This week’s webcomic is the often wildly inappropriate Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida.

Sharing Sinfest on my blog was a tough choice to make. The comic is almost equal parts vulgar, graphic slop and insightful, funny wit. The one big redeeming feature is that the comic improves quite a bit as you get closer to the present when fishing the archives. At the very outset, the comic was pretty vulgar, not all that funny, rather racist, and didn’t really have a solid voice. Many of the strips didn’t present anything other than “OMG YOU CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST WENT THERE! LOLZ!” Lots of street talk/pimp/ho/violence/racism pepper the early days of the strip, making it a rather spotty read. In fact, I nearly gave the comic up within the first 100 strips just because I wasn’t really finding anything funny going on. However, I hit this strip:

I'm surprised they didn't got with a ketchup and cracker sandwich.

As time rolls on, Sinfest moves from being all over the map, with political and social commentary mixed with shock humor mixed with the odd faux insightful poetry slam mixed with eventual humor to something with more depth and stability. By the 1000th comic, the humor and art had matured significantly for the comic. There is more story telling, observations are keener and more subtle, and social commentary happens without as much focus on straight up shock value. The humor becomes more… humorous as well.

A much more recent strip.

Not to say that the comic isn’t still vulgar, it certainly is; however, the vulgarity is used more as a vehicle for humor, rather than the focal point of such. In this way Sinfest, ironically, redeems itself as you read it. One of my favorite things is observing the changes in a comic over time as you read it; especially when delving the archives of a comic with literally thousands of strips. Sinfest grows and matures a LOT over its 11 year (and continuing) run. Racist/street/drug gags gradually give way to deeper humor that is actually funny; the drawing style firms up significantly; and the characters distinguish themselves from their almost painfully obvious Bloom County inspirations to something more unique. The comic finds a voice of its own, rather than feeling the need to shout at the reader and hope it’s funny.

I recommend that if you’re a new reader, start off by reading the 100 or so most recent comics before starting at the beginning. Once you’ve seen where the comic is now, then maybe you’ll be more willing to grind through the early archive. It’s a much more enjoyable journey when you have your eye on watching the comic become what it is today.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?