Jon Rosenberg has been in the web comic business for a long time. In April of 1997, Rosenberg started Goats, which he refers to as a pseudo-autobiographical comic featuring himself and his friend Phillip, though you should be aware that apparently much of their life in 1997 was centered around booze and the consumption of booze.
I’m one of those fabled teetotalers you hear tales of whispered between alleys during the darkest of mardi gras festivals, so honestly booze related humor doesn’t really appeal to me. However, what kept me reading Goats through the early years was the how the comic’s art style looked eerily similar to Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County, and how quickly Jon and Phillip’s boring life of consumption slipped into insanity, bizarre livestock animals and sci-fi shenanigans.
The oddness in Goats begins with the comic’s title character, a four legged, womanizing goat by the name of Toothgnip. Apparently, at some point before the first online Goats strip, Toothgnip quit his job as a chariot puller for the god Thor. It’s not that the job wasn’t prestigious. It was the fact that after he got done pulling the chariot, he was expected to be eaten.
So Toothgnip went to live with Jon and Phillip, and to seduce every and all women in a fifty mile radius. Protip: Don’t think about that too hard.
For many of the comics in the archives, the plots are very self contained and are uniformly resolved by the time the storyline has come to an end. Trailing plot points are resolved a story line or two down the line, and there are quite a few continuity errors. This started, after all, as two guys with a creepy love affair with beer, after all.
Jon is a sad sack archetype, shunned by women and terminally unhappy, mostly by his own design. Phillip is a slacker who just doesn’t care about where and when he’ll get his next drink. Along the way the two of them grow and develop, but they remain largely reactionary along the way. The one time I can recall Jon actually making a decision shocked me. He had never shown that kind of initiative before that point.
Then the comic gets weirder. Enter Diablo, the satanist chicken, Jerrel, the little troll of a man who can only communicate in violent prases, fish, an absent minded goldfish who lives in a glass of beer at the bar, and Neil and Bob, two identical aliens with a love of violence and sexytimes.
Like I said, a lot of the earlier plots wear on a bit. Some of the segments, wherein Diablo talks about his (probably) fake adventures, drag on too long and there are more than a few plot holes that never get filled. Somewhere along the line, however, the comic stops having simple throwaway plots and starts following the efforts of the main characters to stop the end of their universe (and all of the parallel universes out there) in a long, sprawling adventure that never actually received an ending.
See, at some point down the line in 2010, Rosenberg decided to put Goats on an indefinite hiatus and to work on a new comic, Scenes from a Multiverse. A lot of the groundwork for his current comic was set in the later years of Goats, and if you look closely you can almost pinpoint the exact point where he started planning more for Scenes from a Multiverse than he did for Goats. SFAM, for the record, follows some loose tales told of aliens and creatures living in this wacky multiverse of ours, as well as a liberal helping of standalone hilarity.
Anyway, reading through the entire Goats archives took me several months, though that wasn’t through my standard method of slogging through an archive in just one go. The comic went on hiatus in 2010, but Rosenberg said he’s hoping to reboot the series sometime in the future, so there’s that to look forward to. But will we ever see an end to the grand adventures of Phillip, Jon, Fish and Finneas as they try to save the multiverse from a critical 2012 system crash?
Maybe. Maybe not. What’s one multiverse, more or less?