Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

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Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby Dragonkingdoms on Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:30 pm

It's that time of year again, and that means it's time for Webcomic Above!

Below is originally from "Return of Webcomic Above" by netpoet- the rules haven't changed though...

1) DO NOT POST TO THIS THREAD unless you are putting up a placeholder or posting a review. Comments, questions, anything else like that should go in another thread somewhere. Posts that are done that are NOT one of those two will be deleted by the GD mods.

2) Know what you're getting into. Guess what? We're all people here, with our own opinions and likes and dislikes. Not everyone here is going to like your comic, and not everyone here is going to hate your comic. Be straightforward with your reviews, and take your own reviews as constructive criticism.

3) Do not ask for a review unless you are completely intent upon reviewing the person before you. Reviews should be THOROUGH within reason. "Hey, I like it!" is not thorough. Read the damn comic and give it a good review. Edit: to clear up a bit of confusion, please shoot for at LEAST 200 words or more.

4) Have an archive for us to read, please. If you've got three comics and a title page, guess what? IT'S NOT LONG ENOUGH! Shoot for 25 or so pages, the longer the better. Edit: Note that if you only have one active comic, and you post here, it may be reviewed by default. Please try to avoid this.

Usually, someone that is posting will have a webcomic to review, however, this isn't always the case. If there is a webcomic that meets the above requirements, then the following post reviews it. If not, then nothing is reviewed that time around.

*The following is an example, only. This is what the list will look like*

****
Dragon Kingdoms Remake- (may be) Reviewed by Mon Ami, incomplete
Antics - Reviewed by yeahduff, incomplete
8:1 - Reviewed by ivstudios, COMPLETE
Inhumation - Reviewed by Jackhass, COMPLETE
Zoology - Reviewed by Tentoumushi, COMPLETE
****

When you're done with a review, please remember to PM the creator of the comic.

*The Actual List*
??????- Reviewed by Dragonkingdoms, incomplete
Dawn of a New Era v2- Reviewed by VeryCuddlyCornpone, COMPLETE
Loud Era and Band Geeks Anonymous- Reviewed by SergeXIII, COMPLETE
Red City- Reviewed by VeryCuddlyCornpone, COMPLETE
Loud Era and Band Geeks Anonymous- Reviewed by RobboAKAscooby, COMPLETE
Ride the Wind- Reviewed by Tenma, COMPLETE
Treading Ground- Reviewed by SergeXIII, incomplete
Red City- Reviewed by Dragonkingdoms, incomplete
Last edited by Dragonkingdoms on Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:00 pm

Alright, I see that I am looking at DNE version 2. I have no issues with restarting a comic, that would be all too hypcocritical of me. However, right now I don't have much to go on, as I believe there are sixteen pages right now, but not all of them are pertaining to what I understand so far to be the main plot. I would like to have a better grasp of what is going on and I find myself a bit lost. Perhaps I am just missing pages for some reason? Anyway, I shall move on.

The layout is simple and easy to use, although it took me a while to find where the extra pages (characters, fanart, etc) are. I only have one comment regarding these extra pages, and it may be just a personal preference so take it with a grain of salt. As I read, I found myself aching to click on the "about" and "character" pages so that I could gain an understanding regarding the goings-on in the comic. My problem is I feel that such pages should only be supplementary. I think a reader should have a good idea of what is going on in a work without needing to look at those pages- they should be there for the reader who would like to learn more about specifics that aren't needed to understand the story. Since there aren't many pages up yet, I don't think this applies right now, but it's a good thing to keep in mind for the future.

In terms of art, all comics and styles fall somewhere along the continuum of very cartoonish/extremely stylized to very realistic or perhaps photographic looking. Right now I cannot place on said continuum where this comic would fall. I find that it is difficult for me to draw something in a cartoonish/stylized way if I don't have a good grasp on it realistically at first. I know this is my main issue with anatomy- as the saying goes, you have to know the rules to successfully break them and not break the audience's suspension of disbelief. I think that the style of this comic needs to be more refined, although since I do not know where Version One is, I cannot say how far you've already progressed. I notice that certain areas of some strips are very detailed while the rest are minimalistic, a juxtaposition which makes it more difficult for me to understand where the comic is on the realistic/cartoonish spectrum.

