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 Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:29 pm

Webcomic: Koji Takahashi (Stops the World)
URL: http://www.drunkduck.com/Koji_Takahashi ... the_World/
Creator/s: Emily Robinson
Run: 12/10-current
Schedule: ?
Section/s: Ch. 2

Website: Aside from the nice-looking banner, the website's just a white background with no bonus material. As I've noted in previous reviews, I think a webcomic should always have at least some sort of extra content. The comments the creator posts with each page are a decent start, though.

There are several pages of filler within the chapter, and I found them somewhat distracting while reading the story. These filler pages, such as the Christmas drawing, should find a home in a gallery page.

Writing: "What if..." is a good premise for a story, and Koji asks the question, "What if a normal teenager acquired the ability to stop time?" The title character utilizes his power in a variety of ways, including leaving snarky notes, helping out classmates, playing pranks on teachers, and pausing an awkward situation. It's all dopey high-school stuff, which is amusing, but then it gets weirder, indicating there's a more significant context behind the story's events. I think the creator's successful at balancing the contrasting elements of the comic, and not just between the mundane and the fantastic, but also in a dramatic sense between the goofy parts and the serious parts.

The creator's fairly competent with dialogue, with this humorous scene being notably well-done. Here, here, and here are some other instances that seem particularly clever and natural. I don't like this page, though, because the awkwardness is overstated, making Koji's flop very predictable. It should already be obvious to the readers that Koji's uncomfortable, as he's on a date with a girl he's blatantly attracted to.

Koji clearly intends to use his powers to help people, but his actions seem more ambivalent to me, which I find somewhat intriguing. For instance, his idea of "helping" is providing anonymous life advice to the people he knows, but he seems somewhat condescending in doing so, as if he feels his newfound power entitles him to judge others in a way he wouldn't do otherwise. It also seems kind of cowardly -- why can't he criticize people directly instead of being sneaky about it? And Koji feels his pranks are doing good by making people laugh, but they're also disruptive to the classroom and disrespectful to the teachers. I think this ambivalence is done deliberately by the creator as a way of showing Koji's immaturity, and it's a solid approach, certainly making him more interesting of a character than if he was purely benevolent.

Art: The standout feature of the comic to me is the glitchy abstractions that pop up frequently in the latter half of the chapter. It gives the comic a unique personality, and creates the impression of reality starting to fall apart, which is pretty neat, like it's a consequence of Koji messing with the natural state of time and space. It reminds me of King Lear, where there are violent storms after the king gets kicked out, like nature's going berserk in parallel with the order of civilization getting messed up. The cyan glow around Koji when he stops time is also a nice-looking effect.

The quality of the artwork's fine, with the creator skillfully drawing the goofy and expressive teenagers, the backgrounds and objects in the school being fairly detailed, and the coloring and shading being done competently. The comic seems like a mix of Western and manga styles, so it's a bit weird to me that it got nominated for "Best Manga of 2011," but there's no "Western-Manga Hybrid" category, or even just a "Western" category, so you take what you can get. Personally, I don't generally like manga webcomics, so it was refreshing to me to get to see some manga elements without being overwhelmed with them. Although, the manga-onomatopoeia's confusing to me, and I don't understand what instances like "Tadghalicious," "Sparkle Smack," and "Normalcy" are supposed to suggest. The creator also uses descriptions like "phase," "trustfall," "morph," "pull," "shove off," "scanning," and "back up-right" to convey character actions, and while I suppose this is a feature of manga-style comics, I'd prefer to see actions shown through the illustrations.

Lastly, the fading panels are a really cool idea.

Overall: Koji has some obvious manga characteristics, but it should have some appeal for potential readers who prefer Western-style comics. The creator's an experienced cartoonist, and her inclusion of surrealistic concepts and eccentric visuals in the comic helps make it fairly exceptional.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:47 am

Yeah it's weird how that comic's artistically not really manga at all... yet it's rocking such strong weaboo wibe.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:10 am

McDuffies wrote:Yeah it's weird how that comic's artistically not really manga at all... yet it's rocking such strong weaboo wibe.

Right? I could do without the "weaboo" parts, but obviously a lot of people love that stuff, so I try not to be too judgmental about it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:16 pm

It's a bit silly when names are Japanese but nothing in it's environment suggests the story is happening in Japan, but it's the times we live in I guess.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:34 pm

Webcomic: Gloomverse
URL: http://gloomverse.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: "Loverofpiggies"
Run: 10/11-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Ch. 2

Website: The site's super-colorful and happy-looking like the comic, and it's a presentation that certainly fits. The rotating banner at the top's a cool touch, too, giving readers a slightly different introduction to the site each time they visit.

The character page is done well, with brief and relevant descriptions. And the "mystery" characters below foreshadow future events in the story, which is a nice touch.

