Being social animals, we humans tend to shrug off the eccentricities of our peers. It could be out of respect or sympathy, but maybe it’s because we notice the same silliness in ourselves. Our weirdness has evolved into a common bond. Much like Seinfeld exposed everyday “nothingness”, Scott Meyer’s webcomic Basic Instructions explores the empty simplicity of our interactions.
Since it’s inception in 2003, Basic Instructions has delved into themes as simple as “How to Discuss Video Games ” and as deep as “How to Figure Out Who You Are .” It’s kind of like the Worst Case Scenario books that were popular in the early 2000’s, but instead of surviving a shark attack readers learn “How to Wash a Cat.” The jokes are wrapped around the stupidity we ourselves create as we bumble through life.
Each strip is dialogue-heavy, but they maintain a comfortable flow. What makes Basic Instructions so original and gratifying is that there is a joke on each panel. And I don’t know how Meyers accomplishes it so consistently, but each chuckle lends insight into our psyche.
The collective cast of characters can be described with an oxymoron: forgetably memorable. A regular reader, I still don’t remember any of their first names. Steve? Max? Eric? No idea. I know them as the unreasonable boss with a mullet, creepy bearded dude, and awkward guy with glasses. Still, I can identify each personality with at least one acquaintance from real life.
Despite the bitter and biting humor, it’s easy to understand how Basic Instructions has developed its cult following. There is a homey feeling black and white comics don’t typically genearate. Readers post photos of Basic Intruction sightings and post comments as though they have personally met the characters. “You will learn” is the tagline for the strip, but I suspect regular readers already know and understand.