One of the three webcomics from the creative team of Ryan Sohmer and Lar DeSouza (the others being Looking for Group and The Gutters). Least I Could Do is mainly a gag-based comic strip about the misadventures of a group of longtime 20-something geek friends living in the city. The stories mainly revolve around sex, love, modern life and all things geeky from Star Wars to Star Trek to The Lord of the Rings to comic books to video games and back again. Mostly, it's about their relationships and sex though.
The main character is the incredibly promiscuous Rayne, who, if you were to judge lecherousness on a scale of one to ten with ten being the highest a human could possibly be, would probably hit somewhere around a 23. Throw in a lot of Idiot Hero, a few dashes of Manchild (with a few hints of Psychopathic Manchild), and a lot of Jerkass and you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Rayne, although there are many occasions where he shows Hidden Depths behind the intentionally and unapologetically shallow face he presents to the world.
The rest of the main cast consists of:
- Issa, one of the few women to ever refuse Rayne's advances (and who has done so since at least their teens) or that Rayne has expressed deeper feelings for, and perhaps the closest thing he has to a confidante. (For example, she knows about some heartbreaks a young Rayne went through that no one else does). Can be a voice of reason, although she's not above joining in on the antics of the others or using her sex appeal to manipulate Rayne. Has been a neglected character in recent years.
- John, Rayne's oldest friend and a near polar opposite in views of love and dating. He serves as Rayne's most direct foil, but just as Rayne's commitment phobia is examined, so are John's issues with emotional neediness and his determination to find a wife or see anyone who comes along as a potential long-term relationship, regardless of their suitability for that.
- Noel, a laid back Deadpan Snarker who tends to fall somewhere between Rayne and John in terms of his views on life and dating. Although added onto the strip several years into its run, he took over John's role as Rayne's foil while also becoming Rayne's primary wingman.
- Mick, the overweight, tech-savvy and good-natured friend who has the misfortune of being Rayne's punching bag. He is perhaps the most socially awkward of the group, but despite often having been the butt of jokes about being unable to get so much as a date, he nonetheless has usually had the best luck in healthy and committed relationships.
Sohmer had tried to get a LICD cartoon pilot off the ground. He asked $75,000 (half the projected budget, with him footing the other half) from his fans; by the projected deadline, around 1,200 backers had donated well over $100,000. The pilot can be found on Vimeo, albeit unofficially. You can also buy the video on the official iPod/Android app. It was never picked up due to various reasons.
You can find the comic at http://www.leasticoulddo.com/.
This webcomic includes examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Star Wars, Sandra Boynton, Laugh In, Super Hero comics, oh, so many
- Arc Words/Ironic Echo: "The rapid flick."
- Art Evolution: Sohmer picked up artists who were progressively more skilled, and said artists' styles also evolved over time.
- The comic had three artists prior to Desouza. Chad Porter and Trevor Adams quit on their own accord. J. Horsley III was also involved, but he left before the comic was published, believing himself not to be prolific enough for a webcomic.
- Although it leaves out Lar's own personal Art Evolution, this strip nicely shows the difference in artists for LICD. The anime-style Rayne is from the very first artist, Marcus, from before the series had started or had a title yet. Not much is known about Marcus as of this time.
- Art Shift:
- Least I Could Do and its weekly offshoot "Least I Could Do: Beginnings" are in two markedly different styles.
- During the arc "For Young Readers", the story shifts to a Sandra Boynton parody for three and a half pages.
- The story in this arc changes to sepia, though it's still DeSouza's style.
- Ascended Extra: Jumpmaster Julie begins the series as just a hot skydiving instructor, but she eventually becomes Rayne's girlfriend and main Love Interest.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Rayne by a long shot. Has been lampshaded by himself.
- Author Avatar: Rayne Summers has an awful lot in common with Ryan Sohmer. Even their names are pretty similar (Rayne = Ryan, Summers = Sohmer). Also, Rayne's jerkass brother Eric looks like Sohmer (and is the character Sohmer has claimed represents him), while Harry The Homeless Artist was modeled on deSouza, who was homeless for a time before he began collaborating with Sohmer. The pilot for the series Con Season demonstrates this further. It's mostly Sohmer goofing off with people while the other members of Blind Ferret say how great he is.