This webcomic has some cool merch and a color print version. It's a good way for a dedicated reader to support the creator.

Writing: Despite the bubbly aesthetics, all the characters in this comic are conceited, awful people, with the notable exception of Assistant, who seems grounded and mature compared to the rest of the cast. Those who've read Jhonen Vasquez's stuff (or seen his show) will pick up on some influences, and the "one sane person alone in a nightmare world of horrible people" shtick is one of them. Wallis is clearly the worst offender in the comic, being unabashadly arrogant, and while he's supposed to be an awesome magician, he actually sucks at it. And even though he sucks, he gets to gloat the whole time because his brother, Harold, sucks even more. And the Mooching Hobo's just as bad, trying to get sympathy while selling out his friend for a piece of candy. Of those three, Harold's probably the most likable, as while he's rather vain and constantly steals from people, it seems a bit unfair that he's homeless while his brother lives in a mansion. And you've gotta feel a little bad for Harold when his brother calls him a loser.

The creator's great at setting up gags, often utilizing the characters' brashness and over-the-top facial expressions. The awkward silent panel on this page is a particularly funny moment, and some other gags that stood out to me are the store scene, Lemon Head's surprise entrance, and the goofy moment when the brothers meet. The dialogue and plot are capably handled as well, and even the more serious moments towards the end of the chapter are done skillfully enough.

The fight scene is choreographed very well, although I'm a little disappointed it isn't longer. I'm also particularly interested in the characters' magical abilities, and I would've probably liked to see more instances of magic being used.

Lastly, I'm confused why Wallis keeps calling Harold "Gloom," when Gloom is Wallis' last name as well. It seems very strange to refer to a sibling by their last name.

Art: I expected the glaring colors would "seriously hurt my eyes," but by the end of the chapter I felt pretty used to them. The super-colorful look is really different, and it's kinda like Adventure Time but more intense. (There's a Finn cameo in one of the pages I linked.) It also helps that the creator does the backgrounds and the characters in different styles, and the scenes never go so far as those awful Lisa Frank pictures. I wouldn't be surprised if some readers are agitated by the comic's intense coloring, though.

As I noted above, a lot of the comic's humor works well because of the characters' ridiculous poses and facial expressions, and the creator's great at conveying mood and personality without needing a lot of detail. The wiggly arms (more Adventure Time influence) and Harold's floating arms and hands add to the characters being absurd and fluid. The outfits are also terrific, and I never got tired of looking at the magicians' bizarre get-ups and Assistant's multicolored dreadlocks. I'm also consistently amused at how Harold always has a candy cane loosely dangling from his mouth. I also like how the lettering changes size and color often to emphasize certain absurd moments.

The one area that I think needs work is the backgrounds, and while I noticed some detail here and there in the city scenes, the setting generally seems deserted and unrealistic. The bland rectangular buildings are part of the comic's silliness, sure, but it seems like the city's completely abandoned aside from the main characters and the store clerk, which I don't think is the creator's intent. Wouldn't there be some spectators around noticing a fight scene and a magic cloud flying through the city? And since Wallis is "the most famous magician in the world," wouldn't someone recognize him, especially with his bizarre outfit? And what do ordinary civilians think of magicians -- are they loved, feared, envied, or ridiculed? In any case, I would think twice before putting the characters in a heavily populated area and not factoring in the presence of other people.

Overall: This comic's a great read if the coloring doesn't bother your eyes too much. The creator cleverly adds bits and pieces from her various influences while creatively presenting a concept and designs that are pretty unique. It's definitely one of the funniest comics I've read lately, and despite the goofiness, I'm fairly interested in what happens with the plot, especially with the ominous Cake Girl character being introduced at the end of the chapter.

edit: minor fixes
Last edited by LibertyCabbage on Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby CMikeNIke on Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:01 pm

So I don't know if it's SmackJeeves or Gloomverse itself, but it has a really nice mobile version as well, using simple swipes to move forward and back through the archive, a dropdown of the archive, and buttons for home and comments. Zooming is also nice with the ability to pinch or double tap to get right in close. Considering how common mobile devices are now, I feel it's worth a mention when webcomics are at least somewhat optimized for it.

