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 Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:02 am

Cool, I'm glad you're enjoying the thread.

I'd be happy to review Witch's Quarry, and I plan on reading the "Rogue X Knight" short for it unless you have any objections. (As I've stated in a few of my reviews, I'm not a fan of doing full-archive delves.)
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby wulfmune on Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:47 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:Cool, I'm glad you're enjoying the thread.

I'd be happy to review Witch's Quarry, and I plan on reading the "Rogue X Knight" short for it unless you have any objections. (As I've stated in a few of my reviews, I'm not a fan of doing full-archive delves.)


Fair enough. Thanks again!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:48 pm

Webcomic: Witch's Quarry
URL: http://witchsquarry.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: Jennifer Lee Quick
Run: 3/12-current
Schedule: Every day
Section/s: "Rogue X Knight"

Website: It's certainly better than most Smack Jeeves comics, as it has an attractive banner, a custom background design, and a variety of story information and bonus content.

The most interesting part of the site's how the creator goes an extra step to involve her readers. Readers picked "Rogue X Knight" from a list of possible stories the creator could work on, and the creator's currently running a contest for readers to submit original characters to be included in the comic at some point. The creator also manages to respond to nearly every one of the readers' comments.

Lastly, the creator's posted at least one page a day since the comic started, which is a very impressive rate that probably only a handful of webcartoonists out there could keep up with.

Writing: The About page depicts the comic as a typical fantasy story, and I was caught off-guard by how heavily it focuses on gay romance. The "X" in the chapter's title suggests it's a love story, so I wasn't completely surprised, but the comic's much more intense and sexual than the overtly boy-love-oriented comics I've reviewed. I'm not part of Witch's Quarry's target audience, so my critique might not be entirely relevant, but hopefully I can at least present the perspective of someone who's not normally interested in boy-love stories.

The creator's better-known for her boy-love print comic Off*Beat, which was first published by Tokyopop in 2005. The experience she gained working on her previous project seems to have paid off in her new one, as she demonstrates an unusual amount of maturity and patience in the way she develops her protagonists' relationship. "Rogue X Knight" was turned into a two-parter, and the added length really helps the reader get a good feel for the characters' personalities and why they're attracted to each other. Going from being complete strangers to one giving the other a B.J.'s a big transition that requires a proper build-up, and I'm glad the creator didn't rush to get to that point. The several intimate scenes (1, 2, 3) leading up it make the drunken scene more palatable, as otherwise, the alcohol could be perceived as an excuse for the creator to jump to a certain resolution. The chapter also ends on an open-ended note regarding Deshad's sexuality: Is he a straight man betrayed by his drunkenness, or did the alcohol loosen him up to the extent that he could accept his gayness?

The protagonists follow the standard boy-love model of having an older, more masculine boy (the seme) chase after a younger, gentler boy (the uke). (The characters' ages aren't stated in the comic, but in one of the creator's comments, she notes that Deshad is several years younger than Wes.) Their affection for each other seems at least partly rooted in that they both have an intense desire for a different life: Deshad craves liberation from the societal expectations and pressures of being a knight, and Wes seeks comfort, stability, and a place he can call "home." I think their relationship's the most interesting when Deshad's fiancé, Celeen, is involved. When Wes interrogates her, it seems partly out of an obligation to make sure she's suitable for his friend, but it also seems partly fueled by a sense of spiteful jealousy. Wes then threatens to rape her, giving us an up-close-and-personal view of his dark, aggressive, and dangerous side, and this is the first time I got the impression that the boys' romance wasn't just a playful affair, but was rather something that could end up being very destructive for everyone involved. The awkward scene later on where Wes deconstructs the sexual advances Deshad's made on Celeen is also one of the chapter's highlights, and again, it relies on a strange combination of camaraderie and bitterness.

