Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

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Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:16 am

Anyone feel like giving my comic a critique?
I'll just give you the advance warnings:
- some swearing
- I redrew the first five chapters while drawing chapter six onwards so there's a sudden drop of quality when you go from five to six

http://shithappens.comicgenesis.com
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:30 am

Surely, I'll write one up for you by tonight.

ETA Alright!

Thinking about your comic, there are two main things that come to mind for me. First is the uniqueness of your style- I really can't think of anything similar to it, very easily recognizable.
Second is how much improvement there has been over the course of the comic. I see it's only been around for a little over a year, and in that time you've gotten a lot better at writing, both in terms of story and dialogue. I can't comment too much on the improvement on the art, since you replaced the earlier pages in order to fit them into the new style. Not a bad thing, but on one of the pages you had included a link to where one might find the old archives and this link didn't lead to anything. The only thing I could say is your comic is very big on fanservice which didn't really appeal to me, being a straight girl, but you know your audience better than I do, so do whatever works.
Separate from the comic for a minute- there's a few comics from November going into December where the notes at the bottom of the page contain the phrase "There is no joke today" even though I'm pretty sure there was a punchline in those strips :wink: I think you forgot to get rid of that after you made the initial jokeless strip.
Nitpicks: I noticed a few typos here and there, nothing major, but just something to watch out for. Also, regarding one of the strips from around last springtime- FCC regulations say you can't say "shit" on the radio, heh. And on October third you had the day's comic up but also a filler comic explaining why that day's comic was going to be late- I think you can take down the extra filler comic now that the actual one is up :) Nothing major, just things I noticed because I was looking for them.
Oh, and that baby lake monster? It's friggin adorable. Just saying.
I laughed out loud at the Grease reference- because you built up to it and I was really hoping you were going to take it all the way, and you did. Good play!
In the archive you have several pages of filler- if you have time to get around to it, consider moving these out of the archive and into other parts of your site (very well organized links by the way, the column down the side is a good layout).
But your writing has gotten a lot better over the course of the strip. Now and then you could use a few more commas and punctuation, but you've gotten better about that also- it was mainly in the earlier strips that I noticed them.
My issue with the beginning of the strip was it was coming across as trying to be a gag-a-day strip and have story arcs at the same time, but neither was being acted out properly. Gag a day strips work because each strip is succinct and delivers a quality punchline within just that one page; story arcs work because they build up enough to make you want to click the "next" button and put everything together. In your early strips, you had the feel of a gag-a-day strip but the progression of a story arc strip, unfortunately the punchlines weren't really... punchy enough to really work for gag-a-day and the plot points didn't wrap up enough to qualify as a story arc strip. Over the course of time you've gotten better at using both, instead of having them work against each other you've improved at letting punchlines lead into the next strip to move things along.
Speaking of moving, your timing has also improved greatly in terms of dialogue, storytelling, and humor. The later strips have been much more satisfying in terms of all three of those points.
You explained that you're going to be dealing with more dramatic things now instead of continuing with the humor-driven strips for a while. In a lot of cases, people get annoyed when they see someone moving from comedy to drama, but I think you're ready to explore that path. I'm picking up on a sitcom-soap vibe from your strip and it works for you. Just make sure to be careful when working with dark and light material- it's easy to mess up, especially if you've only been working in one of them before, but as long as you think things through and take a little more care I think you can pull it off.
I know I didn't have much to say in terms of how to improve your comic, but that's because you've already been doing so much improvement on your own that it would seem redundant or presumptuous for me to try and point you anywhere. But good luck with the new direction you want to take, even if it's only to be for a little while. It looks promising.
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:38 am

Thanks, this is probably the best feedback I've gotten critique wise.

