Reviews: Sinfest

Sinfest Review

I donít know what happened to Tats, but clearly something big because now the webcomic has curve balled into an activism comic, specifically towards women, cisgender women. Sure we got something for black people a few times, (and a random throwaway panel for an Asian girl, of which now we know is Asian) but that was in conjecture with the shootings and seemed like easy bait for people who are into ham fisted SJW stuff. Oh, also anti-porn, because porn is the ultimate evil. Women have never chosen to go into porn and none of them like doing it. Donít seek interviews of women in the business who says they enjoy it, those women are lying.

But onto the point, how did this turn change the quality? Well if you were a fan of Sinfest of the past, remember all those political comics Tats made, and how they were in-your-face, not really funny, and just telling people what they already know and/or enforcing a view that you may not share? Thatís this whole comic now, pretty much 24/7. Except itís actually worse than that.

At least back then, there werenít at least 27 storylines going on at the same time (the last time I counted, it has since grown). The characterization didnít go back to square 0 and changed on from there to a large chunk of the cast. Those that havenít changed donít show up much or donít talk if they do show up (save for Squigly). Tats insults ANYONE who doesnít view him as right. The pacing has come down to a slog (and how can you with so many stories going everywhere). And the daily newspaper style doesnít work for the way Tats wants to tell his tales at all. And pretty much the comic feels like a giant punch in the gut to all those who enjoyed Sinfest in the past. One thing that is the same to the older political comics was an influx of characters that werenít needed.

My final words are this; Sinfestís biggest strength was its characters. They were vast, charming, interesting, and sometimes even complex. The storylines may be weak at times, or were fantastic, but the characters were itís driving force, and in the end, sometimes everything turned out alright. Now the characters are a shell, a shadow.

So what does this comic have working for it now? Nothing.

Self-righteous in all the wrong places.

Long story short, Tatsuya seems to be a guy that was doing his dudebro thing, then either got educated on social justice or decided to start incorporating it into his comics.

From a pure enjoyment perspective, I honestly can't vouch for much of his later stuff. About 90% reads like an illustrated blurb by a social justice blogger. For the most part, this is morally good, but makes for repetitive and emotionally draining reads. What I remember of his earlier strips seemed pretty good: usually funny and with a progressive attitude. I'm not sure what changed though. An archive binge of his new stuff will make you actually laugh maybe once or twice, but engender many groans through how anviliciously he tosses around otherwise sensible morals.

Tatsuya is certainly a complete tryhard when it comes to gender politics. He reads like the mirror universe counterpart to a conservative cartoonist, complete with a weeping Lady Liberty. Yet, however much Tatsuya views himself as a white knight, his strips still often uphold many harmful views to women. Most common of these offences is a prominence of slut-shaming, with sex workers portrayed as fallen and corrupted victims of the patriarchy, rather than... women who are sex workers. Slut-shaming attitudes usually seem to be an overflow of his VERY accurate and appreciated criticisms of the porn industry, though, which at least explains, but does not excuse, his actions.

Anyway, word limit looms in the distance, which prevents me from going in-depth on all these talking points, so I'll just rattle off what I can remember to put down. Also, I haven't read every single strip, so if there's any you'd like to bring up as counterargument, please do. Alright, here we go.

No trans or genderqueer characters to date, trans rights never brought up. Tatsuya possible rare male TERF? Must investigate further. Pretty much everything DMH said. The part about Sarah Palin is irritating for obvious reasons. Satan has gone from a comedic representation of generic evil into just a sexist dude, which is boring to watch. Satan is a brony, and as a person who hates bronies, I like this. Not totally sure what most people more into the hardcore feminist movement would think, but his use of "Kill All Men", etc. seems... appropriative?

That's all that'll fit. I encourage comments!


I knew vaguely about Sinfest for quite a while without reading it or learning about the whole Broken Base radical feminism thing, so I had a pretty fresh opinion. Bored, I decided to a do an archive binge, which took about 3 or 4 days. I got past the initial Sisterhood plot, then suddenly found whatever energy I had for the series slowly bleeding away with each comic. I found Ishida's character building and character dramas before the Sisterhood to be mildly amusing, actually quite enjoying the romantic plots with status quo conclusions and generic snarky sexual tension dialogue. Maybe they were a little cliched, but I'm a sucker for them anyways.

My complaints at the time were that every time there was a politically themed strip or one that shallowly complained about the troubles of the world like a concerned citizen writing into a newspaper, the same identical frown crossed my face. There wasn't much specific to complain about (other than the election strips, those were... extra frowny), but a theory started to swirl about my head as I read into and past 2011. I think that our author doesn't have much of a personal philosophy, a way of thinking about life through the lens of things that HE experienced and HE figured out and HE rationalized. To put it simply, he takes up banners made entirely up of someone else's thinking instead of taking patchwork from several different views and forming his own.

So what does that mean for the comic? Characters lose their characterization and become strawmen without complexity, just symbols of things the artist considers good or bad. The one shot comics are more often not something mindless about men being bad, porn being bad, dismissive arguments etc. Even as someone that agrees with a portion of the fundamental ideas, the main thing I noticed is that it's just boring to read about over and over again, with no exploration of ideas and counter-arguments, no rounding out of the characters. The series has Cerberus Syndrome bad, but while he heightened the seriousness of the tone and story, there is not an accompanying rise in thought and and analysis with it. For me, it all falls flat. I think he may have realized this by mid-2014 and is trying to write his way out of it, so time will tell. I really did prefer the earlier strips.

I'll admit the art is getting pretty, though.

Incredible storytelling, horrible politics.

Tatsuya Ishida is one of the best creators on the web, especially for the past few years. He knows how to make you laugh, cry and cheer. His art is beautiful, his characters are loveable and I can never wait to see the next part of their story.

Unfortunately, Tat likes to think he's a political cartoonist. Well, propaganda artist would be more accurate.

While, as a progressive thinker myself, I find myself agreeing with Tat's ideas, the way he presents them come off as farcical and naive. This started around the 2008 election in which Tat would present Barrack Obama as the saviour of the people while Sarah Palin was a cross dressing pig. Also, all corporations are represented as being funded by Satan. This makes his views incredibly hypocritical when he tells us to ignore the government's propaganda despite the fact he makes his own.

His latest creation, the feminist biker, is quite possibly the worst of this. A misguided attempt at white-knighting women, Glossy, as fans have dubbed her, is a feminist version of Seymour and Lil'E, but instead we are meant to side with her. Unfortunately she has no character that can be empathised with and is clearly a Mary Sue, as she is the only mortal character who can threaten Satan in a stand up fight. Also, many women would find her offensive as Tat seems to have many issues with sex, portraying women who are open with their sexuality as evil while the good ones are more modest, thereby slut shaming women and proclaiming detractors as being exploitative.

But thankfully this comes and goes. Tat eventually grows tired with politics and returns to the much more enjoyable characters, although it can seem like an eternity for him to do so. I do find these stories to be well worth the wait though and would encourage anyone to check it out.

Four out of five all up.