Edit: After literally 20 seconds of finding any other SmackJeeves comic on my phone, I discovered it's not inherently part of SmackJeeves. Don't know why I didn't check first. But this cements my thoughts that it's a very nice touch that I appreciate quite a bit.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:38 am

Yeah, I noticed Smack Jeeves Mobile too, and it seems pretty neat, although I almost never look at webcomics on my phone. It seems that creators need to manually enable it and set it up, which is why Gloomverse has it but other Smack Jeeves comics might not.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:42 pm

Webcomic: Owl and Fish-man
URL: http://www.timeforsleep.net/
Creator/s: Jessen Sheridan
Run: 7/10-current
Schedule: Tu/Th
Section/s: Ch. 8, "Prejudice"

Website: The webcomic describes itself at the top of the page as "bedtime stories for all ages," and even after reading a chapter, it's still a mystery to me what the creator means by this. There are descriptions of the pages throughout the comic (which I'll get to later), and I guess they could be read in sequence as a story, but that just seems like a lousy format for storytelling. Or is the reader supposed to look at the webcomic on a computer or smartphone before they go to sleep? The chapter also deals with the serious subject of racism, which probably isn't proper bedtime material for "all ages," although Owl and Fish-man lists a rating of "Web-PG." Or maybe this header's supposed to be a joke; I dunno.

The color scheme is red, gray, and white, and I think these colors look bad together, especially the gray-on-red links. The creator should probably try out some different color schemes to make the site more attractive.

One very unusual part of the site's that it treats the creator like some sort of video game character, updating his HP, MP, level, money, and status with each new comic page. The site also shows various drawings of the creator based on his status, such as grinning for "refreshed," sickly for "poisoned," and zombie for... "zombie." I guess this is intended to be funny, but I just think it's distracting from the comic, and I don't think it's a smart move to have the creator's character competing for attention with the comic's characters.

In the center of each new window, and above the comic, is a lengthy post from the creator, and they mostly seem to be about video game stuff unrelated to the comic. These posts are fine, but noncomic stuff shouldn't be featured so prominently on the website, and it'd be better placed below the comic pages or on a separate part of the site.

Lastly, there appear to be a bunch of different comics on the site aside from Owl and Fish-man. I don't have time to check them out, but fans of this comic have a lot of material from this creator they can read while waiting for new pages of Owl and Fish-man.

Writing: The first thing that stands out to me's the "recap" header at the top of each page. While it's blatantly redundant and unnecessary, the reason it stands out's 'cause it actually diverges from the comic quite a bit. Foremost, the header consistently switches the sex of Cicada and Den, as shown in this page where they're described as "a most noble Prince, and a lowly, though beautiful, common girl." And there are more problematic headers: Here, the guardscaptain's called "the King"; here, it says, "Owl led the Fish-man to a humble town nearby," but in the comic they're out in the wilderness; and here, it says, "Seeing Owl, the girl threw her arms around him, crying," but Den's obviously trying to attack Owl in that panel. It's unclear why the creator includes these headers in the first place, but he may as well get rid of them if he's gonna use them so carelessly.

As for the story, named "Prejudice," the creator puts a lot of effort into trying to deliver the message that "racism is bad." The guardscaptain plays the role of the racist straw-man, trying to disrupt the princess's relationship with a furry, while the heroes, of course, are much more tolerable, and try to help the princess and furry out. Over and over and over and over the guardscaptain makes it clear that he doesn't trust Den and Fish-man because they aren't humans. At the chapter's conclusion, the racists are ideologically defeated when the king calls a disguised Den a "charming young man" and "quite a gentleman." Unfortunately, the creator doesn't bother to give any of the characters more depth than being "racist" or "not racist," and he chooses to forgo entertainment value in favor of strictly focusing on the story's anti-racism message.

This anti-racist presentation is extremely simple and unsophisticated, and it's particularly disappointing since the creator has a degree in English Literature. He's obviously fairly well-read, so I don't get why he presents his work as if "racism is bad" is a novel or interesting concept, when it's really just the opposite -- it's been done a ton in the past several hundred years, and all of the notable examples handle the subject of racism in a much more complex and capable way. Now, I'm not implying the creator needs to match wits with some of history's greatest literary minds; rather, I just mean that if he chooses to focus a chapter entirely on a well-established subject, he should be familiar with and understand some prominent works related to that subject, and I don't see any evidence of that in this comic.

Also, I think it's kinda lame that the fish man is just named "Fish-man."

Art: While there's a respectable amount of detail in the characters' outfits and in the backgrounds, the artwork generally seems fairly lazy to me. On top of the characters looking overly basic, the drawings are repetitive, and the creator doesn't vary the comic's composition as much as he should. My chief complaints are: The creator overuses silhouettes (like here, here, here, and here), and they mostly come across as an excuse to avoid detail; the characters have the ridiculous side-mouths from low-budget anime, which should never appear in a comic; and the creator does this thing (here, here, here, and here) where the character in the foreground looks straight at the "camera" while interacting with the person behind them. I'm also very underwhelmed with the wide shots, with this one being the most uncreative angle possible, and this one being too minimal for the reader's introduction inside the castle.

On the plus side, the line art's rather clean, and the creator does a good job of varying line widths to establish depth. The characters also have distinct designs and are rendered pretty consistently, although they all seem to have large hands.

