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 RobboAKAscooby on Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:28 am

McDuffies wrote:Boy, first you're gonna hafeta make a thread "how not to stretch yourself too thin".

:lol:
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:49 am

McDuffies wrote:
peterabnny wrote:Of this review in general, I found but drops of positivity out of a sea negativity. But I did get:
- The art stands on its own, and I do a good job of varying emotions and perspectives.
- I get kudos for including some new element in the artwork of each strip, as well as my use of pointilism.

You missed one very huge positive message that you could have taken:
- Based on characteristics of your comic alone, you have a fair shot at doing a newspaper comic. :P


Exactly.

I'm starting my next review now, so I'll get to peter's comments sometime after I post the review.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:29 pm

Webcomic: June
URL: http://june.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: "nthew"
Run: 11/10 - current
Schedule: About twice a week
Section/s: Ch. 4

It's Friday, so here's a quickie, since this comic's obviously really good and I just feel like chillin'.

Also, ignore the latest page, it sucks but the rest of the comic's a lot better.

Website: At first, I was, like, "Boring white background? Lame." But then I realized it works OK for the black-and-white artwork. Good job!

The cast page is the best I've seen so far since it sticks to basic plot stuff, and there's even a fan-art page. Pretty nice!

The creator also updates a lot and posts comments on the site a lot. Cool!

This comic also has a really sweet animated 468x60 banner. I like it!

Writing: So we have Akira Kurosawa's Dreams set in Salvador Dali's world. Yeah, I just name-dropped Akira Kurosawa and Salvador Dali in a webcomic review. Comic Book Guy says: "Best... surrealism webcomic... ever!" And what's that? The creator can write, too? Flippin' sweet!

Oh, and here's one of the most brilliant sequences I've ever seen in a webcomic:

http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1426834/page-20/
http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1426835/page-21/
http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1429457/page-22/

Art: The beginning of this chapter takes place in an empty wasteland http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1369758/page-04/ , but just when the setting starts to get a little bland and repetitive, the creator gets to show off with some terrific forest scenes http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1402181/page-15/ made possibly by mad inking skillz.

Do you like cool character designs? This comic delivers!
http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1374654/page-06/

Do you like beautiful scenery? No problemo!
http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1434882/page-24/

Do you like graphic depictions of the protagonist losing his mind? Don't worry, June's here to save the day! http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1384884/page-10/

Oh, and the cover for chapter 4 is very creative http://june.smackjeeves.com/comics/1355 ... r-4-cover/ .

Overall: Yes, plz. Although, I dunno if there's really that much of an audience for surrealism on the web. I just typed "popular surrealism webcomics" in Google, and Google laughed at me. Oh well.
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Raining on your parade every day.

Postby Cope on Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:37 pm

McDuffies wrote:- Based on characteristics of your comic alone, you have a fair shot at doing a newspaper comic. :P

Not with the newspapers going extinct!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:58 pm

Come on, newspaper comic readers still have a good decade or two of life.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Writing: So we have Akira Kurosawa's Dreams set in Salvador Dali's world. Yeah, I just name-dropped Akira Kurosawa and Salvador Dali in a webcomic review.

Now if you have namedropped Max Ernst that would be cool.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:26 pm

peterabnny wrote:First off, and foremost, thank you for reviewing my comic and website, LC. I was actually rather surprised and impressed that you went through things to the extent you evidently did. I won't lie, however, and say your assessment didn't hurt, not am I proud enough to admit that it's been an excrucinatingly long workday for me thus far. Regardless, tho, I did in fact ask for it, so regardless of what I think of your literary critiquing method, kind or unkind, this is what I asked for.

You're welcome.

peterabnny wrote:On the matter of my schedule, I update the last weekend of every month, or the first weekend of the following month if I'm running behind. The dates listed on each cartoon's release should all be about that time. Those months where you see two cartoons listed in the archives are indicative of where I was running late from the previous month, but running on time for the current month. I used to announce that in the home page intro, but I dropped it as part of the ongoing changes I'm currently making, as I stated in my intitial invitation. As much as I would LOVE to have the free time to update more frequently, I simply can't, due to the fact that I work full time, have a wife and a house that we're currently working on, and other hobbies and clubs that I'm a member of. With my limited free time I alternate between working on the house and working on the strip. Somewhere in there I'm trying to find time to work on the website as well. Still, with everything I have going on, nine times out of twelve for 2010 and 2011 isn't too bad for me, and we're only three months into 2012, and I'm hoping to release the next ep of Critters this weekend. As you might imagine, I'm hard-pressed to agree that I update "once in a blue moon," "virtually never," and is "in a state of permanent hiatus." To avoid confusion, however, I can certainly add a release schedule to my list of changes currently underway. Additionally, I didn't know about the 2010-2012 mislabel, so thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will fix as soon as I'm able (or, rather, my wife since she's my webmistress and holder of HTML).

It sounds like you're doing great in your personal life, and you're busy and have a lot of interests. I'm happy for you, and I bet if I could write a review of your personal life, it'd be a positive one. But I reviewed your webcomic, not your personal life, and it's up to you to determine which things you wanna prioritize and which things are less important to you.

peterabnny wrote:My blog is merely just a vehicle to let my fans know what I have going on. Sometimes I have something noteworthy and I don't feel like waiting until the end of the month, sometimes not. Thus the blog entries aren't necessarily tied to a release, nor had I ever intented it to be. So it could very well happen that I have more entries than I do cartoon releases.

