Two geeks and a -Nedroid
Since you’re all still reeling from the news that Carl ‘Ugly’ Wheeler is retreating into some deep dark crevice of the earth, returning only in deepest night to steal children for food and sexual pleasure, now is an excellent time to talk about the charming and subtly built comic that is Nedroid.
I’m pretty late to this show (I started reading Nedroid last year sometime) so I’ve not browsed the entire archives. Just the start, the most recent, and anything 400 presses of the random will get me. This is my excuse if I accidentally tread on the toes of the fandom by omitting the striking Frank Millar-esque story about Beartato’s dark past as a crack dealer. Nedroid was a pretty difficult comic to get under the skin of and see ‘why’ I think the way I do about it. This is because it’s an excellent example of doing more with less.
The old Reginald looses his feathers, his beak changes shape, his head becomes more bulbous and his eyes enlarge.
Well I’ll tell you what- every single one of these changes represent s a move to a more ‘childlike’ character design. A bird without feathers appears more human; expressive, large eyes and a bulbous head are classic features of newborn children; and when featured in other contexts evoke a ‘cute’ or ‘immaturity’ response- we see these features and our minds think ‘child’ (This is played strongly in many cartoons) . The curved beak that old-Reginald sported is faintly parrot like, hooked and large. Beaks of this kind are tools and weapons. New Reginald’s beak is smaller (makes his head look larger) and looks much more like a chick’s; It’s even drawn in the style children often draw birds’ beaks. Every single feature changed underscores and highlights Reginald’s immaturity as a character. He is a giant bird-fetus- his design conveys his character.
Beartato on the other hand, is an ideal foil for Reginald, at least visually. Squat, massive expressive mouth, beady eyes, stuff like that. Whereas Reginald tends to express himself mostly though posture and body movement (since uh, yeah) ; Beartato is all about facial expression. Since that’s all he is. A massive bear-face bisected by an excessively wide mouth. All this isn’t to say that Beartato is totally formal and straight laced, just more so than Reginald.
A really cool thing that Anthony’s done is transmit the roles of the characters to us though posture. Reginald is almost always viewed side on- whereas Beartato is viewed head on. Reginald is the instigator or the active half of the duo (looking forward or at his target), whereas Beartato is the passive or reactive half- (receiving state). I don’t know if this was intentional, but it works well.
Oh, and Harrison is a shark in some kind of spacesuit, and that’s awesome too.
Enough about specifics though, the style of Nedroid as a whole bleeds Crayola brand non-toxic charm- (where possible) broad chunky strokes are used in the line work, and rather than adopt a formal looking grey colour scheme he’s gone for a relaxing baby blue scheme- both give the style a “ages 3+” feel.
This is great- because it meshes really well with Nedroid’s ‘feel’ as a comic- Big Broad Strokes Humour which wraps itself round fanciful and cartoonish themes.
The structure of the jokes in Nedroid are normally of the “one-two” affair, setup/subversion.
Yeah sure, it’s older than roads and perhaps even chickens, but it’s extremely robust. Anthony has a good feel for timing and an excellent feel for just how far he can push surrealism before the jokes break.
This is where the style and substance of Nedroid bleed together-
the chunky abrupt jokes work so well because Nedroid digests so well, the art is bold and distinctive without being overpowering, so the comic tends to be read ‘faster’ than more visually complex efforts. When the punchline hits you the impact is greater because of the sharper snappy delivery. There’s no hanging around after the payload’s been dropped either; Like a roguish seaman from a faraway land, the comic strip enters and leaves our life quickly, but with flourish and style.
I keep talking about ‘charm’ and ‘innocence’ and stuff don’t I? I GUESS I’d better explain why! And why it’s important. The content of Nedroid revolves around subject matter that we associate with our childhood, and manifests in a number of motifs. Whether it’s Reginald and Beartato (or that dashing fellow Buttfranklin) playing with cars, making snowmen, hanging out on trampolines, jumping to the moon or being best buddies 4EVA, there’s a strong undercurrent of playfulness and carefree attitude. Indeed, only the perennially responsible Harrison seems to have a job, or a car, or any actual life at all.
The enthusiasm of the dynamic duo ‘float’ the tone of the comic. You get caught up, your pace quickens and you’re already smiling before the KILLAH BLOW. It’s pretty well known that if you’re a receptive audience you find things funnier. The tone and the charm that I’m talking about in this review is essentially a wedge that Anthony uses to open you up and prep you for laughs.
If people pushed me to make complaints about Nedroid to satisfy their mis-understood idea of ‘balance’ then I could say a few things. The first would be that I find Reginald’s Howard-The-Duck-esque romances slightly unnerving. But maybe I’m just bigoted and it’s perfectly okay for uniformly blonde young ladies to seek relationships with a naked bipedal bird who has self-esteem issues.
(Am I a racist? Tell me in the comments)
I’d also like to see more Harrison Adventures, because Harrison is awesome.
OH YEAH- legitimate complaints- WELL occasionally jokes come fairly close to repeating- (two comics about Reginald being unable to get out of bed come to mind) though this isn’t nearly a common problem. Sometimes the comics try to play entirely and utterly on Reginald/Beartato just chilling and doing their thang- which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.
If I’ve held your attention this long, you can probably guess how I feel about Nedroid. If I haven’t, then you’re only cheating yourself by skipping ahead. Go back to the start and read this review again, twice.
I love Nedroid (and I’m not the only one)- It’s an oasis of silly and fun in a medium that’s all too often obsessed with appearing ‘edgy’ and ‘nerdy’. Nedroid isn’t perfect; it’s not an ideal all webcomics should aspire to.
But it does do what it does extremely well, likeable characters in an upbeat and simple world.
To be needlessly cryptic; you can’t live on cake, but it’s still damn tasty.
Since Carl ‘Screamin’ Wheels’ Wheeler has just announced he’s throwing in the towel for now I guess now is a good time to ask you guys if you’d want me to do the same. I enjoy posting here, but if you guys don’t want me to keep posting then I don’t mind setting the yoke fully on Mole and Tim’s shoulders and joining Carl in his pedo-cave.
Tl;dr SHOULD I KEEP POSTING???!1!!
OF COURSE the floor is also open to suggestions of what I should review next (if anything at all), improvements to my writing style, my dress sense, and the usual habitual trolling