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 Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:53 am

Webcomic: Four Tales
URL: http://www.fourtales.com
Creator/s: Erin Burt
Run: 1/12 - current
Schedule: Su/Tu/Th

Hey, another historical comic! I'd guess this one's supposed to be 19th century, although I'll let the history buffs worry about exactly what time period it takes place in.

As a side note, one of the reasons I clicked on this comic is that its title reminded me of the movie Four Rooms. Four Tales isn't anything like Four Rooms, but it's a really funny and clever movie, and worth watching if you haven't done so already.

Website:

Update: The creator informed me her comic has an independent website at http://www.fourtales.com . That website's a lot better. The section below relates to the Smack Jeeves version of the website as accessed on Feb. 22, 2012.

This part's the major flaw of the webcomic. I quickly noticed that there's no obvious navigation on the home page -- the reader has to either click on the comic page, or click the small "Latest Comic" button in the top-right of the page. I don't know if anyone's ever written a guide on webcomic site design, but if I were writing one, my first rule would be that the page navigation must be as clear and simple as possible. It'd be a tragedy if a potential reader gets frustrated trying to use the site and closes their browser window, moving on to something else.

There's literally zero bonus content on the site. One of the main advantages of webcomics over print comics is their website, and Four Tales makes no effort to use that fact to their benefit. Contacting the creator would also be a hassle -- a reader has to click through two links to get to a private message window, and if they don't have a Smack Jeeves forum account, they need to create one as well. Why so much red tape for something so simple?

I'm also confused at the random timestamps in the archive. The pages are being posted anywhere from late morning to late afternoon to late evening. A page posted Tuesday night, for example, is basically a Wednesday update, so the schedule seems somewhat chaotic. Keep in mind that most people read webcomics while at work or school, so updating by the morning would be ideal. That said, I'm very impressed with the rapid pace at which the pages are being posted, although since the creator stated she started off with a four-month buffer, it's unknown how long this pace will continue.

Writing: This comic's a great example of using foreshadowing and mood to properly pace an uneventful story that, if done less skillfully, could've been underwhelming, and even boring. The ominous cracked mirror on the cover is a great way to start things off, as we already know something bad's going to happen to the main character, Sophia, even before we're introduced to her. This happens, too, when the father suggests Sophia has a history of breaking things http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... -1-page-3/ -- and Sophia's doll gets shattered several pages later http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... -1-page-6/ . We can also see this when Sophia's mother mentions strange folk who live in the woods http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... 1-page-12/ -- I expect Sophia might actually run into these strange folk, and I'm nervous and excited to see their encounter. Nothing that interesting has happened yet, but because of moments like these, the comic has an air of tension that makes the story especially interesting.

There's a great moment http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... -1-page-8/ where the mother reassures Sophia that it's Sunday, while the reader and Sophia are pretty sure it's Monday. The mother's obviously distorting the situation on purpose -- but why? The moment's left strange and mysterious, a question mark to be explained later on for eager readers. The sudden disappearance of the sunflowers http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... 1-page-10/ is a similar mysterious moment.

As for the bad stuff -- there really isn't much to criticize. I dislike how Sophia talks to herself while she's alone in the woods http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... 1-page-13/ -- it comes across as awkward and artificial. I imagine captions or thought bubbles would look more natural. I'm also lukewarm about the metafictional introduction http://fourtales.smackjeeves.com/comics ... on-page-2/ -- it's well-executed, but I'm reluctant to accept that a concept that abstract is a good way to lead into a narrative. I'd probably be skeptical of metafiction in any form, actually. It's cool, though, how the tree design connects to the tree Sophia finds in the clearing.

Art: It looks like I get to start my next review early, because there's literally nothing I could find wrong with the artwork. It looks terrific and has a unique shading-heavy style that stands out. "Atmospheric" and "humanistic" are words I'd use to describe the art style. I'm a little embarrassed at how brief this section is, but I don't feel inclined to exhaust myself trying to hunt for flaws.

Overall: Aside from the issues with the website, this is a very high-quality webcomic that's possibly even print-worthy. This might be a good time to consider promoting the comic more aggressively. Just by itself it's improved my perception of Smack Jeeves, which is pretty impressive.
Last edited by LibertyCabbage on Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:01 pm

Webcomic: Pixelated Toaster
URL: http://pixelatedtoaster.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: Jeremy Nordstrom, Cameron Wiens, Ashley Semen
Run: 4/11 - current
Schedule: Two random days a week
Section: Strips 66-86

Website: There's a "Gallery" page, which just has a link that goes to the page the link's on.

And... that's it.

As for the update schedule, comics, and especially strips, should have a regular schedule. The comic seems to update twice a week, so the creators should pick two days and stick to them. The site says it updates Sundays and Wednesdays, but this isn't even close to true.

Also, I noticed the strips are 1,200 pixels wide, and this will cause users with smaller monitors to have to scroll horizontally to read the whole strip, which isn't ideal.

Writing: Fortunately, the creators already reviewed their own comic, so I can save some time and hassle by linking to this: http://pixelatedtoaster.smackjeeves.com ... -part-one/ .

The gags in this comic are flat-out terrible, and I feel like a lot of the strips involve the writers poking fun at themselves for how incompetent they are. Except, these self-derisive strips are somehow even less entertaining than the rest of the comic, so they only make the problem worse. Boasting about how bad your webcomic is isn't clever, and in any case, there are many bad webcomics, and few good ones.

My advice to the comic's creators? Take a step back from this whole thing and try to reassess your attitude. Writing's a skill, and just like any other skill, it can be improved through learning and practice. Since they're already up to almost 100 strips, I assume they take their project at least a little seriously... so why not put some effort in and try to steer it in the right direction?

Art: Yet another attempt to rip off Penny Arcade while displaying barely a fraction of the ability Mike Krahulik has. I was already tired of Penny Arcade clones when I first got into webcomics back in 2005, and Penny Arcade was already getting kinda old back then. The creators should try to come up with a style that's at least somewhat original.

As for the quality of the artwork, it's barely better than the writing. The weird pyramid legs are especially hard to look at. Also, the creators should check out what I wrote about the "pocket effect" in my review of Rangetsu on Monday. It's the case here, except instead of finding creative ways to hide hands, the creators just... don't draw hands. If the creators really have to be that lazy, they can at least give their characters mittens, or something.

Overall: I almost didn't bother to write this review, because I figured the creators didn't care about creating a quality product or attracting readers. But after reconsidering, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt, and assuming they're merely misguided. Pixelated Toaster isn't quite beyond redemption yet, but unless serious changes are made, it's going to suffer the same dismal fate as the seemingly hundreds of crappy Penny Arcade clones that have already come and gone.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:23 pm

Well since you're still going with the reviews I might as well volunteer Flying Tigers - find out how it's going before it goes too far.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:25 am

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Well since you're still going with the reviews I might as well volunteer Flying Tigers - find out how it's going before it goes too far.


Great! You're up next.

As far as the reviews go, I'm having a lot of fun with it, so for now I'm just gonna keep on reviewing 'til I feel like stopping. Kinda like how Forrest Gump started running for no reason and just... kept... running. And obviously there's not a lot of volunteering going on, but so far I've been comfortable just reviewing whatever random webcomic I stumble upon.

Also, Erin Burt of Four Tales informed me that she has an independent site for her comic at http://www.fourtales.com , which is a much better website than the not-so-great one at Smack Jeeves. So, I made a minor update to the Four Tales review to reflect this.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:23 pm

Webcomic: Flying Tigers
URL: http://flyingtigers.comicgenesis.com/
Creator/s: Rob O'Brien
Run: 7/11 - current
Schedule: Sa/Su

I'm just gonna get this outta the way: There are several "sexy" drawings on the site of children without clothes on, and I find them extremely distasteful. I think it'd be best if the creator removed them from the website.

