Various (see below)
8 years (supposedly)
I do like people who try new concepts, because sometimes they work out. Look at Dinosaur Comics. “Hey, let’s make a comic where every single page will be the same thing, just changing the text around”. And it worked. Ok, I’m assuming it worked, I’ve never really been attracted to it, but I assume it isn’t half bad because it is fairly popular. Not that I don’t think that the average person on the internet has all the brilliance of a melon that someone took a sledgehammer to, but at a certain number of pageviews you have to be somewhat clever.
Enter Jenny Everywhere. According to the “about” page, some people on the Barelith.com forums came up with the idea of having an open-source character, where anyone could take her and do what they want. Yes, anything, although no promises on getting published. Basically she has a name, an overall look, and magical powers to turn things into other things. People take those attributes and make stories with them, whatever they want, and the webmaster posts them.
When I first heard the idea at Penguicon, where they had their booth set up, I was kind of curious. Well, my first thought was to compare the people who gank the work of famous poets and sell them in “collections” because they can’t write themselves, it seems setting up a booth was a little idea steal-y. Feh. Ok, my second thought was that it could be very cool.
Lo and behold, it wasn’t. I should have guessed it from the flier that I got, where the demonstrations for her “shifting” art styles featured a stick figure, a cat, and a SPRITE. I can get past stick figures, look at xkcd, some people just can’t draw. I’ll even look past the cat, it’s bordering on furry but I guess I can stand to be open-minded. But if there’s one thing (okay a thing among many things) that I hate, it’s sprite comics. It’s not because they use sprites, even though it’s a stupid cop-out for people who apparently have the inability to draw stick figures and are not literary and sexy and manly and large-phallus-ed enough to write sexy review sites. It’s because I have never come across one that was actually funny. I think that looking at those pixelated monstrosities may drive tumors into the brains of writers, it is the only reason that I can some up with to explain how they can be so consistently bland and boring. If it’s not boring, it’s derivative. If it’s not derivative, it’s so badly written that I want to leap through my screen and strangle whoever penned such a monstrosity.
Oh right, Jenny Everywhere. It is a decent idea, I wholeheartedly stand behind everything open-source (mainly for the free, legal software), but it didn’t really work in this case. The problem is that there was no consistency. You can’t develop a character if she is written by a different person every five pages! This is less of a comic and more of a gallery of every way to draw a single character. Although I must admit that I did like seeing everyone’s take on the character, drawing her a thousand different ways, sometimes only being comparable by her trademark goggles.
In short, it was a nice experiment that did not live up to the high standard that I was, perhaps foolishly, holding it to. Still, I always love experimentation, so props to whoever made this. My props go out to you.