Wow, I must say that is quite a review! For starters, let me thank you for taking the time for having done it and taking the extra time to insert links throughout. You could have saved yourself the trouble of doing so, but instead you went the extra mile, and your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
You're welcome! Yeah, I spent some extra time on this one, mostly to elaborate on the Idiot Plot problem, which is something I feel needs an in-depth explanation to get across properly.
MichaelYakutis wrote:Thank you, really. And an even bigger thanks for your kind words about the artwork (I'm the illustrator)! I'm SO glad when people notice the backgrounds. I'll admit that I am sometimes rushed and have to do lazy backgrounds, but I do my best to avoid this, most especially in the recent chapters.
I think you're doing a great job with them, and they're one of the main reasons why And To Be Loved
's artwork's able to stand out like it does. I'll note that other webcomics I've reviewed with really solid artwork, such as Chaos
, Demon of the Underground
, DOUBLE K
, The Prime of Ambition
, and Strange Investigations
, have all put a lot of effort into their backgrounds.
MichaelYakutis wrote:I'll try (TRY) not to post a super long reply to your review, and I'm not looking to argue or tell you "you're wrong about this this and this," because all good reviews are based on opinions that should always be repected, but there are a few key points I'd like to address.
It's fine, and I like having the opportunity for a follow-up.
MichaelYakutis wrote:O…k….you must have really sensitive eyes, lol. I'll agree that the site needs a lot of work. By howdy, does it ever.... But to be honest, you're the first person to ever say anything negative about the color of the site (believe it or not, we've actually received a good deal of compliments about the color). Oh, and don't ask me why, but when the site was being built the developer was having trouble inserting that border using Word Press. So we just put the border on each page directly. I'm not a techy, so don't ask me why… But we are, at some point, going to re-letter and re-border each page in a different way so as to avoid the border issue you pointed out.
Eye sensitivity may be relevent here, although I did
try viewing the site without my contact lenses in to see if it helped (it didn't). And I wasn't bothered by Gloomverse
, which sometimes seems like it's practically going out of its way to cause retina damage. I'd say that having a really bright background for a black-and-white comic isn't a good idea in general, though. And while many people have complimented the color, it could be difficult to gauge the amount of aversion towards it, as I find it highly unlikely that a casual reader would actually go out of their way to complain about it -- again, it'd be far more common for them to simply close their browser window and move on to something else.
As a side note, we are in the process of redesigning the site (and we will add a bit more to certain pages such as the "Players" page, but our feelings are, "sometimes less is more," so we don't wish to overdo it like many comics tend to). I've created a temporary thread for the redesigned homepage for the site, and I'd love to get some feedback on it! So if anyone would like to see it and has any opinions, you can go here: viewtopic.php?f=695&t=109502
I agree that people can get carried away with their cast pages at times. Having your "Players" page be more like your "Muses" page currently is would probably be better, though.
I'll check out the other thread later. Hopefully other people will pitch in their opinions.
MichaelYakutis wrote:My opinion is that there are two big problems with the review in regards to the writing, and the first is that it only covers chapter 7. I certainly don't expect any reviewer to read the entire series, that would be asking a lot. But many of the issues and questions that are addressed in the review were covered in previous chapters (mostly the first chapter). This chapter focused on R, and was not meant to focus on Claire or her relationship with Thomas (we have a lot more in store for her later on, so stay tuned for that). If a story is still working on heavy character development by the time it reaches its seventh chapter, than it means that it has done a poor job of developing the characters early on. That shouldn't suggest that character development should stop at any given point, but you can only expect a certain level of it when reading one chapter in the middle of the story. Now, if there seemed to have been a lack of character development over the course of the first chapter or two, then of course there would be a problem with the writing of those chapters. But for chapter 7….ehh….
The limited nature of my reviews keeps coming up as a problem, most recently with the Katran
review I posted a few weeks ago that spawned a heated discussion on the Smack Jeeves forum. But I'll still defend doing it, and I think it gets overstated as an excuse for bad writing. Creators tend to make the assumption that the review would've been much more positive if I'd only taken the time to read the whole thing, but I'm gonna counter that by assuming that the latest chapter represents the peak of their game, and that taking the older, inferior material into account would actually make the review even more negative. The other side of it's that focusing on one chapter allows a more detailed, in-depth review -- for example, taking the time to deconstruct Thomas' realization of R's homosexuality wouldn't have been feasible if I was doing a more general review.