Website: At first I thought the yearbook- and scrapbook-themed pages were a good idea, but then I realized they set my expectations too high because the characters are way more interesting in the side pages than they are in the actual comic. And how come Dr. Chan, one of the most prominent characters in the comic so far, isn't shown on the cast page, while Naomi, a character who hasn't even appeared yet, is?

Aside from that, the background color looks terrible, the navigation drop-down doesn't work, the HTML for the Facebook plugin is sloppy, and there's a huge Twitter box taking up space on the home page that has nothing to do with the webcomic.

Writing: The story falls into four main sections so far, which can be labeled like this:

1) Harli almost gets gang-raped
2) Harli hangs out with two attractive male friends while in an undershirt and panties
3) Harli strips naked in her bedroom
4) Harli catches a pervert stalking her, then bends over in front of him

For what I'm concerned, this comic is 100% about Harli being degraded as a sexual object. She also looks dangerously anorexic, although she's never overtly conveyed in the comic as having an eating disorder. And she shows zero personality or emotion -- amazingly, her most emotional moment in the comic is when she gets laughed at for doing the laundry the wrong way.

I'm baffled at what the creator's trying to accomplish by this. I considered the comic might be trying to make some sort of hyper-feminist "society brainwashes girls to be sex robots" statement, but I don't view the writing as nearly sophisticated enough to be that subtle. And even if the comic is feminist, it'd still fail pretty hard at being political. No, I think the answer's more simple than that: The creator enjoys drawing super-skinny teenage girls with huge eyes, and that enjoyment has manifested into a 40-page webcomic called Flying Tigers. And if doing this makes the creator happy, then that's great. But I'm not going to continue to read it, or really even regard it as a legitimate project, and I don't expect others to, either.

Art: There are a massive amount of problems with every facet of the artwork, to the extent that it seems pointless to even begin to get into details. Instead, I'm going to suggest the creator drops down to a once-a-week schedule, and uses that extra time to either put more effort into the pages or practice with other artwork. He may also want to consider switching to doing black-and-white pages in order to focus on improving the line art. In any case, the comic's in terrible shape right now and requires drastic change.

Overall: I haven't felt this put off by a webcomic since I read Boston and Shaun http://badwebcomics.wikidot.com/boston-and-shaun , which I feel dirty even mentioning. I'd like to be able to offer a friendlier perspective, but I have literally nothing positive or encouraging to say about Flying Tigers, which goes beyond being merely awful by being obscene as well.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:06 pm

In keeping with my philosophy that even the harshest review can have something helpful in it (and leaving aside all other thoughts for the time being), the storyline dropdown is now fixed. I moved the first page of day 2 to a later date so that the xmas art swap stuff didn't interrupt the story flow too much and forgot to update the dropdown.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:21 am

As I wrote in GD last night, I'll get back to Flying Tigers in a few days to give you a little time to cool off. I disagree, though, that my review isn't of a helpful nature. I'm capable of writing a much longer review that catalogs all of the comic's faults in detail, but I don't feel like it's my responsibility as a reviewer to teach "Webcomics 101."
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:36 pm

Webcomic: The Further Adventures of VOLTES V
URL: http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Further_Ad ... _VOLTES_V/
Creator/s: "BuddyParaiso"
Run: 12/11 - current
Schedule: About three times a week?

Website: The large banner at the top of the site looks pretty cool, although it's weird that it says "New Adventures" when the comic's official title appears to be "Further Adventures." I also like the idea of the toy navigation buttons, although they should say on them what function they serve.

The creator's comments are in a dark-colored font, which makes them impossible to read against the dark background without highlighting the text. A white or light-gray font would be better.

I also don't know exactly what the comic's update schedule is. The creator's posted 25 pages in about two months of time, so I guess the comic updates about three times a week.

Writing: It's a fan-fiction continuation of a Japanese show called Chodenji Machine Voltes V, which explains the "Further" part of the webcomic's title, but I can't tell if this is supposed to be a normal mecha story or a mecha parody. The comic features mechas from Voltron, Macross, and Mazinger Z, presenting it as a sort of mecha crossover comic, although it never explicitly labels itself as such or explains the crossover. The script mangles the English language, and the plot's incomprehensible, so I guess it could be camp, but it isn't funny or charming like I'd expect camp to be, so I dunno.

The comic throws a team of mecha-pilots at us that fit exactly into the TV Tropes "Five-Man Band" description http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FiveManBand . It's just about the most cliché thing possible. The team also literally has its own Aquaman http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... ForAquaman . I used to visit TV Tropes fairly frequently, and reading this webcomic, I feel like I stepped through a gateway into TV Tropes Hell. Don't expect to find a shred of originality in this comic's writing.

After an unnecessary page-and-a-half monologue filling the reader in about Chodenji Machine Voltes V, the comic introduces the cast via a series of full-page illustrations of each individual character and their vehicle. Five characters and five vehicles comes out to 10 pages, and it slows the narrative down to a halt. I think this is the worst way possible to introduce characters. These illustrations belong in a cast page or gallery section, not in the actual comic.

The comic's first fight scene starts with Mark, a member of the VOLTES V team, attacking the Mazinger Z mecha, a good guy, out the blue just to prove that the VOLTES V mechas are superior. This occurs right in the middle of a city, and the VOLTES V team has to actively prevent Mark from killing tons of civilians. I find it completely unbelievable that someone so obviously deranged would ever be part of an elite superhero team in control of high-tech weaponry. Although, Mark is an American character in a team of Japanese characters, so I have to wonder if this is intended as a form of America-bashing. If so, it's pretty pathetic.

The dialogue's actually conceptually pretty passable (if cliché), but the lousy English ruins any appeal it might have had. There are also a ton of typos and spelling mistakes throughout the comic.

Art: The CG artwork's really well-done, making this one of the best-looking CG comics I've seen. It looks like the creator actually put some effort into the digital artwork, and didn't just lazily crank out mediocre pages from a comic-generator program. The comic also has a catch, in that the mechas are photographs of toys. I've never a comic combine digital artwork with photography like this, so it's pretty cool, and the special effects added to the toys look great. This top panel http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Further_Ad ... V/5376920/ takes it too far, though, by adding hand-drawn people -- three mediums in one panel is one medium too many.

I'm baffled at the illustrations of the characters floating in the sky. This page http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Further_Ad ... V/5373453/ of Mark riding a horse, for example, would be a lot cooler if the context wasn't completely ridiculous. And Daijiro looks worse than the other characters. His legs are lumpy and weird, and he seems older than his profile says he is. But overall, the artwork's fine and has a fun, innocent feel.

I don't like how some of the speech bubbles are transparent, like in this page http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Further_Ad ... V/5375379/ . It makes the dialogue harder to read and doesn't add anything. And I'm not gonna even try to figure out what the words on this plaque say http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Further_Ad ... V/5373853/ . When lettering, readability should always be the primary concern.

Overall: I don't see this comic as having any appeal outside of mecha fans, but it seems to do an okay job of catering to that niche. The amount of effort put into the writing is very low, and consists of the creator throwing in just enough clichés and cameos to keep the story going. Adding more humor would probably be helpful, as the comic takes itself too seriously to qualify as camp.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:40 pm

Okay, as much as I'd rather just forget about this all, after yesterday's meltdown I should probably address this properly.

Let me start by saying I honestly have no problems with a good tearing apart of my hard work, it's helped me improve quite a bit in the four short years I've been drawing and I always accept that I'm not going to be perfect (frankly I'm just aiming for decent). What had me so upset was something beyond the nature of a harsh review and I'll explain that later but first I'll start with the constructive stuff (and apologies for simply deconstructing your review but it's the easiest way to address things right now):

LibertyCabbage wrote:Website: At first I thought the yearbook- and scrapbook-themed pages were a good idea, but then I realized they set my expectations too high because the characters are way more interesting in the side pages than they are in the actual comic. And how come Dr. Chan, one of the most prominent characters in the comic so far, isn't shown on the cast page, while Naomi, a character who hasn't even appeared yet, is?

