Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Review: "Questionable Content"

many months ago, Ann Apolis decide to wade into dangerous waters by reading the archives of Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques. The content proved so questionable that she had to divide her review into multiple parts. Here is part one. I have never read QC so I absolve myself of all responsibility for the accuracy of this post. Enjoy --Carl

Hello, compatriots! My name is Ann Apolis, medical doctor and doctor of humour, able to observe comedy with the detached air that comes of living in Actual England instead of New England.

It so happens that one day on the #xkcd-sucks IRC channel Kirk suggested (nay, demanded) that I read the webcomic Questionable Content. And I did. And, mindful of the common criticism of this blog ("Why do you spend all your time whining about xkcd when there are worse things in the world, like genocide and war and Questionable Content?") I decided to write up my experience for Carl 'Ugly' Wheeler to display on his popular pictoblag.



Here is a song. It's "Lady in Red" by Chris de Burgh. Go listen to it.

Did you like it? Of course you didn't, it's "Lady in Red" by Chris de Burgh: reheated cabbage with a dodgy backing track that would elicit sneers at the Eurovision Song Contest. I hate it. And yet... and yet I rather enjoy listening to it, because its utter detestability fails to outweigh how pleasurable it is detest it, what joy there is in mocking every facet of its carefully constructed awfulness.

And it was much the same emotion that got me through reading the first 507 strips of Questionable Content. There is a lot to mock.

I shall go easy on the art; it is only the first 507 strips after all (looking at the latest ones it seems to improve a lot) and given that it's a webcomic on the internet nitpicking the art seems petty; suffice to say, the canonically fat Faye doesn't look particularly fat and the canonically well-endowed Faye doesn't really look bigger than the other two ["Ann Apolis, why are you staring at boobs on the Internet?" "It's research for an article!"]. But as I said, picking on the art is a little unfair.

Picking on the writing isn't. Again I imagine it probably improves (or at the very least changes) over time, but the writing in these strips is pretty bad. For one thing, Faye (who is over this period of time pretty much The Main Character - Marten exists to facilitate plot and conversations with Faye) is kind of a jerk. She punches people a lot and is generally rather nasty. (Aside: I can't find it cos there's no search function, but there's also that comic where she punches the dude in the music shop for being judgmental about other people's taste in music. Despite the fact that QC seems to be The Official Webcomic Of Being Judgmental About Other People's Taste In Music: uno, dos, tres...) And I don't like media where the main character is a jerk because I don't like hanging around with jerks, even if they're meant to be jerks (and Faye is meant to be a jerk, and Jeff has crafted her very well as a jerk).

Thankfully (SPOILERZ) she does get called on it, although (EVEN MORE SPOILERZ) she gets given a Freudian Excuse for it later on, and I can't really tell whether her character changed in the long-term, because I'VE ONLY READ UP TO STRIP 507 jesus people.

Characters are all yer generic wisecracker, pretty interchangeable as long as you're careful. One particularly annoying tic with the writing is the attempt to make every joke a Brilliant Social Observation, and the result is that the girls all say things like "Remember that all girls like going to the park!" and the boys say "Ah but as a boy I want to get into your pants" and then someone will say "Indie rockers [like us!]; why are we so obsessed with", er, I dunno, "indie rock", and it all devolves into that awful As You Know stuff. And it does happen. All the bleeding time.

What else? Oh yeah, there's that strip (again I can't find it) where Dora the goth comes out of her house wearing a pink shirt and you think "OH WELL THAT'S NOT A METAPHOR FOR HOW SHE'S ABANDONING GOTHHOOD AT ALL" and it's a bit clunky and obvious to be frank (although maybe this is just my superior literary ability ruining things for me).

Wow, some of the guest strips are pretty harsh (I include the last one only because of panel one).

Nice things! Let me say some nice things. Well the art is sure as hell better than some comics I could name (hint: look at the blog name!), and for someone who's admitted to using copy-and-paste sometimes he sure manages to conceal it well. Also Jeff usually tries to make humour flow from the conversation rather than shoehorning a punchline in somewhere. That's commendable. Marten is actually quite a good character, really; he works as Punchline Vehicle #3, as a sort of blank slate character for the action to revolve around, and it's also pretty easy to get a handle on who he is.

Why did I only read up to strip 507? Well (SPOILERZ) it drops a pretty big drama bomb so that seemed like a good time to stop. Also I suspect it changes quite a bit after that strip so it was best if I got my insights on strips 1-507 done before thinking about the rest.

Right, I think that's everything. There we are then, Questionable Content: a webcomic of indie snobbery, jerks, "as you know..."s and bewbs. Do your worst, Internet.

P.S. I am myself an indie snob so don't be all "well maybe you'd appreciate it if you had actually heard of The Arcade Fire".


  1. Due to the fact that you prefaced your review with the statement that you live in Actual England, I read this entire article, anything you linked, and the comment I am currently writing in a stereotypical British accent as envisioned by Americans, and I must say that it makes everything a delight to read.

  2. I actually quite enjoy QC. Sure, it isn't exactly the height of literary achievement, but it's still funny enough to make me actually look forward to reading it every day.

    And I say this as someone who is not an indie snob and has no idea who The Arcade Fire is, so I don't think that really factors in to the enjoyment of QC.

    I do agree that for some reason, QC seems to get some of the worst guest comics I've ever seen.

  3. Reading the above post in a stereotypical accent envisioned by Americans I have to assume that it is either Cockney or Toff. Please let me know which.

    As someone who read about the first 200 of QC and some of the new ones, I found it very disconcerting when linked to the mid range, where the characters have developed sloping foreheads and bad postures (Especially 336). The yellow shirt girl looks very Whoville. I'm rather glad I missed this phase.

  4. Sven: You really should check out Arcade Fire, though. They're excellent, IMO.

  5. I used to like QC. Hell, I used the Raven icon for a bit. But I'll spoil things for the audience and say that while the humour does improve for a bit, it certainly doesn't stay there and basically devolves into a mix of obscure musical references and fart jokes and sex jokes; sometimes all three.

    RE:XKCD784... He's done this before. Stick figures with an apparent third dimension creep me the hell out. Although, points awarded where due -- Randall made me laugh by his hilarious juxtaposition of a semi-serious topic, semi-serious attempts at shading and simple effective colouring, against hand writing and weird irregularly boxed thought "bubbles" that looks like it should belong to a 12-year old.

