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The Kafka’s A Stretch, But Bear With Me

This is the second post from Contestant #6; the assignment was to review one comic from a list of three randomly selected from the backlog of sites submitted by creators to Fleen for review. I, your humble editor, have not read the comics in question.

If you’ve ever read a good edition of Kafka’s The Trial or The Castle, you’ll know what I mean when I introduce the comic Canadian Creation Myth. See, Kafka sketched doodles alongside his writing. They’re literally sketches, but there’s an odd, somewhat surreal craft to them. When you look at one alongside his work, you don’t just think: “Oh. It’s just a guy at a desk.�? There’s instead an epiphany, and you realize: “Oh! That guy at the desk it totally screwed.�? You can feel the weight of the story through the art, despite it’s simplicity.

Canadian Creation Myth is similar, perhaps, just for that refreshing simplicity. The art, reminiscent of the hard and fast doodles of Toothpaste for Dinner, stretches the conception of “art�? to its breaking point. The bottom line, though, is that CCM is visually boiled down so much that there’s nothing to get in the way of the (often arbitrary) joke.

The humor, though, is inconsistent. Some comic writers specialize in scatological jokes, nonsequitors, politics, or high-brow humor. Like the Red Mage (which is the best class, by the way), CCM does all of these things, but none of them perfectly. Perhaps the creator, whom I honestly cannot name from the (uproariously rude) content of the site, is still getting his or her bearings so early (16 comics) into the work. CCM tries out a plot by poking fun at the recent Canadian PM election, but it mostly sticks to one-shots, some of which are hilariously self-consciously Canadian, like one about Wayne Gretzky (whom, by the the way, Open Office recognizes in its dictionary; today is a glorious day). It’s worth a look at CCM’s short archive just to see if there’s one or two comics you like in there. I found a few laughs, and I’ll go back for more.

I didn’t perceive anything wrong with your review, but it just didn’t resonate with me for some reason.

I did get a sense of what the comic is like from the review though, so props to that.

I don’t agree with this tendency of reviews to explain away bad art as a method so that “there’s nothing to get in the way of the joke.” Some comics with bad art succeed, the obvious examples being White Ninja and Toothpaste for Dinner. Dinosaur comics succeeds with the same art every day. Partially Clips is fairly well-known and liked, and uses only clip art.

My point is that I don’t think any of these comics use the visual presentation they use because they don’t want the art to get in the way of the joke. Obviously, the writing is more important to them than the art, but if each and every one of them had the skills of Jeph Jacques or Hawk then you know they’d be all up in making really beautiful comics. Or maybe they wouldn’t, but the point is that even in that case they wouldn’t refrain because having good art would remove from the writing, but because the writing is simply more important to them, and that art is nothing more than a vehicle to help get it across.

That said, some people just don’t draw very well (I know I don’t), and in those cases the writing has to be that much better. They aren’t drawing bad intentionally so as not to disturb the delicately-balanced “joke”, they just can’t draw.

Perhaps the author of CCM can actually draw up a shitstorm if he wants to, but looking at his comic, I doubt it, and while topically his jokes are decent, they don’t have enough draw for me to balance out the art.

But I didn’t mean to write my own review, I meant to say that I don’t agree that CCM is “boiled down” artistically. I just think the dude can’t draw very well, and he’s no Kafka, either.

But by the same token some people use bad art as a vehicle for the funny (At least I find their bad art amusing). The best example of this would be White Ninja. It is drawn really simply and some might say “Crappily” but sometimes that ninja’s face is just too damn hilarious for my sides. They done be splitting.

[…] New Livejournal comic! André Babyn (who used to do Canadian Creation Myth) has returned with Frank and Earl The Astronauts. Babyn informs us that It has poor art but not so poor that you will be spending ten seconds wincing at it. In fact, the art is about 37.8 times better than CaCreaMy, so that’s all right. No crazy astronaut ladies yet, but I have hopes! […]

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