Saturday, January 07, 2006

No One Wants This

Let me preface this column by telling you a little about myself and my friends and acquaintances. When I go to the San Diego Comic-Con every year, I wind up splitting a room with a guy who's into furries. He's copyrighted an anthropomorphic character based upon himself and when he's not attending events where people dressed in plushy animal costumes, he's laughing derisively at me for describing the DVDs he'd purchased earlier in the day as "hentai porn" because, "Hentai means porn. Saying 'hentai porn' is like saying 'manga comic'."

What I'm getting at is that I know there are a lot of different tastes out there and many of them might seem awkward, but I'm perfectly willing to accept that one man's "what the fuck?" is another man's rock-hard erection.

Likewise, I understand "those who can do, and those who can't criticize." Some will argue until I create a comic better than the ones I call crap, my opinions have no value. I would counter that though you may never have cooked a soufle, you probably know dog vomit is not an ingredient you'd put in one and would be able to identify a soufle made by someone else with the inclusion of dog vomit as tasting bad.

Is not at least part of the purpose of art to allow those who cannot express themselves artistically enjoy the artist's expression? I understand my lambasting of Mothspy is harsh and you might think me an asshole by the time you read it, especially if you are Kraig Rasmussen or friends of Kraig Rasmussen and got here by Googling his name. However, I am simply pointing out the truth, complete with evidence. I would argue the assholes are the people who saw Kraig's sketches of a half-moth/half-woman and oversexed lizard people, heard he was planning an erotic, action comic, and said, "Okay, good luck. I think that sounds like a great idea. I believe in you!" It's like those anti-drug commercials where they show kids watching their friends laying in the street while a truck is coming or drowning in a pool about two feet away. As a friend, it's your responsibility to stop your buddy from making a complete joke of himself, especially in front of professionals from the industry in which he dreams of working.

Kraig wraps up the book with a column about a local comic shop closing down. He addresses it as a fan an as an industry professional, declaring himself "on the edge of busting down the doors of the industry." While some of what he says about the lack of interest in comics and the decline of the industry is sad and true, its appearance in this book seems to imply something like Mothspy is what's needed to revitalize the industry.

Mothspy is more a part of the problem than the solution. Much the way the American Dream has convinced everyone they might become millionaires someday, thus making them support tax breaks for Paris Hilton, the myth that anyone with an idea and the gumption can produce a successful comic book prompts people to churn out garbage like this. When it doesn't sell, they in turn blame the brainwashed masses who can't accept something original and just want more of the same cookie-cutter superhero tripe.

No, people want quality comics. Just because your idea is original, doesn't mean it's good. The reason the comic industry is losing readers and leaking like a rowboat made out of one-dollar bills is because the majority of what you find in any copy of Previews is terrible. Even good comics will have differences in opinion. Chris just doesn't like Walking Dead, I think Fell is a steaming pile, and neither of us sees the appeal of JSA. That's not to say those comics are bad, just not our respective cups of tea.

On the other hand, some comics are just bad. Indefensibly bad. Case in point:

Watch your toes because the story of how I got this comic begins with Jake dropping names. Robert and I were going to lunch with Darwyn Cooke at Wondercon in 2004 when we met Kraig Rasmussen, who recognized Darwyn and wanted to pitch his comic, Mothspy.

From his backpack, he withdrew some self-published copies of the comic he was pitching, handing one to each of us. I politely and with minimal eye-rolling accepted the book with the hairy-chested lizard person tweaking its nipple on the cover.

If it hadn't been the final day of the Con, I would have certainly taken it back to the room, glanced at it while on the toilet, and thrown it in the trash. Instead it stayed in my backpack and somehow got shoved into a short box where I unearthed it while organizing the last year and a half's worth of comics around Christmas.

We begin with a two page letter from Kraig, letting us know there was much debate between his girlfriend and him over whether he should redraw the first seven pages of the comic, which apparently had been drawn long before the rest and might distract people from the story. In the end, he decided it wasn't our right, but our "privelage" to witness his development as an artist. He ends saying, "This is me, naked, and unashamed." Mr. and Mrs. Rasmussen clearly failed in some parental duties, because otherwise little Kraig would have known there are certain things we should be ashamed for doing in public.

The story opens with a lizard person politely offering to molest a woman wearing a black overcoat and hat pulled down over her eyes.The lizard molester gets taken to task, complete with a punch so hard it surrounds his head with the kind of star first graders draw.Lizardrapist gets up for round two, prompting the woman to shed the hat and coat and go through a completely incomprehensible sequence we later kind of determine was supposed to be her flying up into the air and crashing down on the lizard man feet first. Threatened with getting moreof what he just got, the big lizard reveals he was following Mothspy because she "possess[es] a property which [his] race requires for, uh... survival."

Currently, I have three problems with this. First, the lizard man has had his elbow broken, been punched hard enough to make elementary school pentagrams leap from his face, had a flying woman crash land on his neck, and he's completely unphased. I'm not arguing lizard anatomy or resiliency, but why does he cough up the info? As we'll see throughout this comic, these lizards are veritable punchbags, impervious to the worst Mothspy can dish out and with healing factors beyond those of Wolverine. A few drops of blood coming from his mouth is enough to make this guy crack?