    For reference, and not an actual joke. Fortunately tonight I am already up because I'm trying to download my abominable HD videos of a Zerg v Protoss game.

  6. I read some archives at one point, thought it was alright, and then suddenly there was this midget robot that was obsessed with anal sex or something? And I was like "eh" and stopped reading.

  7. The great thing about indie rock snobbery is that indie rock is actually better than mainstream pop, but absolute shit compared to almost everything else.

  8. It's official; the only reason Randall draws stick figure comics is because it's his "thing", and his fans would go batshit if it drew anything else. Can anyone honestly say that 784 would not have been better if the characters had faces?

  9. I think it'd be pretty hilarious if Randall just started, without any comment or warning, drawing his characters with exquisite detail as real relatable human beings, used a more "sophisticated" font, but otherwise kept pumping out the same crap, comic after comic.

  10. Speaking as someone who didn't even know what Indie Rock was before I started QC, I honestly think it's a great comic. He drops the ball on occasion of course, but most of the humor is good.

    @Simon: Don't hate on Pintsize. Not cool.

    @Indie Rocker: Everything's better than mainstream pop. Cats yodeling are better than mainstream pop.

  11. QC has no redeemable qualities. It is pure shit. You were entirely too nice, Ann Apolis.

    But I guess to each their own.

  12. I love QC. It was the first webcomic i ever read, well before I'd ever even heard of indie rock. It seems like everyone hates Faye, which is odd since she's always been my favorite character...

  13. The last few comics are so frigging terrible. Someone really should do qcsucks blog, because these groaners shouldn't go unpunished.



    We need to let the world know that XKCD sucks.

  15. The beginnings of QC were terrible, but it's a quite good strip now. The characters are fully developed and much more interesting, and there's far less of the indie bullshit.

  16. QC took a while to get into its stride, it's true. The strips are occasionally terrible, but his average level of quality is good enough for me.

    Also I'm legally obliged to like QC because it has a character with my name (even though he's pretty much the polar opposite of me). :P

    @Mana: I'll check out Arcade Fire, thanks.

  17. What the fuck is with all the QC love over here? It's utter shit.

    New comic: I have to say, two years ago this would have been a shitty "aww I am so romantic" comic that just made a bland non-statement about love. I kind of like that it ends badly, but it's still too ham-fisted and bland to be funny.

  18. I'm cool cause I hate everything guys.

  19. OMG your favorite Toto song isn't Africa, YOU'LL NEVER GET LAID!

  20. @Ravenzomg- Thats twelve year old is motherfucking edgy.

    This comic creeped me out, a lot. Replace 'falling asleep', with 'killing myself' and you get the worst vibe from this comic ever.

    QC seems like the sort of comic you'd like if you tolerate folowing and archive binging things like CAD and LICD. If you can dig through a few hundred to a thousand pages of utter shit before getting to decent, if bland, mediocrity, then you should try this. Its like chugging tobasco sauce to get a free thing of jello a day (jello is blander than vanilla pudding, and fuck anyone who disagrees). Personally, I follow CAD, archive binged and followed LICD before eventually quitting it, and quit QC partway through the binge.

    Also, the girl has mutant hands, one of which is bent at an impossible angle to wrap all of itself around the pillow from under it. The guy sleeps with one arm out so we can actually tell which way he's facing. Neither of them own clocks, lamps, or bedside tables. The banister is twice as tall as the stickmans head, but only casts a shadow on the pillow and matress. The shadows lean to the left in spite of no visible light source. They live in a plain grey room with walls geometrically designed to avoid casting shadows. The monster under the bed apparently owns a lamp because it's afraid of the big, dark shadow bed would otherwise cast no matter what the lighting direction. The blanket doesn't move at all when he moves over.

    Also, dicks like me who have taken exactly one semester of art have the inalienable and infinite right to bitch endlessly about art quality

  21. Anon 1:24, I know it's hard for you to understand this now, but at some point in your life, usually after high school, you will stop thinking of everything in terms of wether it'll make you look cool. It's very liberating.

  22. "This comic creeped me out, a lot. Replace 'falling asleep', with 'killing myself' and you get the worst vibe from this comic ever."

    I think that was the implication? I couldn't decide if he was going for "I'd leave the world behind to be with you" or "you make me want to kill myself." The latter is more ASW-like, and this being another ASW ripoff I assume that's what he's going for, but it was just so badly executed (as per usual) it's hard to tell.

  23. Aye, file this one under "dude just ask Joey Comeau if you can do a guest strip".

  24. The alt text ("Sweet unintersecting dreams!") means that it isn't a death metaphor. Just an attempt to momentarily escape a crappy relationship with a few hours of sleep.

  25. maybe he does ask all the time, and he's just like "sorry dude no" and Randy makes these tear-stained offerings in response

  26. The lack of planned sentence rhythm and beat panels makes this one seem kinda lame though. Like comparing a third grader with a stutter to some beret wearing guy at a poetry club.

  27. right, Randy sucks really, really, really REALLY hard at being ASW. the best way to tell that he's trying is by how incredibly badly he failed at it.

  28. That said, I have a five year plan that (through gradual shifting of art, style, structure, and content) will turn Xkcd into ASW. Then Randy and Jo Comeau must fight to the death for supremacy.

    I stole that last bit from an episode of spongebob, btw.

  29. I would pay to watch that fight.

  30. It's hilarious that the few QC defenders on here have arguments that boil down to basically this:

    1) QC *can't* be terrible! It's good! I say so. (Followed by zero reasoning.)

    2) QC *can't* be terrible! I have the same name as one of the characters!

    3) Faye can't be a horrible person/terribly-written character! She's my favorite!

    To paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, "These arguments are not even fallacious."

  31. "2) QC *can't* be terrible! I have the same name as one of the characters!"

    I hope you aren't seriously suggesting that you thought I actually meant that.

    I like QC because it's usually (though not always) funny. Because the characters, though not particularly realistic, are likeable enough. Because it usually manages a fairly good mix of drama and comedy.

    I can easily see why QC might not be your thing. It's at times very pretentious and does resort to childish humour or obscure references. Yet despite that, it still makes me smile more often than not, unlike Randall's stuff. I still look forward to the updates, unlike XKCD where I just dread what will come up when I open it.

