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 Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:21 pm

Webcomic: Moon Crest 24
URL: http://www.mooncrest24.com
Creator/s: Derek Joao Calixto
Run: 2008-current
Schedule: A full chapter every few months
Section/s: Ch. 17, "Altercation"

Website: It has an appealing layout, with a creative logo, a red-and-black color scheme, and a large, colored image of one of the webcomic's main characters. Also, the edges of the site look withered, which adds additional personality.

There's a solid amount of extras, including information about the comic, a couple image galleries, a store, a music video, and several social media pages. I'm surprised that there isn't a cast page or more information for new readers, though, as the story's fairly lengthy at this point. It's redundant that the About page has the same synopsis of the plot as the home page, so making it more robust would be a good place to start.

The archives are organized by chapter and are generally easy to use, but they aren't optimal for the latest chapter because there's no quick way to skip ahead to the most recent pages. Even the most basic webcomic sites have a "Latest Page" button, so it's disappointing that a well-designed site like this lacks such a simple feature. I assume it's set up this way because the chapters are intended to be read in one sitting, but it'd better to give readers more flexibility. The archives also don't have a link to the home page, which is a little confusing since that's also a standard part of most websites.

Lastly, the Contact section of the site has an extra navigation button that doesn't work, and the page footer has several miscellaneous symbols where a copyright symbol should be.

Writing: Sometimes, webcomics will start off pretty slow, with a lot of time spent introducing the characters and setting before the plot starts to become apparent. Depending on the update schedule, it can takes months before anything interesting happens. Moon Crest 24's an example of a story with this sort of sluggishness, except instead of leisurely making its way through its first chapter, the webcomic's on its 17th chapter and has been updating for five years.

The chapter's only 19 pages long, so I don't expect it to advance the plot significantly; however, the creator could've hardly paced it any slower than he did. The opening scene starts with Liz parking her car, and it takes six pages for all the characters to be shown exiting the vehicle. The most significant part of this scene is when Derek calls Dwayne a "beach nerd," complete with a cartoony anvil with the words "Beach Nerd" falling on Dwayne's head, and not only does the gag unnecessarily prolong the scene, but it's out of place in a chapter that's otherwise somber. A scene like this would normally serve as a heavy pause before a dramatic event, but nothing happens in the next few pages, either. It actually isn't until Page 12 -- the end of the first two-thirds of the chapter -- that something notable occurs, which is that Liz suddenly realizes that the characters are vampires, and she reveals to them that she's a vampire as well. However, this big reveal takes all of two pages, and is followed by six pages of insignificant dialogue. The chapter can basically be broken down as having 16 pages of filler, a poorly-timed gag, and two pages of actual story, which makes reading it an underwhelming experience.

A big reason why the plot seems to be at a standstill is that the chapter's fixated on its kawaii female characters. The two vampire chicks aren't given personalities, but they're shown prominently in all but six pages. As seen here, here, and here, the creator has a tendency to use multi-panel group shots that feature the two women even though they aren't doing anything interesting or relevant. In addition, their facial expressions rarely change. Rachel always has a neutral expression with her mouth slightly open (1, 2, 3), while Dory looks concerned and has her mouth hanging open, as if in a state of mild shock (1, 2, 3). These issues combine to create a discordance in the storytelling, in which the women are written like minor characters, but have the visual prominence of major characters.

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

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:26 pm

Art: Readers should be drawn to the clean linework and realistic figures, which are done more capably than in most webcomics. The creator also demonstrates that he has a knack for detail, as the chapter has quality renderings of cars, curtains, and a variety of clothing, and the line-width variation helps the scenes feel more dynamic. The creator also excels at drawing hands, which are an area that a lot of cartoonists struggle with, although he tends to make them too large.

While the characters are skillfully drawn, the creator overemphasizes them, and the composition suffers due to its overreliance on close shots. This panel on Page 2 of indistinct buildings is the only establishing shot of where the interior scene takes place, and, afterwards, the reader's left trying to decipher the claustrophobic imagery. The few instances of interior detail are a bed and curtains on Page 7, a toaster oven and cabinets on Page 11, and dishes in a tray on Page 15, which are just enough clues to indicate that it's an apartment or dorm room. The setting should be less ambiguous, and the creator should put more thought into conveying it as an interesting and believable place. The panels on Pages 2 and 11 are also rendered in a bland way, as the lack of details and diagonal lines makes them look like technical drawings.

