Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Webcomic Review #9: Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

As I continue to stagger forward under a strange load of accumulated promises, I'm trying to keep work in rotation. That way, nothing stays undone for too long, even as I work towards getting everything operational again. To that end, here's a new Webcomic Wednesday. These things were supposed to be every Wednesday when they were new, I think, but I can't believe we were ever that ambitious. But hell, here's at least one for this month. Take it one piece at a time.

Fan fiction has always had a bad rap. I don't know why; I just know it has. However, the metric starts to change when there's a visual component. That's not to say DeviantArt gets an automatic "awesome" sticker from the Internet (even if it totally deserves it), but there's less of a bias. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because it's easier to digest something visually than through prose, but sometimes you meet somebody who takes the added bonus fan comics have over fan fiction and uses it as a step stool to greatness. And that brings us to to "Manly Guys Doing Manly Things."

MGDMT - conventiently located at for your browsing pleasure - is proof that a strange idea can unfold like a beautiful, weird flower as it matures. Those are the main characters in that comic above. Our protagonist is Commander Badass, a supersoldier for the future who has returned to modern day to run a temp agency for ultramanly men (usually from works of fiction). The woman next to him is Jones, romantic interest to him and exposition springboard for us. Since Manly Guys has its manly fingers in as many pies as writer Kelly Turnbull feels like, it wisely avoids examining what such an interconnected fanfic world would look like, and wisely sticks to a ground-level view. (One exception that still played to the rule showed the Commander eating breakfast cereal and watching members of the Lantern Corps rag on each other in the universe's version of C-SPAN.) In case you're wondering, this means Kelly actually saw "Green Lantern."

Helping the story bridge the gap between fan fiction and original work is Jared, the kid holding Fattest Pigeon. Jared is a Pokemon trainer whose favorite Pokemon is an extremely laconic Gyrados named Mr. Fish, who swallows Fattest Pigeon whole in the follow-up comic, prompting Jared to walk into its mouth for retrieval.

According to the site's 'About" section, "Jared is the end result of a complicated mathematical equation designed to compute the most completely average teenage boy ever," something I very much subscribe to. I had a friend who looked like this when I was in college, and you probably did to. Jared is a sort of intern for the commander, who never really knows what to make of him. Jared is similarly oblivious, and the two get on in good-natured confusion at all times.

Comics - which are usually stand-alone entries, but sometimes become arcs - showcase life at the apex of manliness. True to its offbeat form, this often leads to unexpected situations. In the very first comic, Kratos, from the God of War series, is shown trying to sell electronics through violence. In another, the commander makes Jared put money in a jar for using the word "epic." Sometimes wires get crossed and we see what it's like when a bunch of different fictional characters are played by one real-world actor:

From its springboard as a situational comedy into the most esoteric depths of fandom, "Manly Guys Doing Manly Things" is a rich tapestry of "What is this, I don't even." And if the Internet has yet to produce a higher form of art, I haven't seen it.

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