    It's a personal thing, an opinion you know. Of course this has nothing to do with there being a character named Sven. Heck, considering how much of a douchebag he is (or was, he's mellowed a bit), if I really used that standard I'd probably hate QC.

  32. @10:49 - Sorry I hate a terrible unoriginal character in a comic I don't read, you fucking zealot! :D

  33. I don't like this whole discussion. People are treating it as an actual argument despite that other people clearly don't want to go into a full explanation of why they like it. That, and only about half of the people actually read the comic (tip: if you think it's about, in any way, indie rock, you haven't properly read the comic)

    As for the review, it... well, it's good in that it's not "holy crap these jokes suck this art sucks these stories suck" and is actually proper... but it still has some problems. Like that you only read the first 30% of the comic (which IS important, because later on it really stops being social commentary/indie wanking) and that you basically said "any story where the main character isn't nice is a bad story".

  34. SPOILERS: There is a part two where I have read ALL the comic! And there's an actual Constructive Suggestion in it too. How exciting.

    > and that you basically said "any story where the main character isn't nice is a bad story".

    Not in so many words... it's more the sort of KarmaHoudini thing (as TVTropes has it): either someone has to be a jerk who gets their comeuppance or they have to be a really really funny jerk, otherwise they just begin to be annoying - not to mention that if someone's a douche but they are surrounded by friends who love them in direct proportion to how much of a douche they are, it acts on the ol' suspension of disbelief.

    So really it comes down to whether Faye is an unreasonable bitch to everyone she knows in a funny way; obv.s this one is more subjective a call then the rest of the post, but I don't really find much humour in "Faye punches someone for touching her".

    but hey HORSES FOR COURSES???

    "(tip: if you think it's about, in any way, indie rock, you haven't properly read the comic)"

    I included that bit 'cos it's like when people come here and say "you just don't like XKCD 'cos you suck at math!", even though it's not really about maths at all these days. It's a stupid objection, yes, but I may as well still short it.

  35. haha watch carefully for the bit where i switch conventions on displaying quotations halfway through the comment for NO REASON

  36. The measure of whether or not you care for QC, I think, depends on where you started reading it. In the beginning, it was pretty bad, Faye was just a bitch without any redeeming qualities, but then she gets some decent character development.

    The mid-point of the comic was when it was pretty good, although nothing really all that special. One of the few still-running webcomics where it was obvious that the artist put in more than an hour's work.

    Then, you can pretty much stop reading when Hannelore gets introduced. That's about when it stops being worth even a passing glance. This is where 100% of the jokes turned into sex and bodily fluids, and all the characters turned into cookie-cutters.

  37. Going only by the comics that were linked to in the blog post, QC seems very long-winded. That would be tolerable if the payoff was good, but I don't think I even cracked a smile throughout the reading. So, final thoughts?


  38. I think QC actually does come into its own at some ill-defined point after 507, and I enjoy reading it, not least because it's actually reasonably well-drawn for a webcomic and not (to me) terribly written. That and I like the occasional dick joke. It probably helps that I was an indie snob AND a high-schooler when I started reading it, the perfect combination for mindless adoration of people with similar tastes.

    As they say, there's no disputing taste. Like QC? Cool. Don't like it? Cool. Want to start a blog making fun of it? Cool, post the URL so I can check it out.

    Of course, "de gustibus non est disputandum" (yay latin) has little to do with xkcd, which is scientifically proven to suck.

  39. One thing about QC that I've always liked is how Jeph is a geek, but doesn't rub it in your face and scream "Look at me I'm one of you pay attention to me!" like Randall does.

    Mostly, if he drops a geek reference it's in the comments below the comic. Or in the characters' twitter feeds (which is a cool idea).

    Same thing goes for sex. The characters do it and talk about it, but they never run around screaming "I love cunnilingus!"

    That said it's more of a "follow to see what happens tomorrow in the story" than a "follow to see the joke tomorrow" type of comic.

  40. "the writing is bad because the main character is a jerk even though she is meant to be a jerk and has has been crafted well as a jerk"


  41. If you want a better (I know, that doesn't say much) webcomic with hipsters and band references, read blub cheese.

  42. One thing about QC that I've always hated is how Jeph is a hipster and rubs it in your face and screams "Look at me I'm one of you pay attention to me!" like Randall does with geeks.

    Mostly, if he drops a hipster reference, it's all over the fucking comic.

  43. What the shit is this blub cheese shit?

  44. Oh yeah, needless to say - despite my wee fit of hyperbole - on most days QC >>>> xkcd.

    (admittedly QC kind of has an unfair advantage on Tuesdays and Thursdays)

  45. The only thing I like about QC is that Jeph Jacques is a big spaceghetto and made a comic about Randy the bandicoot (basically some guy started feeding a bandicoot in his yard and named her Randy) which was a very popular part of that site for a while...


  46. Actually, Ann, XKCD is usually in its prime form on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Many would argue (and spend lots of time arguing, on this very site) that the world would be a better place if Randy behaved on MWF the way he does on TThSaSu.

  47. I get this vibe that QC, like XKCD, is something people read not primarily because it's entertaining but because it gives them some sense of solidarity with other nerds (in this case indie music fans instead of wannabe hackers). They therefore, like XKCD fans, assume both A: if you're not also an indie music fan you have no right to criticize it and B: no indie music fan could possibly dislike QC.

  48. Anon 8:31 are you speaking in tongues?

  49. When I first started reading QC back in... April, I think, I got really ticked by the early comics because of the smugness of the characters when it came to talking about indie people or, well, ANY kind of person, even themselves. Usually it was only Faye who did this, so it was fine, but then Marten would join in and it would feel like some very odd circlejerk of "heh, emos" and it got even worse when music was brought into it.

    There's a strip in like the 800s or something where Marten is practicing guitar and some people say he should join a band that other cast members are in and then he makes a smug joke about being a cliche rocker. I liked that strip because at the end the person Marten was talking to did what I would have done and seriously asked him if he had just got his lines from a book of rockstar stereotypes.

    Basically what I'm getting at is that I don't mind the story of QC, I just get really, really annoyed by the writing and the rocker stereotype example was, to me, Jeph poking fun at how he does his jokes (or more how he did them since those jokes are maybe once in a blue moon these days, thank god) because, really you look at all those "heh, -insert stereotype personality here-" comics that make up like 75-80% of the comics Ann covered and you can see that those jokes could be good, but they're handled very poorly and come off as overly snarky and more like coming straight from the author rather than the characters he created.

