Monday, September 6, 2010

Guest Review: "Questionable Content" Part 2

Ladies; gentlemen - I give you part II of Ann Apolis' conversation starting Questionable Content review. Part I - covering comics 1 to 507 - is here. Enjoy - and if you'd like to see more entire-comic reviews like this in the future, from Ann or anyone else, let me know.



Right then! Ann Apolis, M.D. again. I've finished the comic (or rather read up to the present day). Needless to say the art is a lot better, and we have NEW CHARACTERS who do DIFFERENT THINGS even if they are all neurotic.

Hannelore! The inconsistent OCD person. And Marigold! The stereotypical nerd person. Fans being fans their instant reaction to their introduction was "...and then they kissed?". Poor Jeph spends his time in the indie fandom, where that sort of thing doesn't happen quite so much*, so he was unprepared for this and it tears at his naive soul every time his forumites go "marten sucks we want HanGold lezzing". It's hard not to feel for him.

*I say that, I once ended up on a Radiohead fansite where every other link was to a piece of Jonny/Colin Greenwood slash. That was a harrowing week.

I have however noticed the unique inimitable QC Joke Formula which is as follows:

panel 1: some drama or something
panel 2: more dull banter
panel 3: more dull banter BUT SOMEONE MAKES A SIMILE OR A METAPHOR OR AN OFFHAND COMMENT
panel 4: this simile/metaphor/offhand comment is picked up on and extended and FUN TIMES ARE HAD BY ALL.

1275 (i suppose TECHNICALLY it has five panels but SHUSH)
1287 (the offhand comment happens in the SECOND PANEL! perhaps it was a mistake to choose these as my first two examples)
1292
1300
1317
1322
1329 (panel two)
1335
1346
1357
1373
1383
1385
1394

Cue cuddlefish: "dude that's like you're criticising the comic because it has jokes in." No, it's criticising it because the jokes come in this now rather tired format. Remember how Brawl in the Family diversified away from "Kirby eats something, hilarity ensues" because it was getting a bit stale? That is Good Technique.
(The cuddlefish continues: "the only REAL criticism of QC is that hannah and mari haven't got it on yet". I'm still thinking of a response to that.)

Anyway. Nice things!

Jeph is more self-aware than most webcomic authors, as you can see from his newsposts, and the fact he puts up (and puts up with!) such hilar guest strips. Oh and obviously YELLING BIRD and the OMG Turkeys are the pinnacle of self-awareness and self-deprecation.

Also! Quite a lot of stuff with one-off throwaway characters is genuinely funny. Maybe the guy needs less plot. (I liked the stuff where Steve turns out to have been an international man of mystery while all the soap opera stuff happened, for instance, or Wil's journey across the States.)

Oh, and I appreciate the effort he puts into background details, too (like the specials on the coffee shop noticeboard). And the fact he does those alternate strips in the comments on occasion. There is a man who does his work before 11.45pm.

But the NICEST THING I have to say is that while I have gone "haha QC sucks" I also have a plan to fix it! Woo! Yeah!
Also this plan is not just "end QC".
Although admittedly that is the first step.

You see the webcomic format is a tricky one. Unlike a book or a film, the later parts of a webcomic are usually written after the earlier bits, and the result is that the webcomic as a body of work often lacks coherency. Similarly it's not really possible to go back and alter the earlier bits of a webcomic as new ideas strike you (unless you want to be accused of being... ORWELLIAN). This is one of the reasons for that Cerberus Syndrome people sometimes go on about - a webcomicist can start off writing a gag-a-day comic and then find that they want to do something dramatic: but they can't go back and redraft the early bits to make it dramatic, so there has to be a rather clunking gear change.

Another problem with the webcomic format as it applies to QC is that it updates regularly and in small bits. The result is that we HAVE to have four panels with something funny (well, something that's meant to be funny) at the end, which leads to the QC Joke Formula(TM) discussed above.

So Jephy should can it (can the comic! the comic!) and write a graphic novel instead. He gets as long as he likes to do plot! He gets to make stuff actually consistent and stuff and can foreshadow long and complex and DRAMATIC twists! He can let jokes arise naturally from the dialogue and give them different pacings as appropriate to them rather than having to shoehorn something funny into every fourth panel! EVERYONE WINS.

