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 May 09, 2012 1:43 pm

Metal_Solstice wrote:Just think of him like you (well, this is what I think anyway) would Simon Cowel: Critical, but has good vision for things that are great or have potential for greatness.

The thing with Cowell, though, is that his negativity was balanced out by the "everybody's awesome" attitude of the other panelists, so the judging portion of the show wasn't as brutal as it could've been. But that's one reason why I'm constantly advising people to seek additional perspectives (*nudge* Webcomic Above You *nudge*).

RobboAKAscooby wrote:By next Wednesday at the latest I promise...

Great!

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:GAAAHHHH I GOTTA START UPDATING ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;;

And your newest page has to be the best one you've ever done, too!

peterabnny wrote:I was thinking that today, actually. Out of all the possible comics to reference, you chose mine. Seriously - again, thanks, mate. :)

Critters is an unusual webcomic. I assume that if you always drew your characters sitting on a couch talking about video games, I'd feel less inclined to link to it.

That said, if you know of any noteworthy newspaper-style webcomics you'd like to share, feel free to send me their links.

peterabnny wrote:The indie papers my stuff appears in serves a more liberal readership, so my editor has given me a rather wide berth when it comes to comment, but even that has limits, as I found out the hard way. You never know how many people read your paper until you have advertisers suddenly threatening to pull their revenue because of a particular edgy, offensive comic... :shucks:

I think that's part of it. No one ever calls to complain about Hagar the Horrible or Beetle Bailey, and that makes a newspaper editor's life a little easier. Putting a weird, new comic in, on the other hand, has the risk of upsetting somebody.

peterabnny wrote:Actually, you do! To be honest, I haven't been back to this thread since Page 5, so no, I haven't been following it. But I just did the research: Ten Ways Bendy Straws Saved My Life was the first comic you reviewed since we squared things on five. I looked through your reviews from then until you reviewed Sly Eagle's Quest, taking the viewpoint "If I received this review, would I consider it Good (or Positive), Bad (or Negative) or Mixed. I found 11 were Good, four bad, and six mixed. Out of 21 reviews, 17 good or mixed and only FOUR bad! Needless to say I was damned-near shocked, considering your reputation! I guess seeing how things were before your review of my comic overly - and wrongly, I suppose - colored my view of your reviews since. So, yeah - "Your Honor, I'd like to withdraw my previous objection." :)

Color me impressed! That's some diligent researching right there. And that is kinda shocking -- I'm "the guy who hates everybody's webcomic," but less than one in five of my reviews have actually been negative. I even expected it to be more than that.

Also, Sly Eagle's webcomic's called The Prime of Ambition. Quest is a different fantasy comic.

peterabnny wrote:You know, I should. Before I was still gunshy about participating in that thread, and debating whether or not I wanted to do it. But you know what? Eff that... I've already stared creative death square in its black maw after spending time in your crucible; what should I have to worry about? They say people who've had near death experiences lose their fear of dying. I should be the same for bad reviews. :) And anyway, as a big believer in continuous improvement (artwork or otherwise), I should consider it a great disservice to my comic to pass on the chance of scoring some.

I'll be very surprised if someone here gives a harsher review than I give, so I imagine any critique you'd get would be comparatively light.

That said, I think reviews are a psychological gauntlet you have to be able to get past at some point if you wanna be a successful artist, and the sooner you can get past that stage, the better.

peterabnny wrote:Speaking of reviews, in reading SE's response to yours I was thinking of coming out with my own take on how to handle terrible reviews, for those who've had them and were hurt by them. I figure, if it's not you ripping their work to shreds, it's bound to be SOMEbody else, SOMEwhere else. So, better to have it happen to them here then on some lulz website out there. At least here there's a kind of support network, with people willing to help soothe the wounds as long as you're not a complete asshole about it.

That sounds like a great idea to me.

peterabnny wrote:Oh, and Sly Eagle - I read LC's review of your comic. That's not a bad review...

Reviews seem to be very subjective. What may seem like a merely mild critique to one person may be a devastating condemnation to another.

McDuffies wrote:This raises some interesting points.

Wow, that spammer's post really is shockingly insightful.

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:you guys maybe i'm the spammer

Maybe...

Maybe we're the spammers, and we're harassing and deleting the posts of real people...

Oh, no... :(

Also, Fall of God review's up here.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu May 10, 2012 6:40 am

If anyone's bored and wants a warm-up for W.A.Y., there's a bunch of review requests on the Smack Jeeves forums that no one's touched yet. Cuddly and I've been doing some of them, but they keep coming.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu May 10, 2012 6:58 am

I offered to review a few people's a while back, though I didn't get an affirmation from them- I guess they just figure I'll just go write it. Gotta get caught back up on that, after I make some headway with my comic. GOTTA STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE MANG
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu May 10, 2012 2:14 pm

Webcomic: Against
URL: http://against.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: "Tex," "Deadlocked"
Run: 11/11-current
Schedule: Random
Section/s: Ch. 2, "Unstoppable Power"

Website: The edgy, red-and-black look of the site's a little different from the usual Smack Jeeves fare, although it doesn't seem to suit the cutesy, colorful style of the webcomic that well.