My comment was more related to the sparseness of updates than the quality of the blog.

peterabnny wrote:Regarding the writing, I've always had the belief that a comic is a world of your own making. You set the rules, and in my case, there are none. I grew up on Warner Bros. fare, and I suppose that influence isn't just reflected in my character designs; it's also present in the the kind of world I've built for myself, where silly, off-the-wall scenarios can happen which may conflict with preconceived notions that the reader may have. It's like, "Ah HA! You thought things were like this. No, they're actually like that!" A very cartoony notion, IMO, and I believe that's one of the things my fans like about the cartoon. As you rightly point out, mine is not a political cartoon. But I still reserve the right to get political if I feel like it (in fact, once this election year kicks into high gear, I'll probably be doing more such cartoons). Again, I like to set up rules so I can break them.

I didn't get the impression at all reading your comic that it's "off-the-wall," except for maybe the strip where Leo gets a body double. To me this is just a normal slice-of-life gag comic like you can find all over the newspaper comics section, except with furries instead of humans. As for the soap-box element, I think it's pretty much universally recognized as a terrible idea to use your characters as a vehicle for arguing your religious or political beliefs, and I suggest posting these kinds of messages to a blog or social networking site instead. You're correct, though; you certainly have the right to ruin your comic if that's what you wanna do.

peterabnny wrote:To answer your specific questions, LC, the screen names you refer to in my current serial do have origins. April's name, pinkbun2k, refers to, simply, that she's a bun who loves the color pink. Unfortunately, since mine is primarily a B&W strip, she isn't shown with enough pink stuff to really drive home the point. Not much I can do about that one, unfortunately, since color is too time-consuming a process for me to do at this time. April's galpal, Ronnie, Nellie Mortensen's character from her strip "The Furry Experience," chose her name as "honeybun" is her father's pet name for her, according to Nellie. What can I say? I like to keep such things consistent out of respect for Nellie and her character. Regarding humans in the strip, regular readers will tell you that I have frequently used them throughout my comic's run. In my world, like that of WB, humans and anthros live side by side. April's human co-worker at her student placement has appeared twice now, and human toddlers are frequent in the BG of their daycare. Frieda's gyno in the story "And Baby Makes Three" is human and appears in I believe two or three eps. Humans are also in crowd scenes although they're fewer in number and harder to spot.

My comment wasn't about the origin of the screen names, it was about whether your imagined world was believable or not. Pretty much everything is able to be easily translated from the real world to the Critters world, but when actual animals get involved, the translation breaks down a bit, which is what I was getting at with my examples. And the human thing is still really weird to me since it was only one panel, but I can see how it'd make more sense if there were humans featured more regularly, as sort of just another species.

peterabnny wrote:Of this review in general, I found but drops of positivity out of a sea negativity. But I did get:
- The art stands on its own, and I do a good job of varying emotions and perspectives.
- I get kudos for including some new element in the artwork of each strip, as well as my use of pointilism.

What McDuffies wrote.

peterabnny wrote:On the first point, I thank you as trying to capture an emotion effectively and trying out new perspectives are second only to detailed BGs as far as percentage of drawing time goes. I can get by with minimal BG, but a facial expression can make or break a mood.

You're welcome.

peterabnny wrote:On the second point, thank you again. Given the visual limitations of B&W I try to compensate by adding visual elements to catch the eye. Pointilism is another way. I think in color, but ink in B&W. Yes, the manual shading is much more labor intensive and adds time onto each strip, but the end result is worth it, IMO. And anyway, I don't have GIMP to experiment with.

GIMP's a free program and very popular. And I think cutting down the production time's pretty important. If you could have slightly less ideal shading but complete your comic a lot faster, I'd say that's probably worth it. Perfectionism can be a problem sometimes.

peterabnny wrote:Otherwise, there's nothing more I can take away from this, which, sadly and unfortunately, appears little more than an unbridled orgasm of hatred, mockery and contempt. I can't even begin to fathom any other ways I can improve this abomintion of a cartoon, which is probably LC's intent; as I read it, there's absolutely nothing salvageable or redeeming about the strip whatsoever, so the only option left for me is to take it out back and shoot it between its pixelly eyes, and thereupon promise never to pick up a pencil for another cartoon again.

Way to exaggerate. I think your comic's salvageable, if that makes you feel any better, and I never wrote in the review that it isn't. I just don't feel responsible, as someone writing these reviews in my free time, to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to improve your comic, and frankly, even if I did want to put in that extra effort, I would rather focus it on a creator who's demonstrated greater dedication to their project.

peterabnny wrote:This will have been my fourth formal, in depth critique (using the term loosely) that I've had done of Critters. This on top of a handful of other, lesser and more informal critiques by different people. Coming out of this execise I'm beginning to see a larger picture forming for my humble cartoon. I'm beginning to think I have a polarizing cartoon. Reactions from reviewers have varied, but in general, they either liked it or hated it; there was next to no in-between at all. It was the same story when I was in an indie alt rock band back in the day. Its existance was short-lived, but we did play a few gigs and from what we could determine, people either really loved us or really hated us.

I made the case objectively, though, that the webcomic-reading demographic isn't favorable towards your kind of comic, and the opinions of a mass of anonymous potential readers are a lot more important than what a few vocal critics think. It's also pretty objective to state that potential readers aren't going to be attracted to a webcomic that only posts nine strips a year.

peterabnny wrote:Like any polarizing TV show or band, I would argue that whether you like it or not depends on whether you "get it" or not. You get the kind of humor, or get the kind of action, or get the kind of sound, or something like that. It gels with you, and resonates with you, and you...just...like it. If not, you hate it. Reading LC's indictment of my strip's writing, somewhere I have to wonder if that's the case with him, as well as a (fortunately) small number of others who panned my work. Yet among my fans, they like what I do - and have told me as much. Unfortunately, in a polarizing situation I don't think there's anything I can do except stay true to myself and stay the course. I can continue to work on drawing people into my cartoon to boost visibilty and popularity, but ultimately, whether or not they get me will determine whether or not they'll stay.