Most of my issues lie with anatomical problems. Whether a character is facing to his or her side, directly toward us, and in any direction other than that, even opposite us, we should still be able to tell that it is the same character. You might benefit from looking at some tutorials regarding facial angles, and then practicing what each character should look like from various angles. This will help with character consistency and help you find your style.

I can understand fully if you do not wish to color your comic, but I think that some sort of shading would help greatly, in addition to varying your line width, with separating background and foreground objects. Right now the images are rather flat and lack depth. When I say shading I'm not referring to shadows from light sources necessarily, but just areas on the page that aren't left white. Whether you would prefer to fill certain areas, either with colors or greyscale, digitally or by hand, or use hatching and other forms of adding a variation, I think it would benefit your art.

There are some issues with perspective as well, but the anatomy in particular stands out to me as an area that could be improved.

(Sorry that I harped on the art so much- I would have discussed the story more but there wasn't enough for me to go on at this current standing. If there are large chunks of the story that I am missing, please let me know so that I can give a more thorough review. )
Last edited by VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby SergeXIII on Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:15 pm

Band Geeks Anonymous is a collection of anecdotes and observations about school marching bands. The comics are all drawn on line paper in color pencil. Ordinarily this would be condemned by web cartoon critics, but I find it to be very appropriate for this comic as the comic deals with secondary school and is clearly written from the perspective of a student. The simple design of the website contributes to this feel as well, though it is not without a few minor flaws. For instance, the image borders ruin the flow, though this is a minor flaw. Use this code to get rid of them: <a href="URL><img border="0" src="URL></a>. I like how the music scores have been incorporated to the top button, but why not the navigation buttons.?
The art style is charming, for the most part, especially with facial expressions, but bodies are overly simplistic and inconsistent, which make them seem as an afterthought. While most comics are enjoyable to almost anyone and have a distinct charm to them there are a few that can really only be deciphered by marching band vets. Still, if you read Band Geeks Anonymous you'll get an idea of the band experience, making the investment worthwhile.

Loud Era is a far different beast than BGA, focusing in on the lives and relationships or a small group of people back in the... I think it's the 20s maybe. Loud Era does not spend anytime establishing its setting, which is fine if you lay out some clues, and LE does, but they need to be consistent. For instance, you'll see some folks in a Model T and think "Ah, I know that car, it must be the early 1900s, America I'm guessing." Then a character says "I'm just playing." It won't throw you into a WTF moment, but it will confuse you enough to make you question your earlier hypothesis. There are other moments that lose their bite due to the lack of establishment too, namely in introducing characters and conflicts too late. For instance, the first story arc deals a costume party and a sick man. The sick man is supposed to stay in bed, but his friends figure he can use a mask to attend incognito. They pick up a person in a Grimm Reaper outfit, and it soon becomes clear to the reader that the sick man is not behind that mask. So without any clues as to who that is you probably go on thinking they picked up Death (the man is sick after all), but when they unmask him it turns out to be some here before unmentioned mute guy who runs off. In other words, LE needs to tighten up some of its writing, though that doesn't mean it's bad or anything. The way the characters interact is interesting and the romance vibe comes through well despite the site design doing the comic no favors. The comic is still young, so while it is tempting to say they are all underdeveloped and some are difficult to differentiate from one another the comic still has time to improve, and shows promise of doing so.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:20 pm

So, Red City.

There isn't that much for me to go on yet but, so far, I really like it. I will try not to let my positive bias get in the way of a good critique though.

