Hello I'm the WebcomiCritic, I do it because, well.... SOMEbody has to!
We all love our pets, don't we? I personally have an annoying little Lahasa Apso. Now imagine THIS: Your pets are sentient, and anthromorphosized and the height of a small child. What would they be doing all day? I think This little webcomic known as Housepets! was trying to do and gosh darned it they succeeded. ANd Frankly, I'm REALLY glad my lahasa Apso isn't anrhto nor sentient after reading this.
Starting at about June 2008, definite Newbie material, is basically about housepets. And that's about it, it's about housepets.
But seriously, this well drawn comic by a man name Griffin portrays pets virtually as children who are almost human besides height and differences in clothing style. They still play pretend, no matter how weird they make it out to be.
The story focuses around a cat and a dog living with the Sandwich family. The Dog is Peanut Butter or Just Peanut and the Cat is Grape Jelly or just Grape (Note the purple fur. Also note He-, She-, WHATEVER, is the only one with a weird fur color). I now, I hate the pun too, but trust me, you won't even remember the pun as you read the comic, for there are more pressing issues in this comic.
The humor content of this comic ranges from WTF moments to Irony to Slapstick to... Hm, now that I think about it, It covers almost all humor from making fun of the Artist's style of pet anatomy to making fun of the furry fandom (Yes, even with pets it can be possible) and yet I don't think a single joke has relied on bad puns or terrible wordplay. And when they did at the beginning, it was overrun with the joke of Grape giving up on playing pretend simply becuase Peanut's wordplay sucked.
Now that I think about it, It was the very first strip! Griffin learned his lesson from the very beginning didn't he? Comedy is more than just bad puns and slapstick, timing, irony, and topical humor is what makes a funny comic.
Now, in terms of the format. Hmm, Same pitfalls as Newbie Paulsen. Trying to make a story-arc type story in the form of "Sunday Newspaper Funnies" strips. He made it work too, but Griffin's arcs aren't as long and feel a little less connected. You moreso feel that when you pick up somewhere, you moreso understand what's going on without needing to read the other strips. I suppose it's okay, but really people, find a format and stick with it for face the falls of DOMINIC DEEGAN
And Finally, it doesn't seem to properly end most of it's story arcs, they either seem to end on some random note or cliffhanger. Though there are plots Griffin could have gone ages on, I'm guessing the nature of the comic prevents him from doing uber long term plots. Which is almost a pity really. Though maybe those cliffhangers are going to be picked up on later. Clever indeed. At least, I think he's clever, eh hasn't proven otherwise, but this comic has the potential to prove just how clever a writer Grffin may be.
Anyhow, Housepets! has the feel of a gag-a-day strip and I have no problems with it. That's what it seems to do the most. I suppose this is was separates it from Paulsen's Precocious here: http://chrispco.emeybee.com/precocious/. Though in his defense, I hear Paulsen will turn Precocious into a proper gag-a-day by, hmmm May-ish?
Comparison's aside, I should probably get into Housepet's artwork. Well, it started good, got color, then as of recent, got better! Before, you had a hard time telling Grape was even a cat besides the ears and fish collar. Same with the other animals really. Especially Difficult with characters like Fox.
He isn't mentioned by name but he's on the dog's side has the pointed ears. See, hard to tell he's a dog besides the slightly longer snout. Way to go Griffin. At least when he improves his artwork or claims it's "Closer to his regular style" (Which is basically more detail, and I prefer it.). The Dog's noses look like dog noses and the cat's eyes look like cat eyes.
The scribbles? Don't worry, That's Peanut's artwork. As the sensitive one, he's also an artist. But you can see the improvement, right?
Now where was I, ah yes, the pitfalls in the art. The anatomy isn't bad but the physiology isn't... defined. I mean look at them, can you even tell what gender they are? In fact, when Grape Revealed herself to be female, even I! was surprised! AND I READ THE CAST PAGE BEFOREHAND! AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A TYPO!!! IT HAD BE A TYPO! WHAT ELSE COULD IT HAVE BEEN! THERE WAS NO WAY GRAPE WAS FEMALE!
Oy vey... I'm saying "Oy Vey" and I'm not even Jewish, but it's the only thing that currently describes my feelings. I can understand Griffin may have done it on purpose for visual humor. Heck, the title said was that he planned this a while. But sheesh, it's like it's being told from a human's point of view when we're too ignorant to actually know. But when it's the animals, there's no excuse! I mean Grape has a point:
THEY'RE NAKED ALL THE TIME!!!
Eyelashes a female does not make. It took me years of drawing to learn this rule. But Grape doesn't even have long eyelashes. This makes it worse! Oh so much worse! I mean, It's fairly clear that they're "too young" to have curves, but come on man, show some effort!
And this does not only confound her own best friend and sibling:
BUT A FELLOW CAT!
Talk about insult to injury! Sheesh!
Okay, that rant about that minor flaw in the artwork is over, I'm moving over to characterization.
I originally thought stereotypical: "Stupid Dog, Smart cat, crazy hijinks about how opposite they are ensure" But that's not what we got. We got two characters who are fairly similar in intellect with similar interest whose subtle personality differences show off like a beacon. In the very beginning we have the Excitable Peanut and the lazy Grape and despite being quite different, they are still somehow able to do equally silly things such as...
Evidence that they are children. This is done expertly... And yet, you can still till Peanut is the sensitive and slightly silly one and Grape the pragmatic one. Though sometimes his-GAH! HER logic is TOO logical for her own good. This is good enough. And every other character is well defined that you can remember most of them pretty okay-ish. Like Bino is the pompous and self-serving jerk, Fido is the nice guy who just seems to try to do the right thing even with his taboos, and Max is more sarky than any other cat in the story. Simplistic, but it works. I doubt this was meant for a story arc type thing and more a gag-a-day story.
And the human owners? they're there but their faces are more or less absent like in Cow and Chicken only in Housepets! They're actually drawn well.
Now the concepts I guess. I love how Griffin's punchlines cover so many bases from Quips at his own undetailed artwork, Issues about interspecies dating
Simply LIKING or showing interest in another species in general
Continental stereotypes (Looks like those guys escaped the Great War of the Australian Stereotypes)
Quips at the fact they're pets
Classic slapstick combined with paranoid insanity
Furries and Roleplaying (*shudders* That Joey kid is so creepy...)
And the Most controversial of all:
It's like a Furry comic for kids! Okay, maybe pre-teens but you get my point.
This is good stuff! ANyhow, this isn't a bad webcomic I have terrible things to say about.
Dangit, I'm really killing this WebcomiCRITIC rep I'm supposed to have, aren't I? I'm starting to be all fluffy and nice like... TANGENT!!!!
DO not frett faithful readers! I'll get really nasty once I get to Dominic Deegan. Once I finish reading that on my own time there will be words! Followed by words words! and... And a Deadpan Snarking!
Hmm, and I may have over did it on the images today, but what can I say? I LOVED this comic's gags and their variety.
But yeah, how do I finish this up?
Uh.... A Grape quote would be most suitable... ah-hah! I got it!
"HA! I was only ABOUT to take a nap... Well I would rather be taking a nap - WHAT DO YOU WANT?"
"IT HAS MORE THAN ONE FUNCTION!"
-Read or Die you Uneducated Buffoons