Webcomic: Sinfest

Sinfest in its early days. From left to right: Percival, Pooch, Criminy, Monique, Squigley, and Slick.

Sinfest is a webcomic by Tatsuya Ishida, an outgrowth of a strip he originally created for the UCLA college newspaper. It's one of the longest-running webcomics around, with over 5,000 strips as of fall 2014.

Sinfest started out as a lighthearted comedy revolving mainly around the goofy antics of Slick, a Calvin-esque teenaged "pimp" who was always trying to look cool and pick up chicks, and his hot friend Monique, who spent her days flirting with hot guys (of whom Slick never qualified). Other prominent characters included God, the Devil, Jesus, Buddha, and the Dragon, an embodiment of Eastern religion; Seymour and Li'l Evil, raging fanboys of God and the Devil respectively; Squigley, a stoner pig who is one of Slick's pals; The Artist, a comic artist and Ishida's Author Avatar; Percival and Pooch, the Artist's cat-and-dog duo; and Criminy, a sheltered bookworm and mutual friend of Slick and Squigley.

In its early years, Sinfest was mainly a gag-a-day comic with little regard for continuity. In addition to the humor based on the cast's foibles, it routinely played with Black Comedy scenarios, drug- and sexually-themed humor, and featured subversive pokes at the nature of religion and morality, among other topics and Running Gags. Slick and Monique's odd friendship/rivalry/something was the foundation of the comic and focus never strayed from it for long, but after a few years, other storylines became prominent, such as Criminy's chaste romance with one of the Devil's succubi, the Devil becoming a more serious antagonist, and revelations about Li'l Evil's backstory, as well as politically-themed gags and overall development for many characters.

However, in October 2011, Sinfest began a huge shift in theme and focus with the introduction of the Sisterhood. This was the first step in the comic ditching almost every aspect of its old nature and turning toward a radical brand of second-wave feminism. In the current setting, society is brainwashed by a Matrix-like Patriarchy controlled by the Devil, and the comic's world is connected to an alternate reality where greed, lust, and other traits fueled by the Patriarchy are the norm. The Sisterhood have almost taken over as the main characters, while Slick and Monique have been moved to secondary status and long-time favorites such as the Dragon, Buddha, and even Criminy are barely seen. Due to the Sisterhood's influence, Monique's personality has done a complete 180, and her ties with Slick are all but erased. Several new characters have been introducednote , and the comic is now focusing on extended storylines that can run for weeks at a time, with once-regular gags now only occasionally showing up. These changes, plus complaints about the seeming invincibility of the Sisterhood and structural issues with the storylines, as well as Ishida using the comic to take potshots at its critics, have led to a severely Broken Base and made Sinfest one of the most controversial webcomics around. Ishida's Reclusive Artist nature hasn't helped, as outside of a cryptic hint dropped by the Artist, no one knows what prompted the changes.

This webcomic provides examples of:

