(David Herbert returns… this time with a surprising take on the much maligned CAD: the Animated Series.)
So this week I’ve decided to try something different and give you guys a column that’s partially a guest review but also something of a “Know Thy History” piece. And I can hear the scrolling of mice as people flurry to the comments section to bash Ctrl+Alt+Del before reading or possibly to bash me since I haven’t been too kind to Buckley in my other columns but please hold off for a little while… at least until the third paragraph.
So it’s no secret CAD has attracted its share of haters, for legitimate reasons and others that are rather overblown, which means anything related to the comic would attract a hatedom as well. Not just from Encyclopaedia Dramatica, which does not say anything kind, but also from the series’ director Ryan Sohmer, who has said it was the worst business venture he ever engaged in.
But honestly, it’s not that bad. It’s not that good, but I can’t call it horrible.
The sum of Ctrl+Alt+Delete‘s early run can easily be summed up by one of the most notorious advertising campaigns in video game history: the ad for Daikatana. So, basically, creator John Romero thought it would be a good idea to sort of do a parody of gamer talk. So he put together a simple red poster with a very simple slogan: “John Romero’s About To Make You His Bitch.” This was supposed to be ironic, of course.
It went over as well as you would expect.
So far, Buckley’s put together a comic about gamers being moronic troglodytes, emotionally stunted man children, and gamer girls with no personality, while each parody needs to be explained over and over again while the violent punchlines are pretty much telegraphed since panel one. Meanwhile, Buckley’s Mary Sue, Ethan, becomes crowned King of All Gamers, pwns all the world’s religions, and envisions a story where video games can save your marriage. Ironically, of course.
That went over as well as you’d expect.
But now it’s different. Now that Tim Buckley has crossed the bridge from wacky humor to maudlin drama, we’re now reading a totally new comic. the upgrade that finally makes CAD a comic that deals with serious issues.
Welcome to CAD 2.0.
I like Rob Liefeld.
It’s sort of an out there thing to say. Nowadays, when most people mention the name “Rob Liefeld,” they like to talk about pouches, no feet, ridiculous muscles on muscles, impossibly small waistlines on the women, and that one Captain America picture. I get that.
Still, if people were craving artists who drew in “How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way” dimensions, how come there’s no alternate movement to honor the likes of Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, or Jerry Ordway? What people are forgetting is that when Liefeld broke out onto the scene, the rigidly standard character designs were prevalent and, frankly, very dull. A style, though, that placed more value in the visceral over realism? The guy running the “I Love Rob Liefeld” blog summed it best:
I thought it was AWESOME. The energy, the power, the thrill of super-heroes beating the snot out of super-villains. I loved it.
I understand all the criticisms. I know Liefeld can’t really draw well. Look, you don’t have to send me that link to Progressive Boink. I’ve seen it. But I don’t care. Liefeld was one of the biggest reasons I started collecting comics, so he’s OK by me.
I mention Liefeld because, in a way, I totally understand what it’s like to be a fan of Tim Buckley’s much maligned webcomic, Ctrl+Alt+Del. Perhaps no other webcomic has been so widely mocked by critics and by fellow webcomic creators. Yet it still frequently pops up on a lot of people’s “Best Of” lists, including many people whose opinions I value.
Once upon a time, I called Tim Buckley “the Rob Liefeld of webcomics” … maybe he can’t draw, maybe he’s a bit of a hot-head, maybe a lot of his fans hate what he did to the genre … but if you ignore him, you’ll never get a full picture of what webcomics (or in Rob’s case, comics in the 90’s) were really all about. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s time to put that theory to the test.