Webcomic Book Club Full Reviews
of The Jerk by Neal Von Flue


Review of "The Jerk"

"The Jerk" seemed very much like one of Cat Garza's "Magic Inkwell" strips, complete with the flying heart, infinite canvas and pretentious musings on the webcomics medium. Maybe they both attended the same Scott McCloud seminars.

"The Jerk" looked nice enough. If was kind of fun to click through but didn't really do much for me. At least it was short. Yeah, I'm sure if I had to write an essay on it, I could make up some B.S. about how it's an exploration of art and its relation to the artist and blah, blah, blah.

But you know, I like to be seduced, lulled into a comic through characters, storytelling or humor. I find myself less and less receptive to the whole "illustrated themes" genre of webcomics. But I guess it's like anything else, I'd like it if it were done really well.
Review by The Phantom Critic Wed Apr 21 2004 06:54 PM

Art: Pretty good. The jerk may not have a lot of detail in his torso and head, but his arms and legs look pretty realistic, so I liked his design. The backgrounds were spare, but deliberately so; they weren't blank pages, but blank rooms. I think the art was good, and I really liked the touches outside of the boxes.

Story: Kind of odd. We learn more about Frank Delbruck (and did anyone else catch the Young Frankenstein reference?) than we do about the Jerk; we don't even get a reason why he's called the Jerk. He just is. I think I would have been annoyed by a longer story, but the Jerk stops before it wanders off track.

Character: There's very little to say here. We know the Jerk had a traumatic experience at 8 and lost his heart...beyond that, he has no past that we're told about. I suppose that fits for how short this story is, but I find it hard to get past his name, when he doesn't act like a jerk at all.

Writing: Interesting. I liked the fact that Frank Delbruck was a catalyst rather than a character; considering the fact that he was dead in the comic, that makes more sense anyway. The end was rather poignant, and I liked it...but I also found myself wishing the Jerk had kept his heart, which is a good sign. If I could empathize with a character who had so little to say, there was some good writing behind this comic.

Overall: I liked The Jerk, even if it was abstract. The formatting was rather strange, especially the panels with more than one image; the "click here" links weren't always clear, but they never seriously impaired me. However, I would like to see a low-bandwith version, since I imagine some people have had long load times with this comic. I give it 7 out of 10; a nice experience, but not interesting enough to be sustained. If there was more than one of these comics, I would have had to lower my rating.
Review by Benor Fri Apr 09 2004 03:53 PM

- Review of 'The Jerk', by Re.

First Impression
The Jerk is certainly not a comic to look through in 30 seconds, shrug, and give up. If you want easy reading and a quick laugh go visit You Damn Kid, which is a great comic to itself. There is a deeper meaning to The Jerk that I only caught upon the 4th or 5th read through it. You really have to ponder the undercurrents at work and how they interact, like a riddle or koan. That said, it is probably best to discover on your own, as the reward is rich, but at the end of the review I'll explain what I saw for those looking.

Art
The art for The Jerk is simplistic. You have your basic geometrically shaped man with simple pencil shading walking around in what are very basic, mostly white environments. This seems very low-key and 'artsy' at first, but really comes into its own as appropriate as things tie together. Various sections and panels can be clicked for additional frames of smooth animation, key to the story of The Jerk. Even the panels, lines and out-of-frame additions all add a rich subtle blend to the mood of the story; the lines linking panels jarring, changing color, thickening, and swirling at appropriate emotional junctures. None of it is complicated, but it is all very clean.

What is this?

Spoilers ahead, stop reading if you want to 'get it' yourself. This is just my impression, mind you. To start, look at the text that links into the comic.

Quote:

The Jerk

A hypercomics experiment that uses Flash and image-maps in a long-form environment to tell a three-dimensional expanded narrative regarding the current state of online comics...(ooh, sounds arty...)




That in thought, you should read the comic as a whole. Do it twice, click on all the required parts. Now, read the story you find in the gallery in detail. Notice that it explains this man's life to 2005, a year from now. Keep the story open and look at the parallels between it and the comic. There are many links between the two, telling the story of this avatar and his dream.

Now it all starts to come together, why it's so cliché artsy, why there is a comparison between art in the hand and no hand in web comics, the period of introspection, the crude cartoon drawings compared to his 'keen' comment, the two wings appearing and taking his newfound heart away, and the dream ending in a panel unconnected to the others, in the future.

