Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

For discussions, announcements, non-technical questions and anything else comics-related or otherwise that doesn't fit in any of the other categories.

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:41 pm

There haven't been any dramatics this year?!?

Awwww....
ImageDeviantart~tumblr
"Your service is to the story and to the characters. Fuck the audience and fuck your own whims." - Yeahduff
User avatar
RobboAKAscooby
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 1140
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:00 pm
Location: Brisvegas

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby JSConner800 on Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:51 pm

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:My eternal schlong unravels.


I have no idea what this means, and I really don't want to. All I know is, it's going in my sig.

djracodex wrote:I hate exposition. I know I have to write it and write it well or I will hate it more, but I hate it. I hate writing it, it hardly ever comes out naturally, and it's practically necessary in fantasy plots. I tried integrating it 'naturally' in an argument between Whini and Fetzim (old dude), and in banter with Rat, but it sounds like it did not achieve the "people actually having a conversation"-ness level.

Anybody have any good examples of fantasy-type exposition that's in-conversation and not a narrator?


A technique that I try to implement whenever possible (and one I've seen work to great effect) is to include an outsider in the beginning of a fantasy or sci-fi story. Your characters wouldn't logically be explaining things to each other that they already know, but to a character unfamiliar with their lives or their culture, it makes more sense. However, like with every kind of writing technique, this has to feel organic and crucial to the plot. You can't just throw an outsider character in for the exposition and then do nothing with them. They have to be integral to the plot and fully fleshed out characters in their own right, rather than just a receptacle to dump exposition into. This will both make your exposition more interesting and it will better disguise the fact that it's even exposition in the first place. It's not an exposition easy button, but if you're having trouble delivering background info through conversation between characters already familiar with the world, it's slightly easier to accomplish than that.

I do think it's possible to pull off exposition between characters that are already residents of the fantasy world, but information has to be doled out at a digestible pace, and in a manner where logic can fill in the gaps that these characters wouldn't bother to explain to each other. I read through the beginning of Masadjra, and while you do a good job of avoiding unnatural exposition, you do throw out a few too many new concepts a bit too quickly, and I think that's part of the problem. If a reader doesn't understand a term you've thrown out, but they have some idea of what it is and they understand enough of the plot to move forward, that builds curiosity and implicitly promises an explanation later. If a reader doesn't understand *most* of the terms you're throwing out and has only a vague idea of what's happening, they're less likely to be engaged by the lack of exposition and more likely to glaze over or give up. For example, I was interested in what a Raze King was, but then there was something about a Crowned King, and there's the Djra and the Fury and some kind of giant sabertooth tiger fossil. After 20 pages, I didn't feel like I had a grasp on any of these things, except there was one mention that the Djra were fighters of some kind, and I can guess that they're a separate race or tribe. If you can slow it down and find a way to explain at least some of these things, you'll be in pretty good shape. Maybe you already have in the next 10 pages, but either way it's something to keep in mind for the future.

And since I enjoy tooting my own horn, here's Steel Salvation as an example of the latter type of exposition. I don't think it's the most organic (ha!) exposition I've ever done, but Humbug liked it, and it does the job. I'd say the heaviest exposition is strips 2-6. I'm a fan of layering dialogue over different-but-related scenes to create a kind of faux-narration, and you might want to consider that technique as well. That way, you can continue doing something interesting with the visuals while explaining a new or difficult concept, and in the best case scenario, the visuals will complement the dialogue in some way.
Image
My eternal schlong unravels - VeryCuddlyCornpone
User avatar
JSConner800
Regular Poster
 
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:11 pm

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby Sortelli on Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:39 pm

OKAY HERE'S MY REVIEW FOR QUEST

Quest follows a formula that's near and dear to many authors, myself included. Take the characters out of a roleplaying game and tell their stories. It's been done many, many times before with varying levels of success. If there's anything that distinguishes a successful comic in this genre from a poor one, it's this:

Stories are just not a bunch of things that happened, followed by a bunch of other things that happened.

Any fantasy game will include a storytelling aspect, but that does not make campaigns into stories nor does that make player characters into ... well ... characters. I have been there and I have drawn these very same comics myself, so even though this is going to be a pretty harsh review it is coming from my heart with fondness.

The worst thing any fantasy gaming comic can do is be a straight retelling of events from gaming sessions, and unfortunately Quest does this. And it's been doing this for more than five hundred comics, although the first two hundred or so are stored on another site (which I have not read), with a small prologue focusing on the character Ghostlight to replace them on the main one.

It's critically important to make changes like the prologue to turn the chronicles of an adventuring group into a good story where readers can watch characters grow and develop. The prologue gives us a lot of necessary information on Ghost, and also foreshadows her ability to call up obscure lore when necessary, which is partly why I had a much better time understanding her place in the story than the other characters... a lot of whom I could not tell you very much about even after reading the archives and their bios.

Speaking of the other characters:
http://quest.comicgenesis.com/Cast.html

I kind of hate critiquing them as characters in a story when I know that all of these people were being played by a group of friends who had a great time with them, but that's part of the wide gulf between storytelling games and storytelling for an audience.

Norten is one of the more relatable members of the cast, and when something happens in the story it is often because of him. Characters like this are a mainstay in any adventure story, but at the moment Norten appears to be a pile of ash due to his love of close range pyrotechnics. This does not contradict his bio, which explains that he'll do everything he can when the party is in danger despite being greedy and obnoxious otherwise. But his most valued possession is his dog Bernard, which has saved his life on multiple occasions... and I don't recall one of them let alone seeing this dog at all.

Katie is prominently displayed alongside Ghost on the title banner but all I really know about her is that she wants to go home. Her bio tells us more about her family, who are not in the story at all. Still, she fills a very recognizable and relatable role and her behavior is a natural contrast to Norten.

Tessa the paladin is cut straight from cliche roleplaying stock. The first words of her bio are "Not much is known about Tessa."

:|

In order to function in a party with less legally inclined characters Tessa is stupid and or crazy whenever she needs to be, and loud and judgemental whenever people need to be reminded that she is a "paladin." This is really the worst kind of character, a character that can't even be true to what she is supposed to be, and none of Tessa's scenes make her relatable, even those that try to explain her inner thoughts with a literal shoulder devil and angel.

Char the streetrat has had some good moments of characterization and could be a solid addition to a story if handled properly. The best moment with Char is when she refuses a bribe after graphically recalling the tragedy of her early life in contrast to her life with her companions, chosing loyalty to them over money. Unfortunately, apart from that scene Char tends to just be the short one who isn't Norten.

Lastly there is Orion who... uh... he's got a rapier and he's handsome. He's really hard to see on the page because I either mistake him for Katie or he's not doing anything. His bio says that the Falcon God set him on his path, but if that's ever been mentioned in the comic I missed it.


I worry that I missed a lot in this comic, honestly. I read the whole archive but a lot of times the page composition made it hard to follow what was going on and who was doing it. ALTHOUGH I really, really appreciate the effort that went into being as absolutely far from the Questionable Content school of People Standing and Talking While Viewed At Eye Level. Almost every single page has a panel that is attempting to be creative, and even though sometimes those attempts do not succeed I really, really appreciate the effort. Sadly, I can't pick up a lot of improvement on page layout from strip 200 to 500. If anything, more of of the panels I like tend to happen back at the start of the archive.

