|~~~~~~~~ THIS IS AN EMERGENCY ACTION NOTIFICATION: ~~~~~~~~|
This review is REALLY REALLY ULTRA NOT SAFE FOR WORK. It contains COMIC BOOBS, NAUGHTY WORDS and OTHER ASSORTED NOT SAFE FOR WORK THINGS. Therefore, if you are at work, your school, or your local insane asylum you should take emergency action and not read this.
|Original review author:||The Luigiian; images and sassy captions by Lesbot|
|Start Date||October 22, 2003|
Twokinds has racist under- and overtones. It is softcore furry pornography, in spite of its author's objections to the contrary. It is blandly drawn, using every anime cliche ever invented. It is generic in its style, riddled with fantasy cliches to the point of ridiculousness, and is a chore to read, with characters so boring and lacking in definition you could switch the word bubbles in every panel and still have it read properly.
Can it get worse? Of course. Let us begin.
Imagine if you will, a world of three races. The first race is that of the humans, specifically lily-white, not-a-smidgen-of-melanin humans who possess incredible magic and the ability to control the minds of perhaps millions of people, ruled by a group calling themselves the Templar. The second race is that of the Basitin, rats who are extremely fastidious, so ashamed of their own bodies that they make it a point to never show their paws or their nakedness in public, easily brainwashed by white human technology. And the third race is Keidran, who are naturally mongrel animals who pounce around completely nude all the time, controlled by intense desires to rape and kill outsiders, capable of speech but decidedly animal.
This world is in a comic, and that comic is a racial allegory made by a young Asian man who was the victim of racist bullies in school.
Welcome to the world of TwoKinds.
Concept, story and plotting
There is nothing perverted about being a sex slave, constantly being naked, posing naked for strangers to paint pictures of you…
Our story revolves around the aforementioned plot, as well as a love story between the tiger-girl Flora and human love interest Trace, the latter of whom once led the Templar and hated Keidran with the burning of a billion suns. By the end of the story, Flora is pregnant with Trace's child, leading to some creepy bestiality imagery that is best left untouched but which writer Tom Fischbach plows, headfirst, into as soon as he is able. (Well, OK, in a non-canon picture on his Deviantart. I say pish-posh to that excuse, it's still creepy as hell.)
In truth, the concept had room to continue. The concept, in and of itself, has got what you would need to make a touching, even nastily bitter, allegory about racism, but Fischbach has neither the balls nor the writing chops to make it work. It's really very sad, because it showed some promise, even dozens of pages in. A few improved plot twists, some more clever storytelling, and we would have something fairly amazing considering we're looking at a hopelessly generic anime-meets-furry-meets-fantasy webcomic.
It showed some promise, that is, but over time that promise evaporated to a shadowy memory. We see very early where the comic starts to go wrong, specifically page eight. Now, before I go on, I'd like to point out that there's nothing wrong with showing your lead lady taking her clothes off. It can be romantic, loving, sweet, even tasteful. But what you don't see here is what the artist was doing. Judging by where the comic went after this, I'm guessing that something is better left unsaid, but I think it probably involved lotion, his right hand, and some fairly sweaty petting:
Fischbach: Furry or not?
I have no doubt in my mind about it, Fischbach is not a furry. He's crazy, but not a furry. I have it on good authority from a former admin of his TwoKinds forums that he once admitted to believing that he was immortal and that there was no logical way that pedophilia and child abuse could exist. So, I think it's safe to say Tom's got some serious issues. (Also secretly racist, considering the way that he depicts races in his comic.) But Fischbach is not a furry. What happened here, as with a lot of anime geeks, is that furry found Fischbach.
Fischbach and Eric W. Schwartz are a lot alike in this sort of way. Eric Schwartz writes a similar webcomic named Sabrina Online, which started up sweet and innocent and ended up including furry porn characters working in a furry porn studio making furry porn for furries. Schwartz ended up drawing furry porn coming off of very sweet asexual things he drew way back when Amiga computers were still in vogue. Fischbach ended up drawing furry porn coming off of his comic's sweet asexual beginning.
In both cases, the authors simply found their comics to be a way to release sexual tension that they couldn't release through women or relationships, for whatever reason. Schwartz and Fischbach are not perverted because they want to be; they are perverted because, judging by their comics, well, they just can't get laid. I think this is what drives the creepiness of both comics. Mostly. The bestiality angle is also a big part of the puzzle.
One notable point, on that note, is that both Schwartz and Fischbach tone down their characters' sexuality, in spite of leading their characters into sexual situations. Schwartz keeps Sabrina clothed and prudish in the public limelight, drawing porn of her only for his own enjoyment. Meanwhile, Fischbach, suffering from a similar strain of nerd-prudery, draws his lead characters naked but without private parts, as these examples below illustrate:
On the other hand, many furry artists suffer from nerd-prude, where you can tell they really truly want to draw porn but feel embarrassed to do so. SoulKat, writer for Chalo of Las Lindas fame, works to keep Chalo from drawing porn, especially of SoulKat's favorite characters. Anime artists, too, have trouble with this, such as Megatokyo's Fred Gallagher and his hamfistedly bland Blurred pornography. Of all these, though, Fischbach comes closest to being a true pornographer. Half the time, you can turn his creations into porn simply by tracing in the necessary naughty parts and calling it a day. Even Las Lindas is not so gratuitous in showing full frontal nudity.
When not bounding naked around her OMGTTLY TRUE LOVE Trace, Flora acts as a cocktease to the other characters.
Where Fischbach is not sexualizing his characters, he actually takes a shot at making his story dynamic, introducing character ironies and difficult plot points that, in the hands of a great writer, would actually give this story the shot it needs to overcome Fischbach's sexual difficulties. But every time Fischbach introduces the points, he ruins what could be done with the plot.
