.

But on the grand scale of things, I seem to always end up coming back to Sluggy and being thankful that Pete has managed to keep it fresh and different for SUCH a LONG TIME!

The only difference in this case is that Pete left us with the relational cliffhanger between Torg and Zoe.. maybe that's why people are reacting so much more impatiently?

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at March 22, 2005 2:38 PM

In a nutshell: Pete wants to do an entirely different strip for a while. There's NOTHING about Bun-Bun's role in this that requires Bun-Bun be used, he's just putting the psycho-lop into the position so that he can still call it Sluggy Freelance and keep most of his audience around.

Comment from: Senji posted at March 22, 2005 3:02 PM

On the contrary, sluggy has me right now more than it has done for a while (That Which Redeems had me almost as much).

On the other hand, it is going a little slowly...

Comment from: Quellan posted at March 22, 2005 3:03 PM

Well, there is the possibility of Bun-Bun rejoining the main cast. Indeed, I thought that was the whole point of this arc. Other than that I'd be forced to agree, and I'd probably like the arc better if he wasn't captain. Of course I loathe Bun-Bun.

Also, I've found Sluggy strips to be better read in bunches, and I've been wondering if it's not better just to drop Sluggy for a month and then re-read that archives. I'm only reading it as a result of inertia anyhow.

Comment from: Pooga posted at March 22, 2005 3:07 PM

I'm not exactly surprised to see this Snark. I actually kind of expected it a few weeks ago. What I am a little surprised at is the timing.

To me, it looks at this point like things are about to be tied back together again. Last we saw of cute scientist babe, she was trying to escape the Neckties of the Future with "the apparatus", aka, a real-time map of the universe with other strange properties and was apparently attacked by a space moose while slipping into another dimension. Bun-Bun's crew is about to steal the "Map of All Things" from two Caribs (space moose. space mooses? space meese?) and a human. That ties those two together.

And last we left the "real" Sluggy cast, it was opening a box containing an "apparatus" of Riff's. At the time, I was honestly pleased with a break from the regular cast, despite their being gone so long during TWR. The back-at-home strips really weren't working well, and the clone-sharks plotline was almost annoyingly bad. I feel Pete's gotten back into the groove in the last few weeks. He seems to be gettting things in place to tie the OU prologue into the Bun-Bun chapter. I'd be surprised if he didn't tie it back to the main cast story shortly after.

Is it confusing? Marginally. The filler strip gaps have played with the pacing, but it's not as complex as some sci-fi story concepts I've seen. Plus, the strip navigation tools make it fairly easy to refresh your memory on who's who and what's what. As a counter-example, in CRFH when Dave was recently captured, it took me literally days to figure out who this guy was, how he knew Dave or why he'd want to tie him up. Since I couldn't remember which plotline he was last in, and couldn't jump around the archive looking at a week here and a week there, I was lost. Even now, while I have a vague recollection of him, I forget the details of the story or how it was resolved exactly.

I'd have to agree with agustusGloop. While this is not the greatest Sluggy slory ever, it's FAR from the low point in the series. Pete did have a rough patch there before (and just at the beginning of) Oceans Unmoving where he wasn't doing a good job Bringing either the Story or the Funny, but it's been flowing better and making more sense each week for some time now. That's why I'm surprised to see this now.

Comment from: Robotech_Master posted at March 22, 2005 3:12 PM

Well, from Stu's remarks yesterday—"two caribs and a human" "map machine"—I think we'll at least be seeing the cute scientist babe again soon.

This kind of points out one of the problems with the daily story strip format—even using heaps of dialogue, you're still limited to telling the story in bite-size chunks. Which means that if a story takes a long time to tell, you risk losing the audience along the way.

I'm actually enjoying this storyline. But then, I've always kind of liked Bun-Bun, in a J.R.-Ewing-with-lop-ears sort of way.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 22, 2005 3:14 PM

Pooga -- if I sat down, strip by strip, and thought about them all, I'm sure I could have pieced that together too.

My point is... I just don't care. I don't care about the first mate, or the other ship's captain, or those aliens, or Bun Bun, or the people in the hold. I don't care about anyone at all. I don't care if this is Bun Bun's first trip out or his second trip out (remember, the Holiday folks said Bun Bun had been to nonexistence before).