Lastly, the creator should consider using a different font, as Comic Sans is overused and unattractive. I also think the weird text-wrapping here is kinda ridiculous, and I hope the dialogue in that panel isn't important, 'cause I didn't force myself to try to read it.

Overall: This webcomic seems very immature, even though the creator's been doing it for a long time. While the comic updates a lot, the creator doesn't display much skill or effort, nor does he make any real attempt to develop the comic's title characters, aside from making it abundantly clear that they aren't racists. It's also unclear who this story's intended for -- the site says "for all ages" and "Web-PG," but it seems strange for racism to be the main focus of a story for children. I think the creator needs to seriously reconsider his intentions for the project.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:33 pm

Webcomic: Villain
URL: http://villain.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: "Adamska," "Maniac"
Run: 8/09-current
Schedule: Saturdays
Section/s: Ch. 3, pp. 13-32 & "Never Again"

The latest page is just an April Fool's joke, so don't get the impression that Villain's some awful animu comic and flip the table.

Website: The website looks excellent, conveying the dark, worn-down look of a secret villain headquarters. A lot of Smack Jeeves comics look super-generic, so it's nice to see a comic that doesn't just use a popular template as-is.

The site has a ton of really cool extras, including a "Making Of" feature, a music playlist, skins for Minecraft, and, best of all, audio commentary from the creators. There's also some information about the comic and the creators, as well as nice-looking cast page.

One tip: I find filler pages to be distracting while reading through a comic's archives. I think they're better off being placed in the comic's "extras" section.

Writing: Villain promotes itself as a "chance to see what goes on for the other team," and while it isn't the first webcomic to have villains as protagonists, it's still a fairly novel and unusual concept.

So, what makes villains so interesting? For starters, there's something inherently cool and badass about their selfishness and power over others. A villain generally has significant physical or mental abilities (or both), and stories often go to great lengths to emphasize how impressive and terrifying the villain is, and how grim the fate of the heroes will be if the villain succeeds. They have an intimidating and unusual appearance, sometimes being a monster or demon, or being capable of transforming into one. Villains also have an aspect of unpredictability, in that their lack of morality and loyalty leads them to switch sides, backstab, or have a change of heart at a moment's notice. And since a story's usually told from the good guys' point of view, the villain's mysterious and perhaps rarely seen, often preferring to send henchmen or pulling strings behind the scenes rather than getting involved directly. Villains often clash with authority and order, which is always a cool thing.Lastly, as a result of their power and hedonism, the villains get to have the most fun (at least until they get the asses kicked at the end of the story, anyways).

Back to Villain. The villains in Villain don't really act like villains. In fact, they're nice. Like, really nice. And even when there's conflict between the villains, they're still really nice to each other. The creators offer the question, "Who's the true hero and who's the true villain?, and clearly their intention is to suggest that "villains are people, too." And while moral ambiguity's great 'n' all, there's a big, gaping hole in this comic where all that "awesome villain stuff" I explained above is supposed to be. Writing the villains as really nice roommates just to show that "villains are people, too," is probably one of the lamest and most boring story ideas the creators could've come up with. I mean, sure, villains will often team up to accomplish a mutual goal, but it doesn't mean they stop being the selfish, destructive jerks we all know and love. And there's always room for a dramatic moment of moral ambiguity at some point in the story. This comic has a ton of potential to be an engaging villain-centric story, so it's particularly disappointing that the creators took such a bland and uninspired route with it.

Art: The art's colorful and attractive, but too often the creators choose to portray the characters in a overly minimalistic way, which makes the artwork seem vague and inconsistent. The comic has about four distinct levels of detail it switches between, the lowest level having simple faces and cartoonish anatomy, and the highest level being fairly realistic. Simplistic renderings are necessary sometimes, like when there's a crowd, or when the "camera" is far away from the character, but Villain does them all the time, even declining to give the main characters faces at times. Ideally, the comic should stick with one particular level of detail, only deviating from it on occasion. Something like the bottom-right panel here, which is between the highest and second-highest levels of detail, is what I suggest the creators consider as their standard.

Aside from that, the character designs are all fairly creative, and the villains certainly look villainous. They also each have their own dominant color (e.g., Bob is purple, Buzz is green, Killswitch is red), which helps makes them stand out from one another, as well as helping give some variety to the pages. The creators also do a decent job of varying perspectives to make the dialogue-heavy scenes more visually interesting, although I feel like they overuse the birds-eye view a bit, like they ran outta ways to creatively shown the scene.

Lastly, the different-colored borders on the speech bubbles is a nice touch.