    Long story short, I read QC still because I have nothing better to read online, those "heh" jokes are all but gone now, and Jeph does not warrant hate from me like webcomic "artists" like Tim B^Uckley, or Randall do.

  50. i have read more QC comics than i would like but only when linked or the latest comic and the first few to see if it was actually good, so maybe it gets better if you read it from the start. i don't know. i'm also not interested in music much.
    please correct me if i'm blatantly rong on anything.

    also ann if you can't stand an intolerable main character you're missing out on a lot of shit

    1. the characters are either bland or over the top with no actual personality. yellingbird and that robot whose name i can't remember are basically there to swear and be disgusting, which is ok if done right. but they're supposed to be funny in the obnoxious stewie griffin "look how cute they are oh my god did they just say that" way that was last used well in pinky and the brain. i think someone on the irc said yb is good for self deprecation and is only used for filler which makes it better.

    marigold is terrible in an unamusing way and we're supposed to pity her. i would be ok with hannelore if the author wasn't clearly in love with her (also marigold.) marten is so bland and i hate bland main characters, he's also the author insert and gets all the girls. people on the irc like fay, don't really care myself.

    ok so basically all the male characters are boring? i'm not too sure on this. sometimes it takes a while to get a handle on the characters.

    2. nothing ever happens. this is a problem for me, not sure about anyone else.

    3. the jokes. the punchlines are all the same. according to rob or someone on the irc channel, the characters all turn into fay in the last panel.
    adding doom or you fucks at the end is apparently hilarious? i'm not too fond of that. i've seen it too many times.

    captcha: munpo. either the creepiest tellytubby or the worst superman ripoff.

  51. oh and

    4) the art. starts off shit, gets much better. you'd be surprised how many webcomics never improve. i don't like it but that's personal. it's possible the art is nonconducive to humour and nothing funny could be ever done with it, but that's just a theory.

    it's definitely not the worst part of the strip.

  52. Fred, 8:31's saying xkcd would be better if it didn't update. DERP.

  53. both R. and Cam: one of the things in Part 2 is that Jeph is a self-aware dude who is able to poke fun at himself, and I really appreciate that.

    ANYWAY let me try to clear this up again: when I say 'a jerk' I don't mean 'evil' because evil can be bloody hilarious (cf. Aram from Men In Hats OH SNAP RANDALLDISS); I mean 'irritating'. Faye, because of her unique talent at being a hypocrite, snapping at other people, and generally douching around, is irritating*. And when the comic is The Adventures of The Incredibly Irritating Woman that means I got irritated. All credit to J.J. for successfully writing a very annoying character, because it was a massive success from that point of view; unfortunately it maybe wasn't that wise a choice. (Unless, like I say, there was some sort of redemption arc. Maybe her putative romance with Angus is such a thing OH NO TEH SPOILERZ)

    *another way in which QC has improved since 507 is that Faye doesn't have that goddamn infuriating vocal tic of not using contractions JESUS that was obnoxious

  54. Martin doesn't get all the girls. He's gotten one girl. For the longest time he was incapable of getting any girls. He just had lots of female friends. This is not unusual or unlikely.

  55. really? i'm sure i've read loads of one-time wish insert jokes like that. wasn't it mentioned that he went out with that girl with the broken leg?

    i'll have to look into this. sorry.

    ann: that is a surprisingly common vocal tic in fiction. i don't think it's supposed to be used on characters like faye though, and obviously there have to be exceptions or it just sounds annoying.

    captcha: wallo. i am walloing in shame.

  56. Ann I thought redemption was the whole point of Faye finally doing the Freudian Excuse you mentioned, sure it didn't help and actually gave me more of a "...what? That's it!?!" vibe than a "ooooooohhh, NOW it makes sense" vibe, which is what I thought Jeph was going for.

    Regardless, do we consider it character development that Angus seems to be the only person to actually shut Faye up, did she finally mellow up after years of being a snarky bitch? These are all questions I want multiple answers to dammit >:(

  57. Is she supposed to be excessively formal or perhaps autistic? Because that's the only reason I can think of for a character to talk without contractions all the time.

  58. i agree with you anon and i don't think she is.

  59. I don't hold up QC as a paragon of literary achievement or anything, but it's fun. I like how Jeph keeps constantly pushing himself on the art, too. Not to mention Pintsize.

    Faye talks so formally because she's trying to hide her Southern accent. She lets it slip through when she's tired, really at ease or just drunk. There's probably more than a bit of the trauma of seeing her dad die in there as well.

  60. ok the accent thing makes sense.

    this is probably why i should read a lot of something before criticising it.
    so i shall never talk about qc ever again.

  61. don't buy it, dude. he gave Faye the accent so she could have memorable speech patterns and a Unique Verbal Quirk, then justified it half-assedly later on. later, she lost the accent and started talking exactly like every other character.

  62. http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=96

    this was better executed in my head

  63. I read through QC's archives a few years ago and found it reasonably enjoyable, but for the last couple of years or so it has become really terrible. The bland, molasses-paced romances are getting worse and worse, Marigold is an awful character who Jeph can't stop writing and Angus is nothing more than a slightly more outgoing Marten. The art is certainly very good, but I think his attempts to make it more realistic have had the adverse effect of making the story arches more realistic. I'd love to see the return of the Vespavenger, Pizza Girl, AnthroPC lasers or anything I couldn't find in some bad Rom Com, even if they're really stupid, but he seems hellbent on making and developing romantic interests for every character. On the plus side, I currently hate it less than xkcd after 784.

  64. I'd like to link:



    and ask how this makes anyone laugh at all. There are chuckle-deprived kids in Zambia who couldn't even get a smile out of that humor, so I wonder how anyone else does it.

  65. the first one is irc humour. funny when it's spontaneous and you're with people you know. but even then, this one would fall flat. it's not original or clever and there's no connection. if it was something about a ring and not helen of troy, that would be fine. but it's not. it's just mindless word replacement.

    the second one is not even a joke.

    width ways, the panel is either full or split in half. i also don't think he plays with the angles or zooms much. this is a problem.

