Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Appeal of Anti-Climax Man

Fan1: Hey, I haven't seen you around much lately.  What's up?

Fan2: Nothing much.  I've just been preoccupied with this series that's Crazy Awesome and Addictive: Anti-Climax Man.

Fan1: Oh yeah, I think I've heard of it.

Fan2: You gonna give it a try?

Fan1: I dunno.  It seems to have limited appeal beyond its high-concept premise.

Fan2: Dude, you know me.  I don't get heavily invested in anything without good reason.

Fan1: Well, I could, but isn't it only available on some heavily reserved ultra-expensive elitist subscribed channel?

Fan2: It's been leased out to this other channel that you have.

Fan1: Well, it's a later episode, so -

Fan2: Not a problem.  Each is self-contained, while also building on a larger narrative.

Fan1: I'd still like -

Fan2: There's also several online sites showing it for free.

Fan1: I feel a little uneasy about -

Fan2: I also have the DVD sets.

Fan1: Man, it was SO easy for me to ignore when it wasn't easily available.


Fan1: Okay, okay.  Don't twist my arm.  I'll take a look, but I'm not promising anything.

(Two days later)

Fan2: So, what do you think so far?

Fan1: Well, it's okay I guess.  The guy gets caught up in outlandish scenarios that are resolved in the most banal ways possible.

Fan2: I know!!  Isn't it great?!

Fan1: I thought he'd just win all the time, but I was surprised that he allowed himself to lose on purpose.

Fan2: You have to admit it was an effective way to deescalate the situation.

Fan1: As I said before, its extremely childish.  The supporting cast seem to be more fully developed compared to the protagonist who's pretty much a blank slate for the audience to latch onto.

Fan2: How much of it did you see?

Fan1: ...thirty episodes.

Fan2: HAH!  I knew once you'd get started, you'd find it hard to stop!

Fan1: Well, they're very breezy.  I wasn't too into it at first, but after awhile, it started to grow on me.  Frankly, I was surprised at how quickly I blazed through them.  I'll give it another thirty episodes, but if things haven't improved any, I'll quit.

(A week later)

Fan1: The later seasons are completely INSANE.  There's so much Tension involved.  And Anti-Climax Man is always so blasé about it!  I'm always screaming at him to look at the Apocalyptic Disaster he's completely unaware of, just so he can resolve it in that pithy underhanded manner he always does!

Fan2: NOW do you see why I like it so much?

Fan1: I'll say!  I never thought I would become so invested in this so much!

Fan2: I'm particularly impressed with the emotional heft the characters have.  For being rather broad caricatures, there's a surprising depth to their relationships.  Who they were at the beginning of the show are completely different to how they are later on.

Fan1: For me, it's all about the constantly building pressure in every episode.  How long can they prolong the situation before Anti-Climax Man resolves it?!  And he's always in the wrong place!!  LOOK TO YOUR LEFT!!

(A month later)

Fan1: It's absolute torture waiting for new episodes to come up.  I've been compulsively rewatching the early episodes picking up subtle clues that've been sprinkled throughout.

Fan2: Even the lousy episodes?

Fan1: Well, maybe not those, but definitely the high quality ones.  I've made amusing crossover Fanfics because I've been dreaming about it in my sleep!

Fan2: Yes.  Revel in the pain. 

Fan1: This was your plan all along wasn't it?  To draw me into this Fandom just so you'd have someone to compare ulcers with?

Fan2: Consider yourself lucky - I got into it when there were fewer episodes than there are now.

Fan1: I didn't even know it existed, but now I can't imagine not having this show in my life.

Fan2: Well, don't get too complacent.  There's been rumours that this might be the last season.

Fan1: Are you kidding me?!  There's still so much untapped potential!!  Not to mention so many unresolved plotlines!!!  Are we ever going to find out what that mysterious item in the warehouse was supposed to be?!  How can they possibly wrap everything up in just a few episodes?!

Fan2: As I said before, it's still hearsay.  The sponsors have been complaining that the side characters have been taking over the show.  Anti-Climax Man hardly ever shows up anymore.

Fan1: But that's the whole appeal!!  It's seeing these lesser competent guys deal with the increasingly heightening drama the only way they can that further ramps up the suspense!!  Anti-Climax Man's presence would resolve things way too soon!

Fan2: Well, sponsors don't always understand what their viewers are so passionate about.  And the viewer numbers have been dropping.

Fan1: Because it's constantly in reruns!!  And... (checks rating numbers) each episode STILL gets at least two million views!!

Fan2: If it's any consolation, we had a good run.  And we can still spread word about the show through word of mouth.

