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Eric: I still can't believe this is what's happened just one year after 2004's "That Which Redeems." I mean, was there head trauma we don't know about, or something?

Sluggy Freelance

(From Sluggy Freelance! Click on the thumbnail for full sized... aw, who cares, Dale?)

I honestly avoid talking about Sluggy Freelance these days, because it almost feels like dogpiling, or kicking it when it's down, but every so often I just have to. And besides, I developed a certain amount of insight about Sluggy while at Arisia, this year.

I haven't really talked about the Arisia trip, other than it happened. Granted, it was right smack in the middle of my vacation/time with Weds, so duh. I wasn't talking much about anything. But still, I should mention that Arisia went fantastically. There were many really, really good panels, with excellent people who did many, many things of note and said many things. And at some point, I'll write more about it.

Anyway, the panel I'm referencing right now was on the Cerebus Syndrome, and we were discussing Sluggy. And I made reference to the recent "Christmas Ninjas" storyline and how Sluggy seemed to have the power to jump back and forth between those stories and the more serious ones.

And an interesting thing happened. See, I liked the Christmas Ninjas story. But a lot of people apparently didn't.

Which isn't to say they like Oceans Unmoving either. Because they don't. But several people felt that "Christmas Ninjas" was Pete Abrams trying desperately to appease the folks waiting for the end of Oceans Unmoving with a return to the old school, and felt it came across as forced. And I can see their point.

But I can also see why he did it, because dear Lord, Oceans Unmoving isn't working.

Which is something of a lie. I can sense the story structure under the surface. And if I gave even the slightest damn about anyone involved with the whole affair, I would probably love this story. But I don't give the slightest damn about anyone involved with the whole affair. I mean, I'm not a big Bun Bun fan to begin with, but at least he was a part of Sluggy Freelance. The rest of these people... dear Lord, why should I care?

Seriously. I remember back to the epic length Gofotron, Champion of the Cosmos, which was a ton more fun and a lot more "Sluggylike," introducing many new characters and inviting us to get to know them and care about them and laugh at them. And it worked. We got involved. We got invested. We liked these people, good or bad, and we enjoyed the parody and satire and all that.

And then they all died as part of a sight gag.

Seriously. Every last one of them died.

For a gag.

They all got turned into a power supply for a waffle iron.

So, you know. Ten out of ten for style.

But, as a result, we have no reason or desire to emotionally invest in an arc-specific secondary cast again. Calix (or Calax or whatever the Hell his name is) and Kada and the alien grey things and those reindeer people and... um... I think Baba Yaga's on one of the ships and there's that enemy admiral and... um.... anyway, I assume they're all going to die or otherwise become wholly irrelevant by the end of the plot anyway. So this is all wasted space, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, this was never even Bun Bun's story so much as their story. So seriously, why are we reading it?

Abrams acknowledged it. He acknowledged the story wasn't working in an open letter, and acknowledged it was mind-numbingly exposition heavy, and that he was working on it, and he didn't want to just punch the reset button. And I respect that. I seriously do. But that was quite a while ago now, and we're still in freaking Oceans Unmoving, and I'm wondering just what the Hell Abrams can pull out of his hat in the next storyline to make me possibly care.

And rather than me being uncommon in these feelings, I feel like I'm unusual because I haven't given up yet. Certainly, the fans at that panel were surprised we were still talking about Sluggy, and I know that many of the people who I talk to have given up on it, and are honestly curious why I haven't.

In the end, it goes back to that open letter. Abrams said he knew it wasn't working, and that he needed to wrap it up. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt, figuring that's what would happen next.

But that open letter was posted November 13. Which, in a daily strip, is an eternity ago. And we're still here. Those oceans are still unmoving. And we still don't care even a little.

I'm still here. I'm skimming at best, these days, but I still have hope that there will be Zöe goodness, and Torg goodness, and Zöe and Torg goodness. And Gwynn. And Aylee. And Oasis. And Riff. And Kiki....

You know. The ones we actually do give a damn about.

Or at least we did, once upon a time.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at January 23, 2006 12:15 PM


Comment from: kirabug posted at January 23, 2006 12:58 PM

I must be in the minority. While Oceans Unmoving certainly isn't the best storyline that Abrams ever put out, I'm not suffering reading it. In fact, the past week or so has been pretty good. The greys at least have taken on their own personalities and I kind of like them.

On the other hand, I had almost zero interest in Gofotron and had a lot of trouble following it. Perhaps because it was a parody of a genre I had no exposure to or interest in?

Oceans Unmoving would work well as a novel or a novella, I think - good soft sci-fi with hard rules about the environment and its limitations - just difficult to express in sequential art.

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at January 23, 2006 1:02 PM

I've really enjoyed Oceans Unmoving. Sure I would prefer a regular Sluggy storyline, but this is good too.

Comment from: Tangent posted at January 23, 2006 1:20 PM

Interestingly, I've grown more interested in Oceans Unmoving. I gave the strip a vacation, you see. In fact, I got banned from the Sluggy Forums for posting a "Pete, you've lost me" post and detailing what I felt was wrong with the previous house-losing storyline and then jumping into this story that had nothing to do with the gang (it was considered "drama" and I'm not even allowed to log into the forums to this day, to which I say "no real loss there").

Yes, Oceans Unmoving is growing on me. I read it in weekly spurts.

So I'd suggest (outside of Saturday Sluggy, and maybe even that) putting Sluggy Freelance in a "read once a month" folder. I recently did that for CRFH, which I used to love dearly and now realize that I read only because it's in my update folder and that I get no joy reading that comic. And to other comics as well, some of which update infrequently and others which are also in the "I read it because it's in my update folder" category.