There's a bizarre twist in that the lovers look almost completely identical, presenting shades of incest that have confused some of the comic's readers. While the readership's unanimous that the lovers' scenes are appealing and sexy, readers "K" and "dukgrrl" suggest the relationship could qualify as masturbation, and others have pointed out how "weird" ("xcares") or "creepy" ("Almightyra") Wes' sexual advances are, with reader "strix" even bringing up the term "twincest." Reader "spas" summarizes the dissonance, explaining, "Awesome -- I love it! It would be creepy if it turned out they were twins separated at birth -- but otherwise, yes!" The creator dismisses that comment, replying that "It is impossible for them to be twins," but nowhere in the story, the site, or the creator's comments is any attempt made to explain their extreme similarity other than when the creator makes one vague reference to them being "doppelgangers." As for myself, I found the story to be pervasively unsettling on some level, and I'm left wondering why the creator would come so close to doing an incest story when she clearly states that she didn't intend to write one. And even if it's not incest, then the amount of narcissism the characters display by lusting after their near-identical counterparts is still kind of disturbing. The creator addresses the complaints at one point, writing, "Incest to me seems more to do with who you were raised with as family," but I don't see this explanation as being thorough enough.

Lastly, as a fan of the fantasy genre, I'm a little disappointed that the comic doesn't have more fantasy elements. Some minor instances of world-building pop up here and there, but for the most part it's just a generic medieval setting. The comic most closely resembles a fantasy story when the characters refer to a magic spell called "The Sword of Light," but the spell doesn't get shown being cast, and the comic only vaguely explains what it is and why Deshad's able to cast it. The creator often elaborates on the setting in her comments, but I'd like to see more of her creativity and plotting show up in the actual pages.

Art: The comic's cutesy and appealing manga art's above average, and it's definitely adequate for depicting the various flirtatious scenes. Anatomy's a particularly strong area for the creator, and the characters look detailed and realistic whether they're heavily clothed or in the nude. The backgrounds are also reasonably detailed, as the creator avoids the somewhat common manga trap of relying too much on pseudo-backgrounds.

I have a few issues with the artwork, though, starting with faces shown in profile view (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The creator gets a little better at it over the course of the chapter, but there are many instances where she messes up profiles to the point that I found it distracting. Eyes are too close to the edge of the face, ears get oversimplified, the lower half of the face contorts to accommodate unrealistic cheek-mouths, and jawlines are at sharper angles than they should be. Part of the problem seems attributed to the exaggerated manga expressions, but other manga artists have managed to make their faces look more natural. And on the topic of faces, I think the protagonists' effeminate features are exaggerated too much, which results in them looking like prepubescent girls. I realize that boy-love comics do this on purpose to an extent, but a combination of their pronounced cheeks, thick lips, narrow chins and jawlines, and long eyelashes and hair make them look even more feminine than the comic's women. Also, Wes is supposed to be a few years older than Deshad, but their age difference isn't shown at all.

Lastly, the creator has an unusual two-tone style of coloring, where she uses heavy shadows on her lightly colored characters. This style looks very unnatural to me, and I don't think that drastic of a contrast is possible unless a bright light, such as a candle or lantern, is held up close to someone. A Frank Miller-style black-and-white comic might emphasize shadows like this to look edgy, but a noir style obviously has no place here. I think using softer, smoother shadows would look a lot better. On a positive note, though, the coloring seems to improve a little in the second half of the chapter.

Overall: Witch's Quarry could've been an example of a gay-romance comic done right, but it's impossible to ignore how uncomfortable its incestuous relationship is, which some of the comic's own fans have complained about. I'd consider it to be merely a distasteful creative decision if the creator had done it on purpose, but since the impression of incest doesn't seem to be in the creator's plans, I can't help but see it as being a major flaw. Aside from that, though, the comic has fairly competent artwork, and its daily updates allow the plot and character development to progress at a brisk pace. The creator's clearly a veteran cartoonist, and I'm sure that her comic will improve if she fully utilizes her experience and skill.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:59 pm

wulfmune, let me know if you'd like me to clarify any of the points I made.

Next on my itinerary's Goblins, and after that I'm considering doing an article with stylistic tips and tricks for writing webcomic reviews.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:17 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:wulfmune, let me know if you'd like me to clarify any of the points I made.

Next on my itinerary's Goblins, and after that I'm considering doing an article with stylistic tips and tricks for writing webcomic reviews.

Cool, looking forward to it!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby wulfmune on Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:51 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:wulfmune, let me know if you'd like me to clarify any of the points I made.

