Hey! Bet you didn’t think you’d be hearing from me so soon! As it so happens, I managed to find another old-school comic maker’s work still online, so here I am reporting on it. In this case, it’s AJ Rimmer and his Worse than Life series. As with the previous post about Happydevil (which you can read here), I’m gonna look through the archives and pretend I know what I’m talking about in a quasi-mockumentary.
AJ Rimmer’s site doesn’t have much besides the comics themselves and a prototypical About page with the default WordPress text, plus my memory of this era isn’t all that encompassing, so, as much as I can tell, AJ Rimmer began with a “prequel” to his Worse than Life series dubbed “Eight Things that Will Make Your Miserable Life Worse” and cheerfully tagged “fail, lists, misery“. This prequel sets the tone of the later series – a self-deprecating, darkly humorous saga of an unlucky, depressed guy, which I assume is an exaggerated take on AJ Rimmer’s own life at the time and not a cry for help. He followed this with “The Musings of a Commuter” and “The Truth of True Love“, which are essentially pilot episodes for his popular series Worse than Life, beginning with “Life as an Intern“.
Worse than Life was really a part of the 2006 trend that began with Clover’s Jeff series (which, by the way, I would love to re-read, host and comment on), where the author narrated life stories using his personal skin model and his friends. What set Worse than Life apart, however, was the tone – it was usually dark and sardonic humor, often mocking less-safe-for-work or serious themes like stalking and even religion or focusing on how much of a lonely, desperate for love outsider the main character is. It’s a smart, not-emo series and a lot funnier than you might think based on that description.
It’s also, sometimes, a look at the old PHWOnline meta-culture from the heydays of Garry’s Mod comics. “Not an Introduction“, for instance, mocks the conventions of lesser comics from those days, whereas “The Outsider (Partytime Part II)” parodies the “Approved Comic Maker” troupe that was formed when the best comic makers were hand-picked by the Administrators and put in a separate section of the PHWOnline forum. Even the aforementioned Jeff makes a few guest appearances in the series, like in “A Tribute to Jeff“.While it’s not the comic with most issues ever, it did pull off an astonishing run in terms of duration – from 2006 to 2011, making it a five-year chronicle of AJ Rimmer’s grim outlook on life (for the most part). Ironically enough, the series ended, somewhat abruptly, with a Valentine’s Day special, right after AJ Rimmer got a girlfriend and started to feel, and I quote, “better than life”. While it was meant to be continued, I must admit that it really does work as a poignant happy ending to the series. It’s worth mentioning that, shortly before AJ Rimmer vanished from the comic making scene, he also took a slight detour to make the first part of a science-fiction comic, Tempus Fugit, which is also worth a read.
As for AJ Rimmer’s current whereabouts, I have no idea, though I like to think he’s still together with his girlfriend and living a happy life. It’s highly doubtful Worse than Life will get a comeback, particularly because, according to the site’s comments, the models used have been permanently lost (and, I assume, the backups as well).
Take a look at the entire series in the official site:
Now, I’m still doing all the hard work of finding these lost treasures myself! If you have some old classics you want to share, feel free to send them:
Also, drop a comment or something if you read this. Don’t be a stranger.