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  • Fallen States of America/Oppressive States of America:
    • Some of the strips about the presidential elections show how low or how dictatorial Ishida regards America to be.
    • Sam's treatment to Liberty can be seen as this. Ishida regards USA as misunderstanding the concept of "Liberty", and continues to do things that are very douchey to her without considering what she would think about it.
  • Fan Fic: Seymour is shown to be writing some about Jesus and John Galt.
  • Fanservice:
    • Although 'Nique and the succubi will cheerfully dish out fanservice to all comers, it also got kinda... subverted. I mean, ew...
    • A later strip even points out the Double Standard; when fans demand she show them ass, 'Nique calls Slick up on stage...
    • And again...
  • Fantastic Drug: Jogs, apparently. Some truth in the matter...
  • Fantastic Racism: Seymour in strips 3662 and 3663 directed towards Fuchsia, which also showcases his hypocrisy since one of the core tenants of Christianity is that those who are legitimately trying to change their ways should be encouraged along that path. Made even more apparent when it was earlier shown that two angels pretty much ignore her nowadays since they know she isn't evil anymore. They even give Criminy their blessing when he digs his way to hell for her since after all, love transcends all boundaries.
    • Seymour does seem more sympathetic towards Tangerine, trying to help her without hurting her feelings (partially so she does not hurt him), to the point where she seems to consider him a friend. Considering his enthusiasm for this happens after getting told off by Fuchsia, it might be evidence of him trying to Atone himself.
  • Females Are More Innocent: The series's credo for latest few years. Average male? Sorry, likely a "dudebro" and a creep visiting strip-clubs and contributing to the oppression of women. The devil girls will be revealed as more innocent than him.
  • Five-Girl Band/Five-Bad Band: The Sisterhood, depending on your interpretation of them.
  • Flat Character: Xanthe and the Sisterhood, considering that their only defining trait is radical feminism. Some are a bit more developed than others, but Xanthe is still the most flat.
  • Flat "What.":
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: So far, Sinfest has possibly over a dozen plotlines all going at once, including...
    • The Sisterhood's fight against the patriarchy.
    • Lil E's backstory (which itself deals with his lost mother, The Devil secretly being his father, and his Lethe-induced amnesia).
    • Slick trying to become less mysoginistic and gain the Sisterhood's favor.
    • Devil Slick messing with Slick's life.
    • Slick rewarming his heart and discovery of sunglasses that makes him see prices on people.
    • Slick regaining his friendship with Monique (many of these deal with Slick if you haven't noticed).
    • Monique's current political agenda as a radical feminist and how the world around her goes out of its way to go against her.
    • Monique's ongoing relationship with Absinthe.
    • Angie's adventure with Lil E and her discovering about her past life before she was a devil girl.
    • The Zombie's search for Fuchsia so he can have story time again.
    • Baby Blue dealing with her current position as a higher ranking devil girl.
    • Baby Blue dealing with Fuchsia no longer being with her, thus becoming more stoic and serious minded.
    • Vainglorious' mysterious agenda.
    • Seymour's ongoing homoerotic fascination with Jesus.
    • Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty's marriage issues.
    • Squigley and his random adventures (which seem to change every few months).
    • And many, many, many more. Many of which are just short drop in stories that don't come back into the webcomic's many plotlines.
      • EG: A woman named Amber, who Criminy went on a date with once (in the early years of the strip), came back, met with Criminy once more, and then was revealed to be some sort of production manager or director for a news station that was reporting live on the Rogue Fembot's rampage and being chased by police through the city, and her only purpose in this storyline was to make sure that the cameras never turned away because of ratings, even if she had to go against her higher-ups' orders. She has never been seen since that storyline.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale
  • A Friend in Need: All sorts of characters — and growing more frequent.
  • The Fundamentalist: Seymour and Lil' Evil for Christianity and Satanism, respectively. Subverted occasionally when Seymour actually practices what he preaches, only to relapse into being a massive prick some time down the road. Again, like everything else in this comic, his flip-flopping got Lampshaded as being due to the Full Moon causing a werewolf-like transformation.
  • Gender Bender: "Trans State."
  • Geeky Turn-On: Fuchsia to Criminy:
    Fuchsia: "Oooo Criminy knows fancy words..."
  • Give Me a Sign: This strip.
  • The Glomp:
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: During one of God's puppet parodies, the Devil mocks him, causing Slick to comment, "Sometimes I can't tell the two of you apart."
  • God Is Evil: Subverted; God can seem this way to some of the characters, but is generally just obnoxious and somewhat childish, with occasional Pet the Dog moments. Jesus, on the other hand, is an awesome guy.
