I'll review your webcomic.

Think your comic can improve? Whether it's art or writing, composition or colouring, feel free to ask here! Critique and commentary welcome.

Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:10 pm

Webcomic: Chimerical
URL: http://chimerical.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: "a loser"
Run: 05/12-current
Schedule: About once a week

Website: There isn't much, either at the Smack Jeeves site or at its ComicFury mirror. The creator commented in July 2012 about adding some extra content, but he hasn't followed through with his plans yet, and the About page on the ComicFury site has the same text as the comic's Smack Jeeves profile.

The comic's profile says the comic "updates every Sunday," but out of January's four pages, two were posted on a Wednesday, one was posted on a Thursday, and one was posted on a Saturday. The webcomic would probably benefit from the creator sticking to a more regular schedule, which may include maintaining some level of buffer.

Writing: The story begins with the sentence "I went insane when you died," and it quickly turns into a bizarre portrayal of the protagonist's damaged psyche. Brett, the 16-year-old main character who may have directly or indirectly murdered his best friend, is shown as being on mind-altering drugs, and readers are left wondering if the weird imagery's purely Brett's hallucinations, or if there's some kind of supernatural activity going on.

Like a lot of surrealistic stories, Chimerical's not particularly focused on conveying a coherent plot, instead resembling a dream (or, in this case, a nightmare) by emphasizing imagination, emotion, and memories. This comic has plenty of dark imagery, such as mutilated corpses, grotesque monsters, and warped environments, and all of the scenes have a pervasive sense of bitterness and anguish. The comic works on some level as a noir story; however, its overreliance on teenage angst limits how effective it is at conveying human experience. While Lyle's death's understandably tragic, portraying Brett only as traumatized and emotionally crippled's an overly pretentious approach, and it ends up feeling shallow and immature, like stereotypically bad emo poetry. Making Brett more well-rounded and relatable, and perhaps even having a positive emotion once in a while, would be a big step towards making Chimerical more appealing.

The comic's relatively text-heavy, and there's a lot of sophomoric banter and teasing between the characters. I personally found this kind of dialogue to be annoying, and while it's somewhat unclear if it was done like this intentionally or not, it isn't a good writing strategy. There's also too much cursing (1, 2, 3), which, I guess, is supposed to sound cool and mature, but it actually comes across as the opposite. Finally, the third strike for the writing's that the characters speak too similarly, and it's often somewhat difficult to keep track of who's talking. Writing natural dialogue isn't the easiest thing to learn, but it can make a big difference when done properly.

Lastly, in the most recent pages, a bit of a romantic subplot has begun to develop between Brett and Quinn. It's unclear how important this will be later on in the story, but it's a sure-fire way to attract some extra attention on Smack Jeeves, where boy-love comics are common.

* continued in the next post *
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:11 pm

Art: The strange, distorted visuals are the comic's main draw, and pages like this, this, and this display a rare sense of creative flair and imagination. While most of the comic's in either black-and-white or in muted colors, Chimerical's probably at its best when it utilizes its strong, abrasive coloring (1, 2, 3). The haunting, surrealistic monsters (1, 2, 3) are some of the comic's highlights, and the characters are drawn in a relatively competent and consistent manner, with figures that are anatomically correct but also stylistic.

The biggest issue with the artwork, and possibly with the whole comic, is that there are too many close shots. Most of the pages are just a series of close-ups and medium shots of Brett, which gets repetitive very quickly and does a poor job of conveying the setting. The creator needs to have more wide shots, as well as giving each scene an establishing shot. Throughout the comic, the closest panels to the latter are this one, this one and this one, and all of these panels are vague and minimalistic. Having more wide shots and backgrounds will most likely make the pages take longer to draw, but that's part of growing as an artist and being committed to producing high-quality work.

Overall: All of the young creators' webcomics I've reviewed have been underwhelming, and, unfortunately, Chimerical isn't an exception. While the comic has some bright spots, particularly with its wild, surrealistic visuals, it's clearly the work of an inexperienced cartoonist. Hopefully, the creator will continue to seek criticism and improve his work, as there's certainly potential here if he can learn to utilize his talents in a more refined manner.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:57 am

Any suggestions on what I should review next?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:11 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:Any suggestions on what I should review next?

Care to take on Pictures of You? I loved it when I archive binged it about two years ago, but lately I feel like the pacing is kind of meh, which in turn makes me question whether the whole comic was as good as I first thought. Possibly the most popular nongaming, non-yaoi comic on SJ.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:45 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Care to take on Pictures of You? I loved it when I archive binged it about two years ago, but lately I feel like the pacing is kind of meh, which in turn makes me question whether the whole comic was as good as I first thought. Possibly the most popular nongaming, non-yaoi comic on SJ.