I like that there's a character page, although it'd be better if the images were much larger and the descriptions weren't just walls of text. The black headers are also very difficult to read against the dark-gray background. Also, Dacer looks nothing like he does in the actual comic, which is kinda weird, and it doesn't make sense for the images to link to ImageShack.

The update schedule is very irregular, which seems particularly odd to me for a comic that's made up of copy-pasted sprites. The creators should try to consistently update at least once a week.

Lastly, the creators link to a "review comic" several times on the site, which I wanted to look at, but the link just brings up a "This profile does not exist or is currently unavailable" error message.

Writing: The main writer has a dismissive attitude towards his webcomic's irrelevant, copy-pasted artwork, explaining, "I do this for storywriting over illustration." He seems to be inferring that this is an acceptable way for a skilled writer to convey their story without having to invest the significant amount of time and effort it takes to make a comic visually interesting. But whether or not this is accurate, this creator's writing ability's actually well below average, which, combined with the deliberately terrible artwork, leaves me to describe Against as an embarrassing disaster.

The main factor that makes the writing so unimpressive is the pacing, which seems to be a common problem area for inexperienced writers. Against has a dire tendency of cramming the story into 12, 13, 14, or even as much as 15 panels in each regular-sized page, which is absurd. There's so much text on some of the pages that the comic often feels like some sort of bogus fantasy novel with all of the content omitted except for the dialogue. I similarly criticized Without Moonlight for having too much dialogue, but at least that webcomic has fewer panels, and its pages are about 30% wider and 50% taller than Against's. A reasonable start would be to cut the panel count down by at least 50%.

The other big pacing issue's that the story's too committed to the main plot line and doesn't provide for any interesting or entertaining elements, such as character development, humor, or drama. This is most noticeable in the way the comic awkwardly jumps around from scene to scene, like in page 28, page 30, and in pages 37 and 38. All of the comic's scenes seem rushed, like the creators are trying to reach the chapter's conclusion as quickly as possible, and the motley crew that makes up the cast of characters is hastily presented to the audience without elaborating on their personalities or providing reasons to care about what happens to them. Of the 10 or so characters appearing in these 15 pages, I didn't discern any information about any of them other than that Seiner and Zelrian are both very powerful. The creators might be more comfortable working with a reduced cast size and actually giving the readers a chance to get the know the characters a little bit. It's also very underwhelming how the big fight scene between Seiner and Zelrian gets really built up over several pages, and then it's over in one kick. I get that the brevity of the fight's intended to show how overwhelmingly capable Zelrian is, but this approach completely fails on a dramatic level.

Art: The chapter starts off on the wrong foot by presenting a terribly composed cover that shows the visual representation of "unstoppable power" as a three-inch toy inside a glowing hamster ball. It sorta reminds me of that scene in This Is Spinal Tap where the band embarrassingly ends up with a wimpy 30-inch-tall prop instead of the impressive 30-foot-tall one they intended. A cover like this should be cool and exciting, and it definitely isn't.

The characters are blatantly copy-pasted frequently, alternating between a few stock poses, which means that the artwork can be completely ignored most of the time. The creators at least alter the characters' eyes so that the panels aren't completely the same, but even these minor alterations often look rushed and clumsy, like in the 11th panel here. Apparently all of the sprites are derivative aside from Dacer's, but this one original sprite's incompetently made and looks awkwardly out-of-place amongst the other characters. Also, the backgrounds also endlessly copy-pasted graphics from video games, and they quickly become very monotonous, especially when the creators reduce the resolution a lot, like they do in this page.

Overall: Against does nothing to improve my impression of sprite comics as lazy and juvenile, which is largely why I haven't bothered to review any 'til now. The creators don't display any notable aptitude for comic-making, and they need to improve their abilities significantly if they seriously intend to create a decent webcomic at some point. Ideally, Against will be a chapter of their humble beginnings and something they'll be able to laugh about later on, and I suggest they focus on making progress and not get too hung up on their current failures.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri May 11, 2012 1:40 pm

Webcomic: Archport City Chronicles
URL: http://tjs.smackjeeves.com/
Creator/s: "TommyShizuko"
Run: 5/11-current
Schedule: T/Th
Section/s: Ch. 8, "Blast and Flurrie"

Website: The gray-and-white template is kinda drab, and I think it could stand to be jazzed up a bit. Some sort of extra feature, like sketches or characters bios, would also make the site more engaging and help it stand out. The creator also may wanna consider taking a moment after posting each page to leave a little comment or ask a question to the readers.