Second, if the lizard dude was following Mothspy because she was Mothspy, why was he so shocked when she took off the hat and coat, revealing her wings?

Finally, and more than the others put together, after he admits he was following and trying to sexually assault her just for the "property" she possesses, Mothspy is disappointed he wasn't trying to rape her for her good looks.It should be noted that Mothspy has long eyelashes and no pupils. That first frame makes it look as though she has two lazy eyes while complaining about not being pretty enough to molest.

She starts to walk away, but the lizard gets her attention by offering to show her his genitalia, but it's really a trap and Mothspy is trapped in some kind of energy field that comes from nowhere and transports her and the lizard to a lizard ship in orbit high above the Earth.

The lizard queen or king or hermaphroditic leader gives her a tour of the ship. Starting with a room full of millions of moths. The lizard queen explains that each moth is "euthenized" and put through a machine that tears off the wings, withdraws all the moth's fluids, and crushes the body. The crushed bodies are used to make moisturizer. The wings are dried and ground into a powder that is like cocaine to the lizard people. The fluid is used as...

Christ on a crutch, I can't believe I'm typing this.

The fluid is used as an aerosol aphrodisiac to fuel non-stop lizard orgies.Finally, it's explained why Mothspy has been brought here. The lizardking's orgy isn't quite drugged up enough, so he/she wants to tear off, dry up, and ground down Mothspy's wings into reptilian blow. Mothspy doesn't take this well, grabbing the king/queen and flying it around the orgy chamber, crashing into things randomly. This, by the way, is the third time Mothspy has put forth a great amount of effort to kick the crap out of a lizard only to have it get up completely unaffected. Her reaction is to kick the crap out of the lizardking again and make her escape while he gets up, completely unaffected.

In her exodus, she frees the moths who help her outsmart the lizard queen. The queen charges Mothspy, only to find she has tried to tackle a Mothspy doppelganger made of moths, resulting in a spine-snapping collision with the wall.This shattering of the spinal column and vertebrae keeps the queen down for almost 30 seconds. Also, where the hell are the king's guards? Or anyone from that orgy for that matter? Or the guys who monitor the moth killing machine? Or the fucking janitor? If some Al-Qaeda operative gets loose in the White House, do you think George W. has to chase him around like a damn Benny Hill sketch while the Secret Service huffs nitrous oxide and fellates one another?

Mothspy gets away again and makes it to the shuttle bay or equivalent before being attacked from behind by the revived lizard leader. Mothspy again fights him/her off, eventually getting it in a chokehold and squeezing the life from the reptilian chieftain before dropping its corspe about three stories on to an umbrella full of gigantic green beans sitting atop a glob of pizza dough below. At least that's what it looks like to me.Having had his trachea shattered, the lizard king doesn't appear again for almost an entire page.But this time, Mothspy doesn't get in her licks. It's all lizardqueen as Mothspy gets beaten like one of those countries where it doesn't snow when they take on Canada in Olympic hockey. It culminates with the lizard pulling off Mothspy's wings in a sequence that pretty much is what you'd expect if you told Kraig Rasmussen, "Draw me a prison rape."The story ends with the lizard queen taking the wings, gloating, and offering Mothspy to four other lizards, whether for sex or for food it is unclear. Mothspy thinks to herself that she is not through and the promise of "TO BE CONTINUED" indicates the story is not either.

However, considering is now defunct and Google searchs for Kraig Rasmussen and Mothspy reveals Kraig might have finished 273rd in a 10k Run to Feed the Hungry in 2002 and that there is a band from Kraig's hometown named Mothspy but nothing else, it seems more than likely, despite her final words, Mothspy was, in fact, "going out like this."


Blogger Ragnell said...

Y'know, I probably betray my prejudice when I say this, but all I could think through that entire review was *Shudder* Furries.

Yet another thing scarier than Frank Miller.

I mean, I should be more accepting of another subculture but *Shudder* Furries.


And you didn't happen to room with a guy named Warner who called himself Warnndog and drew gawds-awful dog pictures, did you?

*Shudder* Furries.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Grotesqueticle said...

Man, go hunting for mice with a 12 guage much? That was brutal. But, well deserved. The guy isn't a completly incompetent draftsman, however.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

Yeah, I got a little carried away, but it was like potato chips. Once I had one snarky remark, it was so difficult not to have another and another. I did debate whether I should mention Kraig's backgrounds actually look pretty decent.

Also, my acquaintance fashions himself as a fox with two tails. I also give him credit for not drawing bad foxes. He leaves that to the professionals. Part of why I room with him is because he keeps to himself. You'd never know he was a furries fan unless you brought it up first.

11:41 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

A fox with two tails? You mean Miles "Tails" Prower from Sonic the Hedgehog? Egad.

See, I don't know why this fellow was showing his comic to Darwyn Cooke, because clearly this isn't Cooke's kind of thing. Now if he'd shown it to Ellis or Morrison, he might have gotten somewhere.

The question is, of course, yes it's shite, but is it worse than Not Avengers?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

And as always, Kelvin, that should be the marketing slogan for everything in comicdom.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like furries!

They remind me I'm not the strangest being on the planet.

They're like mobile self-confidence boosters.

1:06 PM  

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