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 15, 2012 11:14 am

It's probably fine as it is. I'll have some other website-related criticisms, though.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:50 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote: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.


Yeah I expect it'll be pretty negative too.

btw I've been uploading new comics lately (and will have three more this week), I've just been backdating in a pointless attempt to catch up after life/work fucked up my flow.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:49 pm

RobboAKAscooby wrote:Yeah I expect it'll be pretty negative too.

Not necessarily. I'll probably be more concerned with topics like "How has Flying Tigers changed since I first reviewed it?" and "Has Robbo used the advice from the reviews he's gotten?" So, even if I judge the comic as being below-average or mediocre, the review could be positive overall.

That said, I'm underwhelmed with where the comic's at now, and I think the advice I gave in my review's still relevant:
I'm going to suggest the creator drops down to a once-a-week schedule, and uses that extra time to either put more effort into the pages or practice with other artwork. He may also want to consider switching to doing black-and-white pages in order to focus on improving the line art.

You should be training like Rocky right now. I'd like to see you do more realistic practice sketches. It looks like you've posted more than 40 pages since my review, and your artwork's barely changed (if at all), so just cranking out pages doesn't seem to be helping you enough.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:36 pm

Webcomic: Goblins
URL: http://goblinscomic.com/
Creator/s: Tarol Hunt
Run: 6/05-current
Schedule: Tu/F
Section/s: May 31st to October 19th

Website: It has a dark, ominous look to it, and the spears used for navigation buttons abet the feeling of danger, like an adventuring party anticipating being ambushed by goblins. It's an unusual design that quickly gets the reader's attention.

There are a good amount of fun extras, including merchandise, fan art, a browser theme, about 25 fan-made videos, some Dungeons & Dragons-related stuff, a live cam, and a number of Goblins-related bonus shorts. Surprisingly, though, the comic's archive page hasn't been updated in five months.

The comic also has an extremely active forum, and the threads for the last three updates average about 100 posts made within 24 hours of the thread's creation. And that's just those three threads -- there are many other active ones as well.

Writing: There's not much of a plot, the characters barely have personalities, and there's more blood than in the goriest slasher films. Goblins seems like it shouldn't work -- but it does. While there's enough carnage in just this section to cover a dozen normal fantasy comics, Goblins skillfully avoids the trap of pretentiousness, instead playfully showing its readers a warped version of reality where death and destruction is a celebrated way of life. I think it says a lot about the grim but goofy nature of the comic that the main character's named Dies Horribly. Dying just isn't a big deal in this savage part of the fantasy realm, and for every goblin that gets hacked into a bloody corpse, two more will inevitably join the battle. And while it's twisted how insignificant their lives are, anyone who's ever played a fantasy role-playing game has surely been responsible for slaughtering hordes of these vicious vermin. After all, how can you feel guilty about chopping up a group of ugly little monsters that speak gibberish and like stabbing people?

Dies Horribly and another goblin, named Saves a Fox, have a "give peace a chance" moment, but it's only a brief diversion from the combat and mayhem. As one goblin remarks, "Goblin strength is found in our ability to destroy, in our ferocity," and that seems more plausible to me than Dies Horribly's wishful thinking that goblins can become a peaceful race. Goblins, after all, isn't a comic that sugarcoats things, and its readers shouldn't assume that there's a happy ending in store for the characters, even if they're protected by Plot Armor to an extent. (Ironically, Dies Horribly's just about the only goblin in the section that doesn't die horribly.) Goblins' appeal comes largely from its elaborate action sequences, unusual monster-on-monster battles, and over-the-top violence, and the idea of "good guys vs. bad guys" doesn't seem to matter as much here. I was a little confused at first with the fight between the goblins and the orc, as I didn't know which side to root for, but eventually I realized that it doesn't really matter who wins, which is a refreshing change of pace from other comics.

One of the comic's stranger aspects is that whenever it verges on finally getting serious, a fourth-wall-breaking gaming reference comes out of nowhere. In one of the comic's rare dialogue-heavy pages, the orc, comically named Biscuit, mentions "a stackable bonus to their Wisdom score," explaining that "Sense Motive is a Wisdom-based skill." Then, later on, the comic has one of its most dramatic moments when Saves a Fox appears to get killed, and with her dying breaths she talks about how "you need to be Level 1 before you can reach Level 2" while red negative numbers hover over her head. It's certainly jarring, but I think it works great as a heavy-handed reminder that despite how morbid this comic can be, it's ultimately as silly and unrealistic as any game of Dungeons & Dragons. (Not that I'm knocking D&D. It's supposed to be silly and unrealistic.) The creator also takes advantage of the comic's gamist nature by having the fighters frequently drink healing potions (1, 2, 3, 4), which lets him prolong the fights while at the same time having many devastating blows.

Art: I don't think I've seen any webcomics that do fantasy combat better than Goblins. The creator's excellent at choreographing action sequences, and his characters' dynamic poses help make his scenes look realistic and exciting. His large, complex page layouts offer a variety of compositions, often combining different scenes for a particular effect. (For instance, it's pretty clever how the characters' self-amputations are juxtaposed here.) The coloring also looks a lot better ever since the creator brought on a colorist somewhere around the middle of the section.

There's a certain aesthetic dissonance at play here, in that while there's so much blood and violence in this comic that it might turn off some of the more squeamish readers, the comic's very bright and colorful, and the way the goblins are drawn makes them look sort of cute, like they're soft, poofy plush dolls. The orc looks kind of doughy as well, and his gooey hair and mouth look somewhat silly. It's a very distinct style, and I think it reinforces that the violence is on a cartoonish level, and the reader shouldn't be too concerned about its ramifications.

Overall: The only disappointing thing about this comic to me is that I didn't have time to read more of it. Goblins is clever, original, exciting, and just plain fun to read. The creator has a solid grasp of what makes the fantasy genre so appealing to a lot of people, and he's definitely got one of the best fantasy webcomics out there.
Last edited by LibertyCabbage on Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:11 pm

Webcomic: The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!
URL: http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/
Creator/s: Jim Cleaveland
Run: 5/06-current
Schedule: Tu/Sa
Section/s: "Love and Space"

Website: The site's clearly in need of a major makeover, starting with updating the font and background to give the layout some personality. The banner needs to not be touching the ad, the tables should have their borders removed, the pages need to be redesigned to be more compact and appealing, the ad should be center-aligned on all the pages, the text in the Cast page should be larger, and the broken image links in the Cast page need to be fixed. The site basically looks like a Geocities page from the '90s right now, which is a weak impression to make on new readers.

The Links page includes a lot of links to mainstream print comics, such as Peanuts and The Amazing Spider-Man, and this undermines the whole point of having a Links page, which is to send traffic to noteworthy webcomics. There are a lot of webcomics on there as well, but their banners are competing for attention with the likes of Blondie, Krazy Kat, and Popeye.

