Monday, 17 January 2011

All killer, no filler: Sinfest

I've always been out of the loop when it comes to webcomics awards, I only found out via the webcomic overlook. The fact that Sinfest has been twice nominated in the 2010 webcomic list awards got me thinking about the attrition rate of the webcomics I used to read.

It started in 2000, around about the time I started my addiction and along with Sluggy Freelance  and Everything Jake was always on my reading list. Now, if Sluggy Freelance has devolved into a weird cult with its own internal logic Sinfest is still somehow fresh. It just took me a while to realize it.

Sinfest was a strip I'd forgotten about. I'd previously thought it had hit a purple patch of recycled jokes       then there was a kinetic moment somewhere where Ishida seemed to hit his stride. I'm easily distracted & had put sinfest off my daily read list but it had since hit a metamorphoses moment where it's dealing with issues of faith and morality

Up to about 2005 the strips were gag strips with the occasional bit of continuity thrown in. The one-off jokes were never going to sustain a strip, it's not quite Cerebus syndrome but while I was away Tatsuya Ishida tweaked this strip into something steadily approaching awesome. The ongoing Romeo and Juliet dalliance going on between Criminy and Fuchsia is leading into the Devil as an actual villain, the inclusion of the pet comics into the main storyline, it's all meshing together & the continuity is a great attractor for me.

The author has a roving eye for source material and if webcomics suffer from an over-emphasis on the beta male geek ghetto, this strip has developed into far more of a comic meta-filter for the current memes buzzing around, even if it does show a soft liberal/ left bias Ishida is willing to poke fun at his own perceived inadequacies.

 So if some of it can still be gimmicky;  it's always been a tongue in cheek strip. The artwork, of course, is immaculately 'slick' and the inclusion of occasionally larger full colour pages is where Ishida shines  as an artist, working a vein of modern decadence in a post-manga fluorescence.

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