- Character Flora's parents were captured and sold into slavery, which presumably is an allegory to the African slave trade. If Flora recalled this with bitterness, it would have a dramatic edge. But, Fischbach poo-poohs this, saying that she was purchased by a family that treated her in such a way that she remembers her days of slavery "with a … fondness." If Fischbach wants to make slavery and racism seem bad, making his lead character a former slave that was fond of her slave days is the worst thing he can possibly do. I could see such a thing working with a secondary character, but the lead? She's the most important part of the narrative and with this sort of background she actively sabotages Fischbach's message.
- The general of the socially-conservative Basitin Army is clearly meant to be gay. This could actually be a strong point for the comic, assuming Fischbach could actually muster the ability to make it one. It would, conceivably, turn the conservativism of the Basitin on its head. All of a sudden, we have this deeply conservative, presumably deeply homophobic society that is so ignorant of itself and sexuality that it does not even realize that its own general is gay! Too bad it doesn't work. Not even a little. It just winds up feeling like another anime callback, a shallow joke for a quick laugh before getting back into the canned drama of the main story.
- Keidren slaves, like the character "Mike of the Coastal Fox tribe", are transformed into women for seemingly meaningless reasons. (Honest plot point or transgender fetishist fanservice? You decide.)
- In the course of this comic, the sole sex slave character has fallen in love with her slave trader master.
It becomes laughable to attempt to review this as a commentary on race. What with the only slave-trader in the plot being a comically silly "dirty ol' boy" painting nudes of his slaves and treating them as if he's just a kindly old coot, it sort of becomes bizarre. I suppose it could be introduced as character irony, but it just falls flat for me.
"I do what's commanded, even if I feel it's wrong. That is what it means to be a Basitin."
Fischbach's Basitin are interesting, sort of. They follow orders because it's what Basitin do. They're basically like the Borg from Star Trek, ready to jump to their deaths for the good of their hive at a moment's notice. The difference is that the Borg were actual, um, robots. Following orders is what robots have been doing since the days of Isaac Asimov. The Basitin, on the other hand, are carbon based life forms, which means they have brains and (presumably) free will to do whatever they want. Therefore, this idea of Basitin as mindless order-following machines doesn't really work. If we are arguing that it does (and I'm not really sure we should) the Basitin are apparently based off lemmings. I am being charitable here and assuming Fischbach knows what he is doing. I hope he does, and the ridiculous things his characters later do in the name of "following orders" are sort of linked to this idea of lemmings jumping off the cliff en masse. Not that I am sure that he is quite so capable as a writer:
"What the Templar are doing is evil!"
"Wow! So brave!"
"Because no Basitins means no Basitin women! And I can't let that happen!"
*character in background falls down with her feet in the air, like on every single generic anime comic ever made*
After being on the TwoKinds forums for six months, I have never spoken to Tom Fischbach. He apparently dislikes talking to his fans, and dislikes his own forums. It wouldn't be difficult, considering many of the forum's regulars, but there you are.
Fischbach's attitude can be seen as he moderates. He chewed out a forum moderator for deleting old posts because it disrupted the servers. At least one other moderator has since left. In his ninety posts to his forums, Fischbach has never shown any real interest in chatting his fans, and the only time I ever saw any kind of artist/fanboy interaction of any kind was in a live UStream video, where his fans watched as he signed their pre-ordered TwoKinds comic books.
I compare this to Immelmann of Concession, a man whose Mary Sue murders people and gives them cancer and rapes people. Immelmann genuinely takes an interest in his fans. He is far more approachable and likeable speaking on his forums than Tom Fischbach.
Hopkins of Jack, another of this site's lowest-ranked comics, is equally approachable on his forums. His "Drip Rat" Mary Sue rapes and tortures people, but Hopkins himself is much less obnoxious, much less aloof than Fischbach, much more… dare I say… human.
Fischbach's fans watch in quiet anticipation as he draws little pictures for them in their pre-ordered comic books-signing one "For Kitten", a member of his forums. Kitten squeals with delight. His fans chat amongst themselves. They enjoy it immensely.
They are able to speak to him only a little, once he joins the UStream forum for a minute, before getting back to his slowly signing each and every book.
Later, I speak with the former mod. He tells me Fischbach's issues with whining. He whines every time he joins his own IRC chat. He tells of the latest sad things that he just has to share in his life, because he is simply so sad and depressed all the time. Meanwhile he ignores his forums, where people are talking about equally sad things in their life, as well as happy things, chatting amongst one another while Fischbach stands aloof above it all, secure (apparently) in his dreams of immortality and a world where child abuse and rape simply don't happen.
All right, fine, I admit it, I can't stand the man. He is among the most unapproachable comic artists on the Internet today. He's boring, rude, childish, boorish, annoying, and thoroughly unlikeable to a fault. In this way, the artists of some of the worst comics on the Internet have trumped him.
Place links pertaining to the webcomic here.
- My last review got quite a response from TwoKinds fans. Forum thread begins with simpering, ends with a member's admission of performing oral sex on her cats. My later escapades on the TwoKinds forums were far different from this. I think they've figured out I'm mostly just messing with them, and don't really take their comic that seriously.
- Wikipedia's information on TwoKinds.
- TwoKinds fanfiction. I have not read this link. Read at your own risk.
- Wikifur article on TwoKinds.
- FChan asking Tom Fischbach for porn.
- Rule 34 porn of TwoKinds. Note that most of it is just actual TwoKinds comics with nipples and vaginas added.
- Project A.F.T.E.R.'s Review