Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

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Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:41 am

*DUN DUN DUN*

dammit why do I have to be the one to start this topic? Oh well here I go...

....
Last edited by RobboAKAscooby on Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:55 am

Okay.
Sh!t Happens R was reviewed by the always blunt and honest SergeXIII who coincidentally is the first person to review the original Sh!t Happens and appropriately tear it apart - and he didn't disappoint this time either.

But this is a response thread so here goes:

SergeXIII wrote:Sorry for the delay, I wanted to make a video of this, play around with a flash tool but the images are taking a while to prepare. I may do it in the near future, but I won't keep you waiting for it.

I don't know what to feel - excitement or fear - but you have me intrigued.

SergeXIII wrote:It may defy all expectations you have of me and my studly aura, but I'm not really into sports.

I'll give you a moment to recover from that shocking revelation.

But yeah, I don't play sports, really, I don't watch them, don't talk about them and don't read about them. However, despite my admitted athletic virginity I feel safe in the assumption that in a sports comic it is important to understand the sport in question. For Shit Happens R's sake, let's hope that is naiveté and nothing else.

First things first. To say the Sports genre in comics is unpopular (to authors) is an understatement, and my hats off to SHR for challenging itself right off the bat in a medium where most of us (myself included at a point) take the easy road and refrain from vering off of it.

I'm not really into sports either but I do have a thing for "extreme" sports like skateboarding and surfing. Honestly the choice of making xlaveboarding a part of the plot was to do something different and draw something fun.

SergeXIII wrote:That compliment, however, is contradicted only two pages in where a character and relationship is introduced on nothing but fan service.

Oh come on that was a one note gag (okay I repeated it through the episode), a play on the traditional cute-meet face to face.

SergeXIII wrote:Okay, I have no clue what is going on in SHR. Never, not at any moment. No exposition is ever given (for the most part) which wouldn't be a problem except that there are no non verbal establishing shots to provide any kind of narrative foundation. It may take place now, it may be back in the 90s (what you do see of the featured sport tends to get in your face with how Xtreme it is after all), or it may be set in the future.

It's set in an alternate present, although I've just realised that besides the mention of the year being 0064AW (after war) on the cast page I really haven't mentioned it - maybe on one of the commentaries but I don't feel like checking - so this is definitely something to address, either as a side story or FAQ or both.

SergeXIII wrote:This is part a flaw in the comic's narrative and composition, but also a flaw in the art style. This artist is clearly far more comfortable drawing the head than the body, and as a result most panels tend to be a talking head taking up 3/4 of the cell, or an extreme close up of a foot or shoulder or something. I think this early comic demonstrates the problem very well:
http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com/d/20091226.html

Well actually I'm more comfortable drawing the entire person, it's when I have to draw bits and pieces I stuff up - although back then I was probably uncomfortable drawing everything to be honest.
Also as Cuddly pointed out in her review last year my film background interferes - quick cuts and framing more like a storyboard than a comic - and this is something I've tried to work on since then, by making larger frames with more character interaction.

SergeXIII wrote:If you're like me it'll take you until the third or even fourth panels to realize she's at the mall. This isn't a mystery and even if it was this isn't a detail worth enigmafying (that's a word now, I called it), all this serves to do is confuse the reader especially since the last time you saw this character was in a admissions office:
http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com/d/20091219.html
...and the only reason I can say that is through context clues in the dialogue, again, there are no establishing shots.

Again this is due to a mix of my film background and poorer art skills. Although I had hoped the gap between appearances and her dialogue "What a day. My life sucks." would have helped indicate it's later than her previous appearance.

SergeXIII wrote:By the way, this is followed by an attempted rape scene:
http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com/d/20100122.html
So, the setting has a college, park, and mall all juxtaposed in an environment where themed gangs can commit crimes in broad daylight, but all anyone talks about is dating, or video games, or sports, in this case Xlaveboarding. It doesn't beg for a rewrite or anything drastic, just some explanations and for god's sake some transitions. You'll get whiplash in the first few chapters from how the story will jump from something like a guy lovingly day dreaming about the wonderful woman he just met (or rather about the color of her underwear. I'm not kidding and that's how most of the women are introduced too) to a gang rape attempt and then back to a sitcomish skit about the two male leads looking for work. This is something that improves a bit in the later chapters, but not enough that I feel I shouldn't talk about it. There is room for more improvement.

