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: The Becoming

Postby The_Letter_J on Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:00 pm

First and foremost, thank you so much for the wonderful in-depth review. This is some absolutely fantastic feedback and it's got my mind buzzing with some ideas that will hopefully lead to a better experience for our readers.

I've also taken to cleaning up some things that I've neglected for too long, such as removing the link in the menu to the non-existent blog. And while the New Reader button linking to the first page was initially a reaction to some feedback from non-webcomic readers, I find myself agreeing with you that it is likely more redundant than anything and eating up valuable web real estate. I'll probably remove it in short order. I wish I could do more for the actual design of the site, but I lack both the php and design skill to do so. I've considered hiring it out, but I'm honestly not sure if it would make a huge difference to our readers to be worth the financial cost. It's definitely going to be on my mind more after your review, however.

It is funny that you mention the pacing being too quick as the number one complaint that we consistently get is that "things move to slow". Looks like we're still not finding the right balance, but it's something I will continue to work on until I do. And for the record, I do agree that some scenes should have had more "breathing room" and would, ideally, like to go back and tweak them to do so.

Again, I want to thank you for the insightful and honest feedback - it is an invaluable resource that I will mine in the attempt to create a better comic.

Sincerely,

J.
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Re: The Becoming

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:17 am

The_Letter_J wrote:First and foremost, thank you so much for the wonderful in-depth review. This is some absolutely fantastic feedback and it's got my mind buzzing with some ideas that will hopefully lead to a better experience for our readers.

No problem. I appreciate that you have a mature attitude towards it.

The_Letter_J wrote:I've also taken to cleaning up some things that I've neglected for too long, such as removing the link in the menu to the non-existent blog. And while the New Reader button linking to the first page was initially a reaction to some feedback from non-webcomic readers, I find myself agreeing with you that it is likely more redundant than anything and eating up valuable web real estate. I'll probably remove it in short order.

It's not so much that the "New Reader" button's redundant, but that it's misleading. Other webcomics I've read with a "New Reader" button have had it link to a recap page. We actually had some discussion here a few weeks ago talking about creative ways to do a "New Reader" page.

The_Letter_J wrote:I wish I could do more for the actual design of the site, but I lack both the php and design skill to do so. I've considered hiring it out, but I'm honestly not sure if it would make a huge difference to our readers to be worth the financial cost. It's definitely going to be on my mind more after your review, however.

Demon of the Underground has a better gothic-themed site, for example, and the design's just some fairly basic HTML and CSS. The appeal there doesn't come from anything particularly technical, but rather from the creator decorating the page with illustrations.

The_Letter_J wrote:It is funny that you mention the pacing being too quick as the number one complaint that we consistently get is that "things move to slow". Looks like we're still not finding the right balance, but it's something I will continue to work on until I do. And for the record, I do agree that some scenes should have had more "breathing room" and would, ideally, like to go back and tweak them to do so.

I think a lot of readers just don't like slow, dialogue-heavy webcomics. However, it makes more sense to me to focus on appealing to a particular audience rather than trying to please everybody. The other aspect of "slow" is that the story can only progress at a page per week at best, but that comes with being an amateur webcartoonist.

The_Letter_J wrote:Again, I want to thank you for the insightful and honest feedback - it is an invaluable resource that I will mine in the attempt to create a better comic.

I'm glad you have a mature and positive perspective. The review was oddly timed since I started writing it the day before the Dec. 13 announcement, so I recognize it comes at sort of low point for The Becoming. I don't have any doubt that you've got the talent to do something with it; I think it just comes down to developing more of an intuitive feel for visual storytelling.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:16 pm

Webcomic: Not a Villain
URL: http://www.navcomic.com/
Creator/s: Aneeka Richins
Run: 10/10-current
Schedule: Tu/F
Section/s: Book 2

Website: It's a plain-looking ComicPress site, and some additional customization wouldn't hurt. The large banner at the top's a good start, but it looks kinda tacky, and should probably be redone at some point.

There's a good amount of information on the setting and characters, which is especially important here since new readers could get confused by the webcomic's multiple realities. Some of the images on the site aren't displayed as neatly as they could be, though, and would benefit from being coded into a table.

Lastly, the site has a couple technical issues. Something's weird with this page, as it won't load in Firefox or Photoshop, although it's fine in Internet Explorer and Chrome. And for some reason, Page 151 isn't listed in the archives.

Writing: There are a lot of MMORPG webcomics out there parodying World of Warcraft and similar games, but this one takes a much different approach, instead delivering a dystopian science fiction concept. Its setup, which has some obvious similarities with The Matrix, involves a post-apocalyptic world where everyone's plugged into a virtual reality program. Like The Matrix, the protagonist is a brilliant hacker who has a badass alter-ego in the virtual world. And inside the virtual world's a game called, well, The Game, where, like in The Hunger Games, the main idea's to get popular with the audience. While a lot of it's kinda derivative, Not a Villain's actually surprisingly creative, presenting an unsettling pseudo-reality that cleverly incorporates aspects of gaming.

About two-thirds of the section follows a tournament in The Game, and while it's overly lengthy for an action sequence, it's handled pretty well since the fighting style's so unusual. Instead of trading blows and special moves back and forth like in a normal action comic, The Game revolves around creatively exploiting game mechanics and the limitations of the programming. Combatants also design and program their own abilities, which adds an extra layer of unpredictability. Cleverly, the creator injects tension into the scenes by revealing that Kleya could cheat by using her hacking abilities; while she considers doing so repeatedly throughout the sequence, she's continuously held back by her morality and out of fear of getting caught. I found this approach to be more interesting and have more depth than the scenes in most other action-oriented webcomics.

