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Ignore the drama and judge for yourself
Jay Naylor certainly has been a target of controversy. He has been accused of being racist and sexist and of using the comic to attack people he knows in real life. In interviews and on his blog, he doesn't always come across as a particularly nice person. But judged on its own merits, how does Better Days hold up?

Pretty well, actually, although the early chapters fare a lot better than later material. It was my introduction to the Slice Of Life comic and it does it very well, following Fisk and Lucy at various points during their life. And a rough life it is too, because withing a few chapters we've hit terrorism, child abuse, rape and incest. It's not always subtle, but I like how Naylor has the guts to meet these subjects head-on, especially the incest, which is shown in a more nuanced light instead of either simple titillation or something abominable, like usually. For me, this was the most interesting turn of the comic.

Nuance, alas, is something we don't find a lot of, especially in later chapters. Fisk joins the military. Fisk joins a paramilitary organisation. Fisk kills some mobsters. There is no subtlety and nothing of interest. His girlfriend Beth is suddenly revealed to be polyamorous and this is treated as if we've known it all along... even though we haven't. Lucy's storyline fares slightly better. Realising she can never be with Fisk, she starts a relationship with Tommy and here Naylor has Tommy boldly renounce his faith. How often does this happen in fiction as a positive thing?

All in all, it's a comic that is more often than not crushingly unsubtle, but much of it has an odd charm. Unfortunately, sometimes unpleasant subtext creeps in. I don't think Naylor is racist, but using hyenas as an analogue to black people is questionable choice and their portrayal seems a bit stereotypical at times. Likewise, women are sometimes portrayed oddly, such as when Sheila defines women's rights as the right to give a man "such a hard orgasm that he won't be able walk for a day"... What.

For better or worse, it's a comic that shows the creator baring his soul. It's not always pleasant, but it's worth a look.
And a rough life it is too, because withing a few chapters we've hit terrorism, child abuse, rape and incest.

the terrorism and child abuse were just afterbursts, not to mention that brings the story arc to an abrupt end without any sort of buildup and barely any after effect.

Fisk joins a paramilitary organisation. Fisk kills some mobsters. There is no subtlety and nothing of interest.

which brakes the whole concept of slice of life.

and here Naylor has Tommy boldly renounce his faith. How often does this happen in fiction as a positive thing?

were you being sarcastic? but again that is another complain, it sort of works as a reverse Chick Traccs were everyone on the opposite side from the author's opinion is exaggerated and Tommy and Elizabeth get together with a Black and easily change their whole religious outlook on life.

His girlfriend Beth is suddenly revealed to be polyamorous and this is treated as if we've known it all along... even though we haven't.

I always got the feeling that Beth was based on a real life person, probably Jay's girlfriend or someone he had a crush on, but some event made him drastically change her, from a quiet girl who had little interaction with men and probably was waiting for mr. right because her last boyfriend died in the perfect first stages of a relationship, to a wild girl who constantly has casual sex, has several partners and orchestrates wild bachelorette parties.
comment #15896 marcellX 23rd Aug 12
"the terrorism and child abuse were just afterbursts, not to mention that brings the story arc to an abrupt end without any sort of buildup and barely any after effect."

I'll admit that the terrorism came out of nowhere, but the child abuse did not - exhibiting sexualized behavior is a common symptom of abused children. That revelation was clearly planned from the start.

"were you being sarcastic? but again that is another complain, it sort of works as a reverse Chick Tracts were everyone on the opposite side from the author's opinion is exaggerated and Tommy and Elizabeth get together with a Black and easily change their whole religious outlook on life."

No, I was not sarcastic. Most (but not all) instances of atheism I have come across in fiction are Hollywood Atheism. As someone who has recently become an atheist, but not because of any tragedy, but rather a long process of thinking through the tenets of my former faith and the possible proofs of God's existende, I found this positive portrayal of atheism to be refreshing. (Although, yes, it's portrayed in a very blunt way: "I met this amazing girl so I don't need faith anymore." I never said that the comic is perfect, but I can find things to like in it, although more so in the early chapters than later on. And don't get me started on Original Life - you can read my review of that if you want to.)
comment #15911 Albertosaurus 25th Aug 12
I'll admit that the terrorism came out of nowhere, but the child abuse did not - exhibiting sexualized behavior is a common symptom of abused children. That revelation was clearly planned from the start.

I meant that it served little purpose, as always Fisk just took it like a badass and the girl was promptly removed only making a small cameo later on (which again was less about her and more as an excuse to talk about how badass Fisk is again).

As for the positive atheism, even Family Guy is known for that, I was a little surprise at that statement. I said that you implied it was perfect, I simply mentioned the issue with the way it was done, since I already used the Family Guy example, even left wings and atheist were ticked off at the way the right wing and religion were portrayed, because in the end like a Straw Feminist it makes their side [[Stop Helping Me! look more negative.]]
comment #15915 marcellX 25th Aug 12
when Sheila defines women's rights as the right to give a man "such a hard orgasm that he won't be able walk for a day"

I'd like to point ou Sheila defined the orgasm-thingy as a woman's right, not the complete breadth of women's rights.
comment #18686 peccantis 31st Mar 13
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