Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Oh, Balls...

Probably the chief advantage of webcomics is the supposed freedom of the internet, the relative lack of gatekeepers policing a writer's output. Such freedom rapidly manifests its own flip-side whenever creators go off the rails without even realizing it - and keep going and going and going. When you lack a superior to tell you you've gone batshit insane, the results can be disappointing but also amusing in retrospect. The cartoonist comes up with a setting or even one scene which must seem utterly fascinating subjectively, because like film directors who grow obsessed with a single camera angle or other gimmick, the comic dedicates page after page to subdividing that one chapter into aspects and alternate views, set-ups and internal monologues. While more astute webcomic literati would probably bemoan Sluggy Freelance's "Oceans Unmoving" (which really was quite un-moving in many ways) or Megatokyo spending a year of comics on a single in-character hour of strained, over-wrought romance, I'm going to settle for crying foul over a dodgeball game.

Sorry, I mean "hitball" - and the comic in question is Paranatural, a relatively uninspired "magic kids" setup which made up for it with hefty doses of exaggerated sitcom-style zingers. Good, clean fun for the whole family, and a relaxing way to clean out your brain at the end of the day, though I generally don't read comics on a daily basis. In this case, I hadn't checked up on Paranatural since this past spring, when the magic-powered, ghostbusting kids had just started playing a dodgeball game.

They are still playing that same dodgeball game.

Forget ghost-trains or magic artifacts or superpowered kung-fu training montages. The latest chapter of Paranatural treats its audience to page after page of extreeeeeme close-ups of kids winding up to throw rubber balls, dramatic frame-by-frame sequences of kids being hit by rubber balls, lengthy internal monologues on the tactics of rubber ball throwing and of course the unremitting drah-mah of brotherhood in arms balls. And they're not even dragon-ballz!

Maybe I'm being too skeptical as I'm currently fuming over just having dedicated my time to over fifty oversized glossy full-color pages of... balls... but I'd gladly give the contents of my wallet's change-pocket to see Paranormal's traffic statistics since April, when this whole tomfoolery started. Was this chapter supposed to bring in more grade-school visitors, and if so, did it succeed?

I suppose if P.G. Wodehouse can numb my brain with cricket, the good Mr. Morrison might make a good living off comics about quidditch-style dodgeball.
Wooouuldn't bet on it, though.

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