I don't like this approach; it seems more directed at bolstering a creator's self-esteem in the short term than guiding them towards making a quality product. Let's be real: What unsuccessful artist doesn't have the attitude, at some point: "My work's brilliant, but nobody gets it"? But this attitude's a trap set by the creator's ego, because other explanations for the lack of success are less flattering.

peterabnny wrote:Anyway, to wrap up, I'm sorry you didn't like my cartoon, LC. You may have left me with next to nothing in the way of tips to improve my stuff - or even encouragement to keep drawing - but nevertheless I'm chosing to wear this scarlet letter as a badge of honor. It is so completely over-the-top in its boundless venom and limitless hate that I simply must share it with my fan base. Even as you use my cartoon as a horrible example of what not to do with a webcomic, you may forgive me, sir, for using your review in the same manner.

More exaggeration.

peterabnny wrote:It's true that I've been drawing Critters since 1990, but you have to consider my timeline. Back then my cartoons were little more than doodles to pass the time, and they probably took maybe ten minutes to do. That should be painfully evident in the cartoon you just quoted. In 1995 I discovered the Internet, and a close friend helped me build the CrittersOnline website. There followed an attempt by me to take my cartoon more seriously, and I started to dream of making a living from it. By the late '90s I discovered the furry genre, and, having an anthro strip myself, saw a potential to break things wide open. My dream of syndication had all but faded by the early '00s, but I still thought I had a chance to make it big in a more indirect way. By the mid-'00s, however, even that was becoming tempered as I came to realize the difference between furry art and anthro art, and the respective potential of each. By the late '00s, I left furry and turned my focus back to the mainsteam where I started - and, as I see it, where I belong. When I joined CG three years ago, I became even more serious about my art - in spite of the fact that it was becoming much harder to find free time to do it - and started actively seeking out advice and reviews, and instituting changes accordingly, to both the cartoon and its website. Did you notice that it wasn't until two years ago that I started tweaking my character designs and strip format? There you go. So yes, although I've been drawing Critters since 1990, I haven't really had any guidance to improve things until just a few years ago. So it would be a mischaracterization to say that longevity equals continuous improvement in my case.

Actually, all I meant was that you've probably had your comic reviewed before, which you validated in your post as being a correct assumption.

Cope wrote:Not with the newspapers going extinct!

McDuffies wrote:Come on, newspaper comic readers still have a good decade or two of life.

Correct, newspapers are hemorrhaging their younger readers, and this doesn't bode well for upcoming newspaper-style comics because older people are notoriously resistant to change.

McDuffies wrote:Now if you have namedropped Max Ernst that would be cool.

=P
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:35 pm

Webcomic: Tripp
URL: http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: Bill Taylor
Run: 1/11 - current
Schedule: Su/Th
Section/s: Strips 98 - 121

Website: The site has a light, psychedelic feel to it that works for this kind of comic. The creator also has some cool voting incentives and has a lot of interaction with the readers who post comments.

The cast page has white text on a light background, making the words difficult to read. The HTML in the cast page also isn't very good -- a table format would look better, and the readability problem could then be fixed by giving the cells their own background color.

The change-on-hover navigation buttons are a nice touch. By the way, for all you aspiring webcartoonists out there, here's a trick you can use to do this effect pretty easily:

<a href= your link url onMouseOver= "if (document.images) document.abcdefg.src= 'image url 1';" onMouseOut= "if (document.images) document.abcdefg.src= 'image url 2';"><img src="image url 2" name=abcdefg border=0></a>

Just replace the bold parts with real URLS, and replace "abcdefg" with whatever you want, and you're good to go! Try it! You could even use animated GIFs as navigation buttons this way.

Oh, and I expected the banner at the top of the site to link to the comic's home page, but it actually goes to some random Photobucket page.

Lastly, the creator's done an excellent job of sticking to his Sunday-Thursday schedule.

Writing: So we've got a slice-of-life gag comic wrapped in an epic science-fiction plot. It seems like a decent setup, but my overall impression's that this overarching sci-fi concept's not meshing well with the funny parts. This is a comic simply trying to do too much at once. The story's that the loser protagonist is extremely important for some unclear reason, and there are some people trying to kill him while others are trying to protect him. There's time-travel involved, too; it's actually kinda like a silly, actionless version of The Terminator. The comic always seems to be unsure of itself, as if it's saying, "Hmmm. Should I use this strip for plot development, or for a joke? I guess I'll do both." It's possible to do both, but the creator seems a little overwhelmed with the task. In fact, my favorite strips of the ones I read are simple gag comics unrelated to the plot: http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/128 ... christmas/ and http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/1317861/ice-cream/ . It's hard enough just trying to write a funny gag strip; writing a funny gag strip that's also an epic sci-fi story at the same time is even harder.

Tripp has a catch that's pretty obvious in the comic and its banners: the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe's in it. It's a cute idea, but most of his role's just doing and saying goofy things that you wouldn't expect http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/132 ... d-glasses/ , as well as being the comic relief to complement Tripp's seriousness http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/132 ... tines-day/. Personally, I don't find the Poe concept particularly clever or funny, and he's definitely my least favorite character in the comic, usually just popping up at the end of a strip to deliver an irreverent joke http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/130 ... e-fashion/. I'm also not a fan of how Tripp is handled as a character, because everything that happens just seems to be iterating on how much of a loser he is, and it gets old pretty quickly http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/130 ... ng-steady/. The creator's solution seems to be to raise Tripp's loser status to epic proportions http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/1314223/lexicon/ , but it seems a little heavy-handed. His involvement in the love triangle with Coco and Proxy also seems forced http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/1312757/stalker/ -- it's amusing that these two attractive women are competing over a loser like Tripp, but the comic does a poor job of supporting the plausibility of this scenario.

My favorite character's probably actually the Marlboro Man who pops up in Tripp's dreams once in a while http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/1291308/tough-love/ . He's basically Tripp's id, and it's cool to see Tripp's psychology represented visually.

