Reviews: Questionable Content
Initially, I liked how the characters would have ordinary conversations- strips where they're just hanging around "shooting the shit" are some of the most charming. But QC actually does "Serious Business" storylines very well- Faye's revelation around #500, the Marten/Dora split, and other storylines were actually handled very well. New characters are added to the strip semi-organically, and they're entertaining. Many of them avoid the "everyone's the same" syndrome that he suffered from for a while there. I really liked how he'd have Marten and Dora have the same fight every few months or so- that's actually how real couples fight. The characters have nicely-varied personae- Marten is overly-passive and apologistic (though Jeph has that same trait, and seems to defend it stridently). Faye is obnoxious and rude, which seemed cute in earlier strips, but as the art & comedy style got a bit more realistic, it started getting uglier and uglier. Dora acts confident, but is actually extremely insecure and hypocritical. Raven was an idiot, Sven was a man-whore, Hannelore was a mess of psychoses, etc. I even appreciated the "Indie Rock" obsession, as you didn't even need to understand it to "get" the jokes- the characters were into it, and the jokes revolved more around their fandom than actually requiring you to know about the bands. I kind of missed it once Jeph dropped that element. There are some noticeable flaws, however- I feel that Jeph's art style has actually gotten more stiff over time, with very thing line width making things very dull to look at (the strips around #500 are visually the most interesting). Some of the new characters completely overshadow prior, interesting ones, and Jeph often lets a new favorite run away with the strip. Every year or so, QC essentially completely reinvents itself around one new character, making them a massive central element (Hannelore, Marigold and Claire have all gotten this treatment). There's a LOT of "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" as a result (poor Raven & Penelope). Similarly, Jeph over-uses the "Crazy Girl" archetype, with most of them having mental issues, while the men are much more passive, together, "boring" characters (Steve, Amir, Wil, etc.). Jeph can also trail along with nothing storylines for way too long, leaving large chunks of the strip pretty dull.
My favorite webcomic...
...and for good reason! I'm really not one who's into indie music or the snobbery it's typically associated with. But I really have to credit Jeph Jacques' delightful comedic miscreation for introducing me to the wonders of Arcade Fire. Okay, so that may not really count much for "indie cred" (and yes, the characters of this comic do bring up that subject, among many others), but it's a start. (Though I do have an idea that perhaps Arcade Fire's recent mainstream success may have caused them to fall out of Jacques' favor somewhat - notice that their first album Funeral made his annual Top 10 list, but Neon Bible and The Suburbs had no such luck. For shame.) The show's heavy use of sharp wit among wackadoo twenty-somethings would usually turn me off, too - particularly since I tend to associate that sort of humor with the sort of comedies I hate, like Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and Happy Endings. But then this comic has some things none of those awful shows have - one of which is, as the main page puts it, "cute lil' robot sidekicks." Though some of them might take offense to that description (PT 410 X just raised his hand.) Not to mention, the humor often resides in non-sequiturs, Monty Python-style. I cite: Yelling Bird. Randy. The use of weird swears (and combinations of swears) that have now been entered into my repertoire, like "What the hell ass balls?!" ROCKET ROOMBA! And of course, Jacques' awesome t-shirt designs. My favorite is "Defeat Awkwardness With Maximum Ridiculosity." Oh, and the surprising amount of sweetly sick Nightmare Fuel only adds to the appeal - at least for me. I don't know why, but it tends to be less Nightmare Fuel and more CMoF. In short, this comic may be made by someone who subscribes strongly to the dreaded Its Popular Now It Sucks theory, but hopefully soon this show will actually be as popular as it deserves (meaning, as popular as, say, The Big Bang Theory.)