Scooby's Reviews by Request

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Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu May 24, 2012 5:09 am

I never really planned on starting a review thread like LC's - I just don't have the free time - but since I've been asked to give a second opinion here I am.

Around CG I'm one of the biggest supporters of peer reviews so it would be contradictory of me not to offer my advice to those who might want it.
So feel free to request a review here and I'll do my best.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu May 24, 2012 5:10 am

A second opinion for Legalease Reloaded as requested by Harishanker

~~~~

First Impressions:
I have to say this straight up, a blog is not the best place to host a comic but since the comic seems to be just a side-hobby among the various other things on the site I'll let it slide. I would say though however that with the plethora of free comic hosting sites out there you might want to take the plunge as a dedicated site for the comic helps build the atmosphere.

Getting to the first comic, the artwork is very primitive, anatomy wise I am reminded a little of BGA by CG's verycuddlycornpone (only hers was done in 10th grade) with the lack of necks and crudely drawn arms. There's also a lack of consistency between panels - the lawyer's nose changes from pointy to round for example.
I know it's already been mentioned in the past but the inking needs work, specifically line variation. Additionally the colouring needs work, there's a lot of artifacts showing up.

The Readthrough:
I'll admit, despite it faults the first page joke got a little chuckle out of me as well as one of the first clues as how to fix some of your narrative problems but I'll get to that at the end of the review.

Legalease Reloaded is a series of unconnected jokes based around the mundane world of the legal system, similar comics exist about almost every occupation with varying success but Legalease falls flat because it has only two basic punchlines "boredom" or "stress", there's only seven pages so far and I'm already feeling like "you've said that before".
On the subject of the jokes, I got them, they just weren't all that funny. This has little to do with lack of knowledge of the legal world, one could substitute the same basic jokes to working at a supermarket and they'd still work with just a change in the lingo, the jokes just aren't funny and already are overplayed.
Not to mention that every page seems to contain a wall-of-words, due in part to the format restrictions you've put upon yourself, if you played with the amount of panels and the size of the page things wouldn't feel so crowded.

Touching back upon the art for a moment I have to say that since your earlier postings here (3 years ago?) you don't seem to have grown much, a lot of the problems you requested help for then are still rather prominent now.

The Extras:
No applicable extras here as the comic itself is more or less the extra to the blog.

Final Thoughts:
Legalease Reloaded is in its very early stages so there's plenty of time to improve, however as it stands now there's not a lot worth recommending it to others.
Despite a reasonably original concept there's not a lot of originality here.

Advice:

In an attempt to ensure this review is not entirely negative I'd like to give you some suggestions that might help you.

Firstly work on your anatomy, you'll probably hate hearing this but you really need to strengthen the foundation of your work, any other suggestions I could make artwise would be a little pointless until the basics are in place...
...except line variation, you might as well get a start on that now, it could be as simple as just adding a thicker outline to the characters. One idea is to have an outline twice as thick as the detail lines but there are more advanced line techniques that can be learned, the key is to experiment.

Secondly I'd suggest working on the scripts for your comics.
Write down the entire comic strip first without breaking it up into frames then read it while trying to visualise how you would show the story and break it up to match each story beat, whether it be 3 frames or 12 frames.
When you're dealing with large chunks of dialogue try to break it up, either into multiple frames or into multiple balloons in a larger frame.

One last suggestion that could help you story wise is to establish a cast, the problem with stand alone strips is the reader has to get ALL the information from that one strip whereas with a cast over time the reader has a little info going into each strip, they know the personalities of the characters so you don't need to spend as much time setting things up AND you can build on previous events or even weave storylines together - for instance the wedding invite strip could have been split up so that:
page a) lawyer finds out about impending weddings while discussing case
page b) lawyer gets invite from friend before heading to court
page c) after court lawyer gets invite from boss "oh crap both on the same day"
and in those first two pages the wedding stuff is just mentioned, the case is the meat of the page, it's only once page c rolls around that you get the pay-off.

Anyway those are just a few suggestions which you could easily implement to improve your comic.

~~~

I realise I spent more time on advice than the actual review but with only 7 pages and no real story there wasn't a lot I could say.
Last edited by RobboAKAscooby on Thu May 24, 2012 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby Harishankar on Thu May 24, 2012 5:32 am

Thank you! Looking forward to it. :)
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby Harishankar on Thu May 24, 2012 8:01 am

Thanks for the review.

