I’ve really been terrified to do this particular comic for the longest time due to its reputation, but now that it’s over, I feel I should give it a eulogy.
Author: Tim Buckley
Start Date: 2002
Update Schedule: Complete (a reboot is underway)
Ctrl+Alt+Del can be defined as two different types of comic. The first is a standard gag-a-day strip where a bunch of roommates play video games. The other involves these same characters–best friends Ethan and Lucas, Ethan’s girlfriend Lilah, and their robot Zeke–who deal with everyday situations in their lives, including relationships, jobs, and the occasional adventure.
Recommended Age Group: 15 and up, due to cursing and violence.
What makes CAD stand out among most gaming webcomics is that it has one characteristic that others lack: a story. Gaming webcomics are generally not designed to have storylines due to their overly comical nature; they usually make referential humor and little else. As much as the comic has been overly divisive (see the Weaknesses, because we’ve got a LOT to cover!), I can at least give Buckley credit for adding variety to a rather stale genre.
Unfortunately, just having one unique trait doesn’t make up for its many, MANY shortcomings…
Tim Buckley loves to copy and paste.
Every single character has the same face. He uses Google Images for backgrounds and adds a Gaussian blur. Lighting and shading are inconsistent. Simply put, Buckley’s talents as an artist are notably limited.
The characters aren’t well-defined, either. Ethan has been criticized for being a Mary Sue. He’s a constant jerk and he gets away with every stupid thing he does. Even worse, he winds up with all the rewards in the comic. He becomes married to the girl of his dreams, despite not showing his affections for her. He manages to construct two sentient robots that perfectly mimic life. He creates his own holiday and a church for it. He easily outwits all his opponents and winds up owning a gaming shop despite having no business experience. Finally, the characters have to apologize to HIM for all the wrongdoing that HE caused.
Remember how I mentioned that CAD is divided into two comics in the synopsis? They tend to clash constantly, interrupting the storylines with abrupt comedy and killing the tension once the drama reaches its peak.
The humorous comics aren’t structured well, either. A common complaint of the comic is that the punchline is revealed too early, leaving the rest of the panels as meandering filler. This tongue-in-cheek parody of the comic exemplifies this particular issue with the strips.
The comic also breaks the show-don’t-tell rule constantly, relying on long dialogue balloons and walls of text to get the point across (comically or dramatically) rather than allowing the characters to express their emotions.
I give this comic a halfhearted recommendation, if only a rather faint one. Despite all my criticisms, I don’t think it’s as nail-bitingly awful as other webcomics on the Internet. The comic still has a large fanbase, and if you’ve never read it, you could probably give it a quick read and determine for yourself whether or not you would like it. It’s over, so it definitely wouldn’t hurt.
Personally, I used to read this comic many years ago when I was developing my reading habits for webcomics. I enjoyed it during its early days, but then I grew out of it when the flaws started to become more apparent. And they just continued to worsen. I stopped reading around the time the animated series came out (yes, there was an animated series, and it’s best left forgotten).
I wish Buckley best of luck on the reboot. I don’t think I’ll be tuning in, though.