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The Black twins, Lucy and Fisk, and their mother Sheila.
|Genre||Slice of life, Comedy, Drama|
Better Days was a furry webcomic created by Jay Naylor. The comic, which ran from 2003 until 2009, focused on the life and experiences of Fisk Black, an anthropomorphic cat growing up in Georgia. Although popular, the comic received criticism for its portrayal of controversial subjects, including incest and racism. In 2009, Naylor concluded the comic's storyline, and began work on a spin-off entitled Original Life.
Better Days was announced in 2003. Naylor wanted to write about the life of his primary creation, Fisk. Formerly known as a pornographic artist, Better Days would be Naylor's first webcomic. He wanted to create material that was "creative and entertaining without being obscene", and to establish himself as an illustrator and a cartoonist rather than a "furry artist". Better Days focused on a number of controversial issues, including racism and incest. The art style derived from anime and manga influence.
Better Days takes place in Georgia, focusing on Fisk, his twin sister Lucy, and their mother Sheila. The twins' father, Jim, died in the Vietnam War. Most of the storylines are character-driven. According to Naylor, the title "[refers] to the future: the result of a lifetime of planning, effort, and just living." Naylor states that Fisk "most personifies my outward attitude", and that the character experienced "phases of arrogance, crassness, naivety, detached bemusement, disregard, and other flaws". Lucy and Sheila were based upon characters created by Mat Sherer for Badly Drawn Kitties. Because of the strong differences between the appearance and personalities of these characters, Naylor states that the use of these characters does not constitute "character theft".
Naylor did not include nudity in Better Days because he did not want to rely on pornography in order to keep readers' interest, and felt that nudity and explicit sex would distract from the story. However, the comic has included violence and non-explicit sexual content.
Better Days portrays African-Americans as hyenas. Naylor chose to use hyenas for characters of African origin because he enjoyed drawing them, and had received compliments about his hyena characters. Naylor's exploration of racism has drawn some criticism, as some readers felt that race should not play into a comic strip featuring anthropomorphic characters. Naylor stated that East African characters would be portrayed as African wild dogs.
Naylor's influences include Phil Hendrie, whose radio program was often referenced within the comic, and Bloom County, which Naylor cites as having influenced his political views. Naylor has also expressed admiration for Calvin and Hobbes and Lackadaisy.
In 2009, Naylor announced that he was ending Better Days, and would launch a new webcomic entitled Original Life, which would focus on a now-married Fisk and Elizabeth, and their children.
Lucy Black is one of the primary characters in the webcomic. She is a black and white anthropomorphic cat who is the fraternal twin of her brother Fisk. Lucky Black is also the name of a similar character in the webcomic Badly Drawn Kitties by Mat Sherer, who is credited with created the character of Lucy. At one time, the characters were intended to be the same character, the artists being friends and sharing the character. There had since been a falling out, sometime around chapter 13 and 14 of Better Days, and Mat and Jay's Lucy character's became two different ones, one for Better Days, and one for BDK. Fisk was a Better Days character that crossed over to Badly Drawn Kitties several times. Since Jay and Mat's falling out, Fisk has been removed from the BDK cast and comic, explained off as being killed overseas.
A black cat with white hair, Lucy, alongside Fisk, is one of the main characters of the strip, with many of the chapters following her life and maturity into adulthood. Lucy is strongly attached emotionally to her twin brother and has even been involved in an incestous relationship with him, before coming to terms with it and eventually getting together with a rabbit named Tommy, who, at the time, was her roommate's boyfriend. Lucy currently works at a public radio station, where she reports the news.
- Main article: Storyline of Better Days
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Fisk displays strong political viewpoints from an early age. These views lead to conflict between his teacher, Mrs. Bedbutter, and Sheila, when Fisk is given bad grades for a series of patriotic essays. Sheila goes on a date with Principal Longfellow, who claims to have been a Vietnam vet who served with Jim, and that he had cheated on her while serving in the war. Sheila calls Jim's former commanding officer, Robert Kelso, to inquire about Longfellow's claims, and learns that Longfellow lied about serving in her husband's unit, and was discharged for aggressive fraternization and other issues. When she confronts him about this, Longfellow rapes her, resulting in Fisk knocking him unconscious with a baseball bat. Longfellow is later assassinated by members of his former unit.
Fisk loses his virginity at age 10 to Nikki, an 11-year-old hyena. Nikki's father is wanted by the FBI for murder and rape, and her sexual induction of Fisk had been the result of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. At Lucy's insistence, Fisk asks his sister's friend Elizabeth, out on a date, after Lucy threatens to tell their mother "what really happened to her lawn gnome". Although Fisk soon falls for Elizabeth, she learns that he had only gone out with her because Lucy had pressured him to.
