Part XI: "Misfile" 

(As seen at www.misfile.com)

 

Oh God, what have I gotten myself into this time. This one isn't like Collar 6, where I can easily laugh at its stupidity. It's not even like Bleedman's ultra-tasteless misadventures. Writing reviews for those was at least fun, despite the indescribable pain involved. But not this time... This comic makes me cringe. I'm not kidding you, my stomach literally feels like I have to puke every moment a page of this trash is on my monitor. It'll be a miracle if I don't die of dehydration before this is over.

Our subject today bears the title Misfile, the first work of fiction to make me feel physically ill since The 120 Days of Sodom (and at least that book was pretty good, disturbing content notwithstanding). To make matters worse, Misfile is fucking LONG. While I'm writing this, the comic consists of over 1,800 pages. That's almost twice as many as ALL OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS NOVELS COMBINED. Ah well, no use in delaying the inevitable. As much as I will hate myself for doing this, let's go in-depth and explore what makes this webcomic such a fucking piece of garbage.


The Story
 

So you may be asking yourself, "What is this shit all about?" Excellent question. Misfile is a webcomic about gender-changing (as well as other things, but this is the axis it revolves around) and thus belongs to the same category of digital shitpits including The Wotch and Abstract Gender. Like all gender-change webcomics out there, this one involves an average man being turned into an attractive woman. Gee, I wonder why that is...

Anyway, the setup for this thing is that Rumsiel, an angel with the worst name ever, was intoxicated on booze and pot and thus did a misfile (derp) in the celestial filing cabinet. I won't even get into how retarded the concept of an angel who takes drugs and sleeps with hookers is since there's an even bigger piece of idiocy right behind it: in the world of Misfile, Heaven is a bureaucracy. And according to the author, that means it has a shitload of filing cabinets. You see, every living being has a file. If you do not put each file in its proper place, you'll fuck everything up. For example, the main character Ash was accidentally filed in the "girl" cabinet, so he's a girl now. And the other main character, Emily, lost two years of her life and aged backwards because a couple pages fell out of her file. So now Rumsiel, having been thrown out by his bosses for being a slacker, lives on Earth with the other two and tries to do good deeds so he can schmooze his way back into Heaven and correct his mistake. Because if anybody finds outs about his little mishap, his bosses will "correct" it by making the changes permanent. Oh noes!

Let's step back dissect this premise a bit, shall we? First of all, the idea of heavenly filing cabinets with reality-altering powers is so fucking retarded, I can't believe it. If you put someone's file into the wrong category (like "fish"), not only will they change, but REALITY ITSELF WILL BE ALTERED TO FIT. The three main characters are the only ones who remember how things used to be—as far as reality and everybody living in it is concerned, Ash has always been a girl. And before any fucking tosser tries to pull the "it's just fiction" argument, you can't ask me to suspend my disbelief so much that I could be institutionalized. You want me to believe that God created a system that is this stupid and dangerous and lets any random idiot play around with the fundamental aspects of reality? I'm supposed to worship a creator that stupid?! Where can I sign up for the armies of Hell?!
 


Misfile in a nutshell. Please note the extreme amount of thought that went into it.


Ugh... 23 pages in and I already feel like I've just read all of Sugar Bits and Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi back-to-back. But anyway, now you know what this webcomic is about. And believe it or not, we are only scratching the surface of what makes it so abhorrent. The other reasons fall basically into three categories: Bullshit sitcom-hijinks, bullshit melodrama, and bullshit unintentional sexism. At least I hope it's unintentional, because otherwise... Fucking hell.

The sitcom-y part is pretty much self-explanatory, because gender-changing always leads to such "hilarious" antics as trying to close your newly acquired bra and other retarded clichés that going into too much detail would be wasting my time and yours. As for the drama, again, this comic does nothing to build upon the basics of unrequited love and teenage angst that hack writers have been relying on since forever. All you need to know is "will I ever get my penis back?" is pretty much the main theme of this thing and the source of most of the unintentionally hilarious drama.