  66. in the interest of being fair-ish, I'll say that if Jeff Jacks would ditch some of his more annoying characters (eg Marigold), flesh out the rest of them in interesting ways, and actually develop some self-discipline and plan out story arcs where things happen instead of the entire story being navelgazing with the occasional quickly resolved romantic subplot, QC could be a good comic.

    he could probably also stand to do some research, because it always reads like he doesn't know how actual jobs work.

  67. I completely agree with you D. While I still enjoy QC, I'd like to see him wrap up loose ends he left before introducing even more characters. (e.g., Marigold, Cosette) They're not really developed enough to feel like anything more than an attribute. (Marigold is nerdy, Cosette is..clumsy I guess?)

    Glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like Marigold though :| Seemed like she was just introduced to fill a niche, or to be lolnerdhumor.

  68. JJ gets credit (and should) for effort. Seriously. It may not be special but he clearly works hard, and still does, to make the art as good as he can possibly make it. Even if the result isn't a work of art that causes spontaneous orgasms upon viewing, it's great that he actually treats QC like a full time job and puts in tons of effort. Unlike randy "5 minutes to midnight wikipedia binge" Munroe.

    I read QC daily because I figure reading a webcomic where the writing is terrible helps me enjoy the better webcomics even more. I will admit though that the past couple weeks have almost been too painful to endure.

    QC is not known for its jokes because it doesn't need to be. It's not a humor comic, it's a slice-of-life comic. Print examples would be the incredibly horrible Mark Trail, the equally awful Rex Morgan M.D., and For Better or For Worse, which has a QC-like quality curve (terrible in the beginning, not so bad a few years down the road). The story is what's supposed to keep people coming back, not the humor. Problem is Jeph can't really write...

    Character quickies!

    Marigold is a character that needs to be removed ASAP. She's there because she has tits and she is nerdy and I suppose Jeph is trying to scalp some of randy's more heavily mouthbreathing fans by playing up both the size of her jugs (which was completely fucking pointless) and her supposed attractiveness (he just stopped drawing her zits one day).

    Hannelore, for all intents and purposes, pretty much doesn't have OCD anymore. The only thing it does now is provide a punchline or two. It used to actually be a part of her.

    Dora is, always has been, and probably always will be nothing but LOL BISEXUAL. Same thing re: Tai and LOL LESBIAN.

    Yelling Bird I find hilarious because it's so passive-aggressive. Not the character itself, but Jeph when he writes it. Whenever yelling bird shows up it's basically his way of apologizing for not making a real strip, and even if he feels the need to beat himself up with a foulmouthed bird instead of just a simple apology, at least he admits his failure to deliver on what is now his livelihood.

    TL;DR: QC and xkcd are about even quality-wise, on average, but Jeph is a much better author than randy. Also go die because people who TLDR are secretly dog rapists.

  69. Marigold is very much a fanbase pander character. She's excellent with electronics and spends ages playing games, but she's socially incompetent and gives a huge impression that she needs someone to look after her. She's a cross between a Mary Sue and a Sad Girl In Snow.

    Also, to give my actual opinion: it's not all that good, but not horrible either. A lot of the characters are somewhat flat, but it is well-written and the art is good, although flat. The one big thing I don't like is that for a comic that has a joke-a-strip premise, it really isn't funny. I know that humour isn't actually supposed to be a primary purpose of the comic, but still...
    Also: way too focused on sex topics.

  70. @All the people who natter on about opinions and "there's no disputing taste," yes. You're right. Opinions are opinions and not facts; by definition, that is correct. By the same token, I can't say to someone "No! You're wrong! You DON'T like that!" What I can say, and do say, is that you like a bad webcomic. Even staunch QC fans will admit that it is terrible, which still completely baffles the hell out of me. Any argument about the quality of its writing is pretty much doomed to failure, because there is simply NO WAY to defend it. Seriously! It's terrible! There are awful, third-rate sitcoms with better-written jokes than QC, and none of them involve defecation or menstruation.

    Taste is not the issue. We're not talking about taste. We're talking about quality. By just about every critical yardstick with which you could measure QC, it fails. (Except, as mentioned earlier, the art, which succeeds at being tolerable.)

  71. Everyone who's been criticizing the characters is dead on: they all seem like they're made out of oatmeal mush and are running together into one indistinguishable, smart-mouthed blob.

    The worst part of all this is that they never seem to have a genuine human reaction to anything. Back when I was reading QC, a lot of thing happened that would piss me off, either rationally or irrationally. The girl who's been leading me on doesn't want to go out with me? The guy I like but have too many issues to go out with is now smooching my boss? Whether I'm in the right or wrong in those situations, I would get furious or hurt or somehow motivated to do something, constructive or destructive. Instead, QC characters endlessly turn the other cheek with an endless series of "i understands" or the occasional "i guess i'll get therapy but wait that gets forgotten quick and wow my personality has not changed at all would you look at that." And this failure to have emotions, drives or motivations means that there is literally nothing compelling to move the plot along.

    And that's why J.J. is always introducing new bland characters and love interests.

    Also, I know this is a "slice of life" comic, but I'm pretty sure we all have more interesting lives than this, and friends who could toss out lines that clever on an off day.

  72. Ves:

    I hate to compare a bad webcomic to a good webcomic (even if it's an aspect of a good webcomic which I happen to dislike), but Yelling Bird is very similar to, and just as annoying as, Roast Beef's long-winded, self-loathing, awkward rants about whatever the emo topic du jour is.

    Seriously, sometimes I wish Achewood was just Ray, Philippe, and Cornelius. And maybe Lyle making cameo appearances.

  73. the only longwinded rant i remember is when he was getting married

    also maybe the reincarnation arc? i don't know

  74. By "long-winded," I mean he goes one at length for several panels while Beef's/whoever's reaction shot continues to droop and become even more awkward

  75. RB is an awkward sort of fellow.

  76. The problem with QC is simple: Jeph Jacques tries to have a coherent plot, but it's a plot with no conflict. Conflict is essential to any good story. But in QC, there's no conflict, and whenever there is, it's resolved before the week is out. In consequence, it's a boring piece of shit.

    Of course, perhaps I could forgive the lack of good plot if Jeph was just using his plot as a vehicle to make jokes. But it seems like he actually wants us to care about his characters. So many of his jokes hinge on "Oh, that's SO Hannelore!" or whatever. But I don't care about Hannelore. She's dull, and her life is dull.

