The Webcomic Overlook #7: Marry Me

Many years ago, when I was a young lad in Detroit with the funny pages spread out before me from the city’s two major newspapers, I tried to tackle the ulitmate challenge: to read the soap opera strips. Every other strip was breezy and readable. But, ah, those soap opera strips: they were impenetrable. Rex Morgan, Gil Thorp, and the crown jewel of them all, Mary Worth. Before the days of the internet, it was impossible to follow thier storylines unless you subscribed to every damn newspaper throughout the week. Read them Sunday to Sunday, and it made absolutely no sense. So why would I even bother undertaking such a challenge? Because I wanted to understand why in the world these strips even existed. I mean, they were in the papers… someone was reading them, right?

It wasn’t until recently, when I came across The Comic Curmudgeon, that I managed to follow entire storylines. And I still have no ideas why they exist. They storylines are ludicrous, and the writers seem to have no idea what the modern world is like. Most of the current crop are hold-overs from earlier eras when the comic pages were read by a more diverse audience.

With the exception of For Better or Worse and Funky Winkerbean, there haven’t been any new soap opera strips in the American funny pages for a while. Japan’s another story, and soap opera comics exist in manga form. I can’t think of any recent examples, but Rumiko Takahashi’s Maison Ikkoku and Kimagure Orange Road are often held up as shining examples. They combine humor, sweetness, and the common theme of unrequited love.

Are these any soap opera comic strips in the webcomic world? This brings us to today’s subject: Marry Me, an online graphic novel written by Bobby Crosby and illustrated by Remy Mokhtar.

Marry Me, the webcomic

Bobby Crosby is the writer of Pupkin, which achieved the unenviable distinction of being a SomethingAwful.com Awful Link of the Day. To be fair to Crosby, he mentioned that he hated the strip and would have ended it sooner if not for the fan support. Remy, whose full name is Saiful Remy Mokhtar but perfers to be known as “Eisu”, is a comic artist who lives in Malaysia. Fair or not, this country of origin validates the manga-style artwork that dominates this strip, as I’m originally from that part of the world and I know that manga is the style of choice in South East Asia.

The ambition behind the strip is given away in the domain name: marrymemovie.com. Notice it is not called marrymecomic.com. The wikipedia entry claims that the creators are playing with the possibility of adapting the story into a movie.

The strip itself is about two people entwined by fate. Stasia (which is short for Anastasia, of course) is an impulsive 24-year-old pop star who’s coming off a string of failed relationships. Her character is obviously influenced by the likes of ditzy Hollywood blondes, like Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson. Guy Cooper is a hunky high school guidance counselor with a permanent five-o’clock shadow. His look is obviously influenced by stubbly-faced Hollywood guys like Matthew McConaughey and Clive Owen.

One night, as part of her show, Stasia spots Guy holding a “Marry Me” sign and gets a priest to join them in holy matrimony before an entire audience. Unfortunately, Guy was only holding the sign for his friend while she left to pee in the bushes. Naturally, hi-jinks ensue. To prove to the world that for once she was entirely serious, Stasia promises that she will be married to Guy forever.

The essense of Marry Me.

So the good part: I have to say that Remy’s art is quite attractive. His characters are all excellently designed: each distinct and oftentimes adorable. He plays around with several camera angles, and all look natural. This stuff would feel right at home among the myriad shelves of manga collections that are taking up three walls at my local Borders. And the man loves his cheesecake. Seriously. So no complaints about the art.

However, the story is totally, utterly ludicrious and on the verge of being painful. At no point is the story even remotely believable. Now, you may say that this is the standard set-up in popular manga comics and anime. Ranma 1/2, for example, features a bickering couple that are bound together due to an arranged marriage. The main couple in Onegai Teacher! are brought together in holy matrimony to avoid a scandal. However, manga/anime is more believable than Marry Me for the following reasons:

  1. Crippling modesty is a highly Asian trait. Stasia and Guy are both Americans.
  2. Most of the time, manga protagonists are teenagers, so they’re totally naive about how to approach things in the real world. Stasia and Guy are both adults who are at least in their mid-twenties.

The portrayal of Stasia is wildly incosistent, and there’s nothing in the comic that makes her likable at all. She’s supposed to be out of control, yet we’re supposed to believe she’s heartbroken that everyone thinks the marriage was a big publicity stunt. And then the writer reveals that Stasia donates 97% of her profits to charity. I suspect he’s trying too hard to make us love her; instead, I just shake my head and wonder how that 3% manages to cover the cost of the entire tour, including the roadies and the bodyguards. And then there’s all that singing. That terrible singing… which looks totally ludicrous when not accompanied by music. And it’s a huge informed attribute: we only know that Stasia’s a great singer because other character praise her utter brilliance. Reading the lyrics, though, lead me to believe otherwise.