This is actually a genuine suggestion. I really, really think that if Jeph took a year off of QC and used it to write a graphic novel (possibly with characters called Baye and Annielore and Jarten), a graphic novel where he'd be able to plan things in advance, and change early stuff if it didn't fit right, and be able to pace stuff properly rather than having to crest and flow with the four panel format...
...I genuinely think it'd be pretty good.

Also read this http://www.scarygoround.com/sgr/ar.php?date=20060102

Oh! if you are a cuddlefish who likes Questionable Content for its OMG INDIEness (even though that OMG INDIEness seems to have more or less disappeared from the strip by now?) you will like "At The Indie Disco" by The Divine Comedy. IT'S A GOOD SONG YOU GUYS

In closing, time for RANDOM INTERNET COMMENT:

jeph draws imaginary indie girls talking about masturbation, the xkcd lout draws imaginary math women dressing down people spouting ridiculous strawmen and then he writes loves letters to them, the sort of notes that would result in a restrainment order in real life

84 comments:

  1. More reviews!
    Also, did you just say ``graphic novel'' instead of `comic'? Bleesh.

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  2. what is this ann

    "It's hard not to feel for him."

    NO.

    "Jeph is more self-aware than most webcomic authors, as you can see from his newsposts, and the fact he puts up (and puts up with!) such hilar guest strips. Oh and obviously YELLING BIRD and the OMG Turkeys are the pinnacle of self-awareness and self-deprecation."

    NO.

    "Also! Quite a lot of stuff with one-off throwaway characters is genuinely funny. Maybe the guy needs less plot. (I liked the stuff where Steve turns out to have been an international man of mystery while all the soap opera stuff happened, for instance, or Wil's journey across the States.)"

    NO.

    "Oh, and I appreciate the effort he puts into background details, too (like the specials on the coffee shop noticeboard). And the fact he does those alternate strips in the comments on occasion. There is a man who does his work before 11.45pm."

    NO.

    "...I genuinely think it'd be pretty good."

    NO.

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  3. Fans being fans their instant reaction to their introduction was "...and then they kissed?". Poor Jeph spends his time in the indie fandom, where that sort of thing doesn't happen quite so much*, so he was unprepared for this and it tears at his naive soul every time his forumites go "marten sucks we want HanGold lezzing". It's hard not to feel for him.

    *I say that, I once ended up on a Radiohead fansite where every other link was to a piece of Jonny/Colin Greenwood slash. That was a harrowing week.


    I have no idea what any of that meant.

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  4. That's because "comic" makes me think of "flimsy paperback thing that's like 25 pages long" rather than "graphic novel" which has glossy bindings and is a bit longer.

    CAPTCHA: gyvkvlci. ???

    R.: Originally the review ended with (You namby-pamby fuck! -Carl) but I see he cut that bit out.

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  5. it's true. clever of you, but I didn't want to pretend to have written something with as namby pamby a phrase as "namby pamby"

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  6. hey anne maybe you could try being a little less coherent there

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  7. What Fred said. Literally. I have absolute NO CLUE what that paragraph is supposed to communicate. I am not exaggerating. It makes absolutely no sense.

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  8. Isn't a QC with more involved arcs which don't depend on a four-panel gag every day called, ummm, Scary Go Round?

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  9. how does it make no sense, are you a moron or something

    "QC is a comic that has fans. I have learnt from typical experience surrounding fans that I should not be surprised when it turns out QC's fans reacted to the introduction of Hannelore and Marigold by positing that they should spend some time in each other's intimate company.

    Jeph Jacques is predominately involved in music fandom, where an attitude towards female characters based on how nice it would be if they all kissed each other is not as prevalent as it is in the webcomics world. This meant he was perhaps a little taken aback by the sudden demand for Hannelore/Marigold kissing strips.

    Thus it, er, "tears at his naive soul every time his forumites go "marten sucks we want HanGold lezzing"."

    Poor guy."

    see it would have made it even more tl;dr (and it's pretty goddamn tl;dr already) if i spent my writing time pandering to idiots

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  10. Screw Marigold and Hannelore. I WANT TO SEE FAYE AND MARIGOLD LEZZING. BIG BOOBS FTW

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  11. I feel like that format works.

    Jeph's said a few times that his favourite type of comic involves the characters all riffing off each other, so I doubt it'll change.

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  12. he could take the formula and improve on it.

    it's like pancakes. you could eat pancakes every day and get incredibly sick of them, but if you pair them with something new and exciting each time you will still be getting an enjoyable experience. ish.