For the early parts of the story, the creator oddly includes an image file of white space beneath the pages to try to align his commentary text. The issue's fixed later on with HTML, but these earlier pages were never updated with the improved coding.

Lastly, the various filler comics and miscellaneous stuff (e.g., the animation video) should be moved out of the comic's archives to a separate part of the site.

Writing: At 19 months of twice-a-week updates, "Love and Space" is significantly longer and more ambitious than the webcomic's other stories. Its elaborate nature's appropriate for epic storytelling; however, due to a variety of factors, reading through it all was a tedious experience, and it felt like the story kept going on and on and on. I think it was around the start of the party scene that I really noticed my patience getting strained, and that's only about one-fourth of the way through. I think the story could've been cut down by a lot, as some of the scenes are stretched out too much, and a lot of the pages are mainly of the characters goofing around.

A big part of why the story's kind of a drag to get through's that the characters aren't very interesting. Bob and Jean are basically generic humans, Golly, Jolly, and Molly are childish superhumans, and Voluptua's just a hot chick. And that's not counting a myriad of minor characters who are even less interesting. The villain, Fructose, is as bland as possible, spouting lame Evil Overlord lines like, "I'll unleash my robot army and see all your children's heads on pikes! Nyah-ha-ha-hah!!", "I only wish this bucket of bolts were sentient, so it could have felt pain when I ripped out its power leads!", and "Quiet, minion!" (1, 2, 3). The creator seems like he had a difficult time figuring out what to do with his characters, so for most of the story they're just there, making quips and pop culture references while they take up space on the pages. The only real exceptions to this are Fructose, who -- surprise -- tries to conquer the universe, and Bob in the second half of the story, who inexplicably changes from passive Everyman to daring action hero.

The comic's also not that funny. Most of its jokes are just pop culture references or references to the space opera genre, and it's only a little less tepid than what you'd expect to find in mainstream newspapers. It gives me the impression of something from webcomics' early days, like the late '90s, when expectations were low because the very idea of "comics on the Internet" was still considered new and exciting. The comic started out in a college magazine in the mid-90s, and it seems to still heavily rely on an outdated '90s mentality. Webcomics have matured a ton as a medium over the past 15 years, and it takes a lot more cleverness and skill to be relevant nowadays. One scene did stand out as being more creative than the rest, though, which is the backstory of the dragons. Goofy theories of how the dinosaurs really died out are always sort of fun, and there's a good one here, with an advanced prehistoric civilization nuking itself into ruin, and then being transported by aliens to another planet.

Still, the dialogue in the comic's better than average, and for the most part, it's natural, complex, and varied. What stands out the most is the dragons' and Jolly's pseudo-medieval dialect, which adds a layer of charm to all of their lines. It also seems fitting that the creator uses made-up alien words for curses, as it allows the characters to properly vent their frustrations while keeping the comic kid-friendly and not straying too far from the story's silly nature. There's also a lot of wordplay, slang, and colloquialisms in general, and I don't recall seeing a single spelling or grammatical mistake anywhere. The creator clearly pays a lot of attention to getting his dialogue just right.

Occasionally the comic takes on relatively serious scenes, and I think it handles them fairly well, as there's always silly banter going on to help keep the tone light. A few things didn't make much sense to me, though. The creator makes some effort to convey why Voluptua's attracted to Bob, as she explains, "Bob is... honest and kind... and brave, unselfish, modest... and competent, and unambitious, and content. Those qualities sound so simple... but I haven't known anyone..."; even after reading the page several times, though, it still seems like the comic's putting this "Helen of Troy" aura on Bob just for the sake of forcing angst and relationship drama into the story. Then there's the bizarre flashback scene with young Fructose, where it doesn't make sense that Fructose's dad would so willingly put his life in the hands of a kid, especially without making any attempt to explain to Fructose how to use the complicated equipment. After all, if he's competent enough to make it to the emperor's bedroom undetected, then he can't be a complete idiot. Then, when the flashback's over, it turns out that Fructose was describing the events out loud to himself for no reason, even though he's clearly embarrassed about the ordeal, shouting at Bob, "That was not meant for your ears!". It's not like he's become mentally unhinged, as he's back to being his usual self right afterwards, so it just seems like a clumsy way of having Bob learning about the backstory.

Lastly, Molly's "less than a year old" according to the Cast page, so it seems weird that her childhood references are so dated. Here, Bob mentions buying Molly a "VHS tape" of Voltron; here, she runs a futuristic robot off of "the CPU from your ColecoVision"; here, she imitates "how Shaggy talks on Scooby-Doo"; and here, she's worried that "McGruff the Crime Dog will hate me." All of Molly's references are from the '80s, and it seems like the creator's trying to present his own childhood rather than one that makes sense for a modern-day child. It's plausible that the comic's set in the '80s, or that Molly has a strange fascination with '80s pop culture, but neither of these possibilities are addressed in the story, and as I mentioned earlier, the comic relies on pop culture references too much anyways.

Art: It has a loose, energetic feel to it that immediately draws in the reader, and it sort of reminds me of the classic illustrations from the Dr. Seuss books. The creator's excellent inking and hand-lettering are particularly important for achieving this look, as the dynamic line-width variation helps the artwork seem natural and organic while also being fun and cartoonish.

The creator tends to do a solid job of portraying science-fiction imagery, but I was continuously disappointed with how minimalistic most of the more mundane backgrounds are, especially the ones on Earth. Take a look at this page, for example, where Bob's implausibly shown sitting in a chair in the middle of an empty room. Other elements of his house go mysteriously missing: The window's absent from the first two panels here; the house floats in white space here, with Bob's car missing from the driveway but suddenly appearing two pages later; and the details of Bob's house vanish amidst a series of blank backgrounds. The creator also has a habit of lazily using triangle-mountain landscapes (1, 2, 3) for many of the comic's backgrounds; this starts out as being a feature of the planet Butane, but then, at the end of the story, Bob's neighborhood's shown as being surrounded by triangle-mountains as well. I think the creator wasted an opportunity to convey the unusual topography of an alien world.

Bob's rendered fairly consistently, and the monsters and aliens are all creatively designed and drawn a good amount of detail. I was constantly perplexed over Jean's appearance, though, as she seems to get warped over the course of the story. Using her concept art as a basis, it's apparent that, aside from her cartoony head, thin waist, and long arms, she's supposed to be fairly realistically proportioned. During the story, though, her waist gets thinner, her chest and butt get bigger, her neck and limbs get longer, her face gets boxier, and her hands become more claw-like. Some particularly misshapen instances can be seen during the party scene, such as here, here, and here. In the last page I linked, she even has a weird manga expression, which doesn't appear anywhere else in the story, and her hands turn into spiky blobs. It's unclear why the creator has so much trouble drawing Jean, but it's a big concern since she appears so prominently in the comic. I suggest updating all of the female characters, though, and giving them thicker waists, as well as making their chests look less boxy when they have clothes on.