That it's beginning to come to a head doesn't change the fact that the characters have wholly failed to resonate with me, the plot hasn't engaged me, and the point seems to have escaped me.

On the bright side, that may mean we're getting closer to being done with this one, and move on. I do have faith in Abrams to get me back. But for now....

Comment from: Kris@WLP posted at March 22, 2005 3:18 PM

Let's also remember that Bun-Bun is -the- favorite character among the hard-core Sluggites. He's the one that Pete's fans have been asking, BEGGING about since 2003. If Sluggy Freelance has a franchise character, it's Bun-Bun. Not Riff or Torg, not Zoe or Gwynn, and probably not Kiki, Aylee, or Sam.

Sci-fi authors aren't naming gigantic self-propelled artillery after Sam.

Sam is not the Man.

Bun-Bun is the Man.

And Pete is doing this series for the sole purpose of establishing Bun-Bun's continued existence.

Which is a shame, because I *DETEST* Bun-Bun.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at March 22, 2005 3:19 PM

I agree that the timing seems to be kind of a bit odd concerning this snark. When Pete was bogging us down with fillers and completely throwing off the pacing of the actual strip, I could definitely see getting confused. But now it almost seems like things have started to pick up again.

Perhaps I just have quite a bit of patience with Sluggy (it was, after all, my very first webcomic), but this storyline really hasn't been too bad, filler-overload aside. If anything, I think the only time I've ever wanted to see a storyline just get FINISHED already was the Holiday Wars. Pseudomythology or not, it took a character who had merely been tolerable for me (Bun-Bun) and gave him such ridiculous amounts of power that it completely soured me on the character. (Hell, when Bun-Bun made his reappearance in Oceans Unmoving, my reaction was "Oh Christ, not HIM, not NOW.")

We'll really just have to wait and see just what happens. (Not to mention what's happening back with Torg and company. Way to leave a cliffhanger, Pete!)

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 22, 2005 3:21 PM

Would you answer his email when he made you care about disposable characters he never used again? :D ("I miss cow-licks! he was SOooOoo cool!")

Personally I thought he was doing a parody of Star Trek : Generations .. BunBun being Guinan and .. well.. y'know.

As a member of the "Bunny's are evil" fanclub (our president is Anya from Buffy) there's no such thing as too much evil Bunny.. but I get the feeling BunBun is just going through the motions. At this point I can't see him scaring a houseful of humans to go on vacation for taping over his Baywatch.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at March 22, 2005 3:21 PM

On a side note, boy do I write slow. While I was questioning the timing of the snark, Eric explained himself, and I can see where Eric is coming from somewhat (even though I've found that I do like Calix).

Comment from: Denyer posted at March 22, 2005 3:26 PM

I'm enjoying Sluggy more as a weekly compendium read. And the new Saturdays, of course.

It can't be seen to be too easy for Bun-Bun to rejoin the cast, but it does marginalise the rest. I feel it'll scan better as an archive story, but for now reading in chunks will have to do.

Comment from: Johnny Assay posted at March 22, 2005 3:26 PM

I think jrleek hit on the main difference between this and previous Sluggy stories - the main characters are really incidental to the story. I'd just like to add one thing: a lot of storylines would seem dull & unengaging after "That Which Redeems". There may well be some kind of subconscious comparison you're making between the two.

(Oh, and Pooga: re-read "The Adversary" for a refresher on who Joe is.)

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 22, 2005 3:35 PM

I actually came upon Sluggy late in the game (just as Gofotron was wrapping up)... so perhaps my perceptions are clouded.

But I think Pete just is having issues putting things together. He puts up more guest comics and filler than before, he's publically admitted to struggling with several stories, and what is put up just isn't of the quality we're used to.

It might be just me, but I think it's the sign of massive burnout. I honestly find myself wondering if he's even going to continue much longer (oddly enough, the trigger for that was Torg's worried musings by Aylee's cocoon just before Oceans Unmoving).

There's still more I'd like to see out of Sluggy. But maybe, there's not enough left to show.

Comment from: Jace posted at March 22, 2005 3:40 PM

I have to agree with Eric. For a while I've been halfheartedly reading Sluggy, wondering, "when will I start to enjoy this again?" I actually find the Z-com filler strips more entertaining than the actual comic. And, of course, "Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days". I was wondering if I was the only one who felt this way.