The characters' poses can be overly repetitive at times. In the opening scene, Rachel's copy-pasted here, and Derek's appearance in the fifth panel here is copy-pasted in the next page, where Liz also gets copy-pasted. After that, the creator avoids copy-pasting, but, instead, he starts redrawing people the same way. Derek's the main subject for this, as he gets redrawn here and here, and while it's supposed to show that he's spacing out, the effect doesn't work well since the chapter already has a lot of repetitive figures. The worst instance, though, is here, where Liz is shown from the same angle in the second, third, fourth, and sixth panels, and then is shown from that angle again in the first panel of the next page. There are also too many front-on shots, especially of Rachel and Dwayne; for example, in the interior scene, Rachel's shown front-on in half of the pages despite only having two lines that aren't just one or two words.

There are a few inconsistencies and issues with the artwork that stood out to me. The pages here and here have white backgrounds even though it's clearly supposed to be a night scene, and Rachel has light skin here even though she has dark skin in the rest of the chapter. There are a few instances where a character's neck appears to be too large, with the most blatant example being the bottom panel here. There are also several instances of cheek-mouths, and while a lot of manga artists draw them, I find them unappealing, and I don't acknowledge there being a legitimate reason for having them. Lastly, I'm underwhelmed by the cover since Liz's head's too big and she has a much more kawaii outfit than what she wears in the actual pages.

Overall: The creator of Moon Crest 24's a competent illustrator, but he still has more to learn about the fundamentals of making comics. With its slow pacing, forgettable characters, and bland, repetitive layouts, the webcomic falls short of being noteworthy.

2.5/5
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:46 pm

spoonyliger wrote:That's alright. Plus, my comic has a lot of pages to read anyways. Take your time.
Yeahhh, I actually prefer to focus on a small section and do an in-depth deconstruction of it. Some people suggest that doing a longer review would make the writing more appealing by putting it in a more proper context, but I think that's making a pretty big assumption.

spoonyliger wrote:What is up with this blog? I've seen it once before. It was all black I think. Now it looks professional, but I don't really understand it. It's like, the whole cop thing is kinda scary for me but then there's like sarcastic things all over it which I find funny. Is this just your review blog? You do it with other friends?
I'm flattered that you think it looks professional, since I'm as much of an amateur as the next guy. The site was intended to look dystopian, but I wasn't satisfied with it since it looked more like a goofy blog than a real government website. So, I redid the whole thing after I got back from my vacation a few weeks ago. It's supposed to be kind of a dark humor concept, which seems to be working if it's scary and funny at the same time.

As for who does it, I've been doing the whole site up till now, but I recently started inviting people to be guest contributors. Riiser's the first one to post something, and I'll be posting the rest of my reviews there as LibertyCabbage instead of as The Webcomic Police.

VCC wrote:It's just his.
It was till recently. I wasn't really satisfied with the blog, and I felt like I could do more with it, so I'm working on expanding it to be more than just a personal blog like everybody has. I've actually ran two big collaborative projects before (Deep and Red Slime), so it's not that strange of a situation for me.

djracodex wrote:I find a lot of truth in this. It's good to hear feedback from people that arent 'seasoned' reviewers (even though our friends can be dicks, at least they are honest all the better!), because pretty much any feedback helps in one aspect or another. There's lots of writers' forums with many reviewers, (any given english major practically lol) but comics are a different sort of animal.Though writing is pretty important, comics fall apart without basic layout composition, consistent artwork, and pacing.
To be fair, I'm just paraphrasing something I think I've heard a few people on the forums say a while ago. But yeah, I mean, that's just part of growing as a creator. You can practice your drawing and writing, but at some point, you've gotta also condition your ego to not be afraid of getting smacked around a bit once in a while. Otherwise, your project really isn't more than a hobby.

