There’s a certain formula to keep an eye open for when you’re searching for internet published comics late at night in an obsessive haze. Lets be honest here: creating and maintaining a comic is a lot of work. Over the years, there have been thousands, tens of thousands of comics (probably maybe) posted on the internet, with a large portion of the crop being, due to lack of a more eloquent term, shitty. A lot of good comics have emerged from artists who have stoically soldiered through their comic’s sketchy prepubescent years, but many of them never make it that far, collapsing in on themselves once the artists realize exactly how similar their comic is to every other internet comic that has ever existed since 1996. The lucky ones survive to give us something that is legitimately fun to read.
Scott Ferguson’s Nerf This is one of the survivors, though you’d never know it from reading through the comic’s early start. What starts as a routine exercise in webcomicry eventually evolves into a somewhat touching story about a boy, his quirky girlfriend, and the horrific tiny monster who loves him, wrapped in a nice little package of dapper gentlemen and dick jokes.
Like I said, Nerf This actually starts out pretty similar to many other comics out there. You have Chase, who is hyperactive, absurd and rarely backs down from a bad idea once it gets lodged in his head, and Tony, his long-suffering Italian friend who may or may not have eyes. Rounding out the cast is Monty, the hideously adorable monster who can’t really talk so much as screech, Steph, who has been dating Tony since they were in high school, and Taryn, who loves Chase despite the fact that he’s not exactly Mr. Reliable.
That’s the main formula you’ve probably seen before. The hyperactive destructive one who women love for some reason and the “straight man” character who sticks around through it all, though we never really figure out why. Monty, of course, is the marketable one. Though I give Ferguson credit for his decision to make Monty not speak in English. I’ve seen my share of sassy talking animals with attitude problems in my hunt for new comics, but a lot of them have their dialogue telephoned in.
It’s kinda like Garfield comics. I’m sure everyone has seen Garfield Minus Garfield, where the orange cat is removed entirely from his own comics, increasing the hilarity of each one exponentially. It’s the same premise, really, and it’s a lot more fun trying to imagine what Monty wants to say than it would be actually reading it for ourselves.
As the comic progresses, however, and we learn more about the characters, the story becomes something else. Tony’s loyalty to Chase is still pretty sketchy, especially considering all the junk he has to put up with from him, but every now Tony will burst out a poorly rationalized statement that echoes Chase’s sentiments perfectly. These moments are touching, in their own weird way, especially since most of them either have to deal with lesbians, dick jokes, or nightmares. Still, there’s a vague level of bromance going on here, though neither Chase nor Tony are very good at voicing it. Or rather, Tony’s not good at voicing it, and Chase is good at being a creepy son of a bitch.
The comic quickly centers on Chase, being the unpredictable sot that he is. Chase has some major commitment issues, mostly (probably) stemming from an old girlfriend who used to think she was pregnant on a daily basis. The only constant in his life is Monty, whom Chase has had since he was a kid, and many comics focus on Chase’s relationship with the small monster. From friend to father figure, Chase lays down the law or dresses Monty in ridiculous outfits, tapes him to the fridge as punishment or stuffs him in his pants to tell girls in the park he has space STDs. But it quickly becomes apparent that Chase actually has a soft spot for the monster, despite the fact that Monty tends to eat everything, maul him, and defile his socks on a regular basis.
Eventually Chase meets Taryn, and the story evolves into something more. Taryn loves Chase, despite his, uh, personality flaws, but their relationship moves the comic into more of a story based affair. While prior to Taryn’s introduction, Nerf This dabbled in stories, most of these were silly throwaway plots. Taryn’s presence changes all that.
I think that’s about all you’ll get from me here plot wise. After all, not knowing what’s going to happen when you read a comic is half the fun.
The things that really draw me to Nerf This are pretty simple. It’s consistently hilarious, the artwork is solid, and once you warm up to the characters, they’re actually a lot of fun to watch. Plus, Scott Ferguson hit on a soft spot for me. THE DAPPER GENTLEMAN. This is a sight gag Ferguson uses often, and good lord do I need to see more of it. A chicken? Slap a tophat and a monocle on that shit and look! It’s comedic gold.
Ferguson also has several biographical comics in there, where he represents himself as a stick figure. These comics, too, are hilarious, and I have absolutely no doubt that this is exactly how Ferguson’s life is from day to day. Quite. Quite.
Though be warned: Don’t pick this one up if you’re not into dick jokes. Yeah, I guess if you were like 80 years old and your soul was broken and crushed, you probably wouldn’t find endless penis, STD, vibrator and condom jokes to be exactly funny. But I’m also guessing if you were a soulless 80 year old bastard, you probably would have stopped reading this after the title, so it’s all relative I guess.
Ferguson has two other comics that I regrettably haven’t had a chance to get into yet. Motokool, which appears to feature a villain with a piece of paper nailed to his face by a knife and an endless swarm of monsters with dapper mustaches and monocles, seems right up my alley. The other, Scout Crossing, seems kinda… Scott Pilgrimish in an indie scene kind of way. I haven’t explored either of these comics in order to make a final recommendation one way or the other, though.
Okay, now I’m gonna go out on a limb. I… think Nerf This updates Monday through Friday, but I’m not sure since it doesn’t say that anywhere I could readily see on the site. Actually it doesn’t say Ferguson’s name on their either, I just kinda pulled that name off of the bottom of one of the comics, so I hope that’s right. Anyway, go check out Nerf This. You’ll come for the dick jokes and stay to find out if Chase really actually got molested by Count Chocula that one time.