Gary is usually seen as a good guy who just needs to grow a little backbone and learn to stand up for himself. A few people have argued that Gary's supposed "niceness" is nothing more than passivity, and the only reason he's not a jerk is because being a jerk would require more initiative and personality than he's got. After he went through several hours in Paris basically ignoring the continuous verbal catfight between the two women he was with, and paying little attention to the one with whom he was nominally on a date in favour of the other, his clueless passivity perhaps ascended to a kind of rudeness all his own. And when he made an amazingly tactless remark to Senna about having broken up with her, some readers felt that she couldn't be blamed for hitting him in the face.
For a long time, DiDi was one of the strip's sweetest characters, before her quest for an orgasm brought out a nastier side to her personality. Re-examining how she treated her past boyfriends, along with implications that their failure to satisfy her might be partially her fault, some readers still think that she's a genuinely nice woman whose ditziness and effects on other people make it difficult for her to know how to properly interact with them. Others began to feel that she's a selfish person who only knows how to act nice, and that she ultimately only cares about her own gratification — an impression that has been hugely reinforced by her weird relationship with Kiley.
Combining this with Ambiguously Bi... Sandra's character page entry describes her as straight (mostly, anyway) and her relationship (and intimate moments) with Matt demonstrated she's no slouch when it comes to men. But her night out and subsequent dinner date with DiDi raised a number of questions about precisely how straight she really is.
Although the girls decided they weren't as bisexual as they thought, there were several moments that suggested romantic/sexual attraction was in fact taking place (most notably #438); it's possible there was genuine chemistry between them offset by inexperience with women and fear of the unfamiliar, or alternatively that DiDi had a childish infatuation with her friend that didn't transfer to the sexual while Sandra's suspect moments were platonic affection mixed with shock, confusion and embarrassment, coalescing into Stupid Sexy Flanders.
Confusing the issue further, DiDi did much later demonstrate a lesbian side of sorts, with someone else...
...While Sandra continued in a mostly heterosexual pattern in her own comic, but was tempted towards a lesbian fling at least once — and a bonus strip produced following a Kickstarter campaign suggests that her actual orientation is more complex than even she knows — at least when she's sober. And in the end, she seemingly resolves her contradictions with a hefty dose of what may just be If It's You, It's Okay.
Archive Panic: The comic passed a thousand strips at full speed, with ongoing plots dating back to the early days, and with two fairly closely linked spin-offs and some bonus material. While this is just a fraction of what some Webcomics have achieved, it's still a non-trivial history.
In early volumes, Gary suffered some terrible luck, often through no fault of his own, and even some of the good things that happened to him ended up having drawbacks down the line. This culminated during volume five with Gary and Yuki's one-sided relationship, which led to the fanbase blowing up and an increasing number of readers complaining that Gary's suffering had long since crossed the line from slapstick to unfunny. Volume six, though, has things going fairly smoothly for him, with most of the bad things that happen to him being clearly because of his own blunders instead of bad luck. As time goes on, his luck seems more weird than uniformly hostile.
Conversely, in those same early volumes, Zii seemed to some readers to be able to do whatever she wanted with no repercussions. However, she subsequently had her past come back to bite her in the ass from multiple directions, with two stalkers among other problems, along with her worldview being seriously shaken when she first falls hard for a guy and then finds out what Gary's been up to. This scene in Sticky Dilly Buns also showed her being a reasonably cool and likeable person when her own appetites weren't in play, and having a functional conscience of sorts. Her life subsequently involved a fair number of ups and downs; while she can evidently get away with a lot, its hard to argue that shes totally immune to the consequences of her actions.
One of Zii's most controversial actions was when dealing with an underage internet troll she finds his home address and proceeds to go there, sleep with the child's mother, and causes the kid's parents to get divorced ... and that was the joke, that she broke up some poor kid's parents because he was an A-hole online. This gets a revisit much later in the comic, however, when Zii meets back up with the kid and while he admits the divorce was difficult, he admits that his father really was a total bastard and now that they were divorced, his mother doesn't cry at night like she used to. It helps that during the second interaction Zii actually tries to genuinely apologizing for crossing the line, showing that she knew she crossed it, and the kid to instead thank Zii for helping his mother find happiness again.