Here's a great old page: http://quest.comicgenesis.com/d/20071015.html

Here's a bad recent page: http://quest.comicgenesis.com/d/20120822.html

Storywise, sadly, a lot of what is going on comes out of commercial DnD campaign material which just feels like a huge mistake. That's telling someone else's story with your own characters, and packaged adventures are about producing amazing game sessions, NOT amazing stories.

When the story does do something well I find myself wishing it had been done better, like Norten's explosive sacrifice which was not nearly as dramatic as the prior explosive sacrifice where he literally dive-bombed a massive snake monster that had charmed the entire party into preparing themselves for dinner.

Speaking of the snake monster, Tessa the paladin was the only one who could resist the charm and yet she went out of her way to be as useless as possible by ignoring the danger until she could be neatly subdued. If she did not exist the story could have happened exactly as it did, but yet she needed to be included because she was there. This would have been a perfect time to change things for the sake of the story by either making Tessa fall victim to the charm like the others, or making her ability to resist said charm more significant.

One circumstance which I did appreciate was a moment when Ghostlight calls out Norten and Char for wearing bad elf disguises by describing exactly how fake ears do nothing to disguise non-elvish facial features or vocal characteristics. This came up again later when Ghostlight realizes that the elvish Baron is also not fully elvish for the same reasons. These are two incidents that would perfectly fit a tighter story arc by establishing a fact in advance so that it can be significant again later.

I hope that Quest will ultimately be a stepping stone into a better, non-game related comic (fantasy or otherwise). In order for it to do that, though, the author will first need to commit to making each page better. 500 comics is only an achievement if there's growth from the first page to the last. It'd also be nice to get to know these characters outside of their game histories in stories that allow them more room to be who they are.
User avatar
Sortelli
Cartoon Villain
 
Posts: 6337
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2002 7:15 pm
Location: in your grandpa's clothes, I look incredible

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LadySol on Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:21 pm

Hi Sortelli,

Thanks for reviewing my comic. It is good to have an outside perspective at times, because from the inside I tend to miss things like this

Char tends to just be the short one who isn't Norten.


I was confused for a moment when I first read it, as I tend to think of Char as one of my most developed characters. Then I pondered it a bit and realized that while Char gets prominent screen time and development in the first 200 pages, she has been drifting more in the background recently. The development part is true of Katie too, though she has trouble not dragging the spotlight back to herself. Since I split the comic after the fact, when I was around page 480 or so, it completely slipped my mind that I'd have to go back and reestablish the characters for new readers. Amateur storytelling mistake, I suppose.

This also explains things like the mention of Norten's dog in his bio, (he loses it due to the events in Quest: Early Adventures). I really need to go back and make some changes so that Quest: a Masquerade is more readable as a stand alone. Thanks for pointing this out.

As for Orion, I completely agree. The poor guy is neglected. He's got two measly moments in the spotlight, which start here http://quest.comicgenesis.com/d/20080321.html and here http://quest.comicgenesis.com/d/20100419.html . They must be pretty forgettable anyhow, because you mention not remembering anything about his connection to the Falcon God in the comic, and they both refer to it. Developing Orion better is definitely on my list of things to do as the comic progresses. I keep having trouble though, because every time I set out to write a storyline about him some other character butts in and demands the spotlight.

Overall this seems like a pretty fair review and I think it will be helpful to me. Thanks again.
Image
User avatar
LadySol
Newbie
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:44 pm
Location: Chile

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby Sortelli on Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:22 pm

I'll have to go back and read the original stories sometime. I do think Char has a lot of potential as a character, and I like seeing a normal human be that short in a fantasy story and still be human, since it's completely within the range of human body sizes. Keep on comickin', you've got a natural understanding of the medium that a lot of people doing webcomics don't and practice and learning will unlock that. Just don't let the grind force you into cutting any corners.
User avatar
Sortelli
Cartoon Villain
 
Posts: 6337
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2002 7:15 pm
Location: in your grandpa's clothes, I look incredible

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LadySol on Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:22 am

Review for Freakboy Did a Bad Thing
http://freakboy.smackjeeves.com/

Freakboy Did a Bad Thing really surprised me. From just glancing at the art and title I was expecting either a gory, romping, murdering story or a string of slapstick strips. Freakboy is neither and far more interesting.

The story is still in its infancy with only a wee 24 pages to its name, but you can already see the world falling into place. It is a world which seems to be a strange, eerie parallel to our own where the indistinguishable masses are kept complacent and entertained by inane reality-based TV. A doom-like horror of what we could become, if you will.

The people in Freak-verse are all literally clones of each other. They come from factories, they look identical, and, in most cases, wear the same clothes. As you might imagine in a world of such sameness, being different can be a very bad thing.

Enter Freakboy, the main character. He is billed by the rest of the cast as a heartless, mass murderer, but there is obviously more to the story. The author has portrayed him as the most human of the characters. In only the few pages we've seen so far he's been worried, depressed, afraid and even concerned about the well being of another. I find myself wondering if he is really guilty of the crimes they accuse him of, or just guilty of being different and therefore became an easy target.

As for the rest of the cast, at this point all we've seen are varying flavors cruelty. I don't know if they will stay that way, or if the author will get around to fleshing them out. I'm not inclined to take points off about this yet as it seems the point of the introduction seems to have been introducing Freakboy and the terrible isolation and conditions in which he lives.

The art of Freakboy Did a Bad Thing is … unusual. I find myself going back and forth on whether I like it or not. It is all black and white and has a sketchy quality to it as if done with a ball point pen all in one go. Characters are cartoonish, but reasonably anatomically accurate, except the head, which is an over-sized balloon with no nose http://freakboy.smackjeeves.com/comics/1715948/chapter-1-page-15/. They are also really, really ugly, but ugly in an okay way. Freak-verse is an ugly place, and the way the characters are drawn fits and reinforces that. The author also uses the size of the facial features and their lack of true anatomy to good effect. A large range of emotions are conveyed and they are always easy to read.

You don't come to Freakboy to see the backgrounds. There are enough to keep you grounded in the scene, but mostly the author prefers plain black or white space or the use of crazy patterns. When they are done though, the backgrounds tend to be nicely proportioned and highly detailed. An odd feature about them is that besides the set of the reality show, every location (mind you there are only two others so far) seems to be literally falling apart, with peeling paint, plaster, potential blood smears and dirt everywhere. Combined with the waviness of all the panels it feels like the universe is in danger of disassembling. Or perhaps all of Freak-verse is the demented dream of the floating smiley face.

Behind it all, behind the scenes and behind the actions of the characters themselves, we see the disembodied smiley over and over http://freakboy.smackjeeves.com/comics/1720079/chapter-1-page-16/. It is almost omnipresent and may be seeing and controlling everything in a very Big Brother-esque fashion. This could be very meta, since the smiley face is also LibertyCabbage's avatar; however, I understand that the Freakboy story takes place in the same expanded universe as LC's other comics, so there may be some deeper meaning I'm missing.

The idea of a puppet master writing out the script that everyone must follow is intriguing and would explain a few things about the Freakboy universe. For instance, how everything seems to be on infinite loop: the game show that repeats itself with constant, minor variation every few hours, the lines that get used over and over again “So tell us, Freakboy... What's it like to kill someone?” http://freakboy.smackjeeves.com/comics/1755441/chapter-1-page-24/, even the sameness of clones. It makes you stop and wonder.