I don't see why we need (or should care about) this storyline at all. Couldn't it have been compressed? Remember in the old days of Sluggy, when a whole adventure could happen in three weeks with relatively little dialogue or exposition?

A famous writer once remarked that you don't often see stories like, "Joe woke up. He sat up and pushed the blankets away, then got out the right side of the bed - not the left side, because that was against the wall. He put on his slippers, first the left one, then the right one, and pawed around on the dresser for his glasses. Finally he remembered he'd left his glasses in the bathroom. He walked into the hall and turned right, then walked down all 15 steps to the first floor of the house..." etc. Why don't we see stories like this? Because it's boring. Because there's such a thing as too much detail.

IMHO, Pete has crossed the line. "The temptation to talk too much" should be added to the list of common comic pitfalls; I've seen it happen all too often.

Comment from: Rachi posted at March 22, 2005 3:46 PM

I have been *waiting* for this snark. I haven't actually been reading Sluggy for a week or two, because I don't care. Except for Saturdays, which are funny and have appealing artwork. This is actually the first funny Sluggy I've read for a while. Sluggy was my third webcomic to read, and hopefully it'll bounce back with Torg, Riff, Zoe, Kiki, Aylee and hijinks along the way.

Comment from: Brandon E. posted at March 22, 2005 3:57 PM

I'm apparently in a minority. I've really been enjoying this storyline. Some of the jokes have been laugh out loud funny. Even the filler strips are keeping me amused.

I'm not really having trouble following what's going on. I know this entire storyling is a thinly feiled attempt to reintroduce Bun Bun and please his fans. I've never been a huge BunBun fan myself.

I never really got into the last storyline. Parts were enjoyable, but it was lacking in the Abrams humor that hooked me in the first place. I was no where near abandoning sluggy but I was excited to see it ending.

Comment from: DanShive posted at March 22, 2005 3:59 PM

Sluggy Freelance was the first webcomic I ever read. I started reading it after a friend of mine badgered me for months to read it, and I became hooked. It was a big deal for me because I loved making comics but wasn't optimistic about my chances of being able to do so for a large audience (my artwork early on, and arguably currently, being the biggest reason why). Sluggy opened up the world of webcomics for me, a place where my work would be welcome.

For all my reasons to love Sluggy, there are also things I don't like about it. I don't enjoy bloody violence or rampant death, for instance. The "Kitten" storylines and early human-eating Aylee in particular weren't favorites of mine, though I couldn't help but love Aylee because she's such a cute character with lines like "I'm a flower!" So While the comic itself will always have a special place in my heart for what it represents, it's not my favorite comic from the standpoint of content.

To me, the real strength of Sluggy Freelance from a content standpoint is the fact that Pete makes you care about the characters. There have been several instances that made me fear for the future of Gwynn's character, and it made an impact because I had grown to care about her character. Same with Zoe, Torg and Riff.

Bun Bun, on the other hand, is a gag character. I consider him an excellent accessory to the others in the main cast, but he doesn't work as well on his own. His character doesn't stand well on his own in my opinion, and he works best when combined with characters we know, care about, and have sympathy for. Though there's little choice but to not include the other regulars for this story, it hurts it to just have Bun Bun with essentially a group of extras. I consider all of them except Bun Bun to be expendable, and I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the homicidal bunny. As such, I have trouble getting into it.

I have sympathy for Abrams position. He had this big story with Bun-Bun and the holidays, which was better than the current one as it included well-established characters such as Squishy-Dodo (my apologies if I got the name wrong) and Kiki, and he had the groundhog shadow who had been well-established at that point. There was more to it than Bun Bun and a bunch of extras, and it was good. The ending for that story was fitting, but then there was the trouble of getting the lovable homicidal accessory back to Torg and his band of hooligans.

Thus (I'm assuming), this current story. It's a cleanup story, picking up the pieces of another and paying dues to the story that took it there. It or something like it is necessary to get the bunny home. Could Pete do something better? Perhaps, but he'd already established that Bun Bun was sent into a timeless void. It would be difficult to make the story any better without some sort of deus ex machina throwing members of the regular cast in there with him.

This isn't my favorite storyline, but I accept the need for it, and it may very well pick up and have a cool climax to it. At the very least, it will hopefully get Torg his switchblade-wielding shoulder accessory back.