Overall: The creators of Villain seem to be struggling with their concept, as while the idea of having villains as protagonists is pretty cool and clever, the execution of that idea is really lacking, and the comic isn't stylish or interesting enough to make readers wanna keep coming back to it. The nine-page "Never Again" section is a radical departure from the comic's main style and is very poorly done, further suggesting a sort-of "flailing about" approach by the creators, awkwardly trying to figure out a way for their neat concept to work. The creator might wanna try rethinking their project from the ground up, and remind themselves what it was that attracted them to doing a villain-based comic in the first place.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:07 pm

Webcomic: The Time Dog
URL: http://timedog.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: Kay Yoshida
Run: 4/11-current
Schedule: Random
Section/s: Ch. 3, pp. 26-45

It's like Time Pig, except... not really.

Website: It's simple, attractive, and easy to use. It'd be nice if there was bonus content, though, like a gallery or cast page.

The update schedule seems very random, with the creator posting multiple pages at a time after not updating for a couple weeks. A more regular schedule might improve the comic's readership numbers.

Writing: I'll start this section off with a few excerpts from the pages I read:

"AAAAAHH! Stop!" - Page 29

"AAAAHH" - Page 30

"AAAAHH" - Page 31

"AAAHHH!" - Page 32

"AAAHHH! Help!" - Page 33

"AAAAHHH!" - Page 34

"AAAAHHHH!" - Page 36

"AAAH!" - Page 37

"AAAHH! Help me!" - Page 38

This chapter features several kids and the time-dog getting tormented by a creepy Asian midget and his own dog, and... that's about it. After reading 20 pages, I didn't learn anything about the characters or plot except for that the midget's an obnoxious jerk who can travel through time somehow. I realized the midget's a douchebag from the very first panel I read, so it seems awfully redundant for the creator to devote 20 pages to hammering it into the reader that he's a bad guy and people don't like him.

On top of that, the dialogue's notably bland and unsophisticated, and the creator explains in his Smack Jeeves profile, "I'm a Japanese living in Japan. So,I'm not good at English.But I try to write in English for readers overseas." So, the deficiencies in the dialogue are understandable, but at the same time, the reality's that The Time Dog's dialogue doesn't have the same level of style and keenness that would generally be found in a comic written by someone who has English as their first language. I encourage the creator to work on getting more comfortable with writing in English.

Art: The artwork, on the other hand, is quite good, and the creator has an unusual manga style I haven't seen before. "HABE" on the Smack Jeeves forums commented that The Time Dog has "classic, 60-70s manga sensibilities," and that seems to be a fitting explanation for the style, especially since the current chapter's named "1966." The characters are cutesy and cartoony, but they're rendered cleanly and proportionately, and the creator competently draws the girls in a variety of poses and perspectives as they tumble through the air. He's also got a knack for page composition, and I particularly like how this transition between scenes is handled. The coloring's bright and simple, which helps The Time Dog maintain a light, fun feel even when its focus turns to danger and cruelty. Even when the characters are in life-threatening situations, the cheerful visual style reassures the reader that they won't be seriously injured. Also, the midget's rendered more realistically than the other characters, and he looks more creepy and menacing because of it.

I think the art could be improved a bit, though, by making the pages larger. As-is, the pages are only 500 pixels wide, and that's with a fairly thick white border around the pages. As a result, the panels look somewhat crowded, especially since the speech bubbles tend to be larger than necessary. Larger panels would allow more detail, especially with the backgrounds, and more of the scenery could be elaborated on, such as the various scientific instruments in the midget's laboratory.

Lastly, Comic Sans isn't a good font to use.

Overall: While The Time Dog showcases an unusual style, the creator's weak storytelling ability and underdeveloped English is holding back the comic from being an enjoyable read. If seeing a tiny Asian weirdo harass generic children for 20 pages is your idea of a good time, then The Time Dog's for you, but otherwise, hopefully this creator will be capable of coming up with interesting characters and a worthwhile plot sometime in the future.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:27 pm

I haven't gotten bored or burned out of doing these daily yet, so I went ahead and started a review blog (see my sig). I figure having my own blog makes more sense than hijacking the TT&T forums like I've been doing. I just whipped up the blog in a couple hours, so I'll probably be working on its look here and there throughout the week.

So, since I have a blog now, I'm not gonna be posting reviews here anymore. I'm starting my blog back at Review #1 so I can have a month or so of buffer to work with. That means, it's just gonna be repeats for a little while, except that I won't be posting the ones that were from 2007, at least not unless my buffer runs out. I'm still up for taking requests here whenever, though, if someone actually wants me to review their webcomic.

As for why I chose the name "The Webcomic Police," I didn't know what else to call the blog, and the idea of an oppressive webcomic watchdog agency kinda amuses me.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:23 am

Your hijacking TT&T meant there was one less forum whose last post was somewhere in 2010... Also if you stop posting here that'll probably mean a lot less views for you because people won't bother. I'd like to see you keep reposting your blog posts here, I think both sides would benefit.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:31 am

Oh, okay. Yeah, this thread kinda happened on accident; I meant to just write a few reviews, but then I kept going and turned the thread into my own review blog, which I thought seemed kinda conceited. But if it's not a problem, then I'll keep posting 'em here first. I found a BBCode to HTML converter, too, so I can write for both formats without too much hassle.