Overall: The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!'s a forgettable webcomic. It endlessly references movies and T.V. shows that are clever and original, but there's not enough cleverness and originality in "Love and Space" to make the story worth reading. It might be disappointing for the creator that his comic isn't further along considering that he started it nearly 20 years ago, but the reality's that his webcomic's going to be compared to the work of inspired younger creators, some of which are making cutting-edge comics and are on the verge of professionalism. There's a big audience out there for a webcomic like this, but it takes a lot more than just being wacky to impress people these days.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:28 pm

Webcomic: Not So LOLCATS
URL: http://www.notsololcats.com/
Creator/s: Nick Szostakiwskyj, Rachael Addison
Run: 7/12-current
Schedule: M-F

Website: It has a colorful, fun look, with a cat design used for its background. The playful buttons and graphics at the top of the page also help to make the site seem more inviting. The highlight, though, is the color-coded archive page, which groups related strips and shows which cat the strip most prominently features. This is a fairly creative approach that I don't think I've seen anyone do before. The cast page is also well-designed, although it seems strange that it focuses on the characters' professions when that subject never comes up in the comic.

The navigation buttons are below the large space reserved for comments, and it felt tedious scrolling down to the bottom of the page every time I wanted to go to the next strip. Ideally, the buttons should be immediately below the page. I also dislike how the About and Cast buttons are at the bottom of the page, as they should be immediately visible to new readers.

The way the site spells the comic's title's inconsistent, as Strips 1-46 show "NOT-SO-LOL-CATS" in large letters, Strips 1-59 have "Not So lolcats" as the pages' header, and creator uses "Not So LOLCATS" in his comments. It might be a good idea to go back and fix the old pages so that they fit in better with the current ones. I also noticed that Strips 39 and 41 both say "Episode 40" on them, so those pages need to be corrected as well.

Lastly, the creator seems to have been keeping up with a Monday-through-Friday schedule since the comic's beginning, but now it's been more than two weeks since he's posted anything. This sudden hiatus is potentially a big turn-off for readers, who may be hesistant to get attached to the comic due to the creator's apparent lack of commitment. A more conservative update schedule, such as two or three strips a week, might be a more practical approach.

Writing: It seems necessary to consider Not So LOLCATS as almost being two distinct comics, as the addition of a co-writer has made a drastic change in the strip.

The strip's original iteration's clearly nothing more than a shock comic, with topics including masturbation, defecation, rape, molestation, drug abuse, child abuse, senility, cursing, boners, sex, religious fanatics, immigrants, and prostitutes. Most of these jokes rely on the same predictable structure: The comic introduces a situation that seems innocent, then it dishes out a "shock twist" when one of the characters does or says something perverted, disgusting, or offensive. Sometimes it mixes things up by having an innocent setup with a cutesy punchline, but these seem less like jokes than just attempts to balance out the comic's pervasive edginess. The only strip in this section with a decent gag is this one, which combines the comic's shock and cutesy aspects while showing some pretty good timing.

What's wrong with shock humor? As McDuffies points out in his review blog, its purpose is "To be edgy, I guess, because they think it makes them different, cool. It’s a sort of self-promotion, a setup in which you are a main star, you hold a central position, and your comic is there just to show how much ‘wacky’, ‘edgy’, ‘anti-establishment’ you are. Needless to say, comic suffers when it is in shadow of your self-promotional author figure." A big problem with the comic's that the characters are barely more than visual aids the creator uses to tell his jokes, and there's never a sense that what happens is an extension of a defined set of personalities. Surprisingly, the most generic characters are the ones listed at the top of the cast page, and even though they have paragraph-long descriptions, the comic never gives any impression of what they're like. And the supporting characters aren't much better, merely representing one- or two-word concepts such as "old person," "child," "pervert," "ladies' man," and "immigrant." The only character I have any interest in is the weird tenant, but for some reason, the creator barely uses him. It's a real shame, because the tenant's only other appearance is, by far, the comic's best strip.

When Not So LOLCATS brings on a female co-writer in Strip 43, the comic undergoes a major transition, abandoning its shock humor roots as it starts to resemble some kind of wacky family sitcom. Instead of edgy, in-your-face punchlines involving poop or child rape, the comic now has three consecutive strips that conclude with a glossy-eyed character crying (1, 2, 3), something that had previously only been done with Whiskers, the kitten. While some of the earlier strips have a sexualized version of women shown through the male gaze (1, 2, 3), newer strips invert this by presenting men as being attractive and desirable (1, 2, 3). (The one exception to this, which is this page, is desexualized as much as possible.) The pop culture references shift as well, with the earlier strips poking fun at guy-oriented stuff like Led Zeppelin and the Evil Dead trilogy, while the newer strips make girlier references, such as to Amanda Bynes, Prince, and Willow Smith. Finally, the comic's getting away from its gag-a-day nature with its first real story arc, a "family vacation" plotline that's up to eight pages so far. These changes don't make much of a difference since Not So LOLCATS still isn't funny, and that point's ultimately what makes or breaks the comic, but I see it as somewhat of an improvement in the sense that the quirky sitcom humor's less abrasive than the crude jokes from the previous strips.

Art: The comic starts off being very underwhelming, with blobby, mouse-drawn characters, minimalistic backgrounds, and abundant copy-pasting. In the 50th strip, though, an updated look is debuted, and in Strip 56, the creator begins using a tablet. The new design needs more improvement, but at least the creator recognizes how unappealing the style of the earlier strips is. Strangely, though, when the comic finally reaches the point where the creator actually draws all of the panels, the very next strip abandons the new character designs, going back to the copy-pasted blob-cats from the comic's beginning. And since then, the creator still hasn't settled on a coherent style -- in Strip 63, Carl's shown with arms and legs, and then in the next strip, his arms become tiny stumps, and his legs disappear again. The creator also hasn't attempted to shade his characters yet even though some of the recent strips have shadows in the backgrounds (1, 2).

Facial expressions are important for every comic, but they might be even more important for humorous comics, where a goofy face can take a joke from being "just okay" to being laugh-worthy. The characters in Not So LOLCATS usually have the same blank, copy-pasted expression, though, with the occasional variations merely being minor edits. The creator needs to learn how to express his characters' emotions in a more visual way. In addition, the facial expressions don't always make sense; for instance, check out the upside-down-"U" eyes seen here and here. It's apparently supposed to resemble the similar manga expression, but manga uses upside-down "U"s for closed eyes -- here, they're pupils.