The sexism, however, I will have to explain a bit. For one, the main character is incredibly sexist, but there are also plenty of little touches in the comic itself that will force you to battle your own gag reflex. For instance, Ash does a lot of racing in his car—and I mean A LOT of racing. And when he's tuning it, he modifies it at one point early on so that it will fit his smaller, womanly feet. Which doesn't make any sense. The reality of the past and present has been altered, remember? Why would his girl-self not have done that already? Was she just an idiot up to the point where got a man's brain? At another point, Ash is incapable of lifting a heavy part of his car that he could always lift easily as a boy. Because, you know, women are weaker than men. I wonder if the author is even aware that he is not only indulging in a stupid cliché, but that somebody who has been working on cars his/her entire life would have built up enough muscle to lift that part, regardless of gender. The guy is actually breaking the rules of his own fictional universe just to indulge in a few dumb gender clichés for easy laughs.

But enough about the sexism of the author; let's talk about the sexism of the main character. And oh boy, is there a lot of it. For example, when he and Emily are arguing, she hits him at one point. He points out that he can now hit back because he's a girl, and she said he can't, because that would mean admitting he really is a girl now mentally. Oh God, my brain.
 

This is the worst catfight ever.


First off, it's stupid to make a special exception to not hit people that hit you first just because they have a vagina. Either you hit nobody, or you hit everybody. Try using that logic if they come at you with the intent of doing you actual harm. Especially since the notion of "women are weaker than men" is bullshit anyway. But I digress. The running theme here is that Ash constantly tries to prove his masculinity by doing "manly" things so he won't feel like he really is a girl. So what are the things he does? Avoid talking about his feelings (because only stupid girls do that), refuse to cry (ditto), become a drooling idiot over naked women ('cause that' s what defines men: their horniness) and of course participate in and win dangerous races that might kill him. The only thing he hasn't tried yet is smashing a beer can to his forehead, and even that might have happened in the far later chapters that I couldn't be made to read if you paid me.
 

Behold, the essence of man.


Because Ash has a female body, he tries to act as much like a negative stereotype of men as possible (think Duke Nukem meets Jersey Shore without the awesomeness of the former) in order to compensate and keep himself from developing a female personality to match his new body. Well, Mr. Author, you shouldn't have had him do that. Not only because it's insultingly stupid, but because asking the question of what it means to be a man means you have sloppily ventured into my territory—motherfuckin' Philosophy—and I shall squish you like a bug for it.

Simply put, there are two ways you could look at this: Either what makes you a man is your mind, or your body. If it's your body, then case closed, Ash is a girl. Because unlike sex-changes, which do not change your true gender in any legitimate way (I know this will piss off people like JDR who are in denial, but frankly I don't care), he has a real vagina and a real female brain. But what if we're talking strictly about the mental? Does doing "girly" things make you a girl mentally? Well, no. For one, the notion that things like crying or having empathy should be associated with one gender is sexist and ridiculous. However, I will make another argument that will take this a bit further: In his brilliant essay "What is it like to be a bat?", the American philosopher Thomas Nagel made the point that even if he were physically transformed into a bat, he still wouldn't be able to have the same experiences an actual bat has in order to argue for the subjectivity of experience and against reductionism. Inspired by this, I would postulate the following: Regardless of what physical form you occupy at the time, you will always be yourself as long as your mind hasn't been altered. Memories and our subjective experiences cobble together our personality, yes, even our entire being. For example, if I were suddenly occupying the body of a genderless machine, I would still be a human and a man despite my lack of genitalia or even a flesh-and-blood body simply by virtue of my own consciousness.

As a side note, this would also mean that if a person were to lose all their memories forever, even though their brain and body are the same, the original person would have ceased to exist and be replaced by a "new" mind that is making a completely fresh start. And that new person will be different from the old one, I guarantee.