The whole notion that the authors make changes to their story in reaction to fan complaining (and that the previous examples prove it) is, however, highly debatable — as Giz has confirmed◊ that neither she nor co-author Dave pay much attention to the forum and the opinions expressed there by the fans.
Have a strong opinion about Zii? Don't worry, by all appearances, so does just about everyone else. Examples of these diverging opinions can sometimes be found scattered across various pages on TV Tropes, too.
Both Yuki and DiDi have also inspired arguments; Yuki over whether or not she's nuts or a psychopath and deserves to be locked up, DiDi over whether her search for an orgasm has made her completely unsympathetic or not.
The strip "A hundred times more" (September 22, 2012, NSFW) added more fuel to the fire in Yuki's case, and now the fanbase is divided over the nature of Yuki's feelings for Gary, and whether their on-off relationship is healthy or not. Her stint as Gary's girlfriend, a relationship that took a lot of strips to work through, did NOT help matters either way.
Yuki's relationship with Sonya, on the other hand, contrives to be just plain funny, even after it has cooled down from its peak of sexual passion, and even shows Yuki as the sane one at times.
Meanwhile, the focus of DiDi's unthinking cute selfishness shifts towards Kiley. Getting her orgasm doesn't make her a much better person. Then she moves on again, and doesnt improve as a person at any point.
Also, Sonya. She's either disliked for being a jerk and tactless for petty reasons and for her constant advances on Zii, despite Zii being in a relationship with Erik in the early days, or still liked for her ditzy sexiness and ability to bounce back from setbacks. However, nearly everyone sees this as Zii's former seduction of Sonya coming back to bite her in the earlobe.
Sonya slips down the moral scale with her continuing and ruthless pursuit of Zii, although her vulnerable or sentimental sides emerge just enough, from time to time, to at least keep her interestingly complex for some readers.
Then things started happening in her relationship with Yuki, showing Sonya as, well, someone who really needs to get her head straight.
By volume 10, its fairly well established that Sonya, while flawed, is pretty much a force of nature. Good or bad isnt the point; she lives and exists for drama. In the end, she can only get a strong enough fix by migrating to a whole different genre.
Since the "Amber tricking Gary into giving her oral" incident, readers have been divided over whether Amber is likable or not — although that's no longer much of a live discussion among fans, and a lot of readers have warmed up to her. Her relationship with her sister Ruby, and her uncertain pursuit of love, in Sticky Dilly Buns take her character in new directions.
On the male side, we have Erik. People think that Erik is either cool or terribly bland. And there's also the matter of his relationship with Zii; it either worked well and was a good thing for the story, or didn't quite work out.
Gary too inspires debate. It's not exactly a love/hate division, but he's still pretty base-breaking in the sense of having readers who like him the way he is, readers who like him but wish he'd grow a spine already, and those who find him bland and boring due to his lack of assertiveness or any other strong personality features. The fact that he bordered on Cosmic Plaything with his Butt-Monkey credentials does NOT help, and his escape from that status is more a matter of luck than effort on his part.
Senna has been seen by readers as, variously, cute if vain and ditzy through to cute but downright psychopathic, but that's not her really base-breaking feature. The trouble really blew up when she let Gary get drunk (arguably through carelessness and inattention rather than deliberately), and then seduced him. (To be fair, she was pretty drunk herself too.) This led to, let's say, a fair bit of debate on the boards over issues of consent and responsibility. Her transgender status confused the issue further, as Gary identifies as heterosexual; some readers doubted that he'd willingly have sex with someone with a penis while he was sober, even if she did look like an international lingerie model, whereas others noted that he always seems to have found her very attractive when she was dressed, despite having seen that penis.
The "'Gently Caress' You" arc from 2010 features, from the main cast, only Zii and Gary, while the other characters in that episode never return apart from a one-panel cameo years later. It's a revenge-based plot based on Zii being trolled on the internet (while allegedly looking for girls for Gary) by what turns out to be a punk-ass kid that Gary knows from a Transformers message board — who conveniently lives nearby, so Zii to get revenge on him by having sex with his mother. Until a February 2017 strip, this was never brought up again.