The obvious answer here is I haven't gotten around to this yet, most of the supplemental pages are still very much a work in progress. Which is part of the reason I haven't exactly been going wild on promoting the comic (another part being the story hasn't gone anywhere yet as I said earlier in the thread).

LibertyCabbage wrote:Aside from that, the background color looks terrible, the navigation drop-down doesn't work, the HTML for the Facebook plugin is sloppy, and there's a huge Twitter box taking up space on the home page that has nothing to do with the webcomic.

I can't argue here, the HTML is shocking, it won't center for some reason and I've given up for the time being trying to fix it. As for the twitter, I'm hardly the only comicker out there with their own personal crap on their site and at least it's not the usual massive blog underneath each comic, it's just a simple twitter feed which also gives readers a way to contact me if they wish and I've put it out of the way of the comic itself.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Art: There are a massive amount of problems with every facet of the artwork, to the extent that it seems pointless to even begin to get into details. Instead, I'm going to suggest the creator drops down to a once-a-week schedule, and uses that extra time to either put more effort into the pages or practice with other artwork. He may also want to consider switching to doing black-and-white pages in order to focus on improving the line art. In any case, the comic's in terrible shape right now and requires drastic change.

Yes there are plenty of problems with my artwork. It's stiff, the line-work can be shaky (blame my ruined hands), colouring can be a little messy, backgrounds are often poorly done or non-existent - this one for example was just plain lazy - the camera angles are unimaginative and on a couple of occasions I re-used the same artwork over a few frames. Not to mention the style isn't for everyone (although it does have its fans).
I am well aware of my artistic faults, although I'm sure there's more that could be pointed out to me.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Writing:

And here's where I started feeling sick - but I'll get to that.
First though I'd like to point out my writing flaws from a technical stand-point.
The pacing is a bit uneven - especially in the current conversational part, a few of those pages could have been combined. The characterization of secondary characters is pretty much non-existent so far (by design, their personalities will be revealed through the storytelling) all that's known is Eric gets into trouble, Doc loves his job and Brad's a perve.

LibertyCabbage wrote:The story falls into four main sections so far, which can be labeled like this:

1) Harli almost gets gang-raped

True. And a rather efficient way of setting up exactly the kind of vile people the Cobras are, you don't need to know anything about the rivalry between the Tigers and the Cobras to know they're bad people.
LibertyCabbage wrote:2) Harli hangs out with two attractive male friends while in an undershirt and panties

I see absolutely nothing wrong with this, Eric is a close friend and Doc is her legal guardian/big brother figure, it's not like she's in tiny lingerie - hell this is practically pjs - not to mention her pose is hardly sexualised and rather casual, she's just chilling out.
Granted the nature of Harli and Doc's relationship hasn't been explicitly stated yet (perhaps something I should have done in the cast page) but she clearly lives with him and is obviously not involved with him (she has Storm).
LibertyCabbage wrote:3) Harli strips naked in her bedroom

Which is a very blunt way to describe 2 pages where she gets dressed, ignoring 3 other pages that set the day in motion as well as gives insight into the character of Harli - her dedication to her surfing, her hero Bethany Hamilton, a little bit of grumpiness and her relationship with Storm.
LibertyCabbage wrote:4) Harli catches a pervert stalking her, then bends over in front of him

Actually she catches Brad spying on the cheerleaders (or bubbleheads as she calls them) getting changed - which will be stated in this weekend's pages - and she clearly reacts with disapproval but like most groups of guys and girls there's the occasional perve whose friends just roll their eyes at because they're a harmless dork. (as for the bending over, she's picking up the stick to poke Kai with, I should have drawn an extra frame but I didn't)
And again you discount the entirety of 10 other pages where Harli is searching for Kai and the others are discussing the previous night (ie Eric's break up and the attack on Harli) to focus on a 3 page gag introduction.

LibertyCabbage wrote:For what I'm concerned, this comic is 100% about Harli being degraded as a sexual object. She also looks dangerously anorexic, although she's never overtly conveyed in the comic as having an eating disorder. And she shows zero personality or emotion -- amazingly, her most emotional moment in the comic is when she gets laughed at for doing the laundry the wrong way.

With the exception of the Cobras attempt and Brad's cheeky peek Harli is never really sexualised - you could argue the 2 pages getting dressed but with the exception of one frame where she checks herself out in the mirror the mood is more bored "alright I better get dressed" than "look at my boobies". She's not anorexic, tiny maybe but clearly in fitting with her body frame, if she was as broad as Cara and had the tiny waist then yeah you'd have a point.
Yes absolutely no personality or emotion.

LibertyCabbage wrote:I'm baffled at what the creator's trying to accomplish by this. I considered the comic might be trying to make some sort of hyper-feminist "society brainwashes girls to be sex robots" statement, but I don't view the writing as nearly sophisticated enough to be that subtle. And even if the comic is feminist, it'd still fail pretty hard at being political.

I honestly don't know what to think about this, I think this says more about your opinions than my intent.
LibertyCabbage wrote: No, I think the answer's more simple than that: The creator enjoys drawing super-skinny teenage girls with huge eyes, and that enjoyment has manifested into a 40-page webcomic called Flying Tigers. And if doing this makes the creator happy, then that's great. But I'm not going to continue to read it, or really even regard it as a legitimate project, and I don't expect others to, either.

I won't deny liking to draw what I'd consider cute characters but if that was my only motivation I'd stick to deviantArt with all the perverts, I could get popular if that was my desire.
No my motivation is simple, storytelling, I just chose to tell the story of a teenage girl (surfer/martial artist/lesbian) whose about to go through one of the the hardest years of her life.


...


And now we get to the crux of the issue - the reason why I spent most of a day feeling like the worst person on Earth - and it can best be exemplified by the following:
LibertyCabbage wrote:Overall: I haven't felt this put off by a webcomic since I read Boston and Shaun http://badwebcomics.wikidot.com/boston-and-shaun , which I feel dirty even mentioning. I'd like to be able to offer a friendlier perspective, but I have literally nothing positive or encouraging to say about Flying Tigers, which goes beyond being merely awful by being obscene as well.

You compared my comic to one of the most vile, misogynistic, fetish comics out there.

For some reason you've looked at what was certainly never intended to be in anyway offensive and read into it some sort vile sexist misogynistic subtext that I am baffled trying to find.
Which left me wondering what exactly is that supposed to say about me? What kind of creepo am I coming across as here?
Made doubly troubling by the fact I know where the story is going - Harli's coming of age story should be empowering in the end as she goes through lot (including the death of a friend as hinted on the first page) and eventually succeeds in her dreams - but right now all that I can think about is how it's going wrong.

But the more I've thought about it the more I've realised this is less about my intentions and more about your perceptions, you are the one seeing this sexual context - and you might blame it on poor characterisation which would have been perfectly legitimate - you've taken a few pages that displeased you and completely let it colour your opinion.
Your attitude comes across as a "White Knighter", you've perceived a wrong and gone after it blindly.
As yet not a single other person has laid such accusations against the comic (even the more sex-related parts of my other comic didn't get this reaction), although it is certainly possible that others here at CG may chime in to agree with your assessment - at which point I would have to seriously reconsider the situation - for the time being I have to conclude this issue is yours.



