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Wednesday: [w] By Force of Detail

The thing is, I totally fell for Friendly Hostility on the wrong day. By the time I'd made it through the archives on a fluke, absolutely smitten with Nefertari, some things had gone horribly, horribly wrong in the teapot.

It had been two days since I'd seen

and decided, right there, that I had a new commitment.

Look at the eyes. And the lips. Then you tell me. The banter was just a bonus.

A digression into method seems advisable right now, even though I promised that I would not talk about me. It's bad to go to me. There's only a Sbarro.

Eric's the one with the massive trawl. This is the way of it here:

I have a routine, into which I'm very set, in the mornings. I roll into a sitting position, reach across the room to the desk (the browsing environment you see in Takeover is pretty much it; this is a small room), open a set of about ten tabs (three to five on weekends), and go get caffeine. A little later, I set the remaining bundle (entirely dependent on what's up) off from an LJ filter comprised of feeds to things which are slightly less predictable, or of which I'd like to persuade myself I can stop reading anytime now.

I have to go through the full archives of anything I write about. It's a rule for some of the publications I work with, and it seems like a pretty sensible restriction for my own process anyhow. It might be an artifact of research addiction. It might just be some sort of mental illness, some kind of compulsion; Left Behind 1-12 + The Kids 1-4? You're welcome.

Somewhere down the line, this became an ironclad rule for gal: wherever possible, nothing makes it into the tabset or feed list unless the entire archives can be read through without regret. If something dropped out of that tabset or feed list, it doesn't go back in until catchup has been played. This works against me sometimes -- I can go through years and years of something I hate on the trainwreck fascination, but guilt over not having the time to properly enjoy Wigu means I'm not riding that boat properly yet, say. But, mostly, it keeps my blood pressure, if not down, then at least lower.

That's how it is. Yes, there are the occasional side dalliances: peeks at Under Power, binges on Nana's Everyday Life, that sort of thing. (EDIT: Neither are SFW, BTW.)

(So, you can see why I never picked back up on Sluggy, say; I don't want to read all that back story and beat my head against the Bun-Bun Conundrum. Sometimes you really do just have to walk away, and smile, and nod, and just... retreat.)

The worst part is that very little will actually get my attention. In fact, the traditional methods tend to engender delays; after several years around Iain [M.] Banks fans, for example, I developed a mental block against Phlebas and was completely incapable of considering him. I could not possibly tell you how I came across Friendly Hostility that week; it had to have been unusual. It wasn't a newsbox, it wasn't a recommendation, it wasn't a banner ad or a rant link or a news item or anything like that. I really don't know.

But I'm smitten. And I hope to talk more about it as I go back through it again, and as I keep up with it.

Lines and eyes. That's what it's about, people.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at April 11, 2005 1:45 AM


Comment from: Lyndon W posted at April 10, 2005 9:37 PM

Did you know that you can keep track of a ton of webcomics at the website my name is linking to? It's true!

Comment from: gwalla posted at April 10, 2005 9:53 PM

...did you just say you read Nana's Everyday Life? O_o

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at April 10, 2005 10:25 PM

Got curious, read that Nana's thing.

Now want to unread it. (Though I will admit the very first comic was kind of funny, sort of, and there were at least a couple others.)

The line that really stood out for me in that entire thing was "IS THIS COMEDY?" since that's what I was wondering the whole way through. Granted, I read absolutely bizarre shit like Leisure Town, Jerkcity, and have been known to read Sexy Losers and such, but that? What the fuck?

For one thing, the subject matter made me extremely uncomfortable, which it usually takes quite a bit to do. Perhaps it's because Nana and company all look like they're about 10 years old, max. Perhaps it's the whole idea of "women as sexual objects" taken to extremes (being bought and sold? bloody rape? torture abounds? that whole undercurrent of this possibly all being pedophilic on top?)