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 22, 2005 4:04 PM

Okay Pooga, this is about the CRfH "problems"

When Joe reappeared, even BEFORE he reappeared and all we saw was a fence and a hand, we had people speculate on the forums "It's Joe" and just what was up about Joe. We talk about whether Joe is another form of Stanny (our joke name for the Devil) or was a victim of possession. We ponder what the rules are for Satanic Possession. We discuss the small points of the comic and ponder just what Maritza is doing and how she's going to bring everyone back together. Hell, we even discuss how difficult it would be to use laservision to remove duct tape. *grin*

When we actually SAW Joe, there was some slight confusion on if it was Joe or not. This is to be expected. I mean, take a look at him:

Before: http://www.crfh.net/d/20010327.html

After: http://www.crfh.net/d/20050310.html

(The before pic isn't the last time we saw Joe, but is the last time we saw all of him in fairly ordinary lighting - ie, not the dancefloor). Maritza's art style has obviously improved since then.

And really... isn't it better to reuse old characters and old nemesises than come up with something new all the time? There's more continuity this way. :)

That's one thing I like about CRfH - the artwork has improved over the years. However, Sluggy Art has remained fairly static:

First: http://sluggy.com/daily.php?date=970825

A year Later: http://sluggy.com/daily.php?date=980826

Last time we saw the crew: http://sluggy.com/daily.php?date=050117

When Pete brings a character back, it's not difficult to place the character because if you look back three or four years you'll not have much of a change. Pete is comfortable with his current art style and changes things with spot color, compared to the coloration and style changes that Maritza or Jamie Robertson have done.

But this is another tangent isn't it...

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 22, 2005 4:45 PM

More than one Tangent? My world shivers at the thoughts. ^_^

Comment from: cartoonlad posted at March 22, 2005 4:51 PM

From what I can piece together, the current storyline is all about the various characters in the current storyline trying to find a map so they can escape the current storyline.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 22, 2005 4:52 PM

The problem with saying "this story is necessary," though, is that half of the cast of Sluggy are walking Deus Ex Machina. Gwynn could manifest new magical powers at any time. Riff could invent something that does something completely off the wall (with the attendant running gag line about notes). Aylee can manifest new abilities depending on her previous exposure (and given that she's been exposed to dimensional gates multiple times...). Zoe is the very definition of GURPS' "Weirdness Magnet" disadvantage. There are all sorts of mysteries surrounding Dr. Steve Hereti and his creations (Oasis and Hereti-Corp). Hell, pieces of K'Z'K' are still at large and they've poked holes in reality before, too.

Honestly, Pete could have spent one week and pulled Bun Bun back into the comic. He didn't, and in fact chose the way that is turning off so many fans. I'm not as disillusioned as most, but still, something has to give and soon.

Comment from: Grey hunter posted at March 22, 2005 5:27 PM

Bun Bun tends to work better in small doses, shorter seqences such as the normal christmas/ easter things. Holiday wars worked only beacuse it was expanding on an already estabilsed plot.

Oceans Unmoving, as someone said earier, is Petes attempt at doing something different. I feel hes having a break from the main crew. thinking where he is going to take it next, while creating a throwaway universe for his own entertainment.

and its starting to get better as we learn more about the new cast. the greys are basically the same as the black op elves, "muscle" with a bit of humour, we're most likly not supposed to get attached to them.

as for the stip as a whole. I don't see this being another TWR. its moving a more of a pace. so we should be done with it fairly soon (although for sluggy that may mean another month or two)

If it helps his to move away from the main plot for a while, I'm all for it, in the long run this will be one chapter in a long story.

Comment from: quiller posted at March 22, 2005 5:58 PM

I have to agree that a big part of the problem is not having characters to care about. Even some of the not-so-hot storylines in the past had developed characters as protagonists, but here the protagonist is a completely new barbarian character. Bun-bun can be an amusing character, but you can't really care about him much.

Another problem I'm having is the art. Some of these panels are so dense that they are hard to look at.

The humor is decent, but the whole thing seems a little soulless.

Comment from: elvedril posted at March 22, 2005 5:59 PM

I just reread the prologue. That story with the scientist girl was actually really good. In just a couple of strips I actually cared about the characters, both the girl and her evil pal. Heck even the next couple strips with Calix and his dad were funny and interesting. Maybe they're more engaging because they don't have Superbunny there to ruin any sense of suspense... Reading through the comments I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that dislikes that psychotic little rodent.