    And if the plot really is just a vehicle for jokes, frankly, these jokes are pedestrian enough that a vehicle is wasted on them (wheyyyy badly thought-out pun). Jeph derives far too great an amusement from stereotypes, boobs, farts, and other bodily functions.

  77. Bizmit: "The problem with QC is simple: Jeph Jacques tries to have a coherent plot, but it's a plot with no conflict. Conflict is essential to any good story. But in QC, there's no conflict, and whenever there is, it's resolved before the week is out. In consequence, it's a boring piece of shit."

    Yes, exactly. Any time there is conflict introduced into the plot, the conflict-inducing character pretty much gets written out, or the conflict goes away in the next strip or so. I think it's mostly due to his inability to plan beyond "X and Y hook up eventually." He writes it like it's a gag-a-day, except the gags are terrible.

    I liked it when the story moved a little bit--there have been two or three arcs where it was fun to read, because it felt planned and the comics actually flowed together instead of just being "well, here are some comics that I threw together today."

  78. you know, I remember when I was archive binging that when Hannelore was introduced, it had some potential to her simply being OCD and freaking out over the small things. I quite liked a few of the comics where other characters couldn't sleep and then they go up and find Hannelore wearing a hazmat suit and chemically sterilizing her carpets at 3am because she can't sleep. Sure it was overblown (I know a few people with mad OCD and there are times where they catch me off-guard but it's never something that extreme) but that's because it's a comic, it's over-dramaticized and it just workred.

    Then things went wrong when we got into her parents, I didn't mind Marten's parents because... I guess your mom being a professional dominatrix and your father being gay AND running a club for gay people will turn you into a bland, blank state personality as you grow up because nothing excites you. I didn't mind that because it was a little absurd but it wasn't destroying my suspension of disbelief.

    Then we got to Hannelore's parents. The mere constant mention of the fact that her father lives in space on a space station and that is where Hannelore was raised is just... fucking retarded, you may as well have said she was an alien in disguise for how realistic it is (yes this coming from the comic that from day 1 had AnthroPCs).

    I don't care much for Marigold, I guess one day Jeph decided he had to fill a niche for nerdy girls or something and practically wrote an ex of mine. Yeah believe it or not people like Marigold exist and she is practically a mirror of their personalities, demeanor and looks. It's kind of weird

  79. @gryffilion 2:45pm:

    Consider it the webcomic equivalent of McDonald's. It's lacking in quality and absolutely terrible for you, but it's easy, readily available, and satisfies one's basic needs. And every day, you can be assured that it's pretty much the same thing you're familiar with.

    Understand why people eat at Mickey D's, and you will understand why people read QC.

  80. Ves: I take offence to you calling Rex Morgan MD an awful comic! Have you seen the "karate bimbo" arc? Fucking epic shit.

  81. I only recently stumbled across QC, during a Marigold arc I think, and then quickly forgot about it and continued reading The Meek. A few days later I clicked the, "Random search" button in... Some search bar whose name I can't remember, and it linked me to a QC comic with Hannerlore.

    I chuckled at her antics, and then started clicking the random button on the site, skipping any comics that had Faye or Dora in them and focusing completely on the OCD girl.

    This kept me occupied for at least four hours.

    While I don't think QC is a great comic by any standards, I do appreciate the effort Jeph puts in to improve himself. And it's updates, when not crude, smug, or annoying as sodding hell, are normally enough to make me smile.

    And as long as he keeps Hannerlore from becoming any more ridiculous, and makes her a little more OCD like she was before; I'm happy.

    Oh, and if Faye could get hit by a truck being driven by Karama, that'd be super.

  82. xkcd has seen better days, it seems Randall is running out of original ideas. But it has done me some good, I have stumbled upon a link to Questionable Content. :-)

    Starting from the most recent comic, reading here and there, I ended up reading all 1900+ pages. Which took me some time and says a lot about how much I enjoyed it. Somehow, Marten, Dora, Faye, Hanners, Angus, Sven, even Marigold, seem like people I know for a long time.

    The improvement in artwork is truly remarkable.

  83. I understand why people read QC. I simply never understood why their defense of QC often starts with "I know QC is terrible, but..." Most people are in denial about the badness of the things they read, and will either deflect or soften (i.e., talking about how the writing has improved, which I suppose is true since it's gone from utterly abominable to merely terrible) or deny it outright. This upfront admission that whoever is criticizing it is spot-on correct continues to perplex.

  84. Because they're stupid and think they understand postmodernism and self-awareness, and that going "yes I know this sucks" places it beyond criticism. Sorta like Randall going "I know I'm late on this, but" with the JFK comic.

  85. QC is well-drawn, updates every day and has cute girl characters in it. That was why I read Scary Go Round, why I read whatever it was that followed Scary Go Round, and why I enjoy QC. There are hardly any obscure references now at all anyway, and certainly less than are found at this blog's officially acceptable comics.

    And yes, the recent arc is slow as mollasses and about as pleasant to digest in large quantities, but I believe the official excuse around here is the SMBC Gambit, namely that five colour strips a week excuses you for sometimes missing the target.

    As for Faye, meh. Canonically she's supposed to have an intensely alluring DGAF attitude, and it's not as if she's a karma magnet. What kind of person gets annoyed that a comic character seems to have too many friends?

  86. Timofei: then we shall duel at dawn.

    Gryffilion: man why you got to go and get all bothered like that

    QC: Jesus christ Jeph needs to get off this fucking toto kick he's been on. The joke was shitty the first time, stop stretching it.

  87. no don't you see Ves it's SYMBOLIC

    now that we know that their favourite Toto songs are different that means they are DIFFERENT UNIQUE PEOPLE

    in the biz we call that CHARACTERISATION

  88. I like QC well enough, but my fucking god I fucking hate pintsize so fucking much. The other robots too, but especially pintsize.

  89. Here's a challenge for all of y'all:

    Find a single thing on the internet that you DON'T hate.

    Otherwise you sound like (and, as far as I can tell, are) a crowd of snobbish nerds/geeks/hipsters who, for whatever reason, feel slighted by every comic that depicts those like you (or, more likely, those actually like you but who you strongly desire to distance yourselves from).

  90. scary-go-round/bad machinery, a softer world, dinosaur comics, overcompensating, wonkette, the awl, slog

    to name a few.

