Friday, October 31, 2008

Web Comics Week: Misery Loves Sherman

We end the week with the Chris Eliopoulos webcomic: MISERY LOVES SHERMAN.

Known to most comic book fans as one of the hardest working letterers in the business, he's also great cartoonist/artist that does really well at bringing the funny. While many readers know him for his work on Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius, but I'll always associate him with DESPERATE TIMES.

But we're talking about Misery Loves Sherman.

The archive of the strip only goes back to 12/31/07. The strip kind of hits the ground running as if all of the characters are well known to the readers already. There might be strips that just aren't up on the site where people got to know the characters previously, but MLS provides a NEW READER section that introduces the entire cast fairly well.

(obviously from before the Wall Street hijinx)

On the surface, you might be tempted to compare the strip to Calvin & Hobbes (with two aliens replacing the stuffed tiger), but it would be a pretty unfair & inaccurate comparison. In Misery Loves Sherman, the title character isn't really the star. Sherman seems to serve more as our window into his world for our entertainment, rather than amusing the reader directly. All of the interesting quirks and personality traits belong to the other members of the cast. Sherman is just a fairly normal kid that we get to see the flaws and obsessions of other characters bounce off of.

Eliopoulos has expressed a goal to get this picked up by a syndicate, so you can fully expect the strip to be newspaper-safe and -formatted. I do tend to like webcomics that take fuller advantage of self-publishing on the internet by not falling into the old mold, but holding that against MLS would be like being mad that Boondocks strips on the 'net aren't reformatted and scripted (don't know whether or not that's the case, just using an example).

It's a comic that basically any member of the family could read and enjoy. For a family strip, it does push things to the edge a little bit (at least for how I remember strips used to be). I don't recall any strips ever making a weeklong gag out of a kid being "a mistake" or "an accident".

Miserly Loves Sherman is a winner. Friends I've linked to MLS have wound up going back to read the entire archive. It's like the Brian Regan of webcomics: you hardly notice the lack of shock value/foul language because you're having too much fun. As someone who has seen Regan live as many times as he's seen George Carlin, that's meant as a strong compliment.

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