Comment from: Flavvz posted at March 22, 2005 6:31 PM

I just signed in to comment on this snark, I love Sluggy and just needed to say my piece, I'll try my best not to make an ass of myself among so many and very intelligent people. I've got to say I discovered Sluggy very recently, little more than a month ago, although I knew about it, I just didn't get into it, then i began reading the archives and it hooked me, I read through the whole of the archives voraciously, bursting my sides lots of times with Pete's comic genius.

That said I have to agree with what most of the people have said, Sluggy has had quite a few low points, there were a few storylines which just weren't that interesting (strangely, I did like the Gofotron storyline so many people complain about,I'm guessing it works better when read from the archives in one sitting, but hey, Eric likes Bettle Biley, we're all allowed to have our little excentricities), but it always resurfaces, it always bounced back and we took to it like Kiki to something shiny.

There is however something I'd like to point out, and is the fact that despite the loss of interest that many people have claimed, the amount of comments that have been posten for this snark seems to say something completely different. My point is, that we DO care about Sluggy, we still like the strip and we care about the characters, it's just that we don't care about the ones that Pete's writing about, I too miss Zo‘, Riff, Torg and Aylee, I particulary miss Zo‘ and Torg, tanks Pete for leaving us with that cliffhanger. And that's the main reason I think (as it's already been pointed out) that many of us are feeling a bit uncomfortable or disinterested with the current storyline. I don't really want to read about Bun Bun I want to read about where Torg and Zo‘'s relationship evolves after TWR.

Also I'm very relieved to find that there are other people out there who dislike, or even loathe Bun Bun as much as I do, I also think he's a good one gag character and healthy in small doses, but absolutely deadly in big gulps, I remember being more and more disenchanted with Sluggy as I read Holiday Wars, with every strip Bun Bun just became more unbearable. Then Abram's gave us TWR and I forgave him for all past sins and psycho-bunny excesses. Let's just hope the same thing will happen again and this story will just be a wrap-up to bring the cast together.

Comment from: Flavvz posted at March 22, 2005 6:32 PM

I just signed in to comment on this snark, I love Sluggy and just needed to say my piece, I'll try my best not to make an ass of myself among so many and very intelligent people. I've got to say I discovered Sluggy very recently, little more than a month ago, although I knew about it, I just didn't get into it, then i began reading the archives and it hooked me, I read through the whole of the archives voraciously, bursting my sides lots of times with Pete's comic genius.

That said I have to agree with what most of the people have said, Sluggy has had quite a few low points, there were a few storylines which just weren't that interesting (strangely, I did like the Gofotron storyline so many people complain about,I'm guessing it works better when read from the archives in one sitting, but hey, Eric likes Bettle Biley, we're all allowed to have our little excentricities), but it always resurfaces, it always bounced back and we took to it like Kiki to something shiny.

There is however something I'd like to point out, and is the fact that despite the loss of interest that many people have claimed, the amount of comments that have been posten for this snark seems to say something completely different. My point is, that we DO care about Sluggy, we still like the strip and we care about the characters, it's just that we don't care about the ones that Pete's writing about, I too miss Zo‘, Riff, Torg and Aylee, I particulary miss Zo‘ and Torg, tanks Pete for leaving us with that cliffhanger. And that's the main reason I think (as it's already been pointed out) that many of us are feeling a bit uncomfortable or disinterested with the current storyline. I don't really want to read about Bun Bun I want to read about where Torg and Zo‘'s relationship evolves after TWR.

Also I'm very relieved to find that there are other people out there who dislike, or even loathe Bun Bun as much as I do, I also think he's a good one gag character and healthy in small doses, but absolutely deadly in big gulps, I remember being more and more disenchanted with Sluggy as I read Holiday Wars, with every strip Bun Bun just became more unbearable. Then Abram's gave us TWR and I forgave him for all past sins and psycho-bunny excesses. Let's just hope the same thing will happen again and this story will just be a wrap-up to bring the cast together.

