July 20, 2011
It’s like a Swiss not, but without the bow.
Kawaii Not (Or Cute Not, if you happen to be a very specific kind of bilingual) is a regular 4-panel comic (Shi-koma if you’re still bilingual) revolving around the use of an adorable depiction of something combined with a subversion of that adorableness via a tragic, horrific, or deeply disturbing context. And the occasional flaming python wielding a hand-grenade, because everyone fears the flaming python wielding a hand-grenade.
The comic is created entirely by artist Megan Murphy, whose artwork can also be seen on the aptly-named murphypop.com, and has been running since June of 2005 with an impressive archive to boot. You can relax though if you’re only just finding out about it, as there’s no running story or jokes and each comic is completely isolated from the rest, so you can dive in straight away without having to read the backlog (at least not mandatorily…until the warden gets back…).
In the 6 years the comic has been running the art style has advanced, though you may not realise it at first, the characters (though fleeting) are all drawn in a more stylised and crisp style that has gradually developed over the course of Murphy’s run (Which is next door to Logan’s Run, but they don’t talk much). I know from experience that developing and improving a simplistic style can be a tricky task to tackle, and is one better charged simply with time and experience, something Murphy seems to have achieved rather well.
The writing is witty, though occasionally obvious, but since the comics are so short the obvious jokes are quite often the best, and despite the age of the site the comics retain their wit and comedy, rather than running down over time as many others do (It’s not a criticism here but Looking For Group is one such example, as it transitioned from pure comedy to comedy-drama).
Kawaii Not is supported by merchandising, and has supplied guest comics to a wide variety of other sites (all of which can be viewed from the handy Guest Strips tab) across the industry spectrum. A fine example of a good webcomic with a good author with good industry fundamentals, I’d say.
In all, Kawaii Not provides a quick burst of ironic cuteness to keep you from punching out the next Starbucks employee that adds cream to your latte, though only just.
It is ironic after all.