For the site itself, I really like the background & navigation button art. Very creative and it holds the whole page together well, extending the art to beyond just the comic. I see you have yet to build onto these additional pages, but if you'd like, when you do finish them I can take a look there and give you my thoughts.

Regarding the story, I was initially confused, but I think that may be because it is early enough in the comic's run that not many questions have been answered yet, although many have been posed. Nothing wrong with that, it's actually an effective story-telling technique; I think I'm just used to comics where the exposition all comes flying at you right smack at the beginning, or where there's a longer archive for me to absorb and process.

The characterization so far is enough to get by, I think- it's not particularly strong, but I don't really have much to complain about in that regard because we're still in the opening part of the story. I don't believe there has been enough time to really get to know each character very in depth, but I can see the starting points and can gather at what the trajectory will be for each character, without getting walls-of-text or awkward, ham-fisted expositions. You have a subtle way of introducing the characters, which I appreciate. They seem real- I don't know how much of their personalities are taken from people you really know, but I figured I'd throw that in anyway. I think that further characterization is something that will have to be monitored in the future, but I don't think it needs to be stressed so much yet- just something to keep in mind.

I am looking forward to seeing how all of the pieces fit together in time. I didn't have much of an issue with the story and the writing itself, save for a few spelling errors here and there, but it didn't detract from the story itself.

I enjoy the art style of this comic. The only complaint I have is that facial variation could be exaggerated a bit further, but it's keeping with your style right now and no one is particularly jarringly out of place or too similar to another character, so that's probably more of a superficial thing. I like the fact that the comic balances stylized, cartoony art with a serious/dramatic storyline without creating an awkward dichotomy. The backgrounds do their jobs well, adding setting without taking away from the story itself. There were no points where I didn't know where someone was, or how people were situated, so I think that you've done a good job in suggesting settings and placement without calling too much attention to it.

The characters themselves are drawn well. I didn't notice any huge anatomical errors. They are stylized well, in my opinion. You have good angle variation, and there's no static characters in between panels.

That's pretty much all I have for now, since as I said I didn't have a great big ol' archive to look back on. I didn't look at G'nerds, so I can't say how much you've improved since then, just giving my thoughts on this current venture which will hopefully help you in the future. I'll see if I think of anything more in the coming days after the honeymoon period has passed, but right now I am pretty satisfied with your work and don't have any major complaints.

And Scooby, thanks! Just something to keep in mind, I'm no longer actively producing BGA- all the art for that was done years ago at this point and it's more just an anthology. If you have ideas on how to improve the site as a whole that'd be good, but it's Loud Era that I'm more concerned with in terms of production.

Haha everyone in this thread has two comics or two versions of the same comic
Last edited by VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:27 am

Okay here goes:
Band Geeks Anonymous
The website itself is very plain and empty with just three buttons at the top for your extra pages (About, Archive, More) and text links for navigation below the comic all on a black background which could be boring for some readers but personally I prefer the less is more approach instead of these webcomic sites that are crammed with voting/donation/affiliates/blog/twitter/facebook/more donation/etc buttons. That said a little extra, on the main page at least, wouldn't hurt,
A nice touch (and one I am definitely stealing) is the commentary at the bottom of each comic, some of them like this one cracked me up while others helped a non-band geek like myself better get the joke which was very thoughtful.

Artwise it's rather primitive and childlike (like Charlie Brown but actually funny) and remarkably expressive, which is good since most of the characters only exist for one strip it helps flesh them out for their fifteen seconds of fame.
I'm guessing watercolour pencils were used (it suits with the whole childish style) and the lined paper works with it to give the impression that it was done in class while you were supposed to be doing something else. Normally in the webcomic world people would tear strips off you for using lined paper but I really think it worked out, there were a few pages that were messy but since this is something you pretty much dug out of a drawer (or wherever) that's understandable.
And you even managed to squeeze in a little fan-service Arooo!

