NOTE: Just so you know, there are gonna be a lot of links in this article. And most of them don’t lead anywhere pleasant.
So, I’ve talked before about the net-infamous Andrew Dobson aka Tom Preston. Here’s pretty much what you need to know about him:
- He started off as an inflation fetish artist, posing as a teenage girl called CattyN, despite being a man in his early 20’s at the time.
- He created a comic strip about himself called So You’re A Cartoonist, where he basically whined about his station in life, and even mocked the Aurora Dark Knight Rises shootings a week after they happened. He’s recently restarted the comic, only now he’s a teddy bear for some reason.
- He’s also done work for the boring video game comic BrentalFloss.
- He got into trouble a few times for using copyrighted images in his artwork; he used a Wikipedia photo of Big Ben on a poster sold for money, and recently, traced a Journey picture for the aforementioned BrentalFloss.
And would you believe that So You’re… and BrentalFloss aren’t his only projects? He also wrote and drew comics like the generic fantasy story Formera, a Sherlock Holmes ripoff, and Patty, a clumsy attempt at writing a story about lesbians. Though the author may have called Patty a “serious look into gay and lesbian relationships”, it’s as goofy as all hell with unnecessary captions and slapstick galore. His most prominent series, however, is a little gem called Alex Ze Pirate.
Oops, did I say “gem”? I meant “rotting flamingo turd that stinks so much its stench is sentient and whispers murderous thoughts into people’s ears”.
Alex started off as a little comic called Legends, a story about a female pirate and her uncle gathering together a crew before it became the webcomic Alex Ze Pirate. While the comic, from what I’ve read of it, is a crap story with worse artwork, it’s better than what Alex would end up becoming. Alex Ze Pirate has relatively better artwork than Legends, but while Legends had something resembling a story, Alex in its webcomic form is all over the place.
Sometimes Alex will feel like a kiddie cartoon, other times we’ll have shit like Alex’s uncle stealing bras or her lesbian first mate trying to hop into the sack with her. Most of the time it feels like a gag-a-day comic in the vein of Garfield, other times there are attempts at actually trying to make a substantial story. Sometimes Alex will act like a semi-competent pirate, sometimes she’ll act like a childish idiot. It’s like he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too a bit. He wants to write something silly like his favourite cartoons but he also wants to be taken seriously.
Then again, it is a bit hard to be taken seriously when you publish a collection of your webcomic series, and the accolades on the back are from Deviantart users. Yeah, I’m on DA, but the site isn’t exactly well-known as being a haven of great art and mature artists. It’s like publishing a book on raising a child and having Jimmy Savile’s praises on the back cover.
Maybe that’s Dobson’s problem though. We’ve seen in his So You’re A Cartoonist comics that he takes himself far too seriously, and that’s going to be a hindrance when writing a comedy. A good comedian needs to find humour in just about everything, including their own person. Miranda starred Miranda Harte as herself, but she clearly had a sense of humour about herself and portrayed herself as awkward. Dobson attempts some self-depreciating humour in the “Welcome” page for Alex, but it comes off as insincere, and of course, isn’t at all amusing or natural.
So how am I going to look at this webcomic? It doesn’t really have an ongoing story to it, so it would be difficult of me to do a recap like I usually do. So, instead, I’m going to look at it character by character, because this does seem to want to be a character-driven comic, even if its characters are all obnoxious and annoying.
Just look at the title character, a poor try at making a strong female character. As I mentioned in my Five Best and Five Worst Comic Book Redesigns article, Alex had a perfectly good design which was changed for some reason into something bright and baffling. She looks like she should be in 50’s ads for vacuum cleaners rather than sailing the high seas pillaging. Apparently Dobson changed Alex’s appearance because one reader thought she was a boy, which brings me to my next problem about her.
There’s a recurring gag about her that she wants a boyfriend, but people tend to think she’s a man and thus she gets hit on by gay pirates. Loovely. That joke could have made an iota of sense with her old design, but it’s ridiculous with her new, more feminine appearance. Even if she did look like a guy, the joke is still annoyingly offensive and used way too often. Dobson has been known to say that people think Alex is male due to some “curse” but said curse is never really explained or built upon in the comic itself.
