Fall of God

URL: www.reneekatz.com
Creator/s: Renee Katz
Run: 11/11-current
Schedule: About once a week

Website: Fall of God has a nice, art-industrial look, sorta like what Derelict's going for. The WordPress layout seems to be a lot less intuitive to use than a Smack Jeeves, Comic Genesis, or Drunk Duck site, though. There's no way to browse the archives other than through a small dropdown box on the side of the site that only lists months, but the dropdown's shared by several of the creator's webcomics, making it seem rather disorganized. The "previous" and "next" buttons below the pages are buried beneath an ad, social media links, meta tags, RSS feed info, and finally a "Comments are closed" message, setting up an awkward block of visual interference. Also, the "search" feature is displayed prominently at the top of the page, but it seems basically nonfunctional.

For a site with archives going back more than five years, I'd certainly expect at least some kind of extra material by now, such as sketches, fan art, character biographies, Christmas wallpapers, or whatever.

Lastly, I don't like how the "Top Web Comics 100" banner's shown above the comic pages. I understand the creator wants to show the banner in a prominent place to help get more votes, but I think it's distracting, and there's already another "Top Web Comics 100" banner further down on the site.

Writing: One major problem with retelling such a classic and well-known story as Genesis is that the audience probably already knows everything that's gonna happen. God makes the world, the plants, and the animals, and Adam and Eve soon follow, along with the snake and the Forbidden Fruit. As I was reading the comic, I kept waiting and hoping that the creator had some twist or surprise in store, assuming that this tedious presentation was merely a necessary introduction to a more creative concept. But I kept being underwhelmed as I flipped through these pedantic early pages, 'til finally I reached the current page, and the comic still hasn't gotten to "the good part."

The website presents the comic as "An inversion of the Genesis story in the Bible: God tempts Adam and Eve to eat the Forbidden Fruit." It would seem that this inversion would be the driving force of the comic, "the good part" I was looking forward to, but unfortunately, the creator doesn't treat this theological context with nearly enough complexity or cleverness for it to work. The inversion, despite ostensibly being the whole point of the comic, isn't explained at all except for one vague, clumsy reference within one page that creates more questions than it answers. Why is being respected and feared so important to God? Why did he make Adam and Eve if he doesn't want them around? Why doesn't he just make the humans leave the Garden? What are God's "divine plans"? Why does he consider the humans to be "depraved" when, at this point, they're fundamentally innocent?

And what about the theological implications? If God's unsure if Adam and Even will eat the Forbiddin Fruit or not, does that mean he doesn't know the future? And if God's unable to influence the humans, does it mean he isn't all-powerful? The comic seems to suggest its version of God is much less impressive than the Christian version, but at the same time, he's still doing all the awe-inspiring stuff he's known for, like creating the universe, and making Eve out of Adam's rib. It's a cute idea to portray God as a bumbling imbecile, but the creator doesn't do enough to distance this parody of God from the well-established Christian mythology, leaving the reader with an incomplete and overly simplified concept.

I feel like this review would be incomplete without mentioning the most famous Genesis revision, Paradise Lost. Milton's epic has the same issue as Fall of God, in that it strictly follows the familiar and predictable narrative of the Bible, but his version addresses the brief and even minimalistic nature of the Bible's Genesis by greatly elaborating on its details and language, and by developing the characters and situations more. Fall of God, on the other hand, tries to warp the basic Bible version, but I don't think the comic's funny or clever enough to fully get past the storytelling shortcomings of the original. The "sweet spot" for Fall of God would be somewhere between the Bible version and Milton's version, and I think any steps towards emulating Paradise Lost at this point would be beneficial.

Lastly, Fall of God doesn't convey the same sense of wild creativity and enthusiasm that made me a fan of one of the creator's earlier projects, The Nineteenth-Century Industrialist. Fall of God seems more like a tepid product of a school assignment, and I imagine it'd be more enjoyable to read if the creator brought out that looser, sanguine style present in her earlier comics.

Art: The deficiencies with the writing are somewhat balanced out by the creator's confident and expressive art style. The panels are fun to look at, and the creator's particularly capable with the characters' facial expressions and body language, as shown in this page. The bright colors and cheerful background details, like rainbows and the smiling sun, help keep the story lighthearted, even though Adam and Eve are presumably doomed.

One of the art's main features is its constant switching between seriousness and goofiness, and while it's generally done fairly skillfully, the comic overdoes it, and, as a result, makes it predictable and repetitive. Some examples are here, here, here, and here. It's obvious that God in this comic isn't gonna be serious for more than a couple panels at a time, so the comic doesn't need to make those moments seem so dramatic when the audience won't be viewing them that way.

Lastly, I was surprised to see that the creator draws Eve with exposed breasts, and she does a good job of conveying the natural state the humans are in without making the artwork seem sexy. Sometimes the humans seem a little blobby and simplistic, though, and it's possible that somewhat more realistic and muscular iterations of them might look a bit better.

Overall: Poking fun at religion's a classic and noteworthy endeavor, but the immense history and complexity of the subject requires a more creative and substantial approach than just "God is dumb." The creator seems to have the artistic skills necessary to successfully portray these timeless characters in a flavorful way, but she still needs to take a look at the story of Genesis from more angles and figure out a way to get a little more out of her biblical characters.


No comments :

Post a Comment