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Archive Binge: Monster Pop

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on August 7, 2017

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I try to keep a tight focus with these reviews. I don’t go wandering off from web-comics into the plethora of other online entertainments out there, otherwise you probably would have had to endure a lot of chatter about my favourite SCP objects and why certain boys who play video games on YouTube are the dreamiest in comparison to other boys who play video games on YouTube. Monster Pop forces me to come as close as I have ever been to the edge of my lane, because while it is normally a fairly beautiful web-comic with some neat painting on the fourth wall it also diverges on rare occasions into being what I am reluctantly going to call a multi-media experience.

Our heroine George is a relentlessly upbeat cyclops girl just starting her first year of college at an integrated human and monster university, she is navigating the experience with a little bit of bluster and desperately clinging to her positive attitude, even when it makes her life more difficult than honestly expressing her feelings might. Part of that positive attitude is the music that she loves to make, the ukulele and soft lilting vocals of youthful indie-girl musicians the world over, that you can actually listen to as you read the comic. Some of these songs are touching, others are exquisitely ridiculous like my personal favourite “The Booty Call Song.” If you want to feel jealous of a creative person then you should definitely fix your green-eyed glare on Maya Kern who can not only plot out an adorable love triangle and draw in a unique and exciting style but also writes music, sings and play an instrument with a level of talent that left me feeling all thumbs. Leave something for the rest of us to be good at Maya.

Story-wise Monster Pop sticks pretty firmly to college and relationship drama with a few excursions into family drama and depictions of racism in a semi-segregated society. When Monster Pop is sticking to the incredibly cute romance plots and tangled interpersonal relationships it does excellent work but the depictions of racism are on slightly less solid ground. In particular the redemption arc of the racist boy who comes to realise how terrible he has been and learns to hate his parents for the racist views that they express. There is definitely a pertinent and interesting story to be told there; but by making that the only story told about a racist character we end up in an awkward situation where the humanity of the penitent oppressor is being prized over those he victimised. This particular plot arc is still in motion, so it remains to be seen whether it resolves in a satisfactory manner and I am withholding judgement until then. Having said that, these are all teenagers and young adults, where these and this is probably the only time in their lives when a story like this could be told successfully.

Monster Pop is beautiful to look at and while the plot doesn’t exactly have twists and turns it will certainly keep you engaged. The light pop-culture references and the unique language that is used marks it clearly for a certain age demographic that I am probably edging out of, but it was easy to follow and frankly, I love and empathise heavily with every single one of the characters.


G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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