    • So is the Buddha. The Dragon of Eastern Religion is generally awesome also.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Patriarchy Blockers.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: Slicky tried an apple from the Tree of Knowledge and couldn't handle it. Slicky dived into Lethe and forgot everything. So he tried to combine them into "Forbidden Fruit and Lethe Water Power Drink".
    Slick: WHAT THE FUCK
  • Good Is Dumb:
    • Pooch, Seymour, and, alternatively, God Himself.
    • Subverted with Monique, who can be random and occasionally childish, but is far from dumb.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: To a minor degree, this is why God does not show his face and uses the hand puppets. His showing a image of his face to two people caused a bit of a fight. Now imagine if He showed His face to a few more people...
    • As previously stated, when Slick ate the Fruit of Knowledge and found out he was a cartoon character, he tried to kill himself by jumping off a cliff. That works out about as well as you'd think.
  • Grammar Nazi: Oops!
  • Granola Girl: Nique starts as a generic hippy ("Peace!") and gradually turns very liberal left-wing, frequently protesting and contesting. She's even a struggling vegan. Lil' E even preferred her as his "archnemesis" over Seymour as more well-intended, at least for a time.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Monique either has no intention of taking their relationship out of the friend zone or she would, but has zero tolerance policy for his horny clownades. But she's jealous. During the "Loverboy" sequence she drives away a girl who was actually liked Slicky enough to laugh off his antics.
    • Slick either is interested only in Monique's butt or can't hold his brain in one pile and mouth free of drool around her. When she isn't around, he wanders off after other girls all the time. But seeing her flirting with a guy? No way. That's enough to stop his own not-yet-ruined flirt and go decry his rival in a hissyfit so stupid that even Monique who already knows him well facepalmed.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Monique's schmoozin' attempt.
  • The Grim Reaper: He shows up near the end of December to take down the elderly year, every year without fail.
  • Groin Attack: "I love you, man!"
  • Groupie Brigade: After running from a mob, Death disguises himself to avoid blame for Michael's death. Accidentally, he gets taken for him, and runs from a mob.
  • HAHAHA–No: Make love, not war.
  • Harmless Villain: Little E definitely.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Parodied with Patriarchal Action Movie, where the only lines are yells of "I am heterosexual!" while doing Rated M for Manly things.
  • The Hecate Sisters:
    • Absinthe as the naive maiden, who despise being D-man's booth babe, still conserves her mercy and sees being working for him in rose-colored glasses.
    • Fuchsia as the mother, who was before in Absinthe's shoes, but grew out of being a succubus to pursue for love but despise being out of that life, it left her quite messed up.
    • Baby Blue as the crone, she's the one who has being working for D-man the most and the most bitter and distant since Foosh leave the mansion.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Fuchsia bounced back and forth between crushing on Criminy and actively helping Blue and the Devil antagonize Slick and Monique until her character development led her to pretty much stop being evil.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Fuchsia made her choice without so much as a word, over a year in making. She went initially from toying with Criminy, to being intrigued, to straight-out crush. During her crush phase, she'd still cheerfully torment others but behaved herself whenever he was around. Over the passing of time, she started to wish to become 'normal' and feel pity for the damned (perhaps in a very different Not So Different moment). Recently she's almost completely rejected her devilish nature, flat out offering comfort to the damned and rarely being shown in her succubus outfit anymore. There's been some dark foreshadowing that this could get her killed (although none of the cast has ever died yet), but also some that shows she could obtain salvation.
  • Heel Realization: It would seem Seymour is having one here.
    • Seems like Lil'E is too. Not quite played for laughs.
  • Hell Freezes Over: Over there!
  • He's Back: Slick dons the tie, meaning his perverted ways are making a comeback.
  • Hellhound: Cerberus is the Devil's pet, and spends his time menacing the cast (especially Slick) and eating mailmen.
  • High Heel-Face Turn: Fuchsia.
  • High On Catnip: The Author Avatar's cat gets high on catnip, even saying "that's some good stuff".
  • Holier Than Thou: Seymour, again.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Sisterhood-member Clio and her attacks on Devil Tech. (See below under Idiot Ball.)
  • Holy Burns Evil: Not only is "Big D" repulsed by angel glitter and has angel-repellent, but even some apparently mortal creatures have such weakness.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: With the aptly named strip Patriarchal Bromance Movie.
  • Horns of Villainy: When someone is BOM Fed into a devil character, they get short conical horns on the forehead. However, the "villainy" really depends on the character in question, as most would be Anti Villains at best, especially in the comic's current state.
  • Horny Devils:
    • The succubi started out tempting Slick with lesbian trysts (which Blue is still doing) and are often seen attending the Devil.
    • The Devil himself takes this role occasionally, acting as a pimp. He also does NOT like it when people try to take his "bitches", at one point holding a Glock to an alien from "Pimptopia" who was seeking bitches.