Similarly, in "Babes in Toyland", the (so far) never-to-be-brought-up-again plot focuses on Zii and DiDi accidentally "breaking" one of Gary's Transformers figures and deciding what to do about it. Some consider this to be payback to Zii for her actions in the previous Bizarro Episode, as it turns out the toy was never broken in the first place and Gary ends up supposedly making Zii watch the entire Transformers cartoon with him as a consequence for messing with his stuff. Except that's never mentioned again either.
The 2016/17 "Pro Wrestling" arc also caused some debate among the fans; see, e.g., this thread.
By the end of volume 9, Sonya and Zii are together in a Friends with Benefits set-up but then, Zii dumps Sonya for DiDi, leaving the fandom to divide further. A lot of the audience sympathizes with Sonya, seeing Zii's dumping of her as cold-hearted and selfish, and hope that when she gets over her tears and starts working on some kind of revenge plot, they'll get to sit back and watch the ensuing spectacle. Others instead saw Sonya as Unintentionally Unsympathetic, feeling that after having previously engineered the breakup of Zii's happy relationship for her own selfish ends the fit she threw was blatant Moral Myopia and what happened to her was a well-earned reversal of fortune, while also pointing out that it made no sense for Zii to be in a relationship with someone she didn't feel anything for. Still others don't sympathise with either party, thinking they have too much jerk baggage to be sympathetic either way, but still want to see what comes of this new development.
Crack Pairing: We have a cast mostly consisting of good-looking people, many of them bisexual. And then we have Eulice the hideous landlady (even if she does suffer from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome). Hence, "Eulice and <somebody else>" has become fans' standard joke response to any suggestions about possible pairings.
Cry for the Devil: Sonya had developed stalker-ish tendencies towards Zii, and her relationship with Gary was largely about using him for sexual satisfaction and to make Yuki jealous, (and she dumped him, fairly politely but in the middle of sex, when she realised that she found him boring). But then, when she realized that Zii didn't reciprocate her feelings, she went back to sleep in Gary's bed, weeping and in need of a hug (February 19 2013, strip 710, NSFW). Likewise, when Zii dumps her for DiDi in volume 9, she ends up spending the night crying, with just Lita for company, and given that Zii has behaved quite appallingly here, Sonya gets a lot of fan sympathy.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: While more mundane than most instances, as the rest of the page can attest, every significant character is heavily flawed, or at least heavily controversial. There have been some readers who gave up on the strip because they reached the point where they felt that they couldn't truly sympathize with anyone. Alternately, some readers only find Gary sympathetic, and get fed up because they feel the nicest character is the one who suffers the most.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Junghan is really popular among the fanbase. During his long absence, people kept wondering if he'd ever come back and suggesting that he was the best character in the comic. Since his return, each of his appearances (including some brief but entertaining cameos and a huge off-screen character reveal in Sticky Dilly Buns) has been welcomed with much rejoicing. Most people acknowledge that he's a better character if he doesn't get too much focus, though, if only because the writers don't seem very good at writing snark, which is his specialty.
Evil Is Sexy: Most characters in this comic are good-looking and get a bit morally unreliable at times, but Senna, who is probably the most flagrantly amoral recurrent character, in a petty sort of way, also happens to be the one with an international modelling career. Also, Matt, who's just a bit of a jerk, seems to have slightly less spectacular success as a model, but still rates high for looks — and Sonya, who was never less than sexy but who started out naive, has turned into a convincing (if still dim-witted) seductress as she learned to use her sex appeal selfishly.
Face of the Band: Although the other members of Ziis bands may have their own parts to play in the comics story, the audience call out Ziis name when they play a good gig and both Yuki and Sonya acknowledge that shes the leader.
Yuki's lines inthesefourstrips, considering the path her relationship with Gary took, count as either Harsher or Hilarious, depending on how one views the situation as a whole.
Talking of hindsight hilarity — Zii promised to have Gary up to his neck in naked women by the time he was thirty. On his thirtieth birthday, Gary ended up discovering the drawbacks to being more or less literally up to his neck in naked women.
In issue #441, Yuki and Sonja fight over Gary and ask which of the two he wants. Gary, being Gary, says he wants both of them, and he receives a double Death Glare. Fast forward to issue #1200, over five years later, and he actually does get both women in bed at the same time, but not entirely how he expected.