Next on my itinerary's Goblins, and after that I'm considering doing an article with stylistic tips and tricks for writing webcomic reviews.


Thank you for your time and thoughts. I really do appreciate all of your feedback, especially considering that this story was not your preference. You have given me a lot to consider and I will continue to work on the technical aspects of my art especially. I do find it useful to have an "outside" opinion, as WQ is really drawn and written for my own hobby rather than a target audience. There are undoubtly some readers who were following the main story and that are not fans of boy's love.

With that said, I do find it a bit of a pity that you weren't able to review the main story, as it is more focused on fantasy elements. After reading your review, I wonder if I could have gotten even more useful feedback on my world building in the rest of WQ, but it does take me a long time to work up and I know you prefer not to have to read through whole archives. I didn't wish to drag the side story out any longer than necessary, so I hope you will understand why I choose to focus solely on the character relationship for Rogue X Knight.

I was a bit surprised at the "incest" part of your commentary. I do enjoy poking playfully at the edges of taboos, however it did not occur to me that I was being overly distasteful. It is not my intention to play up such elements as fetish material (as they quite often are). Perhaps I have underestimated the power of such an implication if one superficial element undermined the rest of my story telling? The fact that Wesyng and Deshad resemble and replace each other is more important to the main plot than their awkward, unsettling fling. Would you recommend separating the short story with a link from the rest of my comic?

Again, thanks for the review and I will step aside and let you move on now ;)
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:34 am

wulfmune wrote:With that said, I do find it a bit of a pity that you weren't able to review the main story, as it is more focused on fantasy elements. After reading your review, I wonder if I could have gotten even more useful feedback on my world building in the rest of WQ, but it does take me a long time to work up and I know you prefer not to have to read through whole archives. I didn't wish to drag the side story out any longer than necessary, so I hope you will understand why I choose to focus solely on the character relationship for Rogue X Knight.

I think you handled the writing about as well as anyone could expect (aside from the incest part). My personal desire for more fantasy elements was meant as just a combination of my interest in fantasy stories and my lack of interest in romance stories.

As for world-building, you might be generally relying too much on your comments. It's an impractical way to deliver important information, and you have no guarantee that readers see them anyways. If you can't find anywhere to put it in the story, then you might wanna consider adding a section on the site dedicated to elaborating on the setting. I've seen a few webcomics do this.

wulfmune wrote:I was a bit surprised at the "incest" part of your commentary. I do enjoy poking playfully at the edges of taboos, however it did not occur to me that I was being overly distasteful. It is not my intention to play up such elements as fetish material (as they quite often are). Perhaps I have underestimated the power of such an implication if one superficial element undermined the rest of my story telling? The fact that Wesyng and Deshad resemble and replace each other is more important to the main plot than their awkward, unsettling fling. Would you recommend separating the short story with a link from the rest of my comic?

Sexual stuff's always a disproportionately big deal. And even though you make it clear that it isn't supposed to be fetish material, I don't see any positive effect it has on the comic other than making it appeal more to incest fetishists. And the downside's that you're taking a very real risk of alienating your readers and potential readers. To me, it's clearly a big mistake. I don't think you need to isolate the chapter, or anything drastic like that, but it probably wouldn't hurt to give readers more of a heads-up about what's in it. After all, an incest comic like Absolute Hot Sister might kinda freak people out (1, 2), but at least readers know right away what they're getting into.

wulfmune wrote:Again, thanks for the review and I will step aside and let you move on now.

I'm glad you brought up some valid stuff for me to address. I don't get much feedback on my reviews other than the occasional "You're an asshole" spiel.

VeryCuddleCornpone wrote:Cool, looking forward to it!

The Goblins review, or the tips & tricks?

Just kidding, I assume you mean the tips & tricks. Hopefully, there'll be a few surprises even for people who've written some reviews before.
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I'm a bad person.

Postby Cope on Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:42 pm

I'm looking forward to the Goblins review, myself.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby McDuffies on Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:52 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:Sexual stuff's always a disproportionately big deal. And even though you make it clear that it isn't supposed to be fetish material, I don't see any positive effect it has on the comic other than making it appeal more to incest fetishists. And the downside's that you're taking a very real risk of alienating your readers and potential readers. To me, it's clearly a big mistake. I don't think you need to isolate the chapter, or anything drastic like that, but it probably wouldn't hurt to give readers more of a heads-up about what's in it. After all, an incest comic like Absolute Hot Sister might kinda freak people out (1, 2), but at least readers know right away what they're getting into.

