comments and criticisms

Forum for those wishing to discuss the webcomic, Rangers! Also, a subthread for anyone to discuss the creator's other online interest,

comments and criticisms

Postby RHJunior on Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:41 pm

Yeeeeees, I've been reading your comics and following along for some time now:D... After burrowing thru the archives and following along for the current arc, I felt motivated to chip in with my opinions.

The setting, characters and general storyline are great. The art is simple but clear (though I do have a few tips and tricks that you might find useful, if you'd like), and the characters are interesting. I especially like your rabbit-men.... and find the idea of using a roman culture for them intriguing.

As to the story arcs:

The first story arc was VERY good. An interesting twist having the child unafraid and trusting around the saurian--- and afraid of the rabbit :D The villain's motivations for denying the existence of humans was a little clunky, but overall not bad.

The second story arc--- where the entire planet is turned into a "no humans allowed" single giant nature preserve-slash-historical site--- I gotta nitpick to death, I'm afraid.

1) I'm afraid you aren't taking into account how much maintenance and care ancient relics, historical landmarks, and sacred buildings require.... or what happens to them when they are neglected. Can you imagine what a few decades of dust, mold, mildew, insects, birds, animals, and invading weeds and plants would do to the Sistine Chapel? The Leaning Tower of Pisa? The Taj Mahal? the White House? Mount Rushmore? It's a daily battle to protect these places even NOW. A century of abandonment would reduce them to rubble.

2) The conflict between the Islamic Jordanians--- called 'palestinians' nowadays--- and the people of Israel is not over <I>land.</i> Pick up a trading card and lay it on the fifty yard line of a football field--- that is the ratio of Jewish land--- Israel--- to the land owned and ruled solely by Islamics. (yes, the Palestinians have a homeland. It's called JORDAN.) The PLO has been OFFERED land, and nationhood, over and over again... and walked away every time... the west bank was recently GIVEN to them, the Jewish families that had been living there for over fifty years thrown out--- and the Palestinians promptly used it as a launching site for mortars and suicide attacks.
It's not about land. The Israelis want to keep their ancient and sacred homeland.
The Palestinians want to push the Israelis into the sea.

No. Simply making the land a "shared memorial" would not end the conflict. Moving everyone to separate planets would only postpone the resumption of hostilities as long as it took the Islamics to get a rocket to fly from one to the other. It is the <I>existence</i> of the Jews that is anathema to them.

3)"City of all religions." Outside of the gratuitous slap to the face this would be for the Jewish people--- who lived there, built that city, tended that land while six empires (Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, British) rose and fell, who maintained a presence in the Holiest city in both Judaism and Christendom even when their national borders were erased off the map and their people were hounded across the earth.... <I>you cannot legislate unity between theologies that are all mutually exclusive of one another.</i> Especially in light of how many religions teach "kill the infidel...."
Even the most peaceful religions would consider such a compromise of their beliefs for the sake of political niceties morally unacceptable.... and those that WOULD join hands would be the sort of "faiths" you couldn't trust alone with either your daughter or your silverware. (You think a hardnosed zealot is a menace, wait till a compromiser gets ahold of you..)

4) There is a phenomenon in economics known as THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS. Basically put: when property, land, resources, etc. belong to you and you have a right to use them, you tend to care for them. When something is a 'public trust' that 'belongs to everyone' (Another way of saying it belongs to nobody), it falls prey to abuse (if it is used for something) or neglect (if it cannot be used for anything.)
Public trust, public property, public park, public toilet. Little difference in the level of nastiness.
As a national park, at least, people would be allowed to enjoy the beauty and wide open spaces (after all the sacred sites and historical monuments blocking the view crumbled to gravel from neglect, of course). But with a complete ban on humanity, it becomes nothing more than a useless, muddy rock hurtling through space. And how soon after that will people quit caring? Or become angry and resentful of the Elite Few--- politicians, government flunkies, etc-- who are allowed to walk on the surface of the Earth and breathe its air?
When you put something up on a shelf, eventually noone cares if it falls off and goes smash.

5) "RESTORING THE EXTINCT SPECIES." Two words: "Jurassic" and "Park."
If you're going to grow extinct species in jars and let them loose on the planet, where are you going to stop? the Bison? The mammoths? The dinosaurs?
And that brings up another question: what about climate?
Wrap your brain around this: <I>None of the environmental nail-biters even know whether or not the current planetary climate is the ideal one.</i> According to their own timeline, the planet was once a fecund jungle, and at another, a frozen, glacier-covered tundra that would send a penguin diving for his long woolen undies. Even within recorded history the world's climate has dramatically changed, without any human intervention--- from the Medieval Warming Period, when Vikings were farming in Greenland, to the Little Ice Age, when the permafrost crept south and killed their settlements (said little ice age we are still emerging from, btw. It isn't global warming, its' global <I>defrosting.</i>) So, when all the dirty polluting world-destroying Hyoomans are gone.... which way are all Our Scientific Betters going to twist the thermostat? And what will they do when, <I>despite every human on earth being gone,</i> the climate CONTINUES to change in accordance with the cycles of earth, moon, and sun?

6) Criminal organizations and lawless nationalities being in charge of half the earth's security forces.
Wait. What?
Best scenario possible: Fox. Henhouse. No more need be said.

7)The villain's motivation. Unless he's supposed to be barking mad, it makes no internally consistent sense. If he hates how man has "corrupted the earth," I would think that his agenda would be, at most, to use the earth as a weapon against hated humanity (as a source for bioengineered plagues and diseases or ravenous disease carrying pests--- a whole "vengeance of nature" thing.) Instead he's trying to destroy the earth itself..... by covering it with "humans" who have (by his estimation) even less environmental sense than the ones around now.