Idiot Plot: The comic's plots are frequently driven by the fact that few of the characters are terribly smart, and even the fairly bright ones are prone to being driven by their hormones. One notable repeated example which turns this Up to Eleven is Gary's unwillingness to tell Tracy that he's not the sexual guru that she seems to think, and that he didn't want to offer her boyfriend James oral sex, coupled with Tracy's muddle-headed attempts to manipulate the two men and James' willingness to believe whatever he's told (except that Tracy would actually like to give him oral sex herself). Eventually, this plot gets a dose of Reality Ensues when Gary, in a surprise twist, actually grows a spine and walks out of the would-be threesome when things get too weird for him, with some sensible comments as he goes — but it took a lot of idiocy to get to that point.
Yuki. True, she's screwed up in the head, having been traumatized by being exposed to her father's tentacle hentai at an early age, and has nymphomanic lesbian tendencies towards Zii. But, when she's not having one of her episodes, she really is cute. Especially when she tries.
Moe Couplet: Yuki and Kiley. Each is moe on their own, together, they bring out each other's positive traits. By making to the call to Kiley and agreeing to therapy, Yuki shows her willingness to change for the better by overcoming her fear of penises in order to pursue a relationship with Gary. While Kiley's efforts to help Yuki emphasises her supportive nature (despite her own issues) and her willingness to help. Bonus points for sharedwoobie moments, which ups the moe factor ten times over.
Kiley and Gary too, in their appearances together since hooking up there's usually at least one exceptionally cute/heartwarming moment.
Also Gary and Yuki; of particular note is their first kiss.
Never Live It Down: Though it's maybe been a while since the last time she's done it (much less in comics time than in real-world time), Yuki's infamy for kicking guys in the nuts (due to her extreme phallophobia) has become established to the point where various members of the cast are quick to snark on her for it, including Jung and Sonya. And when she went to Kiley's place for more therapy, Matt remembered and recognized Yuki as "the crotch kicking girl" and dove for cover.
One True Threesome: Around the start of volume 7, Gary and Zii began to show slight hints of a new mutual attraction, while Yuki referred to both of them together as her loves. This caused some fans to note that a relationship between these three might actually work quite well and even be stable.
Pandering to the Base: A harem comic filled to the brim with Ho Yay and Fanservice, where sex and hardcore situations are teased constantly, but nothing seriously explicit ever occurs, some think mainly for purposes of building a fanbase who will wait patiently for "the big moment." And until that big moment comes, the artist has made some softcore porn of the characters for sale while they wait.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Multiple cases. Basically, while few readers would consider this comic a masterpiece of subtle characterisation, most of the cast have both virtues and flaws, which are amplified for comic effect. Hence, some of them garner a bit of fan hatred when they do something bad early in their time on the comic, then confuse the readers who dislike them by doing something good.
To some, Zii gets rescued from the heap when she acts supportive of Gary's budding relationship with Kiley and preventing DiDi from sabotaging it — and then consoles him after Kiley dumps him.
Amber, while not a Scrappy per se, falling more into the Base-Breaking Character category, had readers who previously disliked her warm to her when she supported Gary over Yuki's failure to give him any form of physical affection.
Matt, with his nigh-pathological inability to remain faithful in a relationship, is unpopular with a lot of fans — who then get very confused when he provides Gary with genuine help with understanding his sexuality, or shows a sensitive, intuitive side in his early dealings with Kiley or his encounter with Ruby.
Sonya recovered some fan affection when, after finally getting and enjoying Gary's oral attention, she reminded him that there were advantages to dating a woman without Yuki's weird phobias — by cheerfully jumping him for conventional sex. Compared to his relationship with Yuki, this constituted Gary catching a huge break.
Admittedly, she then dumped him a few days later — relatively politely, but with terrible timing.
And she caused some to take said affection back and punt her back to the Scrappy Heap hard enough to score a field goal come Chapter 6, when she shows glee at having apparently caused Zii and Erik's break up through her manipulations (combined with Zii's alcohol-driven loss of inhibitions). As this not only is likely to leave Zii crushed, but also imperils Zii's (and for that matter Sonya's) dreams of following a musical career, Sonya's joy looks short-sighted as well as selfish. Though some were happy to see Zii hit with what they see as Laser-Guided Karma...