Backgrounds are a big problem for the comic, with much of earlier strips overrelying on copy-pasted backgrounds that aren't that great to begin with. This Halloween comic's a good example of this, as the creator tries to make the setting "Halloween-themed" merely by adding a couple minor additions to the first strip's background and recoloring the window to be a darker blue. And the most basic objects are copy-pasted over and over, like with the leaves here, here, and here. He also makes a weird decision on occasion to place characters in empty rooms (1, 2, 3). Fortunately, the creator's been ambitious with the vacation story arc, featuring elaborate nature scenes, as well as drawing a strip that has a more detailed interior than any of the previous strips. The perspective in the first panel here's also more realistic than the one shown in the car scene here. I think a more incremental approach would make sense, though, as while the outdoor scenes are a refreshing departure from the earlier strips, the reliance on simple shapes is somewhat tacky.

Lastly, Carl and Whiskers are suspiciously similar to Garfield and Nermal from Garfield. Both comics have a fat orange cat with stripes and an obnoxiously cute gray kitten as two of its main characters. I won't go so far as to suggest that the creator's ripping off Jim Davis, but it doesn't seem ideal to have the characters so closely resemble those in the most prominent cat-based comic.

Overall: Not So LOLCATS is at a rough point right now, as its jokes aren't funny, its characters are underdeveloped, its art's still primitive, and the creator hasn't updated it in weeks. As an optimist, I believe it can improve, though, and the creator should understand that in addition to time management and skill, making a quality webcomic requires a certain extent of mental discipline. Not everyone will be successful -- in fact, very few will -- but those who go on to make noteworthy webcomics are the creators who have the tenacity to get through the difficult learning process. Improvement takes time, and as long as the comic gradually gets funnier and more visually appealing, it'll move closer towards attracting a significant audience.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:40 pm

I'm leaving tomorrow to go on vacation for a few days, so if anyone makes any posts here, you might have to wait a bit for a response. I'd still like to write that "reviewing tips" article when I get back, and I'm definitely up for more review requests and/or suggestions if there are any.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:09 pm

Here are a few techniques, tips, and tricks I have for anyone who's interested in writing webcomic reviews.

1. Write about what interests you. Writing reviews should be fun, so reviewers should write them in whatever way's enjoyable to them. Personally, I don't like writing about good artwork, and on several occasions I've limited my art section to just a few sentences rather than forcing myself to try to put words on the screen. Other times, I've written a lot about the artwork, while keep my writing section relatively brief since I didn't have much to say about that area. If you're particularly into a certain element, like setting or lettering, then go ahead and write more about it. One technique I often use is to jump between the different sections and write about the most interesting subjects first, as it's easier for me to keep writing once I've already got started. For example, I usually write the website section last, even though it's the first section readers see.

2. Find an angle. A lot of webcomics are fairly similar, which means they have similar strengths and weaknesses. No one wants to read or write the same thing over and over, so when I'm reading a webcomic, I try to hone in on a particularly unique aspect of that webcomic, preferably something I haven't written about previously. It could be an awkward scene, an oddball character, a creative technique, or a social taboo. I find it more enjoyable to focus on a novel topic like this than writing about something like a lack of character development, which is a fault most webcomics have. Sexual subjects are a particularly good angle, as they make a big impression on readers.

3. Do some research. Information about the creator and the projects they've worked on may be relevant to your review. You might choose to look at articles, interviews, and reviews about the comic for some material. Other useful sources of information are author and reader comments. In more than one review, I've quoted readers' complaints instead of writing my own, which I think helps the review come across as more objective.

Another bit of information that can be important is the creator's age. Not every webcartoonist displays their age on their site, but many have a DeviantArt or Smack Jeeves account, which often display personal information. If I see that a creator's still in high school, I'll try to be more lenient and encouraging, whereas if I know the creator's older than 30, then I think it's reasonable to have higher expectations. The creator's location can also be relevant at times, especially if their English is weak.

4. Don't use exclamation marks. This may seem like a strange suggestion, as exclamation marks are used commonly, but they add nothing to a review while making the reviewer seem unreliable. Reviewers sometimes use them with their positive comments to offset the review's negativity, but this is a shallow technique that could be replaced with careful word selection. Overly enthusiastic phrases, such as "The coloring looks fantastic!", actually undermine the reviewer's credibility by displaying their inability to convey their opinions in a more mature fashion. A sufficient explanation of why something's good or bad speaks for itself.

5. Pad subjective criticism with objective criticism. It takes a bit of time to establish credibility and ease readers into a review, so I prefer to start the review off by analyzing the comic's website, which is the most objective and impersonal part of a webcomic. Website issues tend to be pretty obvious, and I've yet to see someone get emotionally upset because someone criticized their site as being bland and/or not entirely functional. After getting the audience to agree with your obvious statements, the most subjective part, the writing section, becomes more palatable. Even there, it makes sense to continue to ease the reader in by introducing the writing with more obvious elements, like the genre, the story's setting, and brief descriptions of the main characters. My writing sections are generally on the negative side, so it's important for me to follow it up with the art section, which is both more objective and, usually, more positive, as webcomics tend to have better art than writing. I also often try to end a review on a positive note, focusing on ways the webcomic could be improved.

6. Mix it up. When choosing the next webcomic to review, I often factor in the results of my last few reviews. If I just did a few positive reviews, then I look for a webcomic that I expect I won't like, and if I've been doing a lot of negative reviews, then I look for something I think I'd enjoy. These "mix it up" reviews are probably the most fun to write, as many times my expectations have ended up being way off.

7. Combine micro-criticism with macro-criticism. In webcomic terms, this means combining criticism of individual pages or strips with analysis of the webcomic as a whole. Many reviews are overly brief, and it's largely due to a deficiency in one of these areas. The most obvious example of doing this correctly is when a reviewer backs up a general statement about the webcomic by linking to several pages or strips where the aspect in question's particularly apparent. It's also possible for reviewers to successfully prioritize one over the other, though. For instance, micro-criticism can be focused on by doing panel-by-panel breakdowns of particularly noteworthy strips, while macro-criticism can be focused on by generally comparing the webcomic to others in its genre, or to point out a particular trend in webcomics.

8. Buy The Associated Press Stylebook. It might seem a little excessive to buy a book just for writing webcomic reviews, but from what I've seen, most reviewers regularly do other writing as well, such as creative writing or blogging. I've personally found it very useful to have such a quick and easy reference for all my style questions. A brand-new, 2012 edition of the stylebook would probably cost $20 or more, but the price drops significantly if you get an older edition. The stylebook I own, which is the 2007 edition, can be bought new on Amazon.com for $3.50. I use a combination of AP and MLA styles, so I don't adhere to the stylebook completely, but I still refer to it fairly often.