MichaelYakutis wrote:I think that the second big flaw of the review is that perhaps you may be mixing up a comedy, slice of life, comic (ATBL), with a realistic drama comic. Or something similar. The review makes many mentions of things being unrealistic, but to be honest, we don't see that as a negative. Sure, it's possible to do a more realistic comedy, but that's not what we are always going for. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on the situation (which may sound like a cop-out, but it's true). It seems that perhaps you went into it expecting one thing, and you got something else, but you still wanted it to be the first thing. This is all speculation, and I can't assume anything you may or may not have been thinking, but I would say that comics in and of themselves deserve to be unrealistic, which why people love to read them.
Nah, I'd say the comic's better at drama than it is at humor. For one, the comic relief's mainly R (with Thomas serving as "the straight man," no pun intended), but his "gags" are either him thinking other people are worse than he is, or him making some offhand reference to pop culture or his gayness, and neither of those instances ever seemed funny to me. And I already commented on why the scenes with Claire surprising them don't work. There's only one page in the comic I actually thought was kinda funny, and that's when Thomas freaks out when the gay guy at the bar uses Thomas' cigarette to light his own. Humor's very subjective, though, of course.
I'm gonna counter that realism and believability are necessary to get readers invested in a work; otherwise, why should they care what happens to a bunch of made-up characters? Readers want the stories they read to have characters they can relate to. That's one reason why writing Mary Sue characters, for example, is such a sin -- perfect characters aren't believable because real people aren't perfect.
Unrealistic elements are important in fiction, too, yes, but there has to be a proper balance between the two.
MichaelYakutis wrote:As for the climax…I thought it was a bit too subtle, if you'd ask me lol.
Switching from black-and-white to full color's a big deal. Take Wizard of Oz
as an obvious example.
MichaelYakutis wrote:If R had any positive characteristics, his character would fall apart entirely. C'mon, he'd be BOOoooOORING. He's the anti-hero, the selfish brat. He's the Master Shake of the series. His positive characteristics are aimed only at himself. Well rounded characters don't always need attributes at all ends of the spectrum depending on their role in a story, and depending on the story itself.
I think R already is "BOOoooOORING." An anti-hero doesn't benefit from poor characterization any more than a regular hero does. And a character like Master Shake's actually funny and likable, whereas R's more just a grouchy douchebag.
MichaelYakutis wrote:Haha, I think you're taking my comment here way too seriously. It was a throw-away reply, although…Thomas can be quite dumb and naive at times. As can they all.
Unfortunately, this "throw-away reply" is a more thorough attempt to explain away the Idiot Plot than can be found anywhere in the actual writing.
MichaelYakutis wrote:In summation, and with all due respect, I think you may have simply "missed" some of the jokes, which is to be expected from anyone. I'll fully admit that this comic isn't for everyone (however, the same goes for every other comic ever written for that matter), and there are a number of pop culture and hipster subculture elements that may go over some people's heads, or may simply come off as being ridiculous. Many of the negative criticisms in the review, we actually see as positive ones (and in many other cases, the issues were addressed in earlier chapters).
Humor's subjective, and while it's plausible I just didn't "get" the jokes, I feel like it's at least as plausible that the jokes just aren't funny. I don't think there's really any way to make a conclusive case for either side.
MichaelYakutis wrote:I hope you don't mind, but we posted the review on the site and used it to our advantage to insert some sarcasm that we feel is fitting for the comic. I'd like to link your Webcomic Police blog on there, if you're ok with that??
Hey, it's GIR! Yeah, a link would be great, although since I have a buffer I don't plan on posting this review right away.
I also find this line from reader "Charlie" amusing:
Charlie wrote:I think you should be flattered that she (I believe it was) took the time and effort to give such an honest and thought out review.
Huh? Why does he assume I'm a woman...?
So again, thank you for the well thought out and carefully formulated review. It is truly and genuinely appreciated and we welcome any and all forms of creative criticism from you, or from anyone. My comments above are simply based on my feelings and opinions, and I hope I didn't accidentally make any assumptions or misunderstandings about you or the review. I see this as a good review. Maybe even a great one! Everything that you said has been, and will continue to be, seriously considered and we will always do our best to improve our work. Without creative criticism, how can anyone ever truly improve??
Thanks. I think you're handling it fine. And of course, you always have the option to enter your comic to W.A.Y. again if you'd like to get someone else's opinion.