Freakboy is a very strange comic that is being well handled. I'm interested to see where it goes in the future.
Image
User avatar
LadySol
Newbie
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:44 pm
Location: Chile

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:08 pm

Thanks for the review! You brought up a lot of really good points.

LadySol wrote:Freakboy Did a Bad Thing really surprised me. From just glancing at the art and title I was expecting either a gory, romping, murdering story or a string of slapstick strips. Freakboy is neither and far more interesting.
It's kinda funny that you phrased it that way since the former exactly describes Orange Revolution and the latter exactly describes Freedom Fries. So I'm glad that Freakboy seems to represent an evolution from those earlier projects.

LadySol wrote:The story is still in its infancy with only a wee 24 pages to its name, but you can already see the world falling into place. It is a world which seems to be a strange, eerie parallel to our own where the indistinguishable masses are kept complacent and entertained by inane reality-based TV. A doom-like horror of what we could become, if you will.
I like that it's plausible that Freakboy can be seen as representing our own dystopian future as opposed to, say, just an alternate reality. As ridiculous as it all is, a lot of it's rooted in reality to some extent, even if it's in subtle ways. I actually just saw this article the other day, titled "Study: TV's Newest Obsession Is Serial Killers," and it's just weird reading it in context of what's been discussed in these reviews.

LadySol wrote:I find myself wondering if he is really guilty of the crimes they accuse him of, or just guilty of being different and therefore became an easy target.
As I mentioned in response to the previous reviews, I intended it to be suspicious, so I'm glad that his past seems ambiguous even though he admits over and over that he's guilty.

LadySol wrote:As for the rest of the cast, at this point all we've seen are varying flavors cruelty. I don't know if they will stay that way, or if the author will get around to fleshing them out. I'm not inclined to take points off about this yet as it seems the point of the introduction seems to have been introducing Freakboy and the terrible isolation and conditions in which he lives.
It's a little disappointing that I couldn't fit more into the first chapter, but like you recognized, I felt like I needed all 24 of those pages to just set up what's going on. Hopefully, I'll have the second chapter done by the time next year's W.A.Y. rolls around, so I'll see how things are at halftime then.

LadySol wrote:A large range of emotions are conveyed and they are always easy to read.
That's great to hear since it's probably the main aspect of the artwork I worry about getting right.

LadySol wrote:An odd feature about them is that besides the set of the reality show, every location (mind you there are only two others so far) seems to be literally falling apart, with peeling paint, plaster, potential blood smears and dirt everywhere.
I'm glad you mentioned that since there's such a disconnect between the show and the rest of the comic. And you're right that no one in the comic seems to care that things are falling apart because everyone's so focused on the show.

LadySol wrote:It is almost omnipresent and may be seeing and controlling everything in a very Big Brother-esque fashion. This could be very meta, since the smiley face is also LibertyCabbage's avatar; however, I understand that the Freakboy story takes place in the same expanded universe as LC's other comics, so there may be some deeper meaning I'm missing.
The setting's definitely influenced by this sort of 1984/Brave New World dystopian concept, and I'll say that the symbol's intended to be more in line with that than anything meta.

LadySol wrote:The idea of a puppet master writing out the script that everyone must follow is intriguing and would explain a few things about the Freakboy universe. For instance, how everything seems to be on infinite loop: the game show that repeats itself with constant, minor variation every few hours, the lines that get used over and over again “So tell us, Freakboy... What's it like to kill someone?” http://freakboy.smackjeeves.com/comics/ ... 1-page-24/, even the sameness of clones. It makes you stop and wonder.
Yeah, exactly. Repetition's meant as kind of the main theme of Chapter 1, at least from a narrative perspective.

LadySol wrote:Freakboy is a very strange comic that is being well handled. I'm interested to see where it goes in the future.
It's nice to get some positive feedback after starting working on what feels like a risky concept. It's great that some people are getting enjoyment out of it, and I'm gonna keep trying to push myself and make the best pages I can. Thanks again for providing your insight.
ImageImage
"Seems like the only comics that would be good to this person are super action crazy lines, mega poses!"
User avatar
LibertyCabbage
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 4663
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:08 pm
Location: bat country

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby Yeahduff on Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:18 am

LibertyCabbage wrote:Webcomic: Murder on the 95th/Dan Ryan


Well fuck.

LibertyCabbage wrote:However, despite the minimal amount of text on the site, the creator misspelled "Available Now" on the home page.

Oy. That was a long night.

LibertyCabbage wrote:While the protagonist comes across as a miserable jerk, his glimpses of humility help make him a likable and sympathetic character. This is most apparent in the panels involving alcohol, such as the scribbly black cloud around a bottle marked "Booze" on Page 4 that has a caption starting with "I live my life in a haze." The subject then comes up twice on the next page, with the protagonist referring to himself as a "borderline alcoholic," and then being shown depressed at home next to a bottle of liquor. A self-destructive cycle's suggested by these pages, in which the protagonist's drunkenness inhibits his ability to process his psychological issues, which contributes to his "miserable existence" that he relies on alcohol to rescue him from. At one point, he suggests "just taking a sober analysis of the situation," with sober having a double meaning, but he rejects this idea in favor of "the path of least resistance," which is continuing to use alcohol to help him ignore his problems.

Beginning to think I have a bit of an alcohol problem. I mean, not in terms of my consumption (I can stop any time I want) but in maybe it's a bit of a fixation I have in my writing. Though I suppose if I stay North of after-school-special territory and continue to treat alcoholism as a joke I'm probably good.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Another way that the protagonist's made more likable is the way that he oscillates between casual and sophisticated dialogue, putting the reader in a position where they can be caught off-guard. The story's set up in a way that the pages alternate in tone, with Pages 1, 3, and 5 showing the most conviction while Pages 2, 4, and 6 display a more uncertain protagonist. In the former, he's more focused, coherent, and eloquent, while in the latter, he speaks in a disjointed, informal style while making hipster-esque pop culture references to Downton Abbey, J Mascis, and "prog rock." The best example of this is on Page 3, where right after confessing to "misogynistic bullshit," the protagonist confidently states that "it's also a pathological aversion to succumbing to superficiality combined with a complete mistrust in my own instincts," suggesting to the reader that the situation may be more complicated than it seems. This level of inconsistency would be problematic in a more normal webcomic, but it works well here because the character's presented as being heavily flawed from the start.

The first thing someone told me after reading this was, "You use a lot of big words."

LibertyCabbage wrote:A cover might not seem necessary for a six-page story, but this one's very effective because of its simplistic approach. An image of a cute girl next to the word "Murder" on a red background makes it clear to the reader that she's being conveyed as a victim, which illustrates the point the protagonist tries to make later in the story. Based on his seedy appearance, it's initially plausible that he might be the one who kills her, making his suspicion of her a clever and unexpected twist.

This is really interesting. On the aforementioned "long night" I had a few ideas for a cover and they all fell apart, so I took the cheap way out and put the cute girl up there. And I did wonder how that image and the big red "MURDER" played together but never got to any conclusive thoughts about it. Glad it ended up being thematically perfect by at least one analytical reader.

LibertyCabbage wrote:This comic makes the argument as well as any other I've seen that a creator doesn't need a significant amount of pages to tell a compelling and complex story. Its distinctly urban setting supplies an artistic flair while also making its subject matter highly relatable. Murder on the 95th/Dan Ryan's an expertly illustrated short story that will present a pleasant challenge for anyone looking for something on the heavier side to read.

