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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sonichu Critical Review, Episode 15 Part 1: OWWW, MY AXELS

Lucky There's A Family Guy

I'm breaking up the Sonichu review again because as the comic gets worse and worse, there's more to talk about. In this case, I'm discussing the Family Guy "Skitch"* he single biggest failure in Sonichu from a craft standpoint. There are plenty of sequences that are more unoriginal, pathetic, and/or outright depraved. However, Christian Weston Chandler's Family Guy Skitch fails hardest at what it set out to do. While most of Sonichu can be classified as drama that is unintentionally hilarious, this is Chandler's attempt at comedy-- and it fails miserably.

In the middle of Chris-Chan's adventure through his high school years, our protagonist says "I feel as silly as the time I temporarily gained weight, became stupid, and went to watch TV at Ghost Command". He then gives Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane a sketch involving Sammy, a man with Peter Griffin's corpulent frame** but Chris-Chan's clown-striped wardrobe. When looking for the bathroom at the headquarters for the Filmation Ghostbusters (not related to the Ghostbusters people actually remember and care about), Sammy apparently falls down an elaborate chute, goes through a sequence that's omitted for being "too gross and silly", and falls on the Ghost Buggy, who screams "OWW, MY AXELS" in pain.

Okay, where do I begin...

1.) When Family Guy's humor works, it works because it happens so swiftly***. Without any meaningful narrative structure or coherent character arcs, MacFarlane's show relies on one wacky joke after another. The "remember the time I" vignettes take you completely off guard, making them feel more humorous due to their random nature. Chandler, on the other hand, takes several pages setting the joke up. He makes clear distinctions between him and "Sammy", makes it clear that he's pitching this to MacFarlane, and has several panels which are just Sammy walking down the halls with no apparent comedic value.

2.) Family Guy has become famous/infamous for obscure references, but even its most arcane joke doesn't go further than cult classics. The Filmation Ghostbusters is a show that is all but unknown, lingering in the dollar DVD bins of department stores, and only seeing the light of day when a parent needs to shut their child up for cheap. The Ghostbusters movies, and their subsequent cartoons, are the ones people actually remember, and actually have been spoofed by Family Guy. Of course, Chandler's fanboyism leads him to stick to his "Real" Ghostbusters when the rest of the world has moved on, even if it makes his joke irrelevant.

3.) If you say "Scene Omitted, Too Gross and Silly", you're telling, not showing. This only works if you have some kind of clear suggestive imagery, giving the audience something to go on. Chandler just uses this blurb because he can't be bothered to draw what's gross and silly, and because he assumes that we'll take his word for it.

4.) "Oww, My Axels" is....I don't even know what it is, just that it's not funny.

5.) At the end of the skitch, Sammy convenes with Chris-Chan, asking his creator if he can keep his new wardrobe. Chris-Chan approves, and lets Sammy know that his medallion is not the original Sonichu Medallion, and has special writing on the back to clarify it as an officially licensed variant. Why Chandler is so hung-up on maintaining copyrights to his work is a mystery, given how all his work is plagiarized. Furthermore, it's another case of Chandler assuming that the rest of the world cares about the same things he does, even though he has little to no interest engaging with the rest of the world.

If you were trying to create a method of child raising that would result in Christian Weston Chandler (and you'd have to be a complete and utter monster to do this), using his influences is only part of the story. You also have to consider everything he's willfully ignored, and keep that from the subject. The Skitch is a Family Guy-style gag filtered through Chandler's limited experience, without any knowledge or interest in the outside world and what they find funny.

*Chandler not only doesn't bother to spell sketch right, but he mangles Seth MacFarlane's name, the very guy to whom he is allegedly pitching this sequence.
** And yes, Sammy is a closer approximation to what Christian Weston Chandler actually looks like than his svelte author avatar. Or to put it the way Audiobook Narrator dethchemist did, "We see that Chris is indeed fat and stupid".
*** He's also become fond of absurdly long and repetitive gags, a fondness that seems increasingly exclusive to MacFarlane himself. But even those are more focused than Chandler's writing.


  1. There are a couple of points where I'd respectfully disagree, howevermuch you're right on the general Fail of this sequence:

    1) McFarlane's humor doesn't always depend on swiftness to work. One of the most notorious-and most hilarious-sequences is the original Chicken Fight, wherein Peter and a giant chicken named Ernie engage in a violent, destructive fight that rivals anything done by Superman or the Incredible Hulk, all over the absurdly trivial matter of an expired coupon.

    What makes the gag work-and left me paralyzed with laughter for a good ten minutes-is the sheer cartoon lunacy, not to mention the fact that it drags on well past what one would expect. Most Family Guy cutaway gags are a minute at most, but the Chicken Fights extend for five minutes or more, and to my mind that's what makes them so hilarious, as the viewer is left wondering how far they're going to go with it and how much rampant property damage they're going to cause in the process.

    2) Filmation's Ghostbusters isn't quite that obscure-if anything, it too is a cult classic among Filmation aficionados, with its own Wiki and fanfiction on Deviantart.

    Now shows like Kissyfur or the Moondreamers, *those* are obscure.

    And all of them are still better than anything John Kricfalusi has ever come up with.

    3) I've got no beef with this point, save that it's probably for the best that we didn't see Chris in his dirty crapped briefs.

    4) You didn't point it out, so I might as well do it: The "ppppffff" sound at the end of the sequence essentially means that Chris soiled himself while sitting in the Ghost Buggy, as the CWC Wiki so accurately pointed out.

    5) Part of the problem here too is Chandler's incredibly narcissism. Not only does he name his comic book "company" after himself, he also names the setting of his story after himself and makes himself the Mayor, all of which he apparently seems to think will make people enjoy the story more. He writes out his own main character in favor of little side adventures starring himself, depicts himself as a universally beloved figure (although he comes across more like an Occidental Kim Jong Il), and thinks that people like Megan Schroeder and Mary Lee Walsh would actually get together and conspire to make his life miserable.

    Page 18 of the comic also has an ad for a video game where players actually control Chandler in his quest to find a sweetheart, fighting villains like Mary Lee Walsh and the Jerkops along the way.

    Chris is so narcissistic that he actually thinks people would want to play a video game about him.

    All I'm thinking of when I see that is the sheer amount of Video Game Cruelty Potential that would exist with such a game.

    It'd be worth the five-buck rental fee, at least.

  2. Regarding "OWWW, MY AXLES!"

    It's a takeoff on the Ghostbuggy's constant hypochondriac moaning: "Ohhh, my aching shock absorbers!" and "Oooh, my overheated radiator!"