For the past few years I’ve wanted to write up an article on April Fools webcomics. Sadly, something always comes up to distract me (or I run out of time and have to make due with a quick article on some random comic). This is particularly unfortunate as the number of April Fools comics has diminished over the years, and do note I say this as someone who was only reading around 30 webcomics in 2005 when I started reviewing them; in the last seven years, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in the number of prank comics played upon readers.
Undoubtedly part of the reason for 2012’s lackluster showing is due to April Fools landing on a Sunday (thanks in part to the Leap Year pushing it a day ahead). I actually did peruse my entire active reading list (well, outside of the Monthly list, which I probably should have read as well seeing it’s the start of the month). Oddly, we had no “this comic has been pulled due to a cease-and-desist order” pranks (though we did have The Devil’s Spanxx with new sponsorship), perhaps due in part to the decidedly unfunny issues that ACTA and similar copyright laws has inflicted upon the Internet community as a whole.
Instead, we’ve had several “defaced artwork” comics, with the ladies of Supernormal Step (which I’ve yet to review) sprouting mustaches, sideburns and beards, and Bardsworth adding facial hair and a top hat to various characters in the last update (along with velociraptors sneaking up behind the main character in the last strip). A couple other comics went with a more surreal note, such as the science fiction comic Galaxionhaving the entire series be a dream of Star Fleet Officer Aria Schafer (who ridicules the uniforms they have to wear), and The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred doing a “10 Years Later” strip that… defies a quick and easy description. And of course we can’t go through an April Fools without the traditional “twist final panel” shtick, such as Zebra Girl which has Sandra transformed into… a Demon Pony.
There were also a number of comics that fit under the “not quite sure” category. I’m almost certain that Maritza Campos’s “reboot” of College Roomies from Hell is a prank, despite the fact she posted it on March 28. But some pranks need extra time to build, I suppose. Similarly, Two Kinds introduced a character (“Maddie Addie”) that I can’t help but think may fit under the “twist final panel” category… but am honestly unsure of. And the attack of Grammar Divinities in Dungeons & Denizens is hard to place seeing that it is a humor comic, and weirder things have popped up in the past. Heck, the April Fools’ update for Kevil and Kell didn’t even have a prank aspect to it; instead, it was just an “art” update poking fun at various types of art using the K&K characters.
Looking back, I suspect part of the reason for the decline in prank updates and the like has to do more with the time involved than the day of the week hit with April Fools’ day. For storyline comics, the prank often disrupts the flow of the story, especially for those comics that update only a couple times a week (or less). When you add in the recoding of websites for some of these pranks and how this affects the pacing of stories and the like, April Fools becomes more trouble than it’s worth. This is a shame, seeing that some of the past jokes have been truly innovative, as have some of the pranks that appeared today.
Unfortunately, not all of these April Fools comics will be around for people to peruse. Much like the morning mists, they vanish once April 2nd comes about. (Indeed, already Bardsworth has undone the graffiti on its main page, which is a shame.) Oh, and on a final note, rumor has it that Fred Gallagher updated Megatokyo with two of his fan-favorite female characters wrestling in undersized towels in a men’s locker room, but I’m not sure how much credence I’d put to the rumor. I mean, Megatokyo already updated this month….