EDIT: Holy expletive deleted Batman! Apparently
Aldernon Nick Hamilton took my critiques to heart because just 24 hours later the site is clean and mean and a bit easier to navigate! Actually, much easier to navigate. The archives even work now. Although Hamilton hasn’t added his name to the about page yet, it would seem a change is in the future. SWEET.
Unfortunately in today’s environment this is not limited to English majors, so many of you know the scenario. You just graduated college, your eager to start your career and six months to a year later you find yourself jobless and penniless. And where is the quickest place for a college grad to make a buck? Why, it’s your local neighborhood restaurant!
Sock Puppet Army follows a recent grad named Jack as he begins his slide into the depths of the restaurant biz. It’s very much an insider joke kind of comic, but for everyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant SPA nails the experience. I’ve been our of the restaurant business for three years now so going through the nearly four months of archives has dredged up an array of old memories. To be fair, no one ever gets out of the restaurant biz, they just get out of the fight and sit on the sidelines. Or switch teams depending on your perspective. I was a server and bartender for just long enough to get comfortable so I don’t have the grizzled 1000 yard stare every time I hear the words keep the change. I still look back on those days fondly, which is probably why I enjoy SPA so much, because once you get past the server solidarity there’s not much left to like about this comic.
The artist who dares to have the voracity to shine the light behind the scenes of your average American restaurant lacks the courage to sign his name to the darn thing, but then again my name’s not Enosh, so whatcha gonna do? In the meantime I will name him Aldernon. Aldernon’s art style is pleasant and well executed, and he has recently made the switch to color. Unfortunately the detailed backgrounds and interesting art style comes up short in one crucial area. At least three of the male characters look ridiculously similar. You can sort of tell the difference between main character Jack and Ryan is their chins but even that is confusing because the jerk has the soft chin while naive little Jack as the chiseled jaw. Ian is slightly easier to spot because he’s always wide-eyed and stoned out of his mind and he has a slightly different hair cut. But these are details I should not scrutinize just so I can tell who is who when all I really want to do is laugh at how annoying some restaurant patrons are.
This is made more difficult by the website. Now granted, I’m no expert at building websites. I know basic HTML and I have a good eye for design. And I know poor ergonomics when I see it. Browsing through SPA archives is like asking a homeless man for directions to the airport. He might stumble through some incoherent sentences but there’s no way you’re making that flight. I missed several comics my first time through the archives simply because there’s no way to access them when browsing the archives. There seems to be some sort of broken thumbnail link that throws off the whole first half of the archives. Ah, but Enosh you ask, why not just navigate with the next/previous button like you do on every other comic you’ve ever read on the internet. This is of course a fantastic idea, but finding said navigation links is no easy task. Aldernon seems to have designed this site in the middle of a harsh bender. Elements seemed to be slapped on willy nilly. There’s no home button for some bizarre reason, and it’s just a jumbled up mess. Sure you can click on the header and go home and if you find the latest button you could use that, but you shouldn’t have to look or guess. It should just be there.
Really comedies about the restaurant business tend to be hilarious for servers and confusing and boring for the rest of the population. If you’ve seen the movie Waiting with Ryan Reynolds you know what I mean. Hopefully you saw the funnier Waiting made in 2000 and starring no one you’ve ever heard of from Philadelphia. Such as Patrick Hesson. I can only take so much of Ryan Reynolds before I start pulling up my sleeves and looking for sharp objects. His movies fall squarely in the category of lowbrow. Hesson’s Waiting fells more real to me. It doesn’t try to appeal to non-restaurant people. It doesn’t shove steaks down its pants. Though both movies share the statutory rape subplot. Sock Puppet Army hits on the topic of under age hostesses early as well, and why not? It certainly rings true. The second General Manager I worked under got canned because he was allegedly sleeping with a 17-year-old hostess. Of course so was half the kitchen staff and somehow they managed to stay employed.
That’s the part of the job I don’t miss. Restaurants have more drama than the homecoming dance. SPA hasn’t ventured down that road yet but it’s only a matter of time. Aldernon is still getting us acquainted with the characters after all. Lord knows the restaurant business is full of them. I wonder what ever happened to all my crew? We kind of had a falling out right before I finally landed a newspaper job. Something about an alcoholic gossip who was fond of slander. Did I mention that person made most of their gossip up? Anyway I still wish them the best, we had some good times. And really I think SPA has the potential to be a good comic. Right now it’s still funny mostly because I can relate to it. It could be worse.