Writing wise it's a fairly average gag-a-day comic affair but with far more entertaining material than the lamest latest gaming joke that you'd find on 90% of gag-a-day comics. The jokes are simple but effective, they won't get me roaring but they get a chuckle.

I know I haven't had much negative/constructive criticism here but frankly it would be pointless to critique the past, if this was your current comic I'd have plenty to say about anatomy issues and floating character syndrome, now however that'd be redundant.

All in all it's a nice honest look back at the highschool aged Cuddly.

LOUD ERA!
First you need to add that exclamation point to the banner to balance it out...just saying is all.

Once again you've gone for a very bare website, which as I said before is better than an over-cluttered website that looks like someone puked skittles all over the screen, with a small selection of extra pages. It wouldn't hurt to add a few little extras - maybe sign up for a voting/ranking site.
You've managed to include your wit in the FAQ page, I especially like the "description" of what it is all about.
Also your characters page is a nice change from the usual listing of boring facts, the little interview/survey idea is awesome and I honestly wish I'd thought of it myself.
One big drawback though is the navigation buttons, while the placement of the buttons is intuitive on individual pages, the style isn't as intuitive to someone who is new to webcomics, arrows or at least roll-over text would be a major improvement.

Before I get to the comic itself I have to ask if you've restarted recently, the archive starts in Sep '09 but I distinctly remember seeing some of your comic back in April (although I'm ashamed to admit I didn't keep up with it - sorry).

Okay onto the comic itself.
First impressions are "Wow, what an improvement!" Leaps and bounds above BGA, stylistically it reminds me of a few books I used to read when I was about 12 but can't for the life of me remember (I guess the art was better than the stories). There is still the odd anatomical error here and there but overall it's things that a non-artist wouldn't really notice.
As a historical drama/comedy comic you've really captured the feel of a time on the edge of innocence, I am waiting for the inevitable tragedy to occur though.

The story is developing slowly, but steadily which is a good thing considering the sizeable cast you have in play and you seem to ascribe to the rolling-punchline (as I call it) school of storytelling, which some people may have trouble with but I find more enjoyable, it makes me want to read the next page and that kind of anticipation is what we look for in the webcomic world.

Back on the subject of characters, yours have their own distinctive personalities but as it is so far it's a little hard to keep track of who is who (mine has the same problem so I sympathise) since they've all sort of been crammed together without any real individual time with the exceptions of Joseph and Aggie.
Also I figured out that the Army kid was Uly but I had to actually think about it for a moment to put the clues together (it's possible I missed him being named in one of his strips) from the off-hand reference by Eddie (I think?).

All things considered you have the start of a very interesting story here but you might have some trouble finding an audience among the typical web-crowds, however for those out there like myself who are looking for something different and interesting it is definitely worth a look.



Whoever does mine just do Ride the Wind which starts here - no point torturing yourself with the original Sh!t Happens even if it is still on the same site.
Last edited by RobboAKAscooby on Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby Tenma on Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:37 pm

So... Ride the Wind.

I think the most important thing to consider is that I just read the whole thing through and have no idea what the hell it's about. Although you're not supposed to have to have read Sh!t Happens to understand it, it definitely doesn't stand on its own. What is Xlaveboarding? Does it involve some sort of fighting? Why do we get action comics interspersed awkwardly with standard slice of life stuff? Who is the purple-haired chick? This kind of thing should be explained in the comic, but it's not, and there's not even a complete FAQ page to answer these things.

Writing-wise, while there are some attractive elements, there are far too many examples of comics that simply do not make sense. I think it might be a good idea to show the comics to a handful of reviewers and ask if it makes sense to them before you post.

Art-wise, your character designs are pretty consistent from comic to comic , which is good, but make sure you don't stop improving. The marker/watercolor-style coloring is also consistent, but it does strike me as amateurish. (You may want to try improving your technique or learning to color in your image editing program.) However there are some odd directional choices like this comic where you flipped the direction on Lisa in the last panels, which is a bit jarring.

