Part XV: "The Lounge" 

(As seen at thelounge.keenspot.com)

 

Guess who's back, back again! Vader's back, tell a friend!

Setting aside the Eminem references, I am indeed back and ready to subject myself to the wacky world of webcomics once again. Today's subject matter is a first for Comic Release, as it's the first webcomic I'm reviewing that I know absolutely nothing about going in. Okay, I know two things: I know that it's called The Lounge, and I know that it bills itself as "Cute, sexy, and purriffic!" Obviously this must mean I'm in for nothing less than a masterpiece of a comic. Let's take a look.


The Story
 

First off, I should mention that this comic has been going since 2002. Furthermore, in the initial years following its creation, this fucking thing pumped out comic strips at the rate of ONE PER DAY. Even if you adjust for the months that have fewer updates, there's at a conservative estimate around 18-20 strips per month on average. If we use 20 as a ballpark number, this means The Lounge is comprised of around 2,000 comics in total. That's fucking insane. For comparison, Dominic Deegan, an equally long-running shitpile, has around 3,000. The only difference? THE LOUNGE HASN'T ENDED YET.

Needless to say, I'm not going to subject myself to the entirety of the content in this comic's archives. Anyone claiming that an evaluation of this or any other excruciatingly-long webcomic has no merit unless the reviewer has read all of it can run through a forest of dicks. That's like saying you can't give Final Fantasy XIII a bad review because you only played fifteen hours and therefore don't know if the rest sucks or not. Guess what? IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER. A game that takes fifteen hours to get good (not that FF XIII ever does this—to the contrary, it gets worse) is still a shitty game. Similarly, a webcomic that takes hundreds of pages to get good is a shitty webcomic.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about the story and see how far we get before things get too asinine to bother continuing.

In a nutshell, The Lounge is a "humor" webcomic featuring some weeaboo bitch with a choker on her neck named Italy (what is this, goddamn Hetalia?!). She runs "an anime, video games, comic, [sic] and coffee shop" called The Lounge, which she apparently inherited from her father. There's also this other weeaboo with glasses named Max who works at the place and makes his formal introduction by telling the audience that Italy doesn't wear a bra. Only four strips into this thing and already I'm eager for the ride to end. The attempts at comedy are even worse than the art, and the art looks like it was drawn by a twelve-year-old with Parkinson's disease.
 

Are you laughing yet?


With that incredibly complex and nuanced setup out of the way, the comic is free to begin unloading its hilarious "jokes". More and more characters keep popping up, but since they all are clichés with a maximum of one defining trait, you won't care. Italy is an archetypical "tsundere" character who erratically switches between using Max as her whipping boy and making him the recipient of the most awkward and forced sexual tension I've ever seen. Max himself serves no obvious purpose except to act as a human dumpster for Italy's excess bitchiness. Then there's Italy's sex-obsessed friend, Italy's OTHER sex-obsessed friend who is a lesbian, some girl who is so obsessed with dragons that she never talks about anything else, and a whole bunch of other characters nobody cares about (including, presumably, the person who wrote them).

Oh yes, and of course we can't forget the token loli character who is TOTALLY 19 but looks like she's 13 (possibly as young as 10 in some illustrations) and serves as the focus for moe~/loli-catgirl fanservice while constantly saying "mew" for some reason. Seriously, there is no way this girl is anywhere near 19 years old (or 20, according to her profile on the cast page). The fact that the author goes to such lengths to state her age in multiple sections of the site only drives home how desperate he is to sexualize an obviously underage character without getting called a pedophile. Well mission failed, fuckface. You are a pervert who gets aroused looking at children.

Some of the fanservice in this comic is simply ridiculous. The comic stops short of showing full nudity for the sake of (barely) keeping its "safe for work" rating, but that's about the only line it won't cross. We constantly get lesbian shenanigans, teasing, T&A close-ups, and characters dressing in hyper-fetish-y outfits for Halloween.

Speaking of the Halloween party, that little story arc takes a hilariously dark turn at the end. You see, our main character got so fucking drunk that she couldn't continue partying anymore, so her lesbian friend brought her home. Because this comic is written by someone who is mentally five years old, there's a non-joke about Italy wishing she could join her friend once she brings her to her bed.