- Author Filibuster: A not-uncommon criticism, especially regarding the infamous rant against the various things the writer doesn't like about the rest of the webcomics industry.
- Balls of Steel:
- Bedmate Reveal:
- Rayne woke up one day from a bad New Years Eve hangover to find a naked Cyndi in his bed.
- And when he wakes up in this bed, well... let's just say that it add questions about Rayne's sexuality. He seems a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing, though. In Rayne's words, "Not the sandwich I wanted to be the meat of".
- I think this truly removes any doubts about how far Rayne is willing to go.
- And the strip's original bedmate reveal. Ouch.
- Been There, Shaped History: Rayne, through some creative tennis-ball dodging, was apparently responsible for The Matrix series.
- Brick Joke: In this comic, Rayne says to Noel that he would desecrate Noel's wedding bed on his wedding night. In this strip he doesn't... in the night, at least.
- Buffy Speak: Rayne indulges in a moment of weakness.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Pretty much explicitly stated in this strip.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Mick is doing this to his mother over her place in the murder of his father/her husband.
- Captain Obvious: In one series of strips, Rayne is asked to arbitrate a dispute between IDS' union and the management. He asks what they want: the unions want a 4% pay increase, the management is offering 2%. After a facial Flat "What" and a near-facepalm, Rayne asks if either of them thought to compromise at 3%. Their response is "I don't follow you."
- Characterization Marches On: Rayne starts as an very idiotic Lovable Sex Maniac. As the series progress, he gets nerdier and nerdier, and far more intelligent. His idiotic-ness is retconned as ManChildness.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Rayne. Let's just use this strip as a STARTING example and go from there.
- Con Recap: In the form of "Con Tales (Woo-ooo!)".
- Credit Card Plot: Subverted. Rayne is aware that Ashley has a poor understanding of money but gives her his card anyway, but also had payment tracking put on the card so he'll be notified of every purchase she makes with it just in case. He might be her favourite uncle and he does trust her to be responsible, but he's still giving a credit card to a teenager whose family (in particular her two uncles) have proven repeatedly to do very stupid things with their money.
- Cut Himself Shaving: "I fell down some stairs." "No he didn't. I beat the shit out of him with a smile on my face.."
- Distaff Counterpart: One Halloween series of strips introduces a girl who is apparently Rayne's (the header refers to her as "Summer Rains"), but she never appeared after that single arc.
- Fanservice: The art and filler strips from the past are full of it.
- Forced Meme: A meta-example. Ryan Sohmer attempted to get some attention at a panel (and exploited it during a petition) by having one of his fans go: "Why isn't Ryan Sohmer writing Deadpool?" The response from Joe Quesada is the stuff of legend if you're not fond of Ryan, especially since this move was a rather unprofessional way to grab attention:
- Joe Quesada: Never heard of him.
- 419 Scam: Rayne gets an e-mail with this sort of scam in this strip and decides to go to Nigeria to meet his princess and claim his inheritance.
- Filler Strips: Desouza doesn't do this all that often, but Porter did, drawing mostly naked women or poking fun at the fans' attraction to Issa.
- Friends with Benefits: Rayne and Cyndi, sometimes.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": Rayne at one point takes it upon himself to make a funeral entertaining with his usual antics due to a combination of boredom, awkwardness (he barely knows the coworker whose grandfather's funeral it is), and irritation that the deceased's supposed loved ones are acting even more selfish and insensitive than he is.
- Future Loser: Subverted. Rayne is shown a vision of how he ends up as an old man. It shows him sitting by a fireplace, alone, with just a servant tending him. But then the story is more fleshed out and we see Rayne is stupidly well-off, and he shows nothing but the utmost hospitality and generosity to his old friends, their families, and his own niece. About the only thing that hints at it being played "straight" is Rayne never had any wife or kids of his own, but then again, probably didn't want either one anyway.
- Generation Xerox: Ashley is basically a female 5-year old Rayne. Just without the extreme interest in the opposite sex (which is good, since, you know, FIVE). She's shown to have an attention span even shorter than his (though perhaps it's justified, since, again, five years old), and in Rayne's vision of the future, she's taken his place as company CEO after he retires, matching his business sense as well.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: John's shoulder devil is Darth Vader. His angel? Chewbacca.note
- Rayne's good angel is apparently HITLER.