Well it doesn't exactly happen in broad daylight - Riverside park is under a bridge which I REALLY SHOULD HAVE DONE AN ESTABLISHING SHOT FOR DAMMIT SCOOBY.
To be fair Max is daydreaming about Sammi but Roy's the one bringing up the underwear - it was supposed to show the close friendship they have where Max can share anything with Roy and probably shouldn't.
And only two girls out of seven are introduced that way.
And I KNEW the sitcom/parallel storylines would be an issue for you, it's a mistake I made early and (mostly) stopped later on.

SergeXIII wrote:Anyway, this is a sports comic and the sport in question is called Xlaveboarding. What is Xlaveboarding? It involves a flying skate board... you need to be naked to make one?... and... there's a ball... and I think they're powered by rock because everyone always needs to throw up the horns when they ride them. Not much is explained, at least not in the first and last few chapters (except that Xlaveboarding is old. This is the first crucial fact you learn, apparently it's in all the history books). This is where the activity central to your story needs to be explained. It is a tremendous flaw. Imagine if they explained Duel Monsters in YuGiOh only in the third season (I assume they do not do this) or Quiddich in Harry Potter in a separate instruction manual, but kept the games as is in the story (except zoomed into Harry's face the whole time... this example is falling apart). Delaying information can either serve for development of a character or theme or creating a sense of mystery... it doesn't really have a place for the main action mechanic of a story. Okay! Harry Potter again, it's like if they never explained anything about magic. Imagine how that would throw the story for a loop.

I really should have explained all this a lot better.
Problem is that xlavegear/xlaveboarding was always supposed to be just the background that brought together this group of characters (although xlavegear is a little more important) but again this is something to be fixed.

SergeXIII wrote:From what I can tell it seems SHR has a grand vision in mind and is in a rush to get there. That's why the first few chapters seem so malnourished, if I had to guess, and why the characters start off so two dimensional and do things like fall in love for no real reason. Everything needs to slow down, again, not as big of a problem in the later chapters but it is still. a. big. problem. Show some establishing shots, use silence, give characters time to react to what is going on around them (like if a girl is almost raped her first thought after rescue should not be "Oh boy! I can get a new flying skateboard!" and sorry, I can't get over that).

Yeah I did it again (you'd think I'd have learnt from the original SH) I rushed the start - trying to get the cast shown - but also it's a side-effect of my drop the reader in and let them catch up style of storytelling (which works in a book or movie but not in an ongoing comic).
Yeah Crystal is not the most attached to reality anyway but the moment was supposed to be more about her crush on Max than anything else (which is purely a tool for me to torment Max).

On to the Max and Sammi relationship - there's no immediate love at first sight thing, crush at first sight maybe - it takes 117 pages for them to even kiss. But admittedly all of the getting to know each other stuff does tend to happen off-page.

SergeXIII wrote:SHR has a lot of fan service. I'm not a proponent of fan service, so I'll spare you a certain level of my disdain for it, I will however say that this is the wrong genre for it. In sports comics unity is a very big theme because teamwork is essential to most any sport, at the very least sports with teams and turns out the Xlaveboarding is one such sport. A team needs to respect one another, in that way they can rely on and be relied upon. Fan service is pure objectification and if you do it, you diminish a character, especially when you do it to some and not others. This isn't the place for it, and it'd be for the best if SHR laid off the fan service if we are to take Xlaveboarding seriously.

I will say now that it's not intended to be a "sports comic" so much as a comic with a sport in the story - the focus is far more on the character interactions than the game.
Fan service - some people like it some don't - but I try to be fair with it (guys get half naked too) and usually don't use it unless it serves a purpose in the story/joke but I understand it can put some people off.

