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 McDuffies on Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:48 am

That would be wonderful, although I don't like to encourage people to review a comic that hasn't updated for ages. :cry:
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:36 am

McDuffies wrote:That would be wonderful, although I don't like to encourage people to review a comic that hasn't updated for ages. :cry:

I know, and I'm hesitant to do it 'cause of that. But I've been meaning to read LWK for a while, anyways, and I figure I might as well write about it while I'm at it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:53 pm

Webcomic: Little White Knight
URL: http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/litt ... knight.php
Creator/s: Srdjan Achimovich
Run: ?
Schedule: On indefinite hiatus

Website: The site's generic, black-and-white layout's clearly underwhelming as far as webcomics standards go, but after viewing several similar-looking Graphic Smash webcomics, it's apparent the hosting service doesn't offer its creators much opportunity for customization.

While modest, Little White Knight has a decent amount of additional content, including fan art, a description of the comic, a comments box, and links to the creator's other projects. It also has its own subforum, but it's barely mentioned on the site, and has been inactive for a while. A cast page might be a good idea considering the broad scope of the story, but I don't see it as being entirely necessary, particularly since the comic's more concerned with its historical setting. Extra information on medieval Spain would've been a nice touch, however, sort of like how the creator of Without Moonlight elaborates on World War II-era Greece. The subforum also has some thumbnails for the comic, which would've made nice extras for the site.

The archive page is disorganized, with no attempt made to separate the pages into chapters and volumes. While Graphic Smash only offers a very straightforward table of contents, the creator could've uploaded cover pages in order to label the different sections. The table also doesn't make it clear how long the comic is, as while it has links for 143 pages, the real page count's probably closer to around 300.

Lastly, I initially wasn't able to view the pages in the section titled "Drill," and upon closer inspection, I saw that the pages weren't showing because they had "websitetestlink.com" in their URLs. I was finally able to see them when I edited the links, but it was definitely an unnecessary hassle.

Writing: Little White Knight boldly tackles a variety of complex subjects, including gender roles, class consciousness, historical perspective, sexuality, imagination, racism, religion, and political power struggles. These elements combine to form a surprisingly sophisticated and mature story, and Little White Knight probably has more depth than any webcomic I've read before. I'm confident that I could write extensively about a wide range of topics in Little White Knight, similarly to how I wrote about Loud Era's Marie, but unfortunately, due to time constraints, I'll barely be able to scratch the surface of these subjects in this review.

The story makes it clear that the role of a noblewoman in 11th-century Spain was solely to marry politically advantageous men and have children, and this cultural attitude forms the backdrop of the drama surrounding the swordfighting protagonist, Malena. Her perpetual resistance to authority, pursuit of forbidden love, and cartoonish appearance help make her a compelling and magnetic hero. In addition, her sex, youth, and stick-figure physique give her the underdog's appeal as she battles older and larger opponents, and it appears that the rebelliousness associated with her swordplay encourages her to work particularly hard at mastering it. Malena also makes a very reasonable point: If she really is the best swordfighter in Spain, then she deserves to be acknowledged and rewarded for it. Even her superior fighting style is criticized, however, being called "girlish," showing how resistant the society is to anything that deviates from tradition.

Another particularly interesting character is El Cid, a charismatic military strategist, who upsets the nobles, and is subsequently placed under arrest by his incompetent and corrupt king, Alfonso. El Cid's the complete opposite of Alfonso, being muscular, attractive, intelligent, courageous, selfless, and family-oriented, and it's obvious that Spain would benefit from having him in charge; however, like with Malena, the rigid social structure prevents his merits from being perceived in a positive way. Also, like Malena and other characters in the comic, El Cid's faced with two divergent paths: He can adhere to the status quo and live comfortably, or he can rebel, doing what he believes is right but risking being ostracized. King Alfonso and some other characters hypocritically twist this dynamic, however, proclaiming Christian righteousness as the motivation to fulfill their selfish desires.

While Little White Knight demonstrates a great amount of skill in its writing, it's impossible to ignore the Serbian creator's major shortcomings in translating the dialogue and captions to English. Spelling and grammatical mistakes are the norm, typos are common, and practically every sentence in the comic's written in a way that's awkward and unnatural. The dialogue's also noticeably plain, and lacks the playful, stylistic flair a capable English writer's expected to deliver.

Art: The cartoony, black-and-white illustrations are done extremely well, with the creator prominently displaying his superb inking abilities. Every page shows a careful attention to detail, yet at the same time, there's a relaxed looseness to the drawings that has an energetic, immersive feel to it. The creator describes this look as being intended to give the artwork a "dreamlike aura," and I think he's successful in establishing a sense of fleeting intangibility. The hatching, crosshatching, and detailed brickwork appropriately help convey the story's dark and dangerous atmosphere, as well as depicting the medieval architecture.

The comic capably handles portraying different degrees of realism, with the dream-giants being fairly realistic while Malena's circular head, large eyes, and thin torso and limbs make her more cartoony than the rest. Scott McCloud has a section in his book Understanding Comics that explains why simplistic figures are easier to relate to, and this contrast encourages the reader to root for Malena's success right from her first appearance. The other characters tend to have their heads drawn as a particular shape, such as a rectangle, diamond, or crescent, and this makes them look more distinct and easier to tell apart.

There's a great variety of body postures, perspectives, and panel and page compositions, and the characters are quite expressive and animated. The comic's many action sequences are also choreographed particularly well, with the elaborate and exciting swordfighting scenes being one of the comic's main highlights.

Overall: Despite initially feeling intimidated by the prospect of reading Little White Knight's several hundred pages, my first reaction upon completing it was disappointment that the story didn't continue on further. This is an outstanding graphic novel that's a step up in quality from the rest of the webcomics scene. Aside from its weak English, the comic's remarkably sophisticated in the way it handles its multiple plotlines and wide variety of political issues. I highly recommend Little White Knight to anyone who has the patience and time to enjoy this lengthy but engrossing story.
Last edited by LibertyCabbage on Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:17 pm

A few things:

1) I feel sorta disappointed about the review, since I had to rush it a bit since it took me so long to read through the story and I wanted to get it done before I go outta town tomorrow. However, I realized pretty quickly that in order to properly do LWK justice I would probably need a good 3k words or so minimum, and as mcDuffies noted, it'd be a bad idea to spend so much energy on a comic that hasn't updated in a while. So, towards that I'll just say this for any potential readers: LWK's a very good comic, and if you're interested in knowing more about it, I'd certainly encourage you to read it yourself at some point.

2) This was somewhat of an experiment to try doing a full-archive review of a long comic, and while I'm glad I read the whole thing, I think I'll keep sticking to just doing chapters. The significant reading time didn't really add anything to my review, and I already hit 1k+ words without even getting to maybe 80% or more of the things I wanted to write about. If I could've cut my reading time down by 75% and spent twice as long on the writing, I think that review would've been superior and taken less overall time for me to do.

3) I like writing about really good writing, but I always feel bored writing about really good artwork. When that's the case, I just keep it short and simple, and move on to the next part. Is it a problem, or am I worrying about it for nothing? Other webcomic reviewers are universally very writing-centric, so they're no help as a reference, but I suppose I could find reviews of professional comics, which might give a little more thought towards the art aspects.

4) Any suggestions for the next comic/s to review? I'll be starting it back up on Tuesday, and I don't have anything in mind to review yet, so I'll probably just end up knocking out a few requests on Smack Jeeves unless I get a better idea.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:40 pm

Wow, that's an exceptionally positive review! Thanks, LC!

