Recently, I happened to stumble upon the online comic, Wapsi Square. At first, I saw it referenced in a thread on a forum site somewhere. I didn’t pay much attention to it then because it didn’t exactly catch my eye. It didn’t seem funny, and based on what I saw then, this was a comic getting most of its jokes from boob-related themes.
My second exposure came when I was looking for pics of Elita Loresca for the Does God Hate Florida or Something story. While looking, I stumbled upon this forum thread, which referenced Loresca’s apparent resemblance to the comic’s main character, Monica.
Ok, I thought. I’ll bite. If it had as many fans as it seemed from this forum, maybe there was something I was missing. (Hint: I was.)
Here’s a quick run-down on the comic from the author himself:
Wapsi Square follows the day to day stories and relationships between a group of five post college friends and a school teacher turned bartender. Amanda is a motherly professional photographer who is convinced the intelligence of the world is dropping but still remains optimistic. Monica is the diminutive museum curator that has yet to realize how cute she is. Jaquline, Shelly, and Owen are the members of the punk band Fermented Banana and good friends of Monica and Amanda.
Various story lines deal with relationships, single life, mythical monsters, muscular women, bra shops, goth looking loners, cigars, real ale, microbreweries, bikinis, photography, dating, guitars, music, bands, night clubs, swing dancing and the Aztec god of alcohol.
Sounds like your typical, 20-something popish-type comic, doesn’t it? Well, you’re in for no surprise: it is. But it’s not bad; it’s not all breast-jokes after all. In fact, they’re more like bra jokes, which probably wouldn’t have been as funny when I was single, and didn’t really every hear many conversations about bra sizes. (When those jokes — or rather, funny observations are done, they’re done in a generally respectful manner. Here’s an example. Keep in mind that most of those jokes involve the fact that the main character, who’s based on the author’s fiancÃ©e, is a 4’11 girl with a 28G bust line.)
While reading through the story line, there were some spots where I would laugh rather loudly at what was going on. See, the reason I didn’t find the comic funny the first time I read it — breast jokes aside — was because Wapsi Square is one of those comics which requires a certain knowledge about the characters as well as an understanding of the situation at hand in order to be funny. As a comic strip, that’s both its major strength and its greatest weakness. Strength in that it’s just good enough to make you want to keep reading. The problem is that a joke will usually start in one episode, but not quite get to its punch line in until several episodes later. On the bright side, when you get to the end of a joke, it’s usually funny. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that you may get bored and stop reading way before you get to the joke. In other words, this makes for a great comic book, but a not-so-great comic strip.
Another thing to keep in mind about the strip is that although you don’t need to be a 20-something to understand it, you may need to be intimately familiar with the “Gen-X/Gen-Y” sub-culture to find it funny. (This may simply be my ignorance of how other age groups see things.) In fact, that’s actually why I like the comic, because it’s not inherently funny (it’s not a Peanuts or Dilbert), but it’s funny in the “Hey, I’ve been through that” sort of way. With observations about
- the stress-relief qualities of bubble wrap,
- the effectiveness of home excercise equipment, and
- getting stuck in places you’d rather not, only to find out everything you knew was wrong (click “next day” a few times to get this one),
this is one where, if you haven’t been through this — and I think to some extent most 20-somethings have, or are going through it now — you may not find this too entertaining. If you’re in that crowd, start from the beginning and enjoy the read.
By the way, probably an important point which I forgot to talk about, but the artwork is pretty good. If you start reading from the very beginning you’ll see how the drawings evolved and improved. Overall, the artwork reflects the series, its audience, and its humor very well.
- Here’s a series I found particularly entertaining, relating to swing dancing and going out with large, muscular women. (You’ll have to click “next day” like 8 times in order to see the whole story and get the punch lines.) I found it entertaining because I have gone swing dancing with women which were my height (not a very common occurrence, given that I’m 6’1), as well as some which were much shorter than I (like The Wife).
- Here’s anoter series I found interesting, this one about the Aztec god of alcohol. I’m not much of a drinker myself, but I’ve met more than a few people who might have at one point shown their appreciation and affinity towards this diminutive god. (Again, you’ll need to click “next day” like 8 times to understand what’s going on and realize that a good part of it was actually funny.) By the way, here’s its follow up.