SergeXIII wrote:Finally, I'd like to talk about the art. I know from personal experience that this artist has been and continues to try to improve and is aware of his weaknesses, but let me lay out SHR's major artistic issues. The art style is stiff, very, very stiff. Everyone tends to wear the same facial expression for most every circumstance, hair is not fluid and tends to be worn more like a helmet, and limbs are very stiff and doll like, which sucks the force out of many action scenes, for instance:
http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com/d/20100205.html
Here is my recommendations: First off, lines need to be eliminated. Cartooning is the art of knowing what not to draw (look at the happy face, it resembles the human face despite lacking cheekbones, a nose, ears and so on). A general method I like to use is to find a means to draw the face I am comfortable with and base my line use for the rest of the body on that, try to maintain the same level of detail. For SHR there are no general facial wrinkle lines (elderly aside) so I would pull the muscle and joint detail of the rest of the body back a bit, cheek bones are not emphasized so the collar bone shouldn't really be either, stuff like that. Play with the skeleton a bit, curve the limbs slightly to emphasize flow, you have freedoms as a cartoonist, use it. Bodies tend to be really thin, especially compared to the head, use the head as a gauge for the rest of the body and review basic anatomy guides. Base the width of the body on it, especially the profile and shoulder width. Be attentive about non-existent details, you'll see teeth in profiles in SHR and you won't see this in reality. Use some loose fitting clothing and have a character move around, using the slack to play off of and suggest motion, this should be good practice for the rest of the body. Play with the camera. This is something that has improved since the first few chapters but has room to grow, we need to see the cast from different angles and zoom out occasionally. Pull back the facial details because they are failing to capture emotion as is. Go simple and practice a facial range of emotions, then build back up to your current style, gradually if need be. Line variation, do it.

Can't argue with this.
I do try to improve.
To a degree the bodies being thin compared to the heads is (on the girls at least) by design but it's not supposed to be as bad as it is in many of the 3/4 view shots.
I think over the last 2 or 3 episodes I've already started implementing some of your suggestions (as you said I know my flaws) but it's still a long way to go.
Several weeks ago I had the light-bulb of reworking my character designs - giving some characters more realistic, if simplified, hair and changing the anatomical proportions, adding more space to the chest and increasing the overall height of the characters to eliminate some of the bobble-head-ness of the large heads small bodies...
http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com/d/20110526.html
http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com/d/20110602.html
...which I think is also helping to fix my long-standing shoulder joint problem.
Although I've only introduced these changes in this current episode so there's not much to show yet.

But you've still given me a lot to think about.

SergeXIII wrote:Finally I'd like to talk about the protagonist Max. Max has and continues to look like a girl to me. The first time I reviewed Shit Happens I seriously went through most of the comic thinking that this was a buff woman. I spent some time looking the cast over to find a more subtle reason as to why this continues to be the case and looking past the longish purple hair I believe I found the reason. Max has a circle face. Not condemning on its own, but compare that to the rest of the cast: women all have triangular faces and men all have rectangular faces. Recall how stiff I said the artwork is. This side effect of stiff art is that it extenuates formulaic patterns, and this is one such case, a circular face in this environment comes off as extremely feminine. The solution is to either diversify the cast faces (I think this is the right call) or make Max's facial shape more like Sam.

DAMMIT!
Okay I'm cool...
Max is chubby - hence the rounder face - if I eliminated the cheeks he'd have quite the squared jaw but it's important to me that he remains a little chubby.
I do try to vary up the face shapes within their gender style but the variations are probably too subtle to be of much effect.

SergeXIII wrote:Shit Happens R shows a lot of passion but at times this betrays how much room it has for improvement. That passion outweighs the bad though, if you ask me, and this dude is up to the task of making up for the lost ground. Keep an eye on him.

Thank you.

I re-read the entire comic while awaiting this review and knew a lot of these issues (mostly in the first half of the season) would come up, the beginning really is a bit of a mess.
Getting reviewed early on helped prevent making (most of) the mistakes further on but perhaps I should have gone back and fixed the beginning. However the comic has become a just-for-fun project as my focus has switched to my books.

Personally as a storyteller I've far more enjoyed the last few episodes (basically since after the last xlaveboard episode) and I think that enjoyment is helping me to improve all aspects of the comic more than just practicing.
To be perfectly honest I'm regretting the prominence I gave xlaveboarding early on - the xlaveboard episodes are some of the weakest - but now I am finally doing what I should have done in the beginning which is to delve into the characters' personalities and past, some of which I obviously couldn't do earlier.
Heck I could probably chop of the first eight episodes and have the current story make more sense writing wise - maybe add a few episodes beforehand - but that is a thought for another time.

So again thanks Serge but damn what a review to start the topic, hope you didn't scare too many people off.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby SergeXIII on Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:06 pm

Can't say I'm a big fan of the response thread as it discourages people from negative criticism when due. Have we always been doing this?
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:53 pm

We did at least last year. I liked it :-? It's not a required thing, if you don't feel like asking about your reviews or replying to Scooby's response.