Then they have sex.

Yeah, you read that right. Eight times in a row, according to the comic. (Because having that many orgasms in a short amount of time is funny, I guess.) And guess what? Nothing comes of it. We get some more juvenile attempts at humor and then the entire thing is just forgotten. The fact that a character was too intoxicated to consent to intercourse is used as a throwaway punch line.
 


Ha, she got raped! AIN'T THAT HILARIOUS?!


It's like you're watching some sappy harem anime, then the TV suddenly switches to Rick Ross's verse from U.O.E.N.O. and then back again. The most surreal part comes a few strips later during a Christmas storyline. The lesbian rapist friend (named Aya—and she not only has the same hair but also cosplays as Rei at one point) gives Italy a present: Herself dressed in nothing but a ribbon. When Italy is reluctant, said "friend" proceeds to mope until Italy ACTUALLY FEELS GUILTY AND THEN HAS SEX WITH HER. What the fuck.

On the topic of sex, after more than 150 pages, I finally found a picture that actually looks like it had some amount of effort put into it. Feast your eyes:
 


Will you look at that EVERYTHING.


It might seem like I'm jumping around to zero in on the parts of the comic that feature sex, but the characters' sexuality is the primary focus of the story. Italy's lesbianism is, believe it or not, the central plot device around which most of the major events in The Lounge revolve. Her love of carpet munching even gets its own origin story: Back in high school, she met this guy who was basically the perfect Prince Charming type you'd see in some knockoff Disney bullshit. When the two of them went to prom together, Italy wanted to jump his bone; he didn't immediately get hard, however, so she ran home crying and proceeded to scissor the night away with her rapist girlfriend instead.

Italy was stated to be bisexual early in the comic but is later retconned to be gay all the way. This little adjustment has the effect of making her come off as a massive cunt for spending so much time cock-teasing her male acquaintances, as it turns her constant flirting into an apparent attempt to torture them for her own amusement.

The softcore lesbian porn scenes and sophomoric sex jokes continue for a while until the comic goes and gets SUPER CEREAL when Italy's father disown her because she's gay (I was dead serious when I said her sexual escapades are the trigger for everything that happens in this story). Then some evil incestuous twins from a rival family want to destroy her business and there's attempted rape and crying and drama and bullshit. I'd say it was terrible if the story had managed to make me give any kind of a shit.

I thought I could end this section here, but apparently I still need to write more. My dipshit editor is making me do this. I don't even wanna continue this review, honestly. Anyway, at one point we learn that Italy was actually an OMG LEZZBIYAN all along. That's right, the author isn't a shitty writer who pulls nonsense out of his ass when his newer comics contradict his older ones, he planned this all along! You see, Italy's father is really "old-fashioned" (which is sort of like a roundabout way for college liberals to say someone is a bigot and should choke on semen), so the poor girl felt FORCED to act as if she liked boys her entire life! I wonder what would have happened if she came out to him earlier. Given how cartoonishly evil he is, he probably would have thrown his underage daughter in some sort of camp full of drug-addicted hobos.

Regardless, Italy's secret lesbianism was apparently the reason why her prom date couldn't get it up. Because it's a well-known fact that straight men are repulsed by naked lesbian women. This development is the most utterly ludicrous thing ever until you figure out why it happens. All the nonsensical idiocy makes sense once we realize what John Joseco (the man behind this botched surgery of a comic) was aiming for.

Consider how Italy spent a ton of earlier strips playing with the emotions of Mr. "Why am I suddenly in blackface" Weeaboo along. Since she's been retconned to have been gay all along, she of course needs to apologize to Josec- I MEAN MAX for stringing him along and not delivering on the sex she indirectly promised him with all that flirting. Josec- MAX of course tries to act like the bigger man despite the fact that it's blatantly obvious he wants to pee in the butt of all the girls who clearly owe him sex- I MEAN ITALY.