Personally, I detest BunBun incredibly. I want him to remain in limbo forever. Let the story be about the others, and leave the bunny out. I don't know *why* Pete feels this irrational need to bring back the bastard bunny. *shrug* Nor do I really care. Because the weird thing is... Oceans Unmoving has gotten interesting. Despite my own intentions.

Take care!

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at January 23, 2006 1:21 PM

Oceans Unmoving is good if you don't consider it Sluggy Freelance at all.

Seriously, just pretend it's not really Bun-Bun and the rest of the plot becomes interesting.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: God bless the Younts for keeping Saturdays interesting or honestly I'd just not read it at all.

There's also the fact that for whatever reason I trust Abrams to do better than this once he digs himself out of it, though I do wish he'd dig faster, 'cause I needs a Zoe/Torg/Oasis/Riff/Gwynn fix.

Comment from: Darrin_Bright posted at January 23, 2006 1:22 PM

I wanted to drive rusty nails into my frontal lobe when I tried to slog through the second "reindeer rant" on Timeless space... I stopped reading regularly from that point on. I still say Bun-Bun works best as an occasional antagonist, plot complication, or a "sudden violence is funny" punchline. His exploits as a Timeless Space Pirate are dull, plodding, and unengaging.

Eric, are you sure we don't need another Syndrome here? I tossed out something about Remington Steele in a poor attempt to draw you out on the whole Sluggy situation, but it apparently wasn't well-thought-out enough to generate much meaningful comment.

It really feels like Abrams is trying to shove a "5th Season" square peg into a round hole... and while I have no immediate objection to an artist who wants to take a series in a new direction or experiment with a new storyline, it really feels like Abrams is trying to avoid dealing with any of the emotional/narrative fallout of a successful Cerebus Syndrome.

Might have helped, I suppose, if I'd attended the panel. Did the panel discuss any of what happens after an artist succeeds with a Cerebus? Once a Cerebus happens, do all the following stories have to carry the same emotional weight? Is there a hard "no going back" rule, or am I trying to overgeneralize something specific to Sluggy that Abrams will no doubt fix in another month or so?

Comment from: Alkari posted at January 23, 2006 1:33 PM

I have to agree with the headline, Eric. As I've said before to the few remaining Sluggy readers of my acquaintance, Pete's losing it. If necessary, he should kill off the entire OU cast--Bun-Bun included--on the 31st and return to Torg'n'Riff. Bikini Suicide Saturdays are really the only reason I'm still reading the strip daily, and that's not a good sign.

Look at Kesandru's Well. That ran 1/13 through 6/18, and took long enough that I remember questioning when certain sequences would end. Fire and Rain ran 1/14 through 2/25, and that was my most hated Sluggy storyline until the interminable That Which Redeems.

Gofotron started off pretty slowly for me, as like kirabug I didn't really give a flip about Lodoze and the giant robot genre, but the likes of Lord Grater, Princess-Princess, and the Guacans meant the story picked up steam really quickly. That Which Redeems was even enjoyable... for two months. It's a good thing Pete wrapped everything up there, because between the second half of TWR and all of MITDOP, Pete and Ian had completely wrecked the Dimension of Pain's appeal.

Especially for a daily strip, year-long arcs away from the core cast just don't work. Even Questionable Content manages to squeeze in some plot development in a year, and Something Positive (when Randy updates) manages to get through a full chapter in two weeks. Sluggy needs to give up on OU and other epics entirely, and not do any plots longer than a month for the rest of the year. Not this "two week zany, two year epic" alternation.

Comment from: Mario posted at January 23, 2006 1:37 PM

Um... I sorta like OU. But then again, I have a weakness for The Cosmic.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at January 23, 2006 1:43 PM

I don't know, I'm actually kind of enjoying Oceans Unmoving, though I wish he'd told this arc directly, instead of as a bizarre series of flashbacks. That really threw me off.

I think what we have here is Pete experimenting with new techniques. I think he's tired of the standard Sluggy story arc ("something bad happens to the cast, everyone goes off on an adventure, big battle, back to normal") and this is definitely something different. And it is fun, especially since I'm not as sure that Calix and Kada are going to die. I can see Bun-Bun saving them because they remind him of Torg and Zoe or something.

However, Pete really should've either made this shorter (a summer arc would've worked) or done it as a side-comic.

Comment from: Padre posted at January 23, 2006 1:57 PM

Day-by-day, OU is tough going.

Going back an reading a bunch of the strips in bulk, I find it much easier to appreciate its virtues.

I say this as one who found Gofotron irksome in the extreme when I ran through it in my archive-grokking of Sluggy.

OU isn't bad. It's poorly pased and dense with xposition, but it brings Funny reasonably regularly, has a well-detailed and interesting concept, neat plot twists and (IMO) some fun new characters. I'm actually very fond of the caribs in particular.

But, I think it was poorly timed. Especially as it has gone on so long now.

The main gang's been on hiatus for ages, and even when we were focusing on them the storylines (extended parodies of iPods and the like) wer ebasiccally treading water. The emotional tension beteen Torg and Zoe, and Torg's state of depression, were already feeling overly suspended - putting any kind ofdevelopment or resolution of them on further delay while we run through this interesting but peripheral plotline seems to be taking it too far.

I lookf forward to the day I can read OU as one uninterrupted block, sans filler strips and Saturdays, and appreciate it for what it is. Right now, the feeling of the main plot being on hold is kinda killing the strip.

