The 5 Circles of Baffling Web Comic Hell
A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 86 percent of all webcomic artists are, quote, "clownshit insane."
Not that I'm criticizing; I wrote a horror novel about dongs, I'm not going to throw stones from that glass house. But man, there is something about webcomics as a medium that really drives people to reach their craziest potential.
In our exhaustive analysis in the forums we found that all of the mind-blowingly insane webcomics fit neatly into five categories, which we have arranged in order of most innocuous to the very nightmares of the Devil himself. So hang onto your sanity good and tight as we tour these five circles of webcomic hell, beginning with Level 5, where we find...
Crazy People with Good Causes
Even the simplest and most banal message can turn into a glorious display of wild-eyed madness when filtered through the spinning kaleidoscope that is the webcomic creator's mind. A perfect example is the anti-smoking comic called...
#10. Easy Breather:
"I told you my bulge has no comment!"
Sure, the 3D-rendered characters in Easy Breather are a little terrifying. And sure the comic seems a little too obsessed with the "quit smoking" thing, pretty much blaming smoking from everything from rape to the Holocaust...
...but if you read the very first episode, it seems pretty harmless. It's an innocent tale of a little girl finding some cigarettes on the beach. Curiosity gets the best of her, but luckily her wise friend is there to intervene!
Well, that's pretty common sense stuff. Now go tell Mom and Dad, kids, so a valuable lesson can be learned!
Aaaaaand they're naked.
See, this is why webcomics are a thousand times better than newspaper comics. This is why I think James Vipond, the creator of this comic, is a mad genius. A character's mother dies? Gee, what would be a nice way to make the dreary mourning scene go down better?
The answer is titties.
I assure you, the censorship was added by us. People make fun of Mr. Vipond, they call him crazy for making a comic where at utterly random times the characters' clothing vanishes into the ether. But dammit, 20 years from now that will be a staple of all entertainment. He's crazy in the way that Tesla was crazy. The world just isn't ready for his brand of genius.
We leave you to your work, James, and continue to...
#9. Hathor the Cow Goddess:
From the site:
"Hathor the Cowgoddess...is a superhero who wants to save humanity through the combination of nurture, sustainability and bonding inherent in the practice of attachment parenting. Her movement is called the Evolution Revolution, her breasts are her superpower..."
Wait, do you mean that her breasts are the source of her superpower? Because it doesn't make sense to say that the breasts themselves are a... wait, you know what? That actually sort of does make sense.
"...and her sidekick is her baby, always carried in a sling and prominently (politically) suckling at her exposed breast."
Well, that seems reasonable. Let's see her in action!
Aaaand... POW! Public nudity.
I stopped and wrote down all of the questions raised by this particular strip. I wound up filling three spiral-bound notebooks. Including:
Question #1. If she's part cow, how are all of her children human?
Question #73. If the point of being a cow goddess is her superior milking ability, why just the two nipples instead of four?
Question #876. Is that a nipple on her scalp?Her pet cause seems to be that the world will be saved, not just by breast feeding, but by breast feeding
And while it's hard to argue with her "ice cream for breakfast" platform...
...it's a little hard to take life advice from a horned woman wearing a Hannibal Lecter anti-bite mask.
#8. Law For Kids:
We would be remiss if we didn't mention Law for Kids, the comics made by a group in Arizona to help kids stay out of trouble. Already the subject of many an Internet meme, each one is a masterpiece of minimalist storytelling:
What did they do wrong? The comic does not say. As in Oscar Wilde's tale of Dorian Gray, the grotesque sins of the protagonists that occurred between panels two and three are left to the reader's imagination. Perhaps the transgressions you imagine say something about you.
Also left shrouded in mystery is the final outcome, as the sixth and final panel of each comic is left blank, taunting us with the unknowable nature of the future. In this case we think it's safe to say that those two kids were never seen again.
Now let's up the crazy factor a few notches, and proceed to Level 4...
The Webcomic Evangelists
You do not find the run-of-the-mill religious comics wandering this circle of webcomic hell. No, there is certainly no shortage of comics designed to angrily insult people into or out of their religious faith, and while we may disagree with them, at least their message is clear.