LibertyCabbage wrote:Extra information on medieval Spain would've been a nice touch, however, sort of like how the creator of Without Moonlight elaborates on World War II-era Greece.

I have a funny idea of finding someone with actual education in the field to write me an about page, a sort of like how in graphic novels there's sometimes a preface written by others.

The table also doesn't make it clear how long the comic is, as while it has links for 143 pages, the real page count's probably closer to around 300.

That's left over from pay model days, as you might remember. When I was starting, GS worked by giving the last page or update for free and charging for the rest, and in order to circumvent that a bit, I had two-page updates, so that last two pages would be free. So, the archive page lists updates, not pages. When I resume updating, I should rearrange the whole thing.

Malena also makes a very reasonable point: If she really is the best swordfighter in Spain, then she deserves to be acknowledged and rewarded for it. Even her superior fighting style is criticized, however, being called "girlish," showing how resistant the society is to anything that deviates from tradition.

It's a sort of a bonus for knowledgeable, Malena fights in style that didn't exist in her time, back when swordfighting was more about straightforward test of strength and endurance and less about agility. It's a cute little anachronism but not something I'd want to flaunt at reader's face.

King Alfonso and some other characters hypocritically twist this dynamic, however, proclaiming Christian righteousness as the motivation to fulfill their selfish desires.

I was hoping not to make any strongly antagonistic characters... to me, they were all doing what was in their best interest and operating under the mindset that is far removed from today's... medieval man acting like medieval man is not backward or anything. Like Alfonso, I wanted him to be comical and flawed, but also likeable, after all from a westerner's perspective, he was doing something good, and naturally he had to make some rough cuts... like, at the time he was one of the early rulers who favored diplomacy over war, which certainly puts him in my good book, but it's natural that most of the characters would think that he was betraying the idea of chivalry and manliness, even though I don't. But he's certainly an interesting character, that kind of persistence must have come from some peculiar emotional baggage. So, I don't know how it came out in the end.

While Little White Knight demonstrates a great amount of skill in its writing, it's impossible to ignore the Serbian creator's major shortcomings in translating the dialogue and captions to English. Spelling and grammatical mistakes are the norm, typos are common, and practically every sentence in the comic's written in a way that's awkward and unnatural. The dialogue's also noticeably plain, and lacks the playful, stylistic flair a capable English writer's expected to deliver.

:( Sadly. But I should note that I avoided any faux-medieval flavour. To my mind, you have to have them sound to today's readers the way they would sound to an observer from that time.
Except I tried not to have any slang. That would have been silly.

Scott McCloud has a section in his book Understanding Comics that explains why simplistic figures are easier to relate to, and this contrast encourages the reader to root for Malena's success right from her first appearance.

If I remember well, he postulated that simplistic art style is more intrinsically symbolic so you are more free to project to it? That was actually one part of the book that is dubious to me, that whole pyramid looks like a pure academic exercise... I think that simple artwork is simply easier on the eyes, gives you basic information instantly and with less distraction. Also people love skinny characters with big eyes.

This is an outstanding graphic novel that's a step up in quality from the rest of the webcomics scene.

Shucks. I didn't expect you'd praise me that much.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:12 am

McDuffies wrote:I have a funny idea of finding someone with actual education in the field to write me an about page, a sort of like how in graphic novels there's sometimes a preface written by others.

That'd be a good idea.

McDuffies wrote:It's a sort of a bonus for knowledgeable, Malena fights in style that didn't exist in her time, back when swordfighting was more about straightforward test of strength and endurance and less about agility. It's a cute little anachronism but not something I'd want to flaunt at reader's face.

My main point was that the Spanish people don't see Malena's ingenuity as a positive quality. Culturally, they like to keep things the way they are.

McDuffies wrote:I was hoping not to make any strongly antagonistic characters... to me, they were all doing what was in their best interest and operating under the mindset that is far removed from today's... medieval man acting like medieval man is not backward or anything. Like Alfonso, I wanted him to be comical and flawed, but also likeable, after all from a westerner's perspective, he was doing something good, and naturally he had to make some rough cuts... like, at the time he was one of the early rulers who favored diplomacy over war, which certainly puts him in my good book, but it's natural that most of the characters would think that he was betraying the idea of chivalry and manliness, even though I don't. But he's certainly an interesting character, that kind of persistence must have come from some peculiar emotional baggage. So, I don't know how it came out in the end.

He's likable in the sense that he has more power and responsibility than he's capable of handling, and that vulnerable state puts him in the "lovable loser" category. He was also born as an heir, so being king was something forced upon him, as opposed to something he chose to be. His moral downfall, though, is that his "rough cuts" (e.g., arresting Sancho and El Cid) cause suffering for others, but the "rough cut" that would really help the kingdom more than anything would be to reduce his own power, which is something he obviously won't do. His diplomatic efforts are somewhat commendable, but I get the impression it has a lot to do with wanting to avoid the responsibility of managing a war, and apparently the king's expected to fight alongside his soldiers, which is something Alfonso clearly isn't equipped for. And as for the hypocrisy part, I don't consider it to be "strongly antagonistic," but there's a certain degree of vice involved with publicly appearing motivated by a strong sense of religious devotion, while privately showing no regard for Christian principles. Contrast this with the blacksmith, who basically says, "Poor people like me are immoral, too, but at least we don't act like we're better than everybody else." In any case, he's definitely an interesting character.

McDuffies wrote: :( Sadly. But I should note that I avoided any faux-medieval flavour. To my mind, you have to have them sound to today's readers the way they would sound to an observer from that time.
Except I tried not to have any slang. That would have been silly.

I agree that writing in something like Shakespearean English would've been a mistake. However, that isn't what I was referring to when I complained about the dialogue being "plain," and it would still be plain if you'd used a modern setting. By "plain" I mean that it does a good job of conveying information, but it lacks a noteworthy artistic, individualistic touch. Only the particularly skilled English writers do it, though, and in this case it's somewhat irrelevant in the context of the comic's huge technical problems.

McDuffies wrote:If I remember well, he postulated that simplistic art style is more intrinsically symbolic so you are more free to project to it? That was actually one part of the book that is dubious to me, that whole pyramid looks like a pure academic exercise... I think that simple artwork is simply easier on the eyes, gives you basic information instantly and with less distraction. Also people love skinny characters with big eyes.

I might have to read that part again. But in any case, it's clear that simple, cartoony figures have a strong, universal appeal to them.

McDuffies wrote:Shucks. I didn't expect you'd praise me that much.

Yeah, I regret that it took me this long to get around to reading it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:50 pm

His diplomatic efforts are somewhat commendable, but I get the impression it has a lot to do with wanting to avoid the responsibility of managing a war, and apparently the king's expected to fight alongside his soldiers, which is something Alfonso clearly isn't equipped for.

I see that you have an image of him as a right bastard, which is not something I intended. Historically, he did fight with his soldiers though, now I realize that I have never showed him on a battlefield. Sometimes I forget which chapters I finished and which I did, and I know that the later ones do show him on battlefield.

And as for the hypocrisy part, I don't consider it to be "strongly antagonistic," but there's a certain degree of vice involved with publicly appearing motivated by a strong sense of religious devotion, while privately showing no regard for Christian principles. Contrast this with the blacksmith, who basically says, "Poor people like me are immoral, too, but at least we don't act like we're better than everybody else." In any case, he's definitely an interesting character.