Comment from: Johnny Assay posted at January 23, 2006 2:02 PM

You know, Eric, you and I must be reading entirely different comic strips, since I'm really enjoying this story line. I mean, Abrams has managed to create an utterly novel universe (as far as I know, at least), stocked it with interesting races (Caribs, witches, greys, tech-geeks playing pirates), and built up an interesting story involving them.

Saying that this storyline is bad because the characters doesn't grab you is like saying that Asimov was a hack because his dialogue is wooden: it might be true, but there are other aspects of the work that make up for it. Enjoy the Universe he's created and the ideas he's presenting for what they are; Torg et al. will keep.

Comment from: sun tzu posted at January 23, 2006 2:03 PM

This may put me in the minority, but...I love "Oceans Unmoving". I've loved it pretty much since the beginning - which I consider a testament to Pete's skill, as I despise Bun-Bun and am not too fond of pirates.
Complex world, with different but consistent laws. The society that arises in it. An entire mythology. The wars and politics. How different characters fit in it. "Oceans Unmoving" may not have been my favorite Sluggy arc, but it isn't that far, either. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at January 23, 2006 2:06 PM

However, Pete really should've either made this shorter (a summer arc would've worked) or done it as a side-comic.

That bit about doing it as a side comic is my thought exactly. I've stopped reading Sluggy after OU started up and I found I just didn't care about it at all and there was no end in sight. I might return after OU, but I can't be sure and the only thing I watch for is the Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days strips. I think that Pete should really have done this as a side-comic, maybe posted under the main or via a link to another page or something while keeping the main strip involving the main cast, the ones, as Eric says, we do care about.

Comment from: nifboy posted at January 23, 2006 2:07 PM

I'm with Dent and a couple others here: I'd describe it as Not Sluggy, which is a different entity from the Sluggy that Pete has been doing for the past, what, seven, eight years now?

Comment from: Doublemint posted at January 23, 2006 2:12 PM

My only grief with Oceans Unmoving was that it started right on the heels on That Which Redeem's end. As a reader, I just needed a breather before dealing with another long story.

That said, OU flows better as a block as opposed to the daily postings. Why? Exposition. Once you understand what everyone's talking about in regards to their surrondings the story goes much smoother. That's not to say the daily strips aren't entertaining. I find the gags pretty funny, especially in the second arc.

Sluggy Freelance is a webcomic that I read for two minutes out of my day. It makes me smile. That's really all I expect from it.

Comment from: exit posted at January 23, 2006 2:22 PM

Where the dickens did all these people come from claiming a nonhate for OU? Nice to see, just unexpected.

As for my feelings on it, the last week or so has been a little better. I've been really uninterested in what's going on (and quite frankly don't really have a firm grasp on all the details), but things seem to be finally happening.

I also didn't like Gofotron very much, but I stuck it out because I trusted Pete to get back to some sluggy goodness after that, and he did.

Let's hope he gets back to his roots after OU, is about all I can say.

Comment from: thok posted at January 23, 2006 2:25 PM

Put me in the fans of OU group. The greys have been well developed (there's a lot of Aylee in them) and the caribs are interesting, and I want to see how Bun-Bun gets home.

I will say that Kada bores the heck out of me, and leaf-boy isn't much better (although leaf-boy does have some interesting connections to the Heinlein-style hero).

Comment from: Nich posted at January 23, 2006 2:28 PM

I think OU is vastly more successful than, say, Gofotron -- I agree with Padre in that when I went away from Sluggy for a few years and then caught back up through the archives, Gofotron was the single most irritating chunk, where I kept clicking "next" again and again, waiting for it to end.

I find it odd that you say we got to know and care about its cast, but not OU's -- why is that, exactly? Some genuine insight into this from you would be interesting to hear. Why don't you care about Calix and Jada, whereas I read the strip every day wanting to find out what happens to them? What specifically makes this different from Gofotron?

Comment from: Nich posted at January 23, 2006 2:30 PM

Apparently I don't care enough about Kada to actually get her name right, though ...

Comment from: Imaria posted at January 23, 2006 2:58 PM

Gofotron was painful to move through. I care about they Greys more than I did...anyone in the Gofotron storyline. I don't even remember an inkling of their names.

I will admit, however, that this has gone on long enough. But really, what can Pete feasibly do that he isn't already doing? He already made the mistake when embarking on this mission, now he has to finish it somehow so it doesn't screw up the original story and future plans that he has.

Comment from: Fangz posted at January 23, 2006 3:03 PM

I'm in what passes for the OU fanclub too. Certainly there has been problems, and times at which I thought OMG this is awful. But they've passed.

Also, I get the feeling that with the new year, Sluggy has returned stronger. Right now, even though Pete is palpably rushing through the storyline, I think the strip actually works fairly well.

And yeah, OU as a premise is a good idea. Possibly a spin-off, under a different author, for us pervy wierdos?

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at January 23, 2006 3:04 PM

What I really really REALLY hate about OU is that it's an awesome science-fiction story. An awesome science-fiction story that has been SLAUGHTERED, compressed and then decompressed. Told in non-linear time, in a place where time has a different meaning. With huge text baloons in which obnoxious characters mention names you don't even remember (seriously, are we supposed to know Bun Bun's whole crew by name?). With those huge text baloons having the characters describe what they're about to do because the pictures don't say enough. With jokes that are so forcibly injected in the dialogue that a fucking catheter is an appropriate metaphor.

Argh. It's like a bad movie translation of a book you love. You HAVE to see it, but you'll cringe most of the time.

And, much as I love X-COM, I hate the grey aliens.

Comment from: Nich posted at January 23, 2006 3:09 PM

"With huge text baloons in which obnoxious characters mention names you don't even remember (seriously, are we supposed to know Bun Bun's whole crew by name?)."