But then you have these, the David Lynch-esque comics, seemingly created by feeding the Bible and a stick of dynamite to a goat, and then drawing the bloody aftermath. Do you agree with their message? Disagree? You'll never know. Let's look at a pair of creationist comics from artist Dan Lietha...
#7. After Eden and CreationWise:
Take note of the time. Now stare at the following comic until you think you've got your mind wrapped around its meaning:
Welcome back. If you're like me, about six hours have passed since the last sentence. We know from reading the rest of his site that cartoonist Dan Lietha is a Christian man. But it appears that, from this strip at least, he believes that behind the doors of time lies Cthulhu. And he will eat your Bible.
I don't pretend to understand this man's interpretation of Christianity, but I'm already pretty sure it kicks ass. Let's pull out another one, this is from his other strip, After Eden:
That one took about four hours. I called in sick to work. No, it's not one panel out of a longer story arc. It appears to be a new chapter in the story of Adam and Eve, one where Eve builds a dummy version of herself out of sticks and coconuts so she could either escape Adam, or perhaps lure him into a booby trap for whatever nefarious purpose. Perhaps to eat him.
Then we have this portrayal of the After Eden method of winning over converts:
...which appears to involve rigging your bible with poison darts. "Cain's wife? Sure it's right here in-"
Oh-oh. Somebody at their computer monitor just muttered, "Well, religious comics certainly can't get any more confusing than that." Fool! You just uttered the magic words to summon FaithMouse into our dimension.
Study the strip above. Well that... sort of makes sense. Tree of religious liberties, shredded into toothpicks by the godless ACLU and its... Porno Possum lunchbox. So how about...
That's right, sinful world! A new Pope is in town, and he's not going to stop mowing at the boundaries of your lawn, like that old Pope. No, he's going to mow right over your fucking landscaping!
Wait, is this a pro or anti-Catholic comic? Let's find another Pope episode to clarify it for us.
Huh. Is he... saving that sleeping woman? Kidnapping her? By the way, there's a "you'll shit bricks" moment when you realize the gray mass is a crowd of people.
Alright, let's get to the bottom of their stance on Catholicism by taking a look at their comic discussing Obama's controversial visit to Notre Dame:
Let's... let's just put FaithMouse down and slowly back away...
Far, far away.
Unfortunately, it only gets worse...
The Insane Political Commentator
The next level down from the religious comics, and with quite a bit of overlap between the realms, we find the somehow equally insane political comics. Behold:
#5. Diversity Lane:
Above you can see that this comic by Zack Rawsthorne is either about a little girl, or a very old lady, who is upset that we are losing America. So this comic is a modern day Family Ties and Diversity Lane (the name of the girl up there) is like a new Alex P. Keaton?
"Hey, what is this, Cracked? Are you saying people are crazy just for being conservative?" Well...
...it depends on whether or not you think that while Michael Jackson's funeral was going on, America was simultaneously invaded by North Korea's navy, Iran's army and Russia's feared zeppelin fleet.
We get that those are symbols, but Diversity Lane's symbolism is what sends it crashing through the guardrails of Political Hack Bridge and splashing down into the rushing waters of Batshit River. Try to puzzle through this one:
The family is miniature golfing, a 20 foot-long anaconda curls out of the cardboard building that represents Korea, and we're supposed to laugh at the parents for suggesting that their little girl not fight the fucking snake? Guys, we don't care who you voted for in the last election; if you see a giant fucking serpent at the miniature golf course, alert the management. Do not have your children fight it with a golf club.
Then you have this one, where Diversity talks about how Mexico is sending "monster-criminals" and "floating pig-diseases" to destroy America:
Hell, that could easily be a liberal comic, mocking the overblown fears of the right. It's not.
But while Diversity Lane is indecipherable, it doesn't come close to the shrieking hall of mirrors that is...
#4. Hal Lindsey's Oracle Cartoons:
I have to thank Comedy Central's Indecision blog for introducing me to Hal Lindsey's work. So, thank you. And go to Hell.
