Questionable Content, by Jeph Jacques, starts out following the misadventures a sad sack hipster kid and his fat talking computer.  In fact, if you start at the beginning, it’s almost like reading a slightly edgier, web culture savvy version of “Garfield” featuring sarcastic emo girls and ham-fisted music references; however, as the story progresses, it also broadens as more characters are added to the fold on a regular basis.  While rereading the first 50 pages of QC for this review, I began to ask myself what it was that kept me reading the almost 2000 pages (not counting guest strips) that have been published so far.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, but somehow QC has become a part of my life to the point that it sometimes seems like an addiction.

QC is a character driven strip featuring loads of relationship melodrama and occasionally some humor.  It’s the soap opera of webcomics, and every time I read it, I feel like a housewife, sipping my mimosa and tuning in for my daily fix of “Days of Our [fucking] Lives.”  In this case, just replace the mimosa with a pretentious craft beer or a white Russian (those are suitable hipster drinks, right?).  The melodrama is a consistent presence in the strip and is definitely an acquired taste.  The humor, on the other hand, is hit or miss.  When it hits, it’s very funny, but for every hit, there are an equal number of jokes that fall flat for any number of reasons.

At the outset of the comic, none of the characters are incredibly distinct or compelling; however, as the story progresses, each character becomes more recognizable and complex.  Perhaps that’s what keeps me going – the fact that I’m not just reading about the development and interactions of these characters, but I’m also getting to see Jacques develop into a better, more confident storyteller.

In spite of the improvements, one of my main frustrations with QC is Jacques’ somewhat notorious problem with “losing” characters.  The strip can go for months without a particular main character showing up and without any explanation for their absence.  Eventually, Jacques recognized the problem and reintroduced one of the offending characters with a tongue-in-cheek explanation for the absence, showing that, thankfully, he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  However, other characters who disappeared from the strip have never returned.  Hopefully as the strip continues, Jacques will further develop his ability to juggle multiple characters and plot threads, but so far he’s no George R. R. Martin (although, that’s probably a good thing).

Along with the improvements in characterizations and plot, Jacques has made dramatic improvements in the art of QC.  Just try flipping between the latest comics and the first few comics, and you’ll see what I mean.  The backgrounds and characters have become more detailed, coloring and shading has improved, the line work is more steady and consistent, and Jacques’ rendering of gesture and facial expression has also improved.  Along with those improvements, the strip style has metamorphosed into something akin to conventional manga style, but there’s still a decidedly Western feel to the art.  Again, if I could point to anything that has kept me following this strip, it’s the continuing improvement of and experimentation with the style.  Jacques never seems content to rest on his laurels, and that tenacity is definitely admirable.

In the end, I suppose QC has become an addiction for me.  It’s become my ritual to check the site every morning to see the strip that was posted the night before.  Sometimes, the story makes me shake my head or roll my eyes, but in spite of that I can’t deny that I enjoy reading it.  If you’re looking for tightly woven, well-plotted out stories or accurate, psychologically compelling characters, I’ll forgive you if you give Questionable Content a pass, but if you’re in the market for a comic about a bunch of goofy hipster kids and their relationship melodrama, then go forth, gentle reader, and enjoy this guilty pleasure.