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Stickler and Hat-trick review The Lounge by John Joseco

Stickler and Hat-trick, in association with Comixpedia, present…

Stickler and Hat-trick at the Keyboard

Today we’ll look at: The Lounge created by John Joseco.

(Tonight’s show is sponsored by late nights with Pop No-Secret. This popcorn is covered with BUTTER. Like, a whole stick of it. Per kernel.)

STICKLER: Hi, and welcome to the first show of “Stickler and Hat-Trick At the Keyboard!”
HAT-TRICK: Or as we like to say in our virtual greenroom, “SHAT-K”.
S: No, we don’t.
HT: We thought it would be cool to have a discussion-style review team instead of the traditional format…
S: Right, so the good folks at Comixpedia are letting us do this, all casual-discussion style.
HT: Can we say anything? Like, is there gonna be editing?
S: Probably…to make things flow better.
HT: Can I say something like, “This comic Sucks ass!!”?
S: As long as you back it up.
[editor's booming note from the Canadian Heavens: WHAT STICKLER SAID.]
HT: Awesome.

S: Our first reviewee strip falls in the category of Manga comics. Or as close as you can get to Manga with Webcomics.
HT: Yeah. MANGA manga is printed on cheap two ounce yellow napkins and usually takes a bunch of Japaneese kids like, four days to make.
HT: Maybe five days.
HT: But some webcomics out there can capture the essence of Manga pretty closely.

S: I think that this week’s comic, The Lounge, by John Joseco, does that pretty well. When I read it, I knew I was getting into a real Manga-flavored comic strip.
HT: I like that. Manga-flavored. It’s like Cheese Food product. It’s not the real thing, but it’s close enough.
S: It’s a mostly four-panel, black-and-white strip centered around the staff of a comics, arcade, and coffee shop called the Lounge. It has a lot of adult themes, but also some pretty light and fluffy ones.
HT: It kind of reminds me of Sailor Moon, but if it was on Skinamax.
S: I can’t see that comparison… but okay.

HT: Gratuitous plot synopsis time. So, the main character is this cute girl named Italy (yes, like the country). Her dad is chronically ill, and wants her to take over his shop. She does, with the assistance of her obligatory stereotypical nerd friend, Max. Every time someone walks in the store, they either get hired for one of the departments, or have a detailed history with Italy. Time spent outside of the store shows Italy and friends bonding, flirting, or romancing with each other.
S: It did bother me that all those sub characters just get hired after walking in the store. It’s awfully convenient. Business just seems to magically happen for Italy and her crew, which must be why she’s playing video games half the time.

HT: Yes. She and Aya play Dance Dance Revolution. A lot.
S: The strip has a very teenage girlish mentality to it, except when they’re dealing with Italy’s relationship with Aya, another hottie. Then it’s just plain rated H for Hentai.
HT: It does hold true to a lot of traditional Manga techniques. The big mouths, the teardrops, the nosebleeds, the massive reflections in the girls’ eyes. Max is sort of androgynous, falling into that very weak male stereotype. But you are right, there are a few intense instances of girl-on-girl humor and sex.
S: Well, the artist admits that he likes drawing hot girls. And he does that pretty successfully. In fact, the strips with the sex scenes have the most detailed art of the strip.
HT: So if that’s what you are after, you’ve come to the right webcomic.
S: The art is really consistent and well-drawn. The characters are pretty catchy. My favorite is the seemingly adorable Jamie, who runs the Manga section of the store. She wears all these cute outfits, likes to lick people, and has a cute cat named Wiccan. It’s so cute it’s disgusting!!
HT: I agree, the art is solid. If the strip had halftone shading like traditional Manga, I think it would enhance the already sweet art even more.

S: Do you have a favorite character?
HT: Hmm, probably Italy. There isn’t a whole lot of character development, but she gets the most. We get to learn there was some shady things in her past, that she’s got issues with guys, she’s hesitant about her pseudo-lesbian relationship.
S: She’s the most developed.
HT: Yes. Which reminds me, I didn’t like how close the designs of Aya and Italy were. When they are in the same panel, it’s hard to tell them apart. Apparently Italy has red hair and Aya’s is brown, but the black and white art just shows both as white.
S: I think Max stands out so much because he’s the only one with black hair. Plus I wasn’t totally convinced he was a guy.

HT: The storylines in The Lounge are very short and self-contained, and most do not have any real resounding effect on the strip as a whole. There is the ever-reoccurring “Max likes Italy” theme. And there is that issue of whether Italy will chose a sex-charged girl, or mess around with the smarmy guys.
S: I thought the writing was probably the weakest element of the strip. In fact, it's even pocked-up with a fair share of grammatical mistakes. Some missing letters and word placement make it occasionally read like it was actually translated from Japanese!
HT: The dialogue is very straightforward and static. When the characters speak, half the time, it doesn’t sound natural.
S: Plus, some strips just don’t make much sense. It might be that there are a few inside jokes that only fans of popular Video games or Manga will understand the references to.
HT: All in all, The Lounge is a sexy comedic romp with strong art and a lighthearted attitude. Although most of the characters are underdeveloped, they still contain a cute uniqueness to them. There is not much of an ongoing plot to become involved in, as most of the strip contains gags and sexual-themed jokes.
S: It does have a nice Manga-flavored style, however.
HT: Yes, it’s a good strip to check out for the art, if nothing else.
S: That’s all for this edition of “Stickler and Hat-Trick At The Keyboard!”
HT: See you next time!

Stickler and Hat-trick are contributors-at-large for the Comixpedia.