I have to admit, much as I like OU, that the George Lucas-like obsession over the most minor characters has been one of the dumber aspects of this storyline. I got a chuckle out of Pete apologizing for misnaming one of the less relevant crewmen in a recent strip, because the error flew right by me when I read the strip, and when he posted the correction, I still didn't even know who he was talking about. (Nor did I care, since he was just there to make up the numbers on the ship.)

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at January 23, 2006 3:21 PM

Argh. It's like a bad movie translation of a book you love. You HAVE to see it, but you'll cringe most of the time.

Ah. So you read Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia and then watched Sci-Fi's *HORRIBLE* butchering of it, too?

*still mad about that*

*but still suggesting that people go read the book and the sequel Casual Rex. Great stuff*

Comment from: Freak posted at January 23, 2006 3:34 PM

IMO, Gofotron was one of the weaker stories in the Sluggyverse; ISTR that it wasn't too popular at the time it was running.

I've been skipping the dailies, though I do plan on reading through all of OU at some point, and resuming Sluggy when it restarts.

And OU is sufficiently different from the rest of Sluggy that it would have worked best as a separate spin-off (like Roomies / It's Walky).

Comment from: wingie posted at January 23, 2006 4:21 PM

The thing I really love about Sluggy is its ability to go on these epic storylines. Gofotron was wonderful, and I actually rather enjoyed That Which Redeems. But UO is another story... I like it, but it's not enough for me.

In TWR, the things that kept me going were Torg and the sword. Torg tied the entire story back to the Torg/Riff/Zoe holy trinity, and the sword tied it back to the overarching plot and all the other long epic adventures. (The Storm Breaker Saga being one of my favorites.) What I expected in UO was Bun-Bun's backstory. He's gotten out of this before---recall Santa saying how this is the second time he was thrown out of time. This was the chance for Bun-Bun to become more than a vehicle of violence. Abrams hinted at the Bun-Bun backstory multiple times before OU, but not in OU itself, and that's sad.

So the next thing I was looking forward to was Bun-Bun being a vehicle of violence and lots of pirate awesomeness. I mean, seriously, they're pirates floating in timeless space, there must be awesome battles. But not much of that either. Though the recent fight with Blacksoul did make me happy.

Sometimes I wish there weren't Saturday fillers, because then the story would move faster. But Bikini Suide Sat. are awesome.

Comment from: Polychrome posted at January 23, 2006 4:23 PM

Chalk up another not-hater. I actually think the setting of timeless space is really neat. And I agree with the suggestion to think of this story as something other than Sluggy, cause well it is. It could have been a side comic, but there are only so many hours in the day and I think Pete realized that if he had done it that way both comics would have suffered.

Comment from: jrleek posted at January 23, 2006 4:29 PM

I love OU. I agreed with Eric's original objections (ie, Pete was trying to avoid the fallout from "That which redeems) but right now I think it's about the best comic on the web. I think this is largely due to daily full page strips. They serve the story a lot better. Of course, this is probably way too much work for Pete, but I'm enjoying it. Eric, I wonder if your problem doesn't just come down to that you've decided you don't like it, and so you don't. Maybe you could take a 2 week break, then go back to the beginning are re-read the whole thing.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 23, 2006 4:33 PM

For the record, I think it more likely this is Bun Bun's backstory. The bits with Blacksoul about "the future" have made me revisit the whole "this is before Bun Bun met Torg, and Kada and Calix will end up being Santa and Mrs. Claus."

I could be wrong in that, mind. But the possibility is there.

Comment from: wingie posted at January 23, 2006 4:59 PM

"For the record, I think it more likely this is Bun Bun's backstory."

Yes, that is the problem with dealing with this whole timeless space thing, isn't it?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 23, 2006 4:59 PM

Honestly, I think I would like OU much more if a) Abrams focused on the main characters more and b) the explanations for all the neat sci-fi things were shorter and much less agonizingly unfunny. Even completely boring explanations would be better than a really bad turn at interpretive dance.

Comment from: Doublemint posted at January 23, 2006 5:12 PM

Forgive me for speculating, but I have a feeling that we might be in for a "Twin Fit", that the two Bun-Buns (past and "present") will meet up. While I was rereading the first part of OU, the Twin-Fit stuck out as a sore piece of exposition. It was far too developed for a joke, and any other piece of Timeless Space lore, however minor, seems to have been developed at some point. If so, then it would tie Bun-Buns backstory together with his current development.

Comment from: Denyer posted at January 23, 2006 5:20 PM

I remember back to the epic length Gofotron, Champion of the Cosmos, which was a ton more fun

Hmm. Wasn't so keen, personally. Whereas I've been starting to like the OU cast for a month or longer -- they've been around long enough for that. The flashback story actually irritated me somewhat...

Eh, I'll just be happy if book six gets redone in the large format I got book eight in. Those are the story arcs I've enjoyed most so far.

Comment from: lark posted at January 23, 2006 5:22 PM

I cannot, for the life of me, get into Oceans Unmoving. I am this || close to removing Sluggy from my links list because of it.

I think part of it may be that I just. Don't. Like. Bun-Bun. I tolerate him as part of other storylines, but one where he is the only standard Sluggyverse character...blargh.

Every time I go to Sluggy now, I see those reindeer talking heads, and my eyes glaze over, and I find myself babbling in tongues. It really is that bad.

