Friday, August 15, 2008

RIP Sinfest (?)

"Webcomic to end all webcomics" comes to an end

All good things, it is said, must come to an end.

After nearly nine years, it seems Sinfest creator Tatsuya Ishida has decided to conclude his opus in typically cryptic fashion, leaving his legion of readers asking "is this really the end"?

The seemingly final comic features the recently-added Grim Reaper recurring character:

If that represents anything other than a conclusion of this comic, it's hard to tell what would.

It's rather unfortunate to see Sinfest finally conclude. Ishida combined supreme artistic talent -- originally masterfully emulating Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Waterson and later adding strong Osamu Tezuka influences to his style.

More important than the artwork, however, is the writing. Combining post-90s slacker/stoner/hedonist characters with varying Biblical figures, Ishida produced a whimsical postmodern spiritual masterpiece.

Ishida masterfully wove together not only postmodern ennui with Christianity, but Christianity with various other spiritualities. What emerged is a webcomic presenting one of the purest Christian messages on offer amidst an epicurean bohemian fantasy world.

Of the countless comics produced by Ishida during Sinfest's run it would be hard to select only a few highlights. Regardless, here are a few.

Such as his poignant post-9/11 tribute:

Or his gifted ability to parody the most puritan elements of Christianity:

...While often providng an uplifting and often inherently Christian message:

...And still poking fun at quaint notions of good and evil:

Most of all, Ishida's work provokes the question of what one would say to God if only they, like Slick and company, had a hill where they could walk right out and converse with him. (Hopefully it would be better than this:)

And all of this from an individual who has actually given slim reason for one to suspect that he, himself, is factually a Christian.

If by some stroke of luck Sinfest is not concluding and will instead continue, many, many people will be better off for it.

But one may search the cryptic words of Ishida himself and find some sort of clue:

"Whenever I peel an orange, I save the stem end for last. There's something about pulling out the spine that is very satisfying. Texture-wise, visually, the little plucky squirty sensation, it's a fun little operation to cap the peeling process. That's sorta my modus operandi when it comes to food. I leave the best for last. When I have a chicken pot pie, for example, I eat all the carrots and peas first, and leave a stash of chicken for the big finish. When I have a sandwich I work my way around the crust to the middle. I have this shit down to a science. Sometimes, though, it's not so smooth. Things can get complicated. Like, when I'm eating a pancake breakfast with hash browns, bacon, and eggs, I can't decide what my favorite thing is. I panic a little in my heart because I don't know how it's gonna end. But that's what life is all about. Thrills, man. Thrills. I start out all confident that I'll end with a bite of bacon but then, the sweet syrupy pancakes start to win me over. Then the hash browns, that unassuming dark horse, makes a comeback. And then the eggs are like, "Hey, we're the pure unblemished souls of chicken! Recognize!" At that point, all bets are off. It's anybody's game. I might go with bacon. I might not. Nothing's set in stone. Anything can happen. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Tat, You crazy fool! You HAVE to have the last bite planned out AT ALL TIMES!" But I like to live on the edge, Jack. I take chances. I flirt with danger. That's how I roll."
If these words are to be taken at their rather apocryphal meaning, then it's clear that, unfortunately, Sinfest has, indeed, concluded.

Which is unfortunate. But Tatsuya Ishida is too brilliant an artist to sit idle for long. Whatever his next venture may be, one should expect nothing but the highest standard of artistic quality.


  1. Yeah. Heh. I spoke too soon.

    This is one time I'm actually quite pleased to have been wrong.


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