But enough of me going on about controversial armchair philosopher stuff; it's about time I started wrapping up this analysis of Misfile's plot. Yes, I'm already nearing the end of this section. I read about 200 pages and couldn't stand it anymore. And before you accuse me of writing a sloppy review by not bothering with the entire 1,800+ pages of this monstrosity, then I would like to point out that even if by some miracle all of the following pages turned out to be a fantastic read (spoiler alert: I skimmed through the rest and they aren't), if you write 200 pages of pure grade-A horseshit and then expect people to slog through it in order to get to something decent, you have quite simply fucked up as a writer. Besides, nothing can save this retarded premise. But before we move on, here are two more examples of the author being... frankly, I don't know what to call him:
 

Just because Austin Powers was funny when he made this joke doesn't mean you are.


Yeah, that just happened. Ash's father has an obsession with the "lovely vaginas" (seriously) of young girls. Great. What the hell is it with webmanga authors sexualizing underage girls? This makes, what, five Comic Release articles involving authors who have alluded to or shown preteens' genitals? What the fuck?

Then there's the part that almost made me stop writing this review altogether. After page 126, there's a shittily-colored drawing of Emily weeping in front of Ash's grave. Below the image, a caption reads: "Brandon Teena was killed by two men on December 31st, 1993. He was killed for trying to correct the life he found himself in. That could have been Ash."

For those who don't know, Brandon Teena was a transgender who was raped and murdered at the age of twenty-one. The story was pretty big news at the time—they even made a movie about it. Now, what I'm having a hard time figuring out is why the author thought it would be appropriate to post a tribute piece to a hate crime against a transgender in connection with a webcomic that derives 98% of its humor from exploiting offensive gender stereotypes. Also, why should I care that "it could have been Ash"? What, are you telling me the victim could have been some webcomic character because it's supposed to be a sobering thought meant to remind everyone how terrible murder is? How exactly is the hypothetical death of a fictional character supposed to be more disturbing to your audience than the actual death of a real human being? I can't even think how to explain how wrong and stupid that is. How dare you make that comparison. How fucking dare you.


The Art


It's Animu garbage, basically. Strangely, over the course of the comic, character designs go from having almost no noses to having freakishly large noses. The kind you might see in anti-Semitic propaganda. And even more baffling, this is the most noticeable change. This comic has been running continually for over seven years, and there is virtually no improvement in the art to speak of! In fact, the entire art style reminds me eerily of Dominic Deegan, except a little less shitty. Which is like saying that somebody isn't a bad person because they're not Hitler. I mean, look at this:
 


Truly, somebody has been hard at work here.


The image on the left is a headshot of Ash from a page published in 2004, and the one on the right is a drawing of the same character from a page published in 2011. That's the culmination of seven years of effort, folks. Honestly, I think the newer art actually looks a little worse...

The entire comic looks like the kind of scribblings that are supposed to be a rough draft for layout planning and not the finished art. It all looks like half-assed pencil sketches drawn by somebody who suffers from involuntary muscle spasms. Also, there are yet again tons of super-deformed anime side gags, because those totally worked when every harem anime ever did them. Speaking of dumb SD gags, the look of the comic reminds me quite a bit of the art in 9th Elsewhere. And that's something you want to avoid at all costs.

I wish I could go into more detail about why this art sucks, but there's really very little to say about it because it's all so bland and sloppy. It can't even manage to be bad in any kind of interesting way.


The Author


The creator of this story about cosmic clerical errors goes by the name of Chris Hazelton. If you read Misfile for any amount of time (a course of action I would not recommend) you will notice he has an incredible car fetish. It's okay to write about what you like, but don't make it one of the main points of the story without making it interesting. He even has a separate character sheet for all the cars in the story that will provide you with all details you couldn't possibly give a shit about. Yet again, I know little of him and the most that is there to speak for him is his work.
 


THIS IS WHAT BEING A MAN IS ALL ABOUT DAMN IT.


Which sucks for him, because judging by the shit he writes, he's an untalented, sexist prick with some seriously warped ideas regarding how relationships work.

Oh, and by the way, the car that Ash drives? Why, Chris just happens to have the exact same car and loves it. What an unbelievable coincidence. I wonder what else he has in common with Ash.


In Conclusion...


