Webcomic review: The Life and Times of Tony D
The Life and Times of Tony D, script wise, is a wholly unremarkable web comic. There's nothing here that hasn't been done before in the mediocre Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green (even the title is a bit of a rip-off) or the superior Chelsea Boys. Tony D is a neurotic young guy who obsesses over guys: his ex, the “”9th Ave Guy” he keeps running into, and who he's convinced himself is The One. He nicknames him “9th Ave Guy” because-- newsflash, people!--he keeps seeing him on 9th Ave and gay guys have a habit of nicknaming guys they're into. Meanwhile, he complains to every girlfriend he has, and there are many, that he just wants an emotionally open, stable guy-- in short, a male version of one of his girlfriends.
What elevates Life and Times is its sleek, amiably cartoonish character design, which is much more innovative and interesting than the pedestrian storyline. A line-up of cheekily named drag queens is a particular treat; what that we were allowed to follow more of their adventures instead of the “does he like me?” drivel. Admittedly there are some clever moments, as when Tony D and 9th Ave Guy chat over dinner with each guy's thoughts interspersed (“Top? Bottom?” “Like the Golden Girls...” “Bottom!”) And having been a feckless 20-year-old not so long ago, I can remember having an abundance of girlfriends-- not so much gay friends-- and obsessing over finding the perfect boyfriend, so perhaps I shouldn't judge too harshly.
Still, something’s missing. Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For is the standard by which all queer serial comics will be judged, and with good reason—it was often funny, always human, and immersively complex in its ongoing look at the trials and tribulations of a group of lesbian friends and the various people in their orbit. Tony D would do well to follow its example and look beyond Chelsea and the Will & Grace Milieu, to capture something a little deeper, fresher, and more interesting about the contemporary gay experience.