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I predict vending machines will one day supplant ramen noodles as the symbolic food for college existence. They’re a lot more interesting anyway. Sure, one can live on ramen noodles alone for a very long time, but have you ever tried eating breakfast, lunch and dinner from a vending machine?

“Don’t” is all I have to say.

David Menzies and Robert Pinero’s Vendable is an inside look at the vending machine. Or at least it could be. Truth be told, I’m not really sure what it is, but it has plenty of potential no matter which direction it picks. Unfortunately, this actually entails picking a direction – something the webcomic struggles with in its present state.

Renton is a down-on-his-luck youth working in a vending machine factory, struggling to make a connection with friends and strangers alike while coming to terms with his past.   Vendable describes itself as slice-of-life, but the distorted, off-balance nature of the presents something more and something quite original. Unfortunately, this distorted tone creates an odd stop-start riff which unravels the some of Venable’s best-suited progress. In reaching for slice-of-life, Vendable is perhaps a bit too lifelike and not lively enough.

The biggest problem is it’s hard to really get a feel for the characters and their situation. The scene jumps around so much it becomes quite hard to get a suitable grasp of the webcomic. This is further compounded by the presence of a side-comic or two which are completely unrelated to the story at large. But even through all of this, there’s a hint of something larger, something far more fantastic breaking through the sheer mundane madness Renton faces everyday, and it’s that glimpse of the extraordinary behind the ordinary that keeps this strip going.

Though the mood and pacing are slightly off at times, Menzies and Pinero certainly have mastered the hook. It comes at moments when our gut reaction is something akin to “Oh, he didn’t!” There is a fresh sense of reality which reinforces the strip, even if it doesn’t necessarily do the story from scene to scene any favors. It’s the occasional mending of this fresh realism with occasional flashes of artistic license and more which really make Vendable an exciting and noteworthy book.

The website is also occasionally sluggish in loading the pages from time to time. There’s also no dates listed on some of the strips, so it’s hard to keep track once you’re peeling through the navigation. But these are all minor fixes, easily rectified with a couple tweaks here and there.

Overall, Vendable is an interesting slice-of-life no matter which slice and which flavor the creators pick. There are a couple messy transitions as well as couple pieces just too big to swallow, but all and all, Vendable has a rich texture and addicting taste which can keep an audience coming back for more.


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