From what I recall, negative criticism didn't go away because of the response thread. If anything it allowed the negative criticisms to be explored further. A made up example would be, "Your arms always look like spaghetti." "No they don't, do they really? I didn't think they were that bad" "No, they are, here [links to relevant strips] are some examples." "Oh, I guess I see it now."

So incase the reviewee was looking for clarification, it could be procured.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:55 pm

SergeXIII wrote:Can't say I'm a big fan of the response thread as it discourages people from negative criticism when due. Have we always been doing this?


I don't know. It happened last year so I figured might as well do it again this year.

Personally I like responding when the review is asked for, to show that the effort taken to review is appreciated and that it's not just going to be blown off if it's negative.

Honest dialogues make for better informed decisions and ideas to improve.

And it certainly hasn't stopped me from being honest in my reviews.
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A billion years ago in Internet time.

Postby Cope on Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:42 pm

SergeXIII wrote:Have we always been doing this?

....since about 2007.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby SergeXIII on Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:20 pm

I dunno, I suppose it just reminds me of that one person in art class who contradicts every critique she gets on her work, you know. Especially for comics considering its a medium of readability, so even if something is misinterpreted it stands useful to the artist as indicating where they are communicating poorly.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby Terotrous on Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:28 pm

SergeXIII wrote:I dunno, I suppose it just reminds me of that one person in art class who contradicts every critique she gets on her work, you know. Especially for comics considering its a medium of readability, so even if something is misinterpreted it stands useful to the artist as indicating where they are communicating poorly.

I agree with this sentiment, but it always happened anyway. At least this way it doesn't clutter up the thread itself.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby Dutch! on Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:50 pm

Yeah, I remember this thread first popping up years ago for one of these review series, mainly because the first thread was being hijacked unintentionally by review discussion rather than just the straight reviews.

I can't recall regularly taking part in the discussion thread side of things, but I did read it every now and then.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:44 am

SergeXIII wrote:I dunno, I suppose it just reminds me of that one person in art class who contradicts every critique she gets on her work, you know. Especially for comics considering its a medium of readability, so even if something is misinterpreted it stands useful to the artist as indicating where they are communicating poorly.


It's because I forgot to plug your blog again isn't it?
Sorry dude :(


EDIT: Serge I added your review to my tumblr and will be adding it to my comic site when I give the site an overhaul.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby McDuffies on Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:31 am

Dutch, how dare you say bad things about my comic? Why, I oughta! Eh, a wiseguy?
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:50 am

SergeXIII wrote:I dunno, I suppose it just reminds me of that one person in art class who contradicts every critique she gets on her work, you know. Especially for comics considering its a medium of readability, so even if something is misinterpreted it stands useful to the artist as indicating where they are communicating poorly.


Well, yeah, the misinterpretation still stands, but perhaps if the reviewee wants to know what can be changed to fix that interpretation. :) "Everything in this comic seems X" "Oh, it was supposed to seem Y! What can I do to make it seem more Y than X?" "Eh, maybe if you focus more on Z at the beginning." "Okay thanks."

Plus, it's nice to have a dialogue with your reviewers, at least I like to. Yeah, I may want to explain some of my problems, but I'm not making excuses, I'm just getting it off my chest. I mean, I could take my hypothetical review and show it to a friend of mine and then rant to them about it, but that doesn't really help that much. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm a very verbal person and I like talking about things. I also love my comic. Being able to talk critically about my comic with someone who has looked over it intensively is very helpful and cathartic for me.

If you don't like the thread, you don't need to post in it (trying to think of a less rude way to say "Don't like, don't post/read). It's for when you want to squeeze a few extra drops of help out of a review, because honestly, how many times a year to you get a chance for people to properly critique your work? For me, it's only during the Webcomic Above thread- I haven't asked around at other places, and I value the opinions of the people in this community moreso than in other communities, so I really appreciate this opportunity to get my stuff looked at by people I respect. Response Thread lets me get just a little bit more out of my review experience. My reviewer doesn't have to reply if they don't want to, but it gives me a chance to maybe ask a few questions and to properly appreciate any compliments and critiques that are given to me.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby SergeXIII on Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:21 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:
SergeXIII wrote:I dunno, I suppose it just reminds me of that one person in art class who contradicts every critique she gets on her work, you know. Especially for comics considering its a medium of readability, so even if something is misinterpreted it stands useful to the artist as indicating where they are communicating poorly.