Gary appears to be firmly stuck in a ghetto by his own choice. He's a wannabe artist, in Paris and offered a chance to visit a whole range of classic and modern art galleries and collections — but his first instinct is to dive into a video games shop. To be sure, he wants to be a comics artist, and he subsequently displays a broad, informed knowledge of that specific field, but the idea of drawing inspiration from any non-comics artists, or even just admiring non-comics art, doesn't seem to occur to him.
Conversely, Senna demonstrates an old-fashioned high culture disdain for comics art here. Apparently, she's never heard of Pop Art, or any of the fashion designers (i.e. people working in her own field) who are influenced by comics styles, or anything else on those lines. Given that Roy Lichtenstein was producing comics-based "high art" a good fifty years ago, some readers wondered what the writers were thinking there (and also shared her exasperation with Gary to some extent). One possible conclusion is simply that Senna is nuts.
The Scrappy: Being a long running comic, it has many characters in constant competition for this spot:
Dillon, post flanderization, with a recent increase in cloudcuckoolander tendencies and campiness, and taking his flirting with Gary a bit too far, which can be nerve-grating for some readers.
Matt, due to his jerkass ways so far as romantic monogamy is concerned, plus his Karma Houdini moments.
DiDi, thanks to her efforts to undermine Kiley and her willingness to break up her own (admittedly casual) relationship with Matt just so Gary could give her an orgasm or two, and by her attempts to persuade Yuki to let her have use of Gary. It almost seemed like she was trying to invoke this trope.
Yuki, who was already a scrappy for those who weren't fond of her self-centeredness and childish tendencies, became an even bigger scrappy after the events following "A Hundred Times More" (September 22, 2012, NSFW), having Gary continuously give her Swirlies, while not giving him any form of physical affection.
Gary himself, for failing to grow some spine for a very long time, despite everything he's been through.
While all of the above have some love to balance out the haters, it seems that one of the few characters with no fans at all is Zii's stalker Izz.
Tracy, starting from "Gary giving James a blowjob" arc. Tracy forcing Gary into a sexual act he's clearly uncomfortable with to fix her own sex life with James infuriated a number of readers.
James, especially after his Straw Feminist tendencies have been Flanderized to the point that he can't grasp the idea that women might enjoy giving blowjobs to men, thinking of it as an obscene, phallocratic act, and stops Tracy from giving one when she straight-out tells him she wants to. (Even after that, he immediately interrupts her and still insists on saving her from the "too degrading" act despite all her protests.) It's hard to tell whether or not the fan hatred for him on this basis was intentional, but the fact that an ongoing story arc hinges on his What an Idiot! nature, and that Volume 10 opened with a focus on him, Tracy and their still nonsensical relationship issues rather than a number of hanging plot threads from the end of the previous storyline, and that both of which have left some readers hoping for any excuse to be rid of him, was most likely not intentional.
Volume Five received complaints of this nature, due to an overfocus on Yuki, along with seemingly switching the focus of the strip from "People having sex" to "People getting interrupted while trying to have sex." Volume Six may have reversed this problem for many with a massive plot switch and the return of some popular minor characters, albeit maybe at the cost of some loss of a sense of realism.
The "Gary Giving James a Blowjob" arc is widely panned by fans, who accuse its story of being insultingly stupid even by the comic's amiably uncomplicated standards. For context: When Tracy asks Gary, a grown, patently heterosexual man despite everything else he's been through, to give her boyfriend a blowjob because her boyfriend idiotically misinterpreted Gary's attempts to pitch blowjobs as an enjoyable experience, Gary simply can't find the nerve to say No to Tracy's face. What follows is then a story of a grown man trying to fake a blowjob while keeping the appearance of a friendly guy to his co-workers. Also, the punchline isn't all that funny.note Adding insult to injury, the beginning of Volume Ten brings back this plotline, with James wanting another blowjob from Gary, who still cannot say "No" to Tracy, infuriating many readers.
The wrestling plotline of 2016-17 started with DiDi, never the comic's most nuanced major character, suddenly getting involved with a whole bunch of new secondary characters. Then, as it developed, it began to lean heavily on the appearance of yet more new characters, all of them expies of characters from the authors' other comics, Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks, giving the whole thing the look of an over-stretched in-joke. Meanwhile, Zii, a major character with a lot of dangling plot threads and personality issues attached, had been invisible for many months, real-world time. Some fan grumbling ensued.
