Friday, December 22, 2006

Weekly Round-up

I haven't done one of these in a while, so here's several tidbits of news or observations regarding developments in webcomics this week:

NEWS: Gunnerkrigg Court is moving to three days a week, starting next week. Voted as the Outstanding Newcomer in this year's Webcartoonist Choice Awards, Gunnerkrigg Court has been living up to its potential, and having even more content from it is nothing but good news.

NEWS: Kismet: Hunter's Moon has come to a close. When I first joined Girlamatic, this comic was one of the top discoveries that convinced me I made the right choice. Even though I've since unsubscribed from Girlamatic (primarily due to the sparsity of new content), I still made sure to follow this strip on it's own site.

It's a good strip that goes into unexpected places, and I'm eager to see the short stories that flesh out the backgrounds of the strip's characters, as well as keep my eyes out for the sequel coming next year. Congratulations to Layla Lawlor on a strip well done.

NEWS: Drama has been at an all-time low in webcomics this year, but that doesn't mean it isn't there - and another scuffle has broken out in a debate between such long time stars as DJ Coffman, Joey Manley, and William G.

What really struck me about the entire debate was how... well, completely silly it was. I mean, not that I don't normally find most flame-wars a tad ridiculous, but this one seemed to be entirely insults and misrepresentation for its own sake. When all an argument does is paint every single participant in a bad light... well, far be it from me to be the voice of reason, but I'm wondering when will some of these people realize that arbitrary mockery and debate is tarnishing their own reputation as much as the person they are trying to make look bad?

I just feel bad for Xavier Xerexes, since he had to deal with all the hullabaloo taking place on his site.

NEWS: Speaking, however, tangentially, about William G, he's posted some preview art for his upcoming storyline (which arrives tomorrow, if I don't have my wires crossed.) And let me tell you, that has to be the most horrifying thing I've seen all day.

RANT: Least I Could Do has been running a serious and intense storyline all week, which has been both heart-wrenching and an insight into Rayne's character. I was really impressed with it, right up until today, when I wanted to reach into the computer and start punching people. (And, let me assure you, I'm usually a far more peaceful sort.)

Let's talk about Rayne Summers.

Rayne Summers is an asshole. There's no two ways about that - it's basically the premise of the strip. And I'm ok with that - the strip is not only aware of this, but bases a significant majority of it's humor off of this. Rayne's a dick. He sleeps with women. He messes with his friends, and occasionally comes to their rescue. He's shallow and self-centered, but charming enough to thrive despite this.

While I typically have a tendency to hate this sort of character (male Mary Sues who manage to miraculously come into dream jobs and have their way with the world without any real reason for it), Least I Could Do pulls it off well enough for me to stay interested, and even enjoy the strip. I tend to enjoy seeing Rayne get his comeuppance, of course, but I still laugh and read along in the storylines when (as is often the case), he comes out on top. (No pun intended.)

But this latest storyline left me intrigued. Rayne get's his own little christmas spiritual visituation, in the vein of Scrooge before him. We all know where this starts, and we get to see Rayne in his past. We get to see exactly how Rayne became the asshole we know and love. And that was a great scene - it not only worked, it not only was enjoyable to read, but it genuinely was decent character development.

Next step: the present. Rayne waxes eloquent upon seeing the results of his actions, and professes how he never set out to hurt anyone, just to have a good time. And again... I can buy that. It might ring a little false, given some of his behavior in the past, but I can accept this attitude. And seeing him feeling remorse at his actions... not expected, but again - he pulls it off well. I can buy it.

Also, I like how the 'friend' suddenly starts chastising her emotionally distraught buddy.Today, though, we get to find out that Rayne's not really responsible, however. Apparently, the only women who he hurt are the ones that brought it on themselves.

Fuck. That.

Look, as I mentioned earlier, Rayne being an asshole has been core to the strip from the very beginning. He has treated women poorly on many, many occasions. Ok, that's fine. (Well maybe not fine, but it's basically acceptable within the context of the strip.)

But going on to then say, "Hey, just kidding, he's actually not an ass - it's their fault for sleeping with him and expecting something more out of it?" Once again: Fuck. That.

It's a shame, because Rayne, as a character who was hurt in the past and chose to become a womanizing asshole, but is now regretting the harm he has caused, is an intriguing character. Rayne, as a character who remains infallible and bereft of the responsibility of his actions, is completely uninteresting. It not only doesn't help to develop the character, it actively undermines what the last week of strips has been building up.

If all that was happening was losing out on Rayne's character development, that would be one thing - but this is actively sending a pretty terrible message down the line. Oh, I know what you're saying - why in the world shouldn't I expect a strip like LICD to be sexist? Isn't it sexist all the time?

Well no, it's not. Characters in it are, sure. But you can tell when Rayne's being a dick, that's because he's a dick. There is a difference between that and the strip itself saying, "Hey, it's ok for a guy to be an ass, he's only going to hurt girls who are asking for it."

Maybe I'm reading things wrong. The storyline isn't over, and we still have (assuming things stay true to form) Rayne's future to look in on. But seeing the morale of the story - even if only for a single day - be that the only women Rayne hurt were the ones who brought it on themselves? After seeing countless examples throughout the strip where that just isn't true?

Once more with fervor:

Fuck. That.

NEWS: Finally, since I'd rather not end things on a bad note, especially so close to the holidays... go check out the news over at Penny Arcade today. In addition to some very nice discussion on everyone's favorite Cardboard Tube Samurai, it looks like Child's Play will be going the distance and breaking the one million mark this year.

Go ahead, spend a few minutes grinning about that figure. I know I did. Anyway, I'll be back next Wednesday - till then, enjoy the holidays!

4 comments:

William G said...

Ehn, you know how those long established resentments are when they never get resolved... I think we're all Irish or something. (controversial!)

Anyway, thanks for the link, but I thought I'd mention a slight correction: The Santa monster isn't in the story. It's just something I whipped up as a sort of Christmas card to everyone.

Enjoy your holidays, man.

Anonymous said...

Are you seriously expecting character development from LICD?

Last week thing is not only typically A Very Special LICD stuff, the outcome of it (as Very Special Whatever always is) is very predictable: Rayne doesn't actually get any character development, just stays the way he is because he REALIZES just how awesome he is.

Everytime LICD plays "serious" is actually to state: No, SERIOUSLY. Rayne is awesome. I'm not kidding.

It's probably one of the reasons I stopped reading some time ago.

Maritza
CRFH.net

Mr Myth said...

Anyway, thanks for the link, but I thought I'd mention a slight correction: The Santa monster isn't in the story. It's just something I whipped up as a sort of Christmas card to everyone.

Ah, my bad then! (That's actually something of a relief.)

Anyway, just read part 2, and props on the cutest little evil ghost-child I've ever seen!

Mr Myth said...

Are you seriously expecting character development from LICD?

Well, that's the thing - I've seen enough non-serious strips do it to know it can be done. And while LICD is probably at the bottom of the least of one's I'm expecting it from... the rest of the storyline was doing a genuinely good job of it.

But yeah, you're right, we just end up back at the same mindset, and I suppose it really shouldn't be a surprise. I guess I'm just too optimistic about these things!