This comic updates fairly frequently, and it's impressive to an extent that it's already up to its eighth chapter after only a year. It'd be better if the creator spent more time on the pages, though, which I'll get into more later.

Writing: This chapter's preoccupied with establishing the hierarchy of its strange creatures, with Vincent obviously being the head honcho who rules with an iron fist. But Vincent's just a generic Evil Overlord, and the comic wastes too much time on this drab character. The chapter also presents Blast and Flurrie as being subservient to Vincent but above the dopier characters, and that really dopey bouncing kid's beneath everybody. This display of social dynamics comes across as tedious and insular, though, and the creator should've condensed them and directed the story towards more interesting subject matter.

On top of that, none of the characters besides Vincent and the bouncing kid seem to have any discernible personality, and it'd be preferable if the creator devoted at least a little time to showing something unique about each character. I'm also unable to tell Blast's personality apart from Flurrie's, which is strange since they're presented as being important characters, and no context is given for why that weird hopping thing is following the princess around.

Also, the creator only shows two dots for an ellipses, which is something I haven't seen before. An ellipses should have three dots.

Art: I don't know what sort of comic influences convinced this creator that doing black-and-white art means hatching and crosshatching everything instead of actually drawing. Almost every background in the comic's just a bunch of hatching, and it gives the comic that jarring "floating in space" feel that cartoonists should really try to avoid. A major consequence of this sketchiness is that it's almost never clear where the scenes are taking place; for example, it isn't until the fourth page that the comic implies the opening scene's taking place inside some sort of building. The most awkward instance of this, though, is when the scene instantly changes from a forest to the middle of a town without even attempting any sort of transition. Drawing actual backgrounds takes more time, of course, but it's a necessary part of conveying a coherent reality for the reader, and it's especially important for fantasy stories, which are often particularly concerned with presenting the creator's imagined setting. In addition, a lot of comic's hatching seems rather sloppy, and the creator should consider doing the hatching with a ruler.

The creator starts trying to do real backgrounds in pages 11 and 12, which I appreciate to an extent, but these backgrounds both suffer from major perspective issues. Neither of the panels on page 11 make sense visually to me at all, and the buildings in page 12 are starkly two-dimensional in what should be a three-dimensional rendering. The creator's clearly in need of practice in this area.

The comic's hand-lettering looks childish and rushed, and the creator would better be off doing digital lettering for the time being.

On a positive note, the animals and weird creatures look somewhat decent, so the creator at least has that going for her. They could still be improved significantly, though, obviously.

Lastly, showing the dark edges from a scanner might be alright for a sketch or doodle, but it's definitely not acceptable for an actual comic cover.

Overall: I admit, when I first started reading this webcomic, I assumed it was made by a 14- or 15-year-old, so I was disappointed to find out that the creator's actually in her 20s. The creator explains, "I am not patient enough to a completely color comic and I lack the time and skill to do digital," but it doesn't appear to me she has the patience, time, or skill to do black-and-white illustrations, either. The essential thing for her to recognize is that she's still at a very primitive level in terms of her cartooning skills, and that she needs to start pushing herself considerably if she wants to make something readers will respect.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Crow on Thu May 17, 2012 5:09 am

OP, will you review something that's not on CG/SmackJeeves? I'd like to request a review, if you could.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu May 17, 2012 5:37 am

Crow wrote:OP, will you review something that's not on CG/SmackJeeves? I'd like to request a review, if you could.

Sure, go for it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Crow on Thu May 17, 2012 5:35 pm

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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri May 18, 2012 7:33 am

Webcomic: Katran
URL: http://katran.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: "JoKeRcologne"
Run: 6/10-current
Schedule: About once a month
Section/s: Ch. 3

Website: In September 2010, the creator posted on the site, asking, "btw I got fan-arts should I upload them?" He never did, and I think he should definitely add them to the site. Having other supplemental pages on the site would be ideal as well, but as per an April 2012 posting, the creator's already working on adding a few.

The Halloween-colored layout seems to compliment the grayscale pages pretty well, and the white parts of the pages really stand out (in a good way) against the black background. Having the navigation buttons change color when hovered over's also a nice touch.

The creator recently started a Facebook page for the comic, which I think's a good idea. The page is scarce, though, and the timeline-style layout looks awkward, so I suggest the creator tries to update the page more often, and also tries to make it look a little more professional.

There are some cool bonus pages in the archives that explain some of the miscellaneous elements of the comic's setting, including the fictional language the characters use sometimes, but I expect some of the more casual readers won't realize the pages are there. They should be displayed more prominently, like in an "about" or "extras" page.

Lastly, the creator's only posted four pages so far for 2012, which is a very underwhelming pace for a webcomic. He should try to start updating twice a month, and preferably even more frequently than that.