It was medieval times though. It was times when it was commonly believed that king indeed was sent directly by god to rule the land with pretty much free range, a belief that is shared by all characters of the comic (well except those in dreams I guess).

However, that isn't what I was referring to when I complained about the dialogue being "plain," and it would still be plain if you'd used a modern setting. By "plain" I mean that it does a good job of conveying information, but it lacks a noteworthy artistic, individualistic touch. Only the particularly skilled English writers do it, though, and in this case it's somewhat irrelevant in the context of the comic's huge technical problems.

I guess that's one of many reasons why I chose comics instead of prose. :wink:
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:50 am

McDuffies wrote:I see that you have an image of him as a right bastard, which is not something I intended. Historically, he did fight with his soldiers though, now I realize that I have never showed him on a battlefield. Sometimes I forget which chapters I finished and which I did, and I know that the later ones do show him on battlefield.

And plus, he's drawn comically short and fat. While it's probably an exaggeration, he still looks like a wimp, and it doesn't help that he's generally around much larger men (e.g., his tall bodyguard).

I feel like Alfonso mainly just doesn't want to deal with any of his kingdom's problems, and even his diplomatic approach has very little effort put into it. He has a laid-back, "Type B" personality, and he likes the perks of being a king, but he doesn't like the pressures associated with it. There are a lot of people like this in life, and they're not necessarily bad people, but in Alfonso's case, his actions can result in misery or prosperity for a lot of people, and he doesn't seem to take that amount of power very seriously. So, yeah, I'd consider him to be a "bastard," although he's still obviously more rounded than an Evil Overlord.

McDuffies wrote:It was medieval times though. It was times when it was commonly believed that king indeed was sent directly by god to rule the land with pretty much free range, a belief that is shared by all characters of the comic (well except those in dreams I guess).

And yet, nobody in the comic likes him, with the sole exception being his mistress, and that's only because he gives her presents. So, I think the characters may be more sophisticated and "modern" than you're giving them credit for. And obviously this concept of Divine Rule is viewed as backwards and primitive today.

McDuffies wrote:I guess that's one of many reasons why I chose comics instead of prose. :wink:

Art's surely more international. I suppose style might develop naturally with practice, though. I haven't ever given much thought to it, as English is obviously heavily associated with American and British writers.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:01 pm

Webcomic: Boy with a Secret
URL: http://www.bwascomic.com/comics/
Creator/s: "Tanako"
Run: 9/10-current
Schedule: W/Sa
Section/s: Ch. 6, "Doing it for love," & Ch. 7, "I'ts not what it seems"

Website: It has a distinctive layout dominated by green colors and nature imagery, and I find this design to be very appealing and easy on the eyes. The banner's colorful, fun, and informative, although it's strange that it adds the word "The" to the comic's title, whereas everywhere else on the site it's shown as just Boy with a Secret.

The site's well-organized and has a lot of relevant extras, including a "New Here?" page that I wish a lot more webcomics had. The FAQ and cast pages do a good job of conveying important information to the reader, although, as I'll get into in the next section, I would've preferred for there to be more of that information in the actual comic. There's also a gallery and a forum, and readers can help support the creator by donating or by purchasing the comic's print version. The site also has a poll concerning basic information about the comic's readers, and it shows that 42 percent of those polled are between the ages of 15 and 18, which is roughly the age range of the characters in the story.

The creator regularly posts comments along with the pages, and she takes the time to respond to the readers comments. I like this kind of creator-reader interaction, and I view it as one of the main ways that webcomics can be superior to print comics.

Lastly, I like how the archives show a thumbnail of each of the pages. It certainly made it easier for me to navigate through the comic while I was writing this review.

Writing: You've got a fairly typical high school "who likes who" story, but the creator throws in some twists that make this comic unexpectedly complicated. For starters, each of the two main characters, who are both gay men, are the love interests of multiple characters, and every scene in the comic's devoted to briefly exploring each of these one-sided affairs. It's clear why Rei has his admirers, as he's handsome, wealthy, charismatic, and muscular, but the creator doesn't really bother to explain Haruhi's attractiveness. He's essentially the exact opposite of Rei -- girlish, poor, and antisocial -- yet he has women falling all over him because he's "nice" and "cute," including the comic's huge-chested bombshell, Minako. Rei's affection is even more vague, explaining that he changed schools to be closer to Haruhi because the latter's "going through a rough time." Boy with a Secret has a lot of focus on the emotional hardships brought on by romantic longing, but I think the story would be more compelling if the characters' motivations were more than just casual references.

It gets weirder than that, though. It turns out that Haruhi has multiple personality disorder, so not only is he an effeminate male, but he's also a female named Hinori. According to the site's FAQ page, "Haruhi and Hinori are both one person but have different personalities and way of thinking. [...] Hes very dominating and most of the time hes taking over her body, so she is basically known as a boy by every one around her." I appreciate the effort to make the comic more interesting and unique by adding a psychological edge to it; however, the creator does a poor job handling this complexity in the comic. When I initially read and reread Chapter Six, I assumed that Rei was talking about two separate people when he mentioned Hinori, and then, later, wanting to "get rid of Haruhi." After reading the FAQ, I then considered that Haruhi may have tricked Rei by dressing up as a woman; however, after skimming a previous chapter, I saw that Rei still calls him "Hinori" and "she" even though Haruhi's obviously a male. My understanding now's that Rei means he wants to "get rid of" the male portion of the Haruhi/Hinori dynamic somehow, but it's difficult to arrive at this conclusion when nowhere in the two chapters, the cast page, or the "New Here?" page is any reference made that Haruhi has this disorder.

And it still gets weirder. There's a cross-dressing male named Nori, who's apparently a different character than Hinori despite having a very similar name and appearance. Nori also goes by the name Naoki, even though there's another character in the comic who's also named Naoki. Am I the only one who's gotten a little confused by this? Anyways, Nori comes across as a parallel of Haruhi, as while they both change their genders, Nori does it by choice. His request for Ayumi to "transform [him] into a girl" is underdeveloped, though. His reasoning comes from his confusion after being rejected by Rei, saying, "If he dosent like guys then why did he change schools to be with one? I really don't understand him and it's driving me crazy!" However, becoming a woman doesn't seem like a reasonable solution, as Rei expresses no romantic interest towards any of the comic's endless supply of gorgeous women. Nori might be hoping that Rei has a secret fetish for drag queens, but even that's a stretch. In any case, the creator doesn't explain Nori's motivations enough, instead choosing to focus on his dejected state, as well on as the cutesy moment when Ayumi and Nori shout, "TRANSFORMATION!!!"

As far as pacing goes, there isn't much information being conveyed. Every page has a slow, heavy, and overly dramatic feel to it, and because of that, I got much less out of this section than I've gotten out of similar amounts of pages in other webcomics I've reviewed. The creator should try to use her pages more efficiently, as I think these two chapters could've been done in at least half as many pages without really sacrificing anything.

Lastly, the creator needs to pay more attention to her spelling, and at the very least she should be running the dialogue through a spellchecker.

Art: The creator's unusually talented, rendering the characters realistically but also with a strong sense of her own style. She's fairly consistent most of the time, although there are some notable exceptions, such as the last panels here and here (NSFW?), where the right side of the character's face is wider than her left side, and the top panel here, where Nori's proportions are way off.