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  13. Ha, the current Brawl in the Family is about Kirby eating things

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  14. what the fuck is going on in 789

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  15. Zomg, we came here for XKCD reviews and here you are talking about emo kids and pancakes! You are all fired from this site, clear out your e-desks by noon.

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  16. Ann, you heinous strumpet, where are the lesbians!? You said there would be lesbians! Typical xkcd-sucks, lures in audience with cunning promises of indie lesbian sex, but psyke! Now you have to listen to BOOORING literary criticism instead.

    You bloody cock tease.

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  17. I liked the latest xkcd, mostly because there were no words for Randall to fuck up completely.

    The alt text was very look at me I know things but this is to be expected from a nerd trying to be funny.

    By liked I mean I think I'm used to them being so horrible that this not being SO bad may have blindsided me a little.

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  18. It does not make sense because you're using a bunch of dumb slang and expect people to be familiar with the comic. Sorry if we're not up to your level of INDIE HIPSTERNESS.

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  19. there is no slang in there, dude

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  20. That ain't the queen's English either.

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  21. it is perfectly straightforward English
    I'm sorry you're completely illiterate

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  22. That's okay. I'm sorry you're such a hipster.

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  23. http://www.mrphlip.com/boomerang/?28+16+3+20+4

    The origins of Randall's obsession with trouble romances.

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  24. the closest thing to slang there is using half of each person's name to indicate a pairing, which seemed to become popular wr2 celebrity couples, but that only doesn't make sense if you take the paragraph he quoted in isolation

    but if you weren't mentally challenged you would probably have made the connection between Hannelore and Marigold and HanGold anyway though it is probably quite telling that it was not in the excerpt you quoted

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  25. yes i am quite aware that i shifted from referring to fred in the third person in the first part and the second person in the second part i'm sorry if this is so incoherent that your mind explodes fred

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  26. I prefer http://www.mrphlip.com/boomerang/?15+16+20+11+3+19+21+20+4

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  27. Fred is dangerously out of touch with modern world. His favorite comic is probably Mary Worth.

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  28. There's nothing hip (hipster) about Rob/Carl/Ann. Pretentiousness may seem cool on the internets but only on the internets. In the physical world, the poor boy's regularly eaten and spat out.

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  29. If the modern world requires people to know what "Johnny/Colin Greenworld slash" is, requires it to be common knowledge that fans of a certain crappy comic expect people to kiss upon introduction, and requires people to know what or who "HanGold lezzing" is supposed to be, then for fuck's sake take me out of this modern world of yours because I don't want a goddamn thing to do with it.

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  30. Fred are you just trying to not understand things or are you just retarded

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  31. Fred the modern world requires that you have the reading comprehension of a third grader.

    It really, really requires that.

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  32. Maybe, but mainly I just have this crazy antiquated idea that people should try to put some effort into their stuff before just dumping it online and calling it a day.

    But if you all want to continue valiantly defending some of the worst writing I've read since, well, last week's XKCD, then by all means, don't let me stop you.

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  33. Effort =/= writing for people who can't read.

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  34. Guys I tried to take a dig at someone who wrote a blog post but it sorta backfired should I act like I don't care that people disagree with me or should I renounce the modern world.

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  35. And the Randy Award for unrealistic writing goes to: "Honey! Where have you been for two hours.". Eeesh.

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  36. that is a question why do you not end it with a question mark ARGH so dumb

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  37. - Honey! Where have you been for two hours.

    - Did you know that when you do me without a condom in China, it comes out Chinese.

    - What an adorable stuffed giraffe!

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  38. jesus fuck almighty there are more white knights here than on the xkcd forums

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  39. Uh, re:that paragraph doesn't make sense

    Despite your childish snotty attitude in doing so, Ann, I appreciate your making your intent clear.

    But see, the thing is, I'm not an idiot, or illiterate, interestingly enough, and I'd imagine that Fred isn't either!

    I can't speak for Fred, but I didn't understand that paragraph because I don't really read QC much, so the names Hannelore and Marigold mean nothing to me. Also, when I see the name Hannelore (a name I have never encountered before), I don't immediately register it as female because, well, has anyone anywhere actually met someone named HANNELORE? So the whole "and then they kissed?" thing is, like, so what? because I'm not thinking "oh ho, LESBIAN kisses!"

    And because I'm not familiar with these characters Marigold and Hannelore (let alone Marten), shortening the names to Hangold means absolutely nothing to me.