9. Keep your tone consistent. I always proofread my reviews before I post them, and often I find that in some parts I'm being a jerk, while in other parts I'm being too nice. Perceptions are unstable, and it's not unusual that I might initially have a very negative perspective of a webcomic, but then I start to realize some things the webcomic does well while I'm writing the review. After all, it can be kind of a chore getting through 50-plus pages of a webcomic I don't like, so it makes sense that I might be sarcastic or condescending when I start writing about it. Mood, health, concentration, time constraints, and tiredness can also have an effect on how people write. Always give your writing a second look before you post it, as changing the way you word some of your criticisms can prevent an unintentional insult.

10. Think like a reader. Readers are as judgmental as critics are; they just tend to keep their opinions to themselves. Even if a reader can barely draw a stick figure and hasn't even penned a short story, they evaluate every comic they see to determine if it's worth their time to keep reading it. Many reviewers feel timid about criticizing webcomics, but readers do it anonymously all the time. So, think like a reader: Did you enjoy reading this comic? Would you consider reading it regularly? Would you send your friends a link to it? If a webcomic isn't appealing to you, then there are probably a lot of readers out there who don't read it for the same reasons.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:58 pm

Webcomic: Battle Creek, NE
URL: battlecreeknecomic.com
Creator/s: Mike Steele, Julia Philip
Run: 5/12-current
Schedule: Fridays

Website: The WordPress-based site's one of the most attractive I've seen lately, with the large, colorful illustrations on the top and bottom of the pages being very eye-catching. The archives have large samples of each comic page, which is an original way of handling navigation and another example of the site making the most out of its appealing artwork.The site's blue-and-orange colors are fairly unusual, and they go well with the blues and oranges the creators use heavily in the comic pages. I'm also a fan of the animated background, which is a minor but cool feature. The site also has all of the standard pieces, like character bios and social media, although more miscellaneous extra content would be a nice touch.

I originally read the webcomic at its Smack Jeeves mirror (battlecreekne.smackjeeves.com), and I was surprised at how much larger the pages on the main site are. The Smack Jeeves pages are 700 pixels wide, while the main site's pages are 1,030 pixels wide -- that's almost a whole 50 percent larger. While the large pages make it easier to see some of the smaller details, it's a little disorienting because more scrolling's required than usual. The file sizes may also be an issue for readers with slower Internet connections, as most of the main site's pages are more than 1 MB, while webcomics generally keep their pages below 500 KB.

Lastly, the creators have other projects that they wisely chose to promote on their site, one being a webcomic called Seed (http://www.seed-comic.com), and the other being a podcast called Jim and Them (http://www.jimandthem.com).

Writing: The webcomic presents a fun and absurd wish-fulfillment fantasy in which several ordinary guys from a small, rural town suddenly become celebrities in outer space. This is an effective premise because it's easy to relate to the characters' desire to feel special and be the center of attention, and their eagerness, as young adults, for adventure and experience is also a universal trait. Furthering the idea of wish-fulfillment, the highlight of the trip's been the attention the guys have received from two alien women, who they describe as being "pretty hot" and "super hot" (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/voiceover, battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/hot). The guys are also thrilled when Derek beats up a comically stereotypical bully (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/bully). The instances of portraying space as an enjoyable alternative to the characters' underwhelming existence back home help foster a light, whimsical mood that's the story's primary draw.

As for the cast, the timid Rob's the standout, as his insecurity presents an obvious opportunity for character growth. He's also the most enthusiastic of the guys about being in space (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/foreshadowing), has the funniest facial expressions (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/moon, battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/physical, battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/hub), and occasionally steps in as the narrator (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/misdirection, battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/voiceover), so he ends up being particularly prominent despite how passive he is most of the time. The moody Luke and bubbly L.U.N.A. are decent characters, although the creators apparently find the latter's childish behavior much more amusing than I do. Derek's the most in need of improvement, as the creators still haven't tried to convey his personality other than that he stands up to bullies. Looking at his character bio (battlecreeknecomic.com/character-bios), he's described as "a very humble guy" despite "being amazing at everything," and that sounds more like a Mary Sue (tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue) than a character I'd be interested in reading about.

The most disappointing thing about the writing's how indifferent the guys can be at times about their bizarre experiences. For instance, when the guys encounter a giant robot standing next to an alien device (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/farmhouse), Luke's first reaction is to make a joke, which he follows by trying to make another joke (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/robot). Then, just one page after the guys realize they've been teleported to the moon, they're already taking turns cracking jokes (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/moustache) about a different robot they encounter there. I mentioned earlier that it's easy to relate to the guys because of their desire to feel special, but in these instances, it's very difficult to relate to them because any reasonable person's reaction to these situations would be a combination of panic and disbelief, not mild amusement. The first time I tried reading the story, I lost interest about halfway through because of how bored the characters seemed with what was going on. And throughout the story, this tone rarely changes; despite being on the most incredible journey imaginable, the guys just make puns and snarky comments the whole time. I also find it unrealistic how unconcerned they are about leaving their family, friends, and responsibilities behind for an entire week without telling anybody where they went. Everyone they know probably thinks they're dead, and it's extremely self-centered for them to cause so much grief.

Art: It's obviously superb, and the clever character designs, dazzling coloring, and dynamic poses are certainly very attractive to potential readers. This page (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/humans/) is a good example of some of the webcomic's unusual stylistic aspects, particularly its heavy reliance on a bright color scheme of blues, oranges, pinks, and purples. Like every webcomic I've reviewed with great art, Battle Creek, NE has a lot of detail in its backgrounds, but it makes a bigger difference here than usual since its backgrounds are filled with all sorts of aliens, robots, spaceships, and other cool sci-fi elements that help bring Station City to life.

The terrific poses are a major highlight, and less-experienced webcartoonists should pay attention to how the way the characters are drawn injects energy into the scenes. Throughout the webcomic, the guys are constantly shown using their arms and body posture to express their mood. This page (battlecreeknecomic.com/comics/introductions) serves as a good example because of the way the guys are juxtaposed, and the characters are all clearly portrayed differently in each panel despite it being a page where they're merely standing around talking. There's also a lot of variation between full-body, knee-up, waist-up, and chest-up shots, and this helps keep the visuals fresh even when there's a lot of dialogue.