After Lucy learns that a boy in school had only dated her in an attempt to sleep with Sheila, Fisk attempts to comfort Lucy, and they begin an incestuous relationship. When Fisk reaches college age, he decides to join the army. While attending college, Lucy begins a relationship with Tommy, the boyfriend of one of her roommates, Rachel, who has been unsuspectingly cheated on for years. When Fisk is injured in training, he reunites with Nikki, who has since become a nurse. Fisk fights in the Gulf War, and takes over his father's former job as an undercover CIA agent. When Fisk's cousin, Persia, disappears, he tracks her down, learning that she had left her job as a model to become a pornographic film actress, and was forced into prostitution by mobsters. After a violent confrontation with the mobsters, Persia stays in Fisk's apartment until she can get back on her feet. After a series of bad relationships, Elizabeth is still in love with Fisk, and reveals her feelings to him, leading the two to resume dating. They marry, and decide to have children.
Although Naylor's artwork has been praised, Better Days has received criticism for its political views and approach to controversial subject matter. Crush! Yiff! Destroy! wrote that "the normal story-telling and humorous functions of the comic take a backseat to political diatribes and the characters are only there to serve as mouth-piece's for the author's opinions rather than as characters in their own right." The Webcomic Overlook called it "the red-headed stepchild of a genre that’s already a red-headed stepchild."
Better Days receives 15,223 unique visitors per month, and is the most-subscribed webcomic on The Belfry Webcomics Index. On October 30, 2005, Better Days appeared as a "awful link of the day" on the comedy website Something Awful. Naylor stated that he received favorable responses from visitors who discovered his website through Something Awful.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Naylor, Jay January 5, 2003. So, I got this here LiveJournal thing... LiveJournal. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay June 11, 2004. The Way of Things to Come. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 The New Meat 2004. Better Days. Crush! Yiff! Destroy!. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 El Santo June 22, 2008. Better Days. The Webcomic Overlook. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Full Reviews of Better Days. Master Zen Dao Meow. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ Theater of the Mind. LiveJournal (March 13, 2006). Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay January 3, 2007. 2007. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 21 March 2010.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Naylor, Jay March 22, 2003. My Own Hobbes. Live Journal. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay 2004-03-11. We Hate Jay!. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 21 March 2010.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Naylor, Jay September 6, 2005. Sex and Violence. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Naylor, Jay November 2, 2005. "Better Days" is for Grown Ups. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay June 17, 2005. Rage Against the Durr. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay June 23, 2006. Hornblower and the Rabid Lesbian Sea Squid. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay March 5, 2003. Do You Really Want to Know?. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay July 21, 2006. General Site Update. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay. Adult Catalog. Retrieved on 21 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay October 29, 2005. Settling In. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 21 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay April 29, 2009. Original Life. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay July–August 2003. Chapter 4: "The Bedbutter Chronicles". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Naylor, Jay August–October 2003. Chapter 5: "Predators". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay July 27, 2005. The Hippy Encyclopedia. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 Naylor, Jay October–December 2003. Chapter 6: "Tough Love". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Naylor, Jay January–April 2004. Chapter 7: "Of Mice and Idiots". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay May–July 2004. Chapter 9: "Lucy's Mom". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay October 2005 – January 2006. Chapter 13 "Thicker Than Water". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay January–June 2006. Chapter 14 "All the Wrong Places". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay June–July 2006. Chapter 15 "Reconciliation". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay November 2006 – March 2007. Chapter 17 "Trial by Fire". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay March–May 2008. Chapter 21 "Father's Footsteps". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 30.2 Naylor, Jay August–December 2008. Chapter 23 "Persia". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Naylor, Jay April–May 2009. Chapter 25 "Better Days". Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Site profile for jaynaylor.com. Complete.com. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ Most Subscribed. The Belfry Webcomics Index. Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 Naylor, Jay October 31, 2005. With "Enemies" Like These.... LiveJournal. Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Naylor, Jay February 27, 2006. Poona This Way Comes. LiveJournal. Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- ↑ Program information for Poona the Fuckdog. Sacred Fools (2006). Retrieved on 20 March 2010.
- Enter The Dream collection of reviews about Better Days
- Review of Better Days by The New Meat at Crush! Yiff! Destroy!
- Better Days, in Russian
- Better Days ВКонтакте, in Russian
- Review of Better Days, Webcomic Overlook
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