Well that certainly checks all the boxes of my agenda as far this work goes.

Fine piece of writing there, mostly because you liked my story/rant, but also because you give the kind of thoughtful analysis that comics deserve as much as any other form. Keep it up.
Image
I won't be the stars in your dark night.
User avatar
Yeahduff
Resident Stoic (Moderator)
 
Posts: 9158
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2003 4:16 pm
Location: I jumped into your grave and died.

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LibertyCabbage on Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:35 am

Yeahduff wrote:Beginning to think I have a bit of an alcohol problem. I mean, not in terms of my consumption (I can stop any time I want) but in maybe it's a bit of a fixation I have in my writing. Though I suppose if I stay North of after-school-special territory and continue to treat alcoholism as a joke I'm probably good.
I think the alcoholism's handled in a mature way. But I don't see fixations in writing as being that much of a problem anyways. Drawing a story you're personally invested in's a lot better than trying too hard to be "normal" and either getting creative block or just feeling "meh" about the story.

Yeahduff wrote:The first thing someone told me after reading this was, "You use a lot of big words."
I'd say that that person's not part of the story's target audience.

Yeahduff wrote:This is really interesting. On the aforementioned "long night" I had a few ideas for a cover and they all fell apart, so I took the cheap way out and put the cute girl up there. And I did wonder how that image and the big red "MURDER" played together but never got to any conclusive thoughts about it. Glad it ended up being thematically perfect by at least one analytical reader.
It kinda goes with the scene where the protagonist imagines getting arrested. Somebody gets killed, and everyone's automatically pointing their finger at the shadiest-looking person around. So, what the cover does is it reminds the reader that, yeah, they'd probably be pointing their finger too if they were in that situation.

Yeahduff wrote:Fine piece of writing there, mostly because you liked my story/rant, but also because you give the kind of thoughtful analysis that comics deserve as much as any other form. Keep it up.
Well, it's a treat to get to do this kind of literary analysis once in a while since most webcomics just don't have that much substance.

And here's the updated W.A.Y. 2013 list:

Freakboy Did a Bad Thing -- reviewed by VeryCuddlyCornpone -- review
Loud Era -- reviewed by IVstudios -- review
Inhumation -- reviewed by djracodex -- review
Masadjra -- reviewed by VeryCuddlyCornpone -- review
Loud Era -- reviewed by Sortelli -- review
No Scrying -- reviewed by JSConner800 -- review
Steel Salvation -- reviewed by Humbug -- review
Crux -- reviewed by Yeahduff -- incomplete
Murder on the 95th/Dan Ryan -- reviewed by LibertyCabbage -- review
Freakboy Did a Bad Thing -- reviewed by JSConner800 -- review
Steel Salvation -- reviewed by VeryCuddlyCornpone -- incomplete
Loud Era -- reviewed by LibertyCabbage -- incomplete
Freakboy Did a Bad Thing -- reviewed by LadySol -- review
Quest -- reviewed by Sortelli -- review
No Scrying -- reviewed by djracodex -- incomplete
Masadjra -- reviewed by ????
ImageImage
"Seems like the only comics that would be good to this person are super action crazy lines, mega poses!"
User avatar
LibertyCabbage
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 4663
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:08 pm
Location: bat country

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:40 pm

I'll be digging in to Steel Salvation after I've finished catching up on Mansion of E and interviewing our favorite clam for his 10th anniversary.
Image
Don't kid yourself, friend. I still know how.
"I'd much rather dream about my co-written Meth Beatdown script tonight." -JSConner800000000
User avatar
VeryCuddlyCornpone
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 3239
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:02 pm
Location: the spoonited plates of Americup

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby robotthepirate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:08 am

This is doing well this year. I'm impressed.

Whoevers last on the list on the 19th (or thereabouts) gets reviewed by me (unless I forget to come back and stake my claim), because that's when S-C finishes running it's first episode. Given that it's my first attempt at writing al-sit-com-esc I expect to be torn to shreds. I am quite the fan of good sit-coms and S-C is not one, yet.
Image Image Image Image
User avatar
robotthepirate
Regular Poster
 
Posts: 563
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:02 am
Location: Staffordshire, UK

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby JSConner800 on Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:20 pm

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:I'll be digging in to Steel Salvation after I've finished catching up on Mansion of E and interviewing our favorite clam for his 10th anniversary.


Please, take your time. Our graphic designer has run into a whole pile of technical difficulties, and probably won't be getting strip 14 up until tonight (normal updates are on Fridays). If you wait until at least this weekend to start reading, you should have at least 14 and, if he manages to get back on track, 15 whopping pages to critique.
Image
My eternal schlong unravels - VeryCuddlyCornpone
User avatar
JSConner800
Regular Poster
 
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:11 pm

schwop

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:46 pm

Steel Salvation by J.S. Conner (writing), Evan Ledesma (art), Alex Mattingly (art & design)
Pages: 17, including cover page
Running since: April 5, 2013
Updates: Fridays
Status: Updating on schedule, chapter 1

My first reaction upon loading the Steel Salvation site is simply how nice the website is. The monochrome scheme matches the look of the comic, the design overall just is wonderfully cohesive and atmospheric. It’s a very well put together site that isn’t cluttered with needless junk. Everything on the page suits the purpose of the comic and doesn’t detract from the reading of the comic.

A few notes on the design and extra pages- I like the way social media integration is presented at the bottom of the site. The logos everyone recognizes have been modified to black and white, making them really unobtrusive while at the same time easy to find for anyone who wants to use them. The about page is a wordy thing, which is par for the course for about pages. The only suggestion I have here is to perhaps add some anchoring links at the top of the page to each section that gets discussed, only because the “world” section is so long that I don’t know how many readers would read that far or bother to scroll past it to see the additional sections underneath. Perhaps this section could even be shortened, but it’s just an extra page and not something that needs hand-wringing over.

The contact page is clean and simple, and even the pages that are under construction are absolutely adorable. I need to take a minute to gush about the archive page. Each page is represented by a thumbnail taken from that page, which upon mouse-over reveals the title, date, and a brief summary of that page. Easily the most in depth and creative archive system I’ve seen.

My one and only issue with the design at all is the nature of the navigation buttons on either side of the comic. I love that they match the style, but because they’re so stylized and unusual I thought they were just site decoration at first and it took me a minute to figure out how to move to a different page. It might just be me being dumb, but I would suggest making them just a little bit bigger/more obvious.

I do like that these navigational buttons remain in place as you traverse through the comic! No matter how long the page is, the reader can leave their cursor in the same place while scrolling, as the comic moves independent of the frame around it. This is just really nice and I wish more comics (at least those that don’t have image-click navigation) would integrate something similar.

Onto the comic itself. The opening of the story is well done. The exposition is rather subtly conveyed through the text, almost poetic without getting overly prosacious. It’s still very, very early in the story, so there isn’t much I can comment on regarding the storytelling besides that the opening is very sturdy. I’m enjoying our trip-down-memory-lane/flashback sequence that is currently taking place. Our main character Dy-Gar is a destructive and misanthropic robot on a mission to tear the shit out of shit. I really like the way The Goddess, who in the flashback seems to be revealed as Dy-Gar’s human creator, is portrayed, especially the contrast between how Dy-Gar pictures/sees her in the present storyline versus how she appears in the memory/flashback. It may be too early to tell yet, but it makes me think that beliefs, religion, faith, and theism in general may be a key theme in Steel Salvation, with Dy-Gar acting as an allegory for a person who has become disillusioned with a god they may or may not have ever really “believed” in, without outright denying the existence of such a being. Though it could be just gillywilly speculation on my part!