And I love Pete Abrams stuff. I've been reading Sluggy for years an years an years. But this...this might break me.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at January 23, 2006 5:29 PM

I agree with both Doublemint and Eric - This is possibly Bun bun's backstory (first 'toss into the void' by Santa) and current story (end of Holiday Wars), with a single ending.

I had forgotten about the "Twin Fit". Heh, I remember when I thought that timeless lore catalog was only a prop, and not the endless book of plot devices that it turned out to be. Silly old me.

Comment from: T Campbell posted at January 23, 2006 5:31 PM

At times I can't believe SLUGGY is as successful as it is, given how adventurous it is.

That's what I love about it.

The "these are secondary characters, so I can't care about them" argument makes no sense to me. Secondary status means they're at RISK. Wouldn't they be EASIER to care about, then? I've had no trouble getting to know and care about Calix and Kada, at least.

Oceans Unmoving is probably my favorite of his since "Fire and Rain," at least so far. "That Which Redeems" had a lot going for it, but Horribus was defeated far too early and Alt-Zoe's death was so heavily foreshadowed she practically had an expiration date tattooed onto her forehead.

But then, the range of responses we see here proves the point. It's only natural when you have such a wide range of stories.

Comment from: quiller posted at January 23, 2006 5:39 PM

I think Gofotron was probably the low point of Sluggy for me. OU has at least been growing on me. I was actually kind of surprised to see Calix fail to grab Bun-bun there. It looks like Bun-bun will at least be out of the storyline for a while. I'm not saying OU is great, I have to agree that Calix and Kada have rather generic personalities, and seem to be mostly straightmen to the greys and the carib. But for some reason the mix of humor, and forboding has been working reasonably well for me lately, better than Scary-go-round's similar mix has lately, anyways. Like most, I'll be happy to see the storyline finished, but I do want to see it finished at this point rather than abandoned.

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer posted at January 23, 2006 5:49 PM

OU would not be such a bad storyline if 1)it weren't so unbelievably long. After all, Torg had "alot to do this year" back in january of last year, and has been basically offscrean ever since. 2) it came at the absolutely worst time, when all of us were thinking, "finally we're done with the losing-the-house/tentacle-torg side plot and can finally see how Pete addresses the Torg telling Zoe that he loved "her" and had to watch her die." Now anything he does is going to feel far too long after the initial drama to effectively pull are heartstrings (assuming we're still looking).

Comment from: mr k posted at January 23, 2006 6:00 PM

I dunno. Certainly initially UO lost me, not because of the characters, who are interesting enough, but just because of the sheer quanitity. Also, as much as I tried to pay attention, every single "crazy carver and the..." segment was delivered in such a dire fashion that I did not absorb the information. This led me to be confused as to the characters and the plot.

Now, however, I am getting into it- finally there is some kind of hook, with blacksoul representing some kind of interest at least. However, I do hope this all comes to an end soon.

I think my major frustration about UO was the whole Torg Zoe thing, which I was very interested in getting resolved, was instead ignored. Ultimately, the reason I have put up with it, and will put up with it, is it is Sluggy Freelance. UO WILL end. And then we get to go back to Sluggy Freelance. I am currently re-reading through the archives, and it really is reminding me why I stuck with it.

So yeah, this story is confusing and overwrought and certainly overlong, but I know theres going to be more to come.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at January 23, 2006 7:55 PM

In the past few strips it's been getting marginally more interesting, what with Bun-Bun and Blacksoul's dive into the Oceans Unmoving (gee, took him long enough to get to the thing that's the fucking namesake of the storyline), but really, I do keep hoping it will end, and soon.

And I hate to admit it, but to me the Christmas Ninjas storyline did feel a bit forced sometimes, at least in the humor department. The storyline itself was crazy enough that it could've worked in old-time Sluggy but it just seemed like Pete wasn't quite at the top of his game with the pacing or the gags.

Comment from: MarvinAndroid posted at January 23, 2006 9:48 PM

I'm kind of liking this last week of OU (Stuff's happening!). It's not all that hard to remember the characters. I'm rooting for Bun-Bun to go away. Pete missed a MAJOR opportunity to develop Bun-Bun's character (seriously, a character-centric storyline should have at least SOME development), and because of that Bun-Bun needs to go away. He was fun for a while, you know? But not fun as a character, but rather as a sort of natural force. As a character, he just wasn't interesting.

Most of 2003-2004 bored me. Girls' Night Out was kind of fun, but Kesandru's well just went ON AND ON AND ON AND ON. It was worse than Oceans Unmoving. Then there was Holiday Wars, which was neat (Bun-Bun gets character development! Great!). Then we went into That Which Redeems. And I gave up. Sluggy was an excellent comic, but I didn't care enough about that storyline for it to be worth reading.

Most people seem to feel about OU the way I felt about TWR. There were lots of characters, and frankly I couldn't care less about them. It was a parellel universe, so the only one that I really cared about was Torg (and Mosp, a little bit). The big difference between TWR and OU was that in TWR, the main character changed and grew. Bun-Bun didn't.

It would have been interesting if Pete had shown Bun-Bun's rise to power after being thrown out into timeless space. But instead it was just Bun-Bun back in his usual place. Besides that, he seemed to have LOST the development he got from Holiday Wars.

So Bun-Bun needs to go away. I'd really like to see what happens with Aylee. And a new character introduced to the main Sluggyverse would be nice. Someone once pointed out that the fun of Sluggy came from the character chemistry. So what we really need is a new character to stir things up.

But I haven't given up yet.