Writing: It's a fun, high-energy comic that continually bombards the reader with exciting sequences and well-choreographed fight scenes. The chapter jumps right into the action per an in medias res style and never really slows down, frantically jumping between the dangerous situations of the various characters. This kind of writing works to the extent that the creator can constantly present dramatic and visually interesting pages; however, ultimately it ends up being a detriment to the comic, as a story can only sustain itself on adrenaline and flashy imagery for so long before it starts to become shallow and disjointed.

The main problem with the writing's that none of the characters or events are given any sort of context. I'll start with Nirrod, who's supposed to be the main character according to the comic's description, although I would've never thought this just from reading the chapter. There are a few scenes where he's shown hiding from soldiers, but the chapter doesn't try to explain why this seemingly minor and irrelevant character's given so much attention. Next is Reju, who's portrayed as being very important, as his captors have orders to keep him alive, and Zaira says on page 111, "If something happens to you, everything is lost." These aspects don't make sense in terms of the information provided to the reader in the chapter, nor does it make sense why Zaira helps Reju escape when he's presented as the general of the enemy forces. Lastly, Sa-Jeren's fight with the soldiers is cool 'n' all, but... uh... why are they even fighting in the first place? Theother enemy general, Moria, says, "The bounty shall be mine," but that doesn't help the reader understand what's going on much. I assumed Zaira's conversation with Reju would shed some light on the conflict, but he only briefly mentions a "coup against Mercho," a "High Council of Katran [...] abusing his position," and, a few pages later, "Tobrn, 'The Slaughterer of Kalimpur,'" all of which are cryptic references with no obvious relationship to the events in the chapter.

I assume these aspects are explained more in the preceding 100 pages, which I didn't read, and it'd be somewhat reasonable to fault my review for not taking the first two chapters into consideration. But I think a chapter of a work should, for the most part, be able to be read and understood on its own, and I'm confident that a more competent writer would've included in this chapter the basic, vital information required for it to make sense and for the scenes to have a reasonable context. At the very least, the creator always has the option to include an "about" page and/or a "characters" page, so that the reader can quickly get caught up with what's going on in the latest pages. From a reader's perspective, if I knew I had to read the chapters posted in 2010 before I could even begin to understand the current chapter, I'd probably just choose to read a different webcomic instead.

Art: Katran has a sleek and attractive manga style that's well-suited for the many action sequences in the comic. As I mentioned in the previous section, these fight scenes are dynamic and cleverly conveyed, and are certainly the highlight of the comic. The creator's also quite capable of drawing the different body types of the fighters, whether it's Reju's small and compact frame or Sa-Jeren's bulky and powerful frame, and this helps him make the comic's various battles more distinct -- Reju's fight's about speed and precision, while Sa-Jeren's fight's more about brute strength.

The inking's another standout feature, and the creator demonstrates expertise in his smooth, professional-looking line art, as well as in the many instances of hatching and crosshatching. The creator also shows a strong sense of composition, often utilizing darker imagery and silhouettes to help establish color contrast.

The main issue I have with the artwork's that there's little to no attention paid to the backgrounds, and it gives the scenes the vague sense of taking place in a generic, indistinct location. This is particularly problematic for a fantasy story, which generally have a noticable focus on depicting the imagined world. I consider the minimalistic approach of limiting the settings to mere outlines like "a village," "a field somewhere," and "the bad guys' headquarters" to be too simplistic for this kind of comic.

Overall: This comic will impress potential readers with its skilled artwork and action-packed scenes, but with such flimsy plot and character development, I don't see much incentive here for readers to stick around for future updates. The situation's a lot like what you get with high-budget action movies that have special effects galore but have lousy acting and a dumb story -- they're fun for a few minutes, but even the coolest visuals quickly begin to get tedious and leave you yearning for something more clever and substantial. That said, if Katran develops a greater focus on exposition and narrative, and manages to stick to a more palatable update schedule, I can see it potentially becoming a top-notch fantasy webcomic at some point.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri May 18, 2012 7:45 am


I don't normally review this kinda webcomic, but I'll skim through it and do a quick write-up to give you some pointers.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Harishankar on Fri May 18, 2012 8:10 am

I like your review style, and I want to ask if you would be kind enough to review a webcomic that's still fairly new.

I'd like an outside view of it and also some suggestions on how I can improve as I go along.

Link here archives: http://harishankar.org/blog/category.ph ... aded-comic
Latest comic: http://harishankar.org/blog/entry.php/l ... -episode-6

Let me know if you can do it. Again, a very detailed review is not necessary as I don't have enough comics yet. I just want an outside view...
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri May 18, 2012 10:50 am

Harishankar wrote:I like your review style, and I want to ask if you would be kind enough to review a webcomic that's still fairly new.

Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, I'm sure I can manage to write something about it, at the very least giving a first impression of the series.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Harishankar on Fri May 18, 2012 6:43 pm

Thanks! Awaiting your thoughts eagerly. :D
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon May 21, 2012 1:17 pm

Webcomic: Crow's Touhoumon Merry Nuzlocke Run
URL: http://s7.zetaboards.com/Nuzlocke_Forum/topic/8668549/1
Creator/s: "Crow"
Run: 3/12-current
Schedule: A lot
Section/s: Vols. 6 & 7

Website: Internet forums aren't really designed for displaying a 70-plus-page webcomic. The creator would be better off hosting the comic on one of the many free webcomic hosting sites, such as Comic Genesis, Smack Jeeves, Drunk Duck, or Comic Fury.

Writing: Before reading this comic, I was already vaguely familiar with the Nuzlocke genre, in which webcartoonists play Pokémon under specific rules and then make comics about their gaming experience. This comic, however, introduced me to a subgenre of Nuzlocke called Touhoumon, in which the trainers catch and train cute manga girls instead of monsters. Aside from the obvious thematic problems inherent with having people force human children to be their gladiatorial minions (and remember, a major point of Nuzlocke comics is that the characters actually die in combat), this Touhoumon aspect ruins the sense of familiarity I was expecting to have, as the monsters are extremely iconic for the Pokémon franchise.

As for the story, I can't say that any point I had any idea what was going on in any of the pages. I got the basic gist that there's a trainer who has her Touhoumon fight other Touhoumon, but I'm not sure I would've even gotten that much if it wasn't for my prior knowledge of the Pokémon franchise. Characters frequently get into fights for no reason, and these fights end abruptly without any suggestion of what happened. There's no clear distinction between the trainer and the Touhoumon, as all the characters are cute manga girls that talk. The first time I read the pages, I started to guess that the one with the red bow's the trainer, but now that I looked at some of the pages again, I think it might be the one with the hat. Really, the only part of the whole comic that made any sense to me was when the group encountered some kind of evil and powerful elemental spirit that fought the Touhoumon for a few pages. But even then, just as the battle starts, the characters inexplicably appear in the next page aboard a boat, talking to a witch, with no reference being made to the previous scene.

Lastly, one of the main characters is a pea-shooting plant from the Plants vs. Zombies game. I don't remember this character ever talking or even moving around in any of the pages, even though it's featured very prominently. I guess it's supposed to be funny or something, but I don't see how there's anything clever about it.

Art: This comic's plagued by liberally copy-pasted doodles of cute manga girls that all look basically the same. The creator comments after one of the pages, "I'm trying to churn out 7 comics a day," and it clearly shows.

The artwork's also almost all just of the girls standing around talking.

Overall: Crow's Touhoumon Merry Nuzlocke Run shows the skill and sophistication of a doodle casually scribbled on a homework assignment by a middle-schooler. If this comic was a Pokémon, it'd be a Level 1. The creator needs to acquire a "How to Draw" book, pronto, and start reading more professionally made comics. Trying to do seven pages a day's also a terrible idea; it's much better to make one decent-looking page a week than it is to quickly churn out a whole bunch of effortless ones.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby ovnuniarchos on Mon May 21, 2012 4:22 pm

Hello. I've been lurking these boards and I just registered to ask, if possible, for a review of my comic The Seekers.
I think some explanations are in order:
The site is mostly feature-complete, although lacking additional content. Also, it's just basically styled, with just the basic color/font scheme. The English version is a translation of the Spanish one, so expect some weird phrasings and such (but point them out, if you feel like it).
I thought that, if the comic was of such a dismal quality that it had to be scrapped, it would be pointless to make a full-fledged site.
The expected publishing rate is a page a week.
I'll be watching this thread (as I've been doing since it was opened), waiting for this review, and enjoying the other ones too!
Thanks for your attention.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Crow on Mon May 21, 2012 6:42 pm

Liberty, thank you very much for the review. I've been looking for someone to sit down and tell me what they think about my comic.

Can I ask questions here, or do I make a new topic for that?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue May 22, 2012 6:42 am

ovnuniarchos wrote:Hello. I've been lurking these boards and I just registered to ask, if possible, for a review of my comic The Seekers.

I'll be watching this thread (as I've been doing since it was opened), waiting for this review, and enjoying the other ones too!
Thanks for your attention.

Thanks! I'm glad you're interested in what I've been posting.

I'll certainly review The Seekers after I do my write-up on Harishankar's page. (Which should be pretty soon... work's been kinda ridiculous this week.) I used to play WoW quite a bit, so fortunately I can provide a perspective of the comic's intended audience (i.e., WoW players).

As for the website, I'm more interested in the quality of the art and writing, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Crow wrote:Liberty, thank you very much for the review. I've been looking for someone to sit down and tell me what they think about my comic.

I would've liked to have been more helpful, but unfortunately the comic's so primitive that I can't really give any advice other than the very basic "learn how to draw and write, and read good comics." I guess one more piece of advice I can add, though, is that there's been some notable Pokémon webcomics over the years (e.g., Moképon, Pokémon-X), so perhaps you can learn more about them and figure out why they're fairly successful.