- Handsome Lech: Rayne, as discussed above.
- Happy-Ending Massage: Discussed; Rayne's sent to a massage therapist, and the masseur isn't what he expected it to be (read: a guy named Rudy). After it's over, he comments that Rudy "made [Rayne] feel like a girl. With your big strong hands."Rayne: ...no sucky-sucky?
Rudy: No sucky-sucky.
- It's not entirely certain who he's suggesting sucky-suckies who, either.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Rayne tries watching some Asian porn to help decide if it's worth impressing Cyndi's parents just to sleep with her. His (and John's) conclusion? Well...
- Also, this stop on his tour of a porn studio.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Subverted and dressed in a Hawaiian shirt.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Also prevalent in the Star Wars arc.
- Ignored Epiphany: The arc with Marcy's boyfriend made it look like Rayne might come to terms with his man-whore behavior, after realizing that he missed his chance with Marcy because he assumed she would just wait for him to make his move and never find any other men. But then he gets over it by watching The Lord of the Rings with Ashley, and by next week he's back to normal.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Rayne at his most terrifying.
- Imaginary Friend: Ashley's is Lou Ferrigno. Only he's not so imaginary.
- Impossible Hourglass Figure: Issa has one of the largest racks in the comic, equally wide hips, and a waist that could fit through a keyhole.
- Informed Ability:
- Rayne's mastery of picking up chicks was originally a strong case of this. Virtually every strip featuring him hitting on a girl showed his asinine pick-up lines, childish behavior, and utter shoot-downs from the girls. 95% of the time, his hook-ups were only shown AFTER they'd already happened. Sure, Rayne was supposed to be good-looking, but it was more than a little obvious the writer didn't really know how a master pick-up artist works, and it was implied that Rayne merely used the "Shotgun approach" (A Tao of Rayne strip pointed out that the one girl who said yes was more important than the 99 who said no).
- Later strips partially fixed this. On very rare occasions, Rayne has shown signs that he can be more subtle and sneaky about pickups. The implication is that usually he just doesn't bother. Plus, the cute, charming, and childlike angle does work for some. His pick-up of the hot cougar at the bar was a much nicer change of pace, showing his style and smoothness in place of his general idiocy.
- His skills as a business manager are this as well. Most of the time, Rayne is shown goofing off or ditching work to go on some wacky adventure. When he is shown doing his job, we're either informed he's doing something or his 'great ideas' would only work in a fantasy world
- In the Style of: Sandra Boynton, to whom they apologized profusely.
- It's All About Me: Rayne, to the point where he tells Mick that in order for him to be interested in Mick and Tammy's upcoming wedding, the event has to be about Rayne. [[He's even like this in bed.]]
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: On Alvin the Chipmunk, of all people.
- Jailbait Taboo: In a very early strip Rayne once unknowingly slept with a high school girl he picked up at a bar. When the mother found out she tried to press charges but the judge ended up dismissing the case on the grounds that her daughter had used a fake ID to enter a bar so Rayne could not reasonably be expected to know she was underage.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rayne can be quite a dick sometimes. But if he really trusts someone, or sees someone in he cares about in what he perceives as danger, he will stop at nothing to help them, even if it reveals his nice side. A few examples are
- When Issa started dating Michael (Archie as Rayne calls him), see the If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... entry above.
- Whenever his niece is having trouble, he will instantly help her like a mature adult...most of the time. He even told her "Avoid guys like me" because he wants her to be really happy when she's older, and not get hurt. Given what he threatened to do to Mike for making Issa frown, one must shudder to think what he'd do to a guy who hurt his niece by making her a one night stand.
- When Rayne is having a possible heart attack, he keeps his facade of being horny and silly up all throughout the procedure, until he's alone in the ambulance with his secretary, then he drops it and expresses his pain.
- Just Eat Gilligan / Kill Him Already!: Here ya go.
- Karma Houdini: Just so you know how bad it is, Rayne once dressed up as a police officer just so he could sleep with two lesbians. He spent one night in jail, and the incident was never brought up again.
- Life Embellished: Sohmer shares many of Rayne's obsessions and geek ways.
