The Webcomic Overlook #4: Lowroad

So, it’s come to this.

When I began the The Webcomic Overlook, I wanted to avoid duplicating any of the subject in John Solomon’s excellent blog, Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad. After all, there are tons of webcomics out there. I have yet to review such items as the long-running 8-Bit Theater, Brooke McEldowney’s Pibgorn, The Lore Brand Comics, the Lego-based Irregular Webcomic, and of course Dave Willis’ excellent Shortpacked!

However, I have a lot of catch-up to do on those strips. In some cases, I have to read up on a year or two of backlog. In other cases, I haven’t gone to the beginning to see the early days of the strip.

I am deeply ashamed that I have read today’s subject from beginning to end, and it’s all the fault of John Solomon’s review. To sum it up, he said that this was a terrible webcomic. He was right. Yet, there is some strangely compelling, some might say evil, power that manages to propel the reader to plow ahead, knowing fully that every additional page read was slowly eating away at his soul.

If you want to read a quality review, check out Solomon’s review. For the rest of you, I give you the Rooktopia review of … Lowroad.

Lowroad

Lowroad was created by a webcomic artist named Carlos G. The fine researchers at Solomon’s site have determined that he is a married man in his 30’s. You will not be able to tell that from reading the comic. No, this looks like the product of a sad teenager who has never seen a woman in his life. Granted, I do know married men in their 40’s who wear sunglasses to open-air cafes just to watch the young ladies in skimpy suits when they walk by, but I’m almost certain none of them commit their obsessions on paper and the post them on the web.

Then again, maybe Carlos G. is playing us all for fools, and he’s really a maniac genius. Oh, on his FAQ he claims he doesn’t want to make money on this strip because it means a loss of control, yet he posts a line on the top of the same page that if there were obscene amounts of cash involved, he’d be willing to change his mind. Maybe this is why his main character, Natasha goes from a rail-thin waif to a rail-thin waif with two honeydews stuffed down the front of her shirt. The first version might get you a few bucks and a ham sandwich, but her the latest version, that’s money in the bank, man.

Because, as the old adage goes, BOOBS SELL.

Or do they? If that adage was true, then Catwoman and Aeon Flux would be the most popular superhero movies in history. Or beach volleyball would be more popular than football and baseball combined. The fact is that if there’s boobs without substance, no one’s interested.

And that pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with Lowroad.

Ugh.

Oh, there are some good aspects. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any incentive to go one reading past the first panel. But first, I want to let off some steam. Here are other pet peeves. (A word of caution. Although there’s no nudity, a lot of these links are probably Not Safe For Work.)

