I know that Sinfest is “Old News” territory, but the sheer amount that I mention it merits a review.
My relationship with Sinfest has been a rocky one at best. One thing that you can’t accuse Ishida of is doing things half-assed, because when the comic is good then it’s good, and when it’s bad it’s really bad.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: for the most part, Sinfest isn’t terrible. Most of the time it’s actually quite good, with decent satire of politics and religion making up the humor. And it keeps up the same jokes throughout the ten years that it has been running.
But before it gets too full of itself, let’s pop this little bubble, shall we? Because Sinfest has two big issues:
- As I said, the same jokes are used throughout the series. Not in the sense that the general idea of the jokes are similar, they’re all almost exactly the same. Really, if you’ve read it for one year’s worth, then you’ve read the entire lot. Yes, there’s a few new bits thrown in, most of which came around recently, but by and large the stories are cookie-cutter. Any material gets old if you hear it enough.
- Long time readers will know that Sinfest comes up whenever a comic tries to make a point. The reason for this lies in the later comics, when Ishida tried to use Sinfest to soapbox a few political messages. While this is respectable enough, you have to do it subtly, and they must be balanced with normal jokes. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a political blog in comic form, and no one wants to read those. Sinfest violated both of these ideas; the messages are forced down your throat by a spoon wrapped in barbed wire, and there were months where almost everything was “on message”. Not good, not good.
While both of these things are present in any long-running comic, the sheer volume of them is cause for concern. I had read Sinfest for quite a long time, and I eventually grew tired of it and quit following it. Recently I found the link in my bookmarks, and I read up to the present… bad news: not much has changed.
It’s sad, really, for a comic to be effectively ruined by these things. The characters were inventive parodies… wait, let me rephrase that. “The secondary characters” were inventive. Sinfest suffers from Batman Syndrome, where everyone in the story is much more interesting than the main characters. The Devil, God, Lil’ Devil, and the religious nutjob, these were the greatest assets of the comic, while the main characters were fairly cliched (and in the man’s case, a little creepy).
Oh, and stories about your anthropomorphizing pets didn’t work for Garfield, it doesn’t work for you.
In all, Sinfest is a good comic that is let down by its own importance. My recommendation? Read the first few years of the archive, then leave it in the dust.