Crow wrote:Can I ask questions here, or do I make a new topic for that?

You can post whatever here.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed May 23, 2012 11:57 am

Webcomic: Legalese Reloaded
URL: http://harishankar.org/blog/category.ph ... aded-comic
Creator/s: V. Harishankar
Run: 4/12-current
Schedule: About once a week

Website: The site describes itself as "Humour, comics, tech, law, software, reviews, essays, articles and HOWTOs intermingled with random philosophy now and then," and the comic pages seem overwhelmed by this miscellaneous, unrelated content. I think having a separate site for a comic's a better way to present it, and there are several free websites, such as Comic Genesis and Smack Jeeves, that are designed for hosting webcomics.

Writing: The main focus of Legalease Reloaded seems to be to present the legal world as it really is -- formal, obscure, and tedious -- as a contrast with pop culture's version of law as a dramatic battle of wits. While this approach scores points for originality, the creator fumbles clumsily with the concept, dropping in tepid gags here and there in some misguided attempt to be relevant. But this comic suffers from the same problems it tries to satirize -- it's formal, obscure, and tedious, and I expect readers will quickly get tired of slogging through the long-winded speeches and elaborate legal contexts while being starved for entertainment value. And to make things worse, the comic's merely a series of one-shots, meaning the extensive setups (often conveyed through multiple "wall of text" panels) become irrelevant with each new page.

Art: The comic has a very cartoony style, and the creator seems to have gotten a bit carried away with it, drawing the characters in an oversimplified and inconsistent manner that just looks sloppy and disinterested to me. While the creator demonstrates a general familiarity with anatomy, the characters' heads are frequently misshapen and vary wildly in style, giving the comic an unfocused, haphazard feel. The creator also continuously struggles with hands, presenting them as overly large and poorly drawn. There are also some problems with anatomy in general, especially with the female characters (see the poorly-drawn woman in the last panel here for an example). I realize that the illustrations aren't meant to be realistic, but the artwork doesn't suggest to me that the creator has any significant artistic ability.

I think the comic would look better if the creator put more focus on varying line widths, which would help create a more realistic and appealing look. Doing this should also help the creator get more control over the inking, which is a lackluster aspect of the comic's artwork.

The coloring and backgrounds are just "okay," and don't strike me as particularly good or particularly bad. I think the comic could benefit from varying the page layouts, though. All of the pages have a similar six-panel layout, and I imagine that if the creator played around with three-, four-, or five-panel layouts, he'd have more creative freedom, and could do things like having more elaborate backgrounds, and trying different panel sizes and shapes.

Lastly, it's a fairly minor complaint, but I can't help but think that the third panel of this page looks a lot like a cameo of Adolf Hitler. I don't know if this is intentional or not, but it seems very out of place for a comic in which the whole point is to be realistic.

Overall: Legalease Reloaded successfully distinguishes itself from pop culture, but the more prominent legal depictions -- however inaccurate -- are funnier, more interesting, and more relevant, which leaves this comic not accomplishing much. It has the angle of potentially appealing to people familiar with the legal world, but that niche audience is so limited that it's virtually irrelevant. There may be some creative potential here, but it'd probably be wisest for the creator to gain experience doing a more conventional comic.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Harishankar on Wed May 23, 2012 6:18 pm

Thanks for the review. Even though it's largely negative - and I do get some of your points, I thought I'd clarify a bit here. Please don't take this as a criticism of your review which I really appreciate for the effort you've put in, but I wanted some context and also I feel that you have been somewhat unfair in dismissing the entire premise of my comic because you expect the humour to appeal to everybody:

it's formal, obscure, and tedious, and I expect readers will quickly get tired of slogging through the long-winded speeches and elaborate legal contexts while being starved for entertainment value.

I feel this requires some rebuttal. This is not an action comic or even a gag-comic where brevity makes for better jokes. The comic is a social commentary + legal themed humour. Something like the old British TV Show "Yes Minister".

I cannot satirize a system without trying to bring out its idiosyncracies, can I? And for that, the comic has to depict these things, including long-winded formal speech and deliberately convoluted issues. How can I do so without portraying the system? I guess if you are a lay reader, it won't appeal to you. As a young adult, you might not like "Yes Minister" or shows like that. But still, I ought to have mentioned that before your review. And of course, each comic presents a different theme. There is no storyline as such. You need to be familiar with the underlying theme to understand. Hope that also explains the mismash of random characters.

About the humour and appeal of the comic - As I said, I figured it would not appeal so much to lay readers, but even so, your review has confirmed it. Thanks for the thoughts. Having said that I had consciously targeted only lawyers for this comic even though a few "lay" readers got the humour and satire. I guess it's funnier to lawyers, because we've experienced some of those in real life and I think while lay-people might not relate to them, my audience is lawyers - particularly courtroom lawyers who come across the situations. The "wall of text" is a bit of a problem, but I don't see how I can reduce that because the theme of the comic is satirical and that requires some verbiage. As I stated earlier, I'm not aiming for one-liner "gags", because gags are too simple and juvenile for the kind of theme I have. Maybe that's why you found the "gags" unfunny and tepid because you were looking for something that isn't there, because this comic isn't attempting for the last panel punchline, but rather to see the humour in situations with subtle exaggerations and absurdities. I think more than that, I am aiming for a bit of social commentary on the legal profession as a whole. Not every comic is supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny.