Not a Villain's at its best when it's in its virtual reality setting, called L.i.F.e., which sorta resembles the popular virtual world program Second Life. L.i.F.e.'s main function's as a heavy dose of escapism, as the characters prefer not to acknowledge real life unless it's unavoidable. The alter-egos in L.i.F.e. also all look attractive or exotic. This element's explored in a disturbing way when the character Danni, who's a healthy, attractive girl in L.i.F.e., reveals that, in real life, she's on life support and considered a "costly liability." In another gloomy scene, a girl complains that her parents are keeping her in the dark about reality, refusing to tell her even basic information about what's really happening around her. What makes L.i.F.e. particularly creepy, though, is how its bright, cartoony visuals offer such a drastic contrast to the dismal reality that the creator mostly leaves up to the reader's imagination.

Lastly, the creator intelligently recognizes how powerful and dangerous hackers would be in a world based around a computer program, presenting them as the equivalent of today's terrorists. The society in Not a Villain's paranoid of these hackers, often executing innocent programmers without any real justification for doing so. Since Kleya's a hacker herself, it's particularly easy to identify with the hackers as victims being persecuted by a corrupt society.

Art: The creator has a humble attitude towards her illustrations, commenting on her webcomic's Kickstarter page, "My art, while not currently awesome, is decent enough to get Kleya's story across." However, I think going as far as to label her artwork as "decent" would still be generous. Despite being a grim, action-oriented webcomic, Not a Villain has two-dimensional figures, bland coloring, stiff poses, weak anatomy, pseudo-manga features, and nonexistent backgrounds, which combine to give it a very amateurish look.

There's somewhat of an attempt to explain the lousy artwork as being part of the way L.i.F.e. and The Game are designed. For example, the Smiley special's supposed to be drawn by Kleya, which leads to jeers by the other characters, such as "You really need a better artist," and "How long did it take you to draw that?" (1, 2). This approach comes across as a form of self-mockery, as I had a similar reaction to the webcomic's actual artwork. There's the possibility that the virtual world has minimalistic environments because there aren't enough quality programmers left, but having page after page of black or gray backgrounds is really boring, and even the occasional backgrounds seen in L.i.F.e. are awkwardly simplistic (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The setting's probably even less detailed than the original Doom, so it feels contrived that it's supposed to represent a complex, futuristic computer program. In addition, some of the anatomy's unrealistic, such as narrow hips on women, blocky hair, thin eyebrows, no earlobes, cheeks, or teeth, and those silly-looking line-noses, and it's unclear how much of these issues are intended as being part of the program's graphics. However, I don't think it really matters, as clever excuses don't make the artwork any more appealing.

Lately, the webcomic's temporarily switched to a much more realistic style, which is clearly better than the rest of the section. I think the whole webcomic should have this level of detail, although the creator obviously only intends for it to be a short-term diversion, and is currently posting pages at half the previous rate. These newer pages also make the simplistic older pages look even worse, as it's more obvious what the creator's actually capable of doing.

Overall: Not a Villain's one of the most well-written webcomics I've reviewed, but I have a hard time taking it seriously since the artwork's so childish. I don't know what the creator's reasons are for not collaborating with a real artist, but I assume she doesn't recognize how dramatically more appealing the webcomic would be if it didn't look like it was drawn by a high school student. It's true that it's been fairly successful up to this point, as it managed to raise almost $10,000 on its Kickstarter page and has consistently been in the top five on TopWebComics, but I think the creator has reasonable grounds to be more ambitious and aim for webcomics' upper tier.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:13 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:such as narrow hips on women

I can't edit my post for some reason, but what I meant to write was narrow waists.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:28 pm

Webcomic: O.R
URL: http://orcomic.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: Mehmet Hassan
Run: 11/12-current
Schedule: Random

Website: It seems like another straight-up Smack Jeeves template, so it obviously needs some work. It at least has an About page, but it's completely unformatted, causing it to be presented as an unreadable wall of text. The creator should learn some basic HTML in order to make the page look more appealing, and the character bio also belongs here instead of in the News page. It's also awkward how the home page shows an old "first draft" of the webcomic instead of the latest page. The creator should keep in mind that the page that shows up first is what a potential reader's first impression will be of.

The creator started off by posting 15 pages in a five-day span at the end of November, but on Dec. 17, less than a month after launching it, he posted that the webcomic's already going on hiatus "for a few weeks." This is a lousy way to begin a project, and it would've made more sense to either pace the webcomic reasonably so there'd be a buffer, or to wait till after the holiday vacation to kick things off. I wouldn't blame the webcomic's readers if they get the impression that the creator doesn't seem committed.

Lastly, making a Facebook page for the webcomic's a good way to help promote it, but the creator hasn't updated the page since the day he made it. Having a Facebook page is kinda pointless if nothing happens on it.

Writing: The main goal when writing a story's to get the audience to care about what happens to the characters. The creator tries to accomplish this by introducing an edgy, badass action hero, but after 19 pages of, as one of the webcomic's fans puts it, "senseless violence," no attempt's been made yet to show the character's motivations, history, or personality. It's conveyed that the hero's goal's to kill a group of villains known as "The Gentlemen," but I don't see any reason at this point to care if the hero succeeds or not, which is a major problem for the webcomic.

The creator provides a 200-word explanation of the webcomic's setting, which is actually fairly compelling, as well as a 170-word character bio, but none of it has any relation to the content so far. There's nothing wrong with having action scenes, but the webcomic needs to balance them out with exposition. I assume that the creator intends to get to the "good stuff" eventually, but if I were a potential reader, that expectation would do little to entice me to start reading now. Offering quality content on a consistent basis is a much more effective strategy.

Lastly, the webcomic's title's as vague as possible, and it fails to offer any indication about the webcomic's content. Fantasy, adventure, and action are popular genres, and a better title would suggest that the webcomic falls in one or more of those categories.