Cool, I'm up for it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby chainmailbikini on Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:51 pm

I just finished my first chapter if you'd like to review Chainmail Bikini. But if you'd prefer to wait until I finish another chapter or more that'd be fine too.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:20 am

chainmailbikini wrote:I just finished my first chapter if you'd like to review Chainmail Bikini. But if you'd prefer to wait until I finish another chapter or more that'd be fine too.
One chapter's fine. I'll get started on it after my Pictures of You review.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby chainmailbikini on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:38 pm

Groovy, I look forward to it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:26 pm

chainmailbikini wrote:Groovy, I look forward to it.

That's what they all say.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:55 am

chainmailbikini wrote:Groovy, I look forward to it.

Run awaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:18 pm

Webcomic: Pictures of You
URL: http://picturesofyou.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: Gibson Twist
Run: 2/07-current
Schedule: M-F
Section/s: Book 4, Chs. 8-12

Website: Apparently, the webcomic won some kinda Smack Jeeves award for its website, and it's a pretty good one. The best part's probably the coherent theme of "photographs," as the banner, background, and front page all feature photographs prominently. In a clever move, the pictures on the Fan Art page are shrunk and rotated so that they also look kinda like photographs.

The Archives page is set up a little different than normal, which is kinda neat, but it's also a hassle because the chapter links are below where the page links appear. What this means is that the reader has to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click the chapter link, and then scroll back up to the top of the page to begin reading the chapter. It would make more sense if the page list appeared right below the chapter links.

Writing: The section focuses on a series of dramatic situations, such as Lauren's new guy-friend that nobody likes, Sam getting creative block, and Christo sleeping around, finally reaching its climax when Peter discovers a journal with some not-so-nice stuff written in it. These scenarios could've been somewhat interesting, but the creator makes a big mistake by giving all of these mundane events the pacing and gravity of a death scene. Combined with the clever, snarky dialogue that every character speaks, this tone creates the impression that the reader's supposed to sympathize with the suffering of these hip, intellectual people, but, ultimately, Pictures of You comes across as an overly pretentious story about snotty college kids who are angsty and whiny. Without enough humor and lightheartedness to balance out the heaviness, the webcomic's boring and tedious to read, as the characters aren't as deep or interesting as the creator seems to assume they are.

Pictures of You's most unusual aspect's that, as the webcomic's title suggests, the creator includes a ton of cameos. Chapter 8 has about 30, Chapter 9 has about 20, Chapter 11 has about 35, and Chapter 12 has about 10 so far. Added it all up yet? That's around 100 cameos total in three months, and the creator's definitely gotten sidetracked from the story trying to find places to cram all these cameos in. I'm sure these people get a kick outta being cartoonified in a popular webcomic, but at the same time, you've got pages and pages of cameos in a story where not enough's actually going on. If I'll remember anything about my experience reading Pictures of You, it'll be the massive amount of cameos throughout the comic, and that isn't really a credit to the creator's storytelling ability, although it might be a clever marketing strategy.

In Chapters 9 and 10, the webcomic goes in a more experimental direction, with Chapter 9 having no text, and Chapter 10 having two silhouettes copy-pasted over and over. I appreciate the creator's attempt at doing something different, but these are just particularly slow and tedious scenes in a webcomic that's already too slow and tedious. And Chapter 10's one of the most irritating scenes I've ever seen in a comic. The main appeal of comics is their visual storytelling, so why does the creator do a whole scene without visual storytelling?

Art: The most remarkable thing about the artwork, aside from the large number of cameos, is the detailed, realistic backgrounds. No matter how normal and seemingly uninteresting the location of a scene is, whether it's a kitchen, a hotel, or a café, there's always a notable effort to give each room a sense of personality and make it seem believable. While I'm not a fan of Chapter 9's concept, this page is probably my favorite of the section, as the amount of attention given to the interior of these places, even down to writing out all the breakfast specials, makes the scenes seem surprisingly real.

As far as the figures go, they're alright, but just alright. It's hard to ignore how lumpy the heads generally look, as the characters have prominent "pug noses," as reviewer Norad Bush calls them, and their faces sometimes blend somewhat awkwardly with their necks (1, 2, 3). The figures also usually look younger than they should be, with the singer in the first panel here being the most blatant example. In this case, with his large head, and short upper body, arms, and fingers, he looks more like a baby in a suit than an adult. The coloring's also very bland and tends to be minimalistic, which is probably the most noticeable in the way the creator shades hair. It's likely that all of these weaknesses are related to the webcomic's aggressive update schedule, which has been at a pace of about 20 pages a month.

Overall: Pictures of You isn't a great comic by any means, but it also isn't as abrasively off-putting as some of the other webcomics I've reviewed. Still, this is one of the least enjoyable webcomic-reading experiences I've had, as there's just nothing fun about it. When it comes down to it, the comic's just a bunch of bland drawings of uninteresting people in uninteresting situations. It's unclear how it's gotten to be one of the most popular webcomics on Smack Jeeves, but I guess its audience is made up of either pretentious, dramatic people who like seeing similar people portrayed as victims, or people who just get really stoked about getting a webcomic cameo.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:20 pm

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:
chainmailbikini wrote:Groovy, I look forward to it.

That's what they all say.

