May 8th, 2006


(no subject)

I'm getting really pissed off at Sluggy Freelance right now.

Sluggy Freelance is one of the very earliest webcomics. It's got a conventional bunch of roommates and practically invented the "cute fluffy animal of doom" cliche. This particular CFAOD is named Bun-Bun, who is a small rabbit with a switchblade. He's extremely dangerous, he likes beating things up, and while he doesn't seem to be particularly clever, he is virtually always right. Always. ALWAYS. And beating things up? It's always effective. ALWAYS.

He's one of my least favorite characters. I used to consider him neutral. Now I think he's becoming a serious problem.

Sluggy has gone through a lot of phases. Sometimes it's just pure comedy, and Bun-Bun, despite being a bit predictable, doesn't hurt that so much. Sometimes Bun-Bun gets shoved off into his own storyline, and despite being a bit predictable, these can be entertaining (partly, admittedly, because of the other characters.) And then the rest of the main characters are free to do their own thing, and honestly I like the other characters. They're not deep but they're interesting, and they're a bit flawed, and they're enough to carry a story. Sometimes they do dramatic stories, or plot stories, but usually the writer figures out how to get Bun-Bun out of the way before he does these.

Well, in the current storyline, it's looking like it could be a good character development plotline. Three characters have to face their fears - and one of them is Bun-Bun. This could work. This really could work. Except that, as mentioned, Bun-Bun breaks all the rules of the universe. He "solves" the problems by beating people up and being right.

There's no room allowed for character development. Torg, who is probably the strip's most major character, is managing some despite Bun-Bun, but Bun-Bun effortlessly turns what could be really interesting thought by Torg into yet another instance of "Bun-Bun tells everyone what's going to happen and threatens them." And it works - of *course* it works - because it's Bun-Bun, and Bun-Bun threatening people always works.

There are ways to do an invincible character right. You can make him so obviously skilled that he's badass. You can make him so unskilled that he's getting through by pure chance. You can hint at Outside Powers. You can just make him insanely powerful, and make that a given, and turn it into a morality play. But Bun-Bun? He doesn't do any of those.

He just pulls out his switchblade and cuts the plot in half.

I'm getting really tired of Bun-Bun.


Addendum: My current Gold Standard of Dialog is the Garfield Test. For those who missed this, a group of people went through old Garfield comics and entirely removed Garfield's dialog. (I mean, in theory, Jon can't hear him - he's a cat!) They found it made the comic significantly funnier. If you look at today's strip, almost every line of Bun-Bun's can be removed, and each removal *helps* the comic. (The single exception being Bun-Bun's comment about watches, which Torg responds to - and you can fix that by just making Torg mention the spares and not respond to Bun-Bun.)

So . . . yeah.

(Oh, and due to it being a plot comic, you're *really* not going to understand it if you don't know the backstory. Sorry. It's a pretty important moment though, and it's almost entirely ruined by Bun-Bun's existence.)