Saturday 7 February 2009

Bigger comic, bigger funny

The Simpsons. Where did it all go wrong? I did some checking and I found that it went wrong exactly halfway through Season 10, namely the “Max Power” episode. I liked that one, and some may say it went south long before that, but in my eyes that was the last half decent episode. After that the ratio shifted to the shitty end of the spectrum. Like the dark end of a brown rainbow. I’m full of the poetic imagery. Anyway, I was watching one of the newer episodes and it was pretty, pretty awful. Damn awful. So awful I had to go back. Back to the beginning. Matt Groening’s old stuff. Life in Hell makes The Simpsons look amateurish. Paradoxical but true. Crazy, ain’t it?
The reason I bring it up is because another comic I read recently has reminded me a little of Life in Hell. Out at Home, by Alex Wendzel, is a beautiful reminder that modern cartoon comedy isn’t all trash. Whether Life in Hell influences Out at Home, we may never know (that, and I didn’t ask). But don’t get me wrong! It is by no means a “rip”-“off” or such like! It follows the Beckett Family and their members’ various escapades. The father, Herman, is a former Baseball star and multimillionaire. With him lives his daughter Kate (sassy teen) and son Thurman (spoiled twiglet-brain).
Boom! Artwork, like I said, reminds me a bit of Life in Hell. Cartoonish and exceptionally well-drawn, two main styles of cartoon drawing dominate. You have your Life in Hell-like cartoony faces with big eyes, big mouth, clearly indicating that the character is a bit of a “goof-ball” (as you Americans might say). Then you have a more subtle American-animé style for the more “realistic” characters. I think the two styles work very nicely together and give Wendzel’s work a kind of signature touch. The humour is, for lack of a better word, fantabulous. Yes. The comic effortlessly shifts between off-the-cuff zaniness or keen observational humour, and story-based telling; not really indulging too much into the latter as yet, but these are early days. Having only started in November ’08, Out at Home reads like it’s been running comfortably for a lot longer, and the site itself has just undergone an overhaul. I know I said I wouldn’t review people’s sites, just the comic (I stick to the issues, baby), but the new look is incredibly good. Bigger comic. Bigger funny.
Just now (right now) it’s starting to dip its toes into the daunting area of character development. Now some people say that there’s no comedy there. These people are most likely failed artists who define “character development” as giving the female lead a larger bosom. Well, it’s not. Real character development opens up untold hilarity when it’s done right and from reading Out at Home, I can say that it is. Usually there’s some sense of awkwardness when a new comic begins, like a child swimming for the first time, or a pensioner trying to walk down the road after the first frost. And, like that child or pensioner, some new comics inexorably sink or swim; walk proud, or fall flat on their ass in a heap while people (like you and me) look on pointing and laughing (because we leave our guilt outside when we go on the internets).
Was there a point to all that noise? Yes. Read Out at Home. I guarantee hilarity. Updates M/W/F. Don’t miss out, cos this one is gonna be big.

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