The vertically long pages are pleasant to read. Most of the comic is obscured as one scrolled, so (at least on my own display) it tends to be read one panel at a time. This creates pacing effect that allows us to linger naturally on each panel to process it, adding a temporal element to the reading without slowing it down so much as to cause issues (a complaint I’ve heard about some single-panel comics, like Ava’s Demon). I imagine this compositional tool will be exploited later on when fast action scenes may appear.

Since the story is so young, I feel I might have more to say about the art, since there’s more to grab onto. The art is simplistic and a bit cute. I think the expressiveness could stand to be pushed a bit more. The line art is thick and steady, and it leads to somewhat of a rigid appearance. Most of the subjects depicted are inorganic, so I understand the reasons behind keeping lines straight and clean, but playing up the natural warp of perspective could help to add some visual interest. I feel like because of the tone of the story, this is the kind of comic that could work with the art being clean and structural but a bit “off” and weird. After all, Dy-Gar talks for a bit about humansinfusing their creations with needless and organic-like imperfections. Using imagery to back this up could help readers understand Dy-Gar as a character more, as well as contribute to a more unsettling vibe.

Steel Salvation is a bit unusual in the sense that the art is shaded entirely in monochrome flats with occasional stepped gradients. I think the values could stand to be pushed a bit more, because that and line art are what really will give this art style depth. They aren’t bad as-is, but I think they could be a little bolder and contrasting, like the bottom half of this page, and this one. I do like the flats. It’s unique because usually monochrome artists use hatching, screentones, or proliferous gradients. Flats tend to be the realm of color artists who either draw in a flash/modern “clean” style, or who don’t understand shading well enough to apply it to their own art (cough).

I like the simplicity, but I can’t help but feel, when I look at the art of Steel Salvation, as though something is missing. I think because of the size of the comic on my laptop screen, there’s so much room that I expect to see more details, though I’m not entirely sure they’d be needed. I imagine the clarity would make the comic superb for those reading on smaller screen mobile devices. In today’s times, I can’t really advise going against any designs that make a comic more appealing and accessible to mobile readers. I think this is what my issue is, mainly. The comic (aside from what would probably look to be too small of a font in this scenario, perhaps) is well suited to a smaller display. The mostly stable line thickness contributes to this. It’s not the kind of comic where you worry about all the small details you’re missing, because there are no small details.

I’m not sure this is exactly a “problem,” or, if it was one, how one would go about fixing it. Either way, my two cents.

I think the writing is the comic’s strongest asset, followed very closely by the site design, and then by the art. Even the art, though I’ve placed it last, is pleasantly clean and rather engaging. Easily more capable than many more established comics, regardless of the issue I monologued about just earlier.

Final Thoughts: Overall, this comic is off to an exceptionally strong start. The opening is interesting and thought provoking, and introduces canon quite adeptly. The art is well-structured, readable, purposeful and easy to understand, and the site design just makes it so darn easy for readers it should make everyone else ashamed of themselves. I’m interested in following this comic in the future and would like to see where it goes.

Suggestions to the creators: You’ve all started off on the right foot, and it’s clear that you work well as a team together. There’s not much else I can say that wasn’t already mentioned. Keep doing your thing, and may many readers come a-knocking at your figurative door.

I would recommend this comic to: People who like kinda dystopian seeming stories, People who need good ideas about webcomic site design, People who want to read a comic that’s just started, People who really like clean and uncluttered art, People who like sentient robots.
Image
Don't kid yourself, friend. I still know how.
"I'd much rather dream about my co-written Meth Beatdown script tonight." -JSConner800000000
User avatar
VeryCuddlyCornpone
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 3239
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:02 pm
Location: the spoonited plates of Americup

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby djracodex on Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:37 am

Pinkie Promise: My review for No Scrying will be posted by this weekend
Image
User avatar
djracodex
Regular Poster
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:13 pm

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby Sortelli on Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:32 am

Image

(be as mean as you want I'm anxious to know what I'm doing wrong and missing.)
User avatar
Sortelli
Cartoon Villain
 
Posts: 6337
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2002 7:15 pm
Location: in your grandpa's clothes, I look incredible

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:12 pm

Webcomic: Loud Era
URL: http://loudera.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: Michelle Mau
Run: 9/09-current
Schedule: About twice a week
Section/s: Ch. 4, "Letters"

Website: It's undergone some pleasant aesthetic changes lately, with gold-colored images and text being a dominant element. And the switch to being exclusively on Smack Jeeves has eliminated the problems that the Comic Genesis site had with its archives page. The creator's also been fairly successful at sticking to a Tuesdays and Fridays schedule, or at least something close to it, which is an improvement over the erratic schedule the comic had previously.

Writing: When I reviewed Loud Era last year, the comic had eight main characters and 14 minor characters, leading me to complain that "I'd rather see a handful of well-developed characters than an army of undeveloped ones." I hoped that Chapter 4 would show a change in direction by focusing on certain members of the cast more, but, unfortunately, the creator chose to literally provide an army by introducing readers to Ulysses' war buddies in Europe. While it's a cool idea to tie the story into a major historical event like World War I, changing continents to add even more minor characters to the bloated cast is the opposite of what I would've liked to see. However, when the action returns to Wallwater, the creator continues to focus on new minor characters, adding Cecilia's dad, Tony's boss, Tony's mom, and Aggie's boyfriend to the mix. In total, Chapter 4 brings the character count up to 30, introducing eight new characters in just 29 pages.

On the one hand, the creator's skillful at designing characters, and all of the new ones are distinct and likable. Cecilia's oblivious dad stands out in particular, as his pushy-but-amiable attempt at setting Cecilia up with a guy she clearly has no interest in is one of the comic's funnier moments. On the other hand, though, what about all of the characters introduced in previous chapters, who are also well-designed, distinct, and likable? It's irritating that the creator seems content to create colorful characters that readers become interested in, and then show no inclination to use those characters again, at least not for a long time. Faced with the difficult task of having to develop all of these main characters, the creator's put herself in the awkward position of having the minor ones compete heavily for the limited page space available. With the way the comic's been going, I'm skeptical that I'll see my favorite minor characters in the future, which makes the scenes they appear in seem somewhat superfluous.

With that heavy dose of negativity out of the way, the chapter actually features the best dialogue and pacing in the comic so far, showing that the creator's been able to improve upon her already notable writing ability. Particularly impressive is the scene where Clarabelle rejects Leon out of fear that her parents would disapprove of her dating someone Jewish. It's a bold move for the creator to incorporate a sensitive subject like this into the story, and it reminds readers that the characters are living in a time when ethnocentrism was more pervasive. The creator also successfully handles a wide range of emotions in the chapter, with the first half focusing on humorous scenes while the second half includes a depressing goodbye letter and Aggie and Clarabelle's bitter confrontation. The transitions are another aspect that's handled well, as the boxing film follows a letter about a fight, and the goodbye letter's followed by a shot of Aggie at a train station. Letters, being the chapter's title, are a motif throughout the scenes, as Cecilia receives one as well, and it works as a historical reference to the old days, back before everyone communicated electronically. Finally, by featuring Aggie, Tony, and Ulysses this time around, the creator gives some much-needed page time to the comic's most neglected main characters. This chapter represents a step up in quality from the previous ones, and it's great to see a webcomic in its fourth year still getting better.