  91. also most people here like achewood and dinosaur comics, last I checked, with probably slightly more enjoying the former than the latter.

    actually it's pretty easy to find things that we like, and a good chunk of people here will explain why they dislike something when they say they dislike it. I'm guessing you're dismissing out of hand any of the reasons people provide for hating your precious webcomics?

  92. @1506:

    Gunnerkrigg Court. Dr. McNinja. Kid Radd. Perry Bible Fellowship. Something Positive. Penny Arcade.

    I also secretly love Google image searches for pictures of baby penguins

  93. @Ves:

    Aw man why'd I have to go and do a thing oh shiiiiit

  94. oh yeah gunnerkrigg court! i fucking love gunnerkrigg

  95. As a man of taste, I believe it's your contractual obligation to like Gunnerkrigg Court

  96. yeah but that's like having a contractual obligation to drink delicious beer on company money.

  97. I never said it was a difficult obligation

  98. Dr. McNinja, Dinosaur Comics, Nedroid, Achewood, MSPaint Adventures

    Feel free to give each site a cursory glance and come back telling me they're all terrible and I'm retarded for liking them.

  99. Some stuff I Don't HateAugust 26, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    In sort-of decreasing order of liking.

    Dinosaur comics, Overcompensating, Penny Arcade, Wondermark, Perry Bible Fellowship, SMBC.

  100. Dinosaur Comics, IWC!, Something Happens, Nobody Scores!, etc etc etc

    (I've not read a great deal of the Big Hitters)

  101. Nobody Scores! has one of the biggest sliding scales I've ever seen, running all the way from "complete existentialist doom-and-gloom" to "absolutely hilarious." I'm still not sure what to make of it, honestly.

  102. Favorites: Achewood, DC, Wondermark, Hark! A Vagrant

    Also enjoy: Basic Instructions, Toothpaste For Dinner, Moe, Penny Arcade, Garfield Minus Garfield, Dr. McNinja

    I really need to start reading Overcompensating...

    Captcha: Pityrobt.
    Rob does not hunger for my pity. He hungers for food.

  103. Shamus, who should probably make an accountAugust 27, 2010 at 11:15 AM


    Penny Arcade, Dinosaur Comics, half of Head Trip, The Meek, Extra Ordinary, SMBC, the second half of F@nboys, Nerf Now!!, Strays, occasionally Brawl in the Family, and The Perry Bible Fellowship, Wondermark, starting to read and enjoy Gunnerkrigg Court, A Softer World.

    ...The newer Questionable Content comics 1/3 of the time. >_>

    I could keep going, but I probably shouldn't.

  104. It seems like 90% of the people that are talking shit here about QC have read all of 100 strips(tops) and either stopped way too early on, or only read the latest ones and have no clue what is going on. Those that only read the early strips, please realize that there have been a lot of changes in the past year or two that have made it MUCH more enjoyable. Those that only read the more recent strips, you need to realize that you don't even know what the basic premise of QC is and should either read those early strips or (gasp) the author's statement that "QC is set in a world that is different and more quirky/weird than our world" (paraphrased). It seems like either way, you guys are fixated on a couple strips that weren't up to par and what you didn't like about them. Well, I can say that xkcd, and even other seemingly non-hated comics like Achewood, also have strips that aren't so great.

    Second, these same people are expecting an awesomely hilarious strip every day that makes them rofl and nothing else. If that's what you're looking for, this is the wrong comic entirely. True, the first couple hundred strips were way too focused on indie rock and indie cred, but I think that mostly they were meant to set up the later story and let you get a feel for the characters. The art was on-par with your average "LOL good joke shitty art" comics, though. The point here being, the comic as a whole is very consistent and there are jokes that literally span hundreds of comics apart but you wouldn't even understand had you not read the strip which is referred.

    For those of you who actually made constructive criticisms, I commend you. You do raise some good points, but at least to me they do not dissuade me from reading the comic. For instance, the writing is not the greatest, especially early on. It gets WAY better with time though, which I appreciate as it shows an artist who is actually willing to work on and gradually improve his product. Again, if you're focused on getting a huge laugh from each strip, it's not for you. Also, if you're like me and not indie at all, the jokes from the first 500 or so strips are lost on you. So it's important to note that Jeph has managed to develop his comic in a way that makes it more relevant to a wider audience without abandoning the "feel" he spent hundreds of comics developing. That's something that I can't really say about xkcd and Randall. Nowadays, in trying to reach a broader audience, xkcd has basically started sucking. And that's coming from someone who used to love reading it every time it updated.

    As for the original review, I won't even waste time criticizing it. It attacks a comic for "being bad" like 5 years ago. Does she even realize how stupid that looks?

  105. I might as well name my favorite webcomics, even though I think most of them are hated by most people here:

    Dinosaur Comics, Penny Arcade (OK most people like those, now I'm getting into the ones everyone hates) VG Cats, Super Effective, Better Days, 8-bit Theater, Boy Meets Boy.

  106. hansolo22: I've since read the rest. It's still bad. Sorry.


  107. The comics I read most (and by extension probably like) are Gunnerkrigg Court, Girl Genius, Darths and Droids, and Looking for Group. I liked the bit of Dr. McNinja that I read, and I liked MSPaint Adventures right up until Act 5 of Homestuck.

  108. @hansolo22:

    The writing may have improved, but (I may have said this already, and if I have, forgive my repetition) going from "absolute shit" to "simply terrible" is an improvement without any real distinctive character.

    Jeff Jacks *cannot* write jokes. At least, he can't write them now. If he went to some sort of arts institute and took some creative writing classes, who knows how he'd turn out, but as it stands, he has no concept of execution. He doesn't have a good grasp of what makes a joke funny--material, context, delivery, and so on. His characters don't act realistically--and while it is not necessary for a webcomic to imitate reality in every form, if you're going to do a slice-of-life comic (which JJ is clearly trying to do) your characters need to act with some semblance of realness. Otherwise, it's flow-breaking and jarring to read a character yelling "COME STICK YOUR COCK IN ME" or whatever.

    I stopped reading QC a long time ago, but I will still go back every so often--teeth gritted, glass of comforting pain-go-bye-bye juice close at hand--and, lo and behold, it's still a terrible comic.

    Art's decent, though. If he could find a writer with an ounce of talent and a knack for creating interesting newsposts, his comic might be worth reading.