A big problem with the artwork's that the characters generally appear rigid and doll-like. Their faces aren't expressive, and their body postures are stiff, with them often shown standing perfectly erect and staring directly at the "camera" as if they were posing, as seen here, here, and here. Inexperienced artists often draw figures this way because it's relatively easy, but I'd expect a creator of this caliber to recognize how unnatural and lifeless this position is.

And speaking of lifeless, I really dislike the comic's dull pseudo-backgrounds. Instead of doing proper expository shots, the creator uses small panels that are meant as snippets of a more elaborate scene. But the rest of the scene never manifests, as the pages are filled with simple, generic backgrounds made from computer-generated textures and copy-pasted objects. The most blatant instance of this is the scene on the school's roof, where for several straight pages the comic goes back and forth between showing Haruhi in front of a CG brick wall, and showing Eri in front of a CG fence and sky. Even though the comic's settings are pretty mundane, having interesting and detailed backgrounds adds an invaluable amount of personality and visual context to a scene.

I also have another gripe about backgrounds: The perspectives need work. This page, for example, looks wrong, and it's because the table, wall, and television are all drawn at different angles, when they should be the same. Perhaps worse, though, are the outdoor scenes, where the creator doesn't consider the horizon line at all, drawing foregrounds and backgrounds that are impossibly meshed together. Looking at the top panel here, it's fairly clear it could only make visual sense if the characters and the bench were floating high above the ground. It's also very important the creator starts varying the widths of the lines, as currently the backgrounds are inked the same as the foregrounds, making the illustrations look flat and two-dimensional. Objects closer to the viewer should always have thicker lines than objects further away.

Lastly, the FAQ page explains that characters are given unusual hair colors and styles "to make every one stand out as their own person," but I feel like this is largely a quick band-aid fix for the creator's problem of drawing every character pretty much the same way. The creator should practice drawing different facial features and body types in order to add some variety to her comic's ensemble.

Overall: It happens fairly often that an inexperienced writer takes on an overly ambitious concept and falls far short of their goals, as not only is their concept too advanced for them to handle, but it also distracts from the fundamentals that they haven't quite mastered yet. The creator of Boy with a Secret tries to enhance her story with complex sexual and psychological issues, but from what I've seen so far, I'm not convinced that she's capable of writing even a regular love story. I think it'd be wise for her to hone her narrative skills first before she gets carried away trying to do anything too intricate. Her artistic abilities are clearly more developed, though, and while her skill level may be somewhat disappointing at this stage, she certainly has a lot of talent to work with.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:14 pm

Webcomic: Anthro Kai
URL: http://anthrokai.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: "Raxki Yamato"
Run: 1/11-current
Schedule: About twice a month
Section/s: Pp. 1-5, 31-50

Website: The dark layout, with its black background and red links, looks too goth and angsty for such a lighthearted comic. A light-blue layout might be ideal considering that the comic has a lot of ocean scenery.

The cast page should definitely have pictures of the characters. The best-looking ways to add them are to either code the cast page in a table format, or to use divisions with the "float" style.

The creator should move his fillers, guest comics, and whatever other miscellaneous content out of the comic's archives and into a separate part of the site reserved for bonus material. This makes it easier to read the comic in big chunks while also helping the site stay organized.

Lastly, there should be more consistency with the updates, although the creator seems to already be aware of this problem.

Writing: Like the last webcomic I reviewed, Boy with a Secret, this one's by an American creator but its main characters are Japanese. The comic alternates between touching moments and goofy ones, but the 16-year-old creator's clearly not experienced enough yet to handle writing either of these aspects. His principal mistake's that he doesn't manage to make any of his characters interesting, nor does he give his audience enough of a reason to care about what happens to them. This element would be somewhat less crucial if the story had more of a plot, but seeing as how it's entirely character-driven, having poor characterization's a pretty big deal. The pacing's also too slow, which seems to be a common problem amongst webcomics that try to be funny while simultaneously having a serious storyline going on.

While everything I've seen has exclusively been about middle-schoolers doing dopey stuff, the comic's site indicates that Anthro Kai also has a science-fiction backstory involving a Japanese scientist who created human-animal hybrids. I can't help but wonder: How come the comic's genetically-altered freaks are so easily accepted by society? According to the "About" section, hybrids were only first created about 60 years ago, yet humans (who are rarely seen in the comic) seem to treat their existence as being totally normal, and even have sex with these furries (...?). It's clear to me that changing all the comic's furries to humans would have zero effect on the narrative. Personally, I don't really care if a creator provides an explanation for why his or her characters are furries, but I find Anthro Kai's underdeveloped science-fiction concept to be a lot more interesting than its failed attempt at comedic drama.

The creator links to and praises several notoriously awful furry webcomics, including Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Better Days, Exterminatus Now, Furthia High, Las Lindas, and Twokinds. I haven't personally read any of these webcomics, so I don't know if they're really as terrible as their reputations make them out to be, but nevertheless, it's alarming to me that a young webcartoonist would choose these particular webcomics to idealize. I also think it'd be a good idea for him to read more non-furry webcomics in order to get a broader perspective.

Lastly, both chapters start the exact same way: a one-page flashback (1 and 2) followed by someone waking up the protagonist (1 and 2). The creator should try to be more creative with his story structures, especially since having the main character get woken up is already a very clichéd opening.

Art: The comic starts off being unreadably juvenile, but in just a year's time the creator's improved substantially, to the extent that I initially thought the more recent pages might've been drawn by a different person. The characters and environments are rendered much more competently now, with the creator even managing to pull off a fairly difficult action shot in the top panel here. Compare this messed-up beach background from March 2011 to this similar background from December 2011 that's done much better. And there are some impressive vehicle illustrations lately as well, as seen here and here.

Some of the more challenging scenes show that the creator still has a lot of room to improve, though. Reader "Meleeman" (whose webcomic, FML and FTW, I reviewed a little while ago) correctly points out the major flaw in this panel's perspective, writing, "The camera is pointing at Hiro moving away from us, and the tall building, well it seems like it doesn't fit or there are 2 pictures in one." The top and bottom halves of this page have totally different perspectives, which gives the impression of there being two images. The characters in the bottom panel here are huge compared to the beach they're standing on, making it appear as if they're 40-foot-tall giants. And for here and here, the purple clouds are a poor substitute for a proper crowd scene.

Facial expressions are another problem area, and it doesn't help that literally every person who appears in the comic has long bangs that cover part of their face. Almost every page of Chapter Two has somebody making one of those ridiculous manga faces, which I don't have a problem with, but in the sections I read, I wasn't able to find a single panel that had a decently drawn expression in it. It's one thing to draw deformed chibi figures because they're cute and funny; it's another thing if the creator does it because he can't draw faces properly. The comic also has a flaw common in manga webcomics of showing its characters' mouths on their cheeks. As "Covenmouse" of Wind Spirits explains in her review of How to Save the World, "The whole mouth-on-the-cheek convention has a very specific, very lazy reason for being: it's easy and cheap to animate. That's it. There's no deep rational, no stylistically sound reason for thinking it makes sense that a human beings mouth is on their cheek." Some practice with realistic figure drawing might help the creator be more competent here.

Overall: It's nice to see a young creator emerge on the webcomics scene with this level of diligence and talent, and I hope he has the humility, integrity, and patience needed to succeed as a webcartoonist. Anthro Kai isn't a good comic by any means, but I'm more interested in what the creator's work will be like five years from now than in how it is today. The most important thing he can do at this stage is to practice a lot, and to just read a ton of comics.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:01 am

Webcomic: Wayward Nonsense
URL: http://waywardnonsense.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: "waywardbreeze"
Run: 7/12-current
Schedule: Random

Website: It's generic.

