The Belfry WebComics Index

Original Life

CID:16437 Subscriptions:548Readers this Week:7
Genres:Comedy, Drama, Furry
Description*:The sequel to Better Days, follows the life of its main characters as they try to raise their children.
* 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
L Adult Language
People who read this, also tend to read these:
(59%) i *Better Days ALVX (48%) i *TwoKinds ALV (47%) i *Sabrina Online A (45%) i *Sequential Art AL (45%) i *Las Lindas ALN (43%) i *Jack ALNVX (43%) i *Concession ALNVX (42%) i *Housepets! (42%) i *Peter Is the Wolf ALNVX (41%) i *Catena
Higher percentages are more closely related.
Entry Added:Mon, Jun 1, 2009
Entry Modified:Tue, Jun 23, 2020

Reviews: 1   Average Rating:

10:35pm 08/06/2015
Truly better days
Given the essay I wrote in review of Better Days, when I learned Jay Naylor had started a sequel almost immediately afterward, I knew my work was cut out. Despite my initial trepidation, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find the new comic less politically polarizing and generally better-structured than its forbear.

In short, Original Life is Better Days as it should have been. In the previous comic I complained that Fisk and Lucy were adults in children's bodies; here their kids act like -kids-, their imaginative antics and philosophical quandaries more evocative of Calvin and Hobbes than a right-wing Boondocks—at least for the most part. Given the age range of the participant characters, the story still drifts in and out of mature themes, but the humour doesn't depend on sexual vulgarity the way it did in Better Days.

There is also more of a free flow to the story itself. Whereas Better Days was compartmentalized into somewhat self-contained chapters, aside from setting changes there is no hard break between arcs time-wise, and more fluid call-backs to previous events. This is probably at least in part because Original Life isn't working to a 'longue durée' timeline, and so can indulge in life simply as it comes. Indeed, while there are several sober arcs scattered throughout, the comic as a whole feels much more upbeat, and while some plots seem like rehashes from Better Days, as a whole I found it a more enjoyable read. It may not share the same sense of over-arching purpose, but this is not a qualitative drawback.

Original Life does, inevitably, inherit its predecessor's controversial moral outlook (explained at length in the Better Days review), and propagates it as soon as the first arc. Thankfully, the proselytizing is much less prevalent and generally recognizable, and while the libertarian bias will still irk some readers, I didn't feel as though I had to stay on guard all the time. Naylor also introduces a noteworthy gender discourse several times in the story, of which I have mixed opinion: while he provides a sympathetic, if simplified window into the LGBT world, he does so under the old stereotype that male and female brains are distinguished, essentially, by propensity to aggression and directness of action. Charlie overcomes her shyness by acting like a 'boy', turning off her analytical 'female' brain and embracing the instinctive 'male' brain, which she later describes as the "purity of intent"—tacitly implying that women are psychologically biased against 'direct' thought, a premise contradicted by several of the comic's own characters.

Standing out against Naylor's usual moral pronouncements is the backstory to Fisk's working partner Red Mallory (pp.404–417), which offers a far more nuanced, far more compelling exploration of the long-term psychological damage from child abuse than "Tough Love" and its follow-up in Better Days. It is also the first time Naylor offers a legitimate counter-argument to his own moral paradigm. Red calls herself a monster, knows she's permanently scarred, and recognizes the perverse way that her trauma has made her a lucrative assassin. Fisk admits as such, nominating her for recruitment based on two credentials: that she lacked the inhibitions to kill her own father, and that she had the guile to cover it up. He tries to reassure her that they're in the right, but she -doesn't- believe morality is simply a matter of individual choice, nor that her turbulent experience justifies her behaviour, and remains haunted that the only real difference between her and her targets is the fact they aren't on the same side.

In conclusion, Original Life is a worthy sequel to Better Days, and a better-written project overall. It also benefits from a crisper (albeit still background-averse) digitized art style. Original Life may not aspire to the grand narrative of its predecessor, but the story overall is more fun, and the characters more believable. While Naylor's soapboxing remains problematic, it is not as heavy-handed here, and I am more willing to recommend the comic -with similar reservation- to a general audience.
06:40am 05/30/2011
A small comment on the comic
This is not as much as a review but a bit of analytical commentary on what Jay Naylor has managed to do with what should have been a fun, silly, and enjoyable comic.

One major criticism he had with his previous comic, Better Days, was the fact that every other chapter had a long spiel or wall of text that spun out his utterly right-wing bits of propaganda. It wasn't the characters speaking. It was J. Naylor, and it gave the comic a sense of being his political soapbox.

Original Life, sadly, has also fallen to this. So far one about religion and one about the press. I'm certain there are others that can be read into, but these were so overtly obvious that it has honestly turned this reader completely off from the comic.

I mean... these characters are supposed to be kids, yet their speaking in political paradigms that seem very unfit for them, and in a way it's a bit bigoted.
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