If you had called Flying Tigers boring, poorly characterised with a little too much fan-service for your liking and the artwork is rat-shit. Also there's some technical issues.
I would have thanked you for it, for pointing out the flaws.
Heck as it is I thank you for pointing out some technical issues and would thank you for pointing out issues with the art and writing if your comments actually contained more than just "it's bad", but still it made me re-examine my comic which is always a positive.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:44 pm

...Yeah, this is why I suggested waiting a few days to let you cool off.

I'll respond to each of your points soon, when I have more time and energy. But I'll get to this one now:

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Which left me wondering what exactly is that supposed to say about me? What kind of creepo am I coming across as here?


I think you're taking what I wrote completely out of context. I could care less about your sexual interests or what you do in your private life. You're a guy on the Internet who makes webcomics, not my roommate. I was merely referring to your comic's ability to appeal to potential readers, which is something I assume you're interested in.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:44 pm

RobboAKAscooby wrote:What had me so upset was something beyond the nature of a harsh review and I'll explain that later but first I'll start with the constructive stuff (and apologies for simply deconstructing your review but it's the easiest way to address things right now):

Well, yeah, I certainly can't be resistant to having my own work criticized when I'm criticizing other peoples' work.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:The obvious answer here is I haven't gotten around to this yet, most of the supplemental pages are still very much a work in progress. Which is part of the reason I haven't exactly been going wild on promoting the comic (another part being the story hasn't gone anywhere yet as I said earlier in the thread).

Your supplemental pages are actually the best part of the webcomic, so I wouldn't be particularly worried about them right now.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:I can't argue here, the HTML is shocking, it won't center for some reason and I've given up for the time being trying to fix it. As for the twitter, I'm hardly the only comicker out there with their own personal crap on their site and at least it's not the usual massive blog underneath each comic, it's just a simple twitter feed which also gives readers a way to contact me if they wish and I've put it out of the way of the comic itself.

I don't think the HTML's "shocking," and I think the Twitter feed might be handled better with a simple link like I've seen done in other webcomics. But these are minor design issues that I'm not that interested in.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Yes there are plenty of problems with my artwork. It's stiff, the line-work can be shaky (blame my ruined hands), colouring can be a little messy, backgrounds are often poorly done or non-existent - this one for example was just plain lazy - the camera angles are unimaginative and on a couple of occasions I re-used the same artwork over a few frames. Not to mention the style isn't for everyone (although it does have its fans).
I am well aware of my artistic faults, although I'm sure there's more that could be pointed out to me.

That's all certainly some of the stuff I had in mind, although I saw a lot of problems with anatomy as well, which you don't mention here. As I wrote in the review, paying more attention to detail and doing practice artwork outside the comic will help you with these problems. Another thing you can do is to post your drawings on the forums and ask for criticism.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:And here's where I started feeling sick - but I'll get to that.
First though I'd like to point out my writing flaws from a technical stand-point.
The pacing is a bit uneven - especially in the current conversational part, a few of those pages could have been combined. The characterization of secondary characters is pretty much non-existent so far (by design, their personalities will be revealed through the storytelling) all that's known is Eric gets into trouble, Doc loves his job and Brad's a perve.

That's a good start, but I think the writing's more fundamentally flawed than you're acknowledging. I don't get the impression you have a firm grasp of the basics of creative writing, which is why I haven't bothered to get into an advanced critique. I think your approach to this should be to read some books on creative writing, as well as reading a lot of fiction in general. There are also probably some creative writing classes available to you if you're interested in doing that.

The next part of your post is surprising to me since I only intended my list to be a basic plot overview. You seem to interpret it as a series of criticisms, but I was just conveying the comic's consistent focus on sexuality, which I'll demonstrate below with more clarity.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:True. And a rather efficient way of setting up exactly the kind of vile people the Cobras are, you don't need to know anything about the rivalry between the Tigers and the Cobras to know they're bad people.

I might use the word "blunt" rather than "efficient" in this case, but anyways, sexual violence is just one of many different forms of violence.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:I see absolutely nothing wrong with this, Eric is a close friend and Doc is her legal guardian/big brother figure, it's not like she's in tiny lingerie - hell this is practically pjs - not to mention her pose is hardly sexualised and rather casual, she's just chilling out.
Granted the nature of Harli and Doc's relationship hasn't been explicitly stated yet (perhaps something I should have done in the cast page) but she clearly lives with him and is obviously not involved with him (she has Storm).

You see a scene of innocence; I see a scene of sexual tension in a comic that warns of "nudity," "adult themes," and "sexual themes" at the top of its home page. This isn't exactly Peanuts we're talking about here.

And yeah, when you're dealing with sexuality, you wanna be delicate about it and make sure the context is clear.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Which is a very blunt way to describe 2 pages where she gets dressed, ignoring 3 other pages that set the day in motion as well as gives insight into the character of Harli - her dedication to her surfing, her hero Bethany Hamilton, a little bit of grumpiness and her relationship with Storm.

The bizarre child-nudity scene makes a much stronger impression than a few more pages of the comic's lackluster art and writing.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Actually she catches Brad spying on the cheerleaders (or bubbleheads as she calls them) getting changed - which will be stated in this weekend's pages - and she clearly reacts with disapproval but like most groups of guys and girls there's the occasional perve whose friends just roll their eyes at because they're a harmless dork. (as for the bending over, she's picking up the stick to poke Kai with, I should have drawn an extra frame but I didn't)
And again you discount the entirety of 10 other pages where Harli is searching for Kai and the others are discussing the previous night (ie Eric's break up and the attack on Harli) to focus on a 3 page gag introduction.

Harli getting stalked by perverts doesn't come across as "harmless" when she just nearly got gang-raped by perverts a few pages earlier. You can't just change from a dark and violent context to a light and funny context that easily.

And again, the weird sexual stuff makes a lot bigger impression than the uninteresting story and characters.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:With the exception of the Cobras attempt and Brad's cheeky peek Harli is never really sexualised - you could argue the 2 pages getting dressed

That's pretty much the entire comic so far, though. And you even left out the part where Harli hangs out at home in her underwear with men around.

And that's completely the point I was trying to get at. The whole comic's "sexy Harli, sexy Harli, sexy Harli," and the characterization and story take a back seat.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:The mood is more bored "alright I better get dressed" than "look at my boobies".

Actually, I think the mood's more like, "Why the hell is there a drawing of a naked teenage girl in this webcomic?!"

RobboAKAscooby wrote:She's not anorexic, tiny maybe but clearly in fitting with her body frame.

I still think she looks anorexic. Even skinny models have more meat on their body than Harli does.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Yes absolutely no personality or emotion

She still comes across as a Barbie doll, even in these "emotional" scenes you highlighted.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:I honestly don't know what to think about this, I think this says more about your opinions than my intent.

What it means is that I actually tried to take your comic seriously before I passed judgment. And please, don't act like there aren't any gender issues in a comic involving rape and perversion.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:No my motivation is simple, storytelling, I just chose to tell the story of a teenage girl (surfer/martial artist/lesbian) whose about to go through one of the the hardest years of her life.

That's great. When you get to that part of the story, maybe I'll write a second review that will be more favorable. However, the review I wrote on Thursday only covers pages 1 through 40.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:And now we get to the crux of the issue - the reason why I spent most of a day feeling like the worst person on Earth

If a stranger posting on an Internet forum can make you feel like "the worst person on Earth," then you're being overly sensitive.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:You compared my comic to one of the most vile, misogynistic, fetish comics out there.

So when I point out sexuality in your comic, it's a personal attack on you, but when you point out sexuality in Shaun Reveal's comic, it's okay?

I understand how it works. When I'm the only one saying something negative about a comic, I'm being a bully, but when everyone says something negative about a comic, that's just stating the obvious.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:For some reason you've looked at what was certainly never intended to be in anyway offensive and read into it some sort vile sexist misogynistic subtext that I am baffled trying to find.

