One Punch Reviews #4: Aliens, Zombies, and Scary Little Girls (Alien Loves Predator, Thorn, Awkward Zombie)
The One Punch Review is back! This time, I don’t even attempt to have a theme, unless you find “scary little girls” to be some kind of alien zombie. (I wouldn’t blame you.) Today, I take a look at the toy-based comedy strip “Alien Loves Predator”; the all-ages newspaper strip hopeful “Thorn”; and yet another video game webcomic “Awkward Zombie.”
Alien Loves Predator
The last strip, published a week ago, seems to hint that this strip may soon belong to the annals of Webcomics past. The release of new strips has been very sporadic in 2007, especially compared to the breakneck pace in 2005. Writer/creator Bernie Hou seems to have other, more important things on his mind, and a comic strip, based around still photographs of some of his painstakingly detailed toys (um, “action figures”) in silly poses, seems to rank fairly low on his priority list. And that’s fine. Life is unexpected like that. Still, I’ll be sad to see if this buddy strip about roommates Abe and Preston is truly at an end. Oh, sure, this strip reveled in the sort of random absurdity that seems to be popular with the college crowd these days. Jesus plays on the Yankees, and he’s also a roommate? Preston’s ex-girlfriend goes on a date with Bill Clinton? Abe’s pal pretends he’s Russell Crowe to go out with Abe’s Mom? Make it so … times THREE!
And yet, “Alien Loves Predator” is also a rather honest account about two guys trying to survive the everyday dilemmas of New York City. Abe and Pres look around for apartments, try to pay the rent, hail taxis, and try to find soulmates in a detached world. I’ve never been to New York, but I imagine the stories here are more true to life than the squeaky-clean “New York” — you know, the propoganda that shows up in sitcoms and dramas to lure unsuspecting college grads to a non-existent paradise of coffee shops and Manolo Blahniks. “Alien Loves Predator” presets a New York where you can smell the cheap hot dogs and break up with a girl just because she roots for the wrong baseball team.
Maybe that’s the secret of the title. “Alien Loves Predator” … perhaps it’s about how, in a teeming metropolis, we must reconcile our sense of alienation with our predatory sense of survival? Ha! Just kidding. It’s called “Alien Loves Predator” because Abe is an xenomorph from the Alien movies and Preston is a, um, predator from the Predator movies.
Anyway, this story is in he middle of a yet unresolved storyline, with Corinna stuck in her room, Pres worrying about her, and Corinna’s BO and Abe trying out the speed-dating scene. There’s a lot of loose end to tie up, and not enough time to do it. Rating: 4/5
Amy Mebberson, who created the webcomic “Thorn,” is clearly searching for a syndicate to put her comic in the newspapers. Her strip is unashamed to be safe for both kids and conservative, naysaying old-timers. “Thorn” is all about Rosie, who is a precocious little terror to both her mom and her big sister. Also, she’s spouting some stuff about global domination. So I guess she’s kinda like Stewie in a skirt, except she’s more likely to arm herself with a shrill voice than a thermonuclear detonator. Thorn’s a fine strip, but its ambitions are its own pitfalls. Seldom does Thorn blaze any new territory. It feels like an amalgamation of “Rose Is Rose,” and “Marvin.”
Making Rosie the main character is a bit off-putting, since she comes across as more of an insufferable brat than a mischievous little kid. And what’s up with the setting? It not totally clear, but my guess is that the family is based on a suburban domicile you’d find in a 1960’s sitcom. The mom does housework and fetches slippers and martinis for her man. Did such families ever exist? I’m not being snarky here. I come from a family of laborers, and I’m pretty sure my mom would give my dad a piece of her mind if he was too lazy to get his own slippers. Were there families like this outside of the TV shows?
Still, Mebberson is a decent artist, and she captures facial expressions quite well. In some panels, all Amy needs to tell the story is Rosie’s expressive face. And while I rarely found myself laughing out loud, I admit that I did find the strip to be very charming. (And I find myself more and more sympathetic to Thorn’s older sister, whose name escapes me at the moment. Can she positioned to take over the strip sometime, like Popeye once eclipsed Thimble Theater?)
Truth be told, given Mebberson’s ambition for the strip, “Thorn” IS heads above zombie strips like “Hi and Lois” and “Beetle Bailey.” If only “Thorn” had that little something-something to make it stand out from the other recent family sitcom comic strips like “Baby Blues” and “Preteena.”
And, no, Rosie, “Kill Lois” is not a valid solution. Rating: 3/5
And finally, “Awkward Zombie.” “Penny Arcade” is generally seen as the father to the literally thousands of webcomic imitators that sprung up from all over the web. While “Ctrl+Alt+Del” might be its uncannily similar son who’s a lot more like his father than he admits, Katie Tiedrich’s “Awkward Zombie” is the bony, zit-faced, homely younger daughter who smells like sweatsocks. (If you think that’s harsh, you should see how Dietrich draws herself in her own comic. Man, I’m as tired as anyone about artists who draw themselves to be a hot anime princess, but … dang. I had half a mind to tell Katie, “You don’t look so bad, girl! Ain’t nothing wrong with making yourself look, uh, female, you know what I’m sayin’?”)
Now, I’m aware of the flaws of this comic. The cartooning style isn’t very polished. the whole video game premise — and, indeed, video game parodies — had been done to death. Yet, I can’t help it. I actually find this little webcomic to be pretty humorous. There are times when I don’t know who the characters are, yet Tiedrich makes up for it with some silly (and totally nerdy) gags that somehow tickle my funny bone. I feel like a movie critic trying to describe a Jim Carrey movie. You know that seeing Carrey talk out of his butt is totally juvenile, yet you can’t help but laugh anyway. And, you know, half the time, the characters move, act, and look like Jim Carrey. Even if I didn’t get the game-based humor, the characters and their wonderful goofball faces are enough to make me crack a smile. Rating: 4/5
Posted on December 10, 2007, in 3 Stars, 4 Stars, all ages webcomic, comedy webcomic, One Punch Reviews, photo webcomic, pop culture caricatures, The Webcomic Overlook, video game webcomic, webcomics and tagged Alien Loves Predator, Awkward Zombie, Thorn. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.