I hate Misfile. I hate everything in it. I hate every character. I hate every panel of every single page. I hate every stupid, clichéd, unfunny joke. I hate the Animu bullshit. I hate the premise, and I hate the way it insults my intelligence. I hate it because it is an insult to men and women everywhere. And last but not least, I hate myself for having laid eyes upon this nonsensical, pointless, offensive exercise in horribly inept storytelling.

That is all.

- Max-Vader

 

 

Alex's AFTER Thoughts

 

Plodding through the archives of Misfile gave me flashbacks to my first time reading Ranma 1/2, and not just because Chris Hazelton and Rumiko Takahashi are both bafflingly overrated hacks who have developed sprawling fanbases solely because people love drawing their characters having sex with everyone and everything. Most of you have probably already spotted the obvious connection, but I'm of course referring to the fact that the series' protagonists are both closeted homosexuals. Think about it, both Ash and Ranma are supposedly straight teenage boys who are "cursed" by being transformed into ridiculously hot female versions of themselves. Now, anyone who has ever been a straight teenage boy or known a straight teenage boy or seen a depiction of a straight teenage boy in popular culture will tell you that being able to see a naked woman every time you look in the mirror is every adolescent male's ultimate fantasy.

Maybe being turned into a female permanently would be a bit irritating, but the chance to spend a short period of time with your very own D cup breasts to play with is something the average guy would give their left arm to experience. Not Ash and Ranma, though. Nope, those two are placed in a hormonally-fueled dream situation and instead of masturbating until they die from starvation, all they do is bitch about how much being a girl sucks because it inhibits their "manliness" and prevents them from enjoying their favorite hobbies; Ash can't drive as well (lol women drivers am i rite guise) and Ranma is distracted from continuing his martial arts training. Rather than enjoying their new bodies by crashing their classmates' slumber parties to lez out with other high school girls all night, all they can think about is getting their dicks back so they can win in pointless rivalries with other guys they have as part of these bizarrely obsessive relationships that reek of homoerotic undertones. Yep, those two are queerer than a three dollar bill tucked neatly into the vest pocket of a man French kissing another man. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but damn, watching gay kids try to overcompensate by acting all macho is hilarious.

While Max did a pretty thorough job of going over what makes the artwork in this comic a potential hazard to the eyes of anyone looking at it, there's another aspect to the pages of Misfile that makes viewing them such a harrowing endeavor. I may not know a whole lot about character design or anatomy, but I do know a couple things about the technical aspects of preserving image quality—which is apparently at least two things more than Hazelton knows about that subject. First of all, people who save black and white images as JPEG files are inhuman monsters who deserve a painful and lingering death. Maybe it's an acceptable mistake if you're some little old lady who just got your first computer a week ago and you're fumbling around in Photo Go trying to figure out how to e-mail pictures of your cats to your grandchildren, but Chris Hazelton is (supposedly) a professional webcomic artist! How the hell does someone who's made a career out of uploading images onto the web for seven years not know the proper procedure for saving an image in a way that doesn't turn it into a blurry mess of scanner debris and compression artifacting!? How do you even compress the files that much with today's image editing software? Is he using MS Paint for this shit? That would explain the crappy pixilated watermark with no transparency he has on ever page. Hey Chris, ever heard of a PNG master!?

Perhaps ragging on a webcomic author's choice of filetypes casts the impression that I've finally run out of legitimate things to complain about. Actually, though, what really bothers me about this kind of technical incompetence is the way it draws attention to how far away individuals like Hazelton are from the standards of professional comic artists. Comic Release wouldn't be worth hosting on this site if it was just about making fun of some unknown schmucks on the internet drawing crap for their own amusement. The key element that ties all of our targets together is the fact that they're webcomics with sizable and dedicated fanbases, many of which (Hazelton's little fanboy harem included) support the creators financially. These craptastic comics aren't just hobbies for the losers who draw them, they're how those losers make enough money to avoid ever getting a real job. And given the dismal production values of something like Misfile, it seems absurd to me that anyone should be rewarded for such an amateurish effort with the kind of paycheck normally reserved for the professionals.

 

'Till next time!

MANGA!