I’d also complain that the writer is also trying too hard to make us love Guy by making him a high school guidance counselor. He’s such an utter bore, though, that it’s almost not worth mentioning. Seriously, you get to this page and you begin to wonder whether Bobby Crosby has ever had a conversation with an actual woman before. That page also gives me the odd feeling that neither Stasia nor Guy are actual characters. Rather, Guy is a total Mary Sue: a comic book nerd and guidance counselor who is heartbreakingly sexy and managed to get in bed with a hot chick without having to so much a lift a finger. (And of course, there’s no sex involved since having a hot girl by your side is a much more appealing prospect than some activity that might lead to embarrasing disappointment.)

The ultimate internet fan.

And speaking of sex, there’s a weird dichotomy about it here. Despite being legally married, both Stasia and Guy — both in their twenties, remember — are rather nervous about it and skirt the subject like red-faced virgin teenagers. (And Stasia is a super popular pop star, remember, and you’d think she’d have been mature enough at this point.) I know it’s a staple for the main couple in manga to engage in verbal foreplay for the entire duration of the run, but this is a bit of stretch. Especially when the best friend of Guy Cooper is a lesbian who gets off on wearing Stasia’s pants and is actively propsitioning a threesome. Look, Bobby, you cannot haved it both ways.

And then there’s the awful dialogue. I already covered the stilted courtship, but that’s not where it ends. Look at this yokel blurt “Stasia went Koo-koo!” or this black bodyguard bellowing “Y’all best back up!” and try not to barf.

I admit that I might not be the primary audience for this comic, but I do love my soap opera strips, and I do not love Marry Me. Look, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a Gil Thorp storyline where Gil trains a one-legged boxer, so I’m no stranger to odd plot developments in a soap opera strip. But the characters have to be both consistent and interesting, and this strip has none of that. In fact, the only interesting character is probably Parker Webber, Guy’s lesbian friend, and only because she’s realistically over the top. (As if that sentence makes any sense.)

I’ll give Marry Me one point for the art and one point for Ms. Webber, but beyond those two, there’s not much to recommend.

The bigger question, though: can Marry Me make it as a movie? Possibly … in Mexico. Man, they’ll greenlight anything there.

Rating: 2 stars (out of a possible 5)

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on September 4, 2007, in 2 Stars, comedy webcomic, manga style webcomic, romance webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. This was the comic that my friend’s been telling me is so great? Thank God for confirming my feelings that it’s crap.

  2. Thank you for loving Parker Webber.

  3. Hey, I do think she’s the best character in the comic. Crazy, light-hearted, and brassy … too bad that the sexual orientation means she wouldn’t go for a guy like me. ;)

    And thanks for not taking the somewhat negative review to hard, my friend.

  4. I started reading this comic when it first started. I have to say, that the only reason I keep coming back to it, is because I just want to see what Parker will do next. That, and the artwork. The only thing that REALLY pisses me off about the comic, is that they do one page every month or so… Not good for everyday readers.

  5. Yeah, I wasn’t so enamored of the comic myself. I kept reading it, hoping it would get better, but…the characters are such stereotypes of themselves. I can’t see it being developed into a movie, unless they did some serious rewrite or something.

    The artwork’s definitely the best part. And have you checked out the comments page? Jeez, this guy’s rabid towards his fans.

  6. I haven’t read the comments pages, but I do know that Bobby Crosby can get rather passionate at times.

  7. There could be a possibility of a major rewrite. The Battle Royale movie had an extensively rewritten plot (with time setting changes, character changes, etc.) and the audiences loved the film.

    If the characters were made more consistent and displayed American traits this idea could sell as a film. Also the stuff like 97% to charity should be toned down to be more realistic (like 32% to charity – Still a large sum but not impossible)

  8. LOL, none of you have any brain in your head.

  9. I found a few of your criticisms a little harsh, like the bodyguard’s dialogue. In real life, we have Britney Spears’s bodyguard yelling, “Make a hole! Make a hole!” I prefer the comic’s bodyguard’s lines hands down. :) And yes, the characters are all caricatures, but in farces, aren’t they often? I didn’t get the impression the goal of Marry Me was a true-to-life story in any way, shape or form. It always seemed to be trying to be a quick-paced, almost slapstick romantic farce.

    However, you can add to your criticisms the fact that the site promises a M-W-F update schedule, but only seems to publish one page a month. That’s unprofessional; after this many months of missed updates, the schedule should be changed to something readers can rely on.

  10. As for this from the review: – “or this black bodyguard bellowing “Y’all best back up!” and try not to barf.”
    * From my experiences many people raised in the south, black or white, use “y’all” – I think “southern bodyguard” would have been a better description as southern is more relevant in this instance.

  11. I’m not trying to be snarky here, just trying to clarify — is “Y’all best back up” an acceptible phrase? It wasn’t so much the “y’all” as it was the entire line … plus the image of the guy saying it while his beefy fingers were splayed outward. The scene just seemed rather odd to me. Something’s just not meshing together (though saying it with a Southern accident makes it a tad better).