It is very difficult for an average person to project to or empathize with incestuous character. It's certainly one of situations that you can't relate to anything in your actual experience.
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Re: I'm a bad person.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:34 am

Cope wrote:I'm looking forward to the Goblins review, myself.

Cool! I remember liking its concept when I first saw the comic a million years ago, but I never bothered to keep up with it. From what I recall, it seemed like Goblins very quickly went from obscurity to being one of the top fantasy webcomics.

McDuffies wrote:It is very difficult for an average person to project to or empathize with incestuous character. It's certainly one of situations that you can't relate to anything in your actual experience.

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

Postby Bobadventures on Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:50 pm

Gee, I guess I really haven't been on the forums much lately if I hadn't noticed this thread.

By all means, please review mine: The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! at http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com

It will make the most sense if you start from the beginning, but if you feel like bouncing around instead, my two favorite story arcs are "There But For The Grace" and "Love and Space." (I supppose they rhyme, don't they?)
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby NotSoLOLcats on Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:35 pm

I know that video game reference in my comic scared you off again-- But if you would look past it, I could always use some constructive criticism. I'm always looking to improve!!
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:51 am

Ha! LC I was reading through some of your review threads on smackjeeves, got to the bottom of one and found this
This is only the third webcomic I've trashed this badly (the other two being Flying Tigers and Crow's Touhoumon Merry Nuzlocke Run), so it's something I only do in special circumstances.

ouch......that bad review is going to follow me forever *cries*

....

I'm just being dramatic.

But I'm certainly hoping that once I get the first story finished (probably a year off - fuck I'm going slow) I'll be able to get a second review from you - a parole hearing if you would - your review style/abilities have improved a lot since then such that I'm sure you'll still have similar issues with the comic but you'll be able to present them in a way that won't have me depressed.

I'm also surprised by the massive stink some creators/fans have kicked up over far less harsh reviews :lol:
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:00 am

RobboAKAscooby wrote:parole hearing


heh heh heh


Yeah, a few of the folks over there are kinda babies about getting reviews. There's a lot of good folks, but some just clearly weren't ready to have anything short of praise.

It's sad that I get really heartwarmed when I see someone's responded well to a review. That should be the default, not the other way 'round.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:47 pm

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:It's sad that I get really heartwarmed when I see someone's responded well to a review. That should be the default, not the other way 'round.


Yeah.

I'm pretty sure LC's review is the only one I've had a bad reaction to so far.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:09 pm

RobboAKAscooby wrote:
VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:It's sad that I get really heartwarmed when I see someone's responded well to a review. That should be the default, not the other way 'round.


Yeah.

I'm pretty sure LC's review is the only one I've had a bad reaction to so far.

Hey man, everyone gets one slip-up allowed :) You've been a really good sport literally every other time.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:29 am

Bobadventures wrote:By all means, please review mine: The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! at http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com

It will make the most sense if you start from the beginning, but if you feel like bouncing around instead, my two favorite story arcs are "There But For The Grace" and "Love and Space." (I supppose they rhyme, don't they?)

Sure. Those arcs are from 2008, though, and it doesn't make sense to me to review four-year-old comics when there's new material. As an amateur cartoonist, you should be gradually improving, so any criticism regarding your older work's already potentially irrelevant. And if you've hit a plateau, then that's a problem in itself.

Also, I looked at your Archives page, and the image for the current story arc (NinjasNinjasNinjas.jpg) isn't showing up for me (Firefox 15.0.1).

NotSoLOLcats wrote:I know that video game reference in my comic scared you off again-- But if you would look past it, I could always use some constructive criticism. I'm always looking to improve!!

