Lab Bratz

What Did I Learn?

weekly webcomic reviews by Delos

(this is a slightly updated repost)

What is the first thing that strikes you about Lab Bratz by Ed Dunphy and Max Velati? First it’s the expressions of the characters and then you appreciate the dialogue. Next you find yourself reading each comic and looking a little closer at the environments. Taken as a whole, I found it pretty amusing with certain bits (like wisecracking lab mice) standing out as very funny. And from what I gather on the ‘News’ page, they’re actually scientists that are creating the comic (or they at least work in science fields.) That helped me appreciate it more.

It also helps explain comic numbers one and two. I didn’t get the joke on the first read through. I can easily see a lab assistant getting stuck counting drips into a beaker… what we non-scientists would call gopher work. The most unexciting and sleep inducing chores you can imagine. All in the name of science.

Lab Bratz is a great comic for the Academic and Sciences audience. It’s custom made with its own in-jokes and common jargon which plays to the sense of identity its audience has. The last couple of reviews I’ve done have all had this quality and it’s one I hope to emulate in my own work.

Interestingy, it’s part of a Science Humor Net Ring. I had thought these rings were all pretty much defunct by now but this one seems to still be working. It’s actually functioning like these web rings were supposed to. Related pages of content sharing visitors. Too bad there aren’t more like it.

One nice thing about the characters is that they are just representative enough of certain stereotypes that they can be played to or against their type. It also broadens the reach somewhat. We all know people that are dirt poor and filthy rich, inexperienced and veteran, without social skills and wierd hobbies, so you don’t have to be a research scientist to appreciate Lab Bratz. These are all people in your workplace and neighborhood.

One more interesting feature is the use of repeated comics with different jokes inserted. That’s not only a time saver for the artist but it also creates a special expectation where you focus totally on the joke. Dinosaur Comics is another one that features this repetition. It’s also a nice treat for your regular viewers as they are reminded of earlier comics they enjoyed. I may have to try this.

What did I learn?

Do you know who your audience is or who it could be? Are you encouraging some segment of your viewers by playing to their in-jokes and speech patterns? If so, are you then marketing your work in the places where it will be appreciated? Are there features or gimmicks that you can use to drum up interest in your work like you can see in Lab Bratz?

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