Comment from: Flavvz posted at March 22, 2005 6:41 PM

Damn! Sorry about the double posting. Shit happens.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at March 22, 2005 6:58 PM

The great strength, and also the great weakness, of Sluggy has always been that it doesn't have much of a specific premise. I mean, what is the strip *about*? It follows a bunch of housemates who have strange adventures, and that's about as close as it gets to a unifying concept. The adventures can be absolutely anything: fantasy, sci-fi, horror, parody, sundry efforts at worldbuilding, random silliness, even "slice of life" humor. The protagonists are likewise subject to change. When the strip started, it was all about Riff and Torg, but nowadays it's common for Riff to drop out for long periods of time, and Torg isn't always the center of the action, either. The other housemates (and sporadic protagonists) have included Zoe, Gwynn, Bun-Bun, Kiki, Aylee, Sam, and probably one or two others I've forgotten. That's enough to populate the entirety of a less ambitious strip; in Sluggy, it's just the core cast. There are entire backup casts capable of holding down the strip on their own, like the Dimension of Pain demons, Zoe's college friends, and the current pirate crew. The very title of "Sluggy Freelance" is a non sequitur that reveals nothing about the overall plot or point of the strip.

In other words, the Sluggyverse is massive, teeming, and not bound by any internally-consistent level of reality. Which is how Abrams can devote months to a semi-serious epic about demonic warfare, then launch into a slapstick adventure about time pirates in no-space, a storyline which shares zero (count 'em, zero) characters, settings, or concepts with the previous storyline.

This is what everyone enjoys about Sluggy: its freewheeling ability to go anywhere and do anything. But it also means that the strip is, by nature, extremely erratic. Nobody is going to enjoy every Sluggy plot. Part of this is just a matter of personal taste: some people like the wacky storylines where Torg and Riff dimension-hop and hoot at babes, some people like the serious material that builds up the larger Sluggy mythos, and there's not much that Abrams can do to please both groups equally all the time. But another part is that Abrams does some things better than he does others, and he doesn't seem to be fully aware of where his strengths lie.

As pretty much everyone has said, Abrams is good at making readers care about his characters. It's surprising how deeply some of these characters have been developed, especially considering that many of them (Aylee, for instance) were introduced as one-off jokes or parodies. I think the strip is strongest when it leans on the central Torg-Riff-Zoe friendship. Abrams clearly gets into the world-building and the parodies, but that material isn't nearly as fresh or interesting as the character development. It's necessary, of course, or else there'd be no plot, but it's disappointing when the central characters get shunted to the background so the fantasy material can be developed -- or, worse, when they drop out of the strip entirely, as has happened this time around.

Oh, well. If nothing else, readers can have faith that eventually Abrams will move on, and the next storyline will be something completely different.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at March 22, 2005 7:05 PM

And I have to agree with Flauvz: the sheer number of posts -- lengthy posts! -- here is a testament to the passion Sluggy inspires in readers. Hell, I haven't read it regularly in two or three years; I only check in when Eric does a Snark on it. Yet here I am, weighing in at length.

Comment from: Merus posted at March 22, 2005 7:10 PM

If that was truly Abrams' strength, though, why hasn't he worked any of that magic on Bun Bun? The little shit's got no redeeming features whatsoever, and forces pretty much every storyline he's in into a reasonably predicatable path - Bun Bun intimidates every othe character and wins.

It didn't take me long to put the prologue and the current chapter in OU together, so I'm almost entirely sure that cute jumpsuit chick is long dead. The 'map' the pirates are after is the real-time map of the universe from the prologue. Frankly, I'd much prefer it if Bun Bun failed, and got beaten around by fate for a bit. Really be mean to the little bugger. Pete won't, because the Sluggy fans will cry, but it needs to be done.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 22, 2005 7:29 PM

It *needs* to be done? :)

Comment from: Montykins posted at March 22, 2005 8:56 PM

I read Sluggy for the first, I think, three years or so. I forget why I quit reading, but I think I was just feeling vaguely disinterested in the wackier plots and the expanding of the cast. And that was before things got nuts, too -- on looking through the archives, I think I stopped reading shortly after The Quatrix.

So I clearly don't have anything useful to say here, except that whenever I check back in on Sluggy Freelance, I have no idea what the heck is going on.

Comment from: DanShive posted at March 22, 2005 9:44 PM

I started reading at around the Quatrix storyline for some reason (it was already completed when I started). I got really confused as to who the main characters were. I was all like "Wow, a comic about a vampire, some old scientist guy and some pets? Wacky!"

Comment from: Shaenon posted at March 22, 2005 10:12 PM

"If that was truly Abrams' strength, though, why hasn't he worked any of that magic on Bun Bun? The little shit's got no redeeming features whatsoever, and forces pretty much every storyline he's in into a reasonably predicatable path - Bun Bun intimidates every othe character and wins."