Art: The first thing readers should notice is the unusual way the webcomic's drawn, which looks a blue ballpoint pen on a weird texture. I'm guessing that a particularly experienced artist could pull this off somehow, but someone like the creator, who's just starting out, should stick to black ink on a white background like everyone else does. It's generally a bad idea for creators to rely on unorthodox techniques before they've demonstrated that they have a firm grasp of the fundamentals.

The creator explains that he intends his characters to look like "bizarre strange works of failed science," but I find the result to be unappealing. Instead, his characters look "blobby," in the sense that there isn't a strong notion of the underlying bone structure. They also look silly and oddly proportioned, which doesn't seem appropriate for a dramatic action story. In addition, the hero would probably be more interesting if he was more expressive and didn't have the same angry face in every panel.

Backgrounds obviously need a lot of work, and the creator even stated that he's looking for a co-artist who "can draw backgrounds good." I don't see this as being a realistic option, and the creator needs to display a greater sense of discipline by spending the necessary amount of time and energy drawing his pages. Not only does the lack of backgrounds make the scenes overly minimalistic, but it screws with the narrative flow as well, such as when the thugs in the bottom panel here literally come out of nowhere. The lettering also needs to improve, as there's not enough effort being made to have it mesh well with the artwork.

Lastly, the special effects are creative, but they don't work well in a sketchy, colorless webcomic like this.

Overall: O.R serves as an example of a lot of the mistakes that newbie webcartoonists make. Considering that it's a poorly drawn webcomic consisting entirely of "senseless violence," it isn't gonna appeal to many readers. However, the best way to get better at making webcomics is to make webcomics, and I hope the creator can accept that his project's primarily for practice and his personal enjoyment.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:24 pm

Webcomic: The L
URL: http://thel.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: Dee Smith
Run: 3/10-current
Schedule: About once a month

Website: I think it says something about the popularity of this template that I can instantly identify it as "the whistleonwind template" even though I don't normally pay attention to who makes them. It wouldn't surprise me if I'd written more than 10 reviews of webcomics with the same exact site. It might seem a little snobby, but I think, after this review's done, I'm just not gonna read anymore webcomics that use this template. I'm just tired of spending so much time looking at the same black, white, and teal layout.

I dislike how disorganized the archives are. Of the webcomic's 13 completed chapters, nine of them are only between one and four pages long. I understand that the creator's going for a fragmented storytelling style, but it's possible to accomplish that in a more coherent fashion. Worse, though, is that the webcomic goes from Page 69 to Page 106, and from Chapter 13 to Chapter 27, with no explanation given as to why the comic's set up that way. The website and pages also don't give any overt indication of what chapter they're in, meaning that, when reading through the archives, it isn't even clear when these abrupt chapter changes are occurring. When I initially saw the archives, my first impression was that the webcomic was missing pages and wasn't ready to be presented yet, which almost discouraged me from reviewing it.

The creator probably provides more commentary on his pages than any other webcomic I've reviewed, but it's almost all esoteric stuff that I don't think will help readers feel engaged. Particularly, the creator frequently brings up an almost obsessive tally of how many characters are killed on each page and by whom, comparing each page's kill count to his other projects and to different pages and scenes throughout the comic. This occurs every time a character dies, which happens a lot in this webcomic, and I feel a little disgusted by the way the characters' deaths are compared and, really, celebrated to such an extent, as if drawing people getting killed is a noteworthy accomplishment. There's also detailed analysis of every different kind of gun and ammunition shown in the webcomic (which there's also a lot of), and I can't imagine anyone but the most hardcore gun enthusiasts would be interested in that kind of commentary. Readers are more attracted to characters, and the emotions and situations that go along with them, and I think directing the commentary more towards that aspect would do more to help get readers involved.

Kinda like the last webcomic I reviewed, O.R, this one's title's just a letter, which doesn't really convey anything about the story to a potential audience. In addition, the webcomic's promotional banner's of a Spartan warrior, but Spartans are only featured prominently in one page out of the entire story. You can easily draw a parallel between the Spartans in 300 and the Navy SEALs in this webcomic, but still, at best it's vague, and at worst it's sorta misleading.

Lastly, 2012's updates are a mess, with the creator frequently going more than a month without posting a new page. Excluding a "supplemental" section, the webcomic only averaged about one page a month, which brings the story to an absolute crawl.

Writing: Envisioning what the end of the world will be like's an engaging subject, and The L does it with an absurdist style that gives the webcomic a fun, bizarre feel, even if the story's mostly incomprehensible. Less than two years after the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012, North American civilization has dramatically morphed, with Canadians becoming Spartans, white Americans becoming loincloth-wearing Zulus, and black Americans becoming gangster gnomes. In addition, a new empire called the PanTerrans has emerged, whose representatives dress like Arabs even when in Canada during the winter, and whose leader dresses like an Egyptian pharaoh. There's also a demon, a guy who does human sacrifices and is probably immortal, and whatever this thing's supposed to be. 90 pages and almost three years in, the creator's barely tried to explain any of this, and while I found it impossible to make sense of the setting, I actually grew to appreciate the creator's creativity and his attempt to portray such a messed-up world. For example, there's a chapter where about 40 elite Navy SEALs take on an army of about 9,000 spear-wielding barbarians; it seemed like a ridiculous setup to me at first, but the creator actually put some thought into how such a fight would play out, portraying it through an elaborate 18-page action scene.

