The Belfry WebComics Index

I.S.O.

CID:16680 Subscriptions:50Readers this Week:3
Frequency:Completed
Url:http://www.hirezfox.com/isoarchives/
Genres:Drama, Furry, Gay-Lesbian-TG, Romance
Description*:About a tiger named Cody trying to make it through college while keeping his homosexuality in the closet and facing many obstacles along the way.
* 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
People who read this, also tend to read these:
(34%) i *Carpe Diem AL (34%) i *Class Menagerie Classics AV (33%) i Rasvaar AL (32%) i *Fur-Piled AL (29%) i *College Catastrophe (27%) i *Cheap Thrills ALN (27%) i *Blind Date ALNX (26%) i Wuffle (25%) i *Umlaut House A (25%) i *Eighteen ALNX
Higher percentages are more closely related.
Entry Added:Sun, Aug 23, 2009
Entry Modified:Wed, May 4, 2011

Reviews: 3   Average Rating:
 

11:38pm 12/20/2011
 
A good read that needs just a bit more.
When you have a bit of writing and art that neither cares it’s pandering to an audience, nor makes excuses for it, then there’s a small space of acceptability and perhaps even, oh I don’t know, maybe even a bit of admiration for its tenacity. For example, there's really no excuse for the gratuitous amount of booty and breasts in Lowrider magazine, and no matter HOW much you tell your mother you're just reading it for the cars, she knows you’re bullshitting her. Yet the moment you actually fess up and say, “Yes, okay, I pick this magazine because it has more than acceptable amounts of booty and breasts, but the cars don’t look so bad either”, then there’s a slight awkward silence followed by a long sigh when your mother realizes that her little boy has finally grown up, immediately being followed by a whoop of cheer at the thought of you hopefully moving out of the basement by time your thirtieth birthday next year.

In a way, this comic is like Lowrider magazine, in that it has some pretty good stories and characters trapped beneath all the strong and attractively portrayed men.

In Search Of, or simply ISO, a gay-college themed anthro comic. Now, stop me if this sounds familiar, but the story is about an incoming Freshman named student, Cody, a body builder who uses his strength as kind of a denial-defense of the fact that he’s gay and so far in the closet he could have tea time daily with Mr. Tumnus, if only it wasn’t for the fact that the satyr’s pantless body would probably send Cody running and screaming from his own hormones.
College’s (or Universities for you overseas people), are an easy way to portray the sudden amount of freedom and life changes a person is going through, but it does seem to be a common trope in the fandom. ASB is another example of furries in college, and I have to admit that the only other cliché that I see more of than the nervously gay college Freshman is the “furries working in/with/around the porn industry (Off topic, but this is a particularly old one, dating back to the start of Sabrina Online).

But I’m getting off topic here. Just because something has been used doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting. Action movies are all about explosions and car chases, but it’s in the way the director mixes it up that determines whether it’s interesting or not.

In a nutshell this comic is more or less about Cody’s denial about his sexuality and how he copes, whether it’s through his aggression or sheer pig-headedness, despite the fact that he’s a damn insecure person. From that angle you can one of two directions you can take such a comic. You can either play it straight (pun intended) and have one entirely melancholy comic about the struggles of being a homosexual, or you can add sing-a-longs and turn it into a Broadway musical and then later release it on DVD.

No, I’m joking. The other way you can do it is to lighten the tone. Make it a bit funny with a fair amount of humor poked at being gay and the hoopla that comes with it, and there certainly is a bit of that in the comic, and it does it well. I can honestly say the comic made me laugh—particularly when Cody’s straight and narrow friend chants “Do the hokey pokey and tune your best friend out" while Cody himself discusses a few sexy details about his significant other with another pal. In the sense of being a gay-humor themed comic, ISO reaches the mark and perhaps exceeds it. They jokes are neither over sexualized nor downplayed with what is the best happy medium one could hope to achieve. The characters themselves are clear and quirky and compliment the humor as well.

But however there are quite a few problems with the comic, and yes, some of them do have something to do with the nature of the comic and the audience it’s meant for, and there's a certain split on how a somewhat unbiased reviewer is supposed to go about reviewing the comic. On one hand the reviewer (aka ME) can loosen up and see the comic through the mindset of who it was intended for, judging it based on the fandom's criteria, but on the other I have to admit to himself that because I'm NOT part of the intended audience, there will certainly be things I'm fairly critical of in a matter of fact sense, simply because I know there’s going to be certain plot or visual elements in said comic that I don’t get or particularly care for because there is no real reason for it outside of pandering to the certain audience, of which I’m not part of, once again.

Now, I suppose, and the act of pandering to an audience isn't in itself an evil thing—referring to Lowride magazine which does actually does have some pretty cool cars in it—unless of course you’re trying to tell me that a pornographic sex scene in a comic is an essential part of the story and in no way pure fan-service, yet in the same breath saying that you’ve excluded said sex scene from the online version of the comic and is only to be seen in the “Hard Copy High Fidelity Special Edition” version of the comic available for purchase to those 18 and over, in which case suck a sock because I’m not falling for it and anyone who has half the wherewithal to tell when a story has meandered merely for the sake of some late night fornication will know better too.

If that last bit sounds bitter then rest assured, it is. I don’t mind a comic that shamelessly uses sex to attract a reader—just don’t have the arrogance to tell me it’s anything but.


