Sinfest, Part 2

Creator/s: Tatsuya Ishida
Run: 1/00-current
Schedule: Daily
Section/s: Strip 4,708-4,735

Demonizing ideological opponents is a commonly used rhetorical strategy, but the creator takes it to an extreme by literally associating men with demons and The Devil. And the creator makes it clear where men belong -- in Hell. However, despite every man in the webcomic being a porn-obsessed misogynist, they rarely face any consequences, as God, the only one who's able to punish them, is shown as merely being a cute, crybaby hand-puppet. This is the creator's Sinfest: a reality where sinful men dominate helpless women while God sulks.

In addition to being obsessed with sex, the men in the webcomic are obsessed with aggression and violence. This is best represented in the fourth panel of this page, where Uncle Sam, being a symbol for the negative aspects of American culture, stares at porn and bombs on a computer screen. Even the young, cross-wearing Seymour, who I'd expect to be an exception, participates in this culture of violence by idealizing Christians and Jesus as fighting against evildoers (1, 2). However, while clearly viewing women as sex objects, men aren't ever shown being violent towards women, instead resorting to crude forms of sexual harassment (1, 2, 3). Under these circumstances, the combination of hypersexuality, aggressiveness, misogyny, male dominance, and rejection by women makes it reasonable to imagine that rape is a pervasive element of Sinfest's patriarchal society, despite the creator displaying an aversion to showing sex or violence in the webcomic. The alternative to this, which is female sexuality and consensual sex, is portrayed in a negative way, with participants having demonic features, wearing skimpy clothing, and using their sexuality for financial and social gain. (This includes the women in the ubiquitious pornos, although none of them appear in the section, instead being replaced by symbols like hearts with demon horns and "XXX.") According to the comic's reasoning, every woman is either an asexual rape victim or a sinful prostitute, with the latter group still being sympathetic in the eyes of the creator since they're merely responding to being constantly pressured by men.

The dystopian world becomes more sinister when it's considered that all of these rape victims and prostitutes are drawn with large heads, round faces, and flat chests, making them look like toddlers and young girls. In contrast, the creator has no problem making it clear which men are children and which are adults, with the latter group having facial hair, being taller, and having more realistic proportions. This strip is another good example, as even though Harold's large head and short stature fit the creator's cutesy style, his hairy arms and stubble designate him as an adult, while a character with a similar build, lacking these features, appears to be a child. The creator gives no such physical cues for his female characters, with the exception of occasionally making one seem more childish by giving her a cat costume or a tricycle. Instead, he relies on a strip's context to convey age, as putting a character in skimpy clothes and inserting them into an adult situation is intended to imply that they're an adult. This strategy's handled extremely clumsily, as both the context and physical variance used to distinguish young girls and sexy adults are minimal at best. As much as the webcomic overtly antagonizes pornography and sexuality, it seems to me like something that a person attracted to sexy pictures of children would particularly enjoy reading. But the problems with age continue as the creator chooses to insert himself in the strip as a childish figure even though he's been making comics professionally for 20 years. In the strip I linked, he innocently shows his dog the drawing he's working on, and it looks like a scene out of Red and Rover, a comic about a 10-year-old. While the creator drawing himself as a child serves as evidence that he regards age as being flexible and symbolic, this mindset doesn't work in a webcomic as sexual as Sinfest.

This gag comic that shows girls being abused by perverted men over and over is more of a horror story than a funny or political strip. It's too dumb for feminists and too stale for a general audience, leaving its cute girls in varying levels of clothing being the main point of the comic. It's an awful concept that's clearly already been completely creatively exhausted by the creator, making the never-ending stream of daily strips feel like an exercise in sadism.

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