A lot of attention's paid to a shadowy cabal known as The Twelve, and especially to one of its members, Sweet, but these scenes didn't interest me much because the creator's so reluctant to reveal anything. Mystery can be a very effective part of a creator's toolbox, but it needs to be balanced out with enough information to keep the reader engaged. Judging by the character's prominence and the creator's comments, it appears that Sweet's a complex character that the creator cares a lot about, but from a reader's standpoint, I just see him as a creepy guy who stands around looking ominous and occasionally makes vague references. Characters are like an iceberg, in that readers only see what's above the surface, so it's important for creators to keep in mind that their physical and mental notes don't actually make a character more complex until the reader's aware of them. It could be argued that it's still too early in the story and that the creator will show more about his characters later, but, really, he's shown so little of an inclination so far to explain things that I can't see it as a guarantee that the webcomic will make sense eventually. The Navy SEALs also have a similar problem, as while the creator names and designs nine of them, I was unable to get a sense of any of their personalities, and I'd probably even have a hard time trying to name any of them if I looked at their picture. Even with Hero, who I guess is supposed to be the main character, I still don't know much about him except that he's brave and a tough guy, which is kind of a given considering he's a Navy SEAL.

The dialogue starts out pretty bad, with paragraph-long speech bubbles in small text containing awkwardly formal conversation. I guess it's supposed to seem antiquated, but some of the early dialogue seems way too contrived, such as when the storyteller says, "For someone so steeped in the language of Biblical injunction you hide not the fact you are pregnant out of wedlock with lies, and at the mainspring of the baser animal instincts." Fortunately, the writing gradually gets a little more natural, and the webcomic finally starts to hits its stride in Chapter 10, where the lengthy action sequence forced the creator to learn to write more visually. Volume Two, which started in 2012, has shown a major improvement in the creator's writing. Whereas before the pages were large chunks of text with accompanying illustrations, the 2012 pages are more art-driven, with large, detailed scenes accompanied by short speech bubbles.

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

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:24 pm

Art: Like the writing, the art starts out really rough and gets better over time. For the first six chapters, it looks like a poorly drawn, very cartoony imitation of Jhonen Vasquez's style, but at around the urban warfare scene the webcomic starts to get a little more realistic and show glimpses of its own style. The battle in Chapter 10, which I mentioned in the previous section as the turning point in the writing, is also when the art starts to take off, as the creator has no choice but to bump his anatomy skills up a notch (or two) in order to pull off something this complicated. I'm impressed by the creator's dedication here, as he could've easily decided that the scene was too challenging and avoided doing it.

The creator's also shown some improvement with perspectives and faces, although not quite as much as he has with anatomy. Perspectives are especially a weak point, as the webcomic's filled with backgrounds that are way off, as if the creator had looked at backgrounds drawn by more competent artists but didn't understand why they were drawn that way. As for faces, the creator starts to rely more on silhouettes starting with this page, and I think part of it's that it makes the panels look relatively good since the problems with faces aren't as apparent in them. In a lot of the earlier pages, it's often even difficult to tell if a character's supposed to be a man or a woman. Also, judging from the creator's comments, he's very focused on getting small details and special effects right, which may be distracting him from bigger problems. For example, here, here, and here, the creator describes spending hours getting certain minor digital effects to look just right, while, in the meantime, the pages all have glaring mistakes with anatomy, faces, and perspectives. There's also frequently elaborate commentary on very specific issues, such as the 250-word apology seen here about the moon not being in the correct cycle, or esoteric explanations about the guns or ammunition the characters use (1, 2, 3), while more pertinent problems, like a character "looking like a gnome" here and Hero looking "like an old man" here, are only casually referenced. I think it'd probably help the webcomic if the creator was more focused on the aspects that matter most to readers.

The comic has a few panels here and there of full nudity and even graphic sex (1, 2, 3, 4 (NSFW, obviously)). The creator claims in the second page I linked that he didn't just draw nudity for fan-service, but the panel's much more detailed and realistic than the rest of the webcomic, which is still very cartoony at that point. Later on, there's some blatant cheesecake, which is soon followed by the creator stating, whether jokingly or not, that Mandy features some of his main sexual turn-ons. While some reasoning's provided behind the imagery (Mandy's promiscuous; Mandy rebels against wearing uniforms), it still seems gratuitous, and it doesn't add anything to the webcomic other than making it more "sexy." Sexiness can attract readers, of course, but it's a shallow way of trying to do it, and characters can certainly be portrayed as "sexy" in a more modest way.

Lastly, there are often messages embedded in the webcomic's borders (1, 2, 3), similar to what Vazquez does in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, but they're all written backwards, as if drawn looking at a mirror, which makes them very difficult to read without doing something like flipping the pages in Photoshop. I don't have a problem with the creator doing it this way, as the borders would just be black lines otherwise, but doing the messages backwards seems like a wasted opportunity, as it could've been a cool feature otherwise.

Overall: The L falls short of being a great read, but it could win a hypothetical award for "Most Improved Webcomic of 2012." The creator needs to continue to develop his skills, as well as updating more frequently and consistently than he did last year. He also needs to focus on making his webcomic more reader-friendly, although I recommend readers at least check out Chapter 10 since it's a spectacular battle sequence.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:56 pm

Webcomic: Bear Nuts
URL: http://www.bearnutscomic.com
Creator/s: Alison Acton
Run: 08/08-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Chs. 33-37

Website: It's simple but fully featured, with character bios, fan art, wallpapers, a store, and contact info. The comic pages are only about 225 pixels below the top of the page, so new readers should be quickly drawn in by the webcomic's colorful illustrations.

While I didn't encounter any problems using the site, I noticed that the latest page linked in the archives section is from 2011. Considering that the creator just links the first page of each chapter, it's unclear why she hasn't updated the archives in so long, as it'd barely take any time to do.

Writing: With its "Care Bears gone bad" setup, the webcomic features a family of cute bears who are defined by a particular negative aspect. With names like Evil Bear, Gay Bear, and Vanity Bear, and iconic symbols on their stomachs, it's easy to instantly get a sense of each bear's personality. While reading about such one-dimensional characters seems like it'd get tiring after a while, the creator does a great job of shifting the focus around so that no one bear is ever the center of attention for long. With 10 very different bears making up the cast, there's plenty of material for the creator to work with.