Comment from: diGriz posted at January 23, 2006 11:39 PM

I don't mind OU. I actually mind it a heck of a lot less than TWR. I at least care about Calix and the greys (and, to a lesser extent, Kada, although she's used far too often as fanservice), and I cared little if anything for the demons in TWR. Or Alt-Zoe, for that matter. (I was actually happy when she was finally killed off, especially since, as T Campbell pointed out, it was like watching one of those "Very Special Episodes" on TV where you know within 5 minutes exactly what's going to happen.)

Interestingly enough, I think Pete started on OU not just because he "missed Bun-Bun" (as he put it a long time ago), but perhaps also because he had written himself into a corner. He may have been unsure just *how* Zoe and Torg were now supposed to interact, and wanted to give himself more time to flesh it out. Plus he had these cool ideas for *gasp* ORIGINAL science fiction concepts, and saw a chance to implement them.

Having said all of that, the story is now, what, a year old? A little less because of the break between parts I and II? If this is the "shortened, sped up" version, just how much longer would Pete's original plans have run? I'm afraid to know.

Comment from: Robotech_Master posted at January 24, 2006 12:21 AM

Mark me down as another one of the "enjoys Oceans Unmoving" crowd. I've always kind of liked Bunbun, in a sick J.R. Ewing kind of way. There's something kind of cathartic about a good antihero.

And the new world is interesting. In a way, it kind of reminds me of the worlds created by Jennifer Diane Reitz, Unicorn Jelly (which is complete and can thus be read as a coherent whole) and Pastel Defender Heliotrope (which is ongoing, and also includes a side-story called "To Save Her" which seems to tie back to Unicorn Jelly). Reitz has an amazing knack for creating interestingly new and different worlds with entirely new elements and physical laws—and then plunking people down in them and seeing what they do. Unicorn Jelly starts off as seeming to be little more than a cute homage to those little gumdrop-shaped critters from the "Dragon Warrior" RPG games (assuming you don't count the "prologue" strip, which is really kind of a cheat since it was stuck in there relatively near to the strip's end), but the world gradually opens out until you begin to realize there's a hell of a lot more going on than meets the eye. Pastel Defender Heliotrope takes some of the concepts from U.J. and runs with them. Interestingly enough, they are both done in different art styles from the norm in webcomics; Unicorn Jelly is pixellated, kind of like old Macintosh graphics, and Pastel Defender is painted in pastels.

Of course, they may not be for everyone; Unicorn Jelly grows increasingly metaphysical over the course of its run, and much of it is left frustratingly unexplained. Perhaps the reader is meant to fill in the gaps for himself. The strips also cover some mature themes, including sexual issues, and so may not be for everyone. But I enjoyed them. If you're finding OU interesting, you might want to take a look.

Comment from: Spatulus posted at January 24, 2006 1:27 AM

I'm glad someone else thinks that Kasandra's Well was painful. I'm fine reading it over now, but while it was on-going it drove me nuts... and I had to keep reading, as it actually involved the main cast. At least with OU, I can skip Sluggy 'til it's over then read it in its entirety.

Gofotron drove me nuts as well. But when I read it in the archive, I really enjoyed it.

Comment from: J.Gerritsen posted at January 24, 2006 1:28 AM

Well, I've been lurking around Websnark for the past year or so and I've finally registered a TypeKey account to respond to this.
I have to disagree with you Eric. Granted OU isn't as strong as That Which Redeems or some of Abrams' previous storyline, but to my mind the only problem that OU ever had was its update times. I love the little Gray men and having played X-Com for many years I even loved the Z-comics.
I wish I could get my girlfriend to help me out as she's much stronger than I in literary theory and criticism--but unfortunately she doesn't care in the least for webcomics. So instead, I must rely on the simple fact that I like it. I may not understand exactly why but I do certainly enjoy this story. I'd be disappointed to see it cut short. But hey, this from the guy that read every Star Wars novel he could get his hands on in grade school and thought it good story telling.

Comment from: Spatulus posted at January 24, 2006 1:31 AM

Hey, a fellow Unicorn Jelly fan! This is wholly OT, but I still get the shivers whenever I look at the last two strips before the epilogue, 639 and 640. Definitely one of the best comics I've read, bar none.

Comment from: Ununnilium posted at January 24, 2006 1:37 AM

(Haven't read the rest of the thread yet.)

The odd thing for me is, by this point, I *do* care about the characters. I was sad when the one gray-headed alien was killed by his captors, I ooohed at the reveal of the Obsidian Teknokon, and I'm hoping Calix and that one moose-headed guy don't have to jump. (Hey, I never said I was good with names.) So for me, at least, Oceans Unmoving has been working fairly well.

Comment from: nifboy posted at January 24, 2006 1:53 AM

Whoa. And here I was thinking of making a comparison to Unicorn Jelly as well. And I find not one but two other UJ fans (maybe we're not quite as rare breed as I thought).

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at January 24, 2006 2:09 AM

I found Kesandru's Well to be difficult to read, and I read it in the archives.

I don't really remember OU as being a very Bun Bun-centric series. He always seemed to be involved in the same way he was in the regular sluggyverse, someone the other characters had to deal with. I've always liked Bun Bun best when he was working alongside the rest of the Sluggy cast (as in Dark Days Ahead). I wasn't sad to see him fall into the ocean unmoving though (actually, when he did fall in, I instantly got the feeling that he was back in his own universe because of it).

Comment from: Tangent posted at January 24, 2006 2:48 AM

Having recently reviewed Unicorn Jelly and one of the sequels... it's a rich and detailed universe, with some rather unique elements to it. However, one thing to remember is that she says she was compelled to draw this comic. The story had to be told... and her artistic talents at the beginning weren't perhaps the most polished... but early Sluggy Freelance or CRFH strips are equally unpolished at the beginning.