And I have to be fair to myself; I showed my comic to many lawyer colleagues, and they found it quite funny and satirical: genuinely so. One of my lawyer friends had a genuine laugh with some of them -- he wasn't just trying to be polite. I do admit that most of the humour, I think, might be a little too subtle for the lay reader, and I guess you missed them. Also parts the comic might not even relate to American systems of law because practices might be different over there. Fair enough. Most of the legal stereotypes are based on American system of law anyway.

2. Artwork - I feel this part of your review has been much more helpful to me and I feel you could have offered me a bit more suggestions. Your criticism is well-founded. Thanks for being honest about it. I do have some problem with drawing hands and while I keep practising realistic hands, I am having trouble translating that into comic form. I just want to let you know that I am not intentionally being lazy, disinterested or uncaring though. I am trying my best to improve my general artistic skill, but I keep repeating some old mistakes when it comes to comic drawing and I have a problem there. Have to train myself to get more consistent with the artwork.

One question though. From what you have implied, you suggest I have seem to have limited artistic ability. Is it impossible for me to improve my skills? Do you see any potential for improvement at all? I must admit that I felt quite depressed after reading your appraisal of my art particularly as I am making a lot of effort to develop it, but it appears to be lazy and uncaring to others. :(

Also varying line widths one clarification- are you talking about the variation in each individual stroke that some artists go for, or variation in line width for different objects to show depth?

3. Portrayal of Hitler - I assure you it is 100% unintentional. I never even saw the resemblance until you pointed it out. I was just going for a strict looking man with a moustache. I guess all strict-looking men with moustaches end up looking like one dictator or the other. :)

I must admit that I am slightly disappointed by the overall negative tone of the review but I appreciate your thoughts and your feedback. It is still in its nascent stages and I'm hoping to improve the artwork and at the same time improve the humour and satire quotient by polishing the writing. However on one thing, I see that I can either appeal to a shallow lay audience with the stereotypical lawyer jokes and pop-culture view of lawyers, or appeal to lawyers with more sophisticated and realistic satire, but I don't see how I can do both. So you might forgive me if I ignore your advice about doing a more conventional comic: lots of people do those. I still want to be different.

On a side note: I thought it might be better to publish my comic on my own blog as of now. I realize that there are many free comic hosting sites out there, but I always prefer to keep my content on my own domain.

I will come back for more feedback later as I continue to create the comic. I definitely will try to polish my writing but I'm afraid even then, the humour potential for a general audience might be wholly limited. Can't see how I can get around that unless I abandon the comic entirely. :(

And finally, if my rebuttal feels like I'm defending myself, it's only to present my clarification in respect to the theme of the comic. Of course, I have taken on board your suggestions regarding the artwork and the arrangement of panels and so on.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu May 24, 2012 2:35 pm

Harishankar wrote:Please don't take this as a criticism of your review

Don't worry about it.

Harishankar wrote:the comic has to depict these things, including long-winded formal speech and deliberately convoluted issues. How can I do so without portraying the system?

Maybe you're too concerned about "portraying the system." I'd say that being interesting and entertaining's the most important thing, because that's the main thing that gets people to want to read your comic. Now, obviously, that pushes your comic closer to the "pop culture law" that you're dissatisfied with, but your satire kinda falls flat if no one knows about it. If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Harishanker wrote:But still, I ought to have mentioned that before your review.

Not necessarily, though, because a casual reader wouldn't have that information, either. (And would you really want them to anyways?)

Harishanker wrote:And of course, each comic presents a different theme. There is no storyline as such.

It might be worth considering doing some longer-form stuff, like having a scenario played out over several pages. Robbo mentioned something about this. You could also play around with connecting the scenes in subtle ways -- for example, the intern in that one page could show up in a panel later on performing some menial task.

Harishankar wrote:The "wall of text" is a bit of a problem, but I don't see how I can reduce that because the theme of the comic is satirical and that requires some verbiage.

I feel like "walls of text" are just bad comic writing, and just don't really fit in with the timing and pacing of a visual narrative. If you really need to have a lot of dialogue, then you have to spread it out over more panels. That opens up new problems (e.g., "talking heads"), but you should be able to find some cartoonists' resources on that.

Harishankar wrote:Maybe that's why you found the "gags" unfunny and tepid because you were looking for something that isn't there, because this comic isn't attempting for the last panel punchline, but rather to see the humour in situations with subtle exaggerations and absurdities.