The webcomic presents a weird version of a "dysfunctional family" setup, as the characters look and act like children while having problems associated with adults. Three of the characters have serious drug problems, for example, while one's obsessed with pornography, and another wears an S&M outfit. The webcomic could have come across as being much darker, but the creator manages to present the characters' problems as innocuous and even funny because they're in this bright, childish world where there aren't really any consequences. There's also a sense that their disturbing behavior falls into a sort of natural order within the comic, as the characters are so bound to their vices that they can't exist without them. For instance, the character who's always drunk is named Tanked and has a beer mug on his stomach, so it feels normal and acceptable that he's drunk since there's no impression that he has a choice not to be that way.

While the characters are portrayed as all about the same age, Prozac Bear and Gimp Bear try to take on the role of being parent-figures (1, 2, 3, 4). I found this part of the comic to be endearing, as it's easy to empathize with their attempts to keep the bears together as a family, and not just a group who hate each other but are forced to spend time together because they can't leave the zoo they live in. The bears often misbehave like children would, doing stuff like teasing each other and fighting over the T.V., so it makes sense that there should be some discipline involved, even though it's extremely difficult since there are eight "children" and only two "parents," one of whom doesn't talk.

Of all the bears, I think Lech Bear is my favorite, as it's oddly fascinating how little of an effort he makes to hide his out-of-control sexuality from the other bears. As for a least favorite, I'd say Nerd Bear, because the "he likes Star Wars, what a dork" gags are somewhat less creative than the rest of the comic. I'm also curious to see more of Death Bear, as he seems like a really weird character, but he only shows up in two pages in the section (1, 2).

Art: The creator's a master of drawing cartoon animals, and the goofy expressions, dynamic poses, and bright coloring make every page pop visually. You can see from the cast page that you can get an idea of each character's personality just from looking at their expression and body language, which isn't a small accomplishment. There's also a decent variety of scenery, as some stories take place in the bear cave, while others take place around the zoo.

There are a lot more panels in this webcomic than usual, and the creator takes the opportunity to use different shapes and sizes to make each page read a little differently. The most creative instance of this is in the action sequences, where the panels are split up into jagged fragments (1, 2). While I generally like the page layouts, I do have a small complaint, which is that having a bunch of small panels can make the scenes feel a little cramped and repetitive at times.

Overall: While Bear Nuts is probably a little too simplistic for me to consider it as one of my favorite webcomics, it's still a terrific comic that's very accessible, and I'd easily recommend it as a high-quality comic that's on the lighter side. Aside from its fantastic artwork, I think the webcomic's biggest accomplishment is managing to combine the worlds of adults and children in a way that's highly enjoyable.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:09 pm

Webcomic: Neko the Kitty
URL: http://www.nekothekitty.net
Creator/s: Gar Molloy, Paige Keating
Run: 08/02-current
Schedule: M/W/F
Section/s: Strips 1,059-1,075

Website: There are cats everywhere on this site, including its background, navigation buttons, and "Top Picks" comic samples, and even the words in the logo are shaped like a cat. The white-and-orange color scheme also corresponds to the two main cats, which have white and orange fur. This is a good example of a site that's designed to look like it's an extension of the comic.

Most webcomic sites start out basic and get more complex over time, but this one seems to do the opposite. While doing a little research on the comic before writing this review, I found out that it used to have a cast page and a store. The cast page isn't there anymore, and while the store appears to still be active, I didn't see any mention of it on the site. The creators also link to the comic's Facebook page in the comments below Strip 1,072, but that's the only place on the site I've seen it brought up. The creators should try to make the comic's features more obvious for new readers, as well as possibly creating some new ones, like a fan art page, or a page with some additional information.

The creators have been doing the comic for more than 10 years, and they finally hit the milestone of their 1,000th strip in July 2012. This demonstrates an outstanding level of commitment to their project that's rarely seen in webcomics.

Writing: Random humor's a genre that tends to be hit-or-miss -- and mostly miss. While some creators are consistently witty enough to let their imagination run wild, for others, spontaneity takes the place of proper pacing, clever punchlines, interesting characters, and, well, pretty much anything that would actually make a gag comic appealing.

Neko the Kitty's surprisingly predictable for being, essentially, a series of unexpected nonsequitors. That's because, while the subject of the strips can be anything from Donkey Kong Stalin to fart jokes to Loki trying to trick Jesus, my experience reading the strips was always the same. First, I'd read the strip, not get the joke, pause to think about it, then read the strip again to try to understand it better. Then, after getting through the strip a second time, I'd realize that I did get the joke the whole time, it just wasn't funny, so I'd assumed that there was a "real joke" somewhere that'd gone over my head. Well, after repeating this process with about 10 strips, I came to the disappointing conclusion that this webcomic doesn't have "real jokes." The whole thing is just some cats being cute, and while the comic's managed to attract a sizable audience with this approach, I was barely interested enough to make it through the brief, 18-strip section.

I feel like the strip's done in the spirit of the Lolcats Internet meme, where a cat in an absurd situation's shown alongside a goofy caption. I'm as amused by Lolcats as the next guy, but it works better when it's just one silly image; Lolcats doesn't provide enough material for an entire comic strip, let alone an entire website of such strips. There has to be more substance than "it's cats," and the creators should be more thoughtful about what they put in their strips. Adding some creativity and cleverness will still appeal to the people who read the comic because it has cute cats, and it'll help entertain readers who come to the webcomic expecting to find "real jokes."

If I had to pick a favorite strip out of the section, it'd be the "I licked my butthole" one seen here, as it's the closest the comic gets to having an actual setup-to-punchline structure. However, the idea of a cat licking its owner's face after licking its own butt is still more gross than funny.

