Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Webcomic review: Ctrl Alt Del

It is time for a Webcomic review.  Today I will be looking at a personal favorite of mine that I have read for a very long time: Ctrl Alt Del, or CAD written and drawn by Tim Buckley

(Image is copied from www.cad-comic.com and is the property of its creator, Tim Buckley.  Click to visit his website)

The comic originally followed the antics of Ethan and his friends, spanning many years with Ethan getting married to a hot gamer girl, inventing a holiday, and many other misadventures.  The whole plot is really hard to boil down because it has been going on for so long and ended in a matter that upset many people.  If you do not want spoilers, skip down to the bottom.

The comic ends with Ethan dying in a heroic self-sacrifice sort of way, making up for the fact that it is his creation, Zeke the android, that causes the enslavement of humanity and the death of his loved ones (his wife, Lilah, being murdered in front of him).  I should mention that this happens during a time travel incident, so it is past “innocent” Ethan that sacrifices himself, saving his loved ones by dying in the future. The character was such an outcast that this sort of noble sacrifice is touching in a very deep way.

The other really big moment that impacted me was Lilah’s miscarriage.  I really wish that they had had a chance to have a family, and that whole story arc was so simultaneously devastating and enthralling.  This was some excellent work by Tim.

Really what makes this comic great is that Tim is willing to challenge the norms for what narratively should be done and let the characters and events unfold.  Occasionally this kicks his fanbase in the gut, but we all keep coming back for more of the story because his characters are so true to themselves.  I really cannot do this comic justice in mere words, it deserves to be read.

I will rate comics in four categories: Major Plot, that is how the comics connect to one another in a complete sense, Minor Plot, that is how the individual comics stand up on their own, Artistry (overall beauty of the work), and Comic Art (how the artwork works with the comic).
Major Plot 7 of 10:  CAD would have gotten a much higher rating if I would have reviewed it a year or so ago, however, the way it currently is, major plot has gone to the wayside in favor of short arcs and jokes.  The long-running group of characters (Ethan et al) had a very solid and developed storyline going for them, and the new “Players” group of characters just doesn’t match up.  While it is the writer’s prerogative with where to go with their characters, I wish we had the same depth of storytelling with the new set of characters.  However, this is largely impossible as the new characters are not three dimensional enough yet.

Minor Plot 8 of 10: The minor plot of CAD is almost always quite solid.  The one-off jokes are very good.  There’s not a whole lot to say here, solidly done.  There are a few comics who simply cannot stand on their own, but that is a rarity, and usually necessary for the Major Plot to succeed.

Artistry 6 of 10: The artistry and detail of this comic are decent.  There are much better examples of how to be artistic with a cartoony style (for example, Erfworld while it is being drawn by Xin).  With the production pace of CAD (which has been fairly reliably released 3 days a week for a while now), the artistry level is above average, which is why it warrants a 6 out of 10.

Comic Art 9 out of 10: The art style fits the comic very well.  I’ve read this comic from almost the beginning and there has never been a moment where I have felt the style was cagey or forced.  Tim has developed his style over the years and it is quite fitting (even the sillies would score very high in this category). 

Total Score 30 out of 40:  This is an excellent comic I recommend that everyone read.  It is entertaining, heart-wrenching, and leaves you at times in awe.  Some of the original character’s story may lose its impact now that you are not waiting several days to see what happens next, but I’m never disappointed when I read a new strip, or when I stroll through the archives.

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