As long as chainmail's comic doesn't prominently feature dicknipples or nippledicks, I probably won't lose my mind over it.

Also, tomorrow will be exactly one year since I started this crazy thread. What up.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:50 pm

It looks like you found issues in a lot of the same place I did. I loved the comic when I dove through the archive the first time, swept up in the high drama and excited by the prospect of continued edge-of-your-seat moments. I know Gibson Twist increased his update schedule so as to give readers something to read every day, but in a weird way it feels as though the pacing has slowed even further since that change. And regarding the cameos, I thought it was cool back when it started- oh, nice, look, readers can be included in the comic! Cool and interactive! But something about it smacks of laziness- after all, it is easier to draw a crowd of unique and varied people if you already have a set to choose from. It lost its novelty for me and now looks like more of a crutch than a cool easter egg feature.

With the tone of seriousness hanging over everything, it almost reminds me a little of Funky Winkerbean, if FW took itself very very seriously.

Congrats on making it through a whole year! Wow, Thursday it'll be a year since you reviewed Loud Era. I'm tempted to ask for an update, but pitifully I only updated a little over 30 times this year, and feel like that might not be enough to really have turned anything around. Maybe I'll check back in a few months or so, perhaps once this chapter is done with (there's only about 20 pages left, and I'm trying to punctuate updating only on Tuesdays with occasional Friday updates to keep things moving a little faster). I think I've improved in a lot of the areas you had pointed out in your original review, with a particular focus on improving the coloring and art in general. But I'd like to wait until further into this chapter to really let the "new style" take flight so that you could give a more proper assessment of it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:48 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:As long as chainmail's comic doesn't prominently feature dicknipples or nippledicks


WTF?!?

I must have missed that one...still need brain bleach just on the concept alone though.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:12 pm

Chocolate covered nipple covered dick covered teats.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:59 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Chocolate covered nipple covered dick covered teats.


You. Are. EVIL!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Humbug on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:32 am

You couldn't leave well enough alone, you had to ask about the ****ting dick nipples. :P
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:00 am

What about Nick's dimples?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:51 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:It looks like you found issues in a lot of the same place I did. I loved the comic when I dove through the archive the first time, swept up in the high drama and excited by the prospect of continued edge-of-your-seat moments. I know Gibson Twist increased his update schedule so as to give readers something to read every day, but in a weird way it feels as though the pacing has slowed even further since that change. And regarding the cameos, I thought it was cool back when it started- oh, nice, look, readers can be included in the comic! Cool and interactive! But something about it smacks of laziness- after all, it is easier to draw a crowd of unique and varied people if you already have a set to choose from. It lost its novelty for me and now looks like more of a crutch than a cool easter egg feature.

With the tone of seriousness hanging over everything, it almost reminds me a little of Funky Winkerbean, if FW took itself very very seriously.
I think there's just way too many cameos, and Twist's failing at trying to both fit them all in and advance the story at a decent pace. It's also possible that he's getting burned out doing daily pages, and, like you pointed out, doing page after page of cameo group shots is kind of like a crutch.

On the other hand, though, the cameos are probably the comic's main appeal at this point, so there isn't much of a motivation for Twist to "fix" his comic by toning them down.

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Congrats on making it through a whole year! Wow, Thursday it'll be a year since you reviewed Loud Era. I'm tempted to ask for an update, but pitifully I only updated a little over 30 times this year, and feel like that might not be enough to really have turned anything around. Maybe I'll check back in a few months or so, perhaps once this chapter is done with (there's only about 20 pages left, and I'm trying to punctuate updating only on Tuesdays with occasional Friday updates to keep things moving a little faster). I think I've improved in a lot of the areas you had pointed out in your original review, with a particular focus on improving the coloring and art in general. But I'd like to wait until further into this chapter to really let the "new style" take flight so that you could give a more proper assessment of it.
The coloring's already a lot better, actually. As for the "too many characters" thing, I've read the whole comic, like, three or four times, so I have a better sense of the different characters now, but my viewpoint isn't the same as a typical reader's.

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Chocolate covered nipple covered dick covered teats.
There's probably someone out there getting way too turned-on from reading this.

McDuffies wrote:What about Nick's dimples?
Now, now, you know how sensitive Nick is about his dimples.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:20 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:The coloring's already a lot better, actually.

Thanks! That's quite encouraging to hear.

LC wrote:As for the "too many characters" thing, I've read the whole comic, like, three or four times, so I have a better sense of the different characters now, but my viewpoint isn't the same as a typical reader's.


I have a question about that, actually. In your opinion, which of my characters could really use some more development? I think I have a pretty good idea of who I need to spend some extra time on vs. who I can leave alone for a little while (which is part of why, for instance, Marie and Eddie are not going to be featured in this chapter) but an outside opinion is always welcome. Of course, I wouldn't just shoehorn random storylines in so that the less explored characters have more time in the spotlight, but I want to be more thoughtful when those characters come up in the near future so that I can be sure I'm making the most out of their appearances.
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