Art: The comic has the kind of clean, colorful, and consistent style I'd expect of a gag comic. The characters are inked with neat, thick lines, which gives a classic, cartoony feel. And both the older and younger cats are drawn to look like adorable, dewy-eyed kittens. The webcomic's ubiquitious cuteness is clearly very appealing to readers, who've left comments in the strip about Neko playing with his tail such as "So. Freaking. CUTE," "You made me cry from the cuteness," "so cute," "sooooo cute," "soo dang cute," and "I can't stop looking at the cuteness."

Most of the strips take place in Neko's house, and the creators do a good job of providing enough variety to keep the interior scenes from getting stale. Whether it's in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or in the living room, the creators add appliances, decorations, and cat toys so that the house feels like a real place. There are also a few instances of unusual perspectives being used (1, 2, 3), and this helps the strips avoid getting repetitive.

Starting with Strip 1,070, the creators have been taking a different approach with some of the strips by doing them with ballpoint pens and colored pencils. Story-based comics might not handle sudden style shifts well, but it works in a comic like this one where the strips are self-contained gags. While both the digital and traditional methods are done competently, I think I prefer the traditional style since it's more unique. These strips also have more shading and detail, so they're a little more interesting to look at.

Lastly, the readers seem to get a kick outta Bummy, which is a little purple character the creators occasionally place in strips as an "Easter egg." It's a cool idea that I don't think I've seen done before.

Overall: Cats and the Internet go together like peanut butter and jelly, and the creators have found some success giving readers their "cute cat" fix three times a week. However, the comic's absurd humor's underwhelming, and I imagine it could be a lot more popular if the writing was stronger. The creators have earned some respect for sticking with their webcomic since 2002, but looking forward, now's as good a time as any to start trying to come up with better jokes and appeal to a wider audience.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:42 pm

I've seen the "Random Comic" button on Smack Jeeves a few times, but I never had any interest in actually clicking on it. What's the point of such a chaotic method when I can look for quality webcomics by other factors, such as their number of fans or the artwork in their banner, right? Well, I'm a curious person, and I can't help but wonder what pleasures and horrors lie beyond that black, six-sided die.

This unprecedented journey I'm about to undertake could have unsettling results, and I advise the weak-minded and faint of heart to stop reading here. For the brave souls who are left, we venture forth, deeper, deeper, into the black abyss...

Roll #1: Desu. Fans: 0. There's only one comic, which was posted in August 2008. It looks like some kind of blue thing smiling and in love. Who does our blue protagonist have such affection for? Sadly, I suspect it's a question I'll never have an answer for.

Roll #2: Scribblings of Life. Fans: 1. In May 2010, the creator tried to convey the joy he or she felt upon capturing Mew in the game Pokémon Ranger. Despite the creator's obvious enthusiasm for the game, the bland, colorless artwork and lack of context leaves me feeling apathetic towards her crowning accomplishment. The most interesting thing about the comic's probably the creator-avatar's bizarre hair style.

Roll #3: Saints' Calling: Fallen Stars. Fans: 26. The creator actually stuck with this one from June 2011 to December 2011, which makes it a more serious project than the previous two comics. It turns out this is supposed to be some sort of prequel for the creator's main webcomic. The art's not too bad, although it's pretty bland. I'm guessing the boy and girl are twins; otherwise, it's kinda weird that their faces look identical and they're the exact same height. Also, "Thank God" doesn't seem like a natural response to "Spring's coming."

Roll #4: Naughty Cartman. Fans: 12. Despite drawing the characters as stickmen, the creator averaged less than a page a month before she stopped updating in December 2011. It's supposed to some sort of South Park fan comic, but the last page has a female named Karen in love with a figure in a purple cloak. "Now, Karen, you are in safe!" is some unusually bad English.

Roll #5: Kirby's Ultra Star Saga. Fans: 0. The creator copy-pasted pictures of different characters from the Kirby games in order to celebrate Kirby's 20th birthday, and then he never updated the comic again.

Roll #6: Corkenburker. Fans: 1. The creator came back from a three-year hiatus to post two final strips, including this one. I guess it's supposed to be making fun of goths, although I'm having a hard time detecting any sort of actual joke here. It's on lined paper and done with stick figures, so I guess it's supposed to be a doodle comic, but the artwork doesn't have that sense of energy that I'd expect a doodle comic to have.

Roll #7: Hank: The Army Guy. Fans: 0. Apparently, Hank's crazy, so he gets kicked out of the army, concluding a webcomic that started and ended on the same day. The comic's 2000 pixels wide, which makes it very difficult to read. You have to scroll right, then back left, then down, then right again, then down again. For some reason, Hank doesn't have eyes. Props to the creator, though, for actually attempting to convey some sense of realistic lighting.

Roll #8: Lords of War. Fans: 0. The creator posted two separate covers and then abandoned the comic before she ever posted an actual page. The creator's decent at drawing people, although I don't like the rough way she uses colored pencils. Here are the creator's parting words: "I hope you enjoy it as much as I do praising it lmao."

Roll #9: True Love Destiny. Fans: 63. After a three-year hiatus, the creator finished Chapter 1, posted a cover for Chapter 2, and then never updated the comic again. It's a boy-love comic, so it seems to have gotten an unusual amount of attention while it was running, getting comments such as, "love the pic SO SEXY!!!" However, the comic has some sketchy, mediocre manga art that fails to catch my interest. The creator's parting words: "WOW. HEY. One of my comics survives to Chapter Two o.o." Sadly, the creator made a fan art section for her site, but she never got to put anything in it.

Roll #10: Temporary insanity. Fans: 6. "As a apology for such a lack of comics, I present a image of the author being attacked by angry, oversised, pigeons. New comics soon." The creator used photographs of pigeons instead of actually drawing them. Needless to say, new comics didn't come soon, or ever.