It's a bit of a blow though, that you've also been largely negative in respect of the "jokes". I assure you that the superficial punch-line is not my attempt at humour. It's the situation itself and how lawyers can relate to them that forms part of it. For instance, in this comic: http://harishankar.org/blog/entry.php/l ... -episode-4 the last panel was hardly intended as the punchline. The social commentary is in the panels in-between... And only a lawyer can appreciate how realistic it was. And in this one http://harishankar.org/blog/entry.php/l ... -episode-5 you only have to be a lawyer to understand and appreciate how "asking for time" from the court is such a common phenomenon that it defies logic sometimes. Yeah, I know that as a layperson, you can *understand*. I think a lawyer, however can relate to the humour of the situation - especially the same old excuses.

Don't think I'm taking refuge in my "This is not meant for your kind of humour" excuse. This is one comic where I deliberately chose that formula. The gag or punchline is not the intended joke. And I assure you that my lawyer colleagues found them quite genuinely funny because they could relate and see the absurdity, not merely understand the jokes.

And to be honest, I've had a pretty hard time with my art. I almost feel like giving the whole thing up because it's reached stagnation and I'm getting no better. The harder I try, the worse it gets. :( I almost think I drew better when I used to draw more freely. I think from all the criticisms I've got, but also because I've tried to slow down a bit, I've tightened up considerably and got more timid to express myself. Even with practice otherwise, I revert to some old mistakes with the comics. It just feels rather pointless to continue.

Two hard reviews in a day was a bit hard to take and I'm not too well either, which doesn't help my mood. I guess I didn't expect you to review it so soon. :(
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu May 24, 2012 8:44 am

Harishankar wrote:And I've had a pretty hard time with my art. I almost feel like giving the whole thing up because it's reached stagnation and I'm getting no better. The harder I try, the worse it gets. I almost drew better when I used to draw more freely. I think from all the criticisms I've got, I've tightened up considerably and got more timid to express myself. It just feels rather pointless to continue.


I'm gonna set you a little exercise - and not a "boring" one like posemaniacs - google some pics of something you like, a favourite sport or something, and try drawing them.
Just a quick drawing, don't aim for an exact copy don't worry about the details, the idea here is to get a feel for the flow of the body.
Drawing a subject you like will keep you interested long enough for some of the lessons you need to learn to sink in subconsciously.

Also when you're out and about just watch people, you don't need to draw them just watch how people move and interact, study how the parts move together how the entire body reacts to raising an arm. Pay attention to the differences in body language between varying personality types.
There is a lot you can learn from the world around you.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby Harishankar on Thu May 24, 2012 8:48 am

RobboAKAscooby wrote:
Harishankar wrote:And I've had a pretty hard time with my art. I almost feel like giving the whole thing up because it's reached stagnation and I'm getting no better. The harder I try, the worse it gets. I almost drew better when I used to draw more freely. I think from all the criticisms I've got, I've tightened up considerably and got more timid to express myself. It just feels rather pointless to continue.


I'm gonna set you a little exercise - and not a "boring" one like posemaniacs - google some pics of something you like, a favourite sport or something, and try drawing them.
Just a quick drawing, don't aim for an exact copy don't worry about the details, the idea here is to get a feel for the flow of the body.
Drawing a subject you like will keep you interested long enough for some of the lessons you need to learn to sink in subconsciously.

Also when you're out and about just watch people, you don't need to draw them just watch how people move and interact, study how the parts move together how the entire body reacts to raising an arm. Pay attention to the differences in body language between varying personality types.
There is a lot you can learn from the world around you.


Good idea. Thanks for the suggestion. Actually today, after the first review, I started to practice a few "doodle" type sketches because I wanted to free up my hand and allow my strokes to be more free. While they're not terribly polished or good, I feel loose sketches might actually help me break out of the rut I've got into regarding drawing comics.

I think one problem I got into was because I read those "Construction" tutorials where you draw a human body by using rough skeletons. I tried applying that technique and while I was able to draw realistic human being better, that approach simply flopped in my comic. I just couldn't adapt it for differing poses that well and I ended up with a half-baked approach.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu May 24, 2012 9:19 am

I'll add a few things here, although I'll go back to my own thread to discuss the specific stuff Hari brought up there.

First, as for this thread, I think it's great that there's another reviewer doing requests, and it presents an obvious outlet for a second opinion, which a lot of the time is very helpful. It also potentially provides a more palatable outlet for the more inexperienced cartoonists, as I'm concerned that I can come across as overly harsh and critical sometimes. It's especially challenging when the reviewee's younger (like, still in high school), as they're, understandably, a little more sensitive at that early stage.

