Filed in Webcomic review

(From The Wotch. Click on image to see it full-sized.)

It took me a little bit to first get into The Wotch. To be honest, some of the early storytelling was rough in places. I particularly disliked the whole “comedy of errors” where character Anne kept doing things that revealed she was the Wotch despite the fact she’d stated it can’t get around. After the Consequences storyline (which wasn’t consequences so much as resolutions of the first season’s various mishaps) I truly got into the comic and started enjoying it more.

Of course, I went into my issues with the comic in detail in my previous tangent of TW. Instead, I’d like to take a quick look at the short story-comic that’s ending right now. No doubt I’ll go off on quick tangents as I continue but hey, you’ve got to expect that with a site calling itself “Tangents” now, should you?

A tradition that’s cropped up between storylines lies with the short stories that crop up. Unlike the Omake comics of Megatokyo, often these Wotch shorts are in-continuity and take a quick look at what’s going on within the world of The Wotch without the wide-reaching epic focus of the primary comic. Still, these comics tend to have a ripple-effect on the comic as a whole.

Take the previous 3-comic short with Stephen (a football player and actually-decent jock who is rather attracted to Anne). The next chapter ended up continuing with Stephen continuing to show interest in Anne (and an interesting revelation that undoubtedly set all the fans rooting for Anne and Robin to hook up in the comic as Anne pointed out she prefers to get to know a guy before dating). So I’m left to wonder what the repercussions of this latest short will be.

Not that there needs be consequences to it. Still, it’s rather interesting seeing Katie’s reactions to Jason being a girl because he enjoys going to the mall as “Sonja.” Indeed, Katie’s reactions to Sonja are almost over-the-top here. She’s offended that Jason is hanging around as a pretty red-haired girl (especially as Jason, as a guy, has a huge thing for redheads… not that I blame him. It just goes to show he has good taste).

Methinks the lady doth protest too much. Her friend Wolfie (though more reserved than Katie most of the time) just feels it’s odd. Katie is the one arguing the point, demanding that Jason shouldn’t enjoy just “hanging out” as a girl. As a woman she finds it… weird. Though I almost sense she’d have used a different word, like “disturbing.” And just before Anne, on a whim, turns Katie into a guy she says something interesting: “You probably just want a hot red-head to look at more often.”

Interestingly enough, I think that while Katie might complain about Jason’s constant obsession with all girls red-haired, she’s also flattered by it. Indeed, part of her “issue” with it may lie in the fact that it’s broad-scoped. He doesn’t stare at her… but all redheads. And the little bit of enjoyment she felt having a guy paying attention to her (especially considering she’s a fairly tall woman which may end up limiting her romantic prospects) gets sublimated by jealousy.

(The truly amusing thing is that Jason is actually strongly attracted to a lady whose hair is black, not red. Of course, Angie’s also a genie who’s suffering from a curse that will turn her into a chicken, but Jason doesn’t know that. Nor does Katie even know about Angie.)

I also got a chuckle with Robin who, upon being confronted by Katie in her tirade against Jason being transformed into a girl, turned and fled. “I forgot straws” might work for an excuse if the straws are next to the drink, but when they’re sticking out on top of them? Yup, the boy was definitely avoiding this argument. I half-wonder if that’s why Anne turned Katie and Wolfie into boys, out of a perverse sense of “you kept me from my drink! Well, let’s just turn the tables on you….”

So too are the characters body language. Anne looks concerned when looking at Katie just before she turns her into a boy. When asking Wolfie if the afternoon was “educational” the expression on her face shows it matters (note: eyebrows and their positioning help a lot). Jason looks annoyed when “Kevin” ends up staring at a blonde girl walking by. And the look of horrified “WTF” when Anne jokes that Katie and Wolfie can use the men’s room… delicious.

I do want to applaud Anne Onymous and Robin Ericson for shifting from the norm of Transformation comics. Most comics of this ilk work with the guy-to-girl shift and even look at how much better life is as a girl. Very very few work with the opposite angle, or with the thought that perhaps being a guy isn’t as bad as you might think. Perhaps part of the reason fans regret this story is ending as quickly as it has lies with this fairly unique approach. We want to see more of Wolfie and Katie’s experiences as guys… to watch things from the other side of the fence.

These story shorts are in some ways more enjoyable than the epic storyline. Perhaps part of that lies in the fact that as the story commences, we grow closer and closer to the comic’s termination. These shorts are a glimpse at a normal life for Anne and her friends. Well, as normal as her life can be with magical powers. But it was slightly disappointing to realize that this wasn’t the start of a more “normal” story-arc focusing on Anne’s more mundane life. Even so… the shorts serve a purpose. It’s a quick breath of fresh air between storylines that at times aren’t funny and that lead us further and further away from the comfort of Anne’s normal life.

Seeing how events from the shorts ripple through the next few chapters are also enjoyable. Stephen’s continued efforts to woo Anne may very well work to intensify Robin’s jealousy and remind him that part of him is attracted to Anne that way… and may also lead to a resolution, one way or the other, of the potential of an Anne/Robin relationship. More interesting, however, are the hints of attraction that Katie seems to have for Jason… and leave Jason with the question of pursuing his dreams of Angie… or the reality of home.

Robert A. Howard