The Art of Substitution
Over the... months? How long has that site been going? Anyway, over the last period of whatever, Websnark has been well known to create clever little names for various things that happen in and around comics. Some of the best known would be Cerebus Syndrome and First and Ten. As I understand these terms, they both refer to a shift from gags and whimsy to more depth and seriousness in a comic. However, one is said to have acheived Cerebus if the result is good and succumbed to First and Ten if it becomes laborious and tiresome.
Neither of those would apply then to what's been happening with Yirmumah.
Yirmumah barely had a plot before now (in the short space of time when I've been reading it anyway) and could at times seem like a journal comic. Sometimes it made silly gags, like the bunny who says Fuck, and other times it used recognized characters in a funny situation.
Then, all of a sudden, we get Origins. A biker who reads the bible and gets into brawls with the seeming intention of knocking the stuff he doesn't like about himself into submission. All the stuff that led him away from his girls.
I think what makes this into a new 'syndrome' is the fact that it doesn't draw upon the characters that have been used before. It isn't like a journal comic, although it has the same feel as an autobiographical piece (I'm fairly sure Mr. Coffman never smashed and burnt a phonebooth because his daughters were being kept from him though*). It something entirely new but put into the same space a readers used to find something quite different.
It would be like Mr Kurtz over at PVP deciding to do a nuanced epic tale of sky ninjas searching for the last rain dragon but putting the comic onto the PVP website and ceasing to run strips about those magazine workers we've grown to love. Only I think that particular transition wouldn't go down as well as Yirmumah's experiment.
It would be interesting to find out if the readership has gone along with Mr. Coffman on this. I get the impression they have, but it seems like such a gamble in retrospect.
The only complaint I've seen was on the LJ feed here. A reader says that the story had been good up until this transitional comic, and I agree. That piece doesn't match the tone of what has gone before, though the shift into the 'present/future' does rematch that tone. The problems are things like 'Heck's Angels' and 'many adventures/many a locale' which undercut the serious detail that we had seen previously. Glimpses of those adventures leave the reader feeling a little cheated, missing out on something that looks promising. I was going to say that we could ahve jsut about skipped it completely, but that would have left some in the dark about how respected or useful Deacon became. It's a toughy.
Incidentally, Yirmumah might want to think about reorganising its archives somewhat. It was really tough to browse through for comics I wanted to link to...
*Just wanted to say that I think there is a strong biographical thing going down, but I'll just leave that to settle and then take a look at it.