The Belfry WebComics Index

Gene Catlow

CID:103 Subscriptions:162Readers this Week:84
Frequency:Completed
Url:http://genecatlow.keenspot.com/
Genres:Action-Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Furry
Description*:It's not a story about funny animals and humans. It's a story about the unfairness of bigotry, the consciousness of the inanimate, and the potential of the soul. Sorry, forget that. It's about a cat, his girlfriend and their rabbit friend. Really.
* Descriptions are user submitted and might not express the views of the admins of this site, or of the comics creators themselves.
Flags:A Adult Situations
N Nudity
V Graphic Violence
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Affiliations:Member of KeenSpot.
Entry Added:Sat, Sep 9, 2000
Entry Modified:Wed, Mar 22, 2017

Reviews: 1   Average Rating:
 

02:26am 12/29/2011
 
Gene Catlow: Read the first arc. Then, stop.
There is a well-documented tendency for works to decline in quality when pressed for sequels. Fans of a long-standing television series will bemoan the episode in which their beloved franchise “jumped the shark,” and a popular movie or video game will occasionally find fans nervous to pick a copy of the sequel, out of fear that the quality has dropped since the original. However, this trend thankfully seems to not apply to webcomics. A webcomic, for the most part, has either one person or a very small group working on it. This allows for the representation of a single vision going toward a set conclusion. There’s no executives meddling to extend the story past the point where the author wants to conclude, so the story normally come to a satisfying end when…wait, what’s that? I’m reviewing Gene Catlow? Oh, sorry. Give me a second to put my thoughts back in order.

Ahem. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Gene Catlow, a comic that has not come to grips with the fact that it ended in 2003.

First, let me talk about the first arc, which took up about three years of archives. I want you all to understand in no uncertain terms that I fell in love with the first arc. This actually came as a surprise to me. The comic introduced itself in such a way that I thought it was just going to be quirky humor, but it then picked up an intense and dramatic story without losing the quirky humor and light tone. The furry-human racism is played well: rather than one side being all nice guys and the other side all being murderous Nazis and a protagonist (i.e. Avatar), there are nice guys and racist twits spread throughout both sides. The main characters also come across as well-rounded and likable, and their story is played out very well, showing their friendship strain under the weight of secrets, fame, or politics, but all working out in the end in a way I found to be very satisfying. The story comes to a climax in which, without spoiling, the fabrics of the very world are shaken. Then the comic puts up the words “The End,” and the characters put together a silly little non-canon wrap party.

Then it continues. Having been so taken in by the first arc, I read on with eager enjoyment. The next arc introduces some spectral baddies that are tangentially related to some concepts introduced in the first arc. However, it’s significantly shorter, and ends with the same climactic world-shaking event. It was effective in the first arc, but something that big really loses some of its flare when it happens more than once.

Then, Gene and Catswhisker (who I realize is a popular character but, really, what kind of a name is that?) go to Friendship Island, which could just as well be called “Fanservice Island” or “Faffing About Island.” The justification is that they’ve been working hard and need a vacation, which makes sense, but is unnecessary and does nothing to drive along the plot. Gene’s old rival realizes this, so to make something happen he miraculously wills himself into existence despite not having been hinted at beforehand and tries to kill Gene. He fails, because his plot was discovered by the guardian spirit of Fluttermouth Island (I know it’s not really a guardian spirit, but quite frankly, I never understood what exactly it was, so I’m going to keep calling it that).

Around this point, several more factions are introduced: an evil sentient ISP sends out little androids to ruin Gene’s picnic, Gene’s rival gives the ISP a body, Gene’s rival is revealed to be a supernatural member of an omnipotent family that follows an arbitrary set of rules that prevent them from having too much plot significance, some of the androids are turned into living creatures based on Gene and Girlfriendwhisker except smaller, Gene’s rabbit friend is healing up in some alternate pocket dimension with people who are either his ancestors or extradimensional hermits, Gene and Catswhatever themselves are shown a glimpse of a future cyberpunk cat empire they will one day build, Fashion Disaster Island’s guardian spirit turns out to have a lot of invisible cousins who are evil and want to eat cats, and…AHHH!!!

In case you didn’t get my point, my gripe is this: there are too many factions, each of which has a different arbitrary and unrelated goal, each of which is either completely or mostly unrelated to any of the others. Suppose, however, that I am just too dumb to keep all the factions straight. Perhaps, with a little extra hard work, a bit of reference material, and some patience, I could get the factions straightened out. Well, if we’re going to slide headfirst down that slippery slope, we’re still going to messily crash into my biggest compliant: I have completely lost track of the goal that the story is heading towards. The first story had three main goals: stop the evil anti-furry businessman from creating more mutual racist hate, hook up the two bunny lovers, and sow the seeds for worldwide human-furry peace. It fulfilled those goals, and quite beautifully, I thought.

But what’s the goal for the latter arcs? Kill Gene’s rival? No, after his introduction, he proceeds to work with an unrelated character and ignores what Gene’s doing. Perhaps get Gene’s friend healed up and out of that mysterious pocket dimension that I thought was in the past but keeps interacting with the present? No, that’s been completely forgotten, Cotton (Gene’s friend) was the protagonist of the first arc but does less than his unborn daughter (seriously) after the Fatbelly Island arc. Maybe kill the evil soul-eating cosmic spirit things? Actually, that nearly happened, apparently the sentient ISP guy had the ability to kill them all with a thought, and I was actually delighted something was finally happening, even though there was absolutely no explanation as to why he would have that power. But then, the whole thing gets called off, he kills only one, and it’s not even dead. The ISP robot stands there looking mighty proud of himself, while the support characters look on with expressions of bewildered confusion nicely mirroring my own.

That was it for me. I couldn’t make heads or tales of anything, so I stopped reading. The comic still had its original charm that made me start reading, but had lost all sense of cohesion that had made me stay. I realize that this is a popular comic, and that I’m not likely to turn people away from it. Fortunately, that isn’t my goal. My point in writing a long, overanalytical review nobody will probably read isn’t to bash at something popular, but to remind the potential webcomic writers of the world what makes their stories good, and a nice dichotomy of good and bad writing can be found in Gene Catlow. The first arc had everything I liked: cohesion. World building. Cartoony art with good anatomy. Few main characters. Many potential outcomes. These things are the foundation on which a good comic’s spirit (and let me say again, this comic does have good spirit) is built upon. When these are in place, the extradimentional ancient families, spunky mouse girls in jeans, and cat-girlfriends with silly names will be all the sweeter.

Happy New Year, everyone.
~Ten_Elements
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