Art: It's clearly very competent for a gag comic, and it's more like what I'd expect to see in a full-page serial. The most unusual thing about the artwork is the wavy, distorted effect placed on top of the backgrounds -- this helps give the comic a "tripping out" feel, as well as making the mundane settings look a little more interesting. The creator seems comfortable drawing the realistic anatomy, both with the male and female characters, and the coloring's simple but attractive.

All of the characters have pretty interesting and distinct designs. Tripp, with his messy hair, baggy eyes, and dress shirt, makes a great office pawn, and reminds me of Edward Norton's character in Fight Club. The two female love interests look very different, with Coco being the hot bombshell and Proxy looking like "the girl next door." Luke's perfectly geeky, and Poe obviously has his own thing going on.

Tripp suffers a little from the repetitiveness of the waist-up shots, but this is to be somewhat expected in a dialogue-heavy gag comic, and the creator does a pretty good job of varying poses and facial expressions. The backgrounds are also fairly detailed, and the creator does a good job of changing up the setting to give the backgrounds some variety. For example, a strip like this http://tripp.smackjeeves.com/comics/128 ... your-mind/ , which could take place anywhere, is set in a fast-food restaurant, which makes it look a little more interesting.

Lastly, Tripp's weak, deflated speech bubbles are a nice touch for emphasizing the wimpiness of his character.

Overall: From reading Tripp, I feel like its creator isn't very comfortable mixing the humor and plot elements of the writing. The humorous parts seem too forced to be particularly funny, and the plot parts are too vague and silly to be compelling. It's certainly an ambitious approach, though, and while the creator doesn't execute it very well, I give him credit for trying to do something out of the ordinary. I expect Tripp to eventually settle on being either a goofy comic with a little bit of a plot, or a serious comic with some humorous elements. The art's already quite good, so I can see the comic catching on if the writing gets more clever and focused.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:14 pm

Webcomic: Daqueran
URL: http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/
Creator/s: Jeri Weaver
Run: 11/08 - current
Schedule: ?
Section/s: Ch. 6

Website: Nothing to see here, folks.

The comic had a rocky 2011 in terms of updates (it looks like only 18 pages posted for the whole year), but 2012 has been much better, with seven pages posted so far this year. If this pace keeps up, 2012 will have twice as many updates as 2011 had.

Writing: I'm a fan of the fantasy genre in general, so I was surprised at how boring I found this comic to be. It's got a lot of cool elements, too -- mythical creatures, a legendary hero, magic, and an apocalyptic war. So what went wrong? In the entire chapter six, nothing interesting happens. The creator seems continuously distracted, jumping from one underdeveloped event to another while neglecting the main plot and failing to make any aspect of this comic entertaining.

I'll briefly detail the three main sections of chapter six, and why each section falls short.

Pp. 1-4: Enter Kalmosses, a generic Evil Overlord http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilOverlord, who comes across as somewhat generic. Did I mention he's generic? But whatever, there's about to be some sweet dragon-on-dragon action http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5316618/ ! Awesome! Oh, wait, it switches to the next scene all of a sudden. Aw, man...

Pp. 5-10: So we didn't get the dragon-on-dragon action, but we do get some dragon-on-human action! Yes! All right! Oh, wait, the dragons instantly get killed by Moss Guy http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5327518/. Damn it! We can't even get a chase scene or something? Oh well.

Hey, everyone, here's Moss Guy! He's Daqueran's old BFF http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5333592/ . Cool, time to learn more about this badass! I can't wait!

Pp. 11-21: Eh, forget about Moss Guy. Hey, did you know that Iada hasn't seen her family in a really long time? http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5335971/ Hence, she sets off on a trek across the wilderness to seek out her long-lost brother. Just kidding -- Moss Guy instantly teleports her to her brother's house. http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5363099/ . That was quick.

Oh yeah, don't forget to throw in a generic cutscene http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5347393/ showing that everyone's favorite generic Evil Overlord has a generic 0% approval rating http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... ovalRating .

Finally, Moss Guy gives Iada a cool sword http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5376705/ , and... chapter's over.

So, there you have it. Whenever the comic seems like it's about to get a little interesting, it abruptly changes the subject, and Iada's whole "quest to find her brother" thing falls flat because it's handed to her so effortlessly. And this chapter doesn't advance the main plot at all, either -- by the end of it, there's still a dragon-human war going on, and Daqueran's still established as the legendary hero who's the only one who can stop the dragons.

Art: Now, on to the good part. Well, actually, first, I wanna comment on the page size. The pages are only 600 pixels wide -- actually closer to 500 pixels without the thick black borders -- and that's very small for a full-page comic. The effect of this is that not only are the illustrations small, but the lettering's also small and hard to read. In fact, some of the dialogue is so tiny, like here http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5325717/ and here http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5347393/ , that I actually chose to open those pages in Photoshop so I could zoom in and avoid straining my eyes. A more reasonable size for this comic would be in the range of 800-900 pixels wide, and that's with a thinner border.

Okay, now on to the real good part. The line art's great, and the watercolor looks really cool and gives the comic a unique and attractive look. The characters have a vibrant, cartoony look, especially with their faces, but are generally rendered realistically. The creator also shows a lot of variation when it comes to poses and perspectives.

The comic's main artistic feature, aside from the watercolor, is its superb renderings of the mythical creatures. The dragons look great http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5314838/ , and the creator has clearly put some effort into learning how to draw reptiles. Moss Guy looks great, too http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5330912/ , and even the random llama-horse-thing in one of the panels http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5363099/ looks really good.

The creator generally puts a good amount of effort into the backgrounds, which are also done in watercolor. The setting's always very clear, whether it's in the mountains, in a forest, or in a village, and the creator readily supplies establishing shots http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5362004/ for the scenes. One problem I noticed, though, is that the color orange is overused in the backgrounds in this chapter, and it got to be a little monotonous.