Overall: Battle Creek, NE has a mediocre story, as its creators are more focused on making weak jokes than on making its characters likable and interesting. Readers will be drawn to the webcomic by its excellent artwork, though, which is strong enough on its own to warrant a serious amount of attention. With its professional-looking website and consistent updates, Battle Creek, NE has the potential to be a prominent webcomic, especially if the creators can figure out how to deliver more mature storytelling to go along with the attractive visuals.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:05 pm

FYI, I had to change all the hyperlinks in my Battle Creek, NE review because, apparently, there's a new rule on the forums that you can't have more than five URLs in a post. It makes sense as a way to deter spammers, but I'm gonna PM an Admin and see if there's some way I can get around it.

Also, I expect to be a more prolific in December, as I'm unhappy about only posting one review in November. I also plan to post another satirical piece on my blog sometime tomorrow.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:10 pm

Excited to see you back in the game. I was wondering if you were goign to call it quits for a while, glad you're back :)
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:57 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Excited to see you back in the game. I was wondering if you were goign to call it quits for a while, glad you're back :)

Actually, I just remembered how much I was away from the computer this month. Between a vacation, a couple days of illness, and some time off for Thanksgiving, I missed about eight days of work just in November. I think that has much more to do with my recent lack of reviews than anything like a decline in motivation.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:43 pm

I'm reposting this since the original post doesn't have hyperlinks and the forums won't let me edit it.

Webcomic: Battle Creek, NE
URL: http://www.battlecreeknecomic.com
Creator/s: Mike Steele, Julia Philip
Run: 5/12-current
Schedule: Fridays

Website: The WordPress-based site's one of the most attractive I've seen lately, with the large, colorful illustrations on the top and bottom of the pages being very eye-catching. The archives have large samples of each comic page, which is an original way of handling navigation and another example of the site making the most out of its appealing artwork. The site's blue-and-orange colors are fairly unusual, and they go well with the blues and oranges the creators use heavily in the comic pages. I'm also a fan of the animated background, which is a minor but cool feature. The site also has all of the standard pieces, like character bios and social media, although more miscellaneous extra content would be a nice touch.

I originally read the webcomic at its Smack Jeeves mirror, and I was surprised at how much larger the pages on the main site are. The Smack Jeeves pages are 700 pixels wide, while the main site's pages are 1,030 pixels wide -- that's almost a whole 50 percent larger. While the large pages make it easier to see some of the smaller details, it's a little disorienting because more scrolling's required than usual. The file sizes may also be an issue for readers with slower Internet connections, as most of the main site's pages are more than 1 MB, while webcomics generally keep their pages below 500 KB.

Lastly, the creators have other projects that they wisely chose to promote on their site, one being a webcomic called Seed, and the other being a podcast called Jim and Them.

Writing: The webcomic presents a fun and absurd wish-fulfillment fantasy in which several ordinary guys from a small, rural town suddenly become celebrities in outer space. This is an effective premise because it's easy to relate to the characters' desire to feel special and be the center of attention, and their eagerness, as young adults, for adventure and experience is also a universal trait. Furthering the idea of wish-fulfillment, the highlight of the trip's been the attention the guys have received from two alien women, who they describe as being "pretty hot" and "super hot" (1, 2). The guys are also thrilled when Derek beats up a comically stereotypical bully. The instances of portraying space as an enjoyable alternative to the characters' underwhelming existence back home help foster a light, whimsical mood that's the story's primary draw.

As for the cast, the timid Rob's the standout, as his insecurity presents an obvious opportunity for character growth. He's also the most enthusiastic of the guys about being in space, has the funniest facial expressions (1, 2, 3), and occasionally steps in as the narrator (1, 2), so he ends up being particularly prominent despite how passive he is most of the time. The moody Luke and bubbly L.U.N.A. are decent characters, although the creators apparently find the latter's childish behavior much more amusing than I do. Derek's the most in need of improvement, as the creators still haven't tried to convey his personality other than that he stands up to bullies. Looking at his character bio, he's described as "a very humble guy" despite "being amazing at everything," and that sounds more like a Mary Sue than a character I'd be interested in reading about.

The most disappointing thing about the writing's how indifferent the guys can be at times about their bizarre experiences. For instance, when the guys encounter a giant robot standing next to an alien device, Luke's first reaction is to make a joke, which he follows by trying to make another joke. Then, just one page after the guys realize they've been teleported to the moon, they're already taking turns cracking jokes about a different robot they encounter there. I mentioned earlier that it's easy to relate to the guys because of their desire to feel special, but in these instances, it's very difficult to relate to them because any reasonable person's reaction to these situations would be a combination of panic and disbelief, not mild amusement. The first time I tried reading the story, I lost interest about halfway through because of how bored the characters seemed with what was going on. And throughout the story, this tone rarely changes; despite being on the most incredible journey imaginable, the guys just make puns and snarky comments the whole time. I also find it unrealistic how unconcerned they are about leaving their family, friends, and responsibilities behind for an entire week without telling anybody where they went. Everyone they know probably thinks they're dead, and it's extremely self-centered for them to cause so much grief.

Art: It's obviously superb, and the clever character designs, dazzling coloring, and dynamic poses are certainly very attractive to potential readers. This page is a good example of some of the webcomic's unusual stylistic aspects, particularly its heavy reliance on a bright color scheme of blues, oranges, pinks, and purples. Like every webcomic I've reviewed with great art, Battle Creek, NE has a lot of detail in its backgrounds, but it makes a bigger difference here than usual since its backgrounds are filled with all sorts of aliens, robots, spaceships, and other cool sci-fi elements that help bring Station City to life.

The terrific poses are a major highlight, and less-experienced webcartoonists should pay attention to how the way the characters are drawn injects energy into the scenes. Throughout the webcomic, the guys are constantly shown using their arms and body posture to express their mood. This page serves as a good example because of the way the guys are juxtaposed, and the characters are all clearly portrayed differently in each panel despite it being a page where they're merely standing around talking. There's also a lot of variation between full-body, knee-up, waist-up, and chest-up shots, and this helps keep the visuals fresh even when there's a lot of dialogue.

Overall: Battle Creek, NE has a mediocre story, as its creators are more focused on making weak jokes than on making its characters likable and interesting. Readers will be drawn to the webcomic by its excellent artwork, though, which is strong enough on its own to warrant a serious amount of attention. With its professional-looking website and consistent updates, Battle Creek, NE has the potential to be a prominent webcomic, especially if the creators can figure out how to deliver more mature storytelling to go along with the attractive visuals.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:48 pm

Webcomic: SPOON
URL: http://www.spoonmanga.com
Creator/s: David Yoon
Run: 1/12-current
Schedule: M-F
Section/s: Chs. 5-7

Website: Some readers might like the simplistic look, but I think it's a little too simple, to the point of being boring. The hand-drawn links are a nice touch, though, as well as the large banner at the top of each page. The webcomic also has a good amount of extras, most notably a podcast the creator does with another webcartoonist.

