Scenes From a Multiverse: The First Few Months
I’m having mixed feelings about Scenes from a Multiverse, the new(ish) comic from Jon Rosenberg. The premise is intriguing: Each day, the comic is about a different set of characters in a different world, generally in the middle of a scene or story. These “destinations” get voted on each week and the most popular setting in one week gets a second comic the following week (where it can be voted for a third comic, etc). The scenes tend to be science fictiony, which I guess makes sense given the “multiverse” theme. Still, it doesn’t always make sense; plenty of the comics are about things happening on Earth, but superimposed on the residents of other worlds (for example.)
I almost wonder if Mr. Rosenberg hasn’t become too attached to the “multiverse/destination/travel” concept. Does it make the comic better to imagine that we are “visiting” other universes? Not really. The “drop in on a scene from daily life” idea is getting old for me: I’m tired of characters who are written like we know who they are when we clearly don’t.
Let me try to rephrase: You can have comics where the characters are new each time (SMBC, xkcd, Chainsawsuit usually, Cyanide and Happiness…many, many others). Or you can have comics where the reader comes to know the characters over the course of reading the comic (any story comic, but also one-off comics like Nedroid, Dinosaur Comics, Red Meat – and many, many others). SFAM is doing something in between: It’s like jumping to a random comic in the middle of, say, Wigu, and understandably feeling like you are missing something about these people. The difference, of course, is that Wigu and other comics you can (and, perhaps on some level, are expected to) read through the stories and understand what it is you are reading. With SFAM, the point is you can’t do that.
That said, it’s still an enjoyable comic – many of the installments are quite funny, and the drawings are wonderfully charming and perfectly cartoonish. The audience participation mechanism is quite interesting and may, over time, lead to better comics – maybe. And today’s installment is the first one that I am going to make sure to vote for. What do other people think? Is anyone reading this comic?