Fan1: I tried to get my friends to get interested in Anti-Climax Man.

Fan2: And?

Fan1: They just laughed in my face for trying to convince them to watch a silly children's show when they've got more serious Adult entertainment suited for them.  The fools.  I tried to make it as easy as possible for them to jump in, but they resist any attempt to even give it a sidelong glance!

Fan2: Sounds like a certain somebody I know.  Weren't you just complaining that Anti-Climax Man was in danger of becoming formulaic and predictable?

Fan1: I wanted excitement, but Not Like This!  I've been checking the news feeds every day, checking every #Anticlimaxman tag on an hourly basis.  The suspense is terrible.  I hope it doesn't last.


Fan2: Sounds like another hit just registered.

Fan1: Probably just another article about making your very own Anti-Climax character.  As if I didn't have enough - (Gasps)  It's news about the creator of Anti-Climax Man.

Fan2: Looks like something happened to the guy.

Fan1: I can't look.  What does it say??

Fan2: It says...

TO BE CONTINUED.... (maybe)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Famine Snapshots

To make up for my annual tributes for Veteran's Day by paying attention to WWI comics such as Charley's War, (which I missed out this year), I posted comics about cartoonists doing tributes to Hunger around Thanksgiving.  You'd think that having broached a serious subject once, they wouldn't want to go back to that particular well.  But every time I think I've found the last batch of Famine-related comics, I wind up finding more.

To be fair, some of these took place before they did their annual tribute.  But they fit themetically well.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pooch Café Outtakes

Newspaper Comics in themselves are a dying art.  The remaining strips that still manage to have a stranglehold on the market are mainstays that kept hanging on long after their original artists and creators have left this mortal coil.  The Legacy strips being foisted off onto their relatives wanting to keep the faucet of finance running, or their old comics being constantly rerun into perpetual existence long after their sell-by date.

So its somewhat surprising that there still happen to be occasional worthy comics that haven't already jumped the queue for online presence where they're more likely to reach a wider audience.  (And, of course, newspapers can barely afford to show ALL the comics to keep their dwindling audiences happy)  I speak of Paul Gilligan's Pooch Café.

Starting out on January 3, 2000 at the turn of the Millennium, it didn't make too much of a presence, the majority being still shellshocked at the prospect of the Y2K dud.  (If you want to see how dated an event is, look for how much disposable media references it.  It happened with Halley's Comet, and it happened for Y2K)  For the most part, Poncho was little more than a species-switched version of Garfield, who hung out with other dogs at a bar... now that I describe it, it's practically Nothing like Garfield.

Other than his constant begging for more food, his only defining trait is that Poncho is very easily distracted, and only smart when he pays attention to whatever's piqued his interest.  Oftentimes, he can be very very dumb, and yet, also smart enough to heckle his master at any given opportunity.

As such, there have been sporadic collections of Pooch Café, the most notable being the epic that explored Poncho's early life lasting eighteen months.  Yet, the online archive only goes back as far as 2003.  Much of the early stuff is missing.  Of course, compulsively researching old Newspaper Archives is a hobby of mine, and I found some that had been glossed over before other papers picked it up.

Of the comics above, only the Medicine Ball one was collected, leaving the others absent.

What surprised me was that the very first week set up the status quo fairly quickly.  For the longest time, I was under the impression that Poncho and Chazz had been together for a long time before his wife entered the scene.  Yet the second strip shatters that fragile illusion completely.

Another story arc was where Poncho attempted to sneak into a movie theater, leading to frantic ranting and convoluted schemes to get inside.  First, he posed with Boomer as a drug-sniffing Police Dog, but eventually found success when walking besides his friend as a Seeing-Eye dog before the Teller got wise.

For the most part, rejected strips don't really contribute much to the overall theme, and some jokes tend to be rather played out.

Another mini-arc is when Poncho is traveling in a Mall with Chazz.

More stand-alone comics.

This one is very obviously based on a Calvin.

Of all the missing strips, this one is probably my favorite:

One of the longer two-week story arcs was when Carmen broke her leg, and Poncho wanted to "Thin the Herd", since she was no longer useful, and couldn't feed him.  Her owning multiple cats just happened to be a bonus.

The last of the remaining comics for the month of May.  Nothing real special to say about these.  You can find the other comics via microfiche the hard way, or peruse the first collection, All Dogs Naturally Know How To Swim.  Interestingly enough, the online newspaper for the week of May/June reprints the first comics from January, to introduce new readers to the comic.

Sadly, no Sunday comics could be found.  For those, you'll have to complain to the source, or demand them elsewhere.