As with the above, some of Hal's stuff is coherent enough to establish that he's pretty far on the right:
Obviously we can't go trusting a man who is "unashamedly black" (as the binding on one of his secret books says). Any good minority should admit what a shameful thing that is before attempting to run for office, and apologize in advance. But that's about as sane as the man's work gets:
There's no caption for the above comic. We didn't crop some crucial context. That's the whole thing. Transvestite Boy Scout leader. Elderly ACLU Fairy. Atheist gorilla, wearing a tie, ringing a bell to raise money for the Salvation Army at Christmas. Vote Republican.
What is so awesome about these is that it takes two people to make them (the artist is John Rule). I would pay a lot of money to sit in on their brainstorming sessions, the two men perfectly in tune with the message they're trying to convey.
"So I want a typical American family, at home. In fact, let's label their home "America." And Fear comes calling. Make it look scary, you know, in a black robe with 'FEAR' on its back in all caps. And Fear is bringing with it suitcases labeled 'Russia' and 'Iraq'-"
"-and Japan, Ireland and the U.K. Sure, sure."
"Also make sure the American family has the stars and stripes-"
"-instead of a curtain. Yeah, this isn't my first political comic, chief."
"You know, we really should do one on this whole Global Warming thing..."
"Way ahead of you, Hal. Got one right here."
"Great, that's pretty much exactly what I had in mind."
"Sure, sure. I mean, there's only so many ways to approach the subject, right?"
By the way, you may want to delete these off your computer. You know what'll happen when the liberals catch you reading them:
Though after they put you in jail for reading them, they apparently let you keep reading them as part of your rehabilitation.
OK, we have two levels to go, and we're getting down to dark realms where the howls of the damned can be heard. To take in what you're about to see, you'll need an open mind. A mind so open, in fact, that hobos have taken to squatting inside it, and smoking meth.
I offer you this last chance to turn away.
The Incomprehensible Sexual Fetishes
A recent study by MIT said that by 2020, 40 percent of all content on the Web will be furry fuck comics. Strips like The Office Bitch populate every webcomic hosting service, covering humans transforming into animals, or into dragons, or turning from male into female. Or all of them at the same time:
Perverse? Yes. Crazy? Only in the sense that all sexual fetishes are crazy. That guy likes male dragon vaginas, I like Asian schoolgirls wearing fake beards. Again, glass house.
But then we have comics like...
Concession is a "furry" webcomic and if you're here I assume you already know that "furry" means you shouldn't click that link unless you're in an environment where they're OK with lots and lots of pictures of cartoon animals fucking. But that's nothing you haven't seen before. At this point, anthropomorphic animals giving each other blow jobs are pretty much the wallpaper of the Internet.
Concession functions on a whole other level.
It's written and drawn by Immelmann, who describes himself as a wolf/rabbit hybrid. It's called Concession because it's about a bunch of friends who work the concession stand at a movie theater. What kind of wacky hijinks could such a job offer?
Well, in this episode a child is abandoned at the theater:
The character who is comforting the child up there is named Artie. In a hilarious Three's Company-esque misunderstanding, he wakes up in bed with the child and believes he has molested her:
Artie then meets a woman and they go out on a date, where she surprises him by taking him to a NAMBLA convention. It turns out she also molests children and believes they share a common interest. To his credit, Artie is disgusted and storms out, but she shows up the next day, convincing him to embrace his pedophilia because the feelings are "natural," and to tempt him, brings a flock of children for them to share:
At which point he beats the shit out of the woman:
And reveals that he only molested the child because he has brain cancer.
So... that was really the best way that storyline could have worked itself out, I guess. It's not exactly pro-pedophilia or anything. After all, the character rejects the lifestyle.
Wait, did we mention that the story arc ends with the orphan leaving to go join the pedophile's underage sex harem?
Run! Run, stranger! Wait, what's this up ahead?
#2. Boston and Shaun:
I was introduced to Boston and Shaun by Something Awful, the site that someone once told me was the Michael Jordan to my Bill Wennington. This was five years ago, and the comic was already five years old at that point. I guess what I'm saying is that Boston and Shaun has been running since 19-fucking-99.