*continued in the next post*
ImageImage
"Seems like the only comics that would be good to this person are super action crazy lines, mega poses!"
User avatar
LibertyCabbage
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 4663
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:08 pm
Location: bat country

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LibertyCabbage on Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:17 pm

Art: The creator makes sort of a fuss during the chapter about the characters being drawn inconsistently, but I didn't find these mistakes to be distracting. The anatomy, facial expressions, perspectives, and page layouts are generally better than in the previous chapters, and the coloring's improved as well, although I dislike the choice of cyan for outdoor scenes. The creator also starts to use more abstract background designs in this chapter, and they're usually done pretty well, such as in this page, where blocky shapes and hatching are used. Sometimes the abstractions seem excessive, though, like in this page, where the bright colors look hallucinogenic, and in the pages here and here, where the triangle shapes are overused.

The biggest problem with the art at this point's that there's almost a total disregard for depicting the period setting, which is supposed to be one of the comic's main features. Repeatedly throughout the chapter, the creator relies on close shots and minimalistic backgrounds, leaving the architecture as tiny details or ignoring it completely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Even here, the creator passes up an obvious opportunity to include old-fashioned movie posters in favor of anachronistically showing posters from various Mel Brooks movies. The comic desperately needs more wide and establishing shots that convey the time period beyond just the characters' clothing. Compare, for example, the train station in Widdershins to the one here. The Widdershins page manages to convey a feeling of being in a Victorian setting, while the Loud Era one has a small train, silhouetted people, and microscopic buildings, with speech bubbles covering a lot of the negative space. Some of the pages are a bit better, like this one and this one, and I'd like to see pages like these become more of the norm, even if they require somewhat more time and effort to draw.

Overall: Last year, I gave Loud Era 4 out of 5 stars, and it's still a good webcomic in 2013. However, while its strengths have only gotten stronger, its weaknesses have become more severe, meaning that it isn't really a better or worse comic than it was before. I'd like to see the historical setting be more prominent, and greater focus should be placed on the core group of characters so that the comic can have a better sense of direction.

4/5
ImageImage
"Seems like the only comics that would be good to this person are super action crazy lines, mega poses!"
User avatar
LibertyCabbage
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 4663
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:08 pm
Location: bat country

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:54 pm

ghghghhghg HUYYY!! Some of your criticisms are quite close to what I was expecting! Thanks again for another such thoughtful and critical review.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Website: It's undergone some pleasant aesthetic changes lately, with gold-colored images and text being a dominant element. And the switch to being exclusively on Smack Jeeves has eliminated the problems that the Comic Genesis site had with its archives page. The creator's also been fairly successful at sticking to a Tuesdays and Fridays schedule, or at least something close to it, which is an improvement over the erratic schedule the comic had previously.

Glad to heare the theme is "working" for the most part. The schedule has been my biggest priority this time around.

Writing: When I reviewed Loud Era last year, the comic had eight main characters and 14 minor characters, leading me to complain that "I'd rather see a handful of well-developed characters than an army of undeveloped ones." I hoped that Chapter 4 would show a change in direction by focusing on certain members of the cast more, but, unfortunately, the creator chose to literally provide an army by introducing readers to Ulysses' war buddies in Europe. While it's a cool idea to tie the story into a major historical event like World War I, changing continents to add even more minor characters to the bloated cast is the opposite of what I would've liked to see. However, when the action returns to Wallwater, the creator continues to focus on new minor characters, adding Cecilia's dad, Tony's boss, Tony's mom, and Aggie's boyfriend to the mix. In total, Chapter 4 brings the character count up to 30, introducing eight new characters in just 29 pages.

On the one hand, the creator's skillful at designing characters, and all of the new ones are distinct and likable. Cecilia's oblivious dad stands out in particular, as his pushy-but-amiable attempt at setting Cecilia up with a guy she clearly has no interest in is one of the comic's funnier moments. On the other hand, though, what about all of the characters introduced in previous chapters, who are also well-designed, distinct, and likable? It's irritating that the creator seems content to create colorful characters that readers become interested in, and then show no inclination to use those characters again, at least not for a long time. Faced with the difficult task of having to develop all of these main characters, the creator's put herself in the awkward position of having the minor ones compete heavily for the limited page space available. With the way the comic's been going, I'm skeptical that I'll see my favorite minor characters in the future, which makes the scenes they appear in seem somewhat superfluous.

Chapter 4 was definitely a really heavy "extras" chapter, mostly because it was focusing on the individual lives of the characters mostly separate from one another, so I "needed" to introduce more folks to make up that background cast. Chapter 5 focuses entirely on the six friends who've gone camping, so hopefully it will feel a bit more unified, if that makes sense.

I guess I have difficulty introducing characters that provide realistic background for the existing characters (like their family members and so forth) while making it clear they're dropping in for a bit but aren't meant to be returning any time soon.

I think this is my biggest downfall and, unfortunately for my writing I suppose, upcoming chapters feature much of the cast kind of going their separate ways for a bit (and therefore leading to more cast). Maybe it's because I'm influenced by TV shows too much, where we have our main character Mystery Solver Man and his assistant Helping Lady and friend John, and this episode they meet Dumb Schmuck, Evil Mother, and Poor Victim, and we know that the latter three won't be appearing next episode. I view a lot of Loud Era in episodic terms, where like in my example show just mentioned, certain people are only going to be around for a certain plotline and then the main character that ties us to them will move on and we won't see the extra person anymore. ***

In your opinion, LC, would this issue be remedied by me developing the "walk-ons"* less, focusing harder on the main cast, or just excluding walk-ons as much as possible? I can't promise I'd follow your exact suggestion but it'd be interesting to hear what you have in mind (if you were in my shoes with this story).
*I hate to use this phrase as it seems a bit more cavalier, but it's the best approximation of what I'm trying to convey.

With that heavy dose of negativity out of the way, the chapter actually features the best dialogue and pacing in the comic so far, showing that the creator's been able to improve upon her already notable writing ability. Particularly impressive is the scene where Clarabelle rejects Leon out of fear that her parents would disapprove of her dating someone Jewish. It's a bold move for the creator to incorporate a sensitive subject like this into the story, and it reminds readers that the characters are living in a time when ethnocentrism was more pervasive. The creator also successfully handles a wide range of emotions in the chapter, with the first half focusing on humorous scenes while the second half includes a depressing goodbye letter and Aggie and Clarabelle's bitter confrontation. The transitions are another aspect that's handled well, as the boxing film follows a letter about a fight, and the goodbye letter's followed by a shot of Aggie at a train station.

I'm glad that the general consensus seems to be that I've handled kind of heavier issues well, as I'm not looking to make Loud Era some morality bible but those issues and more will continue to exist throughout the comic as time goes on. I hope someone'll have the good sense to warn me if I ever do start to get too ham-handed, lol. Looking forward I'm already a bit worried that I'm making race too big of a deal, as two upcoming (ugh, again, kind of walk on) characters in coming chapters will be different minorities, and I don't want it to get to a point where the issue seems forced or where people are like "Oh boy, there goes Loud Era with the historical racism again."