That said, I'm spending my time today setting up the blog, responding to some review-related PMs/e-mails, and getting caught up with work, so I'll probably just post another old review today. I should be back on schedule tomorrow.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:18 pm

I, too, vote for you to keep posting reviews here :) as compensation i promise high-quality word of mouth advertising for your blog.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:50 pm

Okay, I'll definitely keep posting 'em here, then. And yay! Free advertising!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:56 pm

Review of Krillon Kallane, originally posted in 2006
URL: http://www.darkedgecomics.deviantart.com/

Website: I found it very unappealing to browse through the comics on dA. The dA gallery isn't designed for linear viewing. If I wasn't reading the comics for a review, I probably wouldn't have bothered reading them all.

Get a better way of displaying your product. Comic Genesis is free and made for hosting webcomics.

Writing: The comic starts off with a multiple page introduction to the setting by a "tour guide". Apparently the idea was to immerse the reader by having a character communicate to them directly, but it fails miserably. By insinuating the role of the reader, you're acknowledging that there's a reader at all which means that the world is fake, pretend, just for entertainment. That you're only looking at drawings with speech bubbles, not actual characters. Aside from that, the "tour guide" is barely tangible. Since the words aren't associated enough with a character, they feel too detached, as if they're coming from the comic's writer rather than internally. This might work in a less serious comic, but it's absurd that it's presented like this in a comic that tries too hard to be dark and edgy. The obvious and orthodox approach would be The New Guy, in which an audience is informed about an environment by observing the experiences of a character new to the environment, often by an established character directly explaining it to them. For example, a taxi driver ferrying an out-of-towner around would've been much more effective.

Although, that's in disregard of my next complaint. With a complicated, story-driven comic like this is trying to be, you really need to get things going and create questions in the reader's mind before you go into depth explaining things. You have to hook them, get them into the story. You seem to be trying to do that after the intro (with the interrogation thing) so apparently you understand that, so I don't get why you'd want to use your important first pages for exposition. And, it's not like it's anything that complicated that you couldn't easy show through visuals and dialogue. What I derived from the intro is that the city is dangerous, Vackie is powerful and crazy, and the government is corrupt. It's completely unnecessary, especially since you did the page of Vackie killing the guy and laughing anyways (which I must say was done embarassingly poorly).

Re-reading over the prologue, it seems clear that it isn't necessary at all and that the comic could function fine and be more enjoyable without it. My opinion is to remove it from the comic, but when you get a decent site up for it, put it up on a side page as an extra information kind of thing. So, if someone likes the comic and is interested in it, they can seek out the additional information, but if someone's new they can get right to the more interesting stuff without having to get through excessive details first.

And, as my last criticism of that prologue, the guide's words are very impersonal. It's as if I'm reading a brochure. Dialogue is VERY different from standing writing and you need to recognize that. Different characters have their own word choice, punctuation, talking speed, and other elements. And also, it's highly unlikely that someone would speak perfect English like that, especially in a poor, urban area like you describe.

With the introduction aside, my next problem is that you have a 2nd introduction! You really need to put yourself in perspective. No matter how talented you think you and your artist are, you're still nobodies doing an indy comic. You don't get two introductions, and you don't get two title pages. You need to focus on getting the reader's interest and telling the story rather than emphasizing how cool and special this comic of yours is. I already got through 3 pages of pointless information and a title page with copy+pasted images, that's more than enough build-up and introduction. Just get to the comic already!

The writing in the 2nd intro is alright. It sets the mood well, far better than the prologue did. It's a bit rushed and doesn't take advantage of the emotional and psychological energy inherent in the set-up, but it's still fairly interesting and not nearly as flawed as the previous stuff.

I really don't like how you did a footnote explaining the slang terms. It hurts the immersion, takes the intrigue out of trying to understand it, and lessens the feelings of being introduced to an unfamiliar world. You should it up to the reader to guess at the meaning based on the context. And, the line, "But I've not tasted grey-stone and I'm still alive." doesn't really work within your definition of "to be killed." Just replace the slang: "But I've not yet been killed and I'm still alive." It's the same thing said twice in one sentence. So it should just be "But I've not tasted grey-stone." or "But I'm still alive.", but not both.

More excessive narrated info in the car page. You could really do well to start putting one or two key lines into the dialogue and not be so open with information. I don't see any reason why you couldn't have Brenny or his partner explaining to the other some of the background. It'd be more interesting then reading some narrated exposition. Really, it's always preferable to divulge information in the context of the story rather than through an intangible medium.

