Sinfest is the one of the best newspaper comics that never got a spot in the newspapers. (Granted a few rough edges would have had to been smoothed down but at its heart this is a PG comic.) Rigorously following the format of the newspaper style and religiously updating every single day with a full colour extended Sunday edition, creator Tatsuya Ishida is talented and dedicated. Not much else is known about him. I tried to get an interview with in the early days of Comixpedia but never even made contact with him.
Nothing ever really changes too much in the Sinfest universe, except for one big change a few years ago where Ishida brought a feminist critique to his fictional world, challenging his own creations’ misogyny and general lad culture (read Shaenon Garrity’s review — it’s a great take on the evolution of this comic). It was a welcome change to a strip that needed a jolt and frankly brought a level of maturity to a strip that had long reveled in edginess for its own sake. Along with this change, Ishida introduced a storyline of a crush between bookish, naive Criminy and demoness (?) Fuchsia. In the strip, Fushsia works for the Devil (several religious deities are present in the comic) and has horns so I assume she’s some kind of demon but it’s also possible Ishida thinks of those working for the Devil as humans that had embraced evil. In any event Fushsia is clearly meant to be a character caught in darkness yet attracted to Criminy’s goodness.
Even this change though has become part of the template now and the comic has settled in. There’s a constant danger of stagnation when a universe is designed not to change much. Many of the comics while really good are essentially recaps of this basic template. Today’s Sunday comic is really nicely done but is exactly that, a summary of how Sinfest works now:
That is impressive skills on display and a really nice addition to the Sinfest universe. I suspect that Ishida will do something very similar many more times in the next couple of years though. On the other hand, Sinfest has always seemed to be about whatever Ishida is interested in so the possibility of surprise and new territory to explore is also part of the comic.
I still read it regularly — I’ve probably read everyone that’s been posted on the web (4785 at current count). I’d recommend it alone for the impressive craft on display but since it’s evolutionary shift in 2011 or so, it’s also become a more interesting meditation on the ideas Ishida is exploring and that has been a welcome change. I do hope he embraces additional creative risks as he moves forward. There are tremendous possibilities to explore if Ishida embraces the possibility of real change in his comic universe.