I dunno, I feel like I "get" all the humor, I just don't think any of it's funny or clever enough. I understand it's not supposed to be "laugh-out-loud funny," but my reaction's more like an apathetic shrug, which I don't think's the intention, either.

Harishankar wrote:I showed my comic to many lawyer colleagues, and they found it quite funny and satirical: genuinely so.

I've kinda seen this sorta thing before, in a more childish way, when people will sometimes post a gag that makes zero sense, and then under the comic or wherever they'll write some lengthy thing where they explain how it's an in-joke with their friends and how there's this whole story of how they were bored one night and they were watching this show and yadda yadda, and it's just really lame. I'm not trying to infer that Legalease Reloaded's like that, but my point is that I don't think trying to impress your social group (family, friends, co-workers) is a good goal for a webcomic. You could see this in a positive way, though -- say, if step 1 is making something good enough to impress your lawyer acquaintances, then mission accomplished. But in that case, it's time for step 2, which would be catering to the Internet crowd, which can be shockingly indifferent at times.

Harishankar wrote:Most of the legal stereotypes are based on American system of law anyway.

I don't know how much it really matters, though, since as you point out, much of pop culture law is heavily fictionalized anyways.

Harishankar wrote:I do have some problem with drawing hands and while I keep practising realistic hands

It's a common problem, as hands are probably the most difficult body part to draw. I think you just need to practice them more, possibly keeping in mind the underlying bone structure as well (it depends how cartoony you wanna be). As for size, it may help if you compare the hand to the character's head -- a fully extended hand's about the same length as the space between a person's chin and their eyes.

Harishankar wrote:I just want to let you know that I am not intentionally being lazy, disinterested or uncaring though.

I only meant that the art looks that way, not that you're actually lazy, although I understand how the distinction's unclear.

Harishankar wrote:you suggest I have seem to have limited artistic ability. Is it impossible for me to improve my skills? Do you see any potential for improvement at all?

By "artistic ability," I'm not referring to your inherent talent as much as your level of skill and experience. That said, yes, you definitely have room to improve, as long as you're determined and willing to put in the time and effort. Actually, I feel like anybody who says, "I can't draw well" is basically saying, "I'm not interested in learning how to draw well," although it really does take a lot of work.

Harishankar wrote:Also varying line widths one clarification- are you talking about the variation in each individual stroke that some artists go for, or variation in line width for different objects to show depth?

Mainly the latter, although the former's something to look into later on once you get more comfortable with the basics.

Harishankar wrote:3. Portrayal of Hitler - I assure you it is 100% unintentional.

I figured, and it's really just more of an amusing little thing I noticed. Another little thing in that page I didn't mention's that the lawyer's glasses don't have the bridge in one of the panels. Little things like that just happen once in a while, though -- I recall in one review I noticed that the creator forgot to draw the goatee on one of the main characters for a couple pages. But part of feedback's role is to catch stuff like that the creator might otherwise have not noticed.

Harishankar wrote:I must admit that I am slightly disappointed by the overall negative tone of the review

Yeah, it happens. It might be better to get reviewed early on like this, though, 'cause otherwise you run the risk of having a reviewer tear up a 100-page project or whatever, and then you're kinda, like, "Wow, I just wasted two whole years of my life making bad comics." (Which is an overly negative perspective, of course, but y'know, people get emotional about these sort of things.)

Harishankar wrote:I see that I can either appeal to a shallow lay audience with the stereotypical lawyer jokes and pop-culture view of lawyers, or appeal to lawyers with more sophisticated and realistic satire, but I don't see how I can do both. So you might forgive me if I ignore your advice about doing a more conventional comic: lots of people do those. I still want to be different.

I hear you, and I realize it's sort of a rough situation to be in. My attitude about unconventional comics, though, is that inexperienced creators sometimes do them and fail, and it seems like they're being overambitious trying to do something avant-garde like that when they haven't demonstrated an ability to even handle the basics yet. I mean, that's basically what happened when I tried to do Deep in 2006, and you can read Cannatella's review in W.A.Y. to see how that went. It was a cool, hippy-dippy idea 'n' all, but I was an overeager 19-year-old at the time and just in way over my head with it. I'd be happy if you can pull it off somehow, but I wouldn't bet on it happening, at least not yet.

Harishankar wrote:I will come back for more feedback later as I continue to create the comic. I definitely will try to polish my writing but I'm afraid even then, the humour potential for a general audience might be wholly limited. Can't see how I can get around that unless I abandon the comic entirely.

Eh, we'll see what happens. As you said, the comic's still in its nascent stages.

Harishankar wrote:And finally, if my rebuttal feels like I'm defending myself, it's only to present my clarification in respect to the theme of the comic. Of course, I have taken on board your suggestions regarding the artwork and the arrangement of panels and so on.

It's fine. I welcome this sort of dialogue as long as the person's being mature and reasonable about it.
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