[News/Post] Do you smell something?

Scott Kurtz, in yesterday’s PVP, stood up for “dick and fart jokes” which are a mainstay for comics across the Web. This got me thinking about such jokes and why I can’t help laughing at them

Comedy has many sources. Insults, clever wordplay, logical disconnects and many more. One of the best is recognizability. These are jokes that play off a cross between “it’s funny because it’s true,” and “yeah, I’ve been there.”

Dick and fart jokes are so popular because they work. They work, not because they’re universal in appeal but because they are so universally recognizable. Everybody farts and most people either have or have had experience with a dick, so they’re themes that everyone can relate to. This also explains the prevalence of boob jokes out there.

I wouldn’t say that the use of fart jokes is lame, lowbrow or uneducated. I will say that it’s easy. Anyone can do it. That being said, not everyone does it well. In real life it’s funnier when your prim and proper boss farts during a meeting than when the guy that farts all, lets another fly. If a writer can creator characters that we the reader know like we know our own friends, and then has them get kicked in the jewels, the humor value goes up tenfold. For example “Joe farted on Larry’s head” is not as funny as “Daku farted on Zampzon’s head.”

I really enjoyed Kurtz’s recent storyline where Skull farts in Brent’s car, because I related to the characters and the situation, not just because someone farted. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. That’s what made it funny, that’s what made it great.

As usual, that’s just my take. What’s yours?


20 thoughts on “[News/Post] Do you smell something?

  1. Dear Geek,

    Manley, William G, Cat and all the guys over at Drunk Comic Reviews….even to an extend, Joe Zabel and his ilk….they have all fallen into the same bitter black hole that alternative comics and the Fantagraphics crowd fell into years ago.

    And just like that other crowd, these guys are trying to pull all of webcomics down with them, because misery loves company.

    Popular does not equal bad.
    unpopular does not equal good.

    These guys have fallen into the trap of believing that it is the world, not their art, that is flawed. And they are looking for a scapegoat to pin their lack of success on.

    That\’s why Manley has to discuss how \”pseudo-populists\” are trying to silence the critics and keep their audiences medicated with homogonized entertainment.

    We are not holding them back. They only have themselves to blame for their lack of success.

    Nor did we stumble blindly into whatever success we have managed to build for ourselves. That didn\’t happen on accident or because we tricked people. If it were as simple as that, I\’m sure they could replicate our successes pretty easily (something they\’ve yet to acomplish).

    You can see that shit in music, movies, comics, painting….pretty much any form of art or entertainment.

    Don\’t let them make you feel bad for finding their work inaccessible and boring. And don\’t let them make you feel stupid for enjoying disposable entertainment like PvP or Penny-Arcade.

  2. I\’ll be honest here, I haven\’t quite put Joey Manley\’s column under the magnifying glass; although I have read the lengthy replies on the Pulse and the numerous other places this thing has spread to with some amusement.

    I say amusement because I can\’t believe how seriously people are taking all this. I really don\’t think the opinions of Joey Manley, Joe Zabel and the Ilk, Kurtz, DJ, or anybody is going to affect webcomics outside their own respective sewing circles.

    The web is vast and filled with a plethora of cults, cliques, and sewing circles; especially in the webcomic world. It seems common sense to me that if you can\’t play well in someone else's sandbox, then stay out of it. Go make a comic or something. Maybe i\’m making this too black and white but, it\’s that blatantly obvious to me.

    If someone wants to dissect the meaning, the methods, and the intricate craftsmanship of a page of ELF `n TROLL…go for it. Have fun. I\’d be curious to know what sort of psychological state of mind I was in when I made Troll say, \”I need another ale.\”

    In the same breath, If someone wants to say \”Elf `n Troll is fun, I wish Troll would fart or somethin\’\”, well that\’s fine too.

    If one certain sewing circle wants their comics to be taken more seriously, i say more power to them. If another sewing circle wants to be the cool blue collar guys, hey…who\’s stopping you?

    Make your comics, find your audience, shoot for the stars, anoint yourself the king of your world, and show some tolerance to the other sewing circles.