  12. Yeah, I figured the real beef was with the cohesion regarding the whole phrase. :)

  13. “you can add to your criticisms the fact that the site promises a M-W-F update schedule”

    http://www.marrymemovie.com/main/2007/11/13/page-51-friends/#comment-6854

  14. The update schedule isn’t the issue.

    The issue is the misrepresentation of the update schedule.

    That can easily be solved. Just go here: http://www.marrymemovie.com/images/header-marryme-red.gif – And take out the “New Page Every M-W-F” – Replace it with whatever schedule is applicable.

    See, problem solved! You do not have to change your update schedule! (Not that people are actually complaining about that!)

  15. So you didn’t read anything at all that I said? That’s nice. And no, they most certainly are NOT complaining about that, since I get the same level of complaints for “+EV,” often from the same people, which has no such banner or MWF listing anywhere on the site. People just want more of everything and some assholes feel entitled to it and they’ll go crazy screaming about it like little babies, and as I’ve said hundreds of times, including multiple times on that page I just linked you to, I will never do what assholes like you want and change that 100% POINTLESS listed schedule, unless it’s to NOW DAILY, as I’ve said I might do many times for fun.

  16. To Crosby:

    Schedules are not pointless. Holding to your schedule is not only good buisness sense, it shows respect for your readers, something your previous post shows none of.

    You are coming off as both a pretentious ass and an entitled internet troll. If you ever want a “Marry Me” movie to be any kind of reality, you will stop this unprofessional behavior now and show some respect for the “whiny babies” who put money in your pocket. You do not exist as a writer without them.

    To the Author of this review:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your review. It is too bad that Crosby is largely unwilling to entertain any criticism, constructive or no, because the basic premise isn’t unsalvageable.

    Hopefully, this comic is doing good things for Eisu, whose art is the ONLY reason I continue to check for updates. (And Parker. Stereotypical as she is, she’s just weird enough to be believable and a bit like a bipolar lesbian I know when in a slightly manic phase.)

  17. The script is typical RomCom stuff. If you think “Marry Me”‘s dodgy characterisation and ludicrous plot would stop it being made into a movie, you haven’t noticed what’s already playing in cinemas!

    For me, it’s definitely Eisu’s art that tips “Marry Me” over the line to “worth reading”. There’s just something endearing about the way he draws the characters. (An argument could be made that the same applies for the actors in crappy RomComs – the story and plot is rubbish but the actors make the characters adorable enough to watch it anyway).

    And yes, Parker has her moments…

  18. To Bobby Crosby: Don’t listen to these people here, I thoroughly enjoyed the comic – the drawing, the story and the dialogue. I read the five, well done. I wish it was longer.

    You people just whinge and complain, blah, blah, blah. If he gave you a kilo of gold you all would complain why you didn’t get two. And some one whining about one phrase! I really hope you are taking the piss here because if you are serious, please get a life. If you want to criticise and have the person listen, there is a right way to do it. You are clearly doing it the wrong way.

    • Actually, if he gave me a kilo of gold, I’m pretty sure I’d say, “Thanks for the kilo of gold! You are truly a generous gentleman.” I would assume it wasn’t bribery; that wouldn’t be gentlemanly.

  19. Do rather like the comic myself, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from. The Africa subplot especially is just kind of out of nowhere.

  20. Kimagure Orange Road was written by Izumi Matsumoto, not Rumiko Takahashi. They are contemporaries, however. Akemi Takada did the character designs for KOR. I was fortunate to meet here in May.

  21. While the initial read of the comic was fun, it isn’t something I would read again except for the art. I agree with a lot of what you’ve written, but not all of it. I’m a sap for romantic comedy, so I suppose I may be the target audience of Marry Me. It’s definitely something I would give a watch just for the cheesy goodness that is romantic comedy bad or good.

    I have to say that I’m really surprised at Mr. Crosby. I had heard rumors, but some of his comments here and the links he gave to his other comments paint a worryingly negative picture of him. Unprofessional and downright rude to his commenters. My respect for him has plummeted quite a bit.

  22. Just read through this comic… which took less than half an hour. It’s less than 100 strips, from start to finish. That’s the big problem with it: the story itself is fine, but you just can’t tell a story like that in 100 strips. It needed more like 500. As it is, the crazy fast pace means there’s no time to properly introduce and develop the characters, or have any real drama; almost as soon as it’s begun, it’s all wrapped up conveniently. Perhaps the author realised that with his slow writing schedule, he couldn’t give the story the time it needed, but in that case he shouldn’t have started writing it in the first place.

  23. So, did Bobby Crosby have to work at being an asshole to everyone, or was he just born that way?

  24. I wonder if I’m the only one who hates the art in this comic. I find it stiff, inconsistent and poorly designed, even for manga. The linework is a strange digital treatment, it makes everything feel heavy and squished together. I couldn’t continue reading it because the speach balloons were poorly placed and sized, making the dialogue hard to read.

    Even with the terrible lyrics, I found the concert scenes the only pages that had any flow in the drawings, I think because it focused more on the bodies and gestures in the scene rather than faces and expressions.

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