You have to remember: things were not always this way. There was a time when Sluggy fans loved Bun-Bun. Worshipped him. Bought plush bunnies by the score. There are people walking the earth right now who have Bun-Bun TATTOOED ON THEIR BODIES.

Bun-Bun, I think, is one of many Sluggy elements that was a little too popular, and thus got overplayed. I feel the same way about the Holiday Wars (Bun-Bun's annual duel with Santa used to be an eagerly-anticipated event), the interminable Oasis mystery, and, to a degree, the Dimension of Pain. All of these concepts attracted huge fan response when they were introduced, and at his readers' demand Abrams kept bringing them back and bringing them back, until public opinion turned sour. The DoP seems to have been salvaged by the success of "That Which Redeems" and the cancellation of the DoP Sundays (I mean, how much DoP did we really need?), but some of these other elements should probably be dialed back or dropped entirely.

Abrams was wise to drop Bun-Bun out of the strip for a while, but it looks like this was the wrong way to bring him back. It's too much Bun-Bun all at once. It might have been better to have had him return in the thick of some other, non-Bun-Bun-centric storyline.

The Sluggy characters do have a way of growing on you. I have a friend--and I bet he's reading this--who says that the only reason he keeps reading Sluggy is in the hopes that Riff's girlfriend Sascha will return. This is a character who appeared in a couple of dozen strips THREE YEARS AGO. I'm telling you, this is where Abrams' strength lies.

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 22, 2005 10:51 PM

Heh. To be honest, Shaenon, Sascha was one of my favorite characters (besides Gwynn) as well, and her leaving was a source of annoyance for me. Especially as their (Riff and Sascha's) breakup was so idiotic (though I suppose quite a few breakups are idiotic) and there were several hints of how they *could* get back together (please, who among us didn't think that Sascha was going to return and help Riff use the Dimensional Rift Gun to send the cavalry over to save Torg in That Which Redeems?).

Will I return to Sluggy Freelance?

Maybe. Probably after I hear a snark from Eric or Wednesday in which in big letters it declares: Sluggy Freelance Returns Home or somesuch and I know that we're back to non-lame stories about Torg and Zoe and Gwynn and the others. And every Saturday, probably, because these strips are a nice taste of the past without the idiocy of what Sluggy has become.

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: T Campbell posted at March 22, 2005 10:59 PM

I think it's very difficult to evaluate how popular certain things about SLUGGY *really* are unless you're one of Pete's inner circle, if even then.

People have been predicting the flaming demise of the X-MEN franchise for the last ten years, based on nothing more concrete than "well, it sucks so much!" Some of the arguments here seem to take the same character. It's easy for Eric and me to feel like "holdouts" when there's a lot of vocal criticism of the strip-- but there are less than 100 people commenting on the average SLUGGY strip and many times that number actually reading it.

In other words, we don't have any hard data on how popular Bun-Bun REALLY is, these days.

Critically speaking, though, I think Shaenon and Merus have hit it: when Bun-Bun becomes central, the story path gets predictable. I love the goulash of imagination Pete's cooked up here: aliens and elks and pirates and timeless space and FOUR SEPARATE CIVILIZATIONS (not counting our own as represented by Bun-Bun). But Bun-Bun is such an unstoppable force that he robs the tale of its unpredictability, which mutes humor and hobbles drama.

Or so it would seem. Story's not over yet, after all.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at March 22, 2005 11:16 PM

Thanks for tellin' me I'm not alone, man. I lost the plot three or four weeks ago ... less recently than I've listed Sluggy on my own site as Laughed Out Loud At, but only shortly after I wrote how great it was to see the "four stooges shut up in a house together again" (or, as it turned out, shut out of the house together).

Comment from: EsotericWombat posted at March 23, 2005 12:06 AM

a couple of months ago I was referred to Sluggy by a friend and read through the entire archives in under a week(in my opinion, the best way to experience Sluggy Freelance). For most of the duration, I loathed Bun-Bun. I wanted him dead, and for good. By the time he was seemingly thus dispatched, I was a huge Bun-Bun fan.

So I, for one, am glad to see him back.