Also with the car scene, it's too quick. I would've liked to see more of Brenny's character before he got to his job. You could've easily done 2 or 3 pages of it so build suspense and show more of their personalities. I should really be able to discern something from the page where they're in the car, but there's no substance there. I also found it somewhat confusing, with the apparently narrated part about the toys and the question about if "she's giving you trouble". Just not an effective page writing-wise.

The dialogue in "Cakes' place" (I'll get to that later) is confusing. Particularly the line, "No Johnson no traitors". I realize it's just worded poorly, but that's a problem. For Cakes' rant, the dialogue bubble is clearly pointed at Marko which is very confusing. It took me a while to figure out why Marko was yelling about not being a traitor when I realized it must be Cakes' saying it. The page isn't too bad, but these two confusing elements ruin it.

The next page is a mess because it's set-up as a fast, violence page but you have this huge block of dialogue. It doesn't work that way. If it's a fast page then you have to space out the dialogue so that it coincides with the action. You can't just cram it all into one part, as it ruins the flow. As is, it's practically a monologue, and you have to treat monologues different than standard dialogue. Making the comic longer with more panels would have worked fine. So, don't force too much into your panels, if you need to make a page longer or adjust the composition for the text than do so.

Same problem with the next page, although it's slower. You've got at least TEN sentences in one dialogue bubble. Comics just don't work that way. It's too visual of a medium to deal with dialogue being that compact. The transition between panels represents time to some extent, and it takes time to say something that long and complex. That's why you'd need several panels to show that much text, or else the page gets congested. There's a flow to comics that you have to go with. Time doesn't stop so a character can talk forever, it keeps going so you have to relate to that as if some quantity of dialogue is an action. Also, this is a significant dialogue that gives insight into the character so it would need to be extended anyways just for dramatic effect.

Overall, the writing just isn't fresh or interesting enough to make me want to read future entries. The story's rushed too much to allow enough character development and interaction to get attached or concerned about anyone. And the monologues that are key to the writing are too compressed to be entertaining and dramatic. I feel as if you're having difficulty adapting to the techniques of comic writing, as if you've exclusively done traditional writing before in absence of a visual medium. Or maybe you just need some time to analyze your script more for weaknesses and just general ways to improve it. Maybe stretch some parts further for more characterization and flavor. You've got a lot of problems here that need to be dealt with.

Art: The art's decent. Better than the writing, at least. I like the use of red and blue amongst the heavy black. It helps give the comic some personality. I particularly liked the first panel in page 6. At times, though, it seems as if the looseness and lack of detail in the lines is used as a cover for flaws and rushed artwork. Although, I mostly noticed this towards the beginning as it seems the artwork has improved since the beginning. So, I don't need to discuss that since it seems you've taken care of it on your own. I'd say that overall the artwork is pretty solid, although it isn't particularly impressive or anything. It's adequate.

The fault with "Cakes' place" that I mentioned earlier is your lack of establishment with the setting. All the rooms are barren. There's no background or scenery around the street. The problem is that there's never enough detail around the characters to have any clue where they are. There should always be a sense of location, even if it's just created in one panel. In reality, it's very rare for there to be an empty room, except maybe if the owner just sold it or it was just built, but that's temporary and no one would be there anyways. Basically, decorate your backgrounds, create some kind of setting. You should be able to show something other than characters. So I would say definitely put more focus on backgrounds and scenery and don't just cover up everything in shadows and hope that no one cares that everyone's always in an empty room in some unknown location. Even if it's some dark warehouse somewhere, there'd still be crates and stuff around to give the place some kind of identity. If Brenny and Marko are driving in an urban area then there should be buildings and pedestrians. If they're in the country then you should show the openness. Just in general be a lot more conscious about the location and scenery and backgrounds and less focused on the characters all the time.

Lettering: I'm mentioning the lettering because I see it as a glaring problem. First of all, never ever ever ever use Comic Sans for a dark and edgy comic. Comic Sans is cutesy and happy and carefree. You can get some nice free fonts at Blambot and other places, but try to pick a font that is somewhat relevant to the emotions and atmosphere of the comic.

Most of the text in your bubbles lacks proper punctuation and/or is placed sloppy. Always end your characters' statements with a period or a question mark or an exclamation mark, as it helps form and clarify the manner of their speech. And exclamation marks help make dialogue more interesting and exciting. Regarding the sloppy placing, the words should always be in the center of the bubble. It will look much neater and presentable that way.

Further, many of your bubbles are excessively large. You want to keep them small so that they cover less of the artwork. Sometimes I see them lengthy with a short bit on a 2nd line. Instead, balance out the lines more so that it'll be more compact and take up less space. This will help with the lack of backgrounds problem. I realize you figured out the benefits of center-align over left-align, but it also requires some careful placement which you should give attention to. And, if your words would be too large for the bubble, then make the font smaller.