  109. I actually think Questionable Content is in a few ways even worse than Dominic Deegan, but I won't even go into that.

  110. I have to agree that the unrelenting negativity here does wear on me. Yes, it's fun to "hate" things in a hyperbolic sense, but I think that it's still a waste.

    My comment to Rob: Okay, so you have given comics that you like. Could you please do a long bit on *why* those comics are demonstrably better, beyond "art is better" or "joke is executed better", because that's what I feel is missing from most XKCD sucks entries: a real rationalization beyond surface "this could have been done better".

    Disclaimer: I read and enjoy QC, although I make no claims to its supposed greatness or badness. It's a consistently inconsistent webcomic, with the only constant a gradually improving art style (the middle hundreds have a thick-brushed, quasi-Baroque quality that I think was in some ways a step back, but that's a blip overall). I honestly cannot think of a single webcomic artist who has such an improved style (although you can argue that the best ones already had a concrete style so they can't improve that much) aside from the old artist from Penny & Aggie (that would be interesting to see you guys review.)

    I also like Dinosaur Comics, although I don't see why you would put it on such a lofty perch. Likewise, I love Wondermark and SMBC/PBF, although I would be interested in seeing if those guys could actually accomplish a serial strip.

  111. "I have to agree that the unrelenting negativity here does wear on me. Yes, it's fun to "hate" things in a hyperbolic sense, but I think that it's still a waste."

    so don't do it?

    "My comment to Rob: Okay, so you have given comics that you like. Could you please do a long bit on *why* those comics are demonstrably better, beyond "art is better" or "joke is executed better", because that's what I feel is missing from most XKCD sucks entries: a real rationalization beyond surface "this could have been done better"."

    I could do that, sure. I would even enjoy it. in the cases of many of them I have done so in various places. but I won't do this for you, because I owe you absolute fuck-all. you, as an idiot cuddlefish, are not someone I am interested in pleasing. perhaps if you were to do something besides defending some idiot (possibly you?) who was literally accusing us of not hating anything, or if you were a useful human being, I would do this for you.

    your complaint is interesting, in the sense that it's so stupid that I feel compelled to comment more specifically. usually cuddlefish are demanding that we make constructive criticism and suggestions to improve the comic, otherwise we're just shouting hate into the internet or whatever. indeed, you yourself complained about the negativity.

    this is to say nothing of the fact that we actually don't do a lot of "this could have been better" unless the comic came close to being a good comic. perhaps you missed that nuance, but usually we do "this could have been better" when we feel that the idea was good but the execution poor or something similar. most of the reviews are pretty much straight "this is shit, and here is why." just because you don't agree with a reason doesn't mean we failed to provide one.

    but yeah, not going to write up "long bits" on why I like things just because some dumbass cuddlefish asked me to. but have fun smug because you interpret my refusal to cater to your whims as an inability to defend the things I claim to like or whatever it is you're hoping to accomplish by making a request I'm obviously not going to accommodate.

  112. It's just a shame that you stopped at 507. Read to 564. The "fan favorite" character is introduced by then, and the real "drama bomb" is the last panel of 564.

    And I think the reason most people read QC is because it's there every morning when I show up to work. Whether it's good or bad? Irrelevant. It's there. And it's better than working for those 5 minutes (bonus for chuckles or smirks at the humor or references).

  113. So in other words it fills a role that could be filled by any shitty newspaper comic.

  114. ann plans on reviewing the rest of the comic at some point also.

  115. QC is fun. It's not fantastic and it's not awful, it's just fun. The art can be sort of wooden and a lot of the jokes fall flat, But I enjoy following the characters and their lives. I'm a bit surprised by all the Marigold hate here--I really like her as a character because it's like the only time I've ever seen a NON romanticized female nerd in really any popular fiction. She's still zitty, a little chunky, has awful hair, is socially retarded, and just....odd, but she's learning. I dunno, I feel like Jeph portrays her pretty honestly: she can be kind of gross (like not showering for days and living off Pocky and living with rats, ugh), completely oblivious (going after Angus) and just really irritating with her CONSTANT I'm-ugly-I-suck-no-one-likes-me rhetoric. But she's also essentially sweet and is trying to do better. I feel the same way about a lot of the characters, really. I like some more than others, but at the end of the day, I enjoy following all of them.

    But yeah, it ain't perfect--Faye is just not sympathetic at all to me anymore (and the art does a terrible job of portraying her alleged slight tubbiness-she should have a tummy poking out against those t shirts), and a LOT of the jokes, as I said, fall flat, and the art's still kind of wooden. But I still enjoy it and check it every day. Jeph himself is incredibly nice--he went to my college and lives in the area and has come back a few times for various reasons and he's just....he's very cognizant of how lucky he is to be making a living off QC, and is clearly very thankful for his fans. He puts the work in and I respect that.

  116. "Jeph himself is incredibly nice--he went to my college and lives in the area and has come back a few times for various reasons and he's just....he's very cognizant of how lucky he is to be making a living off QC, and is clearly very thankful for his fans. He puts the work in and I respect that."

    wanna agree with this - JJ comes across as a fundamentally nice bloke. A rare thing in the world of webcomics, which gossip suggests is mainly inhabited by troglodytes.

  117. Hell, it doesn't even have to be a comic, a monkey could smear shit on a piece of paper and hand it to 8:41 every day when he walked in and it would still serve the same purpose QC serves.

  118. "Jeph himself is incredibly nice--he went to my college and lives in the area and has come back a few times for various reasons and he's just....he's very cognizant of how lucky he is to be making a living off QC, and is clearly very thankful for his fans. He puts the work in and I respect that."

    wanna agree with this - JJ comes across as a fundamentally nice bloke. A rare thing in the world of webcomics, which gossip suggests is mainly inhabited by troglodytes.

    Regardless, a comic shouldn't be judged on what the person itself is like. The work should and often does speak for the character of the person, positively or negatively.

  119. Post the second part sooon!

  120. I like it.

    Okay, I'm late for the party, but Anonymous at August 25, 2010 2:46 PM wrote: "QC characters endlessly turn the other cheek with an endless series of 'i understands' or the occasional 'i guess i'll get therapy but wait that gets forgotten quick and wow my personality has not changed at all would you look at that.'"

    Gee, that sounds like pretty much everybody I know....

  121. Hmm. This is really interesting. "QC sucks", "xkcd sucks". Really interesting.