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Headscratchers / Shortpacked!

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    Mike, victim? 

  • I'm a little confused by the fact that there seems to be a significant portion of the fandom that sees Mike as a victim in the Mike/Amber relationship. We saw Mike being manipulated into a relationship back in It's Walky!, and I don't think that Amber's tactics would have succeeded in keeping Mike if Mike had not allowed it. It was strongly implied that she only found out about his second job and personality because he wanted her to, and even if he hadn't intended for her to find out, it would have been simple to spin her attempt to blackmail him so as to make Amber look utterly pathetic. If anything, he manipulated her into manipulating him into a relationship. So how does this make Mike a victim at all? Is it just Amber hating?
    • Even if Mike willingly went along with it, the fact remains that she attempted to blackmail another person into dating her, which is generally regarded as "not cool, you guys" regardless of whether it works or not.
    • Jason's appearance seems like it was intended to clear this up; Mike doesn't do anything he doesn't actually want to, at least on some level. My guess is that he initially went along with it out of his general jerkass nature; he intended to play boyfriend for a while, get Amber to develop deeper feelings for him, then break her heart. His comments (hurtful but accurate, which is Mike's M.O.) about their relationship being "not real" sort of back this up. Amber felt terrible and agreed to let him go with no further blackmail. Mission accomplished: he gets to keep his secret, get back at Amber for trying to manipulate him, and make someone miserable in the process. What he didn't count on was that he'd actually have feelings for her at this point, and not want to break up.

    PSL Take That 

  • The character Omnios is a rather blatant Take That! towards people who engage in PSL. Maybe it's only because it hits a little too close to home for this troper, but I don't just bugs me.
    • The comic is by the guy who invented the phrase and uses it repeatedly as a Take a Third Option in reader polls on the Dumbing of Age website, so I doubt that was his intention. If I remember specifically, it's a take-that against a specific person on the Transformers wiki, but I'll have to double-check.
    • Actually, Omnios was a guy on the Allspark who wouldn't shut the hell up about how he wanted a character from My Life as a Teenage Robot to be his wife, and his Self-Insert Marty Stu fanfiction he wrote about it. The whole "what if Transformers turned into sexy sexy animals" thing was another actual idea of his. Seriously.
    • He also wanted Sari from Transformers Animated to have a nerd boyfriend based on himself, and wanted Transformers toys of Rugrats, MLAATR and other Nick properties because "he's creative".


    Manipulative Leslie 

  • Am I the only one that sees Leslie as being a tad manipulative in regards to Robin? Granted, no more than a heterosexual male character in such a setting. But she's portrayed as almost pitiable, even though her drive was to get a then-straight woman in the sack. And when Robin decides to pursue a relationship with her, there are a lot of times where it seems she's doing it just so Leslie won't feel bad. That's not even getting into Amber pressuring her because of the assumption that Leslie moving out would leave them all homeless (because she couldn't just sign the house over to anyone else, right?). Robin met Leslie because she couldn't get over Ethan being gay, and decides to be with Leslie because Leslie couldn't get over Robin.
    • Possible, but Robin manipulated Leslie first. When she first showed up, Robin was lying about her sexuality, and used Leslie simply as a decoy to get at Ethan. Leslie was heartbroken to learn the truth, so clearly she wasn't in on the plot. Then Robin bought her toys, a freaking house, moved in with her, etc. Could you blame Leslie for thinking Robin was just very in the closet?
    • Fair enough; Robin did use Leslie first (I'm wondering if Leslie was meant to be a throwaway character, used in a few strips before being discarded, but evolved into what she is now), so each is a Manipulative Bastard. Since two wrongs don't make a right, it comes down to whether or not Leslie can forgive Robin's trespass, and whether or not Robin can forgive herself. It seems the core of the relationship became Robin's feelings of guilt rather than love. You can do something nice for someone (yes, even buy a house) and not be romantically/sexually attracted to them. Robin gave, Leslie accepted, but still wanted more; she pushed the issue for selfish reasons. Usual caring demeanor aside...that kind of makes her a bitch. To paraphrase Batman, "At least Robin has madness as an excuse!"
    • How does that work with Robin's video message to herself? She equates losing Leslie with losing everything. And then there's how Leslie dumped her, after realizing just how much Robin had given up for her. The instant she thought she was holding Robin back, she pulled an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. They fought because they both felt angry. They broke up because Leslie didn't want to be a Manipulative Bastard, even accidentally.