  3. YES! It looks my word \”ilk\” is sticking! I win!!!

    Seriously though, people like different things and have different agendas in writing columns or opinion pieces.

    Tony, I disagree with you, in that the vocal are heard, and it DOES make a difference. Some people are given the false sense that Joey Manley is some authority on webcomics because he sells a service to webcomic authors because selling to readers didn\’t work out. Sp it\’s a game of \”attack all the successful things to get attention\” — and, sadly, it works for them. Hopefully it will bite them in the ass.

    I\’d like to see more people writing positive, helpful columns for creators and readers. As creators primarily, it\’s important we stake a claim in our livelihoods and speak up when we think someone is doing it harm.

  4. Hey, check me out, hobnobbing with some big namers. The following are meant to be talking points for anyone, not necessarily responses to the commenter they\’re addressed to.

    Scott: Don\’t worry, I don\’t feel bad in the least bit about laughing at fart jokes. I was more attempting to explain the humor of said bodily function, not so much justify it.

    You\’re exactly right, the whole \”Anything popular is crap,\” mantra has permeated too many aspects of pop culture. I\’ll admit some times it\’s really hard for \”trendy\” me to admit I like what the masses like. That\’s why I don\’t let trendy me out very often. He\’s a jerk. Sometimes, things are popular because they\’re good.

    I think the world has room for all levels of humor, as does each individual. It\’s okay for the same person to laugh at a joke that references Hamlet and one that involves a football to the junk. I sure do. The best writers, regardless of medium, can provide both.

    Tony: I think the key here is the tolerance that you mentioned. It goes without saying that the world needs more of it. Beyond tolerance, I\’d like to see more people reach beyond their \”sewing circles.\” I think there\’s a lot of potential that hasn\’t been reached because of the clickish nature of the Web.

    DJ: \”Ilk\” is a good word. If you helped people use it more, than the English language is in you debt.

  5. I agree with you in that I\’d also like to see more positive and helpful articles concerning webcomics. I think a lot of the posts you\’ve made in the Digital Webbing forums were quite good and I would love to see more of that. I\’m also a fan of your \”no-middleman-revolution\” in getting your work out there, and consider myself like-minded in that respect, and hope that more creators jump on this bandwagon. I believe they will.

    I\’m not saying I agree or disagree with you on Joey\’s status in the webcomic community. I have my opinion and I could quite possibly be in the minority, depending on which sewing circle I\’m in at the moment. It\’s neither here nor there. That aside, I think the \”authority on webcomics\” label, in the way you mean, could also be applied to those who are known to jump into the fray and fan the fires, so to speak. It really is just a matter of perspective.

    I\’m probably not the best person to debate any of this, really. I\’m usually on the fence, respecting both parties in many of these arguments and I usually don\’t feel the need to publicly take a side. I just can\’t get fired up enough on issues I think are somewhat lacking in major importance at the outset, and are mostly one person\’s opinion. Hypocritically, I do find them amusing once they pick up steam. I\’m not perfect.

    When it comes to flipping the bird at the direct market now there\’s something that\’ll light a fire under my ass.

  6. Dear Geek,

    Scooter uses misrepresentation and sometimes outright lies (libel even?) about people like a drug addict uses heroin to make his life easier. The fact that there ARE differeing views than his on how comics are made is something of an anathema to him and anything written by him on the matter should be viewed with this in mind.

    Because \”The Ilk\” of which he speaks do firmly believe that comics are one of the best entertainment/ story-telling mediums available. And while the people he so casually and habitiually attacks would like to see the quality of webcomics match the potential, not a single one of \”The Ilk\” have suggested that people stop making fart jokes, nor have they blamed Scott for what he perceives as a lack of success.

    This is a cross he\’s nailed himself to, webcomic wannabe Jesus that he is. The only thing he\’s been blamed for is the large amount of drama/ harassment/ bullying he\’s at the center of.

    Always keep in mind that because someone has stumbled ass backwards into being a Z Grade celebrity it doesn\’t mean they have earned the elder statesman role they so deperately want to have. Never let the trill of encountering Z Grade celebrity blind you to the point that you refuse to think critically about their statements. Don\’t be Fleen.

