Cascade Failure by Matthew Bett

March 23, 2007

One of my favorite online comics is Cascade Failure, by Mathew Bett.

Cascade Failure‘s Manga-esque illustration style has dramatically improved over the life of the strip. The strip itself is about the life of several students studying computer programming, for gaming, at a fictional college in Scotland. (Thus the geek term, ‘cascade failure,’ when things go bad and steadily get worse.) The characters often have real-life counterparts, and a lot of the humor is geek and gaming humor, but it’s also about life outside those subjects. And while some of the strips are head-scratchers for those non-European, non-gaming geeks, most of the strips are surreal, a good chuckle, and plain laugh out loud funny (and here).

For some time now, Bett has concentrated on a storyline concerning the playing of World of Warcraft by the comic characters, basically a strip within a strip, featuring a couple of the comic characters’ Warcraft avatars in the virtual WoW.

Not being a WoW player myself I’m not sure what or where the attraction, or humor, is here. To me the WoW storyline is a disappointment and I wish Bett would get back into the “real” comic strip. But he’s gotten positive feedback from the WoW storyline, including a link on the main World of Warcraft site that gave Cascade Failure it’s second #1 rating on keenspace. So the storyline keeps chugging along, with “special order” drawings coming through from donations via PayPal.

Production of a new comic is sporadic unfortunately, with Bett too-regularly posting various excuses reasons for not having a new strip ready. Admittedly, exams are a valid excuse, and so is getting married, and maybe even the non-specific “busy” occasionally, but several times the reason has been recovery from severe bouts of drinking, which must be a storyline in itself (and was on numerous occasions in the original storyline). The lack of steady output is a let down for regular readers, but Matthew Bett is doing this for fun and isn’t being paid (except via the aforementioned donations). A book of the collected strips is supposed to be on its way, too.

In spite of my own issues with the WoW storyline, check out Cascade Failure. And if you do, start at the beginning, in the archives (drop down at the bottom of the Cascade Failure page). You get to see Bett’s illustration improve, the character evolve, numerous storylines, and get a grasp on some of the humor. It’s worth wading through the excuses and occasional “huh?’ moments.

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