Writing: In this autobiographical comic, the creator's avatar's an introvert who hates his job and plays a lot of video games. I noticed that the strips fall neatly into two categories: ones where the avatar interacts with people (1, 2, 3), and ones where the avatar's by himself (1, 2, 3). Strangely, every instance of human interaction's shown as being extremely negative and unsettling, while the avatar's generally in a state of blissful contentment while in solitude. Most of the unpleasant experiences are at his job, which has a cohesiveness of presenting the frustrations of working in retail, but his social aversion spills into his hobbies as well. He's always happy as a lamb when he plays games by himself, but the one time he's shown playing against someone online, he ends up feeling dejected. And in this scene, he fails at trying to fit in with the ravers. The most blatant example, though, is in this strip: Gaming with his dad as a 6-year-old's a bad memory, but playing the same game by himself as an adult's a blast.

So, what does this mean for the comic? I get the impression the creator's trying to present his character as an "Average Joe" that the audience can easily relate to, but he actually comes across more as a neurotic narcissist. And when he's not complaining about his job, nerdgasming over a video game, or fantasizing about Batman, he's either whining about things that annoy him (1, 2, 3) or whining about how lousy he feels (1, 2, 3). I just don't see anything likable or interesting about this character that would motivate a reader to wanna check back week after week to see what he's up to. And unlike a self-deprecating cartoonist such as Robert Crumb, who deliberately portrays himself as an obnoxious douchebag, the creator here depicts his self-insert as a childish victim who the audience is supposed to feel sorry for.

Based on the prevalence of the word "nonsense" and the lack of a plot, it seems like the creator's trying to do some sort of random humor strip, but the humor's notably absent. This strip's probably his most coherent attempt at making a joke, and it's just a vague excuse to have the character's head explode. More common, though, are strips like this one, which look like the creator drew something uninteresting and couldn't come up with any text to go with it. I guarantee that no one's ever gonna think the punchline "I'm gonna sleep harder than your mom's meatloaf," seen here, is anything but lazy and terrible. And those three strips are probably the best "jokes" in the whole comic. The rest of the time, you get stuff like this.

Art: I'd describe it as a "doodle comic," in that it somewhat emulates the ultra-casual nature of doodling. This style could possibly work if done by a competent artist, but the creator isn't one, and his strips give the impression that he was trying to win a bet that he could draw an entire comic in 30 seconds.

Overall: This is one of the worst webcomics I've reviewed, and I'm disappointed that the creator thinks it's reasonable to post something this low-quality. At best he's wasting his and his readers' time, and at worst he's portraying himself as being immature and dysfunctional. Hopefully, some time from now he'll look back on Wayward Nonsense and say to himself, "What was I thinking?"
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:25 pm

I posted another satirical anti-government piece on my blog, if anyone cares.

I dunno yet what I'm gonna review next, so if anyone knows of a webcomic they'd like to see reviewed, I'll probably do it.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:43 pm

Webcomic: Gaia
URL: http://www.gaiacomic.com
Creator/s: Oliver Knörzer, Ute Knörzer, Puri Andini
Run: 11/11-current
Schedule: Tu/F
Section/s: Ch. 2, "Shadowdancers"

Website: For some reason, the comic has very inconsistent load times for me. I timed the pages as taking anywhere between three and 50 seconds to load, with the latter number obviously being completely unacceptable. It's possible it has something to do with my own software or Internet connection, but if that's the case, then how come I've never noticed this problem with any other website? I think this is a major problem that the creators urgently need to look into. I suspect it might have something to do with there being four large advertisements on every page. (I got pop-up ads a few times as well.)

The site has a simple-but-elegant look that's easy on the eyes and easy to use. I'd certainly consider it to be fully featured, as it has multiple pages with more information about the comic, as well as its own forum. Interestingly, the comments section can be only be viewed by clicking on a certain link, so that aspect of the site's completely optional for readers.

Lastly, Gaia updates twice a week, which is pretty impressive for a webcomic with such detailed artwork. And on top of that, the creators do another webcomic called Sandra and Woo that also updates twice a week.

Writing: The story's set at a Harry Potter-esque wizard school in a medieval fantasy setting that's about as generic as possible. Gaia blatantly copies Final Fantasy VII's concepts of Gaia and the Lifestream, keeping Gaia the same and merely renaming Lifestream to "Bluestream." In addition, the largest city in FF7's named Midgar, while the largest city in Gaia's named Midgard. The concept of powerful crystal fragments being hidden throughout the world is featured heavily in at least Final Fantasy I, III, IV, and V. Lastly, the comic also features the Mythal and the Dalelands, which are lifted straight out of Dungeons & Dragons without even changing their names. It's unclear if the creators sufficiently credit Square Enix and Wizards of the Coast; what is clear, though, is that their fantasy world's uncreative and borrows extensively from various sources.

The characters aren't properly developed either, as the chapter's hopelessly fixated on Lilith's suffering. Between her getting attacked by a wizard, getting arrested, being sentenced to death, getting treated poorly in jail, being attacked in jail twice (1, 2), having everybody think she's an evil traitor, and feeling guilty about not helping her schoolmates enough (1, 2), the chapter's basically one big Lilith pity party. And despite her being the focus of the story, we never actually learn anything about her background or personality -- every scene merely iterates that she's an innocent, helpless girl who's mistreated by evil people, while meanwhile being the love interest of the two handsome male protagonists. I think it's pretty clear that she falls into the dreaded "Mary Sue" category. And her suitors, Ilias and Sandril, aren't any better, lining up neatly with Jacob and Edward from the Twilight series. (Ilias is the humble nice guy, while Sandril's the wealthy bad boy.) Sandril's prone to angry outbursts, which makes him slightly more interesting than his more stoic counterpart.

The best parts of the writing are the natural dialogue and coherent plot, and this is somewhat surprising since the writers are German. Gaia actually has much better English than most webcomics written by native English-speakers. The creators are helped by no less than four editors, though, which I'm sure has something to do with how successful the comic is in this area. I think getting assistance in this situation is a smart move.

Lastly, what's the point of the random fight with the robot? I mean, it looks cool, and the punchline's pretty good, but I imagine the chapter would be better off if those pages were used for some much-needed character development.

Art: Readers should be wowed at the comic's top-notch fantasy artwork. With its detailed backgrounds, realistic anatomy, fluid body postures, distinct character designs, elaborate period clothing, and attractive coloring, the comic's very appealing, perhaps even coming close to representing a professional level.

The cartoony facial expressions are hit-and-miss for me, though, and it doesn't appear the creator's given this area a high level of focus. I'm somewhat shocked that an artist with this much skill repeatedly makes the newbie mistake of drawing characters' mouths on the side of their cheeks, and it's a distracting turn-off for me in a lot of the pages. Other times, though, she'll draw faces as being anatomically correct, so it's difficult to even consider the cheek-mouths as being part of her style. And a lot of the faces have their mouths somewhere in-between, inconsistently showing up wherever below noses. I think the creator just doesn't have a clear idea yet of how cartoony the comic should look, which isn't excusable considering that Gaia's already almost up to its 100th page. Also, what's going on with the weird snout noses that just started popping up in the last few pages (1, 2, 3)?