If you really think my review's that bogus, then just laugh and ignore it. You won't be hurting my feelings by doing so.

However, I don't think I ever wrote in my review that the comic's "sexist" or "misogynistic," although some of the characters certainly are. "Vile"? Maybe, but it's only because the nudity is of children.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Made doubly troubling by the fact I know where the story is going - Harli's coming of age story should be empowering in the end as she goes through lot (including the death of a friend as hinted on the first page) and eventually succeeds in her dreams - but right now all that I can think about is how it's going wrong.

Great. I hope the future version of the comic is better than the current version.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:But the more I've thought about it the more I've realised this is less about my intentions and more about your perceptions, you are the one seeing this sexual context - and you might blame it on poor characterisation which would have been perfectly legitimate - you've taken a few pages that displeased you and completely let it colour your opinion.

How is there no "sexual context" in a webcomic that says at the top of its home page it contains "sexual themes"? Are we talking about the same comic here?

"Perceptions" and "opinions" sounds like a good description of what a review is.

And actually, if I thought this was a good comic with a few bad pages, I would write that it's a good comic with a few bad pages. This is exactly what I just did in my reviews of How to Save the World and Four Tales.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Your attitude comes across as a "White Knighter", you've perceived a wrong and gone after it blindly.

I'm a "White Knighter"? What does that even mean? What are you talking about?

But again, if I'm such a terrible reviewer, then why not just ignore what I wrote?

RobboAKAscooby wrote:As yet not a single other person has laid such accusations against the comic (even the more sex-related parts of my other comic didn't get this reaction), although it is certainly possible that others here at CG may chime in to agree with your assessment - at which point I would have to seriously reconsider the situation - for the time being I have to conclude this issue is yours.

Are you trying to make me feel guilty for forming my own opinions? Okay. Good luck with that.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:If you had called Flying Tigers boring, poorly characterised with a little too much fan-service for your liking and the artwork is rat-shit. Also there's some technical issues.
I would have thanked you for it, for pointing out the flaws.

Oh, yes, because Hypothetical Robbo is a much more mature and wonderful person than Real Robbo.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Heck as it is I thank you for pointing out some technical issues and would thank you for pointing out issues with the art and writing if your comments actually contained more than just "it's bad", but still it made me re-examine my comic which is always a positive.

Wow, this Hypothetical Robbo sure sounds like a swell guy. I wonder when I'll get to meet him.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:27 am

I'm not going to go into too much here beyond your response to my response is (mostly) a better review than the actual review was.
Now I have a better understanding understanding of why you see the sexualisation - perhaps if I had made the initial attack purely violent, removed the nudity and the content warning you wouldn't have seen sex everywhere, perhaps not but all I can do now is keep moving forward.

That said, having grown up on a diet of 80s teen movies (and their modern equivalents like American Pie) I still see nothing wrong with the occasional nudity.
I'll grant you that fan-service coming so soon after an attempted sexual assault was a bad decision but I needed to get across exactly how vile the Cobras (especially the tall one, Richard) are, it was more heavy handed than it should have been so I concede that point.

This is however a coming of age story, sexual themes are a part of that 16/17 age period so there will be the inclusion of occasional nudity (although actual sex will not be shown) hence the warnng at the top of the page.


As for calling Boston and Shaun vile, it is and it is on purpose, it is a blatant fetish comic (and a bizzare fetish at that) which is something that doesn't occur by accident. But where not here to debate other people's comics.


Hypothetical Robbo (also page 3 of this topic) where I'm sure you'll notice both Serge and McD touched negatively upon my use of fan-service (which lead to me using it since only sparingly for a couple of gags) as well as ripping apart almost every facet of my work.

There is a difference between brutal, constructive, honesty and just being mean - and whether you intended to or not you did cross that line - I'm sure you'll continue to have as much trouble seeing the wrongs of your review as I do seeing the wrongs of my comic, neither of us are going to completely agree here.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:59 am

Can I pitch in? Can I, I've been following all this but I haven't had time to pitch in, but I wanna on account of both sides.

LC, I see what you're going for, harsh but fair approach that you've seen many other reviewers doing. "Harsh and fair" is easy shtick, though, and many people think that that tone instantly gives them authority (which is false) but I think it's also important to be flexible. Like, having some golden rules but also knowing when and how to step back from those rules.

Reviewers go for the golden rule of "talk about the comic, not the creator". "The comic says this" is a phrasing preferred to "author said this" and I see that you have the same attitude, and pretty much anyone who reviews well does too. But I think that it can also be a bad practice if you completely severe a connection between an author and his work in your mind. For one, it gives you a license to say harsher things about the work than you would about any person under those circumstances (for instance "this comic is vile"), under impression that this doesn't hurt and actual person (or that it shouldn't, and if he's hurt, then he is wrong etc). However, comic is in many ways a mirror reflection of author, his interests and concerns as much as his abilities. We think that by focusing on the comic we avoid ad hominem, but we don't. Comics are not arguments, they are much more pictures of author's personality as a whole, than a single opinion can be. That's a thing that critic may keep in mind, not let it affect his opinion, but perhaps affect the rhetorics in which his opinions is expressed.

There are things that you can say about the comic that imply more or less about the author. If you say, for instance, "this comic is stupid", that is in my opinion far removed from saying "the author of this comic is stupid". There is such leap between being clever and being able to convey that cleverness in the comic, that "it's stupid" might primarily be understood as a statement of one's ability to write.
Saying, for instance, "this comic is perverted", is a much more implicit statement about the author. It implies that author purposefully added perverted elements to a comic. I mean, the opposite is possible too, there's different cultures or those old-timey cartoons with abundance of little-girl panties peeking under their skirts which people today see as rampant pedophilia - but it's just not people's first thought that such comic was created on accident. Boston and Shaun might have been created by a guy who thought he was making a fuzzy children's comic with a quirk, but man is that a long shot.

Yet I think that it's pretty apparent that lots of what you see as perverted in Scooby's comic is accidental. Here's an example: his main character may look anorexic, but only if you ignore his drawing flaws. These flaws are pretty apparent in other character's designs which suffer from similar, though not exactly the same, insufficiencies. Said in "criticize the comic" phrasing, she looks anorexic compared to characters of some other, more expertly drawn comic. Compared to characters of her own comic, not so much.

Larger example: from your review, it seems to me that you have the image of Scooby as some 30-40 year old guy who draws teenage girls in underwear for kicks. Age his down some 10 or 12 years, and you have a picture of a guy drawing girls approximately his age, in a comic that talks about subject that a guy his age is most likely to be interested in (meaning, sex). That's, I think, one case of "eye of the beholder". A topic for discussion: if a comic is not creepy when read by a 18 year old guy, can it get instantly creepy when read by a 40 year old? Or is comic's creepiness neutral, and the actual creepiness exists somewhere outside of the comic, say in the eye of the beholder?

More accidental things: Scooby is not a good writer. Attempted rape is a cliché, a common place of bad writers trying to cause emotional distress. One characteristics of bad writers is, they have a small toolbox, and this toolbox is mostly taken verbatim from elsewhere. I've seen literally hundreds of comics where rape or attempted rape was used as a plot device for unearned drama to erase it from my toolbox forever. There are some other clichés in Scooby's toolbox taken from typical webcomicker's repertoire, and many of them are of sexual nature. We may perhaps try to psychoanalize group mentality of webcomicdom that perpetuated those clichés.
Anyways, Scooby's bad writing also accounts for one-dimensionality of his characters, which coupled with sexual themes and cliches, means that Harli seems like a sexual object. I think he does try to imbue Harli with character. Has he succeeded, he would be able to get away with much more sexual situations than he does now.
But even with bad writing and sexual object character, we still have an average sexploitation comic, dozens of which you've surely encountered so far, dozens of which do much better than most of good comics do. But then there's also Scooby's drawing, which in this stage is very un-sexual. Not only does it make his "sexy" scenes unsexy and therefore pointless, but also it unfortunately connects him to loads of elderly guys who are making badly drawn pornography all over internet. My theory is that, because you were aware of these "porn-amateurs" who are by now practically a meme, through this connection you saw Scooby's comic as more pornography-oriented than it really is, and perhaps imagined him as older than he is.

