Robot 6

‘Whomp!’: The importance of being Ronnie

whomp

Some may find the regular run-of-the mill Sunday funnies to be a total grind. “What’s so funny about Sunday funnies, man?” you say, nursing a bottle of Applejack as the ceiling fan hums quietly in a somber room lit the slats of sun that streak through the gaps between Venetian blinds. “It’s the same gags, repeated over and over again, in a cyclical purgatory of jokes about Mondays and lasagna. Sunday funnies, huh.” To which I say: That’s some attitude you’ve got there, buddy!

There’s some sort of magic to repeating a gag so often that you sorta know what to expect, but it’s told so expertly that you keep coming back like a drug fiend who should know better. There’s delicious comfort in knowing what to expect, and that’s why Whomp!, by Ronnie Filyaw, is one of those rare webcomics that I’m most excited to revisit because of how consistently funny it is … and it’s anime and McNugget jokes strip after strip.

Whomp! stars Ronnie, a short, pudgy, four-eyed nerd in a Hawaiian shirt. As drawn, he looks like a bearded snowman with stringy arms and bug eyes. He’s the sort of cartoon nerd that you can realistically imagine sticking to your window as a suction-cup plushy to frighten and confuse your fellow commuters.

But it’s also apparent that, despite his high adorableness rating, he’s kind of gross … like the sort of guy who flosses the plastic bologna ring between his teeth to get at the extra meat. At the end of the day, though, he’s harmless. He’s gentle, non-confrontational, and surprisingly sweet sometimes.

He has but two passions in life: watching anime and falling helplessly in love with the dewy-eyed space princesses, and McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. The rest of his days are filled by wallowing in shame. Ronnie is cripplingly self-conscious, reflecting the anxieties of emotionally fragile people (e.g. nerds) everywhere. He’s a man who easily bursts into tears at the slightest hints of embarrassment. It’s rendered even more hilarious when most of the people he “offends” are typically pleasant, patient individuals.

Ronnie is joined by his roommate, Agrias. She was introduced early in the strip as a free-spirited counterpart, complete with wacky animal sidekick. Since then, she’s evolved into a big-sister role. She also turns into someone who is way, way cooler than Ronnie … although she’s not without image issues of her own. While she’s disdainful of Ronnie’s sometimes-sociopathic behavior, she’s also something of an enabler. She’ll begrudgingly help Ronnie whenever he’s cruising for free McNuggets and plays along when he’s rehearsing an apology. There is no romance between them, though, because as mentioned before, Ronnie is actually kinda gross. (One of the best recurring gags along this line: Agrias comes into Ronnie’s room to borrow something, and she’s shocked to find Ronnie half-naked… and usually doing something embarassing.)

And therein lies the great paradox of Whomp! Indeed, Ronnie is one of the most lovable of losers… but you don’t really want to see him win. Because when he’s standing sadly by himself, big crocodile tears rolling down his puffy cheeks, and stuffing his face with McNuggets … or when he’s swatting a fly with his feet while dressed only in his tighty whities … or when he’s hunkering down in embarrassment because he’s singing along to his iPhone playlist and Weird Al’s “Fat” comes up … When those moments of total loserdom rear their ugly head, Ronnie’s just all sorts of cute.

Oh, man, I just realized something. Ronnie is just a modern day Ziggy, isn’t he?

Though it is nice to see him happy sometimes … like when his eyes light up after scraping off the cheese at the bottom of a pizza box. Oh, Ronnie, if only I could savor the simple pleasures of life as you do.

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