I'd be glad to review it after I review Bobadventures' comic. I've trashed all of the gag comics I've reviewed so far, but they've all been deliberately bad* gaming comics, so I'm optimistic about this one. Gag comics are also probably the easiest to review since there's not really a story**.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:your review style/abilities have improved a lot

Thanks! I think I've written about 60 reviews since Flying Tigers, and I feel more comfortable doing them now. Fairly often, while editing my reviews, I tone them down to be a little nicer. I also definitely had the Flying Tigers review on my mind as I was writing about Witch's Quarry's sexual stuff, and I tried to handle that part as sensitively as I could.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:a second review from you

I'd definitely do another one, although I imagine I'd still be pretty negative if there aren't any notable improvements made after the four reviews Flying Tigers has gotten this year (plus a fifth one if Yeahduff ever gets around to writing his). I'm concerned from briefly looking at the comic, as not only hasn't there been an update since July, but I don't see any notable change in the artwork since I reviewed the comic about eight months ago.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:I'm also surprised by the massive stink some creators/fans have kicked up over far less harsh reviews

Everyone seems to have a different idea of what a fair review is.

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:It's sad that I get really heartwarmed when I see someone's responded well to a review. That should be the default, not the other way 'round.

It doesn't seem like it's worth the time and energy to try to argue about bad reviews. It's kinda like arguing about politics or religion on the Internet -- you just get people riled up without actually affecting what anyone thinks.

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Hey man, everyone gets one slip-up allowed

And I think I shoulder some of the blame since I got too confrontational about it.

* Sometimes people wanna get popular by making a Gycho and Tabe comic, but they realize they can't draw and don't have a sense of humor, so they try to be clever by making their comic as terrible as possible. It doesn't work.

** Some gag comics screw up by being "lol bewbs," and then doing a "cry-cry-cry, angst-angst-angst" story***, and then going right back to being an "lol penis" comic. It's a lot more difficult to do this properly than a lot of creators can handle.

*** Or when a cute, innocent comic throws in an extremely political story arc out of nowhere. That's a great way to piss off most of the comic's readers.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Bobadventures on Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:10 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:
Bobadventures wrote:It will make the most sense if you start from the beginning, but if you feel like bouncing around instead, my two favorite story arcs are "There But For The Grace" and "Love and Space." (I supppose they rhyme, don't they?)


Sure. Those arcs are from 2008, though, and it doesn't make sense to me to review four-year-old comics when there's new material. As an amateur cartoonist, you should be gradually improving, so any criticism regarding your older work's already potentially irrelevant. And if you've hit a plateau, then that's a problem in itself.


"Grace" ran from Nov. 2007 to Oct. 2008. "Space" ran from July 2009 to Feb. 2011, making it my longest storyline so far. Out of the 11 stories I've done since 2006, those are my two favorites. "Grace" is the origin story for one of my favorite characters, Galatea. "Space" was a big "epic" thing of the sort that I wouldn't want to do every time out of the gate (To use a comic book analogy, Galactus was impressive when he only showed up occasionally. Now that he appears every other Tuesday, nobody cares any more.).

Of the two arcs since "Space," I'm quite happy with how the Loch Ness Monster one came out. As I said in another thread, I think I threw too many subplots into this current ninja story that's been running since January, and I'm looking forward to wrapping it up in a month or so. The next story will carry the characters back into space, which I enjoyed last time and which seemed popular with the readers.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Also, I looked at your Archives page, and the image for the current story arc (NinjasNinjasNinjas.jpg) isn't showing up for me (Firefox 15.0.1).


You were right; I normally use Safari, which shows that image just fine, but Firefox didn't for some reason. So I resaved and reuploaded the file, and now it works in Firefox. Strange, but oh well. Thanks for the heads up.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:37 am

Oh, okay. I just saw that most of the stories said "copyright 2008," and I wasn't paying close enough attention. I can do "Love and Space," then. It looks to be about 150 pages, which is more than I usually read for reviews, but it's nothing too elaborate.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Bobadventures on Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:59 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:Oh, okay. I just saw that most of the stories said "copyright 2008," and I wasn't paying close enough attention. I can do "Love and Space," then. It looks to be about 150 pages, which is more than I usually read for reviews, but it's nothing too elaborate.


2008 was when I first put up the archive page, so the link images for those first several stories all got copyright stamped 2008. I suppose I could change the date marks on the older ones, if it's confusing people.
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