Around the middle of the comic, when the comic goes from a fanciful fantasy to a detailed scifi thriller, her art takes a significant leap forward. We also learn so many little bits about this story, bits that move it from a fantasy to a science fiction tale.

And yes, there are some strong similarities between Oceans Unmoving and Unicorn Jelly. Including the mystical elements found in both.

I strongly recommend people read UJ, and others of Jennifer Reitz's works. They are well worth the time, and are among the more intelligent and imaginative works out there, with a setting/back story as detailed and involved as that found in Malakhim or Alpha Shade.

(And seeing that I recently reviewed UJ, it's easy enough to read the review and get caught up on it, though I did take care not to give away too many spoilers.)

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews

Comment from: ormond_sacker posted at January 24, 2006 3:58 AM

So seriously, why are we reading it?

In my case, because it's an involving, if occasionally clunky, epic story by Pete Abrams, one of my favorite webcartoonists. Call it "SLUG-TV", or "Magical Adventures in Exposition Space". ("SlugPacked"! "Vaguely Motivated Evil, Inc"! I'll stop.)

Pete is clearly breaking the conventional sequential art agreement here in a way that Gofotron or Oceans Unmoving didn't - he isn't giving us a viewpoint character from Sluggy Prime to mediate this new world. (Length aside, I'm still not convinced Gofotron or OU was fundamentally different than, say, K I T T E N when you get down to the story mechanics.) The only carry-over character is one we're seeing from outside by people who are afraid of him. And doing that for a freaking year is different and non-kosher, and I can think of exactly one long-running strip in history that's abandoned the entire main cast to that extent (the world-renowned, ahem, "Barney Google"). The exposition has been clunky, sure, and that's what the apology letter was about, but "why should we care about these characters" is a second issue. Can a creator radically change the focus of his strip for an extended time and retain brand loyalty? Does declaring a spin-off make it better?

And how many months have we been following The Boy and Shelly Jr. over in Tackleford, anyway?

Comment from: PO8 posted at January 24, 2006 4:22 AM

Just for a sense of balance with all those who love it :-), I actually gave up on Sluggy Freelance well before OU. I have to say that I think pretty much every single story arc for the past few years has taken it farther from what attracted me to SF in the first place. Namely, the sense of fun.

Remember when the cast had fun? When the height of drama was Zoë's reaction to "shupid"?

Lots of folks have talked about how SF is a great example of a successful Cerebus. I'm afraid I disagree. I read lots of dramatic strips, but I wore out on SF about the time it got more and more epic. OU was just the final trigger for me to quit reading altogether; a decision I had really made in my heart way earlier.

Bring back fun, not just occasionally but on a daily basis, and I'm back instantly. Someone let me know if it happens.

Comment from: Duff the Tragic Wagon posted at January 24, 2006 5:44 AM

To be fair, Scary Go Round's current storyline is a little different from this. Focusing on the kids has precendent: it happened last time there was a 'The Child' storyline, although perhaps not to the same extent. We've sort of been eased into the shift in focus.

I expect that if Pete had originally introduced some of these characters within the confines of 'proper' Sluggy, we'd be having less of an outcry now that the focus is solely on them (and Bun-Bun, who a lot of people don't like anyway. And who isn't so much of a focus as just there).

The other difference is, of course, that Scary Go Round's current story is excellent, whereas OU, isn't, particularly, and the things that could be happening to make it excellent aren't.

Comment from: elvedril posted at January 24, 2006 5:56 AM

You know, I'm still checking Sluggy pretty much only for Saturdays. I actually started to like Calix and Kada, and Stu is annoying me less then before. But nobody else is at all interesting to me (including Bun-bun. Whose apparent prophetic status bugs the hell out of me. "Yes, I knew you would fly down and kill one of the grays so I arranged a secret signal with another of the grays to light you on fire when that happens... Umm... That's not forced at all"). Actually, speaking of. How many grays are there supposed to be anyway? I thought at one point that there were only two, but now there seem to be four or five...

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 24, 2006 8:06 AM

Actually, I never liked the two K I T T E N stories... the humor and tension negated each other for me, and all I was left with was restlessness. But I did like Gofotron - partly because I got almost all the references, and partly because I literally started reading Sluggy Freelance the day it ended.

Comment from: Kail Panille posted at January 24, 2006 10:07 AM

OU hasn't exactly been working for me either, but it never ever occurred to me to stop checking Sluggy every day. The epics generally don't work for me except in rereads, when I don't have twenty four hours to forget the secondary characters before each new installment.

But I still read. And why? Because of today's punchline.

Comment from: lar posted at January 24, 2006 11:36 AM

I read it for Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days, and that's it. It seems weird to me that the "real Sluggy" is now drawn by someone else. Perhaps Sluggy has jumped the shark?

Comment from: Kullervo posted at January 24, 2006 4:56 PM

I think that T Campbell helped to articulate why I still like Sluggy. Not that I particularly care for Oceans Unmoving or anything ( I really don't) but someday it will end, and then we'll get something totally different. Perhaps that will be awesome. It'll still be worth reading in any case. The variability of Sluggy makes it a kind of a high-wire act, and Pete doesn't always nail the storyline, but the experimenting does keep it interesting.

The Saturday strips, however, will continue to be incredibly lame.

Comment from: Lis posted at January 24, 2006 7:48 PM

I love Oceans Unmoving, oddly enough, after being utterly bored and uninterested by TWR. Perhaps this is because I rather like Bun-bun, and am not particularly interested by Zoe. Excluding Alt-Bun-bun, the alternate-universe versions were particularly uninteresting until the end, when their dirty secrets came to the fore - too late for any further development.