Some of the site isn't functional. The "Illustrations" link goes to a blank page, and the "F.A.Q" link goes to a blank page as well. I also expected the About page to be more useful, as instead of providing some helpful information about the story and characters, the creator chose to post an 850-word account of his failures as a webcartoonist.

Lastly, a lot of the pages get shrunk down too much, making them difficult to read. For example, this page, which is supposed to be 1,000-by-647 pixels, shows up as 560-by-362 pixels in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Some pages, like this one, which are supposed to be splash pages, end up being about the size of a typical webcomic panel. I was also annoyed by the awkward archives layout, which shows the last page first, and forces the reader to scroll down and click on multiple "Previous Entries" links to get to the beginning of the chapter. That's just bad design.

Writing: I'd like to share some information on the webcomic's background, which the creator goes into detail about here. SPOON started out as an "obsession" the creator had in elementary school, and after he developed an "infatuation" with Dragonball, it turned into sort of a Dragonball parody. He put it online in 2006 as Super Spoon, posting around 2,400 pages in a 16-month span before ending it due to the story being "unoriginal" and the drawings being "horrendous." Super Spoon v.2 came out in 2008, which lasted 660 pages before the creator ended it as well, explaining, "the drawings were still awful and the story still did not feel right." The next iteration, titled SPOON, started in 2010, and got to its 15th chapter before the creator ended it, citing "dissatisfaction of the story and drawings." That leads us to the latest comic, also titled SPOON, which has been running for 11 months and is currently on its eighth chapter.

Got all that? The scenario's of a creator adamant about making his childhood concept work despite repeatedly screwing it up. And what's this highly personal concept that the creator's spent 3,000-plus pages on and rebooted three times? It's about a kid with superpowers who flies around on a cloud and fights demons, which is basically the concept of Dragonball, the show the creator had an "infatuation" with growing up. (And, like in Dragonball Z, a demon in SPOON becomes a good guy.) In addition, SPOON has well-known elements from the Dragonball series, including energy blasts, calling out names of special attacks, and "powering up," and it resembles Akira Toriyama's art style. The creator's clearly frustrated that his projects haven't been living up to his expectations, but he's way too serious about something that's essentially just a rip-off of a popular series. I understand that he's developed a strong attachment to the characters he's been drawing since his childhood, but he clearly desires to "make it big" and "do this full time," and he's letting his childhood obsessions stifle his aspirations for the future. SPOON isn't gonna be the next Dragonball, and the creator should come to terms with that now before he decides to reboot the webcomic once again. Super Spoon v.5 won't magically be rid of the problems that plagued Super Spoon v.1, Super Spoon v.2, and Super Spoon v.3, and are plaguing Super Spoon v.4.

As for the quality of the writing, there isn't much to say about it. The plot doesn't make any sense, the characters don't have personalities, and the creator strings along one pointless fight scene after another. There's barely any dialogue other than the creator's idea of "tough-guy talk," such as when Seyj says in the last page of Chapter 5, "There's no way we could be half brothers. Because your blood is complete shit!". Also, the heavy use of profanity in the second half of Chapter 5's jarring since I got the impression SPOON was PG-rated, like the American version of Dragonball Z is.

* continued in the next post *
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:48 pm

Art: It's certainly better than the writing, but it's hard to get past how much it tries to look like Dragonball Z. Aside from the art style obviously being based on Toriyama's, Charles wears teenage Gohan's outfit, Seyj looks like child Gohan with Pan's bandana, Zephyr looks like Piccolo with hair, Gregory looks like Vegeta with a shaved head, and Goku looks like... wait, why's Goku even in this webcomic?

Despite SPOON being filled with action scenes, the creator's surprisingly inept at drawing them. As seen here, here, and here, he overuses action lines and blurry imagery, making the scenes seem fast-paced and dramatic but also making it too difficult to tell what's going on. This page is the most confusing, as it doesn't make any sense that hitting someone with a sword would cause them to fly in the opposite direction and up into the ceiling. It seems like the creator's rushing the pages in order to keep up with his Monday-through-Friday schedule, and in doing so, he's leaving out too much necessary visual information.

SPOON's About page explains the webcomic's premise as Charles being "cursed with the body of a SPOON," and the creator mentions that "it dawned upon me how humorous and believable it would be for the main character to be turned into a SPOON by an elf." However, as can be clearly seen in the cover for Chapter 7, Charles has the same egg-shaped head no matter what angle he's seen from. If he was actually shaped like a spoon, then his head shown in profile would look something like a thin semi-circle, as can be seen here. Considering that the creator could just grab a spoon out of his kitchen drawer to use as a reference, there's no excuse for screwing something up that's so fundamental to SPOON's concept.

To "celebrate" making a new ComicPress site, the creator decided to ruin several of his pages with awful, MS Paint-style coloring (1, 2, 3). I don't understand his thought process behind this, but I recommend that he sticks to black-and-white illustrations, at least until he can figure out how to color properly.

Lastly, what's Charles' "weapon" supposed to be?

Overall: The creator suggests that the first 3,000-plus pages of Super Spoon flopped because the stories didn't have "an overall goal [...] which can drive the story to a conclusion," but I think the real reason's that he's just not a talented writer. Fortunately, he's at least somewhat capable at illustrating, so if he still wants to pursue a career as a professional cartoonist, he should be able to pair up with someone who can craft a coherent plot and come up with interesting characters. If he wants to be taken more seriously as an illustrator, though, then he needs to put more emphasis on developing his own style, as well as ensuring that his scenes make sense on a visual level.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Mcwhirlpoolinc on Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:38 pm

Would you review mine? I don't have my own site for it, I use facebook, hope that's alright.

It's called GHOST HOME: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghost-Home/170869639600476?sk=photos_albums
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:22 pm

Mcwhirlpoolinc wrote:Would you review mine? I don't have my own site for it, I use facebook, hope that's alright.

It's called GHOST HOME: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghost-Home/170869639600476?sk=photos_albums

Sorry, Mcwhirlpoolinc, but I'm gonna decline this one. You're obviously buddies with David Yoon, and I'm gonna avoid focusing on a certain clique. Your webcomic also consists of sketchy artwork you posted to your Facebook account, and I'd prefer to spend my limited time reviewing more serious projects.

If you'd still like a review, your best bet's to sign up with one of the free webcomic hosting sites out there, and then request a review on the Smack Jeeves forums.

Again, sorry I can't be more helpful. Good luck with your project, though, and hopefully someone out there has time to look it over and give you some criticism.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby Mcwhirlpoolinc on Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:56 pm

LibertyCabbage wrote:
Mcwhirlpoolinc wrote:Would you review mine? I don't have my own site for it, I use facebook, hope that's alright.