Letters, being the chapter's title, are a motif throughout the scenes, as Cecilia receives one as well, and it works as a historical reference to the old days, back before everyone communicated electronically. Finally, by featuring Aggie, Tony, and Ulysses this time around, the creator gives some much-needed page time to the comic's most neglected main characters. This chapter represents a step up in quality from the previous ones, and it's great to see a webcomic in its fourth year still getting better.

It was a chapter where halfway through, I realized how many letters and notes were being exchanged, and it was a bit of a "D'oh" moment when I figured I should rename it to something less generic than its previous title! I felt bad to pick Aggie up and put her in the spotlight only to drop her out again this chapter, but the chapter following this one will focus in part on her life with Donny and hopefully round her out a bit better. She and Joseph are the two characters I worry most about turning into flat stereotypes, so I look forward to showing her a bit more next chapter.
I'm glad to hear that in general you feel I'm improving :) It was, sadly enough, the first chapter I properly mapped out, and Chapter 5 is the first chapter I actually scripted completely before beginning.

LibertyCabbage wrote:Art: The creator makes sort of a fuss during the chapter about the characters being drawn inconsistently, but I didn't find these mistakes to be distracting. The anatomy, facial expressions, perspectives, and page layouts are generally better than in the previous chapters, and the coloring's improved as well, although I dislike the choice of cyan for outdoor scenes. The creator also starts to use more abstract background designs in this chapter, and they're usually done pretty well, such as in this page, where blocky shapes and hatching are used. Sometimes the abstractions seem excessive, though, like in this page, where the bright colors look hallucinogenic, and in the pages here and here, where the triangle shapes are overused.

The thing with Tony was me mainly looking at him and realizing he looked nothing like the Tony I picture in my mind when I envision him. After IV's review, I took some time with my male cast and worked them a bit more, and although I'm still a little wobbly on my feet, I think as I practice drawing them more intentionally, they'll look a bit "better."
Heh, yeah, it seems like whenever I find out some cool new thing, I use it properly the first time or two, and then go overboard and use it as a crutch. The pages in the Marconi house are pretty wretched, and I'm disapointed with how they turned out in the end. That was a big batch of comics I tried to work on all simultaneously, and it exhausted me- now I know better than to try that big of a batch again. I think sometime in the future I'd like to fix up a lot fo the backgrounds, even if just by toning the colors down a bit.

The biggest problem with the art at this point's that there's almost a total disregard for depicting the period setting, which is supposed to be one of the comic's main features. Repeatedly throughout the chapter, the creator relies on close shots and minimalistic backgrounds, leaving the architecture as tiny details or ignoring it completely

Even here, the creator passes up an obvious opportunity to include old-fashioned movie posters in favor of anachronistically showing posters from various Mel Brooks movies. The comic desperately needs more wide and establishing shots that convey the time period beyond just the characters' clothing. Compare, for example, the train station in Widdershins to the one here. The Widdershins page manages to convey a feeling of being in a Victorian setting, while the Loud Era one has a small train, silhouetted people, and microscopic buildings, with speech bubbles covering a lot of the negative space. Some of the pages are a bit better, like this one and this one, and I'd like to see pages like these become more of the norm, even if they require somewhat more time and effort to draw.

:oops: The movie poster thing I thought was just a fun little gag to throw in. I still am loath to draw backgrounds, and it's true that the historical theme is often neglected despite the fact that many of my reviewers feel it ought to have stronger weight. I guess to a reader it kind of looks like I just have a bunch of weird hipsters running around in vintage clothing for no reason. I think- and I'm not saying this in a dismissive way, just the way it seems to be- is that by setting my comic in a time period other than "now," readers expect the setting to have a stronger weight, purely because it's different and needs a reason for being different and needs, because it's different, to be really obvious. To me, I understand why a setting is important, and I point it out when I review other people's stories (if it's really obviously absent), but I barely pay attention to worlds and settings when I read. It's one thing I just tend to gloss over, so perhaps it makes sense that I do the same when working on my own comic.
Somethign to tuck in my hat for sure.

Overall: Last year, I gave Loud Era 4 out of 5 stars, and it's still a good webcomic in 2013. However, while its strengths have only gotten stronger, its weaknesses have become more severe, meaning that it isn't really a better or worse comic than it was before. I'd like to see the historical setting be more prominent, and greater focus should be placed on the core group of characters so that the comic can have a better sense of direction.
4/5

Glad to hear that I'm still holding my head above water in your eyes :) Thanks again for taking your time to write something helpful and thoughtful. Hopefully, maybe again next year, I'll have hammered out some of those issues further.

edit: "Your message contains too many URLs. The maximum number of URLs allowed is 20." :eyebrow: That's a new one.



edit edit: ***LOL WAIT I THINK I FIGURED OUT WHERE THIS STARTED. Or as close to the origin as we will get. When I was little, I used to pretend I was the president of Nickelodeon and I was in charge of all the shows. I had a "show" about my Legos, a show about my baby dolls, a show about my beanie babies, my barbies, my dinosaurs. And what happened- especially with the beanie babies and dinosaurs- was that I had a SHIT TON of those toys. And I couldn't just play with, say, SOME of the dinosaurs, because then the others would be left out. So I had like several dozen dinosaurs in this "show"/story, different little families, and I swear to you I knew and remembered all of their names. There were the "main" dinosaurs which were the originals I had from when I was like four, but each "episode" would focus on certain dinosaurs while then eventually tying back into the major arc plot.
This is also evident in my writings from my early childhood. I had one story about a hundred babies that lived together in a treehouse. Oh my god, if I find this thing I'm totally sharing it with you guys.

Anyway. Uh. So let's just say this is probably a deep-seated problem that stems from my youth that I'm naturally predisposed toward. Well, you knwo what they say. You can't fix your problem if you're not aware of it in the first place. Now we have a direction to go in.
Image
Don't kid yourself, friend. I still know how.
"I'd much rather dream about my co-written Meth Beatdown script tonight." -JSConner800000000
User avatar
VeryCuddlyCornpone
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 3239
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:02 pm
Location: the spoonited plates of Americup

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby LibertyCabbage on Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:21 pm

ghghghhghg HUYYY!! Some of your criticisms are quite close to what I was expecting! Thanks again for another such thoughtful and critical review.
You're welcome. I'm glad I was able to take the time to write something coherent rather than rushing a quick response back when W.A.Y. started.

I view a lot of Loud Era in episodic terms, where like in my example show just mentioned, certain people are only going to be around for a certain plotline and then the main character that ties us to them will move on and we won't see the extra person anymore.
The comic would be better if it actually was more like a TV show. Right now, it isn't really like anything, although I suppose it gets some points for originality in that regard.

In your opinion, LC, would this issue be remedied by me developing the "walk-ons"* less, focusing harder on the main cast, or just excluding walk-ons as much as possible? I can't promise I'd follow your exact suggestion but it'd be interesting to hear what you have in mind (if you were in my shoes with this story).
The comic's sort of problematic right now because it already had way too many characters in Chapter 3, and then you went ahead and added a bunch more characters in Chapter 4. So, to compensate for that, I think you'll want to keep additional characters to a bare minimum from this point on. As for what I'd do, I'd make a general outline of the rest of the story, up to its eventual conclusion, and then move towards that conclusion with a greater sense of urgency. Because what I'd like to feel, as a reader, is that the comic's events are significant and that the story's "going somewhere."

