Usagi Tsukino, the crybaby, poor study, bad girl of movement in the clunker.
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Posts tagged "sinfest"

I’m actually building up a longer article about Sinfest, because it’s doing some really interesting stuff with a lot of nuance, and it deserves deeper analysis.

But, sometimes, things don’t wait for the 5000 word essay.

In this case… there’s really nothing that says "we’re a 30+ year old submovement within the basic struggle for equal and civil rights for women that has debated and discussed the meanings of sexual identity and the reclamation of personal sexuality and sexual decisions as the ineffable right of the individual versus their political and cultural overtones" like a man telling you that you’re all wrong.

This was last Sunday’s Sinfest. There’s been other stuff to talk about and work’s been busy and also, y’know. Stuff. Things.

But I wanted to get back to this one, because… well, because it’s well done. The art is Ishida at the top of his game, and the language of movement he uses to convey the story is fantastic. Look at Fuchsia throughout the strip. The sense of comfort and acceptance she’s feeling with Criminy, reflected in her almost boneless slumber next to him. The frantic dash back to Hell, while still conscious of what she’s had to leave. Her bent over posture as she moves frantically, trying to shake B.B. out of her drug induced torpor, becoming more pronounced as she half-arches and half-bows when she realizes the Devil is there.

And then the Devil himself. His almost faceless cool. Slightly hunched forward, without significant or apparent concern. He seals off the hellmouths that are providing relief and disruption to Hell with a sense of strength and style, but very little obvious worry. He’s not happy, but he’s also not sweating this. At least, not in front of the outsiders.

Until the very last. Until he looks up and sees Criminy.

Now, for all intents and purposes, Criminy’s doing the least to Hell. He’s not blowing marijuana smoke down to help the damned and devilgirls get high and mellow out like Squigley. He’s not sending gentle rain to put out the hellfire and cool the area like Buddha. He’s just watching.

But Squigley and Buddha aren’t really doing much of anything for the Devil to be concerned about. A little rain? A little mellow? What’s that in eternity. Criminy represents redemption. He saw past Fuchsia’s demonic facade to the humanity within her. He accepted her and once challenged Hell itself — not to rescue her but to just be with her and comfort her.

That’s enough to cause a real reaction in the Devil. He doesn’t just get visibly angry — though he is far more angry than he’s been elsewhere. His back goes back, he puffs up, he hisses in warning — all signs that say get back! Get away! And he more violently slams the Earth shut.

Notice that. He doesn’t directly or verbally threaten Criminy. He doesn’t attack or damage Criminy. He’s clearly trying to scare Criminy off. For all his power and all his anger, Criminy’s the only one that worries him.

All done through expression and body language. No words are spoken (that we can read, anyhow) in the whole strip, rendered in pastels and light inkwork.

That’s really, really nicely done.

The Sinfest Nights strips are out of continuity moments, meant to be a satire of ‘mature and sophisticated’ television programming. Their name is a callback to Baywatch Nights, which was going to be the grown up version of Baywatch, and ultimately involved nearly naked women being attacked by werewolves and shit. Oh, and David Hasselhoff was there. But I digress.

The interesting thing Ishida is doing here is (yeah yeah. Lexiconic fun) what I like to call the Teased Resolution. This is out of what passes for continuity in Sinfest. Fuschia the devilgirl succubus has been more or less converted to the Good Side of the Force, and has fallen in love with bookish Criminy. However, their love — which is generally of the innocent “sitting under trees reading to each other” variety, except when grand heroic gestures are needed — is always threatened by the Devil finding out. It’s one of the various running plotlines that thread their way through Sinfest. And, like most of those plotlines, it can evolve but it doesn’t really end.

But, since there’s a remove from ‘continuity’ in the satirical Sinfest Nights strips, Ishida is free to actually let them take the major step in resolving their relationship. They get their tickets to run away together, in a no doubt melodramatic and sophisticated chase with the Devil closer than they might think. Since it’s not really ‘happening,’ Ishida is free to let it happen.

That’s the teased resolution. We see the resolution (or part of it, anyway) that we as readers are hoping for, but because it’s not ‘real’ it just accentuates our appetite for it. Too many teased resolutions can make readers give up and walk out, but done sparingly it’s like lightly salting a soup — it turns up the flavor of the tension.

Cue Desktop Confessional joke and roll it.

(I would pay good money for an Emotati plushie. Just saying.)