Lastly, I noticed Moss Guy suddenly loses his goatee on pages 18 and 19 http://www.drunkduck.com/Daqueran/5366411/ , and then gets it back on page 20. I find this mistake more amusing than problematic, but the creator should try to be a little more consistent in the future.

Overall: I get the impression that the creator's so wrapped up in telling her story that she forgot to make it entertaining. But this is a huge problem, because without the entertainment factor, readers are gonna lose interest and stop reading, and then what's the point of having a great story if no one's reading it? This is why action, drama, humor, tension, etc., are very important in a story, even if they aren't directly related to conveying the overall plot, and the creator needs to be particularly aware of how readers will perceive the scenes she's imagined.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:56 pm

Webcomic: Route 148
URL: http://route148.comicgenesis.com/
Creator/s: "VM"
Run: 9/11 - current
Schedule: Saturdays

Website: It has a distinct "highway" theme to it that goes great with the traveling aspects of the comic.

The "new vs. old" chart is a cool and unusual feature, and posting the older material in PDF form seems like a terrific bonus for the more interested readers.

I didn't know people still used LiveJournal, but it seems to be a perfectly fine way to keep in touch with readers.

Lastly, the comic's been updating very consistently since it started. Nice.

Writing: My first impression's that reading this comic's sort of like watching a David Lynch film, which is both a good and a bad thing. It's good in the sense that I'm generally a fan of Lynch's stuff, but it's bad in the sense that his movies come across as hyper-artsy and esoteric. I would never recommend his less mainstream movies to anyone but the most open-minded movie-watchers.

That said, while the effort and focus is clearly there in Route 148, I don't see the creator as handling this challenging writing style with even close to the level of skill Lynch shows. Of course, it isn't very fair to compare the skill of a celebrated professional to the skill of the creator of this amateur comic, but at the same time, I feel like if an "expert" of this style can still only do it in a largely grating and unappealing way, then it presents a blatantly uphill battle for a mere amateur to try to do it competently.

Oh, yeah, and since I haven't mentioned any details at all, just to clarify, I'm referring to stuff like the visual transition with the birds, the contrast between the lack of emotion and the violent illness, the sudden time/location/subject changes, the isolation, the early omen to set the mood, etc. I don't have time to get into the specifics, but basically, it seems like the creator's very concerned about getting the complex writing style to work out mechanically but is also neglecting the fundamental dramatic demands of the story. Thinking about some Lynch films like Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire, they're all very dramatic, maybe even overdramatic, but Route 189 here instead seems more dry and undramatic.

This comic's writing is very ambitious, and I give the creator a ton of credit for attempting something this unusual. But other than that, I don't feel like praising this comic's writing because I don't plan on continuing to read it, I wouldn't recommend it to someone else to read, and I don't think it would appeal to the general webcomic-reading audience. That said, the creator clearly demonstrates as least some level of competence, and I think this comic would become more readable if it developed into more of a normal writing style. The creator can always reconsider an avant-garde approach later on when he or she's more experienced.

Art: The artwork's done in a very realistic style that's certainly the main draw of the comic. The figures and backgrounds are all rendered exceptionally accurately and cleanly. The grayscale shading and coloring's also top-notch.

What concerns me about the artwork most is that the characters aren't expressive, which is a notable problem when the artwork's very focused on showing faces. It seems like the faces are always in a default expression, so it quickly gets boring reading the faces for inflection. I see how this could possibly be intended to reflect a sort of muted, stoic atmosphere, but even there, it creates a visual gap that the comic doesn't really try to fill.

One nice touch I noticed is that T-shirts young Jack and young Linton are wearing, a Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles shirt and a Nirvana shirt, respectively, do a good job of quickly showing the characters' age and culture gap.

Lastly, the multiple speech bubbles aren't done right. When this comic has multiple bits of dialogue, it has one bubble's tail point to the next bubble. This is weird, and instead, the two bubbles should just be one connected object.

Overall: Route 148 demonstrates a firm grasp on the mechanical foundations of the art and writing, but the creator really needs to work on developing the comic's dramatic aspects in order for it to be less of a chore to get through. It's great to come across a fledgling comic that's so overly artistic, but its No. 1 focus needs to be on delivering an entertaining and engaging product.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Ahma on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:41 am

It was really interesting to read your review. I don't often get so detailed feedback and I must admit that I was kind of thrilled about you comparing me to David Lynch even if you don't think I pull the style off all that well.

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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:59 am

No problem! I hope you found it to be somewhat helpful. I would've liked to be more detailed, actually, but as I briefly mentioned in the review, I didn't have a lot of time for this one and had to rush. But I'm doing these daily, so... c'est la vie. I've done the whole 2,000-plus-words review thing in the past, but I think I prefer doing a bunch of short reviews to doing a few long ones.

As for Lynch's style, it's funny, though, because I'm not sure that Lynch even pulls off Lynch's style that well. The main thing I like about Lynch's movies are that they're just so different and "out there." But yeah, I definitely see parts of your comic as being similar. The dead raccoon in the beginning, for instance, reminded me of the dead cat Henry finds in the beginning of Eraserhead.

I think you should feel encouraged about your comic even though my review was pretty negative overall. Again, fleshing out the dramatic elements would go a long way towards making Route 148 more viable, and it's an issue pretty similar to what I wrote about in the review of Daqueran I posted the day before, actually. I think it's largely a matter of getting the right balance between plot and drama for the particular story you're trying to write.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby peterabnny on Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:14 am

McDuffies wrote:
peterabnny wrote:Of this review in general, I found but drops of positivity out of a sea negativity. But I did get:
- The art stands on its own, and I do a good job of varying emotions and perspectives.
- I get kudos for including some new element in the artwork of each strip, as well as my use of pointilism.

