In webcomics, "the funny" is a rare commodity that too often sadly gives way to a focus on characterization and plot. Pure gag comics can be hard to find since creators often decide, despite starting in the humor aisle, that the plot department is where to be. It’s pretty refreshing then to find that Bigger Than Cheeses by Desmond Seah is, was and hopefully will always be a gag webcomic.
BTC is indeed a gag comic. In fact, it's a gag comic in the vein of a Farrelly Brothers movie, such as There's Something About Mary. BTC's humor relies on violence (although strictly of a cartoon variety), a general immature attitude about everything and a desire to shock the audience. Many BTC episodes are variations on the familar "kick to the nuts" theme. There's also a lot of random humor: one moment the comic will be pointing out some example of rampant stupidity and the next moment you won’t even know what’s happening. Sometimes it's a little bit of both.
Okay, there is some slight character development and actual plot continuity in the comic, but one gets the impression that it is incidental to the joke of the day. A bit of a stretch, but in an odd sense, it’s a little like Goats, where there doesn’t seem to be any set pattern as Seah runs with an idea for as long as it interests him and no further.
BTC has a basic suite of characters not unlike many, many other webcomics, but well-suited to its mostly mindless humor. You have Thanatos, the impulsive, thick-headed twenty-something with a penchant and, dare I say it, talent for violence. His obliviousness to reality is matched only by his lack of social skills. He's joined by his best friend, Duke who is some kind of scientist and is usually called on to solve the problems caused by Thanatos. There is also Natalie who, while married to Duke, is kind of a nemesis to Thanatos. Natalie is game for many of the more anti-social activities in BTC, but has a low tolerance for Thanatos' general stupidity. In fact, the fourth main character, Sancho is a robot that seems to be around only because Natalie likes to see him inflict pain on Thanatos. Still Natalie doesn't escape embarassment from Seah either.
An aspect of BTC worth mentioning is how tied into the buzzComix community it is. Not only does Seah seem to have a lot of overlap between that community and his fan base, but many of his comics and daily rants are aimed at appealing for votes for BTC. Seah is not above delivering "fan service" to his fans who presumably are predominantly young, male and horny. He's also not above ribbing his fellow webcomic creators, which he does in this extensive series of parodies.
In the art department, Seah starts off nearly horrible, probably in part because the first hundred or so comics were done in Microsoft Paint. It’s clear that when he started he had barely begun to develop his drawing skills. But over the course of the archives, you can see the emergence of a more consistent style and definite improvement in the art. The characters have gradually evolved into more polished versions and the use of color has improved tremendously. Yes, there are a lot of copouts, including the general lack of background art, but Seah does try a lot of things like bits of animation or this attempt at an infinite canvas that indicate he continues to work on improving the art.
Overall, taken for what it is Bigger Than Cheeses is pretty reliable at delivering funny in its own low school way. If you don't like juvenile humor or can't get past imperfect art then you probably won't get into BTC. But if you crack up at this kind of anything goes, no holds barred approach to humor then BTC is a pretty rewarding read. You don’t need to think very hard to understand and appreciate Seah’s webcomic and that's a good thing.
“perchance” seems out of place. Do you mean “penchant” instead?
(Thanks for the awesome review)
That one slipped by me – not sure if I’m right or you’re right though as I’ve spent most of my life up to this point not using either of those words. 🙂
Perhaps one of the many lurking grammeristas will jump in and let me know?…
Well the easiest way to tell is if you swap out the word with one of its synonyms. Perchance is also ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’, in which case the ‘maybe’ for violence makes no sense. Penchant means ‘inclination’, which would make sense when swapped into the sentence
Right you are.
Time to retire… 🙁
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