Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Stiff

The Stiff is back up!

Yeah... you heard me. The stiffy's back up. I'm not un-writing that and you can't un-read it, so there.
But what's so momentous about this event? Well, the last time we saw this comic (with a "to be continued" label on it) was back in 200-6ish?

You see, would-be creators sometimes trail off their would-be-created works. Of course, I as a stalwart model of willpower, focus and stickittoyouness would never actually have this problem, but I hear many of you out there tend to abandon your attempts at artistic expression. This is especially true for anything started without an actual commitment, like say... webcomics. Whether it's because of writer's block, waning interest, writing oneself into a corner, writing oneself into a cornerless spiral, or just due to interference from life, the universe and everything else, projects attempted online often peter out or stall. The first few times you see this happen it may grate a bit, but soon you learn to simply accept these little gems' brief presence without asking for more. Names like Ballad, Ice or Return to Sender merely take their seats in the back of your consciousness as reference points for future works.
You don't actually expect them to come back from the dead.

The Stiff is a zombie story. Now, zombies litter contemporary pop culture like rotting corpses, putrefying creativity into reeking, subcategorized cliche upon cliche. We dicker over terms for the various cut-and-dry zombies from cheap B-movies like "runners" or "shamblers" to file these into taxonomies of shallow sensationalism. We mow down zombies by the thousands in video games. We automatically count the seconds between bite and undeath. Despite is mainstream triviality, this topic has bred so much fascination that new twists and slants on the old "braaaains" motif keep popping up.

I know The Stiff is a zombie story because the author keeps throwing zombie references at you every few pages or so... a book the characters are reading, a movie they're watching, a joke they tell, etc. Yet it went on for hundreds of pages without a single actual zombie showing up. It's got one of the slowest wind-ups I've ever seen in storytelling without actually losing the thread. It comes at the concept from a weird angle. Can you spot the thematic similarity between zombification and repressed teenage sexuality?

It's there. You can glimpse it, just as you can glimpse the zombie outbreak through the little hints slipped through the overwhelming focus on character development. You can hear the ghoulish moans in between the lines of dialogue, drawing closer. Yet still, by the time it stopped and was taken offline, The Stiff was still just a high school story.
And now it's back.
And the zombies are coming.
I hope there are sawed-off body-part zombies. Those are my favorite.
Though given the comic's focus so far, I dread to think which body part might get sawed off and zombified.

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