You missed one very huge positive message that you could have taken:
- Based on characteristics of your comic alone, you have a fair shot at doing a newspaper comic. :P



Not with it being as damaged as it evidently is...

LibertyCabbage wrote: My comment was more related to the sparseness of updates than the quality of the blog.


Well, when you say that I have "an amazingly terrible blog, where the creator apologizes for his terrible update schedule," you'll forgive me for thinking it was the quality of the blog itself.

At any rate, the whole blog is being amputated and buried on the next update.

LibertyCabbage wrote: GIMP's a free program and very popular. And I think cutting down the production time's pretty important. If you could have slightly less ideal shading but complete your comic a lot faster, I'd say that's probably worth it. Perfectionism can be a problem sometimes.


Manually shading consists perhaps 1-2% of my production time depending on who's in it and what they're doing. I draw to scale anyway (and have since I started), so it's not like a have a large surface area to work with. The vast majority of my production time is just in the pancil and inking of the cartoon itself, followed closely by background.

LibertyCabbage wrote:
Way to exaggerate.


It wouldn't be exaggeration if you were on this side of the monitor, Junior. Some day you'll learn the concept of perception becoming reality.

[
LibertyCabbage wrote:
I think your comic's salvageable, if that makes you feel any better, and I never wrote in the review that it isn't. I just don't feel responsible, as someone writing these reviews in my free time, to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to improve your comic, and frankly, even if I did want to put in that extra effort, I would rather focus it on a creator who's demonstrated greater dedication to their project.


I have an exceptionally difficult time believing that this piece of shit comic of mine could ever be redeemed in your eyes after everything's been said till now. I'd LOVE to hear how, but as you said, that priveledge is reserved for creators more deserving, and I daresay I'm not on that excusive list.

LibertyCabbage wrote:
peterabnny wrote:Anyway, to wrap up, I'm sorry you didn't like my cartoon, LC. You may have left me with next to nothing in the way of tips to improve my stuff - or even encouragement to keep drawing - but nevertheless I'm chosing to wear this scarlet letter as a badge of honor. It is so completely over-the-top in its boundless venom and limitless hate that I simply must share it with my fan base. Even as you use my cartoon as a horrible example of what not to do with a webcomic, you may forgive me, sir, for using your review in the same manner.

More exaggeration.


I am, however, forwarding it on to other trusted creators who've helped me in that past so that they can compare notes. Maybe they can winnow anything further positive that could be of use to me.


Cope wrote:Not with the newspapers going extinct!

McDuffies wrote:Come on, newspaper comic readers still have a good decade or two of life.


And what of smaller indie papers and zines, that 20 and 30-somethings frequent because of content (like classifieds, club and music reviews, nightlife news and the like) that the old school papers typically won't or can't print?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Ahma on Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:07 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:No problem! I hope you found it to be somewhat helpful.
LibertyCabbage wrote: I think you should feel encouraged about your comic even though my review was pretty negative overall.

Oh, I totally did and I totally do. Most of the stuff you wrote, both positive and negative, were things I had wondered about so getting some outside input really is useful.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:02 pm

And what of smaller indie papers and zines, that 20 and 30-somethings frequent because of content (like classifieds, club and music reviews, nightlife news and the like) that the old school papers typically won't or can't print?


I dunno, do they carry Garfield?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby peterabnny on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:42 pm

McDuffies wrote:
And what of smaller indie papers and zines, that 20 and 30-somethings frequent because of content (like classifieds, club and music reviews, nightlife news and the like) that the old school papers typically won't or can't print?


I dunno, do they carry Garfield?


Not that I've seen, but I have seen comics like Zippy and This Modern World in them...
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:47 pm

Webcomic: Demon of the Underground
URL: http://www.bob-artist.com/demon/
Creator/s: Shobana "Bob" Appavu
Run: 10/11 - current
Schedule: M/Th

Website: It has a gothic theme done in pencil that goes great with the comic's style. The layout of the site's also very professional-looking.

Now, get this: Demon of the Underground actually has its own full deck of illustrated playing cards people can buy. Is that cool or what?

The site has a ton of extra information, illustrations, voting incentives, and an elaborate blog. The creator also posts commentary and other tidbits beneath each strip. This is no doubt a very impressive website.

Lastly, the creator's been posting pages at a great pace and is currently updating twice a week, which is outstanding for a comic with such detailed artwork.

Writing: Woah, I get to praise the writing this time! Sweet! Thanks, Demon of the Underground!

Okay, so, yeah, this comic's writing's really good. Y'know how I've writing lately that stories need to have a good balance between drama and plot? Well, here's a comic that does it right. Demon of the Underground is a dark and serious comic, but it also has a lot of humor in it, and this humor goes a long way towards letting the story do its thing. Strange how that works, innit?

The main character, Pogo, is amusingly conceited and frank, and I think it's terrific that the protagonist in the comic's so blatantly flawed. I like seeing this approach a lot more than I like seeing bland characters like Mary Sues http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue , which seem to be a lot more common. One of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk, fills all his novels with characters who are twisted and immoral, and while Palahniuk's novels might be overly cynical, they're definitely edgy and engaging. I also appreciate how some details about Pogo, like that's he's gay and he's a thief, are shown through the context of the story rather than overtly explained. (Well, technically, the about page says he's "omni-sexual" rather than gay.) As silly as it might sound, I think a lot of less competent writers would have their character say something essentially like, y'know, "Hi, I'm Pogo, I like men and stealing things," and this is clearly an inferior way of getting that information across.

Pogo also has a mysterious, dark past, and might possibly be some kind of demon (hence the comic's title); compare the ambiguous approach this comic takes for its demonic character http://www.bob-artist.com/demon/?id=30 to the overt approach I criticized in my review of the demon-protagonist webcomic Strange Investigations viewtopic.php?p=1594534#p1594534 . Mystery's a huge asset for a serial production like webcomics, and you can clearly see this in how so many serial comics and TV shows end their episodes in cliffhangers, as well as the prevalence of "who dunnit?" shows.