I can imagine that Scooby was upset because many things that are in fact accidentally wrong, were marked as intentionally wrong. Surely you could have expressed more clearly that "this is how a reader might see it" which again would be a very valuable information to scooby, but it's certainly not the same as "this is how I saw it" - cause you're not a reader, you're a reviewer (see title of the thread) so unlike a reader, you are analytical, you talk about causes as well as consequences, at least that's what a reviewee expects from you.

Also many things you said in a second review are spot on. For instance, Scooby should really go to some classes, or at least read some books, not just for drawing, but in particular for creative writing (i had a lot of help from this one). Also, reading and watching a lot. Particularly reading and watching classics, things that are commonly accepted as works of high value. When it comes to learning basics of writing, reading Charles Dickens or Jane Austeen's tightly organized novels is infinitely more helpful than reading risk-taking Tolkien or irreverent Douglas Adams - no matter how much more fun later may be. Watching Hitchcock does more for your technique than 80ies comedies - even if your goal is writing 80ies-style comedies.
That's actually adressed at Scooby. Scooby, I see you still stick to "telling your story", which takes toll from getting better, you are stuck drawing talking heads and splash pages instead of something that might more directly help your skills (like rehearsing stuff from anatomy books).

But actually I'm provoked to rant about what you said in the other thread.
That's the thing (fan-service aside) there's very little personal libido motivation going on.

When authors say things like "that was necessary for the story", it always sounds fake. I came to thinking that there are infinite ways to tell one story in a good, honest fashion, and that it's pretty much author's decision whether he'll tell the story with or without, say, sexual content.
You'd say, surely it's not possible to tell stories of sexual perversion and people's secret fantasies in a direct and honest fashion without getting explicit and brutal? But wait, Luis Bunuel has been doing that exact thing his whole life, with no more nudity than Deneuve's bare back. So I think it would be also pretty possible to talk about sexuality of teenagers without anything explicit or any "fanservice".
Wasn't your decision to write a story about teenagers? Wasn't your decision to focus on sexual situations? Wasn't your decision, when portraying a vicious gang, to do it through a sex-related crime, instead of equally vicious, sex-unrelated crime? Would your comic's integrity be in danger if you drew your character sleeping in her pajamas instead of shirt and panties?
Wasn't it all at least partly motivated by the fact that, ahem, you like drawing girls in clothes, that you like writing and drawing sexual situations? By, you know, your libido.

The thing is, there is nothing wrong with your libido, and there is nothing inherently bad about desire to draw sexual stuff. Hell if someone called you, say, a pervert, that's practically a non-insult. Picasso was a Pervert (check out any exhibition of his sketches), Fellini was proudly a pervert, Bukowsky as well. David Lynch too. It's because they're perverts, not despite it, that they're great. Hey, taking Bunuel as an example again, do you think he shot Jeanne Moreau's legs walking extensively because it was helping him underline the social message of the movie? No, he did it because he had a foot fetish. And those legs are among the most memorable scenes in his oeuvre.
Pervert is sometimes just another way of calling a sexually-frank person. But if you deny sexual motives in your work, then you're hardly frank (primarily to yourself), and there's incongruity between what you say and what you write/draw, which make you more prone to being called 'pervert' (in bad sense of the word) by others than if you were completely frank.

It's important to mention, I think, that a great deal of why people might react negatively to sexuality in your comic is your drawing skill. I think there's many things that would barely warrant a shrug if they were drawn by someone more able to convey sexy or erotic.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:38 pm

McDuffies wrote:Yet I think that it's pretty apparent that lots of what you see as perverted in Scooby's comic is accidental. Here's an example: his main character may look anorexic, but only if you ignore his drawing flaws. These flaws are pretty apparent in other character's designs which suffer from similar, though not exactly the same, insufficiencies. Said in "criticize the comic" phrasing, she looks anorexic compared to characters of some other, more expertly drawn comic. Compared to characters of her own comic, not so much.

Yep, my big-head small-body "style", I know it's flawed and it's slowly (okay very slowly) improving - not as much as I'd like but I try - problem is I really don't have a lot of spare time anymore (not an excuse, just the facts).

McDuffies wrote:More accidental things: Scooby is not a good writer. Attempted rape is a cliché, a common place of bad writers trying to cause emotional distress. One characteristics of bad writers is, they have a small toolbox, and this toolbox is mostly taken verbatim from elsewhere. I've seen literally hundreds of comics where rape or attempted rape was used as a plot device for unearned drama to erase it from my toolbox forever. There are some other clichés in Scooby's toolbox taken from typical webcomicker's repertoire, and many of them are of sexual nature. We may perhaps try to psychoanalize group mentality of webcomicdom that perpetuated those clichés.
Anyways, Scooby's bad writing also accounts for one-dimensionality of his characters, which coupled with sexual themes and cliches, means that Harli seems like a sexual object. I think he does try to imbue Harli with character. Has he succeeded, he would be able to get away with much more sexual situations than he does now.
But even with bad writing and sexual object character, we still have an average sexploitation comic, dozens of which you've surely encountered so far, dozens of which do much better than most of good comics do. But then there's also Scooby's drawing, which in this stage is very un-sexual. Not only does it make his "sexy" scenes unsexy and therefore pointless, but also it unfortunately connects him to loads of elderly guys who are making badly drawn pornography all over internet. My theory is that, because you were aware of these "porn-amateurs" who are by now practically a meme, through this connection you saw Scooby's comic as more pornography-oriented than it really is, and perhaps imagined him as older than he is.

I'll admit I do rely on cliches a fair bit.
I really wish I could write my comics as well as my books but it really is a different language.
If the comic is coming across as sexploitation though, then I do have to fix it - McD, do you think removing the sexual nature from the initial attack would help?

McDuffies wrote:I can imagine that Scooby was upset because many things that are in fact accidentally wrong, were marked as intentionally wrong. Surely you could have expressed more clearly that "this is how a reader might see it" which again would be a very valuable information to scooby, but it's certainly not the same as "this is how I saw it" - cause you're not a reader, you're a reviewer (see title of the thread) so unlike a reader, you are analytical, you talk about causes as well as consequences, at least that's what a reviewee expects from you.

That's pretty much it McD, the tone of the review made it feel like I was supposedly someone making this stuff to get off on or purposely degrading women or some similar thing.
If LC had have said "having this scene immediately after a rape attempt appears disrespectful" (or a variation on those words) I think my reaction would have been more like "shit, really, okay I should do something about that because that's NOT how it was intended" (and that is my current attitude).
In fact it was only after reading his response that I realised for myself the issue of following the opening scene with the more light-hearted stuff.

McDuffies wrote:But actually I'm provoked to rant about what you said in the other thread.
That's the thing (fan-service aside) there's very little personal libido motivation going on.

