Mouthwash for the Brain

Creator/s: Mark A. Wade
Run: 4/12-current
Schedule: Two or three pages a week

Website: It's about as plain and unoriginal as you can get, which isn't an ideal way to present such an off-the-wall comic. The comic also promotes another site at, but it doesn't appear to be functional yet. The character bios and extra drawings are a nice start to filling out the site, though.

Writing: The comic's random, irreverent humor's cute, but I don't think it's as funny or original as the creator makes it out be. Throwing a laundry list of celebrity cameos and pop culture references into a half-baked storyline isn't very creative, and the comic would be better off if the creator tried to develop his original characters more, like Johnny Foo and Zoey the Zombie Girl. As-is, the comic barely gives these original characters any attention since it's constantly distracted covering the goofy exploits of celebrities like Dave Navarro and Peyton Manning. This page is especially weak, having Jeff Probst from Survivor randomly show up and get killed by Katniss from The Hunger Games. Not only is this page not really that amusing, but it doesn't have anything to do with the story or characters. There are other examples of lame, random cameos in the comic as well, like Jay Thompson kissing a fish, and the Geico pig shouting, "Weeeeeee!"

The comic also has two recap pages, which is obviously very redundant for a story that's only had seven pages so far.

Art: This comic reminds me a lot of This Modern World, in that the characters are copy-pasted "talking heads" of celebrities and stereotypes. The problem with this minimalistic approach, though, is that it requires really, really good writing to pull off well, and while this creator isn't a terrible writer by any means, he's not nearly at the level of someone like Tom Tomorrow. It's a sorta problematic trend in webcomics, actually, that a lot of people read minimalistic comics like xkcd and Dinosaur Comics and think, "That's easy! I can do that too!", and then they have a webcomic with crappy artwork that no one cares about. The reality is, unless someone's a really outstanding comic writer like Randall Munroe or Ryan North, then this kinda style doesn't really work, and will probably just end up making a comic worse.

That said, doing simplistic drawings and copy-pasting is always gonna be an appealing approach for new webcartoonists, 'cause it's blatantly easier than spending the time and energy on drawing detailed and difficult stuff. And while this does help a webcartoonist update their comic more often, it actually hurts them in the long run because it means they won't improve as quickly as if they'd gone out of their way to challenge themselves more.

Fortunately, the creator of Mouthwash for the Brain is a fairly decent artist, and he's reasonably capable at drawing his original characters and the celebrity caricatures. The comic's many celebrity appearances, including Barack Obama, Rosie O'Donnell, and Tim Tebow, can be fairly easily recognized from just the artwork, which is an indicator of capable drawing abilities. The downside of these renderings is they're generally drawn with the person facing straight at the "camera" with their arms at their sides, which is the most boring way possible of showing somebody. Add in liberal copy-pasting and childish coloring, and you have a comic that looks lazy and unappealing, especially since the creator's obviously capable of doing better.

Mouthwash for the Brain would improve significantly if more of the action was shown in the artwork rather than explained in the text. For example, the comic introduces Zoey and Chongo by stating in the intro page, "Both were exposed....found unconscious," but the comic doesn't show this weird and cool scene; this second panel does a lousy job of showing the "zombie-like goat with a snake tail" killing Bill O'Reilly; and the narrator in the fourth panel here explains that the musicians "were able to take the ninja down when Nick threw a drumstick into the eye of the ninja," but this hilarious and awesome scene isn't depicted in the artwork at all. It's also clumsy how the comic goes from showing the hatching egg, to showing the room with the lights off, to showing the room with the lights on and the alien standing there. The comic doesn't try to convey why the lights went out, and it seems like the creator mainly did it just to save time drawing the scene, which is pretty lame.

Lastly, the lettering's poorly done in a variety of ways. The font choices don't work well, and the bubbles are often "walls of text" instead of being separated out, they sometimes overlap the artwork or other bubbles, and their tails are often too wide and/or too short. The creator should pay attention to how other comics handle lettering and try to emulate them more.

Overall: While I certainly wouldn't recommend reading Mouthwash for the Brain, it seems like a fairly ordinary effort by someone who's just getting started in webcomics, which appears to be the situation the creator's in. I'd expect anyone's first foray into webcomics to have major problems, so hopefully the creator doesn't get too upset about having an underwhelming beginning. It can easily takes years of practice for a creator to get to the point where they can create a webcomic of reasonable quality, so I view Mouthwash for the Brain as representing a very early stage in that process.


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