  • Hot Librarian: Parodied here.
  • Humongous Mecha: Usually fight giant monsters and each other out of the continuity.
  • Idiot Ball: Devil Tech snatches up the ball and gleefully runs with it. One of the more blatant examples is its policy of installing unguarded computer data-ports on the exterior walls of all its facilities.
  • HurricaneOf Accidental Innuendo: Here and here.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Stereotyping how they stereotype her.
  • Icarus Allusion: The mini-arc "Catch" — it even ends in a postscriptum to Icarus story.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Baby Blue will destroy you.
  • The Illuminati: The Devil's surveillance definitely seems to invoke this trope. The surveillance cameras take the form of the Illuminati pyramid.
    • Li'l Evil has made countless attempts to join.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Monique, although it's more like "I have booty you must obey".
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The Fangirl wants to be cool because Monique is. Monique handles it nicely.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Criminy, Jesus, Buddha (which for those two should go without saying), the cherubs.
    • But above all, Pooch. He is the happiest, most positive, sensitive, good natured thing in the world of Sinfest. The angels? Can be a bit of some jerk-asses.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "That guy..."
  • Innocent Innuendo this strip and this strip
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: The 'Ninja Theatre' arcs, which take place in a feudal Japanese alternate universe, staring Slick as a ninja named Wasabi, and Monique as the Geisha Yellowtail.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Slick's Super-Powered Evil Side and Squigley mostly are online because of this trope. Also the Feminists try to put a stop on this teaching the porn harms and degrading factors this stuff have for women.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Criminy (human) and Fuchsia (succubus).
    • The Devil (guess) and Lil' E's mother (human? Mother Nature?).
  • Irony: Here.
    • Fuchsia spent much of her time torturing Seymour so that his already fanatical beliefs would turn him into a paranoid monster so that the devil could more easily influence him (not that they considered him a threat, but more as a toy or a joke), but she was so successful that when she tries to Heel-Face Turn, Seymour's fanatical paranoia prevents him from seeing that she's changing into something better while he's being flanderized into something worse by said paranoia. Since Seymour USED to be a better character, Fuchsia sometimes believes that he is right to condemn (she IS one of the people who helped to corrupt him) as we see here. Basically, her past actions are stopping her from turning completely through Seymour's paranoia. All is not lost as Cupid, literally shot love back into Seymour, so maybe he'll give her a chance.
  • Irony: Xanthe described gender roles as source of discontent and alienation, however it was exactly "enlightening" 'Nique that led to discontent and alienation of 'Nique, who actually stopped feeling comfortable in her life, descended into paranoia and was condemned by her fans as a result of a change in her views. Despite author's mockery, the same could be said about Slick who now, due to the change in 'Nique's ideals, lost an important friend.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: When mistaken for Monique's retarded son by a security agent, Slick gets upset about son part, not the retarded.
  • I Think You Broke Him: "Oops, I broke Slicky again".
  • It's a Small Net After All: Averted for laughs when Seymour is trying to look up how to fix a broken halo.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In one Sunday strip, Baby Blue holds off killing Criminy after she realizes just how happy her former lover, Fuchsia, is with him. Awwwwwwwww.
  • Jerk Ass:
    • Slick, at his worst behavior.
    • Played for laughs with the Devil when he's up to his general douchebaggish behavior, and with God when he's mocking people with his hand puppets.
    • Lil'E, pretty much all the time until he loses his memory and he's no longer a Jerk Ass
    • Seymour, considered the biggest Jerk Ass in the comic, especially post 2010.
      • Until late 2011, when he proved that he could befriend a confused demon, and that he would not hurt Lil' Evil when the latter was down. Even further after his encounter with Cupid and became more friendly (and goofier).
    • Glossy. However, unlike Seymour, she's always depicted as being right, even when saying the same things as Seymour.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
  • JerkAssGod: Subverted; the only character that he's consistently a Jerk Ass to is the Devil. God's hand puppet mockery can come off this way occasionally, although it's mostly played for laughs and some of His "victims" actually find the caricature amusing.
    • God will, however, torment Slick occasionally.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Percy
  • Jet Pack: Jesus has one.
  • John Barleycorn and Friends: After withdrawing from booze, pot, and porn for five days, Squigley starts seeing anthropomorphized joints and liquor bottles.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Possibly Nique, here. Also if this strip has any bearing on canon, Xanthe has gone from simply wanting equality for women and for men to reject their Dudebro programming to saying men should be SILENCED period.