One of the Best of the Year

Posted by on February 4th, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Over at my online magazine, Rants & Raves (RCHarvey.com), I’ve been working up my year-end report (Opus 273, to be posted, tardily, next week) for which, among other things, I name some of the best comic books, reprint tomes and graphic novels of the year. (“Some” means that I have by no means read enough of the year’s output to say the ones I like are “the best” of all.) It was an excellent year for books reprinting classic comic strips—Krazy Kat, Blondie, Secret Agent Corrigan, Li’l Abner, Dick Tracy, and on and on. The most refreshing of all the reprint books was the latest collection of Tatsua Ishida’s online comic strip, Sinfest, under the title Sinfest: Viva La Resistance (216 8×10-inch pages, b/w; Dark Horse paperback, $14.99).

A hilarious concept, brilliantly executed, Sinfest is a highly irreverent look at secular American society, mostly in its pop culture manifestations. “Irreverent” here sometimes means altogether blasphemous: the star of the show, the diminutive Slick, a model of pornographic aspiration and sexual ineptitude, tries to sell his soul to the Devil (the sale was pending for years, then accepted, then rejected and then finally processed) mostly in exchange for having better luck with women. (To no avail, it must be added.)

God has a bit part in the proceedings as a hand-puppet in the sky and seems not to object at all to Slick’s unabashed longing for sex, drugs, and power.

Monique would be Slick’s romantic interest if she weren’t so fickle: admired for her face and her tush (which she, unaffectedly, calls her “ass”), she has “many tramp-like qualities but deep down inside she’s still a tramp.”

Other characters wander on and off stage; many of them are cuddly innocents, some even religious fanatics, who become the targets of Ishida’s unabashed secular (agnostic?) darts. Overall, the objects of Ishida’s satire include most aspects of popular culture, with its emphasis on lust, sex, drugs, power, and our preoccupation with pop icons—none of which the egomaniacal Slick seems capable of attaining, despite his fervent desire.

In addition to being engaging satire, Sinfest is without quibble or question THE best drawn comic strip on the Web—bold outlines (creating images sometimes elliptically), fineline extensions, deftly spotted blacks, panel compositions adroitly achieved, cunningly applied gray tones—and it would be one of the best drawn comic strips in the newspaper if it hadn’t been turned down routinely by syndicates (reportedly, eleven times).

Relying solely on the hints in the preceding sentences, you can readily see why syndicates are bashful about it. But you shouldn’t be: visit sinfest.net and see for yourself. And then order all of the four paperback compilations of the strip. You won’t be disappointed.

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  1. [...] here to see what The Comics Journal calls one of the best comics on the web. You probably won’t be [...]