Creator/s: Chris Hall, Brian Krümm
Section: MediaFire ZIP archive (some strips are NSFW)
Most webcomic readers probably aren't familiar with Shredded Moose, as it was an unpopular webcomic that was abandoned by its creators about five years ago. The first time I heard about it was when it got trashed hard on Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad, and that scathing review's the comic's primary claim to fame. However, the comic suddenly resurfaced this year, becoming a topic of discussion on the Bad Webcomics Wiki and Shitty Webcomics, and receiving attention from David Willis on his Tumblr account. When an individual named Trey Williams e-mailed the Webcomic Police suggesting that the comic be reviewed, it seemed like it'd be a good idea to see what the deal is with this webcomic. Fortunately, while the website's been deleted for a while, a lot of the strips were archived.
I read the strips, and while the comic's as bad as its reputation makes it out be, I found it to be more boring than offensive. It's vulgar in a very pointless and unimaginative way, as if the creators were desperately trying to get attention by being disrespectful and edgy. Almost all of the strips feature the main character, Brew, being violent and/or treating women as sex objects, and other strips abrasively reference sensitive topics like abortion and religion.
The comic goes through a major change after the Your Webcomic Is Bad review was posted. While 2007 Brew's a douchey misogynist who's irresistible to women, 2008 Brew's a douchey misogynist who's repulsive to women. This sudden character shift makes the comic less ridiculous, but it doesn't make it any funnier, as the lame gags about Brew's one-night stands are replaced by lame gags about how Brew's a loser who can't get laid. The biggest change of all, though, comes when the comic abruptly becomes story-based and turns into what's probably the most overly melodramatic comic I've ever seen. This section features a dramatic suicide by one of the main characters, Brew's history of being neglected by his dad when he was younger, and, most notably, a traumatic childhood flashback by one of the female characters in which she was raped after witnessing her mom being murdered. These dramatic scenes are written extremely poorly, and they turn Shredded Moose from being just a bad gag comic to being an embarrassing example of how not to run a webcomic. (By the way, the murdering rapist ends up being revealed as Brew's dad in a disguise. And in the next strip, it's revealed that he's also a vampire.)
Still, some people feel that the comic's underappreciated. For example, posters named "inspiredbysm" and "shreddedmoosememorialwebsite" have recently argued that Shredded Moose was unfairly attacked by social justice warriors and webcomic reviewers, giving the comic a bad reputation and discouraging its creators. Other fans, such as the creator of shreddedmoosearchives.tumblr.com, have tried to preserve the comic and bring attention to it. And as I researched the issue further, I found more examples of people supporting the comic, such as Liz Davis, the transgendered creator of an inactive webcomic called Watch Your Mouth, who attacked the reviewer Linkara for criticizing Shredded Moose. Shitty Webcomics also made a post about Liz Davis and her possible ties to a potential Shredded Moose reboot.
There were some strange connections that were hard to ignore. For one, when we wrote back to Trey Williams, he responded from the same e-mail account under the name Liz Davis. However, in a thread on the Something Awful forums, a user named "SpoonfulofBromide" promoted Shredded Moose, claimed to be the creator of Watch Your Mouth, and harassed an artist named "TheOnlyStarFish" who turned down an opportunity to illustrate the webcomic. This led "TheOnlyStarFish" to reveal the details of a disturbing conversation in which "SpoonfulofBromide" admitted having an unhealthy obsession with the creators of Shredded Moose, and also confessed to inventing "Liz Davis" as an alias.
That would be weird enough already, but, around the same time, people obsessed with Shredded Moose were posting on other forums as well. These individuals include "BluntTime" on Giant in the Playground Forum, "LionSandwich" on CWCki Forum, and "Pigling Bland" on Truth and Beauty Bombs Forum. I noticed that every poster praising Shredded Moose had some notable similarities, including:
- similar writing style
- passionate support for Shredded Moose
- posted around early to mid-2014
- strange interest in and knowledge about Shredded Moose's creators
- details about attempts to contact the comic's creators
- complaints about the Your Webcomic Is Bad review and SJWs
- claims that the comic promotes First Amendment rights and libertarian ideals
- praise for the character Monique as a well-written feminist hero
- references to the infamous movie The Room
- off-topic posts about depression and self-loathing
Why would anyone put so much effort into resurrecting an awful webcomic, though? Stiles' main arguments are that Shredded Moose was intended as satire, and that its story arcs show that the comic has better character development and depth than people give it credit for. She also suggests that the comic represents freedom and integrity by pushing the limits of self-expression. Lastly, Stiles claims that one of the final strips, which shows Brew doing kind things for people, is intended to contextualize the comic as the story of Brew's redemption. However, these arguments aren't very compelling, as the comic's wildly inconsistent nature and uncreative gags suggest that the creators didn't have a grand design in mind. The style of the earlier strips is a lot like Penny Arcade, which makes it likely that their idea was just to try to copy Penny Arcade, especially by having a second main character and making gaming jokes. The comic eventually fizzles out by turning into a high school comedy starring Brew's cousin, and that helps to make it pretty clear that the creators didn't know what they wanted to do. And while Stiles tries to make it seem like Shredded Moose is a great webcomic that has a few haters, I've yet to see anyone aside from Stiles make a comment about it that wasn't negative.
Overall, Shredded Moose is just a terrible webcomic, and having a bunch of fake fans posting positive things about it isn't going to make it any more appealing. The early artwork's actually pretty good and made the comic somewhat tolerable, but it just became a mess once the quality started to go down. I don't know if the creators will ever make more Shredded Moose strips, but I hope they choose not to.