The Nostalgia Critic, the Nostalgia Chick, the Spoony Experiment, Todd in the Shadows, The Angry Videogame Nerd, Atop the Fourth Wall. I find myself watching a lot of online review series on YouTube while I work on the strip. It’s good to have on in the background while I’m sketching, inking, colouring or weeping in the corner because I can’t draw hands. There’s even one of these review show thingies for webcomics called Webcomic Relief.
And something I notice watching these shows is that they all at one time or another have indulged in storylines, ongoing continuity and other narrative elements. Narrative elements that you’d normally expect to see in a webcomic, actually.
There’s a strange kind of symmetry here. Before the internet, comic strips were largely usee for short disposable standalone fare. On the internet, they’re almost exclusively used for long-running continuity-heavy stories. Even the ones that start out as gag-a-day stuff mutate into graphic novels. The review vlog has undergone a similar transformation.
If you’re not familiar with this corner of internet culture, it’s going to sound like I’m making this up but I’m not. There’s side characters, villains, plot twists, special effects. This in a video about that Bratz movie from a million years ago or a Final Fantasy game.
Sometimes it takes the form of a short comedy sketch to underline the reviewer’s main criticisms of the work they’re reviewing, which is forgivable. Sometimes the first ten minutes of what is ostensibly a work of non-fiction is devoted to the critic battling the space emperor in order to rescue his girlfriend and destroy a fleet of battleships heading for Earth. And it’s played 100% straight. Like I’m supposed to be invested in what happens to the critic during their tinfoil swordfight with Lord Xenu.
It’s… bizarre, really.
The irony is that most of these narrative elements are a little undercooked, to put it charitably. In the same video critcising an artist’s grasp of plot and characterisation, these artists will commit the exact same sins. Only worse, because no matter how lazy or boilerplate a professional screenplay may be, it will outshine an amateur screenplay nine times out of ten (and I say this knowing full well which of the two categories I fall into).
A couple of years ago this shit was seriously trying my patience. Mercifully, most of these guys I’ve namedropped have quit it or toned it down. There are worse offenders who I’ll not name and sham whose body of work I find unwatchable because of the bad storylines.
It’s like, dude, I just want to know what you thought of the new Star Wars movie. Must we go through this every time?
Speakkng of wasting time, I’ve taken up enough of yours with this nonsense. More on this next time.