    Ultra Car's jerkness 

  • What is with Ultra Car being a jerk? He has it made in the shade. He seems to be complaining just to hear himself talk. Mike, at least, has motives, even if it's just 'I made you angry'. Ultra Car isn't even that.
    • Ultra Car was always smug and self-absorbed—once he helps save the world in It's Walky! he tells everyone to "bask in his glory" or something along those lines. He only got himself upgraded to a more eco-friendly body because it'd give him something else to feel superior about. Him being a jerk is part that, and part him trying to find his niche.

    Reagan and Nancy 

  • Reagan is still alive/alive again, and he hasn't told or reunited with Nancy? That's cold, man.
    • We don't see that much of his personal life. For all we know, he has and she's just been keeping quiet about it.

    Unfortunate Names 

  • "Leslie Bean." I could see particularly countercultural/dickish/"creative" parents naming a child this, but fundies? What the hell? That would be like fundies having a kid named "Lucille Furre." I know you're not really supposed to think about his Punny Names that much ("Dick Lesse," "Whit (Howard) Lesse," "Ruth Lesse," all raise the same questions, really), but I'm just trying to picture her fanatical parents sitting down and asking "what should we name her?" / "how about Leslie?" / "hmm - Leslie Bean! I like the sound of that...." I guess it's just that her parent's fundamentalism is a plot point, but really, it's hard to take her Freudian Excuse speeches seriously when you realize she's talking about the people who named her "Les Bean."
    • Wasn't she married, briefly? Maybe she kept the name? Maybe "Bean" has some sort of funky pronunciation we don't know about? Or maybe her parents are just such idiots that the notion honestly didn't occur to them?
    • Perhaps she simply never went by "Les" and since her parents were fundamentalists, the connotations simply never even occurred to them.
    • Yeah, even among friends Leslie is rarely referred to as Les.

    Other characters putting up with Malaya 

  • Malaya gets away with way too much bitching while contributing nothing at all. Mike and Ultra Car's dickishness is at least mildly entertaining most of the time. Maybe it's just the amount of focus she's gotten lately, most of which is spent complaining and avoiding anything even resembling work and/or responsibility.
    • Malaya has been specifically stated to be a good worker, and we've seen her being helpful to the customers. Considering Ethan was viewed as a model employee even when he would regularly insult or rant to the customers, it's not particularly hard to see how Malaya keeps her job.
    • To be fair, how often do we see most of the main cast actually working? I mean, we see them on the job, sure, but unless it's required for a joke we mostly see them standing around talking.
    • From what I understand, that's most of what retail work is. If you don't have to move stock around, help a customer, or check them out, there's not a whole lot else to do.
    • Except there's almost always those three things to do. Take it from someone who works in retail, there isn't a lot of downtime.
    • They also had half a staff full of super people. Plus a Car with extendable limbs and the ability to find anything in seconds to grab things from the stockroom for them. They have much more spare time than most other people would.
    • If any of them ever worked, sure.
    • Dickishness is rarely entertaining when you're the one who's having to put up with it. You might be entertained by Mike and Ultra Car being complete dicks, but that doesn't mean the characters would be (and frequently aren't). Why shouldn't Malaya benefit from the same Plot Armor they do to keep their jobs, just because an objective observer finds her less amusing? In-universe she's no more lazy or jerkish than they are. Actually probably less.