Shipping Bed Death: Massively averted, largely because this is a Sex Comedy much more than it's any sort of romance, whatever some fannish shippers might want. The characters get into relationships, but these are generally short-lived or incredibly unstable, and are frequently obviously bad ideas from the first; hence, they may crash and burn, or just fizzle due to bad communication. Any pairing that the shippers might suggest (any pairing) can happen, but it probably won't end anything much. Even when the lead character who started the comic as a desperate virgin got laid, it involved a previously minor character, the relationship promptly crashed, and the ex-virgin didn't change much as a person. It's assumed by most of the fan base that most of the main cast will end up in long-term relationships when the comic comes to an end, and various final pairings are discussed from time to time, but it would be dangerous to bet on anything.
Strangled by the Red String may be played with or played straight when Zii and DiDi get together. Previously, ever since the comic began, Zii's attraction to DiDi appeared to be based entirely on lust, while DiDi treated Zii purely as a platonic friend; however, DiDi apparently convinces herself that they have a romantic bond (which is necessary for her to achieve orgasm), and after one strip of flashbacks to previous not-obviously-romantic events, Zii apparently agrees, leading both of them to treat what they have as a love affair. On the other hand, DiDi has never had much in the way of self-knowledge, while Zii's responses to her still seem mostly to be driven by her hormones, so the trope may yet be averted.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The "Gary Gives James a Blowjob" arc could have been a biting commentary on the politicisation of consent, as well as a reminder that sex requires both parties to consent and men can say "no", (mostly) by simply giving James a better reason for not wanting a blowjob, such as not liking it. But instead he's a Straw Feminist and doesn't want to "degrade" women with an "obscene" act, and through downright insultingly idiotic misunderstandings he ends up wanting Gary to give him a blowjob.
Unfortunate Implications: The comic's more or less total disregard for any arbitrary ideas about "karma", especially relating to some of Zii's sexual escapades in early strips, has inspired some criticism; see, for example, this review.
Gary, to a number of readers. His abject spinelessness has crossed into unfunny territory more than once, while he can seem short on personality and tiresomely incurious. Admittedly, his Character Development turned out to be largely about fixing the spinelessness at least, with hints that he was becoming more adventurous in general.
Some readers found it hard to sympathise with Sonya after Zii dumped her for DiDi, feeling that her past behaviour made her look like a serious hypocrite — especially since her very first act as Zii and DiDi moved to leave was to try to seduce DiDi away from Zii to prove a point. (The opposing argument noted that Zii knew that Sonya wanted something more, and that Zii and DiDi broke their promise to not have sex in Sonya's apartment literally seconds after Sonya left.)
By the last volume, it became clear from discussions on the comics boards, and comments there from the creators, that DiDi was meant to be somewhat more sympathetic than quite a few readers found her. She was apparently meant to be a ditz with emotional issues linked to her anorgasmia, but good-hearted and loyal, with real, passionate feelings for Zii. However, the sheer number of jokes playing off her ditziness, her casual accidental cruelty to multiple boyfriends, and her obsessive pursuit of orgasms at any cost, made it all too easy to see her as a self-deluding, solipsistic moron and her interest in Zii looked like it was about nothing but the orgasms. That casual cruelty to Sonya, and the broken promise, didn't help either.
Wangst: Gary is prone to outbursts of self-pity, as in the very first strip. And yet, he not only has a job and friends and family who care for him; he has remarkably good looks for a geek who never seems to take any exercise, and an increasingly interesting love life. His attitude in early strips might be forgiven in that his plot-driven luck hasn't kicked in fully yet, but his pessimism in strips such as this one ("I just know I'll mess up!") makes this look like a bad habit which likely causes a lot of his problems.
Gary, throughout. Though his woobie status becomes highly questionable in Volume Six, when he's having sex with a lingerie model while on a free trip to Paris. The fact that many of his problems actually arise from his lack of backbone, rather than the hostility of the universe, has not only become increasingly obvious at this point, it ends up being explicitly lampshaded in strip #795 (September 24, 2013, marginally NSFW).