    And let\’s be honest: Drama keeps going because you all keep paying attention to it. Keep that in mind.

    \”Maybe i\’m making this too black and white but, it\’s that blatantly obvious to me.\”

    No, you\’re absolutely right. Everyone is grandstanding in order to hear the applause in their heads. At least I can admit it.

  7. You know what I hate? How guys like Manley completely miss the point of the critisism over webcomics critisism.

    Nobody is trying to turn certain comics into sacred cows or say that certain opinions need to be crushed. What is being questioned is the motivation behind certain critics statements.

    And what I get from all of this is the same old \” putting the critisism before the work\” vibe. Thats the only gripe Manley seems to have with dick and fart jokes, that somehow comics like that and their authors are keeping people from reading his super smart writing (vibe? Hell, I\’m pretty sure he actually said it outright).

    He\’s saying that the artists are underestimating the intelligence of their audience while implying that said audience is too stupid to recognize good work when they see it. And they wonder why no one listens.

    Bah. The moment these guys stop putting webcomics and their dicks under a microscope to make themselves seem like more than they are the better.

  8. It totally freaks me out that one of the most intellectual (and active) conversations here on the Digital Strip blog was initiated by flatulence.

    Interesting stuff, though it tells me I\’ve got a hell of a lot research to do before I can digest any of it.

  9. I agree with Geek. My favorite part of Kurtz\’s story line this past week is when brent and skull switched places. Brent was in skulls body he couldn\’t help farting and skull was suprised at how bad it actually smelled.

  10. Here\’s what I don\’t get Scott, what do you care what this monkey has to say? Who is he?
    Why even bother responding to him? The only reason alot of people know who Joey Manley is at all is because of the attention you give him.

  11. Toby,

    Who\’s seeing this other than the existing webcomic community? The comments section of webcomic news sites is not really reaching outside this community. I don\’t think it even reaches a majority of our readers.

    Which is why when Joey is presented with an opportunity to address a large audience OUTSIDE the community, people get upset when he chooses to tear down, rather than build up, webcomics.

    I, and others, really feel strongly about combatting this bullshit manifesto that webcomics are shit, criticism trumps art, popularity=bad, readers are stupid, and drama is king.

  12. The storyline about Skull farting in Brent\’s car is what we, in the industry, like to call a 90 mph dutch oven. Lots of fun if you\’re the driver and have control over the window locks…not so much if you\’re anyone else in the car.

  13. Wow, we\’ve got a lot of good stuff going here. Thanks everyone for posting here.

    I just want to clear up what I meant in my original post. I\’m not condemning of defending either side really. My goal was just to examine a theme that can be found through out all of entertainment and maybe explain why it\’s funny. That\’s all. I think there something to examine here, as it\’s actually a lot more common than Mr. Anonymous said, just gas itself isn\’t funny. Radon is a gas, no humor value there.

    That being said, I think this discussion is great.

    To Jared: I think you\’ll find few things bring people together like farts. I don\’t know why, I just know that\’s how it happens.

  14. Scott-

    You actually make a terrific point there, and I\’m finally understanding your angle on the situation. But still, I\’m left to think, is there really anything you can do about this?
    Take me for example, I hadn\’t heard a word of this thing until I saw your strip about it, I\’d never even heard of Manley before then.
    So is posting a comic about him, a rebuttal, going to make him just go away or going to encourage him to grab more of the \’spotlight\’?
    From all my experience, there\’s always going to be guys like him around.

  15. yeah, I gotta be REALLY careful with that. My readers do NOT want the drama. They know when I\’m making point, or responding to something. But if I\’m stirring up shit or just being mean, they get upset and they let me know to knock it off.

    All they want is more PvP.

    I had a good reaction to that strip. People really enjoyed the Chaucer references. I heard from a TON of readers who are lit majors or teachers. (more proof that my readers are not just dumb fanboys but are, in fact, intelligent adults).

    I doubt 90% of the people who read that strip understand who Joey Manley is. They just know he\’s someone I referenced to set up the joke.

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