- Likes Older Women: Rayne recently picked up a woman in her late 40s, early 50s (judging by the gray streaks in her otherwise blond hair).
- Lousy Lovers Are Losers: Despite Rayne's Extreme Libido and the fact he's The Casanova he's shown to care more about his own pleasure than his partners, such as in this strip when he walked out on a Girl of the Week after having a quickie because he already orgasmed, much to her ire.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The (proposed) opening theme to Least I Could Do: The Animated Series is rife with this—it's a cheery, upbeat tune about desiring to live life while facing absolutely none of the consequences or repercussions for one's actions.
- In other words, the perfect song for Rayne Summers.
- Medium Awareness: Rayne takes the occasional poke at the Fourth Wall.
- Here he mentions thought bubbles and the comic's artist.
- "I fell down some stairs. Some lunatic and physically abusive stairs. During sex."
- In this comic: "He's like a puppy...that you just want to strangle. And then neuter to protect future generations."]]
- Middle Child Syndrome: Invoked by Rayne when he and Eric learn they have an older sister their mother gave up for adoption. After one Jerkass comment too many, Rayne points out that Eric is now the middle child and asks how he feels.
- Motive Decay: Rayne's original reason for getting a job with IDS was because he saw a news report about Marcy (a very attractive and rich CEO) and made it his personal goal to bed her. The last mention of his quest was during the vacation arc in early 2007. Briefly reversed in by arc in September 2011, where Rayne gets jealous over Marcy's new boyfriend and he admits that he was interested (which she responds to by saying he should have done something, and that his inaction meant he missed his chance). The latter is especially odd because both he and Marcy previously had no problems expressing their attraction for one another (and in one storyline Marcy gave him a blowjob as a reward) but they agreed not to sleep together for ethical reasons.
- Naked People Are Funny: Rayne once tried to go to his COVID-19 vaccine shot completely naked, thinking of it as a "post-birth shot".
- Not So Above It All: Issa in a few situations, such as the series where Rayne and Eric have a bet and Eric's prize is sleeping with Issa. When the others observe how mellow she's being about being used as a trophy, her response is effectively "He's a doctor, of course I want to do him."
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Rayne bluntly tells Urchin here that like the animals in the comic, he will never age.
- Odd Couple: You do wonder how some of these friends/roomies can put up with each other...
- Only Six Faces: Chad Porter was especially bad with this. It was literally impossible to tell most women apart aside from hair, and Rayne wasn't any more notable than any other guy.
- Out of Focus: John, for years, thanks to Real Life Writes the Plot (see below).
- Precision F-Strike: Right here. Sohmer made a big deal about it on his forum, though the constant sex jokes in the comic kind of lessen the impact.
- Prison Rape - Averted early on in the strip's run as it was for the most part implied to be consensual, played straight later in its run.
- Progressively Prettier: Zig-Zagged with the "Suck for a buck" prostitute, who starts out looking quite normal and even rather attractive. Later she's wall-eyed, lank-haired, and all skin and bones. However most recently she's once again quite normal. Especially after revealing she was largely doing the whole thing as research. Also veers into Depending on the Artist.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- One of the reasons John was temporarily pushed to the background and Noel emerged was author Sohmer's growing distance from the friend on whom John was based.
- The "Suck for a buck" prostitute is also based on a strange encounter Sohmer had as a teenager.
- Really 17 Years Old: There's a storyline involving a girl in a bar who turns out to be underage.
- The Red Stapler: Defied; one of the strips in the arc about Rayne's Alternate History novel shows his Nazi assistant wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt with swastikas on it. The header text for that comic reads "No, you can't have a shirt".
- Remember the New Guy?: One day, Noel simply knocks on Rayne's door out of nowhere to become the number two character in the strip, replacing John as Rayne's foil and main talking post. He was given an immediate backstory that stated he was Rayne's best friend.
- Refuge in Audacity: The "Midget Hooker" and "Rejected LICD Storylines" arcs.
- Rule of Funny: The comic runs on this. Rayne and company can do virtually anything without any consequences, even in cases where they probably should be in serious legal trouble.
- Running Gag: "And that's when I bought the horse a prostitute." The prostitute herself also counts.
- Selective Obliviousness: Rayne literally only hears people say what he wants to hear.