djracodex wrote:backpacking off my last statement, I'm glad there are more reviewers. The blog looks great, btw, had to do a double-take on how official it looks I enjoyed The Redtail's Dream review, it's one of my favorite comics.
Yeah, actually, after that discussion a few weeks ago where I was complaining how shitty the current reviewing situation is, I kinda figured, "Well, I might as well stop bitching about it and actually try to do something to help the situation out." So, I'll see how it goes. And again, I'm flattered that you think the site looks "official," especially since the real government agencies probably spent a massive amount of taxpayer money on their sites. And I'm glad you liked the review even though I trashed the writing pretty badly.

spoonyliger wrote:That pretty much sums up my reaction to it. It's like it's some serious thing, I like it, it's so intriguing.
Awesome! I put some effort into it, so I'm glad it helps the blog stand out.

spoonyliger wrote:btw, what's that chart that says "Date/Source/Attack On/Parameter"?
There's a German site that somehow has live reporting on all the cyberattacks going on around the world, so I put it in an iFrame and messed with the margins so that it looks like it's part of the blog. I just thought it was a cool thing to add.

VCC wrote:My only problem with the site is how much I have to scroll past the menu image to get to the content. Everything's "below the fold" so to speak.
Yeah, I'm concerned about that, especially after adding that big cyberattack iFrame, which was sort of a last-minute addition. I can make all of the elements (banner, slideshow, divisions, iframe) take up less space, which should allow the first one or two posts to appear above the "fold," and the news bar at the top isn't really necessary if I need to get rid of more pixels. That would also let me add a few more reviews to the front page, which I've been considering doing anyways. The update shouldn't take much time to do once I get a chance to play around with it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby spoonyliger on Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:00 am

Thanks for reviewing my webcomic, LC. I appreciate it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:17 am

spoonyliger wrote:Thanks for reviewing my webcomic, LC. I appreciate it.
I hope it's at least a little helpful. At the very least, you have some stuff to think about, and the next time you read a good/professional comic, you can pay extra attention to how it handles elements the reviews covered. One of my favorite things about comics is that the better you understand them, the more you realize just how much skill and deliberation goes into every panel in an expertly-made comic.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:53 pm

I made some tweaks, and now the first post and part of the second post should appear above the "fold." I don't know if the issue's 100% fixed or not, but the current iteration should be an improvement.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:03 am

Guest contributor Blake has his first review on the site up, which is of The Zombie Hunters. I think he has a great review style, especially since he isn't afraid to admit his own biases and point out flaws.

As for my own stuff, I'm gonna use the rest of today to continue updating the older posts, and I'll see about tackling a request or two on Smack Jeeves next week.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:17 pm

What's your criteria for guest reviews, LC? The idea of getting some kool liberty cred is a pretty good incentive for me to write another review. Of course if I knew it'd be under the Webcomoic Police umbrella I'd be harsher than my normal sentimental self :P
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:02 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:What's your criteria for guest reviews, LC? The idea of getting some kool liberty cred is a pretty good incentive for me to write another review. Of course if I knew it'd be under the Webcomoic Police umbrella I'd be harsher than my normal sentimental self :P
I don't really have a defined criteria. I definitely welcome your reviews, though, and I'll send you an invite after I finish writing this post. Also, you shouldn't feel like you need to write any differently than how you normally write.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:46 pm

Cool! Thanks, LC. With my newfound free time, I should be able to write up something relatively soon.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:51 pm

So, uh, remember how literally two pages ago I was complaining about how most reviewers just review the same few "big" comics all the time?

Well, I, um, I read Dominic Deegan. And then I wrote four pages about it :oops: Soooooo.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:01 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:So, uh, remember how literally two pages ago I was complaining about how most reviewers just review the same few "big" comics all the time?

Well, I, um, I read Dominic Deegan. And then I wrote four pages about it :oops: Soooooo.

