The Baffling Success of Six Chix

There are some works of art that are beyond criticism. In most cases the work in question is a timeless classic, having either:

A) Been analyzed so many times that there are no words left unapplied to it.

B) Simply aged itself out of the discussion; sort of a statute of limitations for critics.

Other works are just so incredibly bereft of talent and purpose that trying to somehow apply a sense of logic to them is impossible. You can’t evaluate something when you’re not sure what value it even holds. The daily newspaper comic Six Chix is one of those works.

Saying it’s bad is a given, but “bad” is the high water mark for this comic. Some of the strips are, bluntly put, beyond comprehension. Not in an avant-garde, intentionally obfuscated way, but in a “why does this exist?” sort of way. After reading this blog hopefully you’ll be as stymied as I am regarding the success of this comic.

Six Chix is now 17 years old, and printed in 120 DIFFERENT NEWSPAPERS. Here in Toronto it’s on the front page of the Toronto Star comics insert, where a veteran like Garfield or Blondie should sit.

We pause here as I imagine that some of you are smirking or rolling your eyes.

Is this really a hill he wants to die on? Discussing a cartoon and its placement in a subsection of a rapidly vanishing medium??

Yeah, I do wanna die on this hill. I do wanna show how ludicrous this situation is. I do wanna know how one hundred and twenty different editors didn’t cringe in embarrassment seeing what would be attached to their brand. And I do wanna know how for the better part of two decades, six different authors could not in any way improve their output.

Sorry, five- I fully absolve one Rina Piccolo for being a part of this. Firstly because she has shown to be capable of creating a coherent comic in Tina’s Groove. Secondly because she’s a fellow Canadian. Thirdly because she rightfully decided to jump ship in October of 2016.

Seriously, click on that above link. What do you see? Something that your brain immediately identifies as a “comic”. Whatever you perceive the quality to be, it still scans as a work with an intended narrative, basic art knowledge, and an understanding of the basic notion of humour. It’s a shame that Piccolo could only come in once a week to spare the world the work of Margaret Shulock, Anne Gibbons, Benita Epstein, Stephanie Piro, and Isabella Bannerman. So come friends, let’s look at some of this work and marvel at the worst comic ever made. Warning: hope you haven’t had your maximum sodium intake today, cuz things are about to get salty.

Rina Piccolo

First, look at something acceptable. See what I mean? The one competent artist in the group makes comics that actually look like comics. There’s a foreground, a background, detail, gestures, distinct style and an intelligible message.

Now turn away, those of you expecting any more of those things, because we’re about to descend into sheer lunacy.

 

Isabella Bannerman

What are the mullet-headed characters prattling on about?! The kudzu is literally telling them to go in the same direction as the GPS. The only part of the sign it isn’t covering is the arrow indicating an exit. What a ridiculous mistake, Isabella Bannerman. You somehow astonishingly wrecked your own punchline with the exact opposite of what you meant, you utter nincompoop. “Be here now” doesn’t even make sense- be where now? On the highway? It’s almost unfathomable how you went out of your way to ruin your own joke. Did your GPS tell you to go that way? Tell it to direct you to actual humour.

No such luck here either. We have some kind of attempt at poking fun at macho male products, or “toxic masculinity” or whatever. I’m not here to judge the message, just the fact that none of these are particularly scary looking? Like if you’d wanted to make this point, maybe make the containers look like weapons or grenades or like goblin heads?  Why does a lavender bottle with a sash scare you?? These are the tamest bottles I’ve ever seen, and I have seen a lot of bottles.

 

Anne Gibbons

oh no the kids are missing their art class and their gym class and their…….joy class? wtf anne gibbons maybe you should go back to school and learn how to make a political statement without clumsy, overly verbose captions.

lmao she just traced a photo. What is this treacly pablum and why would anyone find this interesting at all? it’s literally a sloppily colored picture of a woman with a baby.

pie buyer’s remorse is not a real thing anne gibbons. …you know you can buy more than one pie at a time right.

why are they sitting so close to the tv. and why are all three men speaking at the same time. that conversation doesn’t even make sense.

Benita Epstein

her eye is floating off her head…that makes me scream. also, worst drawn ipad in the world. hey benita epstein buy a ruler.

this one makes zero sense, also the robber is pinned against the wall by the car?

oh, i get it, she is bringing all her comics to be burned by the devil. good call.

 

Stephanie Piro

i’m not entirely convinced that Stephanie Piro is a functioning adult. the messy, haphazardly sketched artwork is an instant giveaway. so is her tendency to blather on and on and on like a six-year old.

half those words aren’t needed. well to be honest the entire comic isn’t needed, but whatever. also what kind of observation is this? sometimes people do yard work, it’s been like that since like 1952.

why would she be surprised that she’s big if she knows that “usually her size changes”? also what is with these perfunctory first panels? again too many words, stephanie piro you should drink a potion that makes you write good comics.

really cuz i don’t see any of your mommies i just see a purple square. also why is there no perspective?- it looks like the girls are dancing for nobody. also their legs are really wrong.

 

Margaret Shulock

Are you tired of my shrill incredulity? We’ve got one author left and her examples are below rock bottom. They’re so below rock bottom they’re hitting the endless abyss.

ok, so in the first frame we’ve got a melting woman who’s just been lobotomized and is also missing an arm. Her neck is sticking out past her dress because Shulock doesn’t know what an eraser is. Then we’ve got three weird crones with random black shapes behind them. They’re saying some kind of poem? It’s hard to tell because Shulock put light violet text on a peach background, which of course is the most legible combination there is. Ask any starving art student. Finally there’s some woman with a severely twisted ankle in the middle of falling to the ground. Her foot is literally at a 90 degree angle to the ground. Like it just snapped sideways, and this lady is having the time of her life as she hurtles towards the purple concrete.

But this…ok, you ready? The following will make any artist, both accomplished and aspiring, weep bitterly.

WHAT IS THIS!!!!! WHAT THE F*CK IS THIS!!!!!! Someone in the middle of having a stroke could draw better than this!!! This isn’t just an affront to artists, this is a kick in the teeth to all humans in the world who have ever had a dream fall through. To call Shulock a hack is generous, as hacks are typically lazy but talented, craftily getting out of doing quality work. This is beyond laziness, it’s a brazen display of ineptitude. The total and complete lack of art is one thing, but this doesn’t even have any point at all. It’s nonsense  Margaret Shulock, take your pointless deformed animal heads and learn how to make something that deserves to exist.

Reminder: All of the above were actual, unaltered pieces of work created by a team of grown adults and published as a syndicated product in 120 newspapers. yes.