Review by Frank Plowright
There’s an adage common to creative writing courses stating that something isn’t necessarily of interest just because it was a personal experience, and it certainly applied to the opening collection of Shazzbaa’s Today Nothing Happened.
That began as a class assignment to produce a daily journal in comic strip form, was continued as a webcomic, leading to three collections of a strip that eventually ran for four years. Shazzbaa’s dedication is admirable. Every day there’s another strip, and would that some professionals applied the same work ethic, but something that’s a discipline isn’t necessarily a strip with great appeal. Way too much of the content is a small mishap or other incident with an amusement value nullified by it occurring in the average community hundreds of times on any given day. Shazzbaa’s computer’s hanging, class is cancelled in the rain, there’s no chair behind her table at a convention, Shazzbaa crunches through the gears during her second driving lesson, she and a friend can’t decide where to go for dinner… There are endless variations on everyday occurrences, but not with any kind of satisfactory punchline. Things happen and drift out, lacking any observation that would render them interesting to anyone other than the people present.
It’s a sensible commercial decision to highlight that cat strips feature, as some people lose all critical faculties at the sight of a cat picture. These, however, are no more engaging than the remainder. The cat disrupts laptop activity, the cat sleeps on the laptop keyboard producing strange effects, it fights with another cat, it’s ill, it doesn’t like travelling in a cat box, it bundles itself up in a blanket… As with the strips not featuring a cat, these incidents happen all the time and Shazzbaa can’t elevate them to anything better.
The only redeeming feature is the expressive cartooning, tight and sketchy and great at conveying character. It could be put to far better use. If you’d like to sample some of the strip it’s still available online at www.shazzbaa.com, and a third collection followed.