That's right; in a year when less than half of American households even had Internet access, there was already a fetish comic starring animals. And dragons. At least we think it's a fetish comic. Most of the strips involve the characters eating and rapidly gaining weight, over and over again...
...then erotically rubbing and poking their bellies...
Oh, and there are giant kangaroos involved. And with them, constant storylines about other characters shrinking down and curling up inside their pouches. That also is a fetish, I'm told. Also, there are diapers.
So what I'm saying is there's like nine different fetishes at play in this one strip. However, combing through their archives I can't find a single breast, or penis, or conventional sex act. Everything is smiles and fur and bright colors, and yet with each panel you can hear the sound of a thousand lonely men masturbating.
So how does Boston and Shaun land on a level of comic hell more disturbing than Concession? It's the absolute mind-rending unpredictability of the plots. Every time you get comfortable with the idea of where the story is going, it goes screaming off in another direction. For instance, here is the strip from 1/15/2002:
Well, hell, that's a pretty straightforward story setup there. Going to meet Shaun's family. Want to look their best. Such a well-worn comic premise, it borders on the predictable. Let's see what new twist Boston and Shaun can put on it. The very next strip, from 1/16/2002:
That, my friends, is what it feels like when somebody crams your expectations up their asshole and farts them into orbit. That's the whole strip; there's no context for what you just saw there. No human logic can tie one pixel of that episode to the one before it. Go to the site and click around if you don't believe me. You'll find no familiar footing to comfort you. Needless to say, from there to the end of the comic's archives, they never do meet Shaun's family.
And now, we reach the bottom.
#1. Billy the Heretic:
Well... this strip doesn't seem so bad... it's about a Christian boy growing up in a Jewish family, and the way they reconcile their religious differences, right?
Hell, that's downright heartwarming. The about the author page even explains that he was in fact a non-Jew who was adopted and raised by a Jewish family, so it's clearly autobiographical. The strip's title seems to be a play off "Dennis the Menace," so let's see how this trouble-making scamp makes his way through this all-American fish-out-of-water story!
Oh. Huh. So... is "I see another abortion clinic going up in a WASP neighborhood" like his catchphrase or something? Is that his "don't have a cow, man"? When I get home tonight and my wife starts complaining about how I didn't take the trash out, can I reply with, "Lookout, I see another abortion clinic going up in a WASP neighborhood!" and get a nice response from the laugh track?
Let's try this one, a personal anecdote from young Billy's life...
...about how all vandalism is secretly funded by Jewish window companies.
So, you know, that could have happened I suppose. I mean that's not so much a Jewish thing, but him saying his own father was a corrupt man. And if that incident really happened, we can't judge him for relaying it, right? It's an honest retelling of his own life story. You know, like that time he helped his old man forge Barack Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate so the Jews could rig the 2008 election:
And that time his family boiled a crucifix in poop on the front lawn:
I'd be tempted to call the artist a Nazi at this point, but I seriously don't think the Nazis believe any of the above. I think this guy is part of some Aryan splinter-group that is even considered crazy by the Nazis.
Don't you see it was the Jews pissing in the cemetery the whole time? And what is the evil dad doing in the final panel? In the forums they speculated he is giving birth.
Sure the guy's a bigot, but how much of it is the product of what is clearly a diseased mind? It's one thing to find out your neighbor hates you because of your race. It's another to find out he hates you because he thinks you're secretly a vampire.
By the way, as stupid and ugly and sad as it is, I still wound up reading every episode. I did the same for most of the comics mentioned here. After all, doesn't all of the best art make you feel like somebody pooped in your hair?
Art isn't about liking what you see, it's about experiencing the world through the artist's eyes, even if that artist has had hatred eat a massive hole through his brain. Even completely retarded webcomics can teach us something about the world, and the crazy people in it. And that is information you can carry with you from now until the day Jesus throws an asteroid at the earth.
David Wong is the Editor of Cracked.com and the author of the dongtacular horror novel John Dies at the End, coming in hardback next month. When Nick Coffin isn't researching god-awful webcomics, he's writing a parody of the Kingdom Hearts game.
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