When authors say things like "that was necessary for the story", it always sounds fake. I came to thinking that there are infinite ways to tell one story in a good, honest fashion, and that it's pretty much author's decision whether he'll tell the story with or without, say, sexual content.
You'd say, surely it's not possible to tell stories of sexual perversion and people's secret fantasies in a direct and honest fashion without getting explicit and brutal? But wait, Luis Bunuel has been doing that exact thing his whole life, with no more nudity than Deneuve's bare back. So I think it would be also pretty possible to talk about sexuality of teenagers without anything explicit or any "fanservice".
Wasn't your decision to write a story about teenagers? Wasn't your decision to focus on sexual situations? Wasn't your decision, when portraying a vicious gang, to do it through a sex-related crime, instead of equally vicious, sex-unrelated crime? Would your comic's integrity be in danger if you drew your character sleeping in her pajamas instead of shirt and panties?
Wasn't it all at least partly motivated by the fact that, ahem, you like drawing girls in clothes, that you like writing and drawing sexual situations? By, you know, your libido.

The thing is, there is nothing wrong with your libido, and there is nothing inherently bad about desire to draw sexual stuff. Hell if someone called you, say, a pervert, that's practically a non-insult. Picasso was a Pervert (check out any exhibition of his sketches), Fellini was proudly a pervert, Bukowsky as well. David Lynch too. It's because they're perverts, not despite it, that they're great. Hey, taking Bunuel as an example again, do you think he shot Jeanne Moreau's legs walking extensively because it was helping him underline the social message of the movie? No, he did it because he had a foot fetish. And those legs are among the most memorable scenes in his oeuvre.
Pervert is sometimes just another way of calling a sexually-frank person. But if you deny sexual motives in your work, then you're hardly frank (primarily to yourself), and there's incongruity between what you say and what you write/draw, which make you more prone to being called 'pervert' (in bad sense of the word) by others than if you were completely frank.

Yeah sorry about that McD, I wasn't exactly in the best state of mind when I said that so I kind of misinterpreted it to mean I was getting off on it rather than that I allow my own attractions into my work - which I do (and everyone does), blue eyes and long legs pop up a lot in my work (I know, my attractions are so mundane) - and enjoy drawing the occasional bit of fan-service.

As far as the story goes it is adapted (first into a book) from a series of scripts wrote when I was 19 and as such is certainly coloured by the experiences of that age as well as looking back on that time. Also inspired by tales like Bethany Hamilton although it's not a shark attack Harli will have to overcome to achieve her dreams.
I'm fascinated by the idea of someone going through a big emotional ordeal and finding the strength to succeed - that is the goal of my story.
This does also fall into my thoughts on webcomics vs books/movies - the fact that with a comic you're releasing it as it goes means that readers don't have the advantage of the full story in front of them.

McDuffies wrote:It's important to mention, I think, that a great deal of why people might react negatively to sexuality in your comic is your drawing skill. I think there's many things that would barely warrant a shrug if they were drawn by someone more able to convey sexy or erotic.

Fair point, I'll keep working on it, it's times like this I regret not taking art classes at school.


Still I can't help thinking I should just pack it all in, I keep stuffing things up and always with a bad beginning.
But I shall persevere and hopefully once I get past the intro things will get better, I still have faith in the story even if my self-confidence is shaken.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:37 pm

I'll admit I do rely on cliches a fair bit.
I really wish I could write my comics as well as my books but it really is a different language.
If the comic is coming across as sexploitation though, then I do have to fix it - McD, do you think removing the sexual nature from the initial attack would help?

At this point using a rape or something of that kind in a webcomic is really an instant minus for me. I don't have that kind of opinion for other media though. Thing is there's a lot of rape stories in webcomics, all of them handled as tearjerkers, means for instant "serious" points and in a contrived way which betrays people who don't have any understanding of how traumatized people act and feel.
You might rewrite that part, I'm not sure how that'll go well, I've seen other kinds of traumatic events tend to be handled by webcomickers similarly, albeit tackled with less frequency, I think all in all it depends on how you handle it, and not which particular event you handle. I told you on earlier occasions to focus on future, that I think that redoing old stuff may be counterproductive in regard to your improvement, I'm sticking to it.

I'll tell you one observation that might help you. Conventional wisdom says that compassionate eye turns away from the violence, while sadistic eye lingers on it for what seems like hours, always wanting to get one more look at the sight. Somewhere in the middle is the eye of an impassioned observer. It is also noted that every graphic violence eventually gets glamorized even despite intentions of the author, except the violence that is never shown in the first place. Many authors, in their zeal to look the truth directly in the eye without flinching, have an opposite effect, which is why folks like Larry Clark get tagged as exploitative even though sex and violence in their movies, technically speaking, is essential for the story. So can a comic artist be stuck between an opportunity to draw a great-looking scene and a question "is this scene actually supposed to be great-looking?"

Yeah sorry about that McD, I wasn't exactly in the best state of mind when I said that so I kind of misinterpreted it to mean I was getting off on it rather than that I allow my own attractions into my work - which I do (and everyone does), blue eyes and long legs pop up a lot in my work (I know, my attractions are so mundane) - and enjoy drawing the occasional bit of fan-service.

For me, it's big boobs and blond hair. (j/k)

This does also fall into my thoughts on webcomics vs books/movies - the fact that with a comic you're releasing it as it goes means that readers don't have the advantage of the full story in front of them.

Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas and Dostoyevsky also published most of their works in a serialized format, piece by piece in papers.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:21 pm

McDuffies wrote:
This does also fall into my thoughts on webcomics vs books/movies - the fact that with a comic you're releasing it as it goes means that readers don't have the advantage of the full story in front of them.

Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas and Dostoyevsky also published most of their works in a serialized format, piece by piece in papers.

This is true but they also got to release their works in specific sections whereas webcomics are released (generally) a page at a time.
If for instance I'd been able to release the entirety of this first introduction-arc as a whole then perhaps the unintended sexuality wouldn't have had as much impact - there's still about 20 pages to go.

McDuffies wrote:At this point using a rape or something of that kind in a webcomic is really an instant minus for me. I don't have that kind of opinion for other media though. Thing is there's a lot of rape stories in webcomics, all of them handled as tearjerkers, means for instant "serious" points and in a contrived way which betrays people who don't have any understanding of how traumatized people act and feel.
You might rewrite that part, I'm not sure how that'll go well, I've seen other kinds of traumatic events tend to be handled by webcomickers similarly, albeit tackled with less frequency, I think all in all it depends on how you handle it, and not which particular event you handle. I told you on earlier occasions to focus on future, that I think that redoing old stuff may be counterproductive in regard to your improvement, I'm sticking to it.

I'm really starting to think that I should have left this story in book form, I was really unaware of how prevalent some cliches are in the webcomic community (truth be told I haven't read a lot of them), I'm just going to have be very careful with how I handle what is to come.
There are a few traumatic events throughout the story that have long lasting effects on the characters/relationships and shape the rest of the year (and lives but that's beyond the story) for them - the effects are what I'm exploring and I don't want the events written off as just more of the same cliches.

Alas, as your earlier metaphor suggested, the steamroller's gotta keep moving.

McDuffies wrote:I'll tell you one observation that might help you. Conventional wisdom says that compassionate eye turns away from the violence, while sadistic eye lingers on it for what seems like hours, always wanting to get one more look at the sight. Somewhere in the middle is the eye of an impassioned observer. It is also noted that every graphic violence eventually gets glamorized even despite intentions of the author, except the violence that is never shown in the first place. Many authors, in their zeal to look the truth directly in the eye without flinching, have an opposite effect, which is why folks like Larry Clark get tagged as exploitative even though sex and violence in their movies, technically speaking, is essential for the story. So can a comic artist be stuck between an opportunity to draw a great-looking scene and a question "is this scene actually supposed to be great-looking?"

It is a conundrum - there is a necessity for violence in this story (even as simple as a tournament later in the story) and there are occasions where hopefully it will look great (the first fight of the next arc Harli describes Nolan and Cara as almost dancing as they fight off an attack together) - but at the same time I certainly don't want to glorify violence (I've had my share of fights, that's why my hands are cactus).