The second and more important thing, though, is that it seemed to be done with very little humor. The afformentioned Sexy Losers managed to make me laugh about really touchy, odd things like necrophilia and incest. Leisure Town has a huge undercurrent of cynicism, cynical misogyny, suicidal impulses, and so on that it's probably amazing that I consider it one of the finest webcomics that's ever been produced. And Jerkcity is, well, Jerkcity. All of these comics share traits of exaggeration for comedic effect, and perhaps this is what makes them funny for me.

Nana's, however, exaggerates to the point where it stops being funny and starts being horrifying. The first comics are all pretty ridiculous, but after those, it starts being ridiculous and starts feeling like it's being serious. Being forced to sleep with a man in a bear costume for food? Kind of funny. Being thrown out in the garbage after losing all of your limbs to be left to rot? Being auctioned off? Uhh...

Looking at what I've written, I think I'd better stop. I didn't mean to do a mini-snark in the comments, but that's just how it turned out. Eek.

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at April 10, 2005 11:11 PM

Does it mean that there's something wrong with me that I find just about everything on Clone Manga to be totally horrendously wrong AND totally hilarious?

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at April 10, 2005 11:12 PM

Oh yeah, the characters in "Nana's" are mostly from the anime series "Elven Lied" and "Gunslinger Girl" and the comics tend to play off of the disturbing implications of both of those series.

Not that would make you like it better or anything . . .

Comment from: Wednesday posted at April 10, 2005 11:15 PM

With Nana, it helps if you have both a passing familiarity with Elfen Lied (upon which it's based) and a horrible case of overexposure to the trends in anime it's an alarmingly effective, vicious satire of. I have to build up to reading Nana, because, yes, it's utterly horrifying. But I also have the overexposure thing going.

Also, um, stuff.

I can see the dark, dark humour there the same way I can see it in Hothead Paisan, if that makes any sense; the latter is empowering in a way Nana really isn't mind, but I can see them occupying the same universe somehow. (I want Hothead to rescue Nana, mind.)

Comment from: Wednesday posted at April 10, 2005 11:17 PM

Oh, there's Gunslinger Girl elements, Yuji? Even... better! *shudder*

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at April 10, 2005 11:23 PM

Yup, the girls she is (was? I've haven't caught up lately) living with (Triella, Henrietta, Rico) are from Gunslinger Girl.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at April 10, 2005 11:25 PM

Perhaps the unfamiliarity with the characters might be driving my reaction in that instance. And I know the humor in there is pitch black, I'm just not quite liking the way it's represented. I like my humor black but the horror is overpowering the humor for me.

I don't know. I'll just let my previous post stand for now.

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at April 10, 2005 11:54 PM

I read Nana's. I have no familiarity with the material it's based on, other than the darker sides of anime culture.

And I find it fucking hilarious, mostly because I love the "Absurd Distrubed." And if you think about it... Nana's gone through Cerebus Syndrome. What with the progression into drama + comedy, after weeks of only comedy. Or is it comedy? That's another thought.

It's really weird to think about that.

Comment from: Eramus posted at April 11, 2005 1:31 AM

I like this. It kind of irritates me that someone would try reviewing a comic without actually reading it. Would a movie reviewer who only sees 10 minutes (or even 20)of a movie be acceptable? It's the same thing. Now, I do realize there are time constraints on this type of thing (especially longrunning comics with complex storylines). In those cases, it's probably better to read from the beginning of the last major completed story.

Of course, sometimes you need to read even more. (Sluggy for instance, would be damn confusing if you didn't know why Bunbun is where he is)

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at April 11, 2005 1:50 AM

Yeah, I never actually commented on your style, Weds, since I got sidetracked by that... that thing.