Overall

I found the Jerk a rewarding experience, time certainly not wasted. Deceptively simple, good for light expansive thought and something to say about web comics as a whole. I give it 8/10.
Review by Re Fri Apr 09 2004 04:02 AM

A review of The Jerk
by Kajamir the Giant

I'll level with you. I didn't understand a thing about this one page comic. Maybe it's just so avante garde it's over my head or it's as artsy fartsy as it appears, I really can't say for sure. All I can say is I just don't get it and wasn't impressed.

The Jerk is extremely short, about some cylindrical biped looking at uninteresting art in a gallery with comments scattered around. There's some ambigious thing about him losing his heart because of something traumatic, then getting it back, but finding it was little else than a dream to him. Que?

The art for the Jerk himself isn't so bad. It's kind of scratchy yet ominous and makes the weird looking Jerk a bit eye catching, but that's hardly enough to call a merit given the lack of everything else.

Maybe The Jerk is a joke to someone or about something I couldn't figure out. Maybe it's trying to say something profound. Maybe it's something intended to spark a discussion. To me, it's a pile of yet unexplained confusion.

I've got nothing worth commenting on here. I can't like what doesn't make any sense to me. There's nothing humorous, too serious, meaningful, or anything otherwise that I can discern. I might as well be reading the Dead Sea Scrolls. On this basis, I give The Jerk a complete 0 of 10 stars.

I look readily for another reviewer to break the idea of The Jerk down to a level where someone passing by is going to grasp it.
Review by Kajamir the Giant Thu Apr 08 2004 03:20 PM

To be honest, I don't know how to approach this. At first glace you may think this is some liberal arts student's attempt to be deep and obtuse, like Nearly Forgotten, but if you read between the lines you may feel more like this is a parody of those attempts, or even just a gag strip.

Furilius Must be Having a Good Laugh.

I mean, this can be completed in less than 10 minutes if you don't read the program. This is shorter than Nearly Forgotten, and it's hard to tell what exactly this comic is about.

Okay, so the Jerk is probably dreaming. He lost his heart when he was eight due to a truamatic experience. He goes to an art gallery showcasing drawings by the fictional artist Frank Delbruck (it gets obvious the more you read the program). In the gallery, he sees a painting of a heart and some hands. Then he grows a heart on his chest, which subsequently flies away. It turns out he was dreaming. Uh... what?

The Program

The program takes longer to read than the actual comic. At first I thought it was about a real-life artist named Frank Delbruck who was majorly neurotic (I mean, sending canvas paintings to Marvel Comics? Come on). I got increasingly suspicious that I was being put upon, seeing as this guy seemed too neurotic to be real and that I'd never heard of him before. Then the program refers to the year 2005 in past tense and mispells 'their' in the acknowledgments. Okay, so it's a put-on. Very funny. I think I'm starting to get it now.

Art?

The art here is rough and weird. The cylindrical Jerk just walks around, looking at stuff while he's dreaming. There really isn't much to go on here. I know what's going on and it's not too terribly ugly.

What am I reading, anyway?

At first I was at a loss as to what exactly I should think of this comic. Then I looked at the URL and saw that this is part of Ape Law, home of the very funny Hsu and Chan of Electronic Gaming Monthly. I get it now. This was supposed to be funny. Whoops.

The General "In"

In lieu of being able to actually have a solid impression of The Jerk, I have decided to review a hoagie I just ate instead.

The bread was of a french variety. The crust was flaky, brittle, and the slightest bit stiff. The stiff exterior, however, held a fluffiness that would have filled me up right away if I was not careful. Between these two slabs of wheat and flour were slow-cooked chicken strips, presumably coming from the breast. They were juicy and filled with flavor, no doubt from the hormones that the chicken was fed in life. Also inside was lettuce that had been sitting in a refridgerator for twenty-five hours, but had recently been splashed with cold water to give it a fresh look. The lettuce was soggy, though. Another ingredient were the sliced jalapeno peppers inside, but they had lost most of their flavor and spiciness after sitting cut out in the open for too long. To top it all off was mustard that almost completely smothered the tastes of the other ingredients. To go along with it was a large cup that I could refill as many times as I liked with Cherry Coke. I would have chosen Sprite, but the soda mixer had too much sugar in the Sprite container, so it tasted like Sprite cake with too much icing.

I would recommend the sandwich to anyone who was really hungry and had money to spare. Otherwise they'd be better off making their own.

What, you expected me to be deep or something?
Review by Cobra Thu Apr 08 2004 12:43 AM

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