There are certainly some events to come where I WON'T show the violence - the character death I keep referencing (I don't want to give away other scenes) won't be shown, it'll be hard enough drawing the others finding out - the point is I don't want it to come across as exploitative and the nastier the violence is the less I wish to show it.

I'm probably coming across as "wanting to have my cake and eat it too" aren't I? *sigh*


McDuffies wrote:
Yeah sorry about that McD, I wasn't exactly in the best state of mind when I said that so I kind of misinterpreted it to mean I was getting off on it rather than that I allow my own attractions into my work - which I do (and everyone does), blue eyes and long legs pop up a lot in my work (I know, my attractions are so mundane) - and enjoy drawing the occasional bit of fan-service.

For me, it's big boobs and blond hair. (j/k)

:lol:


Anyway thanks McD, you always give me plenty to think about.
And I do apologise to LC for completely hijacking his topic.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:59 pm

Epic post, McD. Your English also seems to have improved a lot since back when I used to read the forums.

I have a lot to respond to, and I don't wanna dwell on this particular review too much, so I'm just gonna write a general reaction. McD has already done a great job explaining my sentiments in detail anyways.

Robbo #1:

It's funny, I almost mentioned American Pie myself as an example of a good teen movie that's sex-oriented. I think your writing would be in better shape if you tried to emulate the good teen movies more.

I'll read those reviews later. My consensus from this experience, though, is that you need work on being less sensitive, and I need to work on being more tactful.

McD #1:

Your post is spot-on, and you've helped me realize that I was more bullheaded with my review than I needed to be. I also realize my analysis of the comic's sexuality was too crude -- I wrote that a writer needs to be delicate when dealing with sexual issues, but I wasn't delicate when I discussed those issues in my review.

I actually haven't read a lot of webcomics reviews, so I probably need to do this more and see how other people are writing reviews.

You're completely right about the personal nature of art, and I agree that I need to treat comics as a form of self-expression, and not merely as an art object.

I agree with you about the anorexic stuff. I agree less about the "creepiness" part, but I'll try to be more open-minded about it. For what it's worth, I imagined Robbo as a younger person, as you suggest he is.

I actually haven't read any sexploitation comics before aside for some Robert Crumb comics, if that counts as sexploitation. I'm pretty unfamiliar with the genre.

You're right; there are many potential readers, and I'm only one person, so in my reviews, my personal perspective needs to take a backseat to general appeal.

As for the writing and art education, I didn't include it in my original review because I thought it was obvious. I see now that I should be more careful about making assumptions like that.

Your paragraph to Robbo about the perversion of great artists is something I had on my mind as well, but I completely failed to explain it at all aside from trying to establish an air of indifference, which isn't quite accurate. But I think you explained it better than I would've been able to anyways.

Robbo #2:

I think most cartoonists feel constrained by the limited amount of time they have, and I think a lot of cartoonists would consider reducing their schedule, or even going on hiatus, rather than having to rush too much and produce subpar work.

Posting the story one bit at a time does carry some problems, but there are writing tools available to help alleviate those problems -- hooks, foreshadowing, subplots, etc.

Your success really depends on your attitude more than anything. If you're hardworking, patient, and receptive to criticism, then I think you could make a good webcomic.

McD #2:

I agree about not redoing old work. Every amateur is embarrassed about their old work, but it's really just a sign that their abilities have improved.

Robbo #3:

No, I think it's great that this thread is being used for critical discussion. I've always been a proponent of taking webcomics more seriously, and I feel like there hasn't been enough of an outlet for that kind of discussion.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:25 pm

Well, just to vouch for Schoob, I have never seen him react so passionately to a review- his reactions are usually quite exemplary of how one ought to respond to criticism. I think part of it may have to do with this being a new comic that he is excited and nervous about, and that it's something he hadn't had reviewed before, as had been the case with the various reviews for his other comic.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:12 am

GROUP HUG!!!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:35 am

Webcomic: Bee Police
URL: http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/
Creator/s: Ronald Neal
Run: 1/10 - current
Schedule: Fridays
Section/s: Pp. 108-130

Website: The site has an unusual "overview" home page that I don't like. It's a neat concept, but look at the subject matter up currently: "updates will be spotty," "vote for my comic," and "I'll be on hiatus a bit for the holidays." (These are paraphrased, not verbatim.) These comments aren't important or appealing to a new reader, and don't need to be promoted prior to the reader seeing the actual comic. Bee Police also has a somewhat different Comic Genesis site at http://beepolice.comicgenesis.com that doesn't have the "overview" home page.

The rest of the site is fairly professional-looking, although the font used in the banner is too pedestrian for this kind of comic. The voting and donation incentives are nice touches for those who want to get more involved with the comic. And the FAQ page is nice, although it comes across as more silly than relevant.

Lastly, I noticed the newest pages still say "2011" on them.

Writing: The segment I read shows the main character, Jake, split between two dystopian realities, and both of these realities are dark, exciting, and unusual. The reality where Jake is shown as a human with alien feet is described by a native, Skit, as a sort of quasi-afterlife, although it seems to me more like a post-apocalyptic world, with the rampant environmental damage, savage tribes, and mutated creatures a reader might expect from that kind of scenario. But both interpretations are interesting, and I feel more intrigued by the ambiguity than confused -- and the afterlife description comes from Skit, who can't be trusted anyways. The creator jokingly suggests on his Comic Genesis website that not reading the comic from the beginning would be "hazardous to your mental health," but I felt like I was pretty much able to keep up with what was going on.

There's a lot of banter between Jake and Skit, and it keeps the tone of the comic relatively light despite the dismal situation they're in. The discussion largely relates to Jake, the initiate, being informed by Skit, the expert, which is a classic and effective technique for conveying a fictional world to the reader. Jake's a goofball, remarking in the beginning, "I should have paid way more attention in that home-ec class!" when he struggles to put on a pair of boxers he finds, so it's amusing seeing him try to survive in this nightmare world when he's obviously ill-fitted to do so. I also like how the comic uses strange language to add a sense of mystery and foreshadowing -- for example, when Skit warns about the "Fire-Ice Moon," the reader doesn't know exactly what that means, but knows it's clearly something dangerous.

Lastly, in the "bee world" reality, the giant spider makes a great villain. Tiny spiders are already creepy, so being confronted by a humongous one is obviously terrifying.

Art: The creator should be proud of the comic's fantastic and exciting illustrations, as seen on this page http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/132 and this page http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/145 . The artwork, overall, has dramatic perspectives and shading, and the various strange creatures in the comic look great. There's also a lot of violence and gore in the comic that seems realistically conveyed -- for a lot of their battle, both Luke and the giant insect are drenched in blood. The top-left panel here http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/135 is one of my favorites in the comic, showing the giant insect from a worm's-eye view right before it crashes to the ground.

My main problem with the comic's artwork is the weird and sudden shifts in art style. For example, compare the dramatic page 127 http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/127 to the flat page 128 http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/128. Pages 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, and 143 all look so different that I considered that they might literally be done by different artists, but the creator's only attempt to explain this is his comment that page 142 "got rushed." While on a level it's cool to see the comic rendered in different styles, I found the inconsistency to be very distracting while trying to read the comic. In addition, when some pages look much worse than the rest, it creates the impression that the creator's being lazy. The line art in this page http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/129 looks particularly sloppy.

One last thing that bothered me with the artwork is that the giant insect appears to be much larger on page 132 http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/132 than it is on page 131 http://beepolice.thecomicseries.com/comics/131 . It's possible the insect suddenly grew somehow, but the comic doesn't explain what happened.

Overall: This is a quality sci-fi webcomic that deserves more attention than it seems to be getting. In the pages I read, the creator demonstrates he's capable of tackling difficult subject matter in terms of both the art and writing. The creator really needs to choose a look for the artwork and stick with it, though.
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