There's also a lot of action and tension in the comic, and these are some examples of the kinds of dramatic elements I described as being absent in the last several comics I've reviewed. The scenes where Pogo appears to be screwed http://www.bob-artist.com/demon/?id=26 are particularly tense and engaging. The comic never lets itself get too serious, though http://www.bob-artist.com/demon/?id=34 , and I found the mix of serious parts and silly parts to be very enjoyable to read.

Art: And if you thought I gave the writing a lot of love, check out the art! It's freakin' terrific, that's what it is. Go back to my review of Strange Investigations, and take all the good stuff I said about the artwork there and pretend I said it about this comic too.

Overall: I think this creator has a good shot at being a professional cartoonist sometime in the near future. I highly recommend reading Demon of the Underground now while it doesn't cost anything.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:57 pm

I'll get to your post later, peter; probably tomorrow. Writing these reviews is a little time-consuming.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:46 pm

peterabnny wrote:Not with it being as damaged as it evidently is...

The first step is getting a more reasonable update schedule down. Maybe one strip every two weeks as a start? And then once you're comfortable with that, you could go for updating weekly.

peterabnny wrote:Well, when you say that I have "an amazingly terrible blog, where the creator apologizes for his terrible update schedule," you'll forgive me for thinking it was the quality of the blog itself.

At any rate, the whole blog is being amputated and buried on the next update.

The point of having a comic blog, though, is for special information, announcements, and giving the readers a little peek into the creator's personal life. Posting variations of the same apology for every single strip is a pretty terrible use of a comic blog. That said, the issue's fundamentally related to the update schedule, so if you had a more regular update schedule, I assume you'd naturally use your blog more properly. This is a minor issue, though, and a lot of webcomics don't even have blogs.

peterabnny wrote:Manually shading consists perhaps 1-2% of my production time depending on who's in it and what they're doing. I draw to scale anyway (and have since I started), so it's not like a have a large surface area to work with. The vast majority of my production time is just in the pancil and inking of the cartoon itself, followed closely by background.

If you wanna cut down on production time, you could always try setting a goal for yourself of how long it'll take you to draw a typical strip. You can start incrementally, too, like trying to cut down production time by 10% to begin with. Eventually you'll figure out the right balance between time and quality.

peterabnny wrote:It wouldn't be exaggeration if you were on this side of the monitor, Junior. Some day you'll learn the concept of perception becoming reality.

Yeah, well, maybe you still have a little growing up to do yourself. You're a lot further from becoming a professional than the creator of a comic like Demon of the Underground, but it's never too late to start working towards getting closer to that goal.

peterabnny wrote:I have an exceptionally difficult time believing that this piece of shit comic of mine could ever be redeemed in your eyes after everything's been said till now. I'd LOVE to hear how, but as you said, that priveledge is reserved for creators more deserving, and I daresay I'm not on that excusive list.

Here's some advice, then: Fix your attitude. I called you out on your lack of effort, and all you're doing is being all doom 'n' gloom about it. I'll tell you what: A good cartoonist would never, ever act that way when they get criticized, no matter how hurtful the critic is being.

peterabnny wrote:I am, however, forwarding it on to other trusted creators who've helped me in that past so that they can compare notes. Maybe they can winnow anything further positive that could be of use to me.

That sounds like a great idea.

peterabnny wrote:And what of smaller indie papers and zines, that 20 and 30-somethings frequent because of content (like classifieds, club and music reviews, nightlife news and the like) that the old school papers typically won't or can't print?

If their demographics are 20- and 30-somethings, then their audience is probably the same kinda people who read webcomics.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:26 pm

I didn't have time to do a webcomic review today, so here's a review of Battle Pope I wrote in 2009. I mentioned it in the review of Victory I did recently.

Battle Pope, Volume Four: Wrath of God

Upon seeing Battle Pope in a local bookstore, my first impression was, “What?” The cover features a bulked-up, gun-toting, cigar-smoking pope delivering a roundhouse kick to a gigantic glowing face that could only belong to God himself. Amongst a wall of standard superhero offerings, it's easy to see how this fiercely unique concept has the ability to stand out. However, beyond its goofy and irreverent premise, Battle Pope is ultimately just another redundant iteration of the superhero genre.

The main character, Pope, is essentially an excessive representation of hyper-masculinity. Some characteristics of this representation include:

-- having sex with various women he has no personal or emotional attachment to
-- demonstrating his dominance by beating up and belittling up other men (including ordinary civilians)
-- being incompetent with domestic duties (like in the opening scene at a grocery store)
-- fighting God even though he has no chance whatsoever to win
-- frequently cursing and smoking a phallic cigar
-- extremely muscular physique

Now, Battle Pope is presented as being a comedic and bizarre twist on superheroes, so at no point does it asks its readers to take it seriously. Basing the main character on the extremes of masculinity, though, causes a few problems for the series' concept. One problem is that, as a result of the singular perspective, heroic renderings, and cartoonish eyes, Pope is far too likable as a character despite his ultra-conservatism and social vices. Another problem is that the “typical superhero” which Pope is supposed to be contrasted with is also hyper-masculine, and so Pope ends up being more of a typical superhero himself rather than the clever parody he needs to be. Lastly, Pope ends up being pretty boring and predictable, as all of his actions and dialogue seem molded to fit society's concept of masculinity rather than to a distinct personality. The clumsiness in which Pope's joyful conducting of a wedding at the end is handled is a good example of his character's lack of depth. For a character depicted as frequently engaging in casual sex with women he doesn't even know, it's highly inconsistent for him to be supporting matrimony so readily, and writer Robert Kirkman makes no effort to address this problem. I haven't read the other volumes of Battle Pope, so I can only speculate as to what they contain, but I'm baffled as to how or why Kirkman would try to make an on-going series with such a shallow and uninteresting protagonist. Pope isn't much more than a bad joke.

