This review is a month in coming, and I must apologize for the delay. I first had an urge to review General Protection Fault after this strip, as I rather enjoy the game Fluxx (in fact, I have a Fluxx deck on my desk in front of me, just begging me to find some poor victims to play it with…) but realized that I really should read the archives before writing the review. That took several days, and since then I’ve been waiting for the right strip to arrive and catch my interest again.
While I’d been aware of GPF through Keenspot Newsboxes and the like, my first real experience with GPF was through Websnark and Eric’s infamous You Had Me and You Lost Me snark. A little after that, I started reading GPF, but I never bothered going earlier in the archives than 2005. Eric’s little snark about Surreptitious Machinations just left me with no interest in the archives, or a storyline that so lost Eric.
I was pleasantly surprised when I read through the archives and found that I actually liked this year-long story, a story that tore apart GPF and brought so many plots to boil.
This taught me an important lesson, and it’s one I’ve mentioned before. Don’t go by my word, or Eric, or any of the other critics and reviewers. What I like, you might not. What I enjoyed, you may be indifferent toward. Our reviews are a good foundation to start from… but it’s best to read these comics yourselves, and then come to a decision for yourself.
Early GPF was geek humor, pure and simple. It was a combination of office humor and computer humor, sort of a “What if Dilbert was a computer programmer instead of an Engineer” approach, and the characters were fairly personable and likeable. But Jeff Darlington had a plan behind this simple comic, and within a month had introduced the greatest catalyst for change, Trudy.
I consider Trudy to be a catalyst of change, rather than a true antagonist. She shifted the entire focus of GPF and has done so in multiple places. Really, she helped shift GPF’s gears, and bring about several things, including the culmination of Ki and Nick’s relationship, the destruction and recreation of GPF itself, and Fooker’s relationship with Sharon. (Well, indirectly in the last one, it was Trudy’s future self who
set things in motion there.)
Further, Trudy has evolved as a character herself. She started out, in both future and present incarnations, as ultimately a puppet being manipulated from afar. However, she has herself changed, and in a most interesting way. I’d not be surprised at all to see Trudy go from villain to redeemed martyr… if not even the one who ends up thwarting the mastermind I suspect to be behind so many of the twists (including Future Trudy) that have plagued the GPF world.
If Trudy has undergone
the greatest evolution of character, Nick has become one of the most pivotal. GPF started with him, and I suspect it will end with him. Indeed, the whole of Surreptitious Machinations can be laid at his feet, in an effort to control Nick and his growing inventor’s gift, and the link above showing the mastermind behind the more recent incidents of spying on Nick and his devices.
That’s not to discount Fooker or Sharon or the others. They all are important parts of this cast, and of the story. But the heart of GPF seems to be Nick, and while the other stories are of interest, we’ll likely return to Nick for each major story arc.
One of the problems, if you can consider it as such, is that there is seven years of story here. Few comics have run as long as GPF. Further, GPF has run, non-stop pretty much (with the exception of a few guest-strip weeks), since its inception. That leaves a hell of a lot of story to read. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Further, Jeff hasn’t allowed his meta-storyline to dominate GPF, so there are side-arcs going on, and incidents alluded to that I assume are from the print compilations of GPF.
Still, aside from some confusion, GPF is a fascinating and fun comic, and definitely worth reading. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and the story does falter in places, but the strengths of the characters and the story itself makes this into a comic worth reading.