S'kinda random, yeah, but I wanna read it now anyways. And you should totally post it on the WP.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:15 am

Will do! Just wanna proofread it like two more times.

edit: Wait, LC, how would I go about posting it? Did you email me author permissions to the blog? Or you want I should just send you the plain text and you post it?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:26 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:edit: Wait, LC, how would I go about posting it? Did you email me author permissions to the blog? Or you want I should just send you the plain text and you post it?
I sent one to the e-mail listed on your webcomic, so you have to click the link in that and you'll be able to log in to Blogger and write and edit posts.

I-have-an-edit-too: I just noticed in the referrals that the WP got some props in a ComicFury thread bashing the BWW. Cool! The thread looks interesting, too, although I've only just skimmed it so far.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:34 am

D'oh. There it is. Thanks!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:46 pm

Webcomic: Anabel and Her Sister
URL: http://anabelandhersister.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: "Raspberl"
Run: 10/12-3/13
Schedule: Completed

Website: It looks like the creator just slapped on a Smack Jeeves template and called it a day. I'm aware that it's just a short story, so it might not be worthy of a robust site design, but I still expect at least some sort of a personal touch.

The creator completed the story about five-and-a-half months after the cover was posted, and she deserves some credit for sticking with the project and getting through it promptly. So many creators abandon their projects after posting just a few pages, or even after just posting a cover, that I can't help but view completing this story as a accomplishment.

Lastly, Page 17's too big for the layout, which makes it extend past the main column. This problem could easily be fixed by making the image about 25 percent smaller.

Writing: The problem with having children as the main characters of a story's that children just aren't that interesting. Capable writers will generally get around this by having young characters act more mature than they normally would, instead occupying a gray area between childhood and adulthood. This technique's particularly effective with younger audiences, who are attracted to portrayals of children as being important and independent. The creator of Anabel and Her Sister's clearly still getting the hang of writing, though, which is why she chose to portray the children in the story as petty, bickering juveniles. It might be more realistic than a typical story, but it's abrasive and tedious, and the more the children teased each other, the more impatient I got for the story to be over.

The plot seems to revolve around an "I see dead people" concept like in The Sixth Sense, but the mechanics of it get lost in the characters' immaturity. Particularly, the story gets too wrapped up in the love/hate relationship between Anabel and Robert, and it couldn't get me to care enough about the secret crush of a girl who appears to be about 10 years old and probably acts younger than that. It also doesn't help that all of the characters are annoying and boring, which makes the idea of trying to dissect the confusing plot a lot less appealing. One part did come across as clever, though, which is when Anabel considers helping the stranger kidnap her so that she can get away from the haunted house. It was successful in catching me off-guard, although I would've preferred it if that situation had been developed more.

There are a lot of spelling and grammatical issues, which makes the webcomic harder to read. The most obvious of these is that the creator often capitalizes normal words, apparently to add emphasis, when bolding or underlining the text would look more natural. The letter "P" also often looks capitalized for normal words, and while it could be an issue with the creator's handwriting, it's impossible to ignore when other words are being inappropriately capitalized as well. The spelling errors include "noisey" on Page 3, "tounge" on Page 6, "breath" (instead of "breathe") on Page 15, and "good ridance" (instead of "good riddance") on Page 28, while Pages 15 and 24 are missing apostrophes; a 31-page story shouldn't have this many mistakes. The most significant grammatical problem is with the story's title, though, which is written three different ways: as "Anabel & Her Sister" on the cover, as "Anabel and her Sister" on the website, and as "Anabel and Her sister" on the comic's banner. I understand that the creator isn't an expert at grammar, but being inconsistent with the story's title is just carelessness.

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

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:47 pm

Art: Perspectives are a major problem here. I somewhat appreciate that the creator's at least attempting them; however, they're so wildly off that I actually started to feel disoriented reading the comic. As seen in the examples here, here, and here, the creator clearly has only a minimal understanding of one-point perspective. I recommend that she does some focused practice on the subject, possibly trying things like drawing rows of buildings or a room full of blocks. Another area causing issues here is the line-width variation. Lines in the foreground need to be thicker than lines in the background, and the creator either uses the same thickness for all the lines (like here and here), or, even worse, makes the lines in the background thicker than those in the foreground (like here). Doing this wrong creates a distorted look, making it confusing what the spatial relationship is between various people and objects.

