Reviews: Looking For Group

Finding Its Footing Again

Looking For Group was originally a comedy. It was a very good comedy, parodying fantasy tropes with a cast looking after some magical Mac Guffin.

The series began to have more complex plots and grew more dramatic. The drama wasn't bad, but the authors kept trying to have it be both comedic and dramatic. By trying this, they made it neither, it grew unfunny and the drama very quickly stopped being engaging.

Not many authors can pull off a comedy-drama well, and Shomer and De Souza aren't the lucky few.

Some of the big battles were fun, but I, like most readers, stopped caring. "Oh, Cale's going to be King now. Neat." went through my head at one point.

Then I stopped reading it for the better part of a year.

I just recently got back to it, and I can tell that the authors finally realized that what they were doing wasn't working. The most recent story arc, as of this writing, where Cale and Richard go out to find something-or-other is a clear attempt for the strip to recapture its comedic roots. Much of the bigger plot and drama has been shed, and it's just Cale and Richard(occasionally Benny)trying to be funny.

The operative word is "trying".

The comedy generally works. It's not as funny as the strip was at first, and some jokes just fall flat. But the humor is generally improving, and you can tell that the authors are making an effort to rekindle a lot of the "old" LFG.

So, for the first time in a few years, I'm genuinely entertained by LFG. What remains to be seen is if they can keep this up. I don't know if they can, but the strip has shown a marked improvement in recent months, and I think it's good that the authors are finally really trying to be funny again.

Lost its identity and can't seem to find it

Like many other fans, I started reading LFG when it was a simple dark comedy with many laughs and references to World Of Warcraft and beyond. It was enjoyable for its time, the art style reflected its humour wonderfully and the cast were all parodies of their respective races, even those who were pretty accurate. One or two storylines cropped up but it remained true to what it really was, a World Of Warcraft parody with many laughs to be had.

Then it thought it could be a drama adventure flick and decided to roll with that. The humour started to become stale, either resorting to poorly executed one-liners or be completely reliant on Richard, who unfortunately has become boring already, his only interesting trait being the mystery of his existence. And even that has become boring with how long it's dragged on now.

LFG thought it could be a drama and has proven it really isn't cut out for it. Its shaky transition from comedy to drama is distracting and the plot holes between them are so stretched, you could drive a pick-up truck through them. In my humble opinion, LFG should either return to its genius comedy from the old days or just lay down and accept its defeat.

Starts off epic, then pole vaults over the shark

A group of people go off to do something. I read the comic through twice- and still I have yet to figure out exactly what that thing is- but I'm sure its very important.

Plot - 3/10
For countless millennia, one rule has stood firm in the minds of reviewers everywhere. One rule that should never be broken.

Drama/Action comic switching to comedy = ok
Comedy comic switching to Drama/Action = Never, ever even remotely ok

This is the rule the Looking For Group breaks. The series starts off with a witless elf and unimaginably evil warlock joining forces, and then goes through an epic ducks in a row sequence for quite awhile. This is all well and good until the author is seduced by the allure of action and drama, and it all goes down from there. On top of this, our poor author seems be unwilling to work with a comedy cast. So- Instead of ending the comic and starting a new one like any sane person would do- he turns ditzy comic relief into Martin Sue and starts taking public speaking classes from Brave Heart. Later, he tries to do the same to Richard but fails due to protests from the fanbase- leaving the cast in the awkward position where one member still thinks he's in a comedy while the rest know its Serious Business.

Humor - 4/10
Usually, I rate the series on its genre here. So when a series changes halfway through- I'm left with an interesting decision: To rate it harshly by its most recent trait- or rate it kinder on its older trait. I have- in this regard- decided to be even meaner. I will rate it on its recent humor- which consists of one liners. Haha.

Art - 8/10
Not much to complain about here. The art is great.

Its hard for a webcomic to last as long as Looking For Group. Between time constraints and lack of profit, an author has to be very dedicated to even last 100 comics. So I can't blame LFG for decaying. All series come to an end, and I suspect that poor Looking For Group is nearing that day. So I guess what I'm trying to say is- let the poor series rest.


Grinding to a Halt

Like many people who read this comic, I got into Looking For Group because I thought it was a funny and well done parody of fantasy tropes. And it was, at least at first.

Ryan Sohmer has admitted to being a big fan of Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time and it very much shows. As the weeks go by, the story becomes more and more decompressed, to the point where we have pointless filler splash pages at least once per chapter, and in the last we had two, although the second was a well done hint at things to come. Focussing on that chapter, number 16, it is clear that Sohmer wanted to wait until volume five (Four chapters = one volume) before the big arc he had just spent two books leading up to. The problem is most of that chapter was padding, which becomes even clearer when you notice there was a perfectly good filler arc (The 300 strong scouting party attacking the portal) established, and yet Sohmer ended it quickly so the protagonists could fall back and have a long, drawn-out meeting amongst the leaders.

This is where Sohmer fails: He thinks he's Jordan, who can make these sorts of discussions somewhat interesting and use them to pad out the book. Unfortunately, one of the biggest complaints about Wheel of Time was the excessive padding, and Sohmer has none of the dramatic talent to pull it off. The humour is okay sometimes, but whereas it meshed well in the beginning of the series, in later volumes it has become pointless and jarring.

Hopefully Sohmer will realise that he needs to work at his own strengths rather than the strengths of other writers and get this series back on track.

Needs to choose

Looking For Group started out as a lighthearted comedy series parodying common Fantasy tropes. It has evolved into a long-running, dramatic fantasy story with many characters, a huge world and impressive plotlines.

Unfortunately, the author, Sohmer, still wants it to be funny. The drama and engaging plots are undercut by hamfisted pop-culture references and too much leaning on the fourth wall.

In short, Looking For Group could be either an engaging fantasy epic or a tongue in cheek parody of that exact genre, but it tries to be (and fails at) both.