Roll #11: Stupid Smash Brothers. Fans: 13. It's a completely unremarkable sprite comic the creator abandoned after 21 strips. New life would be breathed into the comic, though, when, two years later, a 15-year-old fan left the following comment: "lol poor link."

Roll #12: My Brother's Paranoia. Fans: 39. This 33-page story actually has a beginning and an ending, although the creator explains that she'd already made the whole thing before starting the site and was just using Smack Jeeves as a "back-up." The art's also actually kinda competent. Is it possible that something good may end up coming out of this journey into webcomics?

Roll #13: Third Offers vs. Life. Fans: 0. This creator managed to keep updating for a whole month before calling it quits, which, hey, is better than some of the comics I've run into today. The artwork's awful, though, and the creator still complains that it "took far too long" to draw.

Roll #14: Forgotten. Fans: 0. Woah, another South Park fan comic? This one's apparently supposed to be a boy-love version, which seems kinda creepy considering the South Park boys are, what, 8 years old? Anyways, the creator posted a poorly drawn cover and then never updated again, so, moving on...

Roll #15: Coffee n' Cigarettes. Fans: 1. The creator only posted one strip, which is mostly copy-paste. The joke isn't funny, although I guess the cutesy manga style's alright. We never find out what the "coffee" in the title refers to, although I'm assuming the female protagonist drinks a lot of it, or something.

Roll #16: Hero of the Kingdom. Fans: 3. The creators posted six pages in one day, and then posted this final page seven months later. It looks like it was intended to involve a whale at some point, but the comic never got to that part of the story. The style looks kind of cute, although it isn't particularly well drawn. My favorite part's that the creators were nice enough to leave the following message: "Also, seriously, whoever you are reading this right now, we LOVE you." Awww.

Roll #17: Through My Eyes. Fans: 0. The creators only posted one cover, which was meant for a chapter titled "Shitty Day." One of the creator's description of himself is, "I'm angry and wish death upon others." Okay...

Roll #18: Eilina. Fans: 10. The creator describes it as "The Little Mermaid, but with lesbians." Wait, doesn't Darling, It's Betta Down Where It's Wetta already cover that niche? Anyways, she posted two covers and didn't update again.

Roll #19: Manga Shorts. Fans: 0. Wait, is this comic... still active? It totally is! Although, it looks awful, the pages are tiny, and the creator's posted only seven pages in 10 months.

And now, for the last one...

Roll #20: Vocaloid Star. Fans: 4. What a perfect way to conclude my adventure. This has three pages of plagiarized artwork posted by a 12-year-old girl who's an "otaku desu~" and only writes in Japanese.

It was a truly harrowing experience, but I finally made it through this journey of pain and suffering, and, fortunately, my sanity seems to still be mostly intact. I can say with certainty that anyone daring enough to click on the ominous black die will never be quite the same person afterwards.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby IVstudios on Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:19 pm

That was fun.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:37 pm

That more or less mimics my exact experience with the Random SmackJeeves comic button.

With the random CGen one I seem to get the same handful of comics over and over, and then one actually random other one thrown in now and again.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Humbug on Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:26 pm

Actually, that Vocaloid comic is mainly in Malay/Indonesian with the random Japanese word thrown in, mainly, DESU. And I'm not entirely sure, but I think the "artist" is stealing artwork to make this "comic".
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:27 am

IVstudios wrote:That was fun.
I'm glad someone got some enjoyment out of it. The whole thing seemed really stupid when I was doing it, but it got to the point where I kept going mainly just to see if I could actually make it through 20 rolls in one sitting.

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:That more or less mimics my exact experience with the Random SmackJeeves comic button.
You're a tough one. Few have entered The Temple of the Black Die and lived to tell the tale.

Humbug wrote:Actually, that Vocaloid comic is mainly in Malay/Indonesian with the random Japanese word thrown in, mainly, DESU. And I'm not entirely sure, but I think the "artist" is stealing artwork to make this "comic".
O.K. I probably could've thought a little more about it, but I just wanted to wake up from this never-ending nightmare.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:43 pm

I might give the random comics another roll and contribute my own stories, if you don't mind me occupyin' your thread :P
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:30 pm

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:I might give the random comics another roll and contribute my own stories, if you don't mind me occupyin' your thread :P
Go for it... if you dare.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:52 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:Roll #4: Naughty Cartman. Fans: 12. Despite drawing the characters as stickmen, the creator averaged less than a page a month before she stopped updating in December 2011. It's supposed to some sort of South Park fan comic, but the last page has a female named Karen in love with a figure in a purple cloak. "Now, Karen, you are in safe!" is some unusually bad English.

Actually, I feel that everyone's gotta see this.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Roll #14: Forgotten. Fans: 0. Woah, another South Park fan comic? This one's apparently supposed to be a boy-love version, which seems kinda creepy considering the South Park boys are, what, 8 years old? Anyways, the creator posted a poorly drawn cover and then never updated again, so, moving on...

Give it props for the most appropriate name ever.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:03 am

McDuffies wrote:Actually, I feel that everyone's gotta see this.

There's some weird stuff in Naughty Cartman if you wanna look more into it, like random manga artwork, bizarre dialogue, and some strange fans.

McDuffies wrote:Give it props for the most appropriate name ever.

Good catch!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:47 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:There's some weird stuff in Naughty Cartman if you wanna look more into it, like random manga artwork, bizarre dialogue, and some strange fans.

I checked, it's thoroughly bizzare.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:17 pm

Webcomic: TwoKinds
URL: http://twokinds.keenspot.com
Creator/s: Tom Fischbach
Run: 10/03-current
Schedule: W/Sa
Section/s: Ch. 15, "Haunted"

Website: The site's great, as it's a simple design but also fully featured. There are 10 character images spread around the site, which makes it colorful and unique, and gives it something of a personality. It's a lot more likable and interesting than a generic, blank background, anyways. The comic also has its own forum and chat room, and it's certainly unusual for a webcomic to get popular enough to generate its own community to this extent.