To be honest, I always use the exact same method when trying out a new comic: starting from the beginning and going from there. I realize this might be shooting myself in the foot, since certain comics just aren't all that compelling when they start out and certain comics have absolutely fucking GIGANTIC archives (I'll leave you people to insert your own examples). I still always do it, though, without fail. Why? It helps me to get a better understanding of the comic. Besides, I hate jumping right into the middle of something.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at April 11, 2005 2:03 AM

..wait, we know why BunBun is where he is? :) Bugs Bunny started the "bunny rabbits are evil" trend, who are we but fans who must jump on the Chuck Jones bandwagon. :)

But as far as that comic goes.. I looked at it, I read some, my head turned sideways and I decided it just wasn't my cup of tea and I wasn't going to read more. I couldn't say I'd write a review about it, but I can tell you I don't have to read all of something (or see an entire movie) to know I don't like it. (Or it's just not for me.)

Comment from: Aerin posted at April 11, 2005 4:02 AM

I'm with you on reading the archives before I commit to a comic. It gives me a good idea of the tone of the strip, the regularity of the updates, and the evolution of the art and characters, and I'm not lost later down the line when they're playing off something that happened well before I started reading.

Plus, it's a brilliant way to waste time. For instance, today, instead of doing my calculus homework, I read through the entire archive of Help Desk. I would call that a day well spent.

Comment from: Aerin posted at April 11, 2005 4:03 AM

Oops, the gap wasn't nearly that large in the preview. Silly me.

Comment from: John Bankert posted at April 11, 2005 9:40 AM

I don't need to read an archive of a strip to commit to it. Recent examples would be S*P, QOW and Gaming Guardians.

S*P, I tried to get into several times by going back and reading the archives, and it didn't hook me. I did get hooked by the Branwyn farewell strip Eric snarked. At some point I'll slog through the archives, but i don't feel a huge need to at the moment.

Regarding the strips you mentioned, didn't have a chance to check out Nana's or Under Power. I read about twenty strips of Friendly Hostility, though. Loved the art. Loved it. The story didn't grab though, so it's unlikely to make my read list.

Comment from: Eramus posted at April 11, 2005 12:21 PM

Okay, since many of you apparently don't know why bun-bun is where he is, I'll give a little recap. Spoilers, obviously. (This is where the 2 storylines ago comes in.)

After being defeated (In a really clever way I thought) by the Holidays, they had a short consortium about what to do with him. Then Santa threw him out of the window of times tower. He was esentially "out of time", a phrase one of the holidays uses. So they rejoice in Bun-bun being gone. The Ms. Clause reminds them that they said this before. Even at the time, I took that as obvious foreshadowing. Then came the redemption storyline, and I forgot about Bun-bun.

Now, do you honestly think that one of the most popular characters is going to be obliterated, just like that? I admit it would be a gutsy move, but then... there woud be no Bun-bun.

Comment from: gothfru posted at April 11, 2005 6:41 PM

So, you can see why I never picked back up on Sluggy, say; I don't want to read all that back story and beat my head against the Bun-Bun Conundrum. Sometimes you really do just have to walk away, and smile, and nod, and just... retreat.

I wish I could learn that lesson. I long for the days of Riff blowing things up and Torg being....Torg. I walk away for a few weeks, and I think "hey, it might be better now!" but it never is.

Comment from: the_iron_troll posted at April 12, 2005 1:18 AM

Yeah, you know what? No Bun-bun would actually make Sluggy bearable again. I think he's the largest reason I quit - I also work by the "read the entire archive" rule, and I just could not imagine reading literally thousands of comics with him even remotely connected.

Good show, Wednesday. You have engaged the interest subroutines to the point where my long-term schedule has been altered to accomodate some Friendly Hostility. Woo, and also hoo.

Comment from: gwalla posted at April 12, 2005 2:25 AM

The only Nana strips I can remotely stand are the one where they discover Solid Snake hiding under a box (genuinely funny if you're familiar with the Metal Gear Solid games), and the one where Nana meets the cartoon bear and ends up in bed with him (you pretty much have to hang out in 4chan's /b/ board to get that reference). The rest are just...ew. The bear one is ew too, but it works with the Pedobear running gag.

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at April 12, 2005 4:06 AM

I like the one where she gets kicked down the stairs!

Though that Metal Gear one was good too.

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