The other oddity that bothered me's that some of the women in the comic don't really look their age. I can't shake the impression that Viviana has the head of an 8-year-old, even though clearly has the body of a teenager, and might even be an adult. And it's even worse in the earlier pages. It might be her large eyes and round nose that make her look so young. Lilith also suffers from this, as seen in pages like the ones here and here, where her head drops more than a few years when we're supposed to feel sorry for her. The scene where she gets arrested is particularly guilty of this (1, 2). The other prominent female character, Alissa, never seems to have this problem, though, strangely enough.

Overall: Twilight fans might get a kick outta Gaia's love triangle, but I expect most readers will "ooh" and "aah" over the brilliant artwork until they quickly grow bored of the uninspired story. Bad pacing, weak characterization, and derivative concepts prevent this webcomic from being a worthwhile read. Gaia's still early enough into the story that it can be turned around, though, and hopefully the creators'll realize that great artwork can only do so much for a webcomic.
Last edited by LibertyCabbage on Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:45 pm

I've got another satirical piece on my blog today, and I'll have another one up on the 28th.

I'll probably review Bittersweet Candy Bowl next.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:36 pm

This thread flashes that it has a report, but I can't find the offensive post...
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:53 pm

Webcomic: Bittersweet Candy Bowl
URL: http://www.bittersweetcandybowl.com
Creator/s: Veronica Vera, Oliver Bareham
Run: 5/06-current
Schedule: M/W/F
Section/s: Ch. 71, "Just Beautiful"

Website: With its bright colors and Care Bears-esque imagery, it looks like something out of a happy-go-lucky kids' show. I think it's an excellent design, although it seems inappropriate for this comic considering how depressed some of the characters are.

The comic's got a "New Reader?" section similar to Boy with a Secret's "New Here?" section, which is nice, although its snippets from the various chapters are jarring since the scenes don't have any context. The cast page is great, though, with large portraits for the main characters, and smaller ones for the minor characters. The "Extra" section's weird because readers have to pay to join "Bittersweet Club International" in order to see most of it; however, it's ultimately the creators' business decision to do it that way. The site also appears to have almost 4,000 fan-art entries, which is way more than I've seen in any other webcomic before.

The creators run a few other webcomics on the side, including a Sonic the Hedgehog parody, an "ask the characters" comic, and a journal comic.

Lastly, the site has a forum, and its store has a 592-page print version, along with various jewelry, posters, and other goodies.

Writing: I heard about this webcomic from The Bad Webcomics Wiki and from Anthro Kai's links page, so my impressions of it were very mixed. BWW's "oddguy" describes Bittersweet Candy Bowl as "angsty tween drama shit," while Anthro Kai's "Raxki Yamato" says it has "very deep characters and an interesting story." So, who's right? While I generally don't see the BWW as having much credibility, "oddguy"'s definitely spot-on here. The comic piles on angst, drama, and sadness to perpetually tug at the reader's heartstrings, but it's boring because every page is so overblown. The fashion-show scene's already overly sappy, but by around this point, I couldn't stop myself from literally laughing out loud at just how ridiculously overdramatic the chapter had gotten. And as the cherry on top, the creators channel Megatokyo by finishing things off with a sad girl in the snow.

The source of all this soul-crushing angst is that 15-year-old Mike has two hot teenage girls chasing after him, and he's just so sad about the whole thing. And I guess the reader's supposed to be wiping their eyes while they cry about how miserable and tortured this poor catboy is. But I don't feel sorry for Mike at all, and if I could, I'd give him a high-five for being so lucky with the ladies. I mean, how many ninth-graders have even been in a serious relationship? This kid should be at home playing XBOX and posting awful Megaman sprite comics on his Smack Jeeves account. And take a look at his character bio: "Mike often finds that the girls who vie for his attention are the source of most of his problems." So, I'm supposed to feel bad for Mike because... he's too popular and attractive? Are you kidding me? If Mike's anything, it's annoying, because he's so whiny and mopey all the time.

When the comic took it into overdrive with its climactic "sad kitties in the snow" scene, at least half of my attention was devoted to trying to figure out what this thing is. Seriously, what's this even supposed to be? It doesn't look like anything, and the cast page doesn't help at all aside from saying its name is Yashy. "oddguy" suggests the creators are ripping off Nintendo's Yoshi, which is definitely plausible. If it is Yoshi, then the creators need to show the common sense, courtesy, and professionalism of crediting Nintendo for the character. Although, Yoshi obviously shouldn't be anywhere near a dramatic comic like this to begin with.

Art: Awww, look at the sad kitty.

No, really. Look at it . And look at it again. And here. And here. And here. And here.

Congratulations, you just read Chapter 71 of Bittersweet Candy Bowl.

The characters are so overwhelmingly adorable that they almost look like they came out of the Hello Kitty universe. And this factor leads to the comic's ultimate downfall: Its ubiquitous angst and depression makes everything seem super-important, but at the same time, the characters are so over-the-top cutesy that it's impossible to take any of it seriously. And the creator seems so fixated on drawing her signature doe-eyed expressions that the more important elements, like character and plot development, get pushed to the side. The first page of the chapter clearly demonstrates Mike's sadness, so showing it over and over doesn't give the reader any new information.

The creator's actually a pretty good artist, and Bittersweet Candy Bowl features some of the best illustrations you'll see in a furry webcomic. This page stands out as an example where the creator shows off her skills, and her strong anatomy's consistent throughout the chapter. Some of her backgrounds are nice (I like this page in particular), although the creator overuses a technique where she shows circular lights against a murky background (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The watercolors are also detailed and attractive, and they give the comic a unique look.

There are a couple things that bothered me about the art, though. Like the last comic I reviewed, Gaia, the characters appear much younger than they should be in order to make them more likable. The adults in the comic (1, 2, 3) are drawn with much smaller eyes and more realistic proportions than the teenagers, but this difference is exaggerated too much, making the 15-year-olds look like they're about 8. My other gripe's that the creator's ability to draw mouths falls apart during the scene where Mike talks to Sandy. Check out the cheek-mouths throughout the page here, with the characters' mouths being drawn completely differently in the last panel even though they're in the same pose. (The same thing's done here as well.) I dunno what's going on with Sandy's mouth in the third panel here, but it's obvious that her teeth would show when her mouth's wide-open like that. Similar shots are shown here and here, where Sandy's mouth still has no teeth but looks a lot different. Most of the time the creator just draws lines or half-circles, which is fine, but characters need to look consistent no matter what perspective they're shown in.

Overall: The creators seems to equate emotion with depth, but that isn't necessarily accurate. Bittersweet Candy Bowl's characters, while intended as angst-ridden teenagers, come across as whiny and annoying, and I'm hard-pressed to care about their problems when they look like they crawled out of a Lisa Frank drawing. The comic's about 1,000 pages in right now, and I'd suggest that it's about time to wrap things up and move on to a new project; however, considering that the creators just raised $35,000 on Kickstarter to print a second volume, there's probably no chance of that happening. So, I'll end my review with this: Jeff Smith's epic adventure story Bone is 1,300 pages long; how many pages do you really need for sad cats in the snow?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:17 pm

Webcomic: Grrl Power
URL: http://www.grrlpowercomic.com/
Creator/s: David Barrack
Run: 8/10-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Ch. 2

Website: It's got a slick, consistent design, with various aspects of the site all having gray gradient backgrounds. The site also has a small banner, instead focusing on showing randomized images of the comic's main characters. This seems like a great way to present a webcomic that has a large cast. There are a fair amount of ads and vote buttons, but they're at the side and bottom of the page, so they don't clutter up the layout as much as they do in some sites.