As for the "intended for courtroom lawyers" angle that I briefly touched on in my review, I look at this issue from the business perspective of demographics. Think of it like this:

Let's say I do a gaming comic, and my intended audience is "people who play video games, or used to play them." That's a ton of people on the Internet -- maybe as much as 80% or higher. It's no wonder why gaming comics are so popular.

Now, how about something less common, like doing a college comic, intended for "people who go to or went to college." That excludes high schoolers and younger, as well as anyone who didn't seek higher education. We'll say that 50% or so of adults have some college experience (in the U.S., anyways), so let's put that at about half of the gaming crowd -- so about 40%. That's still a lot of people.

Now, the relevant part: a law comic like Legalease Reloaded, intended for "courtroom lawyers." Being very general, the U.S. Department of Labor puts around 700,000 lawyers of all kinds working in the U.S., which, out of a population of about 313 million Americans, is around 0.2%. Generously assuming half of those read webcomics, you're left with a very kind estimate of 0.1% of potential webcomic readers who will relate to your comic, or one out of 1000.

In summary:
Gaming comics - 8 out of 10 will relate
College comics - 4 out of 10 will relate
Courtroom comics - 1 out of 1000 will relate
(These numbers are pure guesses, of course.)

As for improving artwork, check out this drawing by U.S. Army illustrator Bil Keane:

Image

Does the name look familiar? That's 'cause it's the same Bil Keane who, after the war, started making the newspaper strip Family Circus.

Image

My point is: People who are good at drawing cartoons, are also generally good at drawing in a realistic style as well. Practice figure drawing and other realistic drawings, and I think your cartoons will get better as well, no matter how simple they are. You could also always post your realistic drawings online and ask for critiques if you feel stuck.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby McDuffies on Thu May 24, 2012 12:54 pm

I guess seeing how law is such rare subject in webcomics, it would be nice to have a comic about law that makes subject of law closer to the common man and tells in-jokes about law practice in a way that even I could understand them... (on the other hand maybe those numerous Dave Kelly shows prove that making law too "close" to common man isn't such good idea artistically...?) I do like "pop-culture buff" comics that make references meaningless to someone who isn't too interested in facets of pop culture... on the other hand I'll never express positively on a gaming comic that relies too much on reader having played newest games... maybe that's double standards but meh.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu May 24, 2012 1:51 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:First, as for this thread, I think it's great that there's another reviewer doing requests, and it presents an obvious outlet for a second opinion, which a lot of the time is very helpful. It also potentially provides a more palatable outlet for the more inexperienced cartoonists, as I'm concerned that I can come across as overly harsh and critical sometimes. It's especially challenging when the reviewee's younger (like, still in high school), as they're, understandably, a little more sensitive at that early stage.

Good I was a little worried about stepping on your toes here.

Although I get the feeling some of the newer members around here saw my situation in your thread and assumed I'm "nicer". That said I've yet to review a comic that isn't salvageable.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu May 24, 2012 2:26 pm

Popping in to say I am happy to see that you too are taking up the review-thread rifle.

Not requesting a review today, especially since it hasn't been that long since you last wrote a review for me (or at least feels like it hasn't been that long... was it really the last W.A.Y. thread???). Either way I feel like not much has transpired in my comic to warrant a fresh look from you, though we'll see where this is standing, say, a month or two from now.

Keep on keepin on, my brother.
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Re: Scooby's Reviews by Request

Postby Harishankar on Thu May 24, 2012 7:05 pm

You've both made some good points. I am not sure whether I expected a less critical review or not from Scooby, but I certainly felt the need for a second opinion.

By the way, I understand how very specific humour can sometimes fall flat if the context is missing. I think that is what you both have implied in the explanation. I guess the comic relies a bit on prior information and I have assumed that in the reader. Also I guess I left a lot of blanks for the reader to fill in.

Yes, attempting social commentary and satire in a comic is an ambitious project because sometimes the message can be lost in an attempt to convey the humour. As a matter of fact, I was vaguely aware of this problem even when I started the comic, and now that you have confirmed it, I think I will have to rethink the formula of the comic - not too much, but enough to make it more stingy and punchy.

I actually feel that both reviews have been fair and honest enough. The big disappointment for me was that the contextual jokes fall flat on non-lawyer readers. While I kind of get the reason for that, I am not sure if the comic in its current form can work for a general readership in any event.
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