It's called GHOST HOME: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghost-Home/170869639600476?sk=photos_albums

Sorry, Mcwhirlpoolinc, but I'm gonna decline this one. You're obviously buddies with David Yoon, and I'm gonna avoid focusing on a certain clique. Your webcomic also consists of sketchy artwork you posted to your Facebook account, and I'd prefer to spend my limited time reviewing more serious projects.

If you'd still like a review, your best bet's to sign up with one of the free webcomic hosting sites out there, and then request a review on the Smack Jeeves forums.

Again, sorry I can't be more helpful. Good luck with your project, though, and hopefully someone out there has time to look it over and give you some criticism.


Alright fair enough, I respect that and thank you for your time.
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:24 pm

Webcomic: The Becoming
URL: http://www.thebecomingcomic.com/
Creator/s: J. Alan Shelton, Douang Khamsitthisack
Run: 2/10-current
Schedule: Random
Section/s: Ch. 5

Website: The black-and-white colors are appropriate for the webcomic's gothic style, although the layout's somewhat generic. There are plenty of extra features to be found here, including bonus comics, wallpapers, a glossary, a store, and videos of the comic being illustrated and colored.

I expected the "New Reader?" button to lead to something like a recap of the story, but all it does is link to the first page of the webcomic, which makes it basically useless since there's already a "first" button beneath each page. It's also strange that the comic's blog hasn't been updated since April, even though it's one of the site's main navigation buttons.

The exceptional part of the site's the pursuit of feedback, which is handled through various polls and surveys. The creators ask such questions as "How did you find out about The Becoming?" "Which character would you like to see more of?" and "Which [event in the comic] has peaked your interest most?" This shows readers that the creators care about making a webcomic the readers will enjoy, and it provides an easy way for the creators to get some anonymous commentary on their work.

The update schedule's been turbulent lately. While the webcomic's supposed to update every Monday, only nine pages have been posted since September, and less than half of those updates were on Mondays. This led to a Dec. 13 news post in which the main creator announced that the secondary creator's leaving the project, and that the webcomic's going on a two-month hiatus.

Writing: I read a section of The Becoming a while ago, and, impressed by its sophisticated writing and attractive artwork, I was gonna write a positive review of it, but I never got around it. I didn't think much of it at the time, but since then, it's still the only time I haven't followed through with a review. So, what's different about this webcomic? Others around the web have noted a similar feeling of indifference towards The Becoming. Reviewer "Antione Strife" of I Am Legend mentioned that it "lacks the suspense you would need for a comic with limited to no action," explaining that "it doesn't have me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what will happen next." Reviewer "Helen" of Narrative Investigations, who's normally enthusiastic about every webcomic she comes across, shows a lack of interest in The Becoming, writing, "There has been at least one time, probably more, when I've considered dropping this comic." And reader "Occasional Sage" of the Order of the Stick forums is in agreement with them, complaining that the dialogue's "a bit leaden."

Reading a new section this time, it's become more apparent how rushed every scene feels, which kills any dramatic tension the webcomic could've had. Right from the start, The Becoming seems to try to get through the narrative as quickly as possible, taking Oscar from melancholy to anger to shock within just the first two pages of the chapter (1, 2), giving a manic feel to the opening scene that doesn't seem intended. And the webcomic only goes downhill from there, as Page 3's the first of the chapter's many text-heavy pages (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The dialogue's competently written, and it has a certain charm to it, but there's just too much of it, drawing out static scenes and crowding the artwork with speech bubbles.

The creators throw in a random action scene, apparently as an attempt to break up some of the monotony with the dialogue-heavy scenes, but there isn't enough of a sense that the characters are actually in danger. After three pages of buildup, Jeannine effortlessly kills the cannibals in one page, and then, after some more buildup, challenging enemies enter right before the scene ends. That's eight pages' worth of comics where nothing really happens, seemingly for the point of "teasing" readers that an interesting fight might happen sometime in the future. I think this is an ineffective strategy that's going to cause readers to lose interest; a better approach would've been to show the fight with the Disciples so that the buildup isn't wasted, or maybe to have Jeannine fight a greater number of cannibals so that the action isn't over so quickly.

Lastly, I'm confused by the splash pages that started popping up in the chapter's second half (1, 2, 3). I've been pointing out how the scenes seem rushed, like the creators are in a hurry to get to the next part of the story, and these splash pages have the opposite effect, unnecessarily slowing things down. Each of the text-heavy pages I linked to would've been more appealing if they'd been split into multiple pages, and these splash pages could've been cut from the webcomic in order to make room for the dialogue.

* continued in the next post *
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LibertyCabbage
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Re: I'll review your webcomic.

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:26 pm

Artwork: It's split up between the two creators, with the main creator drawing the first two-thirds of the section, while the secondary creator drew the most recent pages. While the main creator labels himself a "non-artist," his artistic abilities are better than average, and the secondary creator's even better, with the cover and the banquet scene being the section's standout illustrations. The art's defining feature's the extravagant outfits worn by all the characters, which are drawn with a high level of detail and creativity (1, 2, 3). Anatomy and perspective are spot-on, and while the webcomic can have a "talking heads" feel at times, it generally manages to provide a solid variety of shots.

Backgrounds need a lot of improvement, as while the creators are successful in conveying a gothic/Victorian atmosphere, all of the scenery's vague and minimalistic. The most blatant example of this is the action scene, where the background for eight straight pages is the same shot of grass and a gray sky. While it's plausible that the characters could fight in the middle of a flat, empty field, it's boring to look at. The interior scenes are more detailed, but they're all in huge rooms that are mostly empty (1, 2, 3), with the exception of the banquet scene I mentioned in the previous paragraph. In addition, too many panels just have a solid gray or tan background (1, 2, 3), and the occasional panels where the characters are shown outside are unusually indistinct (1, 2). I get the impression that the creators are avoiding spending time on backgrounds because the ubiquitous dialogue balloons take up so much space, but it takes away from the webcomic's visual appeal, and seeing page after page of gray backgrounds gets dull pretty quickly.

The other big problem with the art's the lack of shading on the characters, which clashes with the detailed illustrations and the gritty nature of the setting. While the scenes are consistently bleak and dimly lit, the figures are often colored brightly and with minimal shading, and this makes them look unintentionally cartoony. Some examples of this can be seen here, here, and here. The creators should try to convey a more natural sense of lighting by taking into account the intensity and locations of the light sources in the rooms.

Overall: Both of its creators are highly skilled, but The Becoming falls short of being a great webcomic because it's just boring to read. While updating consistently has been a major challenge, the creators need to demonstrate a mastery of comics fundamentals, and that they have the patience to deliver their story properly. I expect that readers are willing to wait for updates if the story's good enough, and the creators' focus needs to be on providing that level of quality, not on getting through the narrative as quickly as possible.
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