In OU, on the other hand, I find myself really hoping that Face, or whichever of the Grays is doing the narration, hasn't doomed the whole group by taking care of Ralph; and I hope that Calix and Stu don't go overboard; and I hope that if they do Kada really does "split [Feder's] skull open like a week-old splat", whatever that may mean. And I find myself wondering if Teknokon 1 is under the water, or how else Bun-bun gets back (because he did, at least once), and if the Obsidian Teknokon is still fighting with him under the water, etc.

The obvious thing separating me from those who don't like OU seems to be that I rather like Bun-bun. On the other hand, I've never been particularly fond of Zoe, so all the romantic tension, especially in TWR, leaves me wondering where the fun (and Funny) went.

Whereas in today's comic (the 24th) we got not only the aforementioned punchline but also the sound effect "KALMATAMATAMATA".

Comment from: thok posted at January 24, 2006 9:38 PM

I wonder if part of the issue is the genre. I know that I really disliked KITTEN 1 for essentially the same reasons Eric dislikes OU (uninteresting throw away characters that are vaguely conected to the cast-in particular Dr. Haute-Sheik makes Kada look interesting), but I like OU a lot.

Of course, I find hard-core SF much more interesting than teen horror movie.

We can test this-has anybody read the Torg Potter or Muffin the Vampire Baker storylines both before and after seeing the source material?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 24, 2006 9:47 PM

It's worth noting KITTEN and KITTEN 2 ended a lot faster than this is. I put them more in the Torg Potter category. This is a full fledged plot arc, not a throwaway parody with throwaway characters.

Comment from: Tangent posted at January 25, 2006 12:14 AM

Seems Pete's been watching Websnark, Eric. His comments on today's Sluggy are about trying to wrap up Oceans Unmoving in a timely fashion.

Considering what we just found out with today's update (that Kada managed to escape with her map and computer, along with Calix, Stu, and one of the Greys), it's more than likely that we'll see OU ending within a month.

But that's just my personal opinion there.

And I've already gone on in length with my own perceptions of OU. Any story in which Pete Abrams manages to get me interested in Bun-Bun is a superb one, especially considering how much I hate the rabbit.

Take care!

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews

Comment from: The_Prof posted at January 26, 2006 7:48 PM

Just for a sense of balance with all those who love it :-), I actually gave up on Sluggy Freelance well before OU. I have to say that I think pretty much every single story arc for the past few years has taken it farther from what attracted me to SF in the first place. Namely, the sense of fun.

I'd been steadily losing interest in Sluggy for a while - not overwhelmingly, but in a death-of-a-thousand-cuts way - before Gofotron. The strip seemed to be losing its sense of fun, yes, maybe even 'joy' in the C.S. Lewis sense. Then there was Gofotron, and that dealt a near-mortal wound; didn't care about the extra characters, parody was extremely heavy-handed, an overdose of the 'stupid' humor that's my least favorite kind, and so on. That was the real break-point for me; I kept reading, but it just wasn't the same. Still, I kept reading.

I think TWR is when I started skimming large chunks of strip; some poignant moments, some good moments, but a lot of stuff I didn't care about. And the good moments weren't particularly redeeming for me, because they couldn't carry the weight of the plot. Still, I did keep reading.

But Oceans Unmoving? I haven't actually read a strip in weeks, maybe months. I'm not sure why it's even still in my nightly trawl folder, unless it's in some vain hope that it will end and the Sluggy I used to love will be back. The concept didn't strike me as original at all; a 1980's Doctor Who episode, Enlightenment, had almost the same thing, with sailing ships in space captained by beings outside of time, and I thought of it practically the first thing when OU started. I find the characters dull and almost impossible to care about, the setting over-complicated and confusing because I had trouble paying enough attention to keep everyone straight (I'm not even sure who Calix and Kada are, at this late point).

Bun-Bun may be a part of this for me as well; I enjoy him in small doses, but he palls quickly with long on-stage arcs. (I didn't particularly enjoy Holiday Wars for that reason.) So a long story arc with him as the lead-in from the characters we know isn't exactly a rousing introduction, for me.

Comment from: gwalla posted at January 28, 2006 1:11 AM

I really only read Sluggy anymore when somebody reminds me of it (like now). Reading it in chunks does seem to work better, although it's still pretty weak. I can almost care about Calix and Kada, and the little greys seem to have gotten funnier lately (but a little still goes a long way).

The Carib expository segments highlight an important fact: any joke built around something being tedious that actually shows that something is doomed. Either it won't be tedious and the joke won't work, or it will be tedious and it will be...tedious.

OU seems to be Pete (who is something of a comicbook geek) trying to do his own version of Kirby Cosmic or Grant Morrison I Can Taste The Color Of The Future, but beyond the initial premise of Timeless Space (which is kind of cool and original), there isn't much there.

Comment from: Zeke posted at February 12, 2006 4:26 PM

Making a late comment here, and it's not because of Oceans Unmoving (though I was delighted to see the show of support for OU in this thread, and it got me to knuckle down and catch up on Part 2, which has been way better than I expected). Nothing to do with Sluggy at all, in fact. Or even with webcomics. This question is more basic. Primordial, if you will.

Wednesday, via Google, has taught me that the quote above -- "Who cares, Dale" -- was said by Lloyd Robertson. But what was he talking about? And who's Dale?

- Z

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 13, 2006 11:48 AM

Zeke: You want the last sketch on this page. (You'll need something that can handle RealVideo.) Lloyd is addressing a caricature of consumer rights advocate Dale Goldhawk.

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