But I’ll be honest and give points to the author, Vince Suzukawa, ISO doesn’t hold such an air, and its print copy in fact holds, as far as I know, nothing more than a bonus, somewhat unrelated story arc that is unnecessary for full understanding of the comic. But since I only read the online version cause I’m a cheap bastard, for all I know it could be a 32 page porno extravaganza, but I highly doubt that as the comic doesn’t seem to rely on unnecessary sex to “drive” the story, (aka tease you enough in promises that if you can survive ten pages of horrible storytelling and dialogue then you’ll get to see the “goods”), because ISO is fairly modest when portraying outright sex and has a pretty damn engaging and funny story. A good point.

However, when it comes to trying to portray sex appeal, ISO doesn’t give a damn, which brings up the messy critique of character design and the somewhat shameless fanservice in the comic. The majority of the males in the comic are hugely ripped and look as if they’ve all taken enough steroids to start a modern day Thunderdome, and they spend a good amount of time shirtless or doing manly things for the camera, flexing and whatnot. And this is where there’s that split. Half of me KNOWS this is meant for the sheer enjoyment of people enjoy seeing buff fur-characters, yet the other half of me finds it a bit unnecessary and perhaps bored at just how uniformly “buffed” the characters are. Other than the inevitability of anatomy getting a bit difficult at times,( though ISO’s cartoony style does forgive this more often than not), it gets hard to tell some of the characters apart. Cody’s best friend is a tiger, and I kept getting their dialogue switched because I couldn’t always tell them apart unless I was getting a shot of what pants or shirt (mostly pants) they were wearing, which again allows for more fan service. People have different body types. There’s different types of big, strong, and attractive, and there could have been a lot more done with it in this comic.

Another thing that irritated me, though sometimes impressed me, was the author’s experimentation with panel layout and metaphorical representations of some of the conversations. At times I found it damn hard to read because of esoteric styling of the long conversations, but at other times it finally broke the tedium of those long talks and awkward situations when dealing with sexuality. More often than not, however, I was just begging for a proper comic page, particularly during the dual-occurring conversation between Cody, Jeff, and his straight friend, and Doug and her sister, talking about the same date. It took me more than several pages to try and decipher the organization of the pages, and even then it wasn’t consistent. Yet, when the author does it right, he does it well. In one scene, instead of being presented with a back and forth of talking animal heads in a rather haphazard but well portrayed conversation, the character’s banter was portrayed by an imaginary tennis match. I found it both amusing and fitting, and was one of the better examples of the author’s tinkering with the style.

Now before I get into the final criticism of the story, I have to have some words about the character Jake and his Australian accent. Quite frankly, it’s horrible. Not that I’m saying it’s inaccurate. I’ve been to Australia and some of those bogans sound absolutely ridiculous, and I loved every second of it. But there’s a difference between HEARING an entertaining accent and READING it, and I have to say it was a downright annoying to try and read the phonetic-pronunciation spellings of Jake’s every accented word. Trust me when I say that by holding a bit of restraint and simply slightly altering a word or two a page while throwing in the tiniest bit of lingo will give the reader the proper voice speaking in their head while reading Jake’s dialogue. You don’t need to slap it over our heads every chance you get. There’s doing it right and overdoing it, and Jake’s accent was so overdone I can only compare it to a meatloaf that’s been left to cook for three days, so stuck to the metal pan that you need a chisel to scrape it out. (Yes, I’m exaggerating, but the point I’m trying to make is that Jake’s accent was exactly that. Exaggerated.)

Now, the last bit, and the final prognosis for the comic. Is the story satisfying? In short, yes. There’s a beginning and a middle and an end, and it is tied together… for the most part, and it’s what’s not there that that’s leaving me the slightest bit unsatisfied whenever I read to the ending. What happens to Doug’s sister’s crush on Cody, despite him being gay? Where on Earth did the conversation with Cody’s parents go, the one that’s merely hinted at in the ending? What happens to playboy Jake’s urge to get serious, only to realize that his reputation precedes him and prevents many from taking him seriously? Does he get over this? Does he grow up?

The fact that I’m genuinely interested in the answers to these questions says something about how I’ve grown fond of the characters through the things they do and the way they act, which is what every comic creator asks for, but I couldn’t help to feel the slightest bit of disappointment at not getting to see more of the characters’ arcs being wrapped up neater, or simply being elaborated on. However, whether this disappointment is in the story for not addressing such things, or simply because I missed the characters and wanted to see more, I can’t honestly decide.

~cc

04:46pm 09/03/2009
 
Plus half a star.
I subtract half a star from this, due to slight readability issues on the pages. This is due to the transfer from print comic to web, and a similar issue cropped up with Buck Godot and Girl Genius when the early issues were transferred to webcomic.

This will be a long waited for follow up to Class Menangerie for many of you however, and if you loved that as I did then you'll want to read this. Vince does tackle some more mature issues this time around, and aside from the setting in DeMontford University, there is little immediate that links the two series. His ability to produce believable characters is on display, as is his tendency for beefcake. But many readers are going to like the latter as much as the former, and it does fit the story being told.

All in all, despite a few readability issues from the comic book to web transfer, I think you're likely to enjoy this, and give it my recommendation.
12:52am 08/24/2009
 
one of the best comics
This comic is simply beautiful...with excellent artistic metaphors and drama that just keeps you coming back for more, this comic is definitely a must-read.
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