Tuesday, October 7, 2008

67th Avenue (3 Pints)

67th Avenue
by Jamie Sawatsky

They often say Seinfeld was the longest running TV show about nothing. If that's true, then 67th Avenue is the Seinfeld of webcomics.

But only in that respect.

As far as I can tell from the archives - and this comic goes back years - it's basically the ongoing story of a character named Jamie and his daily struggles and exploits. But the comic rarely has much of a story, or at least much beyond a simple thread of a story. This can work in gag-a-day comics, where jokes trump story, but the problem is that 67th Avenue can't seem to decide if it's a story comic or a gag-a-day comic, and as a result it does neither very well. There are often several strips in a row with little to no gag or joke, yet they don't exactly move the plot in any interesting way, either. Take the current arc - the Aqua Ranch Kit.

Jamie sees an ad in the back of a comic book for one of those sea-monkey deals, and decides that he has to have one. Problem is, he has no money. We're 5 strips in - that's 5 updates, or basically a month's worth of strips - and the only thing that's happened is that Jamie opened his piggy bank for money. The strip where he breaks said piggy bank is done in a funny manner, but really - 1 in every 5 strips is not a good number. The rest are filler.

Before this arc, there was an arc that lasted 35 strips - a year's worth of time. It's basically the same thing, but on a far more staggering scale. An entire year of mostly pointless mediocrity with a few funny moments mixed in.

A fucking year!

It could have been epic. It could have been a highlight of the strip's history. Instead, it's just more of the same.

The art is decent when it involves characters, but too often backgrounds and action get muddled up, making it hard to follow at times. Jamie does show a serious amount of growth over the years, but background problems still nag at the strip. Even fantastic art, however, couldn't change the fact that the writing needs tons of work. Jamie seems to be having fun, which is great if that's all that matters. If you have fun creating something, that alone is reason enough to do it. But Jamie is asking for a review, an outsider's opinion, and outsiders aren't impressed by self-indulgence and don't care if the creator is having fun. They want to have fun.

Basically, it's my belief that a gag-a-day comic needs to be relentlessly funny - which is one reason I don't like most of them, as few can pull this off. A story comic needs to be interesting and compelling, otherwise the reader won't care enough to come back. 67th Avenue is, alas, rarely funny or interesting, and hardly ever both at once. This comic really needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

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