As I’ve often said, I wrote the first script for Between Failures many years ago. Even so, no one is safe from the comedic black hole that is The Simpsons. When I wrote this I hadn’t actually seen the episode D’oh-in In The Wind where they reveal Homer’s middle name. The episode itself predates my work by a fair stretch. I actually only saw the episode a couple of years ago, and I didn’t realize how old it was. At this point the floating timeline The Simpsons use is more like a hovering one. Every year it’s a little harder to believe how many vacations the family has been on in the span of one year of in story time. Of course The Simpson Effect is so widely established that South Park took an entire episode to address it.
In any case, I added the line “Like Homer Simpson’s middle name?” to help slow down the flow of comments from people who would assume I wasn’t already aware of Homer’s name. I suspect that that The Simpson’s is going to be timeless enough that it will still be on TV as reruns long after anyone reading this is dead. Kind of chilling, isn’t it?
Anyway, the other day I said, on Twitter, that the Multiplex/Shortpacked crossover might be the thing that finally breaks me of reading Shortpacked. I hadn’t intended to explain the statement, but one person was curious, so this part is for them.
I started reading Shortpacked around the same time I started doing Between Failures. It’s one of the comics that made me think “Well shit, I could do that.” At that point Shorpacked was much funnier. Which is not to say that it’s not funny now, it’s just not funny as often. Over time the strip has evolved away from one off humor towards interpersonal drama. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but a person comes to expect certain things over time.
As time has gone on the spirit of the comic has also gotten much more mean. I might even go so far as to say bitter as well. It’s most easily seen in the character Amber, who has gone from timid and weak to strident. Strident, however, with an underlying feeling of malice. Her relationship with Mike brought this trait into the open. It has been hard to watch unfold.
Shortpacked is tangentially related to some of the cartoonist’s earlier work. Work which I don’t like. Whenever that stuff is referenced it’s always something from the part of the previous work I hate most. Some superpower, or alien bullshit, that skews the camera in Shortpacked. It has gone on and on for long enough now that I can barely tolerate it. In fact, I’m the last person in my circle of friends still clinging to the idea that Shorpacked will ever go back to being the enjoyable romp it once was. Everyone else just got sick of it and quit reading. The final straw for everyone else was Mike & Amber’s relationship, not that it matters. That just gives you an idea of what broke everyone else.
This brings me to Multiplex. I’ve tried to read Multiplex several times, but I always stop. And people don’t understand why I don’t like it, since I clearly enjoy movies. Well, it all comes down to the dialog basically. For the most part it’s okay, but whenever they talk about movies it shifts from people talk to blog talk. Especially when the one guy goes on a tear about something. It feels too clean and unnatural to my mind’s ear. Much like Kevin Smith’s dialog is actually harder to say than to read. It lacks the flow of actual speech. I assumed that this changed over time, but apparently it hasn’t. If the crossover pages are any indication at least. The first words out of the dark haired guy’s mouth made me bristle. That said, I don’t actually KNOW that’s how things are with Multiplex. As I said, I’ve never gotten past the first 10 pages or so. Over time it may be just fine. It may evolve into people just standing around and talking in a natural manner.
This is all subjective, of course. Thousands of people enjoy both comics without complaint, and I don’t intend to present these points as a complaint to either creator. They can subcreate in whatever manner pleases them best. I have the luxury of not being forced to watch it go down though.
Before I sign off on this part I’d also like to say that even if I get to a point where I can’t stand Shortpacked anymore I still have Dumbing Of Age. It is just about the perfect comic if you want to capture me. It’s basically people talking. No superpowers, no 25 years of science fiction backstory. The cast is fresh and not filled with bitterness and hate. They just have regular, everyday, levels of those things. I like it very much, so it’s a suitable replacement, or at least a consolation prize.