Part IV: "9th Elsewhere"
(As seen at
This comic makes me laugh. It really does, and not because of
the lame-ass super-deformed sight gags. Oh no. Remember that
episode of Mission Hill, where Posey was meditating, and going
through this weird dream world with metaphoric chasms, monsters,
Frankenstein, a floaty clone of herself that drove a Miyata, and
Ronald McDonald was the secret of inner truth, or whatever?
Well, this comic is exactly like that, but meant to be taken
seriously rather than a joke. If pretentiousness and marijuana
had a baby, that bundle of ugly would be 9th Elsewhere.
For those who don't know, 9th Elsewhere is a fantasy webmanga
that takes place entirely within the author character's head.
You heard me right. This has to be the most egotistical,
self-absorbed webmanga I've reviewed yet. I mean, Jesus, I've
seen webcomics and sprite comics where the author character was
the main focus, but when the whole premise of the comic revolves
exclusively around the author, their mind, their feelings, THEM!
Good LORD! Get the fuck over yourself!
As I said, the story revolves around the author's avatar character,
"Carmen". Carmen is basically Caroline Curtis with a different
name, and probably better looking, as is the tradition with
webmanga-ka. I used that term instead of what I wanted to say,
because I try to be charitable, and have a heart every now and
again... Anyway, the whole damn story takes place in Carmen's
mind, wherein she's trapped with a muse name Eiji (surprise
surprise; a Japanese name). Eiji works for ORMY, which stands
for 'Organized Response Muse Yes!'...
...Okay, I'd like to explain something to Curtis, and any other
American webmanga person who might be reading this. You see, as
an American, you have, or at least should have, full mastery of
the English language. Therefore, regardless of how much you may
or may not just looooooove Japan, YOU DON'T HAVE TO FUCKING
MIMIC BROKEN ENGLISH! "Organized Response Muse Yes!" not only
makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it just screams "WASSAP
MOTHER FUCKERS I WAS MADE TO MAKE THE ACRONYM FIT I AINT EVEN A
SENTENCE BITCHES!" My intelligence, and the intelligence of
anyone reading this or the comic, has just been thoroughly
insulted. How anyone could settle on that acronym, and feel good
about that decision, just escapes me. But really, all you need
to do is copy that last sentence, remove the words "that
acronym" and replace them with anything else relating to this
comic, and you've pretty much got all my thoughts regarding any
aspect of 9th Elsewhere.
If you didn't
see this bit coming, you're an unevolved, stupid piece of shit!
The story will be the biggest part of this article, simply
because there's so much convoluted bullshit to explain. So,
Carmen (who reigns as the Ultimate Emo) mopes around in a world
filled with terrible, faux-philosophical metaphors that are
about as subtle as I am when I talk about how much I want to see
the author behind this abominable comic swallow a pill
containing a flesh-eating virus that devours her from the inside
out. At one point, the main character enters a train filled with
emotional baggage, but it's, like, real baggage. God dammit,
Psychonauts did that as a sight gag, and you're trying to be
serious about it?! What paint thinner did you huff?!
The metaphors abound, and they will all sicken you. There's a
city of figments, which are basically a bunch of people based
off Carmen's personality traits. And yes, what just popped into
your head is exactly right; aside from Carmen, Eiji, and Dorian
Gray (lifted right from a story by Oscar Wilde, favorite author
of pretentious college kids), all the other characters in 9th
Elsewhere are just figments and thoughts inside this chick's
head. Don't expect a diverse, interesting cast here; just a
bunch of archetypes (literally, in a few cases) based on idiotic
metaphors. Fun times, people! Oh, and there's also a
melodramatic heap of bullshit over an old toy! GOODIE!
Now, I'm going to give Curtis the benefit of the doubt and
believe that she never had these life experiences Carmen had,
including all the foster homes. I say this because, if it were
true, Curtis and her comic would be so self-involved I may very
well HAVE to vomit right here at my computer. Just let loose
with a torrent of stomach fluids, half-digested food, and a
stink that, oddly enough, would fit this comic perfectly.
Please tell me
the next panel has the speaker saying "Naw, I'm just kiddin'
This comic's content is painful to slosh through, especially
with all the god-awful metaphors. Ten bucks says Carmen finds
the secret to inner peace, but it's actually a puzzle piece
(peace/piece. Get it?). And, when she takes it, she'll reach a
level of understanding, but when she does, she'll be standing
under something. And, like, she'll face her inner demons, but
they'll be actual demons, see, like the ogre of self-doubt, and
the minotaur of depression, and some Japanese creature of some
There's also a lot of references to authors and psychiatric
principles no average, above-average, or even academic genius
knows of, or cares about. This whole damn thing is like The Wall
meets Neon Genesis Evangelion, after Anno's emo-trip turned it
into a faux-philosophical power-point presentation.
FEAR! SCARED! MENSTRUATION! SHUT UP! FATHER! PARANOIA! SHUT UP!
FEAR! I SAID SHUT THE FUCK UP WITH THE WORDS!
The art is standard webmanga fare; boring, stiff, amateur, and bland.
Proportions dance between "decent" and "iffy", poses are mostly
Egyptian, and the art style, while distinctive enough, shows
that Curtis would rather stick to her formula than change things
up for the sake of improving the characters. While the Metaphors
tend to look different in their design, any actual people have
the same basic look throughout (except Dorian Gray; he got a
mini-mustache. I know!). It's another case of "shave 'em bald
and strip 'em naked, and you can't tell 'em apart".
And everyone in this thing seems to have the same freakishly
That's not your
demon blood, that's just bad hygiene...