8)the fact that nobody, except the villain, is objecting to any of this. I don't care how few people were left on Earth--- they're being EVICTED. And just as the neighborhood was improving, too!

Now, all of the above may be a lead-up on your part to making a point: that <I>even when you give the Utopian fanatics everything they want---</i> a planet earth utterly devoid of humanity, cultures and religions stripped down to PC meaninglessness; tinpots, criminal overlords and despots treated with the same respect and given the same legitimacy as free nations and elected governments; species that died out millennia ago restored and let loose whether they still belong on the earth or not; the treasures of humanity put up on a shelf where they are no use to anyone; and honest law abiding people evicted from their homes----- <I>they still aren't going to be happy.</i>

At least I'm <I>assuming</i> that is the eventual direction you're taking...

Side note: yes, rabbits are unclean to both Jews and Muslims.

<I>To eat.</i>

For that matter, so are birds of prey, any fish without scales, and any mammal that does not chew cud and have cloven hooves. Rabbits and pigs are only notable because they were given <I>as examples.</i> (A rabbit, technically, "chews its cud" (don't ask), but does not have cloven hooves.... a pig has cloven hooves, but does not chew its cud.)
The 'cleanness" or 'uncleanness' of those animals was only relevant per their status as food animals.... pigs primarily became such a big deal because they were such a common food animal among the Gentiles.
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Postby Rangers on Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:59 am

Leporids pose kind of a double whammy for the conservative rabbis. It's not only that the rabbit is unclean, but merging two genetic strings is akin to sowing two different seeds in the same field, which is another Talmudic no-no.

But quite apart from that - WOW! This may seem odd, but I feel tremendously affirmed that someone of your stature would take the time to so much as object to anything I've written.

I concede the implausability of the situation. I confess, my first thought was "He objects to an Earth Preserve, but he's got no problem with a planet full of rabbit/human hybrids?" But that makes a form of sense to me. Something so far off the scale of plausibility as Watership 5 is somehow easier to accept. The EP Project - or anything human-oriented, really - is closer to home, and thus harder to reconcile. Does that make sense?

Now, to the specific points. I've got some reasoning going on behind my choices, and although they might turn out pretty scarcely-baked, I want to share them But it's going to have to be in another post, because I don't have the time right now (I have to pick up a friend from mass and take her home). Later on today I'll pick it up again. In the meantime, let me reiterate what I said before: I'm excited that you'd take enough time to notice that I've got nits to pick. Thank you!
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Postby Rangers on Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:20 am

I promised more on my reasoning, and I still aim to follow through. Just so you know, I'm having trouble getting it down in writing without sounding really stupid. I may have to switch to German to make it more impressive.

Here's the first real insight, though: The Earth Preserve isn't really about the Earth Preserve.

(and now I'm going to edit the same post with more on that)

You might remember that most of the stories I'm working with were first conceived when I was in junior high. The original storyline, as far as I can remember, may have predated the creation of Orwell-Ta and the entire Leporid story. In any case, I thought it would be pretty cool to have a villain who could change into different animals. The rest came together to provide a rationale for him. A few interesting features of the original story:

* The Earth Preserve was explained in a total of three frames.
* The whole crew were changed into birds.
* Trek (or Flash at that point) became another hawk, and he wound up fighting Raven.
* They were all saved by the Passenger Pigeons.

Now, the basic framework of the story hasn't changed all that much. But I did feel that a little more backstory was called for. So I tried to think of all the parties that might have some sort of claim on a piece of earth, reasonable or unreasonable, and gave them their own planets to play with, with properly obscure names. If good fences make good neighbors, maybe vast interplanetary distances make better ones.

The Mansions of Islam incorporate maybe five planets, maybe more. There's Turan for the Turks, and one each for the Persians, the Kurds, the southeast Asians, and the Arabs. I agree with Ralph's point about the Palestinians - which is why they don't exist here. Without the need to use them as a wedge issue, they've been reabsorbed into the Arab population from whence they came. Israel gets its own planet, of course, and I also mention a Sikh planet. I also had a Mormon planet in mind, and of course we have Nynorge, the Scandinavian planet. Maybe there's a Wiccan planet out there, but don't expect much out of me about that. People group together for more than just religious reasons, so I expect the same holds true for interplanetary expansion.

So when was it decided that Earth was to be cleared out? Sometime within the last century, since we've got someone trying to blow the place up as recently as two centuries ago (again - Orenth's notions had to come from somewhere). In any case, it would have to have been a pretty popular idea at the time. Those structures that were really important to people were packed up and moved. Some, like Mount Rushmore, couldn't be moved, and so were replicated, probably in even larger scale than before.

So what are they going to do with Earth now? Well, mainly leave it alone. The idea is not to try to 'tweak' things to get a perfect planet. The idea is to see what happens. Sure the scientific community had to choose a time frame to start with. For my purposes, they chose the beginning of the Common Era. So, no mastodons, sabre-tooth cats or giant three-toed ground sloths. Why? Well, they had to start somewhere, didn't they?

Will it work? Will the whole project fall apart in twenty or thirty years because no one can hold to their agreements? Maybe, but at least I get my pigeons kidnapped in the meantime. Remember, that's why the ceremony's happening in the first place.

So why does Orenth want to destroy the Earth, and why does he want to use such a strange way of doing it? Well, mainly because he's imbalanced. He's got a grudge and just enough lucidity of thought to make a plan, but he's got tunnel-vision; he doesn't see how flimsy his plan is. For example, wouldn't it have made more sense to wait until everyone had left the planet before setting his plan in motion? He had to grandstand - despite the fact that grandstanding can only make it harder for him to succeed. He's so focussed on his final equation that he can't put two and two together. This kind of obsession will make him a very useful antagonist later on, you'll see.

I've gone on for hours. That's all I can manage in one sitting.
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