I realize this has mostly been a negative critique, but I do recognize that you've put a lot of work into your comic, and there is potential there. Just keep it up and don't be afraid to break out of your mold and try new techniques.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby SergeXIII on Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:23 pm

Treading Ground is a slice of life comic revolving around the relationship of a fully grown man and a sixteen year old girl... so yeah, this isn't for everyone. There is a lot of offensive material in Treading Ground and unsurprisingly this is where I have issue with the whole thing, but it isn't for the reason you may think, I am not a prude. The reason I take issue is because it isn't very well done, and its shallow, all done for nothing more than pure shock value. The main story, for instance, revolves around a 16 year old girl who wants to have sex with an older man that just moved into the neighborhood, but needs to overcome their "Just friends" relationship in order to do it. This is a difficult conflict to invest in because there is no foreseeable good in the resolution of this conflict, and thus no meaning... unless the point was for her to learn to change her slutty ways but Treading Ground rarely indicates that this is the direction it wants to take based on common dialogue and story arcs. The main character acts mature enough around her to influence her behavior this way, sure, but every time these scenes occur the sexual tension is so blunt that it obscures the progress, and suggests that the fate of these two will end up being something less than legal. Blunt is the keyword here, I suppose, because that term applies to all the shock value to be seen. Take the mentally handicapped coworker Purvous, who clearly exists for nothing more than cheap laughs and is written with just as much depth. This is the worst portrayal of a mentally handicapped person I have ever seen, and I don't mean in a offensive way, I mean a stupid way. Its freakin' retarded. Like, remember that episode of South Park where Cartman entered the Special Olympics? That's what I'm talking about, I mean Purvous doesn't say "Duh, Der" every five seconds, but he might as well, and since when was being cross eyed a mental handicap?
Like, does anyone out there really think this is how someone like this would act simply out of being aroused? That implies that the experience is super rare... why? Because of the handicap? Again, thats retarded. I'm not offended, I'm not disgusted, I'm not even surprised (the result of the one dimensional cast ), I'm just disappointed. In other words Treading Grounds is one of those comics where the "Mature" rating is an ironic one.

So, I believe I thoroughly explained how that shock stuff didn't sway me, so then, do I hate Treading Ground. Hmm, no, not really, and this is because there is actually a good deal of very funny jokes to enjoy in the rare moments where the comic gets itself out of the gutter (more often than not on an aside), funny enough to get me to chuckle audibly, and unless you're KC Green that is rare... and then it'll go into a story arc about the main character being inexplicably aroused at work for a few hours. Thanks Treading Grounds I now know this character much more than I ever wanted to.

The art... well the anime influence is apparent and I actually don't think it is best for this comic, and this is for one reason. The faces are simplified, characterization being reserved for hair and clothing, and since this reduces the amount of lines on the face, it makes age very difficult to distinguish. In a story where the age gap between two characters is a major element, this is an issue because it forces the reader to remind himself consciously instead of permeating the scene naturally. Also, the backgrounds need a lot of work because they almost always look completely flat, I mean look at this couch.
That couch is painted on the wall. The characters improved and became cleaner with more vivid colors since Treading Grounds first launched, but this background issue has been there since the beginning and needs to be addressed.

Treading Ground is in your face for the sake of being in your face, and maybe there are some people that love that but I see nothing surprising or of any depth within and thus non subsistence with which to carry any impact with the shock. Like, if this comic were a person it would be Tom Greene. I hate Tom Greene, but the guy was a star so that means some people found him entertaining, and by that logic there are those that will get a kick out of Treading Ground's blunt raunchiness. I'm not happy that I have to give the comic this verdict because the writer at times shows the wit needed to be much more than that, but fails to rise above the gutter.

It ain't Clerks.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby Dragonkingdoms on Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:44 pm

Placeholder for Red City. Just keep in mind it's Easter/Passover time and I work in retail, so it might be a short while.