Writing: A few reviews I've seen have focused on comparing the comic's various species, but I'm not as interested in that. Instead, I'll cut to the chase: TwoKinds is a furry porn comic, and its appeal hinges on how interested readers are in its sexual aspects.

TwoKinds is one of the most popular furry webcomics, consistently coming in at No. 1 on Keenspot, TopWebComics, and The Belfry, and this success seems highly related to the attention the comic simultaneously gives to several niche audiences. For example, the creator manages to cater to the bestiality, pedophilia, and transgender fetishes all at the same time with Natani, a 13-year-old transgendered furry who's shown topless in two separate scenes in the chapter (1, 2, both links NSFW). There are multiple transgendered characters, and even a character who changes her species, and, when reading this stuff, it feels like the creator's just randomly throwing these features into the comic in order to include as many unusual fantasies as possible.

There are a few methods the creator employs to try to make his fetish porn comic seem more palatable. The first is that even though nudity's common in this comic, the creator never draws nipples or vaginas, which, I guess, is supposed to make it seem less like softcore porn. What happens, though, is because it isn't "porn," it gives the creator the excuse to draw lots and lots of nudity. Reviewer The Luigiian writes, “I have never seen a single furry comic with this much sex in it. This literally has more sex, more nudity, more sex scenes, more suggestive dialogue, and more transgender/transspecies/anthropomorphic bestiality porn than any other non-pornographic furry comic I have ever seen." What personally stood out for me is this page (NSFW), as the creator somehow manages to fit nudity and sex into a Christmas comic.

The second methods's that even though his sexy furry women all look like children and range from 10-to-13 years old, the creator tries to hand-wave the creepy child porn aspect by vaguely alluding to it not being their "real" age. This age thing seems like a gimmick to me, though, because even though the comic's main focus is on showing sexy images of these furries, the "real age" thing's barely brought up. Going through the whole website, as well as the comic's wiki, I wasn't able to find any indication of what these characters' "real age" is supposed to be, and going as far as to Google "what are keidrans real age" brings up several multi-page forum threads full of fans debating their various theories. Some readers might not have a problem with the ambiguity, but I think when you're dealing with an extremely sensitive and taboo subject like child porn, it's worth being a little more specific about it. It's at least sort of ironic that the characters in the comic are outraged by someone drawing child porn while the comic's creator seems indifferent towards his own sexy drawings of childish characters.

The third method's highlighting a sense of racial prejudice towards the furries, which gives the impression that people who disapprove of human-furry relationships (i.e., bestiality) are similar to racists. I expect that this approach is pretty appealing to the fetishists who read the comic, as instead of treating their sexual deviance as something to be ashamed of, it portrays them as victims. It gets pretty weird, though, when sex slavery's involved, as that sort of thing doesn't work as well when the point of the comic's to portray furries in a sexy way. Sort of like what DrShaym wrote in his review of Devil's Shine, the creator's thought process seems to be, "I know! Let's have her get raped! It's both tragic and sexy! Genius!" The creator also offers Trace and Flora as a sort of ideal couple, which is another way to present bestiality as being socially acceptable; however, having Trace get Flora pregnant just comes off as creepy, and it doesn't make sense anyways since they're different species. I see how their relationship could be very appealing to some people, though, as Flora's basically the "sugoi kawaii nekomimi catgirl" from anime, as reviewer Cody Baier puts it, while Trace, in his black T-shirt and khaki shorts, looks like a character out of a gaming webcomic, and it'd be easy for a male fan to imagine himself in Trace's place.

As far as the bits of story sandwiched in-between the fetish scenes, they didn't seem particularly important or inspired, as if the creator was in a rush to get back to drawing sexy stuff. However, thanks to the About and Cast pages, I was able to understand what was going on and keep track of who's who, which is somewhat impressive considering that the comic has hundreds of pages and a lot of characters.

Art: It's pretty good, and the creator's improved a ton in the nine years he's been drawing the comic. He's especially capable at drawing sexy furry women, which he's obviously had a lot of practice doing, and his DeviantArt site has some particularly erotic stuff. The art has a few flaws, such as an overreliance on close shots and a lack of expressiveness, but it's generally of a high quality, and I can't really expect much more from a twice-a-week manga webcomic. I also really like the cover, which is actually an animated GIF that changes after about 10 seconds.

The main issue I have with the artwork's similar to what I complained about in my review of Bittersweet Candy Bowl, which is that, while the writing deals with dark, adult, and possibly creepy stuff, the characters look like cutesy preteens. All of them have big heads, huge eyes, and childish physiques, and I'd guess that they're about 11 or 12 years old if the Cast page didn't list their actual ages. This plays out especially awkwardly in the scene with 13-year-old Maddie being sexualized, as, since the adult characters look like 13-year-olds, the creator has no choice but to make Maddie look like she's about 6 years old in order to make her seem like a younger character. Then you have stuff like this 13-year-old getting groped, and while it's supposed to be something funny happening between two adults, having it happen with these childish-looking furries is kinda off-putting. And a similar situation comes up when 10-year-old Kathrin, a former sex slave, screams at 13-year-old Natani to show herself naked, which is just weird.

Overall: I understand that there's a big demand on the Internet for furry porn, and I don't think I'm as judgmental about it as some other reviewers are. What ruins TwoKinds for me, though, is that the creator tries to cram so much different fetish material into one story that he's created a total mess out of what could've been a pretty neat concept. Bestiality's one thing, but when you're combining bestiality, pedophilia, transgenderism, nudity, and sex slavery in a single page, you're just taking things too far, and any appeal the comic might have seems insignificant compared to how disturbing it can be at times. People are inevitably gonna read something like TwoKinds as a sort of guilty pleasure, but it shouldn't be regarded as a serious artistic work.
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