Unlike some previous critiques (on other forums back with the old-style) I don't find myself needing to defend against anything you've said.
I will answer a few of your questions though:
* I haven't checked out the old blogger based archive for ages, it looks like they deleted my account but if you really want to see the old stuff I could always post a couple here.
* The fan-service thing, I'm obviously a dude, but it just happened naturally, I've tried to balance it out a bit with male fan-service as well.
* The restrictions on radio are a little looser here in Australia, the RoR guys are based on a radio show my mates over in Perth do and they really are that disorganized.
* Yeah there's a lot of news and filler that needs tidying up but I tend to ignore it so I can focus on actually getting the strip done, I'll get around to it eventually, maybe even in the next six months.
* I think my main problem story-wise at the beginning was my desire to get the characters introduced as quickly as possible so I could get into the story (well that and lack of planning).
You explained that you're going to be dealing with more dramatic things now instead of continuing with the humor-driven strips for a while. In a lot of cases, people get annoyed when they see someone moving from comedy to drama, but I think you're ready to explore that path. I'm picking up on a sitcom-soap vibe from your strip and it works for you.

Funnily enough I've described the comic to people as a kind-of-weird sitcom and humour is still the main aim of the comic but from time to time it needs drama to push along the story (just like real sitcoms I think) I think I'm lucky in that my few fans are supportive of the story flow.
I know I didn't have much to say in terms of how to improve your comic, but that's because you've already been doing so much improvement on your own that it would seem redundant or presumptuous for me to try and point you anywhere. But good luck with the new direction you want to take, even if it's only to be for a little while. It looks promising.

I think this is possibly the best compliment I could get for the comic. Thanks a lot.

Hope you don't mind if I repost this critique on my site?


P.S. just checked out your comic, I like the storybook style of your art (watercolours?) I'll have to take the time to read it all later.
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:59 am

RobboAKAscooby wrote:* I haven't checked out the old blogger based archive for ages, it looks like they deleted my account but if you really want to see the old stuff I could always post a couple here.
* The fan-service thing, I'm obviously a dude, but it just happened naturally, I've tried to balance it out a bit with male fan-service as well.
* The restrictions on radio are a little looser here in Australia, the RoR guys are based on a radio show my mates over in Perth do and they really are that disorganized.
* Yeah there's a lot of news and filler that needs tidying up but I tend to ignore it so I can focus on actually getting the strip done, I'll get around to it eventually, maybe even in the next six months.
* I think my main problem story-wise at the beginning was my desire to get the characters introduced as quickly as possible so I could get into the story (well that and lack of planning).

-Oh I see, that makes sense. I was thinking of making a post over in the general forum asking how people's characters/styles have evolved over time (it's been done before, but not for a few months at least, heh) when I have access to my old stuff from the planning stage. So when I get around to that, I'd love to see your older stuff!
-Also understandable :D Not a complaint, just a comment. Yours is pretty subtle, especially compared to a lot of what I've seen online before.
-Ah true, I forgot that the FCC is not an all-powerful and worldwide being. You learn something new every day!
-Definitely understandable- it's better to keep focused on new things going up onto the site anyway, I'd rather you do that than stop updates all the time just to go back and fix things that everyone's seen already.
-Heh heh, that's kind of how mine's looking right now... my whole first season is just little anecdotes to introduce everyone and not much of an encompassing plot yet. Starting up is hard work! But you definitely got into the swing of things somewhere I think a little past midway into volume one.


RobboAKAscooby wrote:Hope you don't mind if I repost this critique on my site?


Go right ahead! Glad to be of service :D


RobboAKAscooby wrote:P.S. just checked out your comic, I like the storybook style of your art (watercolours?) I'll have to take the time to read it all later.

Haha, thanks!
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:55 am

I'll definitely post something if you start that topic.
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:07 am

Reviving old thread- critique of a year later!

So, general overview of the site. For some reason, all of the images aren’t showing up (except for the comic itself, as well as first-next-etc buttons) except on the index page, so I think there may be an issue with your daily template. And I see that you are in the process of renovating the additional pages of your site- good for you, I’m actually trying to do the same thing.

One thing I might suggest to you is to redirect the “First” button to the first comic of Ride The Wind instead, so instead of actually using the ***first_comic*** tag, make a link to the day that comic starts. If you want, you could even move those comics to a different page of your site and set up a separate archive for them- obviously it wouldn’t be done by the auto-update comicgenesis thing, and you’d have to create each page yourself, but it may be worth it if you decide to do so.

Actually, thinking back to the issue with certain images not appearing on your daily template, you might also want to shrink the main banner in your archive pages (on the daily template). I didn’t have much of an issue with scrolling down each page to get to the comic, but it may be frustrating for someone else who is reading through your archive, perhaps even looking back at the original version.

