(Big Fat Whale, by Brian McFadden – Red Cross Custom Essay requested by Rob Balder)
Before we get started, just want to remind you all that the offer still stands for custom essays. If you can forward me a copy of your donation receipt for $25 or more, you’ll get your own custom essay on the topic of your choice in the form of your choice.
If I were to sum up Big Fat Whale in one sentence, one line, one slogan if you will, I’d say “Big Fat Whale: Comics for smart people.”
Brian runs a witty strip here. One that alternates between topical commentary and random gags. The two formats he uses predominantly are either the loose storyline rife with commentary, or the slew of one-liners united by a common theme. I’d like to talk about both methods individually.
His loose storyline format is often inspired by a current issue in America or the world at large. To cite an example, we have his commentary on those wonderful little Ad Council propaganda pieces. But I think his strongest piece in the loose storyline format is his parody of the News Media Machine or whatever people who hate it call it. To me, “The News” has always been derogatory enough a term on its own, because The News has been bullshit for as long as I can remember. But anyway, Brian shines through right here with his biting commentary on The News at large, cutting right through the Adamantine Armor of Bullshit +3 and giving us what it is: Telling us what it thinks we should know. And then Brian flawlessly cuts through the bullshit once again with Max Baxter, Arbiter of Cool, causing me to wonder who it is exactly that decides what’s “cool.” Maybe it’s us critics.
In that case I hereby dictate that I am cool. In fact, from this day forward, Not Me is uncool. The only way to be cool is by being me, and since that’s impossible, I alone stand as a marker of what is cool.
*sigh* If only.
The other format Brian utilizes with Big Fat Whale is, as previously mentioned, the One-liners united by a common theme. Often times it’s commentary on the entertainment industry, going from cliched screenplays or mini movie pitches. I like these a lot because he’s illustrating the point that movies these days suck on the whole, without just going out there and saying “Movies totally suck these days.” But maybe doing precisely that works sometimes, too.
Big Fat Whale is funny, to get to some sort of point. Its strengths definitely lie in its social commentary. Not to mention the art is both appealing and functional. The quasi-realist style he uses works well with what the series is, being satire of real world goings-on.
Not to say however that there are no weaknesses that hamper Big Fat Whale, in fact there is a biggie. The major hindrance is the lack of a navigation system in the archives. There’s no previous, next, first, or recent buttons while reading older strips. I think I spent a good four or five minutes scouring the pages and searching for them. I gotta say navigation buttons are crucially important for a webcomic’s functionality. Without tabbed browsing, reading the archives would have been a pretty big chore, what with the clicking and the back button, and the reloading every time and the scrolling to find the last comic you read and the glayvin. So while the content of the strip is very, very strong… the functionality of the site it is housed in is not, as well designed as that site notably is.
As a side note, I find it kind of funny that Rob submitted this comic for his custom essay. Often times Big Fat Whale reminds me of his own work, especially with this installment.
Big Fat Whale fits nicely into the “Intellectual Gag-a-day” genre. If there wasn’t an “Intellectual Gag-a-day” genre before, there seems to be one now. Because this special flavor of gag-a-day makes the reader work to get the punch line. Like I said, Big Fat Whale is Comics for Smart People. This, unfortunately, means that I am no longer eligible to read it. ‘Tis a real shame.
But hey. Odds are if you’re smart, you’re reading this. Give Big Fat Whale a shot. It’s sure to impress.