Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.

Now roughly two years ago I wrote a five part series “Internet Reviewing is Dead! (Long Live Internet Reviewing!)”, giving my views on internet reviewing as I saw it. If I have one mistake it was how I ordered the blogs (since a lot of people commented on the title but not on the content itself, leading me to point out that their counter-arguments were nice but entirely unrelated to the blog in hand), but I do stand by a lot of what I said. However, there is one thing I regret not talking about in more detail, so I’ll do so here. This is my reasons why I think the Comic Strip Critic is the greatest internet reviewer currently online.

To see what I’m talking about, go here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ComicStripCritic

Now I suppose I should preface this with the caveat that I’m not doing this out of a personal investment in the guy. Yes we’ve talked on Twitter and whatnot, but this isn’t me shilling a friend so they’ll get more views (even though he totally should be getting them). This is a cold, clinical, professional look at the man’s work and how it stacks up against his contemporaries. But first, some back-story. I first watched the Comic Strip Critic when he nominated his review of “Monty” for the Outstanding Content of the Week. Now, despite what some people may think, I do give everyone who submits a fair chance and watch all their videos, even if I don’t like their content or reviewing style. I always judge objectively. But, considering I barely knew of newspaper comics outside the Big Three (Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts and Garfield), and never read any of them, I didn’t have much investment going into the video. So I sat down, clicked play…

… And was instantly hooked onto this guy’s stuff. Within one video he turned me into an apathetic, nay antagonistic, watcher to a devout follower. I immediately went and watched his entire back catalogue in one sitting and subscribed to his YouTube channel. He was my top pick. But why? What made me do an almost one-eighty twist on my thoughts on internet reviewing? Well, in no uncertain terms, he was good. In fact, he was great. Now I’ve always said that one of the most important things when it comes to web videos is to be interesting, or at least be funny. Funny, sure. He made me laugh a few times. But interesting… Well, he caught my interest right away with the passion he had for the comic and the medium it was in. Here was someone who loved newspaper comics, something I barely gave a second thought to. His passion was infectious. But I’d argue that there was one reason above all else that he stood out for me.

Now I’ve mentioned before that one of my problems with internet reviewing is the lack of originality. If I have to choose between a big-named reviewer who I watch regularly and a nobody who are reviewing the same thing… yeah, I’ve gotta go with the reviewer who I can trust to give me a return on my investment. And since I’ve fallen into the comfortable patterns of only watching certain reviewers for certain things, ‘indie’ producers have to work that much harder. Saying that, reviewing something that no one else is doing is a great way of getting my interest. I’d always known that Rowdy C’s “TV Trash” existed, and I had caught a few episodes here and there, but it was only when he started to post onto Manic Expression daily that I decided to give it a shot. Like the Comic Strip Critic I love it because it’s reviewing something no one else seems to be reviewing. There doesn’t seem to be many reviewers out there reviewing TV shows. Likewise, Comic Strip Critic saw a gap in the market and grabbed it with both hands. With no immediate competition he pretty much ran unopposed. As mentioned before, originality is vital to success. Since Comic Strip Critic was doing something no one else was, he quickly captured that genie in the bottle. But that’s just the start. What about now?

Well I for one was devastated that the Comic Strip Critic wasn’t picked up by Channel Awesome, and the only reason I can see why is because he doesn’t produce videos as regularly as some of the other pick-ups (though if I’m honest, so far I haven’t really seen any of them that made me invested into watching them further). But while most reviewers comment on the medium, and some even interact with people from the medium, Comic Strip Critic is the only reviewer I know who actively influences the medium he’s in. Compare how much he’s done to an internet juggernaut like Doug Walker. Sure Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic has become a regular on the convention circuit, and he’s met a few famous people via his time at conventions. Hell he’s even interviewed a few… but Comic Strip Critic not only did it first, he did it without the ‘marketing’ that Doug Walker has. Comic Strip Critic’s first interview (if I’m not mistaken), was interviewing the creator of The Pyjama Diaries comic. Since then he’s interviewed the creators of both Watson and Intelligent Life, attended the comics award show and become well-known within the newspaper comic syndicate. There are quite a few creators who not only know who he is but regularly talk to him. In turn, he not only promotes their work but actually casts a critical eye on them, pointing out the faults where they’re apparent. It takes bravery to look at the work of someone you admire and go “In my opinion, what needs to be improved is X”. But, unlike some other critics I could care to name, it’s not mindless bashing. It’s not criticism for the sake of criticism. It’s well-reasoned, well-argued logic that makes one stop and go ‘yeah, that would make the comic strip a whole lot better’. In a world where internet reviewing consists of just getting angry in front of a camera, here’s a guy taking things to the next level by actually influencing the media he reviews.

So he’s an interesting reviewer who’s reviewing something that hasn’t been touched before and is having an impact on the media he influences. Those are pretty compelling reasons, right? Well yes, but there’s one more reason that perhaps trumps them all: His passion. Confession time: Like I said before, I didn’t read comics before he started. At all. But thanks to him I’ve now got a whole list bookmarked from GoComics and Comics Kingdom that I open up every evening for a dose of laughs. Ten to one odds say that if he’s reviewed it positively, I’ve bookmarked it and read it daily. And I’ve fallen in love with some of these comics. Heavenly Nostrils is something that should be more widely read, since it is great at showing the world from a girl’s eyes. Essentially a gender swapped version of Calvin and Hobbes that captures the joy and interest of being a child… who also happens to have a unicorn. Pearls Before Swine, something I’d never heard of before his reviews, is now something I laugh at regularly. Lio is just… it’s really taking the medium in a new direction by showcasing just how good art can be. No dialogue, few if no text at all, just a strip showing the power visual art can have. And Retail… Oh, Retail. Not only is it usually funny on a consistent basis, seeing long term story-lines pay off is actually quite engaging. I never thought it, but now I actively want to know what happens next to these characters. All of these great comic strips that I’d never have even given a second though too if it wasn’t for him. Because its his passion that keeps my coming back time after time. A man who loves comics so much that he’s willing to share that love with the world, to examine what makes something good and bad, and hook his viewers onto reading them. I can’t think of any internet reviewer who has made me gone “I want to read/watch what they’ve just reviewed”. So that’s why Comic Strip Critic is so great: He turned me into a comics reader.

So there you have it. My look at why I personally think the Comic Strip Critic is the greatest internet reviewer currently online. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.

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