What’s more, she isn’t really main character material. There isn’t really anything to her character other than she’s a whiny baby. No backstory, no redeeming qualities, no moments that really make you admire her. She screams like a spastic chimpanzee, acts like a school bully, randomly threatens to kill her shipmates, all to be “wacky”. She acts like a little girl begging her mummy to pay attention to her throughout the whole comic and nothing she does is at all funny or endearing.
There’s nothing wrong with an unintelligent or immature main character, but that stupidity and childishness should really be entertaining or at least give an extra obstacle for the characters. But no, despite her personality, Alex pulls off a plan to rob a village without a hitch.
Look at this shit. This isn’t part of a bigger story, this trait is never brought up again. The mere fact that she’s jumping around the ship ranting is supposed to be a joke in and of itself. There’s no timing or anything, we’re just supposed to laugh at the wacky character being wacky. This might have worked if it was built up to, but it’s the type of joke you’d expect in a shitty CG kid’s movie, only even worse because it’s a joke made for a moving cartoon translated into a static still image.
That brings us to Atea. She is a lesbian, and the worst type of lesbian too; her homosexuality is her sole personality trait. All the jokes about her involve her wanting to fuck Alex, despite Alex’s protests. It’s like that stupid ‘Three Gays of the Condo’ episode of The Simpsons taken to an extreme. It even seems Dobson thinks he’s being progressive having a nymphomaniac lesbian as a character, as that aforemention “lesbian kick” comic was a response to an actual controversy, and he made this image as a way to pretty much say, ‘Look, people! I have gay characters!’
Other than that, there is nothing really to distinguish Atea from Alex. Look at this, where Atea is revealed to be a former vigilante. You think, ‘Oh, we’re gonna find more of her past and she’s gonna do something other than hit on Alex’ but no, we get some crap about “weaknesses” and Atea being a former vigilante is never brought up again. No, her being the lesbian Pepe le Pew is much more interesting.
Speaking of perverts, there’s also Uncle fucking Peggy. As ForeverPandering said, Peggy looks like he’s the captain due to having a beard, hooks and peglegs, but he isn’t, so his design is a little odd. His main joke is that he has perverted thoughts about Alex and Atea and steals their bras. Did I mention Dobson wants kids to read this comic?
Sam the cabin boy. I’m guessing he’s supposed to be the audience relation character, since he’s the closest thing to “normal”, and is put down upon by the rest of the clue like he’s Dr. Zoidberg. Sadly, being “normal” pretty much means he has no personality. He was given a three part storyline that tried to give him some backstory, but said storyline had no real conflict, had his backstory revealed by him yapping to himself and featured LOLCat pirates. FUCKING LOLCAT PIRATES. So yeah, he’s not a very compelling character.
And what the fuck is with the little squirrel-cat-whatever? Talus is the “wacky character”, and how can we tell he’s the wacky character? When the pirates steal a package, he thinks it contains cheese and pineapples, as those are foods eight-year-olds find funny. Also, he’s pretty redundant, considering Alex and Atea are more wacky and stupid than he is. If everyone is wacky, no-one is.
Then there are other characters. There is a mysterious figure called “Aliunde” who Alex is hesitant to talk about and Atea speculates about and, bing! There’s your lot. Three comics building her up as a potential villain and after that, she’s never seen again. There’s a ninja who tries to steal Alex’s treasure and has one of the more irritating jokes of the entire webcomic. Also, despite the fact that Aliunde and Nina are set up as antagonists, here they are playing cards with Alex and Atea for no explained reason just so Dobson can boast about the fact he…gasp…has female characters.
None of these characters are interesting, and no interesting characters means no interesting stories. That storyline about Atea being a vigilante ends before it even begins, and we even have a lame retelling of The Fisherman and His Wife which amounts to nothing and thus has nothing worth offering. The main joke of that is that the fish has a cockney accent, but Dobson can’t even write a flippin’ cockney accent.
I don’t think Alex Ze Pirate is as enraging as So You’re A Cartoonist, but it’s still pretty shit. I mean, really, lesbian kick? LESBIAN K…
Oh god I think I jinxed it.