Alright, the rest is not really in any order of importance, just stuff I noticed as I was going through the recent archives.

There is some streakiness in your coloring in some panels, where you need to cover a wide area with just one color for instance. I understand completely about getting coloring fatigue, and the times where I’m so tired of coloring something that I wish I colored digitally, haha. I know for a fact that my own coloring needs improvement- I get really sloppy about it. Your coloring definitely isn’t sloppy, but I think you’ve reached a point where you can look for things to improve on in that regard.

I believe that your anatomy has improved since SH1, but this is another area where you can start looking for improvements to be made. Two things I notice about the anatomy at large- while the torsos are varied in their positions, limbs tend to look flat or two dimensional, as if the characters are standing in a very thin area and have a limited range of movement. You could benefit from teaching yourself about foreshortening and its kin- the way objects change as they point more toward or away from you. A little bit of foreshortening adds a lot of depth to an image, I think.

I think you’ve gotten better at drawing hands- they’re more consistent and often more expressive, but they could stand to be larger. You actually may want to simplify them more- you put a lot of detail in them little hands, and in my opinion it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of your style. I noticed that a few places in your comic, although I didn’t write it down so I’m not sure where it was, but there are times where I felt that you added details that were superfluous and that in fact took away from the picture as a whole.

This kind of takes me into my next point, which addresses some of the issues Tenma had, I think. Your writing and your layouts suggest that you have a filmmaker’s timing- that is, you draw, and you envision the actions happening as they would in a film, using angles and cuts in that fashion. Sometimes this works, but in many cases it doesn’t, because the two media are far from each other. I have a book by Will Eisner ( it’s called “Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative,” in case you’re interested- very helpful, I found) and one of the segments discusses “reading rhythm.” When discussing film rhythm, he says “This emulates film rhythm as its camera “pans” or sweeps from image to image.” This works in film when you have all of those frames in between to transition from one point of view to another, but in print rhythm “the rhythm of reading requires images that truly connect in order to more clearly evoke the intervening action.”

One thing that may help you here is, when in doubt, add another panel to the action. This allows more “time” to elapse and can help the reader transition from one action or object to a new one, without being confused.

In line with this, I see that you are a fan of occasional close-ups, be they of people or objects or what have you. This varied perspective is good, but sometimes a close-up is in fact so close to the object that it becomes difficult to tell what the object or action actually is, such as the case with some of the pages Tenma noted. Another example is January 23, where Vanessa pins the guys hand to the wall with a flower (correct?). If you were filming this, the sequence would indeed be as you’ve pictured it- close up of girl, close up of guy, close up of shirt grab- Matrix-style flower flying through the air, terminating the guy’s action and pinning his hand to the wall, wide shot of Vanessa having thrown it.

To vary your panels more, don’t be afraid to have a larger panel with two or more characters in it, particularly while they are having a conversation. You tend to split the panels so that each person gets their own, but I think a larger panel would help to shake this up and would also allow you to show body language, body positions, etcetera.

Your three quarter view of people when facing away from the reader is very good! I think that many are intimidated by this angle and omit it, but you include it which is good. Keep this up with other angles- and not just front-facing, profile, facing backward, etc- little head tilts here and there, up and down angles, they all add to the life of the comic.

This may sound weird, but in some instances I think you could actually make the boobs on female characters a bit bigger, and sit them further down on the chest. Right now they are often very close to the collarbone, and a bit too spherical- I understand the exaggeration of features for drawing, but in some pictures it actually looks like they are not connected to the ladies’ chests. And remember that a girl with smaller breasts won’t just have a smaller connecting surface area and the same horizontal projection- they won’t stick out as far as the more endowed women’s will.

Toward late January I started noticing some really good facial expressions. Definitely keep that up! It adds a lot of personality to your characters, who right now are still fairly vague. If you get the time you might want to set down and do one of those emotion consistency charts that float around on DeviantArt and so forth.