Actually, once you think of Max as a self-insert of Joseco (whether intentional or not), a lot of things in this comic suddenly start to make sense. Take Italy's slutty tsundere behavior in the earlier strips, for instance. It's perfectly logical once you approach it from the angle that this is how Joseco sees attractive—or at least supposedly attractive—women. Clearly, the sluts are intentionally cock-teasing him with their naughty bits and stringing the poor, innocent guy along. Not only do they secretly want to ride his jock, they owe it to him by virtue of the fact that they dared to look attractive in front of him. And if a woman ever rejects him, well, then she must obviously be homosexual, because how else could someone resist the primal force of raw sex appeal that is him? Either way, they'd better profusely apologize for daring to be attractive and not putting out. When read this way, The Lounge becomes marginally more interesting and significantly more unsettling.


The Art


Awful. Terrible. Wretched. Earlier, I compared this thing to Dominic Deegan, and it's fitting that I should do the same again here, because art-wise, the two share a lot of similarities. For instance, there's the horrible anime snout-faces that no human being would ever have unless they were in a very specific kind of car accident. Or the fact that all the girls have the giant saucer eyes going on. Then there are all the other tired old chestnuts from the bottom of the anime barrel: giant sweat drops, forehead veins, and of course (everyone's favorite!) plenty of nosebleeds. And the blushing. Holy hell, is there a lot of blushing.

Much MUCH later in the comic's lifespan, Joseco finally learns about a little thing called "shading". Unfortunately for him, shitty drawings with shading are still shitty drawings. He did improve more than Terracciano of Dominic Deegan "fame", but this is not something to be praised—especially since he actually got WORSE later. Even TV Tropes, which features a ridiculously positive article about The Lounge, couldn't manage to spin Joseco's blatant lack of fucks to give about his own work. To quote the page: "[...] recently [the art] has been devolving (mostly due to the artist working on other projects) now looking worst then [sic] when it started." How much do you have to suck when even that hugbox circlejerk of a website can't praise you?
 


For Joseco, this is about as good as it ever gets.

And yes, her pubic hair is in the shape of Lorule's Triforce.


Strangely, despite having drawn more naked or near-naked female bodies than there are real women in the world, Joseco only ever learned how to draw one female body type. This means every character he draws is essentially a different head placed on a body labeled either Adult Female #1 or "Adult" Female #1. Except for the lolis, differences in skin tone and novelty pubic hair shapes are the only thing that prevent every one of his female characters from being identical from the neck down. This wouldn't be as much of an issue if it wasn't for the fact that twenty-something women in little-to-no clothing against featureless backgrounds comprise the lion's share of Joseco's entire artistic portfolio. It makes the amount of smut he produces totally baffling. The man could just as easily upload the same image every 48 hours for the rest of his life and his fans would never know the difference.

 

The Author

 

John Joseco is a gigantic weeaboo. I know that must come as a shock after reading all about his shitty anime harem lez-fest comic with a Japanese-American main character, but it's true. The man avidly collects figurines of female anime characters in skimpy clothing and is a massive fan of Kill La Kill, Sailor Moon, My Little Pony, and everything GAINAX has ever pinched out. If this doesn't convince you his taste sucks, nothing ever will.

Besides intermittently updating The Lounge, Joseco also currently works on a webcomic called The Hunters of Salamanstra. The story is about some furry chick called White Wolf (who fights with a katana, of course) and her boringly stereotypical companions destroying black gates, whatever those are. Since I'm not contractually obliged to review this one, I didn't read very far into it. All I can tell you is that the art in this one is better, probably because 90% of the panels are shots of the furry girl's ass and tits. Joseco draws ass and tits like ghosts are threatening to murder his family if he stops.

He also has a Tumblr account that he mainly uses to post more drawings of ass and tits. Most of the pieces involve humanized MLP characters. Just putting that out there.


In Conclusion...


There is another webcomic to which The Lounge can be compared: Tim Buckley's Ctrl+Alt+Del. Both feature a stereotypical evil guy who pines for the main character's girlfriend (or the main character herself, in case of The Lounge) despite the fact that he could easily get dozens of women who are far more attractive and WON'T crush his balls for the sheer fun of it. Italy is essentially Ethan and Lilah rolled into one character, with Max playing the role of the straight (Ha!) man Lucas.

