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.