    Barry Allen 

  • Willis says he's incapable of drawing Barry Allen because he's a "white republican from the sixties", and thus boring. Well, isn't Wally West a "white republican from the sixties" as well? What exactly is different between the two besides that Wally is a ginger & never died. It bothers me when I come across fans who are hopelessly stuck in the past like him (and yes, I realize that I'm saying this about Dave Willis, but the point STILL stands).
    • So...he's stuck in the past because he's not interested with the character's (second) oldest incarnation and wishes he stayed dead? I don't know much about Flash, but the basic argument in the comments seems to be that Wally evolved, or at least changed, over time, and became less like the stereotypical-60s-Republican all supers were in the...well, 60s. Barry hasn't, and shows no signs of doing so.
    • ...What defines as "stereotypical-60's-Republican" anyway? Not being a jerk & being courteous to others? Not to mention that... well... what's wrong with a character who acts like that anyway? Between "Stuck in the 60's" Barry Allen & a '90s Anti-Hero (not talking about Wally, but like someone from the Blood Pack or Extreme Justice), I'd take the old school guy. And the reason Wally evolved was because Barry was dead. Not much character development can happen when you are dead. And Barry has changed, not by a lot but he has. Wally just has several decades of it more than Barry. Not to mention that if he didn't want to draw Barry, he didn't HAVE to, he could have just used Wally from Justice League. It just is Willis being a jerk to people who actually do like Barry as a Flash.
    • The issue is, Barry's resurection is just one part of DC's seeming crusade to eradicate all legacy characters from the comics. And to be honest, I agree with Willis, the "classic heroes" just don't stack up these days. They're relics of the silver age, hopelessly out of touch and lacking anything particularly interesting about them. I say this as a guy who's read every issue of the Flash since Crisis on Infinite Earths, via scans or trades, as well as a lot of barry allens tenure as the Flash. Wally has a more well rounded character, fits a much more unique role in the Justice League as the nice, fun loving one (as opposed Barry's trademark seriousness) has a far more fleshed out world, including a wonderful supporting cast as well as his interactions with other heroes. Besides, Barry Allen's new stories are, to be honest, boring. It's just nothing but Professor Zoom, time and again, which really gets old. And to the claim that Wally is a "white republican from the 60's too" I would point out that Wally generally falls on the liberal end of the spectrum, see his friendship with Piper for just one example.
    • I believe he was making what those in the business refer to as a 'joke'. He happens to like Wally (and drawing Wally) better than Barry, and gave a deliberately ridiculous explanation for it. Nothing more or less to it.

    Meme in comments 

  • Where did the "if instead of doing [such-and-such], [person] was smoking and drinking, would we be laughing" meme come from in the comments section? I feel like I missed something.
    • I think it started when the arguments about Ethan's toy collecting was becoming a serious problem started happening with Drew. Someone likened Ethan's toy collecting to smoking/drinking and it spiralled out of control. The Shortpacked fanbase never lets anythign go, ever.
    • Yes, that is the origin. During the break up with Drew, people were so desperate to portray it as a crippling addiction that they started to compare it to drinking and/or smoking, disregarding the fact that there are numerous reasons that this comparison is complete bull. When the next strip featured Ethan writing on a chalkboard and Robin getting mad that this was "her schtick," I made the comparison to smoking or drinking as a way of illustrating the stupidity in that argument. It got a laugh from Willis, I thought I would turn it into a running gag, used it twice, dit find it nearly as funny as I expected, used it once more, then stopped. Did it become a meme, really, or just one guy doing it?

    Birth Control Pills 

  • Being a guy, and therefore completely unfamiliar with the physical characteristics of birth controls pills of any stripe, I find it tough to swallow that Amber didn't know the difference between her birth control and the mints Robin was replacing them with. I'm having a hard enough time accepting Robin's role in all this, despite having long since established that her brain does not work along normal paths.
    • We discussed it on the comic itself and it came up that there are mint flavored birth control pills.