The anatomy's generally weak, with noses, ears, and hands being particularly problematic areas. With noses, the creator draws them front-on as either a vertical line, a slightly curved line, or a "button" nose, and she never seems to reach a level of comfort or consistency with them. Ears are done inconsistently, and often are too long (like elf ears) and almost parallel to the jawline. And hands often get drawn way too small, like about the size of the character's mouth, and frequently look sloppy, like on this page, where the second panel has thin, spiky fingers and the third panel only has four fingers. The characters are also almost never drawn with clavicles, which are physically prominent enough to be shown even in a cartoony style like this. Lastly, Anabel's dress is drawn in a minimalistic manner, with the lower half usually shown as a long, solid object that gets cut off around the ankles. The creator should study how loose clothing like that moves and folds around the limbs of the person wearing it.

All of the pages have a problem that's common in webcomics, which is that there are too many "generic" shots, which would be close shots, and figures that are either shown front-on or in profile. This weakness is probably the most obvious in this page, where Anabel's head's drawn in profile while her body's drawn at an angle. A more natural way to draw Anabel in that situation would be to show the edge of her face, with the tip of her nose slightly visible beyond the outline. A particular consequence of not having more wide shots is that the setting's Victorian architecture and objects don't get shown as much as they should be. The characters seem to live in a haunted mansion, and it would've been great to have a detailed shot of its exterior at some point, but it's only ever seen as a small object in the distance.

I have a bit of praise for the artwork, which is that the creator's somewhat competent at doing a moody noir style. Starting with Page 14, she starts using more contrast, and this aspect becomes more prominent until Page 20, when the story switches to a gray, washed-out look. Those seven noir-ish pages are the strongest part of the story, and the creator should consider developing this style further.

Overall: Reading Anabel and Her Sister, I was reminded of what Simon Cowell said when the infamous William Hung bombed on American Idol: "You can't sing. You can't dance. What do you want me to say?" Well, this creator can't write, and she can't draw, and I don't have any reservations about giving her webcomic a lousy grade. However, it's clear to me that she's still a beginner-level webcartoonist, and she has plenty of room to improve if she chooses to do so.

1.5/5
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:20 pm

My review is up over at TWP. It's really, really long. I... I shouldn't write so much.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:36 pm

Over the years, I've probably seen more people writing and commenting about DD than about any other webcomic, so if you're gonna write a lot about one, that one makes the most sense. Otherwise, you'd mainly just be iterating what's already been said multiple times before. I really enjoyed reading the review, anyways, and I think you did a good job of putting a lot of personality into it. I was also pretty surprised to read about the positive aspects, as I think this is the first time I've read anything written about DD that wasn't basically "I hate Mookie."

I'm gonna Tweet and Tumblr it out, and hopefully it gets some traffic, as DD's a comic a lot of people read or have read and should be interested in. I'm also on the site's mailing list, so it isn't actually necessary to inform me here if you continue to post more reviews (which I definitely hope you do), although it might be a good idea to post here anyways to let any curious CGers know about it. Also, I think this is the first time something's been posted to the site on a weekend, so it might be a few days before people start to actually notice the review more.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:28 pm

Thanks! I appreciate the positive feedback. Mookie/DD hatred is practically a meme at this point, and I didn't want to just go over the same things everyone else has said. I didn't feel like dwelling on the WTFness of the rape arc and various specific occurrences, as I think there's enough WTFness overall to just discuss it as a general tendency. As far as Mookie personally, while I've read what appears to be his magnum opus, I only know so much about him as a person, so I didn't feel qualified to discuss him at length, especially since I'm reviewing Dominic Deegan, not its creator. (I should hope that someone writing a review on Loud Era wouldn't decide to devote paragraphs upon paragraphs to whatever they might presume about my mental state and psychology/upbringing, for instance).

I'm glad that it's received a positive response so far. I was a bit nervous to even bother putting it up since it has been done so, so many times before, so I was hoping that my take on it would be at least a little bit unique compared to some of the rest.
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