And a nitpick- February 19th, I get the joke and I chuckled, but if he were hanging there like that his arms would probably be straight, especially given the way he’s clinging there with his fingers and all.
Yeah, I don’t have much of an issue with the Xlaveboarding concept- flying skateboards right? And I assume there’s some basketball elements added in there? If so, the latter part is not perfectly clear yet, but I assume the clarity will become apparent as the story moves on and depicts more of the sport.

I agree with Tenma that you definitely do put a lot of work into your art and it shows, but I fear that you may have stagnated a bit in your improvements. Comparing your earliest art shows a lot of changes, but I still think you can grow artistically. You have gotten comfortable with this style, save for issues you might find with hands and the like, but look for new directions to push yourself in. It may be beneficial for you to just do some doodling or sketching in a style that you don’t use in your comic. Sometimes, something that works well in one style can be applied to another and add a lot of visual interest. I would advise you to look over your work- go as back as far as you can, and see what you’ve already improved on. Think of something that’s always nagged at you but that you’ve never yet addressed, or something that you are personally satisfied with and have never bothered to change, and just play around. Don’t worry about stylistic dissonance between early comics and later comics- if you look around online, many successful comics look nothing now like they used to at the beginning of their run. It’s all about improvement, and readers love to see how far an artist has come.
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:52 am

Thanks Cuddly that was just what I was looking for a good honest (and extremely thorough) critique.

Just a few responses:
- yeah I need to do a major site-clean-up (and I do plan to archive SH1) but I've been picking too many extra shifts at work and am barely keeping up with the comic
- which is probably why I haven't had much time to practice lately
- haha I can't escape my film-making background, once a DP always a DP
- yeah I don't get what's going on with me and boobs lately I was getting so good at drawing them towards the end of SH1, I think I know why and it should be an easy enough fix, I definitely have to make Lisa's bigger I've really messed them lately but haven't been able to go back and fix
- I HATE hands, but it's a problem I'm well aware of. Overthinking on the finer details and drawing them too small but I'm working on it, at least I'm not hiding hands like I used to :D
- colour streaking = most hated thing about using COPICS, about halfway through their ink they start streaking like crazy unless you top them up and I can't find refills for all the colours I use (plus it's expensive) but I'll resist turning to digital colouring
- I really should take some time to try other styles, lately it's all either my comic style or my sketching style
- foreshortening, yeah I can think of maybe 4 pages where my technique was even halfway decent
- a problem for me with adding extra panels (and just detail in general) is that I draw each comic on a single A4 sheet (yeah bad idea I know) but once tax-time comes and I can afford an A3 scanner I will be upsizing

A few things I've definitely been working on lately:
- the 3/4 reverse 3/4 two person conversational frames
- proper perspective on my backgrounds (a couple of pages have looked like spiderwebs with all the guidelines)
- making some minor changes to the way I draw eyes
- gotta buy some new COPIC colours to improve my shading, make things a little more 3-dimensional

Honestly I had no plans to promote the comic yet but the topic seemed like fun so I put my hand up for it.
Thankfully this is the last week of extra shifts (told the boss I can't take anymore) so I should have the time I need to catch up and move forward.
Although I should have someone hide my Taylor Swift DVDs so I don't get distracted.

Also I will definitely have your reviews (yes both comics) up next week.
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Re: Sh!t Happens ~ critique?

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:20 pm

I figured I'd just respond to your points here in the thread, to keep it all together.

Perfectly understandable about you being busy. Most people's lives don't revolve around their comics anyway, and especially since you just went through changing everything with your site in terms of starting the comic over.

Yeah, I just noticed that you tend to frame things like a storyboard for a film's camera shots almost, not quite like a comic.

Haha hey, at least you're aware of the boob issues. I know for me anatomy is often hit or miss. And you're also aware of the hand thing, which means you can work to fix it. I just think that the amount of detail you currently put into the hands makes them look like they belong on much older people. I think that's the general rule, younger faces/bodies require less lines than older faces/bodies do.

The things you're working on right now definitely are and definitely will help out the visual appeal of the comic. Sometimes, just the littlest things can make the biggest difference.

Aww :shucks: Thanks so much for offering to review both! I feel like I myself have stagnated lately, and have been trying to ask around for pointers before I find myself too deeply mired in my own inadequacies. Good luck with your comic and with avoiding the Taylor Swift DVDs! :lol:
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