    Willis In-Universe 

  • In one comic there's a newspaper headline extolling the virtues of the cartoonist's in-universe self, and it declares (in large print, no less) 'David "Walky" Willis'. Why did nobody comment on the nickname?
    • Because that's always been his nickname. The character Walky is actually based on him. It's been used before as well; at least one Botcon strip has him addressed that way at a convention panel.
    • I think his point is that the Celebrity Paradox went unlampshaded, since both David Walkerton and David Willis are apparently fairly famous.
    • There's really no paradox. Willis's existence in his own universe is well-documented. He draws a webcomic called Shortpants but is better known for his Shattered Glass Transformers work. The nickname is a coincidence. There can be two famous guys with the same nickname. (Though given one damn-near single-handedly saved us all from Martians and the other draws comics, I suspect the fame levels are somewhat disparate.)


  • I could be wrong about something, but isn't it generally better to portray your detractors of whatever you believe in a sane, rational people, so that way your arguments have weight? So it doesn't detract from what you are trying to work on? I mean I don't know Willis's personal life, but I am confused as to why he has a tendency to strawman people into exaggerations of any kind. Anyone know? I mean I like it when there is sane rational discourse between two people of opposing views, because it shows that both of them are mature people and things aren't black and white but grey and gray, helps give arguments weight to show they can hold up under scrutiny, exaggerating someone into nothing more than a cardboard cutout loser who shouts "Misandry!" doesn't help, instead if just makes it seem as if what they are arguing against is pointless. That could just be me. Any thoughts?
    • Often his "strawmen" are based on real comments posted on the internet. He'll occasionally even link to them either on tumblr or in the comments.
    • His strawmen would probably be less effective if not for the fact that many of his readers have met people with even worse opinions. It's like that one strip with Robin propping up a deliberate Straw Fan for Ethan to take a swing at, only for him to reply "That's not a strawman, that guy in aisle three just said it ten minutes ago." I don't know about that example specifically, but yeah, there are people crazier than Willis' strawmen out in the real world. Hell, he apparently used to be one.
    • Huh. Didn't know that. I still think it's a kind of dumb idea to make everyone who ever disagrees with your views into strawmen. Or use them for serious arguments. Again, that's just me.
    • If you watch his tumblr it becomes clear that pretty much all those crazy fans with irrational, hatefull arguments are all things that have actually been said. Sometimes what he puts up is actually less horrible tyhan what the real person said.
    • It's not "I heard about someone worse," it's "I met someone much worse." And in Willis' case, he was much worse.
    • Sorry but this sentence confuses me. Who was much worse? The guy Willis met, or Willis himself?
    • Willis.
    • Ah thank you for clearing that up!
    • The "The arguments are based on real people" defence Willis uses is actually non-applicable in most of those strips. To avoid the Strawman fallacy, Willis would have to write in the exact argument word for word and then have his characters respond to it. However in most cases, he rewrites the arguments others make in order to make them seem dumber or more egotistical than the original statements initially were, devaluing the opposition to strengthen his protagonists..
    • There's also the fact that an argument does not have to come from nowhere to be a strawman. There are enough people in the world that if you deliberately go looking for them (or deliberately provoke them, as Willis enjoys doing) you can find someone to represent almost any argument of any extreme. The straw is in the fact that Willis then tries to portray these as the mainstream... that it is not a small handful of people or even a single individual with these views, but everyone that disagrees with his personal opinions. Even then that only applies to the strawmen whose arguments aren't entirely invented as an imagined extreme opposition to his (of course utterly reasoned, logical, and intelligent) beliefs, which despite his claims there are plenty.

  • I might be crazy but perhaps someone else noticed this. Despite making strips mocking racism, there is a lot of subtle racial bias. Malaya and Faz, both clearly asian, are a clear asshole and disturbing creep respectively, while the paler skinned Ken (Who even Willis joked looks like a weird version of Ethan) is a nicer person and takes over as the Author Avatar when Ethan leaves. Robin is self-centred and manipulative while Roz forced her way into the house and took advantage of an emotionally damaged Jacob. Also, while Ethan, Amber and Leslie being assistant managers is portrayed as them moving up in the world, Faz's ambitions are part of his negative traits.
    • All of this ignores that Willis has outright stated that he likes writing characters that are assholes (hence why almost everyone is).


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