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Cyanide and Happiness

March 6, 2009

Pre-review notes: Is it just me or are the first four or five comics on this list all terrible? I’m having trouble understanding what makes them the best…

Today I’m kicking off my review of the 20 best comics list that I found on Wednesday. As said then, the first comic up to the chopping block is Cyanide and Happiness from

Background: The site is actually a revised website from the creators of Sticksuicide. They added Cyanide and Happiness after the creator Kris Wilson submitted some of the comics on their forum.

Since the comic has been almost daily since Jan, 2005. When Wilson first started the comic he was 16, which makes the style, writing, and humor make a lot of sense.

Since the comic has been written by the revolving door crew of Wilson and Matt Melvin, Rob DenBleyker and Dave McElfatrick (the creators of Sticksuicide).  The site, explosm features articles and other flash shorts by the writers but it’s mostly dedicated to Cyanide and Happiness. Occasionally they do guest weeks where fans can submit their versions of the comic, the “best” are chosen and posted.

The Comic: I really don’t know where to begin with this one.

Let me give the guys props for four years almost daily strips, but it’s only like a half-prop. Four writers should keep things fresh, I suppose.

I’m going to admit that I didn’t make it through the entire archives, and it wasn’t a time thing. I read the first two years and the everything from this current year. Basically, I skipped 2007 and 2008 archivally.

To be honest it’s because I couldn’t read anymore. Reading this comic felt more like a chore than an enjoyable experience. It’s like choosing between mowing the lawn on a nice, sunny day or watching movies all day instead. I chose the latter in the end.

There are multiple reasons why this comic failed for me and I’ll go through it list style:

– Art quality: If you’ve read me for any length of time you know that I’m a stickler for quality art. I realize that the style of this comic is purposely the way it it is but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I automatically move away from something when the art doesn’t convey anything or looks like a third grader did it. Sometimes the writing can get me past the bad art like in the case of Achewood. The art style of Achewood leaves much to be desired but the writing is genuinely funny and the characters interesting enough that the art doesn’t hinder it, too much.

– Writing: Here’s a sample of the comic to showcase the writing and the art. One is the very first comic in the archives and the other is the most recent, today’s.

As you can see the style hasn’t changed much in the ensuing years and the writing is much the same.

Reading these comics makes me wonder, what’s the point? Not what’s the point of the comic (they’re supposed to be humorous) but rather why am I wasting my life on this?

In the two years and three months that I read I think I only laughed 6 times. Out of the nearly 700 comics that I read I figure that’s a pretty depressing number. True, there have been other comics that I’ve read where I only laughed a few times in the same amount of time but those comics also feature plots, characters, and were generally interesting.

The two comics that I’ve showcased here are not par for the course for this comic though. Generally, death, bodily fluids, or some other type of “controversial” joke is used.

And therein lies the problem. It’s not that they immaturely joke about about serious topics in a tasteless way. There is that but that didn’t bother me as far as the writing goes (I make worse jokes to my parent’s friends than these comics).

What kills is that these death, murder, abortion, nihilism, suicide, cancer, STDs, necrophelia, pedophelia and whatever other “off-color” jokes that they make are crutches. These jokes are crutches in the worst way.

Generally, the first two panels of the comics are about some conversation or other and then the third panel just throws in a violent action, Ooh! funny. It’s weak writing. It’s not shocking or funny and more just depressing. Oh look, another strip that could have been something…wait, no, it ended in another unfunny abortion joke, yay…

It’s the worst kind of writing. Using the shocking, controversial, and disgusting to make jokes is fine but it doesn’t make things funny. It’s like writers that use cuss words. Sure we cuss in every day life but a well-placed cuss word in a literary format makes the moment hit. Using cuss words for every other word or as descriptors kills the meaning of the word and impact. Similarly, Cyanide and Happiness use their violence and “shock” all of the time and it ceases to have meaning or humor. Mostly it comes across as childish and lazy.

Using the example strips, you see the conversations in the first two panels. It’s decent build-up for a punch-line in the last panel. Then you get to three and the reader is left with a feeling of …and?

My reaction to most of the strips that I read was a mixture of “So, what?” and “Next.”

To be honest, the few comics that I did laugh at elicited nothing more than a brief smile or a small chuckle.  What I’m saying is those few strips weren’t ones that I would send off to friends to share the funny.

My Recommendation: The popularity of comics like this confound me. I refuse to recommend this comic to anyone that I know. I might recommend it to someone I hate but that’s not exactly a step I would take in my war against that person.

Read it if you must but I plan on staying away from it. Normally, I rate using five clubs, instead of five stars …today this comic doesn’t even get that. No clubs, not even the hint f one


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Hayley permalink
    March 28, 2009 9:05 am

    Haha, wow I quite enjoyed that ^^
    Okay, personally I love C&H. I’ve been addicted to it for a few months now & agree when you say it’s a chore… I’ve just started on ’08 & sometimes I just couldn’t be bothered because it’s not really worth it. every now & then there is an epic one that makes me laugh till I cry but i’m easily amused.
    Sorry, I had to comment because I really enjoyed reading that.
    It was great
    You’re great
    Rating was a bit harsh…
    But yeah, all good. ;D


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