Well, yeah, the misinterpretation still stands, but perhaps if the reviewee wants to know what can be changed to fix that interpretation. :) "Everything in this comic seems X" "Oh, it was supposed to seem Y! What can I do to make it seem more Y than X?" "Eh, maybe if you focus more on Z at the beginning." "Okay thanks."

Plus, it's nice to have a dialogue with your reviewers, at least I like to. Yeah, I may want to explain some of my problems, but I'm not making excuses, I'm just getting it off my chest. I mean, I could take my hypothetical review and show it to a friend of mine and then rant to them about it, but that doesn't really help that much. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm a very verbal person and I like talking about things. I also love my comic. Being able to talk critically about my comic with someone who has looked over it intensively is very helpful and cathartic for me.

If you don't like the thread, you don't need to post in it (trying to think of a less rude way to say "Don't like, don't post/read). It's for when you want to squeeze a few extra drops of help out of a review, because honestly, how many times a year to you get a chance for people to properly critique your work? For me, it's only during the Webcomic Above thread- I haven't asked around at other places, and I value the opinions of the people in this community moreso than in other communities, so I really appreciate this opportunity to get my stuff looked at by people I respect. Response Thread lets me get just a little bit more out of my review experience. My reviewer doesn't have to reply if they don't want to, but it gives me a chance to maybe ask a few questions and to properly appreciate any compliments and critiques that are given to me.


In that sense it works, however, I never got the sense that this is what these threads are about, especially since typical responces tend to just disect the review itself. Ideally it should be "Review Elaboration" or "Questions for Improvement" or something, not "Review Responce." I suppose the issue is that I feel it encourgages the wrong responce to constructive critisim in newer artists who aren't used to it, like its something personal and hurtful. Dealing with criticism in a beneficial way, afterall, is not an evident behavior, just check out something like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or some shit to see what I'm talking about.

In other words the dichotomy of Review and Responce implies Offense and Defense, and that isn't what this is about.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - THE RESPONS THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:37 am

SergeXIII wrote:In that sense it works, however, I never got the sense that this is what these threads are about, especially since typical responces tend to just disect the review itself. Ideally it should be "Review Elaboration" or "Questions for Improvement" or something, not "Review Responce." I suppose the issue is that I feel it encourgages the wrong responce to constructive critisim in newer artists who aren't used to it, like its something personal and hurtful. Dealing with criticism in a beneficial way, afterall, is not an evident behavior, just check out something like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or some shit to see what I'm talking about.

In other words the dichotomy of Review and Responce implies Offense and Defense, and that isn't what this is about.


Would you like me to change the topic title?

Review Discussion? Review Feedback?
EDIT: Nevermind already done it.

To be fair I perhaps shouldn't have been as dissective as I was in my response but when it comes to this kind of review/critique I like to let the reviewer know that I understand what they have to say and that by going through the process it helps ME work out exactly how I'm making the mistakes.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby Dutch! on Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:57 pm

Also, sorry.

I seem to have completely stalled the original review the comic above you thread by posting in there, too. :)

I apologise.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:11 pm

Dutch! wrote:Also, sorry.

I seem to have completely stalled the original review the comic above you thread by posting in there, too. :)

I apologise.


No big, there's 3 out of 10 reviews done, I'm sure more will come soon enough.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby McDuffies on Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:51 pm

The discussion thread becomes a thread about merits of discussion thread. That's totally meta.
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:31 am

McDuffies wrote:The discussion thread becomes a thread about merits of discussion thread. That's totally meta.


??? I have no idea why this has happened ???

Maybe this thread needs some tantrums? That always makes for interesting (if frustrating) discussion.
Too bad all the reviewees so far are of the stable and realistic personality types.

I'm just kidding, mostly.

Honestly, I'd love to see some of the newer members get involved but by now they've probably been scared off *sigh*
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby McDuffies on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:46 am

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Maybe this thread needs some tantrums?

All your comics suck and it would be below me to explain why!
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Re: Webcomic Above You VI - DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:17 am

McDuffies wrote:All your comics suck and it would be below me to explain why!


Well then you've obviously read it... wow... thanks McDuffs!
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"Your service is to the story and to the characters. Fuck the audience and fuck your own whims." - Yeahduff
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