Grrl Power really excels at its character bios, and it has a great feature where each page gives some basic information on each character who's present in that particular page. The actual cast page is also very appealing, showing cool "score card" thumbnails that open up into Javascript pop-ups when clicked on.

The comic has a Facebook page, a Google+ page, a Twitter account, and a forum, so there's ample opportunity for interaction, and the Archive page is probably one of the most user-friendly I've encountered.

Lastly, I'd prefer to see the comic's fan art put in its own section, and the creator should try to add more bonus content to the site.

Writing: I've mentioned a few times that the Web isn't an ideal medium for superhero comics, and the creator of Grrl Power seems fully aware of this problem, as he throws in a few twists to try to make his superhero concept work.

The protagonist, Sydney, is sorta like Spider-Man or Green Lantern in that she's a fairly normal person who suddenly gets superpowers from a freak occurrence. The twist's that she's not actually all that normal, as she suffers from an extreme case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Instead of trying to depict Sydney's ADHD in a realistic manner, though, the creator uses it as an excuse to have her constantly behave like a super-wacky, semi-retarded 6-year-old. The chapter's filled to the brim with Sydney's random humor, giving her tons of dialogue even though she acts oblivious towards what the other characters are doing and saying. About halfway through the chapter, I realized I was actually subconsciously skipping all of Sydney's dialogue, as everything she says is just an unfunny joke. She would've been much better off as someone's goofy sidekick instead of being the main character. Also, how come there isn't more resistance towards letting her join the superhero group when she seems like she's one sugar rush away from seriously hurting somebody, or even destroying a major city? If I were one of the comic's superheroes, I'd be more worried about Sydney than about any supervillain.

The pacing's unbearably slow, as the comic's cast spends almost 30 pages standing around in an empty room listening to Sydney whimsically explain her various superpowers. It's gotta be the most glaring example of an exposition dump I've ever seen in a comic. There's no doubt that part of the problem's that the creator tries to cram joke after joke after joke into every page, constantly derailing his attempts to get any actual information across. And despite the obnoxious amount of exposition in this comic, I never even got an inkling of what the overarching story's actually supposed to be about; at more than 100 pages in, the plot should be fairly well-developed by now.

The other twist's that the comic's superhero team's almost all women, and aside from Sydney's humble appearance, the comic wastes no opportunity to show its audience boobs, boobs, and more boobs. Superheroines in print comics are known for being overly sexualized, but Grrl Power takes it a step further, having a cast that includes a succubus, a character in a sexy French maid's costume, and a character with multiple bodies whose superheroine alias is Harem. It regularly devolves into a perverted gag comic, featuring such subjects as sticky cleavage, women joking about how slutty they are, women comparing their boobs, and a woman laughing as a guy rubs his face in her cleavage. These jokes are always misses, and they come across as a halfhearted excuse to draw extra attention to a character's boobs, or to show a character groping herself.

Lastly, with a title like Grrl Power, a prominent character who's described as a "rabid feminist" in her bio, and the occasional feminist subject matter, it's somewhat jarring how shamelessly the creator can objectify his characters at times, with the bottom-left panel here being a notable example. And in that page, Mr. Amorphous' lipstick marks are damning for both women -- Maxima looks bad for lacking subtlety, and Heatwave looks bad for losing interest in Maxima's transgression so quickly. Then, in the closest thing the comic has to a fight scene, the superheroine Anvil gets humiliated by a guy who doesn't even have any superpowers. It's clear that every woman in the comic's a sexy airhead, with the exception of Dabbler, who's competent at seducing people, and Sydney, who isn't sexy.

Art: In the comic's About page, the creator explains his motivation for the project, writing, "I thought I could keep my interest up if I was drawing well packaged hot women all the time." While his illustrations might not have much artistic value, he's gotten extremely good at drawing his favorite subject. As a major bonus, though, he also does a great job of rendering the cartoonish Sydney, who looks like she popped out of a Sailor Moon fanfiction or something. I imagine very few webcartoonists could put together such incongruent styles and make it work as well as the creator does.

Drawing porn would probably be a walk in the park for the creator, but if I were a publisher considering hiring him to illustrate a superhero comic, my biggest reservation would be how skilled he is at drawing action scenes. The few fights in the chapter are all very brief and very silly, with the most interesting fight, which is the one between Dabbler and Maxima, literally only lasting one panel. Dabbler's fight with Sydney's about the same length, and Math spends more time posing than he does actually fighting with Anvil. I get that Grrl Power's supposed to be more slapstick than other superhero comics, but I'm sure the creator could've found a few pages here or there to add a decent action sequence, especially considering how much of the story's just random jokes.

Overall: The creator's an insanely talented artist, and he could be a much bigger name in webcomics if only he'd let someone else -- anyone else -- take over the writing duties for him. In Grrl Power, boobs are the setup, punchline, and main character, and while this approach might attract an audience of sex-deprived fanboys, I expect they're less interested in the dialogue and plot development than they are in the characters' cup sizes.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:24 pm

Webcomic: A Redtail's Dream
URL: http://www.minnasundberg.fi/
Creator/s: Minna Sundberg
Run: 9/11-current
Schedule: Every day but Sundays
Section/s: Ch. 4

Website: It's very appealing, greeting the reader with a large example of the comic's colorful, dreamlike artwork. The navigation buttons are also very distinct, and they give me the impression of something like Native American or Norse wood carvings.

The comic has a lot of extras, including various drawings, tutorials, creator comments, and information about the comic. I like how the characters in the cast page are interacting with each other, although I think the cast and home pages should elaborate more about the comic.

Lastly, A Redtail's Dream updates six days a week, which is extremely impressive considering how detailed the artwork is. The creator obviously started off with a large buffer, but still, I don't know of any other webcartoonists out there who are this prolific.

Writing: Surrealism's one of my favorite genres, so I was pleased to stumble upon A Redtail's Dream, which takes place in a dreamlike reality called the Bird's Path. I was eager to discover more about this imaginative setting, which includes talking animals, magic portals, and immortal monsters; however, every time I expected the creator would deliver a bit of exposition, she passed up the opportunity to do so. Puppy-Fox's conversation with the bird's treated as being a big deal, but the subject they're talking about's only referred to vaguely as "this whole mess." Similarly, when's Hannu's asked why he and Ville are looking for Mr. Moose, he brushes the question aside, saying, "I have my reasons." And a lot of the chapter deals with a killer ghost-zombie-moose-thing, but its origin's only casually mentioned in one panel, where zombie-squirrel-things are given no specific explanation of why or how they made an undead monster. At one point, I breathed a sigh of relief as the creator appeared as if she was finally gonna give a clue as to what was going on; however, her idea of a plot synopsis is this: "See, we're all trapped in a dream reality right now, because of some hocus-pocus accident that some magical sky-fox caused, and the only way for you to get home is if a person, who I strongly suspect is your dad, puts this trinket on and agrees to return." That sentence is all the plot information I got from reading an 88-page chapter of a webcomic that's 228 pages in. Also, if Hannu's objective is to get the trinket to the guy, then how come, when they finally meet, all they do is chit-chat, and not even mention the trinket once? Just two pages later, Hannu's already beginning his next mission, which is to hunt down and kill the zombie-moose. But what happened to using the trinket to escape from the dream-world? It's possible that Hannu could've been lying about it, but if that's the case, then it means the reader's even more lost as to what's going on than they were before.