I'm glad that the general consensus seems to be that I've handled kind of heavier issues well, as I'm not looking to make Loud Era some morality bible but those issues and more will continue to exist throughout the comic as time goes on. I hope someone'll have the good sense to warn me if I ever do start to get too ham-handed, lol. Looking forward I'm already a bit worried that I'm making race too big of a deal, as two upcoming (ugh, again, kind of walk on) characters in coming chapters will be different minorities, and I don't want it to get to a point where the issue seems forced or where people are like "Oh boy, there goes Loud Era with the historical racism again."
The main danger with portraying racism is relying on strawmen and martyrs. And I'm not too worried about you going down that route, especially since you've managed to show Clarabelle in a very sympathetic way so far.

Heh, yeah, it seems like whenever I find out some cool new thing, I use it properly the first time or two, and then go overboard and use it as a crutch. The pages in the Marconi house are pretty wretched, and I'm disapointed with how they turned out in the end. That was a big batch of comics I tried to work on all simultaneously, and it exhausted me- now I know better than to try that big of a batch again. I think sometime in the future I'd like to fix up a lot fo the backgrounds, even if just by toning the colors down a bit.
A lot of the pages in Chapter 4 look rushed, to the point that the art's probably worse overall than in Chapter 3. And that's unfortunate, because you really don't want to see a creator regressing.

I think- and I'm not saying this in a dismissive way, just the way it seems to be- is that by setting my comic in a time period other than "now," readers expect the setting to have a stronger weight, purely because it's different and needs a reason for being different and needs, because it's different, to be really obvious. To me, I understand why a setting is important, and I point it out when I review other people's stories (if it's really obviously absent), but I barely pay attention to worlds and settings when I read. It's one thing I just tend to gloss over, so perhaps it makes sense that I do the same when working on my own comic.
Backgrounds this minimalistic wouldn't even be adequate for a modern-day comic, though. It's just even more of a problem here because certain types of stories, like historical, fantasy, and sci-fi, require more world-building. Basically, it's your job as a storyteller to make readers "forget" that it's all make-believe and get them to actually care about what's happening. And having page after page of non-backgrounds disrupts that sense of connection by reminding readers that it's just fiction after all. A lot of creators have trouble with this because they're naturally more invested in the story than readers are.

Glad to hear that I'm still holding my head above water in your eyes :) Thanks again for taking your time to write something helpful and thoughtful. Hopefully, maybe again next year, I'll have hammered out some of those issues further.
It's sort of unfortunate that I didn't have the review done before Chapter 5 started, but oh, well. It's a long-term process, anyways, especially when you're already competent and have plateaued to some extent.

edit: "Your message contains too many URLs. The maximum number of URLs allowed is 20." :eyebrow: That's a new one.
Story of my life. I think the String Theory review was the first time I had to break one up into three parts, though.

LOL WAIT I THINK I FIGURED OUT WHERE THIS STARTED.
Yeah, that's sort of how I feel Loud Era is. I considered using the term "character A.D.D." in the review, but I didn't think it was necessary. The solution's probably just planning ahead more.
ImageImage
"Seems like the only comics that would be good to this person are super action crazy lines, mega poses!"
User avatar
LibertyCabbage
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 4663
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:08 pm
Location: bat country

Re: Webcomic Above You 2013 - Reviews & Discussion

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:31 pm

The comic's sort of problematic right now because it already had way too many characters in Chapter 3, and then you went ahead and added a bunch more characters in Chapter 4. So, to compensate for that, I think you'll want to keep additional characters to a bare minimum from this point on. As for what I'd do, I'd make a general outline of the rest of the story, up to its eventual conclusion, and then move towards that conclusion with a greater sense of urgency. Because what I'd like to feel, as a reader, is that the comic's events are significant and that the story's "going somewhere."

I guess therein lies the rub. The more I think about it, the more the word "episodic" is an apt description of the way Loud Era unfolds. Perhaps this is my great limiting factor. It's very much a slice of life comic, albeit a bit heavier on the drama than you tend to see, I guess. There's less momentum leading up to one large conclusion (at least yet, a few years from now it'll be different I'd presume) and moreso just smaller conclusions.

Because of the episodic nature, barring new characters from coming in isn't really going to work for the stories I'm telling (I guess stories is more accurate than story now that we're hammering out that detail). It seems that Loud Era will be perpetually unfocused as far as characters go, just because each chapter brings new settings and the people that belong there. A bit of a travelling circus of sorts.

Backgrounds this minimalistic wouldn't even be adequate for a modern-day comic, though. It's just even more of a problem here because certain types of stories, like historical, fantasy, and sci-fi, require more world-building. Basically, it's your job as a storyteller to make readers "forget" that it's all make-believe and get them to actually care about what's happening. And having page after page of non-backgrounds disrupts that sense of connection by reminding readers that it's just fiction after all. A lot of creators have trouble with this because they're naturally more invested in the story than readers are.

No, yeah, believe me, I get what you're saying. I've just never been one to pay attention to settings at all- and not just the "That's because the artist did it so well you didn't even notice it!" kind of way, it's just something I completely scan over for the most part. Hopefully your explanation here will help me be more mindful about that.


A lot of the pages in Chapter 4 look rushed, to the point that the art's probably worse overall than in Chapter 3. And that's unfortunate, because you really don't want to see a creator regressing.

Yeah, I'm really not sure what happened here. I can chalk some of it up to working on the comic while I was working a really soul-crushing job, so I was often really tired and wanting to just get something done. I lost the ability to envision what I wanted a page to look like. "Rushed" is definitely accurate. Even as I was working on the pages I'd be disappointed with them, but too far invested to just scrap the page and start over due to my exhaustion and a looming deadline. This was the first chapter where what I was seeing in my head was just absolutely not translating to the paper, seemingly no matter what I tried. I think stress and exhaustion were the main contributing factors, though it remains to be seen going forward whether that's a reasonable excuse or whether it's a symptom of a larger problem endemic to my current work.
Already in chapter 5 I feel a lot more comfortable- I'm still not at 100% but I feel my art hash been servicable thus far, and I'm not racing the clock to make deadlines. Not sure exactly what has changed, but I'll suppose I'll have to wait and see what you have to say next year :)

It's sort of unfortunate that I didn't have the review done before Chapter 5 started, but oh, well. It's a long-term process, anyways, especially when you're already competent and have plateaued to some extent.

Thanks. I feel like I'm coming up to another breakthrough, so we'll see. The writing I can't speak for so much, but art wise, one of the pages I'm working on right now was inked entirely with a brush tip- it's a bit shaky and amateurish but I like the effect in general and want to incorporate it more.

Yeah, that's sort of how I feel Loud Era is. I considered using the term "character A.D.D." in the review, but I didn't think it was necessary. The solution's probably just planning ahead more.

Eh, it's true though (at least from a reader's perspective). Loud Era is me having grown up and playing with fictional characters now instead of dolls and toys. :shifty:

Story of my life. I think the String Theory review was the first time I had to break one up into three parts, though.

Ohhh! I always wondered why you did that, I figured you just liked the "zen" look of having smaller review posts or something XD
Image
Don't kid yourself, friend. I still know how.
"I'd much rather dream about my co-written Meth Beatdown script tonight." -JSConner800000000
User avatar
VeryCuddlyCornpone
Cartoon Hero
 
Posts: 3239
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:02 pm
Location: the spoonited plates of Americup

PreviousNext

 

Return to General Discussion



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Tim and 0 guests