Its just a pity about the way this story has been executed. As it stands, I'm half-interested in the story on its own merits. its the Funny that keeps me reading. That being said, I could have enjoyed this story. Abrams merely needed to go about it another way.

who knows... he might save it. And my guess is that this ends with Bun-Bun beating the shit out of those clone sharks.

Comment from: Kris@WLP posted at March 23, 2005 12:28 AM

I just wanted to say that today's (3-23-2005) Sluggy is an example of why those of us who stick with it, stick with it. There's just so MUCH to love about this one.

(Note to self: ask Pete Abrams for permission to print that "WET" T-shirt. }:-{D )

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 23, 2005 12:39 AM

I am once again in awe of Pete and his ability to make me almost snarf.

Comment from: DanShive posted at March 23, 2005 12:56 AM

http://sluggy.com/daily.php?date=980716

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 23, 2005 2:08 AM

Well, T... when criticism is sneered upon and derided, few people remain critics. Either you shut up about it or you give up and leave. Or you get banned after your final post on their forum. ;)

Now, maybe you and Eric have stood behind Pete all this time... but I have less time as a fan of the comic than you two. Thus when I see something isn't working, I'm perhaps quicker to point it out and suggest that Pete take a break.

Unfortunately, Pete's been digging a hole here. One I hope doesn't become a grave for Sluggy... but who can tell. If Pete had taken a break way back before the Oceans Unmoving storyline, people would have waited. Pete had outdone himself with a superb story with "That Which Redeems" and we would accept almost anything from him at that point. And it's not like he hasn't done a hiatus before... I arrived on scene right when the first hiatus began (after the House Wars).

If he takes one (and from what I've heard through other fans and Boardies losing faith in Sluggy of late) after OU ends... he may very well lose a chunk of his audience, people just fading away after an unsatisfactory storyline which just didn't do much for them.

But if he doesn't take a hiatus... and the comic continues to be of the substandard (to Sluggy standards) quality of the Housejacking storyline... then it could lose him even more fans.

It's sort of a damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, and damned if he blinks scenario. No doubt he'll find a way around it... and I hope he does. I hope he pulls through this malaise that has come over him and Sluggy Freelance. But I can't see how he's going to manage it. :/

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 23, 2005 3:16 AM

So you didn't read today's, eh? ^_^ It was old Pete in a can! Convienet AND funny!

Comment from: Rachi posted at March 23, 2005 3:59 AM

Wow. Lots of comments. I still think that this series is leading into a downward spiral. Hopefully, it'll bounce back... And hopefully we'll get a snark about it if and when it does.

Comment from: Jason posted at March 23, 2005 6:34 PM

The X-Men point is a valid one: When a series has been going on as long as Sluggy has (and boy has it ever!) it's going to have some down moments. It's going to have off storylines and even continuity busters (for example: Riff is getting dumber as he gets older. His inventions used to backfire but ultimately work, then they worked in strange and unpredictable but still functional ways, and now it seems that none of them work at all, ever).

I can see Pete wanting to do something different, especially after That Which Redeems (a story that, honestly, I didn't really like and thought was way too long), but I think what's really hurting him is the lack of "normalcy." One of the things about Sluggy was that for all of its absolute weirdness it always had a core of normalcy. Cyborg ninja warriors, vampires, demon incursions, ghosts, strange technology, aliens, holidays on assault, we had the touchstone of the lives of our main cast to fall back on. They were affected by what happened to them, of course, but they dealt with that well and kept it pretty under control (for a while, remember, one of the big jokes was Riff and Torg's blase attitude to the strangeness and Zoe's increasing inability to cope with it).

But between That Which Redeems and now Oceans Unmoving and even some earlier stuff (Riff's odd betrayal, Sascha (who really "got" the weirdness) leaving, etc.) we just really haven't seen what normal is in a while.

In my mind, it's all build and very little payoff. Even the payoff we get (say, the end of That Which Redeems) doesn't actually alleviate tension (hell, Torg came back to -more- tension than when he left) and there comes a point where you just can't build any higher.

For me, I'd love to see a rapid end to Oceans Unmoving and maybe six months of return to the relatively low-key Bikini Suicide Frisbee style. Worry about the personal conflicts of the human cast ('cause there's -plenty- of tension left there) and -then- bust into something big again.

I'm sure Pete can pull back - Gofotron is, to me, an example that he has before - but it's really a question of whether or not he wants to.

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