    There. Now, Ann, if you are able to imagine the mindset of someone who, unlike you, has NOT read every single QC strip recently, you MIGHT be able to understand why some people might find that paragraph completely indecipherable.

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  40. Evidently the problem is I wrote this review assuming some sort of basic familiarity with QC.

    Obv.s there is one camp that says "er that's pretty stupid if it's a REVIEW then it should be a should you/shouldn't you read it thing, that's pretty useless if you've ALREADY READ IT"

    to which i would reply "well tbh it's not really a review, and i'm not sure why i called it that. it's a loose collection of evidence for the fact that QC sucks."

    if you know nothing about QC then you can just read the bit where i say it sucks and then do something else i guess?

    if you don't know anything about QC then really there should be a lot more than just that paragraph confusing you.

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  41. i mean the bit where i pretty much don't mention the overarching 'plot' of the comic at all

    nor indeed the situation the comic takes place in

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  42. Ooh, ooh, I have it now. It's review as in 'review of the year', not review as in 'album review'.

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  43. So in short, I'm an idiot because Ann wrote something that isn't a review and called it a review, and just assumed everyone would be familiar with QC.

    Now I see the error of my ways! Thanks for setting me straight everyone.

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  44. Fred, your problem is that you're a dinosaur and "behind the times". Or if you prefer you are too "oldschool" for these young crazies. Both parties have the right to act smug and self-righteous while laughing at the other, because soon enough there'll be a new batch of Hipsters, they will then be you, and you will then be dead.

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  45. (not really serious of course, comic juxtaposition just too good to pass up - or, rather, not bad enough to justify passing on)

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  46. No I think the problem is that Fred just goes out of his way to not understand things so he can get angry about him.

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  47. Yes, but that is the foundation of the XKCDsucks community -- going out of our way to not understand something and be angry about it! You do not seem to understand that fact, and I am angry about it! AUGH!

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  48. Except for the occasional one-off xkcd fanboy dropping into these comment threads, Fred is by far the most willfully ignorant poster here. He repeatedly demonstrates his own illiteracy, and when you actual explain his elementary errors, his responses are little more than, "I'm not dumb, you're just an asshole."

    Kudos to Fred. An true inspiration to morons everywhere.

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  49. [Quote start]
    Fans being fans their instant reaction to their introduction was "...and then they kissed?". Poor Jeph spends his time in the indie fandom, where that sort of thing doesn't happen quite so much*, so he was unprepared for this and it tears at his naive soul every time his forumites go "marten sucks we want HanGold lezzing". It's hard not to feel for him.

    *I say that, I once ended up on a Radiohead fansite where every other link was to a piece of Jonny/Colin Greenwood slash. That was a harrowing week.
    [Quote end!]

    You gotta admit that's difficult to understand.

    - "Fans being fans" implies that all fans [of dramatic fiction, I'll give you that] are always hoping for lesbian romance instead of being interested in the actual story arch. That may be the case in *some* communities, but I've never really experienced it. Some people might get confused here.

    - Then you say that Jeph is used to indie fandom, where apparently that doesn't happen - which is just a weird thing to say. "Indie" as in "indie music"? In that case, I'd definitely say that MANY people would be interested in lezzing between hot female band members. If it's "indie" as in "indie culture", then obviously the statement is wrong, because that's exactly where all that slashfic stuff is coming from.

    - And to make it even more confusing, you actually give an example of slashfic happening in indie fandom, even though you just said it's not common there. Would be okay if you had made clear that you're writing this to name an exception to the rule (e.g. "On the other hand, that Radiohead fansite I landed on...").

    At least that little bit of text could have been made more clear.
    Apart from that, I couldn't agree more, QC is pretty sucky. I don't even mind the simple formula, but what kills it for me that the characters aren't likable at all, and their stories too boring to even bother.

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  50. Although it's very possible that "I say that, ..." exactly means that what's now following is a contradiction to what's written above. In that case, I didn't get it because English is not my mother tongue.
    But still!

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  51. Oh, oh, and also I was confused because I'd suspect QC had "indie fandom" as well?

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  52. Jesus Fred - and tekende, whoever you are - are you retarded? I mean that as a serious question, because if you have learning difficulties I could excuse your inability to understand basic English(plus I'd feel really bad for calling you out on it). Assuming you're not, there is just no way for you to get out of this with your dignity intact. You could just shut up though, and avoid making everyone judge you more.