The supporting cast is even more lackluster. Battle Pope's world consists of characters from Christian theology and culture, such as God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Santa Claus, as well as an assortment of angels and demons. With a group this bizarre in such an absurd context, it seems almost impossible for Kirkman to make them uninteresting, but somehow he manages to do it. All of the characters fall under narrow definitions: God is an angry badass, Jesus is an effeminate man-child, Mary is sexy, and Santa Claus is an incompetent wannabe. Throughout the book, no one shows any signs of growth or complexity; it's as if Kirkman considers the inclusion of religious icons to be outrageously novel enough to warrant abandoning basic writing principles. His best attempt at character writing is when the Virgin Mary confronts God with a feminist tirade, but this scene is overshadowed by Kirkman's repeated objectification of Mary, as demonstrated by her impossibly gigantic breasts, several panels of nearly full nudity, and accounts of her promiscuity. In addition, Mary's feminism comes off as forced and cheesy in such an ultra-conservative book which constantly degrades women and even has a woman engaging in pedophilia in one scene. As for God and Jesus, God represents the wrathful God of the Old Testament while Jesus represents the passiveness of the New Testament. This distinction could have easily led to a clever, insightful, and humorous commentary on the nature of Christianity, but instead Kirkman blatantly sides with the Old Testament God for being heroic and masculine, while Jesus is portrayed as a childish and effeminate imbecile, even being shown as a crudely-dressed flower girl in one scene. I understand that this is supposed to be a goofy action comic, so I'm not expecting anything particularly deep or analytic, but there's definitely room for at least some level of intellectualism here in handling such a complicated and poignant subject matter. There's so much that Kirkman could've done with this concept, and instead all we're left with are cheap gags and bulky guys beating each other up.

In spite of Kirkman's failures as a writer, Battle Pope is actually a decent read due to the outstanding artwork by penciler/inker Tony Moore and colorist Val Staples. Every panel is highly detailed and vibrant, and this helps a lot to make the story feel more exciting and epic. Moore also has an exceptional grasp of anatomy, and he's consistently able to draw a variety of body types with challenging poses and angles. The only problem with the artwork is that the book relies too much on it through its overuse of splash pages and large panels, especially toward the end. Throughout the book, about one in every five pages are splash pages, and this further cripples a story that's in desperate need of more plot and character development. The finished product looks great, but without the interest in the concept and characters, I, as a reader, don't feel motivated to seek out other volumes in the series.

Lastly, the book contains a few extras, including sketches, thumbnails, alternate covers, and even a crossover mini-comic. I always find it interesting to look into “behind-the-scenes” stuff of creators and get a glimpse of their creative processes, so I consider this to be a nice addition.

Battle Pope tries to take the superhero genre in a new direction, but it falls short by quite a bit. Making fun of Christian icons isn't that great or original of a concept, and the comic's far too ridiculous for any Christians to be upset about it. It isn't nearly as funny, interesting, edgy, or irreverent as it tries to be, and it's too similar to the other mainstream superhero comics, which are already in abundance. The flashy artwork is in place, but until Kirkman can manage to separate Battle Pope from the rest of the superhero genre, this series is going to struggle to hold readers' attentions.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby peterabnny on Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:50 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:
The first step is getting a more reasonable update schedule down. Maybe one strip every two weeks as a start? And then once you're comfortable with that, you could go for updating weekly.


Thank you! With everything I have going on, such a thing is unlikely, but it's still a nobel goal to acheive.

LibertyCabbage wrote:
The point of having a comic blog, though, is for special information, announcements, and giving the readers a little peek into the creator's personal life. Posting variations of the same apology for every single strip is a pretty terrible use of a comic blog. That said, the issue's fundamentally related to the update schedule, so if you had a more regular update schedule, I assume you'd naturally use your blog more properly. This is a minor issue, though, and a lot of webcomics don't even have blogs.


Mine will probably be one of those, then. I was always kinda under the impression that there wasn't a right or wrong way when it came to blogging. I guess there is. Those things that you said should go into a blog I actually do write, but not on the website. I save those for those on my mailing list. I guess I never really thought about sharing such things with site visitors, but sometimes I guess it's the most obvious things that are overlooked.

LibertyCabbage wrote:
If you wanna cut down on production time, you could always try setting a goal for yourself of how long it'll take you to draw a typical strip. You can start incrementally, too, like trying to cut down production time by 10% to begin with. Eventually you'll figure out the right balance between time and quality.


That might get back to my contention that I'm too exacting when it comes to my lines. It used to take me five to ten minutes to turn out a comic; you can see what that results in. More recently it takes me six to eight hours on average to do a B&W strip for publication. Inking takes half if not less the time than pencilling. I tend to work a line over and over and over again until it's just the way I want it. I've often wondered what I would come up with if I adopted a more looser, freer style like VinnieD's AntiBunny. It'd certainly cut down on my production time!

LibertyCabbage wrote:
Here's some advice, then: Fix your attitude. I called you out on your lack of effort, and all you're doing is being all doom 'n' gloom about it. I'll tell you what: A good cartoonist would never, ever act that way when they get criticized, no matter how hurtful the critic is being.


I don't know about that. I guess it depends on how passionate they are about their work and the extent to which they're willing to defend it. I know of a few very popular webcartoonists who would have reacted far worse than I did if they were in my place.

LibertyCabbage wrote:
If their demographics are 20- and 30-somethings, then their audience is probably the same kinda people who read webcomics.


If my comic is more fit for newspapers in general, wouldn't it also be fit for those more specialized papers as well?
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