EDIT: The time between April 5-18 looks pretty good for the Red City review, because things should slow down for a while, then my next review possibly April 19-May 6, after which things pick up again.

It's looking more like April 22-May 6 & 10-15 for Red City and May 16-27 & June 1-2 for another review, then things close for Mother's Day (May 7-9), Memorial Day (May 28-31) and the Cookout (is it really that close?). I just changed positions at my workplace so it will take some time to adjust.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby MixedMyth on Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:35 pm

Sure...um...yeah. So, Cuddly basically covered everything. I tried reading your comic, but I'm afraid I couldn't really understand what was going on and had trouble telling who was who. And I appreciate that you're restarting the comic. But there's not much to go off of. The strip before the guest comic was much better drawn than the previous ones, so that's good. Nice, clear job on the coloring. That's really helpful to the reader. Still...I suggest looking into some how to draw books, or trying some drawing exercises. Like trying to draw your characters from different angles, or breaking them down into component shapes. And I heartily applaude the decision to start doing digital lettering. It's not just you...god knows I wouldn't wish my handwriting on anyone. Thus I do it digitally.

Otherwise, yeah, layout looks mostly fine...although I do have one point. On your front page you have an option to go to the beginning, but you don't actually have a 'previous' arrow to get to the previous comic.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby SergeXIII on Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:46 pm

Alright, placeholder. It'll be up by by Monday.

EDIT. Actually Friday. Some work got pushed back.
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Re: Webcomic Above V: The Comics Strike Back!

Postby Tenma on Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:50 pm

[Note: I intentionally did not read any other reviews of this comic, and therefore may overlap with others. And whoever follows me, I'm out of the "response" game.]

Red City is ... well, it's hard to get a handle on exactly what to call it just yet, since there's not a great deal to go on. What we've seen so far is part crime drama, part slice of life, and part sci fi. All of this looks like it will coalesce into something more defined once there's more material, but as of now it's hard to quantify.

The site design immediately threw me off. The main page site navigation buttons are incredibly huge, not centered properly, and only one of them leads anywhere that isn't an Under Construction page. It looks like it was either thrown together or abandoned half-finished. I'd get rid of all non-working buttons for now until there is somewhere for each of them to lead. Failing that, at least add a center tag. (Checked in Firefox and IE.)

Moving into the specifics of the comic itself, I had to put on my glasses to actually read it. Lettering by hand is generally a bad idea. It's an artform, and unless you're willing to devote the amount of time to it that it really needs, it's going to serve as a distraction from the comic. While the lettering here is at least almost always legible, it does have a childlike quality to it, and is occasionally squeezed into bubbles that are too small to hold that much text. When I saw the comic briefly shifted to computer lettering, it was disappointing to see the hand-lettering return. This is probably the most egregious example, although it does improve as the comic goes on.

There are a couple of examples of bad uses of speech bubble tails and connectors, and some confusing arrangements thereof. Not a huge problem, but worth working on. This kind of thing can be avoided by keeping bubble placement in mind when planning out the scenes (for the latter example, just having Travis on the left side of the panel would have meant you wouldn't have to follow the tail behind his head.)

Spelling errors are few, but I did find one word misspelled two different ways on the same page, which is a rare find. (I think you mean "profit.")

As far as the story goes, there's not enough to make an accurate judgment, but I do have to say that it's disappointing to see yet another webcomic creator in the main cast. I realize we need to write what we know, but it's a tired niche and not easily identified with by the masses. None of the characters are particularly likable yet, as evidenced by this exchange.

Art wise, I like the dark color scheme overall, but then again it hasn't been day yet. The character designs are pleasant enough and appropriate for the comic insofar as we've seen. It's drawn like the artist is comfortable in his own skin. Background lines occasionally get wobbly, but that doesn't contrast too harshly with the art style.

Red City has potential to be a good comic if these problems can be addressed, but it's too early to come to any real conclusions.
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