Take your time with the lettering and consider how to place it most effectively and in a way that conveys the dialogue to the reader in the best way.

Overall: Both you and the artist need to slow down. You should slow down the story and focus more on character development and exposition through dialogue, and the artist should spend more time on backgrounds and setting. This would be a big step in adding much-needed personality to your world and would make the comic more interesting and entertaining. Get rid of the exposition-packed prologue. And, please, work harder to make the lettering more presentable. Many professional comics have someone just for the lettering, which should demonstrate how important it is.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:23 pm

Webcomic: Running with Swords
URL: http://runningwithswords.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: "RoochArffer"
Run: 9/11-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Pp. 27-46

Website: It's the same exact decent-looking blue-and-gray template I saw in the last Smack Jeeves comic I reviewed. And similarly, this comic's lacking any sort of bonus material.

The comic seems to stick to its weekly update schedule pretty consistently, only missing two updates so far this year.

Writing: The creator seems to make the following assumptions when wracking her brain for comic ideas:

1) Referencing a video game is inherently interesting, funny, and/or clever
2) It's relevant to point out that video games aren't realistic
3) The reader will always be interested in the games being referenced
4) A goofy facial expression is an appropriate substitute for a joke

None of this is true.

I don't see any evidence this creator has a sense of humor, or that she's interested in trying to come up with an actual joke. "Hey, everyone! Look! It's Skyrim!" isn't a joke, and especially not when the creator does it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. You'd think this was some sort of Skyrim fan-comic, except that it's the same idea ("Hey, everyone! Look! It's Skyrim!") terminally recycled. It's kinda like seeing the characters in Groundhog's Day tragically living out their lives the same exact way every day, completely unaware they're stuck in an infinite loop. Once in a while, though, the creator experiences a surge of creativity, showcasing innovative new concepts such as "Hey, everyone! Look! It's Mass Effect!" and "Hey, everyone! Look! It's Phoenix Wright!"

The other failed aspect of the humor's the over-reliance on facial expressions. Goofy faces can be effective if timed well and used sparsely, but it's a bad idea to try to use funny faces as the main gag for almost every page in the comic. Appropriately enough, two of the strips I linked are titled "Crazy Eyes" and "This Happens Every Single Time."

Art: This is actually the third time I've tried to review Running with Swords. What happened the first two times, you might ask? I didn't feel like trying to browse through the humongous panels. Unless you're trying to do some kind of avant-garde infinite canvas webcomic, your strips should not be 1,400 pixels wide. And having giant, 650-by-650 panels in a simple gag comic, with size 34 text, is a recipe for an eyesore. By comparison, everyone's favorite gaming comic uses 800-pixel-wide strips, with 250-by-350 panels and size 12 text. If I wasn't committed to doing a review, I think the obnoxiously large artwork would've quickly driven me away for good.

The style of Running with Swords is kinda... confused. Some of the times it's an underwhelming slice-of-life comic, and at other times it's an underwhelming fantasy/sci-fi comic. The creator's tolerable at drawing video game characters and monsters, but the backgrounds look like they were done in MS Paint. Here are some more lazy attempts at backgrounds. And don't expect to even get any backgrounds in the slice-of-life parts. The creator seems to be more-or-less trying to pass off the casual, simplistic artwork as being for "just a gag comic," but since the gags are so weak, the artwork's largely forced to take over as the comic's sole potential source of entertainment value. The art's not terrible, but it isn't nearly skilled or detailed enough for the comic to be considered art-centric.

Overall: Gaming comics are the most overdone archetype on the web, and a creator who tries to make a gaming webcomic is basically either proclaiming their work as brilliant enough to make a meaningful contribution amongst an endless chasm of underwhelming gaming comics, or they're ignorant of the fact that there's a whole lot of other people out there doing the same thing. But this creator isn't a brilliant cartoonist, and isn't really even mediocre, so all we're left with is yet another bad gaming comic to forget about.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:39 pm

Not feeling well today. I'll review Quest tomorrow, though, and I can probably get two reviews in if I don't dilly-dally.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Sly Eagle on Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:42 pm

I'll go ahead and throw my comic on the chopping block: The Prime of Ambition

This comic has been in a three year hiatus while I've been busy with child-rearing (what kind of excuse is that, right?), but I'm currently in the process of getting it ready for a reboot. While some pages are getting redrawn, others just finished from partly-finished states and all the text is being done over, most of it is staying the same or getting tweaked based on feedback. So now is a good time for critiques, isn't it?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:48 am

Oh, yeah, people can request reviews here! I almost forgot what the original purpose of this thread was.

OK, so I'll review Quest, and then PoA.
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