You see, I have this theory that the internet is causing a general mediocritisation of human culture, because you can put pretty much any piece of work on the internet and no matter how hugely it sucks dolphin jizz you'll find some dick who's prepared to tell you it's brilliant. This is the principle on which Deviantart appears to be founded.
But the cruellest thing you can do to an artist is tell them their work is flawless when it isn't. It gives them no incentive to improve or try new things, which a creative person must always strive to do. And it tends to foster the kind of monstrous egos the webcomic sphere grows like mushrooms in the shit-spattered dark. Tim Buckley of Ctrl-Alt-Del is notorious for having a zero tolerance for any criticism, constructive or otherwise, often deleting it unregarded from his forums, or declaring them invalid for half-baked reasons. It seems blanket praise has already done its damage to this fevered ego.
I don't hate Buckley. I look at CAD and I see a lot of misdirected potential. I know, that sounds hilarious even to me. But if you look at Buckley's art blog, you'll find that he's actually a pretty decent artist when he wants to be. But the promise of easy praise and popularity keeps him mired in his copy-pasted shoulder-hunched droopy-eyed slack-jawed magnum opus.
Not that copy-pasted art need necessarily ruin a comic - Dinosaur Comics is one of my favourite regular reads. It's the fact that for having run a gag-a-day strip for however many years, Buckley still has no idea how to structure a joke. I've never known an artist so determined to never learn anything about their craft. His usual response to this sort of thing is that he just has his own style and that there's no such thing as a 'right' or 'wrong' opinion, but the fact is, while humour is a flexible harlot, it still has rules. Rules which can be broken in the right contexts; contexts which don't include anything Tim Buckley has written.
I'm going to post a link now to a Ctrl-Alt-Del comic from July 2007. Don't let the fact that it's old excuse the mistakes; this is still very typical of Buckley's current work.
Here's another comic, this one a Penny Arcade strip from early the same year. The subject matter and joke are the same (Puzzle Quest) but it's a fairly obvious joke to make and I can easily assume both writers came up with it independently.
Both comics identify the humour in the situation - that the rules of a game world seem absurd when applied to the real world - but while Penny Arcade understands that the crux of a joke should be reserved for the final panel, Ctrl-Alt-Del is apparently so excited about the idea that it blurts it out right away, leaving three more panels to flounder in excessive dialogue and pointlessness.
A punchline should be equated to an actual punch in the face. That's why it's called a punch-line. You deliver it and run. You do not hang around explaining how you did the punch and that the recipient should probably be in a lot of pain now.
Identify the funny part of the idea and save it for last. Leave with the audience laughing. If you do nothing else, finish strong. That's a rule any humourist will agree with. But with the centrepoint of the gag already uselessly spent, Buckley's comic is forced to fall upon its old standby of violence as a sort of prosthetic punchline. Now, violence can certainly be funny, modern cinema was virtually built on the tradition of slapstick, but it doesn't work in static, non-animated media. There is humour to be found in shock value, but most people have been on the internet long enough to not be shocked by anything as mundane as a claymore through the sweetbreads.
But even if the joke were structured properly, there is still far too much dialogue. This is a problem common to a lot of webcomics, but since we're already in the CAD-bashing groove we'll stick with it. Shakespeare wrote that 'brevity is the soul of wit'. He did not then add 'unless you're writing a webcomic'. It applies to everything, and don't tell me you're arrogant enough to claim to know better than Shakespeare.
A gag strip has a very simple formula. Buildup. Buildup. Buildup. Punchline. Anything that does not in some way build towards the punchline can safely be removed. If any dialogue can conceivably be replaced with a gesture or facial expression (visit Perry Bible Fellowship for a crash course in this), do so; this is a comic, a predominantly visual medium, not a fucking essay. Additionally, any dialogue pertaining to either ninjas, pirates, monkeys or Jesus should be excised, sealed in resin and buried in an undersea volcano.
This is why Ctrl-Alt-Del is a blight, and the fact that it remains crushingly popular despite making mistakes that a child would be brutally caned for on their first day at comedy school is one of the main reasons I openly weep tears for the future of human culture.
I know that an opinion can't technically be wrong and that there could be people who still like CAD for the characters or the art, but if you genuinely think that it is well-written, then you are demonstrably wrong. That's all there is to it.
Yahtzee is well aware that his own previous webcomic efforts aren't necessarily any better but reminds you that they came out of a dark time in his life from which he has determinedly moved on without a backward glance
Actually, I have to totally agree with that. Though I liked CAD back when I was young (two years ago), I know that Tim's a pedophile who doesn't know the real formula of comedy and does not accept criticism. Now that I look back, I now in fact feel kind of guilty for falling into Buckley's circle, all those broke back strips with photoshoped layout turned me into a temporary retard.
The animated series was a disaster for me and it almost made me grow a tumor in my eyes.
So far, the adventures of Ethan, who is probably a disgrace to all Irish gamers (though he invents some interesting stuff every now and then, they all turn out to be nothing use to the human race), Lucas, Ethan's friend who is um...more like a talking cardboard with some mechanics on his face, Lilah, Ethan's retarded girlfriend who is forced by the writer to be a dull and pinheaded example of a female gamer (or maybe females in general) finally and Zeke, who would make Bill Gates to flush himself down the toilet.
I don't even know if there is a smiley to express my feelings towards the above link and its content. So far, Tim was forced to delete his own Wikipedia page after countless attacks and is now holding on his CAD page. I've lost my sympathy for him already.
This may be the future of Tim.
Winter-een-mass and Church of Gaming?
I feel stupid for laughing at those stuff.
I am also very glad I am not part of that community.
This post has been edited by Game Over: 24 March 2008 - 07:21 PM