ByHans Qu, writer at
I actually love movies, but you'd never know that by reading what I write. @NerdyChineseBoy --
Hans Qu

When I was 12, I participated in the Webcomic Boom of the late 2000's. It was my first experience with self-produced creative content and I, like pretty much everybody else involved, quickly discovered that it's way, way more work than you think it is. You've got to maintain a schedule and do regular updates, and furthermore, you have to keep making new things, or the audience is gonna get bored and move on.

A lot of us aspiring webcomic authors quickly realized that we were shit writers with no idea what story structure was, how to set up a plot, introduce characters, or anything, really. And this was the point at which a lot of people gave up. There are a million defunct SmackJeeves URLs that contain nothing but a single introductory strip with a Mega Man recolor introducing himself (and it was always a himself) as the author of the strip, and then nothing. Or this:

Those of us who persisted a bit further typically resorted to "Author" characters to make fourth wall jokes. Bob and George, which was itself a major part of the Boom, was the origin of this phenomenon. Even on the internet, you can't get away from people trying to imitate what's already successful. A lot of these webcomics back in the day relied heavily on fourth wall humor, because we were young and thought that we were being clever. But the truth of the matter is that fourth wall humor is inherently destructive to the narrative that you're trying to tell.

The best stories are the ones that get better when you ask questions. Fourth wall humor is directly opposed to this; a single fourth wall joke brings in way more questions than anyone could hope to answer. If the character is aware of her existence in a fictional universe, why doesn't this factor into any of her decisions? Why does she choose to exert any agency in the world if things are going to get done with or without her? What implications does the fact that her life is merely entertainment for some fat nerds on the internet have on her psyche? Bob and George poked fun at this a bit, but never really explored it thoroughly.

Speaking of Bob and George, it was the root from which most of this webcomic madness sprang. Bob and George infamously took the 4th wall, shattered it, glued it back together, and did things with its butthole. However, you will notice that Bob and George's writing is at its best when it isn't breaking the fourth wall, or is at least treating the Author like just another character.

This was my biggest qualm with Deadpool. The film establishes this silly tone and then expects us to take its other scenes seriously. And it does this in the most offensive way possible, with cancer. Which, I guess is fine, because it's Deadpool, and it's supposed to be offensive?

Fuck, I don't know what I'm talking about anymore. Save the fourth wall humor for when you don't care about telling a complex narrative. I'm looking at you, Judd Apatow.



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