    In regards to the review itself, I'm a little disappointed it was as positive as it is. The line " NEW CHARACTERS who do DIFFERENT THINGS" in particular I disagree with, because even though Hannelore and Marigold are more quirky than most of the rest of the cast, they're still just as one-dimensional: those quirks are the entirety of their personality. Plus I just can't stand Marigold at all so it's really obnoxious that Jeph clearly loves her.

    And finally, xkcd: I actually liked yesterday's comic. A lot. It handled the standard setup/nonstandard twist very well, and even the alt text was clever (it may be nerd-pandering, but it managed to tell its own joke that added to the one in the comic itself). For once, I couldn't think of anything to complain about. In fact, today marks the first time in at least a couple of years that I prefer the current xkcd to the current smbc - the latter is just completely terrible today.

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  53. marigold is my least favourite qc character
    this should put into perspective how awful she really is

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  54. I hereby suggest the title be changed from "Guest Review" to "Guest Person Reads the Archives Of The Featured Comic And Comes Up With Explanations For Why It Sucks." Then nobody will be confused ever again.

    Except for cuddlefish, but then they're not really people.

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  55. NOOOOO VES because people might think "the featured comic" means "xkcd" and then they will be confused by all the references to halfway-decent art and actually attempted jokes

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  56. Folks, folks.

    Let's not have bickering between community members regarding QC plot knowledge and slang terminology and whathaveyou.

    Let's all just agree that Dominic Deegan is the best webcomic out there right now.

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  57. http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1574

    I actually find this a lot more sickening than xkcd's 631 incident.

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  58. Karl - Boston and Shaun is infinitely superior to Dominic Deegan.

    Note: do not look up Boston and Shaun.

    It is the worst thing.

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  59. Jeph is not a man who does his work before 11:45pm.
    In fact, I've stopped checking QC at midnight because I know it's never going to be up then.

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  60. when basic literacy is a hipster trait, only hipsters will be literate.

    bonus points to Anon 3:19 for thinking that saying "you're not a hipster" is an insult!

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  61. the_p how dare you besmirch the good name of boston and shaun

    may you never know the carnal pleasures of rapidly increasing weight as a result of mild glutony (the greatest curse there is)

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  62. Is "Jeph" just the pretentious asshole version of "Jeff"?

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  63. No, it's his name.

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  64. I'd expect an indie snob with that name to spell it "Jefrey". Are the Pixies passe? Am I just getting old?

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  65. pixies = still awesome

    the breeders spent exactly one week at the lowest position on the british singles charts and are thus ULTIMATE INDIE

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  66. Everything you say is valid but QC still is awesome. The fact that he can update it a bit at a time with a formula that works, but still string together long and complex stories over time, works overwhelingly to his advantage.

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  67. Holy hell, what an incoherent mess of a post.

    This actually had less flow and consistency than the QC Lore... and that's saying something, by god.

    Though since you seem to spend most of your time describing bland, generic humor and idiotically mundane observations, I guess you win some kind of consolation prize for meta-humor.

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  68. Really? Of your fourteen handpicked (cherry-picked?) comics, three don't fit the 'forumla' you claim every QC follows, and so your solution is to stop doing a comic and do a graphic novel? Would you recommend amputation to cure a hangnail, too?

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  69. Man 5:56 you're almost as dumb as Fred

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  70. <___> I'm commenting for the first time in ages to say that every time I've seen Fred take a prominent place in the comments, it's been because he didn't get it. Just sayin'.

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  71. Surely a simpler thing would be for him to keep doing a webcomic, but just stop feeling the need to shoehorn a punchline into every installment.

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  72. My solution to fixing QC is simple: add zombies.

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  73. That's your solution to everything.

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  74. Actually that's asw's solution to everything.

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  75. I don't think QC can be fixed.

    Just put it in a big fire and burn it.

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  76. Okay, I understand you all dislike xkcd and QC, but what webcomics do you like? If you like any?

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  77. a short list: dinosaur comics, achewood, penny arcade, kate beaton, overcompensating, nedroid, Moe, married to the sea, smbc (usually). PBF, but it is no more. Plenty of others but those are the best.

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  78. That's cool. I've seen a few Dinosaur Comics, they're good. Speaking for myself, I like Dr. McNinja, xkcd, and Questionable Content. And Indexed, but that's not really a webcomic.

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  79. I started Dr. McNinja and liked it a lot, I should really keep going with it.

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  80. It's a brilliant comic. Very funny. : )

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