  • I cannot stress how much this guy is obssessed with boobs. And if that’s not enough, there’s his other juvenile fetish. These are why I have a hard time believing that this guy is 30. This is some pre-teen/teen fanservice. I figure he thinks if guys like Ken Akamatsu can fill his manga (especially Love Hina) with reams and reams of boob and panty shots, then he can too. I can see the logic. However, there’s a fatal flaw….
  • His characters have no personality whatsoever. That’s what sets Love Hina aside from the crap imitators out there — it had fanservice, yet it had personality. Oh, there used to be hope for Lowroad. If you read some of the earlier strips, Natasha had a glimmer of personality. But somewhere along the way, Carlos’ passion for drawing ever bigger breasts made her completely indistinguishable from the other airheads that inhabit the webcomic. Now I’m aware that there are several female characters in the strip, but they all look an act exactly the same. I mean, look at this strip. I can tell from the hairstyles that there are supposed to be three different girls. Sadly, it took me a couple moments to figure that out.
  • At it’s worst, the strip becomes frightfully misogynist. And if you really want to get creeped out, read the comments section of this particular strip and see what Lowroad fans think of women. It ain’t a pretty sight.
  • While refining his artistic style, the strip actually got worse. I’ll give Carlos some points here: he’s actually experimenting with different styles, and in a way, he sorta improves and becomes more polished. But in another way, he squanders pretty much any potential the strip had. The artistic progression can be seen through how Carlos G. draws the main character. Here’s something illustrating the progression, from the first strip to one of the most recent:
    Progression of Natasha
    So the last ones aren’t so bad, right? Here’s a nasty little secret: the last five pictures are all drawn in the exact same pose. The earlier stuff actually managed to look more dynamic. But as the strip progressed, and as Carlos G. spent more time to lovingly depict his precious T&A, his characters looked more and more like mannequins. (And let’s not get into the toddler look in the lower left corner. Needless to say, it was really uncomfortable reading a strip where characters that looked like they should be in preschool talk about having their periods. It was wrong wrong wrong.) Take this strip, for instance. Does anyone stand around like that in this situation? I’ll be fair to Carlos though; his most recent strips remedied the situation somewhat. The characters are still stiff, just not as stiff.
  • He’s doing the already overused nerdy boy-falls-in-love-with-perky-girl story. Only this time, it goes beyond insufferable. It’s a Mary Sue. I mean, there is absolutely no redeeming value with Natasha’s lover, Eugene. None. Yet, Carlos goes out of his way to insist that he’s a great catch. He goes so far as to set up a strawman that Eugene may be a nerd, but a least he’s not a wigger like everyone else. Wha—?!?! Is this guy SERIOUSLY OVER 30?!?!?! I’ve read a post from a gal on a message board who described the most insufferable guys on the internet. They are the ones who complain that no girl is falling head over heels over them, because he is obviously a sensitive, caring guy and everyone else is a jerk. Well, I have given this insufferable guy a name, and his name is EUGENE.
  • And then there’s the awkward political commentary. Let’s forget for an instant that the commentary does not rise above 4th grade schoolyard material. Carlos: do you really want to make political statements in a strip where you freely admit to wanting to draw as much boobs and panty shots as possible? You know, the same strip that has a pig wearing a girls’ undershorts on his head?
  • And finally, at no point is the strip actually funny, even though you know it’s trying to be funny. I’ll let you browse the Lowroad site if you want to verify this for yourself. You will be awash in strong feelings of disgust and nausea before a single strip makes you laugh.
  • So, those are the bad parts. However, I did say that there were some good things about this strip. What sustained me, other than the insidious powers of the Prince of Darkness, that kept me reading from the first strip until the end?

    Every single one of the trainwreck qualities I listed above.

    It’s almost a tragedy to watch the strip squander it’s unique premise. It could have been what it seemed in the beginning: a goth girl getting caught up in situations where she faces magical yet perky creatures form mystical dimensions. Instead, Carlos G. flushes it all down the toilet by trying to turn it into something it shouldn’t be: a bikini sex comedy. Which wouldn’t be so bad if Carlos actually had a sense of humor. I kept following the strip to see Carlos would turn it around and get back to its roots. It never happened, yet he never strayed far enough from the source for me to abandon hope. Yes, that damned, damned hope: it’s the demonic web that kept me reading this terrible strip.

    It also helps that the art is not actually half bad. I mocked it earlier, but the strip — sepia tone and all — is still easy on the eyes. The illustrations are crisp and clean and sometimes rather detailed.

    In the end, this is a very flawed strip that actually readable. It’s one of those things where one can say, “Dear God, that webcomic was bad,” and yet have a stupid smirk crossing one’s face at the same time. This is not a good strip by any means, yet it’s not so bad as to warrant a 0 or a 1. I’ll give it the next best thing.

    Final Grade: 2 stars (out of 5)

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    4 thoughts on “The Webcomic Overlook #4: Lowroad

    1. This review, far as I can tell, has one serious flaw. It seems you’re under the assumption that Carlos was actually serious about any of this.

      Carlos has always stated clearly that Lowroad was a fanservice comic.

      “The fact is that if there’s boobs without substance, no one’s interested.” – There is substance, just not the substance you like.

      But still, I don’t like how you’re going about this. You complain about Mary Sue’s, but the way you sum things up, it’s perfectly clear that you have 1 vision of what a good webcomic is and all that doesn’t pander to your needs is bad in some shape or form.

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