One Punch Reviews #20: Clumsy Love

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Ah, marriage. As a wise man once said, “Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”

Comic strips about the foibles of marriage somehow take the lion’s share of the newspaper funny pages. For Better or For Worse, The Lockhorns, Andy Capp, Jumpstart, Blondie…. I could go on and on. Yet, these comics are getting to be anachronisms. When you factor the bold new world of webcomics into the equation — you know, the “genre” that’s seemingly aimed at teen gamers — comics strips about married couples start to seem even more old-fashioned.

Can a comic about a husband and wife still feel new and refreshing? You can judge for yourself by reading the subject of today’s review: Clumsy Love, written and illustrated by Mike Gray.

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Clumsy Love

This comic dropped into my inbox as a request from the creator. In his e-mail, Mr. Gray describes himself as “a self-employed animator, cartoonist, writer, comedian.” He’s also created two cartoons, “Thom Cat” and “The Infinite Goliath, that showed up on the Random! Cartoons show on the Nicktoons Network. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for independent animators, so I was more than happy to give Clumsy Love a looksee.

Clumsy Love‘s premise, like all good comics and shows about marriage, is somewhat autobiographical. Mike and Melissa have been married for ten years. They don’t have kids, but they do have two playful cats (who always seem to be stretching or curling up). Mike is a huge comic book geek, which is only appropriate for a man pursuing a career in animation. Now, in my initial review, I was going to scoff and say that Mr. Gray greatly exaggerates the life of a Dork American. I was going to pair that statement with a link to this strip. But then I realized that I was wearing nearly the exact same outfit to work today (the red hoodie and the flipflops). I wasn’t rocking the the Sinatra hat, but I did have a black fedora in the passenger’s seat in case it started to rain. So, in the span of minutes, I have upgraded comic strip Mike from “stereotypical dork” to “pretty friggin’ accurate dork.”

Mike’s long-suffering wife, Melissa, is normal by comparison. She tends to tolerate Mike’s ways in a passive-aggressive fashion. She’ll often be seen muttering, “My husband is a child” (a refrain that should probably be familiar to any married dorks out there).

The jokes should seem familiar to anyone who’s watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. There’s that old chestnut about why women would ever ask a man’s opinion about clothes. There’s Mike’s catalogue of paranoia, which include mudane fears such as who is watching you disrobe in the department store changing room. And, well, there’s cat jokes, which I assume go over well with the LOLCat crowd. (Cat jokes, for some reason, don’t make it onto sitcoms. I assume it’s because they’re impossible to train.) Most of Clumsy Love feels like one of Tim Allen’s old stand-up routines. It boils down to, “Fellas, we sure give our wives a hard time?”

However, the reason that everyone does these jokes is that you gain stunning new revelation when you’re the one going through these experiences. The reason they remain popular with audiences is the comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one going through the same dilemmas. It’s mutual commiseration, comfort food, and Guys Night Out rolled into one.

Kids will probably enjoy it; heck, I enjoyed Blondie as a kid without understanding all the grown-up stuff going on. Married folks will probably enjoy it to. But the current webcomic market of teens and twenty-somethings will probably write it off as cheesy sentimentality aimed at the CBS crowd. Everyone’s probably right. Speaking as an emerging old fogey who said, “Yep, Mike Gray’s telling it like it is” more often then he’d like to admit, I found Clumsy Love — despite feeling like a re-hash — to be quite tolerable.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

PS I shared the webcomic with my wife. She would probably rate the comic higher than me. She was particularly enamored by one where Mike surprises his wife by hiding in the bushes. She told me that it reminding me of a similar stunt I pulled. I disagree: I was hiding in a pile of laundry. That’s TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS!

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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 May 22, 2009, in 3 Stars, all ages webcomic, comedy webcomic, journal webcomic, One Punch Reviews, slice-of-life webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the review, I really appreciate it!

    –Mike Gray

  2. Y’all said “It” instead of “It’s” in 2nd to last PP
    and “Kids’” instead of “Kids” in last PP

    Thank me later

  1. Pingback: Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » May 26, 2009: Goin’ off the rails on a gravy train

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