Friday, February 23, 2007

Dave Whamond is a hack.

No... no not a hack. For a hack, at the very least, has some measure of talent. A hack can take other people's good ideas and co-opt them in such a way that, from a distance, he apears to be a clever and creative individual. A hack sucks, but he works hard to keep people from noticing he sucks. Dave Whamond is a sub-hack.

For those of you who aren't aware, and I suspect this is the bulk of you, Whamond is the writer and artist for a syndicated comic strip called Reality Check. I encourage, nay, insist you all go there and peek around a little bit, if you don't happen to get it in your local funny pages. It's a single panel daily gag without a set cast, in the vein of the Far Side. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that; Gary Larson wasn't the first person to play with the genre, and he need not be the last. When Larson retired, at the top of his game, he left an empty space in our hearts... and five square inches of empty space in our newspapers, which Whamond appropriated less than three months later. I trust you've read some of the cartoons by now? And noticed that they are, in fact, crap.

"I think it's important to be topical," says Whamond, "but at the same time you have to try to find new approaches to what everybody else is doing." I would, myself, posit that he is not taking new approaches to what everyone else is doing. Either he goes for the fifty-year-old cliche approach, or more commonly, the no-recognisable-approach approach. I'd also like to direct your attentions to this little ditty: a joke about airline food. Note well the date... this is not a joke from the early nineties, when airline food was interesting in its badness, and everyone was doing their own take on it. This is a two-week-old joke. Most airlines don't even SERVE food anymore, but for brand-name snack packs! Has Whamond flown on a plane in the last five years?

Syndicated comics tend to get a bad reputation. This is deserved, as most of them are shit... but bear in mind, this is shit written by old people who got syndicated when they were still capable of telling jokes, and have turned into institutions that churn out comics every day simply so they don't get fired. B.C. used to be funny. Ziggy used to be funny. Even MARMADUKE used to make sense and be funny-ish. And still, to this day, Ziggy sometimes makes us laugh at the titular midget's hell-life... Marmaduke makes us smile softly as one does at a poorly-told joke... even B.C. lets us laugh at how insane the author is. And ALL of them are drawn better than Reality Check. Yes, even B.C.

How is this man being paid? How can he make a living? How has he survived twelve years when THIS is what the syndicate holds up as a shining example of the man's work? R. Stevens has only been syndicated for two months... he's been making comics for years but has only NOW been put into papers, despite having a massive fan base an a metric ass-ton of what we in the business call talent. And beyond him there are dozens of terrifically talented individuals on the Internet, who make fantastic comics, every day, beloyed by thousands of people. Webcartoonists with TALENT, who are overlooked and dismissed (the first example coming to mind being the seven-times-rejected Sinfest). Whamond has none of this talent. He craps out a poorly drawn comic with an unfunny punchline day after day and he is getting PAID for it.

I am a writer, and that is much like a cartoonist. We both have stories in our head that we hope others will appreciate. I long ago came to terms with the fact that writing, as a profession, would not be easy... I would have to be connected and lucky if I wanted to make it, in addition to being talented. Disheartening, yes? Not nearly as much as seeing Dave Whamond's impotent efforts on my comics page. Talent isn't an issue, it seems... the current state of affairs is just that screwed up. Why should I even make an effort?


Anonymous Jersey Paul said...

Wow, this makes me glad I stopped reading the comics page. Also: the last comic on the "THIS" link has been outright stolen, word for word, from at least a dozen other comics and TV commercials. GAH! >_<

2/24/2007 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why nake an effort? You have no choice. A writer can't not write. It's what you do and what you do very well. Stop reading him, maybe he will go away.

2/27/2007 5:29 PM  

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