Have you ever found yourself reading a Roger Ebert review, and found yourself thinking: “Hey, if only this guy could draw, this would make a kick-ass webcomic?” No? Then you, my friend, are a smart, well-adjusted citizen. For the rest of us who must satisfy our sick, sick craving, there is today’s subject, the little known webcomic known as Joe Loves Crappy Movies.
This webcomic doesn’t have a wikipedia entry, so short of venturing the online message boards, I’m going to have to play this by ear. “Joe Loves Crappy Movies” is a semi-autobiographical webcomic by Joe Dunn. According to the entry on his website, Joe is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York City. (Which, incidentally, is where the webcomic is based.) In his comic, he gives himself a totally unflattering appearance, which I have no doubt is what Joe looks like in real life. I mean, who would deliberately make themselves look like a toad in their own comic strip? Other than For Better Or Worse‘s Lynn Johnston, that is. He also gives cartoon Joe a permanent smirk on his face, which isn’t as endearing as real-life Joe probably thinks it is.
Nearly every webcomic follows a different movie for the day’s theme. Some strips show Joe and a friend going to a movie and making snarky comments like you or I would do (Ultraviolet). Some are parodies of scenes within the movie (King Kong). And some are gag strips with only a tenuous connection to the movie (Herbie: Fully Loaded).
Now, Joe is surrounded by characters who I assume are —- wait. Can you grant me a digression at this point? “Joe Loves Crappy Movies” is one of those many webcomics that can get pretty geeky. He is obviously a fan of Transformers, wrestling, superheroes, and — given his love for reviewing irredeemibly crappy movies (I mean, Joe isn’t going to be reviewing La Vie En Rose here) — is probably a fan of MST3K. Those are some of my favorite things. Hell, I have Arcee as the header for this blog. The thing is, these are all common pursuits for geeks. Yet geeks are also the kind of people who champion ideals like individuality. So how in the world do we champion values about bbeing different when we all end up liking the same thing? It’s a conundrum.
Back to your regularly scheduled webcomic review.
Now, Joe is surrounded by characters who I assume are his personal friends in real life. There’s Irv, an clueless, wisecrackin’ African American guy. He seems to be Joe’s best friend. There’s … another fat nerdy schlub, I think. And there’s an Asian guy. And … a skinny nerd. To be honest, Joe doesn’t develop these friends beyond Irv, so they might as well be background characters. You might think this patchwork Minoriteam is an unlikely group to hang out with in real life, but I used to be housemates with people of different diverse backgrounds (a Hispanic, a Black man, an immigrant Croatian, and … weirdest of all … a kid from Indiana), so I’m willing to believe these people are based on real life human beings.
The most frequently recurring character is Joe’s soulmate, Yeo Jun. She’s initially Joe’s girlfriend and later, his wife. Now, you may have doubts that a pretty Asian girl (which is how Yeo is portrayed) would ever fall in love with a toady geek like Joe, but I can assure you that — unlike in pop culture — cute girls really do end up with nerdy, unattractive guys. I myself am dating a cute Asian girl and … Oh, crap, I’m really Joe Dunn, aren’t I?
Anyway, while Joe and Yeo do seem sweet to each other, it is sometimes an unwelcome distraction for those of use who just want to read about Joe’s take on the movies. Early strips just seem to brag, “Yeah, I’m a total nerd and I have a hot chick by my side ISN’T THIS LIKE TOTALLY COOL I’M THE LUCKIEST GUY IN THE WORLD LOSERS!!!” I mean, seriously. Some, like the strip I included above, look like something my girlfriend would want me to draw because it would just be soooooo sweet. Well, look Joe, I can understand you doing the strip because it’s going to get you some nookie, but that doesn’t necessarily make the strip humorous.
The magic of “Joe Loves Crappy Movies” is that nearly every strip is self contained. Do you want to know what Joe thought of the Daniel Craig Bond movie, Casino Royale? Just select the movie from the drop down menu, and bam! There it is. What he thought of Spider-Man 3? Gotcha.
The only time you’d have to worry about reading the strip chronologically would be in the rare instance the strip is following a storyline (such as when Joe is sent to prison after watching V for Vendetta and is temporarily replaced by George) or if Joe is following some running gag. I mean, seriously… what to make of this strip? Is that some sort of creepy sex offender hanging out in the back of the theater? It might help to know that this, as well as a few other strips, are a reference to Emperor Palpatine from an earlier strip. Joe seems to find this funny (and so do his fans, I guess), but I only found it to be marginally humorous in the first place:
As a bonus, Joe Dunn reviews each movie in an entry below the strip. I admit that I have never read them, as the strip itself usually summarizes Joe’s opinion of the movie, using far fewer words.
So, overall, what do I think of this strip? I really enjoyed it. It’s very well drawn with clean lines and distrinct character designs. The jokes about the movies are often funny, especially if you’re familiar with the movie named on the upper right corner of the strip. A lot of times, the strip is more enjoyable than the movie it’s lampooning. The downsides? Everything I mentioned above (low characterization, the feeling that relationship-centered strips were too self-serving), plus the added burdern that you feel like a really big geek, even more than when you started reading.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)