- Sex God:
Girl of the Week: Don't you care about my sexual satisfaction?
- The 2005 Valentine Days date for Mike, Ariba is The Ace in a lot of things... including the bedroom.
- When Rayne finally gets to sleep with Cyndi, she turns out to be a Sex Goddess who more than lives up to his expectations.
- Subverted with Rayne. Despite his Extreme Libido he's shown to be a selfish lover who carse more about his own pleasure than his partners.
Rayne: I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.
- Shameless Fanservice Guy: Rayne doesn't have much modesty and has no problem being seen naked by his friends or even strangers.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: It turns out the "Suck for a Buck" prostitute isn't what she first appears to be.
- Shout-Out: So many:
- To DuckTales, with the short stories Con Tales.
- To My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and invoked the 20% More Awesome trope (see the comic title) in this strip.
- Rayne encounters Hazel and Jamie in a grocery store, but fails to lure them into a threesome.
- Rayne serenades Jade and Miranda.
- This entire arc consists of Rayne interacting with famous syndicated comic characters (and Breaking the Fourth Wall) while others wander around behind them.
- Shower of Awkward: One early arc has Rayne walking on John and his girlfriend in the shower as a Running Gag. First he catches her in a Modesty Towel and starts flirting with her, and later walks in on both of them while they're showering together.
- Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness: More often than not, it's stiff as a sheet of iron, but the scale moves quite a bit on occasion, sometimes veering into Medium Awareness or disappearing altogether.
- Smash Cut: Here.
- Smug Snake: Rayne at times can be this, but plays this painfully straight when he talked down to webcomic artists in a story arc.
- Status Quo Is God: For major, and more serious events, averted. Played straight with Rayne's Zany Antics arcs. Lampshaded when he has flashbacks to sleeping with a sadomasochist and throws popsicles at a hot girl who tries to talk to him, but Noel expects the "issues" will go away by Monday (and double-subverted only to bring it up the next Friday, to find by the last panel that it's an Intercourse with You speech)
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: One storyline concerned Rayne wanting to buy an aircraft carrier and use it to feed Africa, something many fans attacked as unrealistic. Several years later the story reveals the carrier was bought... then captured by pirates and sunk, costing Rayne's company millions. Turns out having someone who knows nothing about ships in command of one purely because they liked GI Joe is a bad idea.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- Title Drop:
- Trademark Favorite Food: Rayne has, on several occasions, been bribed into favors with large amounts of Cadbury Cream Eggs, Red Bull, or a combination of both. He also has a fondness for chocolate milk and has been seen eating raspberries when he's upset. Also, on one occasion where he tried to give blood, they drew Orange Julius instead. A prank, not Magic Realism.
- Valentine's Day Episodes: Where Contest Winner Cameos go on a date with their chosen characters.
- Variable Terminal Velocity: Figures prominently in the "Time to Jump" Story Arc.
- The Voiceless: Both the "Suck for a buck" prostitute, and Wild Bill, neither of whom has ever actually said a word in the comic (assuming you don't count Bill's threatening growls).
- Webcomics Long-Runners: First strip posted on February 10th, 2003.
- Webcomic Time: Belatedly averted. After years of the characters forever remaining the same age and their lives being stuck more or less in status quo, they received a letter from the author stating that they would not stay 24 forever and their lives would actually change.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: parodied in this comic.
- Write Who You Know: Most characters are at least loosely based on real people, hence why real life will sometimes write the plot.
- Writer on Board:
- A storyline where Rayne helps his old paper reinvigorate itself into a new format seems to be a way for Sohmer to express his dissatisfaction with newspapers as a medium and the way they are run, containing more than a few Take Thats to newspaper owners and publishers.
- We've also got an arc where Rayne shows up to give a lecture for TED on fear, materialism and entitlement. Given that this is Rayne speaking, you may be experiencing some dissonance.
- There was also his rant about webcomics missing updates when Rayne and Ashley went to Nerdcon. That's right, a webcomic that slammed the whole medium of the webcomic
- Sohmer takes a lot of the writing from his own views and experiences.
- This is putting it mildly. In recent years more and more focus is less on jokes and more on Sohmer using the comic to pitch his theories on how to fix the world. See the Aborted Arc section on how those panned out.