I'm aware that many, if not all, of the comic's mysteries are probably answered in the previous chapters. However, I think reader accessibility's just as important as, if not more important than, having a good story. And the irony is, while a creator might obsess for months, or even years, over their story, trying to get it just perfect, failing to include a necessary sentence of information here or there for new readers can be more damaging to the comic than any problem with the narrative. This information might be superfluous for established readers, but the minor annoyance caused by redundancy's far outweighed by the utter confusion caused by not giving new readers anything concrete to latch onto. They could go back to the beginning to gain a better understanding; however, why bother to make that level of investment when a reader can, instead, visit a more coherent webcomic and start enjoying it now? It's just a bad strategy, and if a surrealism fan like myself is gonna lose interest in the story, then I imagine the majority of webcomic readers are gonna find its vagueness even less appealing.

I think it's worth bringing up here the short review I wrote a few months ago for June, which is also a surrealism webcomic that doesn't really have a plot. The reason June works better's because it's more abstract, jumping around abruptly from scene to scene and portraying nonsensical imagery, so the comic itself seems to have more of a dreamlike nature. A Redtail's Dream, on the other hand, reads pretty much like a fantasy adventure story, and its plotlines of "bring this trinket to this guy" and "find and kill this elusive monster" seem like side quests straight out of an RPG. I'd even prefer something like an incoherent David Lynch film, where the situations are so intense and bizarre that it doesn't really matter that much that you barely have any idea what's going on.

On a more positive note, A Redtail Dream's characters are decent, with the playful dog-moose Ville stealing the show. I'm not one to typically get amused by cute animal characters, but he really is adorable here, and I get the impression he's having fun going on this weird adventure since his normal life as a dog's so boring. Hannu could stand being developed more, though, as he's basically the same generic, boyish protagonist as Ilias in Gaia, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Lastly, the amount of spelling and grammatical mistakes would be somewhat higher than normal for a native English-speaker, but it's really not that bad considering that English is the creator's third language, after Finnish and Swedish.

Art: The creator iterates throughout the About page and her comments that this is merely "intended to be a practice comic," but it should be obvious to every reader that the artwork's superior to just about any "real comic" out there. I'm hesitant to put her in the same category as some of webcomics' "elite" artists, such as Tracy Butler, Aaron Diaz, and Sarah Ellerton; however, at only 22 years old, she's a lot younger than they are. For those of you reading this who just want a quick glimpse of her abilities, the amount of talent displayed in this page is off the charts.

If the creator has any weakness she should focus on improving, it'd be human faces, as I was consistently a little underwhelmed with them. The faces in these pages, for example, seem just sorta so-so to me, and the manga-ish noses and mouths seem out of place.

Overall: A Redtail's Dream's lack of a plot leaves too many unanswered questions for me to fully enjoy the comic, but its gorgeous scenery and lighthearted situations make it a fairly fun read regardless. If I were a casual reader, I'd consider checking out A Redtail's Dream solely for the phenomenal artwork. The writing might not be anything special, but at least it's not angst-ridden or offensive like some of the other webcomics I've reviewed lately.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:40 pm

Webcomic: I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!!
URL: http://www.lesbianspacepirates.com
Creator/s: Megan Rose Gedris
Run: 3/07-current
Schedule: M/F
Section/s: Vol. 3, Ch. 5, "The Bride Wore Red"

Website: It's very colorful, and it's easy to use. The site's fully featured, with a detailed About page, an attractive Cast page, a couple image galleries, a blog, and a couple social media sites. There are also several promotional videos, which is pretty unusual. The creator appears to be selling a T-shirt featuring some of the comic's characters, but I wasn't able to find it in her e-store. Maybe it's sold out.

The creator also does a slice-of-life webcomic called Meaty Yogurt, a "food porn" webcomic called Eat Me, a BDSM webcomic called The Lady Eudora Henley, a "mermaid porn" webcomic called Darlin’ It’s Betta Down Where It’s Wetta, and a "surreal romance adventure" webcomic called YU+ME: dream. I imagine she doesn't get much sleep.

Writing: I'll start this part off with a question: What would I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!! be without the lesbians?

Figured it out yet? If you guessed it'd be I Was Kidnapped By Pirates From Outer Space!!!, then you're correct; give yourself a pat on the back. I feel like this new, modified title doesn't work as well, though. There's something hip, wacky, edgy, and creative about adding girl-love to the formula. After all, pirates aren't anything new, and neither are space operas; combining the two's been done as well. But lesbian space pirates? That's something different.

It's also a gimmick, which leads me to my second question: If this were a straight comic where roughly 50% of the comic's cast were males, would anything in the comic change at all? Aside from the references to the island of Lesbos and the Greek poet Sappho, I think it'd be exactly the same. And that's too bad, because beyond the comic's wacky gender twist, all you're left with is a mildly humorous science-fiction comic with a flimsy plot.

The chapter gets off to a decent start, with its ensemble of wacky, colorful characters doing silly stuff. Then, the ditzy and overdramatic Princess Betty, in a moment of pure airheadedness and emotional vulnerability, spontaneously proposes to one of the queen's officers. It's a pretty good gag, but, unfortunately, the creator makes the baffling mistake of trying to turn this goofy moment into a serious storyline. The officer accepts the proposal, plotting to murder her new bride and the queen, therefore becoming the new ruler of Lesbos. It's an Idiot Plot, as no one could realistically give Betty that much responsibility when she clearly has the intelligence of a gerbil, and the wedding happens about a day after the engagement, which doesn't make sense, either. Even Susie, who knows about the planned assassination, is so overjoyed at being asked to be the maid of honor that she somehow decides not to warn Betty about it. The pirates then rush into the wedding chapel right as the bride's about to say "I do" (boy, I didn't see that one coming), warning everyone about an impending alien invasion, or something. I'll just say that, as far as stories about royalty go, it's no Hamlet.

Art: This part's more interesting, as the creator goes for an old-school pulp look that's by far the comic's biggest draw. Ben-Day dots, faded colors, and damaged pages make it look like you found the comics in a box in Grandpa's attic. The cartoony spaceships look like something that might've been cool 60 years ago, but they look ridiculously cheesy by today's standards, and the outfits are so strange that I almost wanna place their origin as far back as the '40s. This style's probably one of the most unique I've seen in a webcomic, and it makes the comic way more fun to read.

Aside from that, the illustrations look great in general, and the creator makes a conscious effort to have the characters look different aside from just their hair. The anatomy's spot-on, and the creator uses a variety of page layouts and perspectives to keep the visuals fresh.

Overall: It's a shame the creator didn't put more thought into her concept, as, with its retro style and competent drawings, the comic could've really been something special. Having "lesbians" as your plot only gets you so far, and I think the comic would be better off if the creator let it be the quirky gag comic it seems like it's trying to be. The characters are so dumb, and the writing's so silly, that I could care less about an alien invasion or the kingdom getting overthrown. After all, who's gonna take a webcomic seriously when it has three exclamation points in its title?
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby wulfmune on Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:56 am

Hi there.

I've been lurking for a bit and I keep coming back to this thread. I really appreciate your blunt-but-fair approach to reviewing webcomics. I'd like to ask you specifically to review my comic, even though I'm not a contributor here. I've been trying to work up my nerves and now that I'm getting ready to start on my second major installment, I don't think I should put this off any longer. I think you could provide some valuable insights. If you have the time and inclination, I'd like to get your opinion.

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Thank you for time and consideration.
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