Comic Non-Sans: “Menage a 3” and the Other Side of the Line

Prrrrrrromotions.

So several weeks ago I found myself writing about family-friendly webcomics and how difficult it can be to pull off humor without blatantly adult content.  And now, dear reader, I come to you seeming to say exactly the opposite: that it’s incredibly difficult to pull off humor with adult content.

Allow me to explain.

As with religious symbolism, Jungian archetypes, and Withnail & I quotes, adult subject matter for the sake of humor can be a dangerous toy to play with.  And here I’m not just talking about F-bombs and nudity.  Making a piece of art where one of the main pillars of its foundation is sex is a bit like electing a zombie to the Neighborhood Watch: let it go on for too long unchecked and before long it’ll infect everything else around it, and then the whole structure falls to pieces in a pool of death-plague and now you’re never gonna get your next-door neighbor to trim that tree branch that’s sticking into your yard.

Okay, that one appears to have gotten away from me.  But the point is similar to the one I made before: when you have that level of freedom, you’re tempted to abuse it, and it has the ability to really wreck a comic in the wrong hands.  And it can take just as much discipline to rein it in as it does to not touch on it at all.  So here, for your reading pleasure — once you get home — is Gisele Lagace and Dave Zero’s rather sexy webcomic Menage a 3.

Set in Montreal, MA3 follows nearly-30 geek-boy Gary as he deals with a pair of new roommates (his previous two, Matt and Dillon, hook up and move out, but not before they discover just how much weight Gary’s drawing table can support).  Enter Zii and DiDi, two lovely ladies whose mere presence would drive any guy up the wall.  Zii is an openly bisexual ex-rocker who takes it upon herself to fix up Gary’s love life.  DiDi, meanwhile, isn’t quite sure of her sexuality — nor does she seem to understand just how attractive she is to both guys and girls, including Gary and Zii.  The plot is made up primarily of the progression of their three-way (non-)relationship, with story arcs dealing with everything from comic book geekery to Internet trolling.

Of late, more semi-major and minor characters have sprung out of the woodwork, most notably Zii’s crazy ex-girlfriend, Yuki.  Yuki is a true show-stealer, presenting Gary with one interesting problem as he pursues her: she has been scarred for life by tentacle hentai, and thus has developed hallucinations that give her a crippling phobia of men.

Many of the plot points are inseparable from the sexualities of the characters, but the characters themselves would be interesting enough without this peek into their personal lives.  None of them exists just to be titillating.  (No, not even DiDi.)  And the content is played for true laughs — we aren’t expected to find it funny just because it’s there.  Which is not to say that there isn’t a great deal of fanservice; there really is “something for everyone.”  The comic isn’t geared to any one demographic specifically, and everyone and everything is fair play.

A proviso: not everyone should read this, and I’m not just talking about underage people.  Up front, I will say this doesn’t strike some readers so much as offensive as it does just a bit uncomfortable.  No corners are cut and no true censoring is does: there is toplessness and full backal nudity, and depictions of various activities that you might not have known existed.  Thus, this is not something I would recommend to everyone.  Gauge it by your own comfort level.  Now, if you are cool with nudity, let me just say that Gisele continues to be as fantastic an artist as she’s always been.

MA3 updates every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, though it’s one of those that reads a lot better if you save up a few weeks at a time.  GOA is not responsible for any embarrassment or job loss caused by not heeding the NSFW warnings.

Posted on July 13, 2010 at 10:36 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on July 13, 2010 at 15:53
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    I personally have a love/hate relationship witih MA3 because I think Zii's rather abusive to poor straight Gary by taking pictures of him in his sleep while he's in compromising positions with Matt (who has an unrequited rebound-ish crush on him). If Zii were a guy and he was doing that to Didi as she slept, would it be as funny?

  2. Written by Kara Dennison
    on July 13, 2010 at 19:23
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    See, I didn't read it as attempted-funny so much as telling, re: Zii as a person and her view of others around her as, well, people. Sometimes it can be amusing, but at times like that it makes me stop and think. It'd be interesting to ask the writers what the intent behind it was.

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