The more interesting similarity between these two comics is that they fail for exactly the same reason: Both are wretchedly unfunny gag-a-day webcomics about video games and nerdy shit that later make the switch to drama/slice-of-life stories and fail miserably at them. While they both suck from their debut strips onward, the introduction of drama makes everything a billion times worse because the characters we're supposed to relate to are either unlikable cockbags (Italy, Ethan, Aya) or one-note caricatures (everyone else). One had lesbian rape and a homophobic father; the other one had a miscarriage and genocidal robots. At least the latter made for some pretty hilarious comedy, even if it was completely unintentional.

The Lounge isn't over yet (according to Joseco, the comic will wrap up in 2014) but one thing is clear: However it ends, it will be terrible.

- Max-Vader

 

 

Alex's AFTER Thoughts

 

Reading The Lounge has dropped me in the middle of a churning sea of fremdscham. I am straight-up ashamed for every person who enjoys this shit. The idea that anyone could derive pleasure from this brain-dissolving garbage and not die of embarrassment boggles my mind. If someone claimed they'd seen me crack a smile while looking at anything drawn by John Joseco, I'd make up a phony alibi about being at a pharmacy buying medication for Inverted Penis Syndrome.

The term "pandering" has appeared in a number of CR articles to date, but its use has never been more appropriate than in describing the appeal of The Lounge. This comic manipulates its target audience like a cast of marionettes. Its style is generic shoujo anime distilled and concentrated to industrial-strength potency, then poured over depictions of every otaku-approved cliché in the book. Cute animal mascots? Check! Plotlines lifted from umpteen slice-of-life anime series? Big check! Dated pop culture references thrown in solely to trigger 80s and 90s childhood nostalgia? Mega Check! Tons of shameless fanservice? Super Check II Turbo Ultra Match Plus R!

With Joseco's talent for exploiting the most pathetic fandoms on the internet, it's no wonder he managed to secure a seat at the table for bronies' favorite internet celebrities. Thanks to his plentiful contributions to the fandom, we have an even crazier Tara Strong and an extra 85,000 images of Princess Celestia rubbing her horse ass all over everything. I shudder to think how many poor ranchers have woken up to find the hind ends of their mares shampooed in nerd jizz thanks to Joseco's inexplicably popular "Molestia" character. If you think I'm exaggerating, then you should know the whole situation got so crazy that Hasbro was forced to step in and shut that shit down. When a multi-billion dollar corporation sets aside the time to tell you that your non-profit fan comic is too fucking creepy to exist, you've officially inducted yourself into the Loser Hall of Fame for eternity.

And yet, even after being involved in a scandal that would make the most unfailingly tolerant parents on the planet want to publicly disown him, Joseco remains a popular artist—and not only within the notoriously shameless brony community. His stuff is still ravenously devoured by his fans and continues to win new admirers every time he waddles into a convention hall with a pen and paper in hand. When you consider the guy has zero talent as a writer and produces the artistic equivalent of a drunk infant vomiting into a fish tank, it gets damn hard to deny that his appeal as an artist lies not in the quality of his work, but in what it depicts.

More than anything else in the whole wide world, John Joseco fucking LOVES to draw anime lesbians. The Lounge is full of anime lesbians, his galleries are full of anime lesbians... The son of a bitch even draws ponies as anime lesbians. And if you're upset by those censor bars, eat shit. I'm not here to advertise Joseco's softcore smut drawn in the style of speedpainted Dr. Katz fanart.

What I am here to do is restate the truth that anyone with half a brain figured out the second they so much as glanced at Max's review: John Joseco owes 100% of his popularity to the fact that his fanbase is comprised of frustrated nerds who diddle themselves to his sketches of cookie-cutter anime girls feeling each other up. If you think I'm wrong, please feel free to send me an e-mail explaining the artistic appeal of Joseco's work that my plebeian brain somehow missed. If you present a convincing argument, I'll post a public apology for besmirching the name that will someday be printed underneath a drawing of two catgirls performing cunnilingus on each other hanging in the Louvre. If you fail to convince me that Joseco is anything but a pervy hack, I'll make fun of your message and post the results on the site. That should sound like a pretty fair deal given that you have nothing to lose. After all, the price you pay for defending anything in The Lounge is your ability to feel shame.

 

'Till next time!

MANGA!