Ruby Nation

Ruby Nation
Ruby Nation: The Webcomic

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sonichu Sub-Episode 1 Critical Review: Magically Realistic

Here Begins the Jerkop-Tastrophe

The Sonichu Sub-Episodes are where the Christian Weston Chandler phenomenon truly starts. Initially they were categorized outside of the main Sonichu chronology because they did not actually involve Sonichu-- they instead dealt with Chandler himself, and focused on his own trials and tribulations. Yet they did so within the Sonichu continuity-- Chandler's avatar, the mayor of CWCVille, was the one experiencing his author's problems, and responding to them with fictional solutions.

These stories were in large part why people became fascinated with Sonichu-- not just because of the absurdity of Chris-Chan's stories, but the fact that the absurdity was accentuated in direct contrast with Chandler's real life. The premise of the first sub-promise has Chris-Chan hanging out at the mall, making himself " available " for any girl who wants to be his true love. However, a " Jerkop " ( Chandler's not-so-subtle reference to local mall security, a portmanteau of jerk and cop ) tells him to stop loitering and accuses him of loitering.

Now, This Actually Happened in the Charlottesville Fashion Square during September of 2004, where Chandler was disciplined and eventually banned for loitering. What's more, Chandler was reportedly more active in his real-world Love Quest, by throwing out a red construction paper heart attached to a string towards eligible women. After months of being a public nuisance at best and a sexual harasser at worst, Chandler received what is definitely an appropriate consequence for his actions. But through the power of fiction, Chandler has created an alternate reality in which events occurred somewhat differently.

" Somewhat differently " being an understatement. In the comic, the Jerkop is an evil authoritarian devoted to squelching Chris-Chan's love quest, out of an apparent disdain for love itself. When he tries to detain the love-questing loiter, Chris-Chan activates the power of his Sonichu medallion* and transforms into Chris-Chan Sonichu, a blue version of his " son ". The Jerkop transforms into an armored warrior, but is not only defeated by Chris, but utterly ruined. Chris-Chan uses his " Curse-Ye-Ha-Me-Ha " attack ( inspired by the Kame-Ha-Me-Ha move from the Dragon Ball Z manga and anime ) to infect the Jerkop with bad luck; immediately after the spell is cast, the Jerkop trips over a banana peel, breaks his glasses, and receives a phone call telling him that his wife has left with the kids and all their possessions. The Jerkop cries " My Soul Hurts "; Chris-Chan, however, comments that he's endured worse than losing one's family and fortunes-- the " shattering of his heart ". Because being stopped from soliciting is just that terrible.

The Sub-Episode sets the precedent for the genre in which Sonichu actually belongs; rather than a fantasy adventure for kids, it's a piece of magical realism. The fantastical elements linger around Chris-Chan's experiences without being treated as remarkable. Unlike most science fiction, the Sonichu webcomic does not try to explain its fantastical elements, or even set itself apart as a unique universe. Chris-Chan's world is just Christian Weston Chandler's world embellished to lead to a friendlier environment with potentially favorable outcomes.

Certainly this was not the intention of Chandler; he just wanted to work out his frustrations with his Crayola supplies, and used his " franchise " to do so. But in his catastrophic failure to tell a decent genre story, Chandler has hit upon the rich tradition of magical realism, seen mainly ( but not exclusively ) in Latin American literature. Authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Sherman Alexie, and the Hernandez brothers have all written stories that use an ambiguously surreal landscape to reflect the human condition. Christian Weston Chandler joins this tradition, drawing upon his stunted maturity and warped perspective on dating to diffuse the boundaries between our shared reality and his own personal worldview. Except instead of dealing with ghosts and angels, his expansion of consciousness gives us electric hedgehogs and anti-love conspiracies.

If you don't believe me, read Junot Diaz's recent magical realism masterpiece, the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao! It, too deals with a romantically frustrated twentysomething fan who can't find a girlfriend because of a curse within his Dominican family's heritage. Since Chris-Chan works his tiny sliver of Cherokee heritage into Sonichu as a major plot point, you can read his story as a Charlottesville, VA variant of the " Fuku ". Granted, Diaz actually succeeded in what he intended to do, but postmodernism knows no boundaries.

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