What also makes this art so damn piss-poor is the fact that,
while this seems to be some kind of dream world, everything is
so milquetoast and plain. Now, I'm not asking for melting clocks
or whatever, but when the best dream-scenery you can think of is
telephone poles in a flood, or a pun-laden train, this may be
the first time where I'd recommend using drugs to come up with
plot devices. And it always seems to go the same way; Ms. Emo
and Anime Man are walking down the street (or dream-street, as
it were), and BOOM! All of a sudden, they're somewhere stupid...
"Look! It's the ladder of your inner fears! Climb it, and you'll
face your fears, and overcome them!"
"...Where'd that ladder come from?!"
"Your subconscious, of course!"
"No, I mean we were just standing on some tall-ass hill. Why
didn't we see this?! It just popped outta nowhere..."
"YOU SHUT YOUR FILTHY JEW MOUTH, CLIMB THE LADDER, AND HAVE A
"...Filthy Jew mouth?!"
Curtis really cracks me up. She seems to be a fascinating
oxymoron; an egotistical emo. She wrote a mopey webmanga based
entirely around herself, and as much as she bitches and mopes,
she'll go and write mini-comics based on some mundane shit she
did in real life.
When I hit her interpretation of her little family vacation, I
had a hard time believing what I was seeing. Did she really
think she was so god damn interesting?! What the fuck goes
through your mind to think "Hey, I'll interrupt my main comic to
do a comic version of my wacky adventures in real life, because
I'M INTERESTING!" NO YOU'RE NOT! GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF!
YOU'RE NOT ZANY, WACKY, OR ANY SHIT LIKE THAT!
I call this
one: "9th Elsewhere in a Nutshell"
Oh, and my favorite part is the two-page whine-fest, trying to
reassure us that she SO DIDN'T have a falling out with the
ex-co-author (she who doth protest too much...), and she's
giving up webcomics, because it's not her world or some shit,
and she's deciding to become a poet...
Buuuuut the marble notebook route didn't work, so she went right
back to making her dumbass webcomic. Knowing how amateur poetry
tends to be, a I think we, as a society, dodged a major bullet
there. Of course, that doesn't stop her poetry from getting
mention in her comic, because she loves herself. More than she
Now that I've had time to think about it, I think a better
comparison to this comic would be that episode of Darkwing Duck,
where Binky hit her head, and became a dime-store superhero.
Remember that one? In it, Darkwing and Launchpad would
freeze-frame the episode to go into people's brains, where
there'd be doors with funny metaphors in them. This comic is
that episode, but a super dramatic version. The only difference
is that when I think of that episode of Darkwing Duck, I think
of happy childhood memories. When I think of 9th Elsewhere, I
think of Chinese water torture; an experience that's slow,
agonizing, and maddening.
Alex's AFTER Thoughts
Just for the record, I have nothing against comics that get kind
of trippy just because they can. Hell, a few of my favorite
manga series have relied quite heavily on symbolic imagery,
abstruse plot devices, and even theology dealing with spiritual
and/or metaphysical concepts to tell their stories. I think this
kind of subject matter can be very interesting and
thought-provoking when done right. The thing is, abstract,
metaphor-laden content like that only works when it's used in
small doses. To try and build an entire story around nothing but
metaphors and wacko philosophical bullshit is just missing the
point entirely. That would be like making a porno flick where
the entire movie consists of a woman waiting for her pizza to be
delivered from "Big Sausage" Tony's Italian Eatery, but the guy
never shows up and she ends up eating a box of Kraft Dinner and
falling asleep on the couch to an episode of Three's Company.
What's sad is that 9th Elsewhere didn't even start out all that
bad... Alright, sure, so the characters were one-dimensional and
the story was flat and uninteresting and the quality of the
artwork was inconsistent and, uh... Well, maybe the comic did
kind of blow from page one. The point I'm trying to make is that
the storyline for the earlier chapters, dry as it may have been,
at least made sense for the most part. Somewhere along the line,
though, the plot decided to jump the fence into Crazy Town and
quickly became a permanent resident. Some of the stuff Curtis
started throwing in there was just flat-out mystifying. And if
you actually have any idea what the hell is going on at any
point in the comic past Chapter 6, then stop reading this and go
get yourself a well-paying job as a psychiatric consultant at
the nearest mental asylum.
As for the quality of the artwork, let's just say that if they
gave out awards to artists for exceeding in the field of
banality, Caroline Curtis would have more trophies
with her name engraved on them than every single player and
coach from every single team registered with the NFL combined.
Some of the art looks downright ugly, while some of it is
admittedly pretty decent, but almost none of it really stands
out or seems the least bit interesting. It's basically the comic
equivalent of saltine crackers and white rice. Yum.
However, if you happen to be a fan of Curtis' style and would
like to get an original sketch from her to hang on your wall
next to that picture of you standing next to some Card Captor
Sakura cosplayer you met at Super Fanboy Anime-Con 2000 (the one
where you're grinning ecstatically and doing the "Victory" thing
with your fingers as if imploring everyone in the nearby
vicinity to beat the shit out of you), then you're in luck! For
the low, low price of somewhere between 10 and 30 dollars,
she'll mail you a cute little 4" x 6" sketch, or you can get a
mini-poster sized 8" x 11" sketch for only around 100 dollars!
...Wait. Did I say a hundred dollars? Did-- What-- A hundred
dollars!?! Holy shit!! Son of a bitch man, you can buy a
cloth wallscroll of your favorite anime that's almost four times
that size for less than fifteen bucks! One hundred dollars or
more for a single black and white sketch!? Who in the hell
does this chick think she is? Fucking Stan Lee!? Oh my
God... A hundred dollars. Bitch better draw a scale map to some
lost Incan city made of gold on the back of every sketch she
mails out for that price.
'Till next time!