Return of Webcomic Above!

This is where past, great threads in the history of our forum go.

Return of Webcomic Above!

Postby Keffria on Fri May 27, 2005 3:45 pm

Yes, as brought up in the chat, this is the resurrection of the Webcomic Above thread! I think we left off at part 4.

At any rate, the rules: If you post in this thread, you are expected to review the webcomic of the person who posted above you. Critique if you can; it's more constructive than just assigning a letter grade and saying "it's okay".

*EDIT*: Please, please, PLEASE, try to give a high-quality review. If you're in this just to have someone praise your work, go to the Comic Pitching forum or something, because that's not the point of this thread! Read through the archives, make notes on what you liked/disliked; point out specific examples of problems and give potential solutions. A good review should take a large chunk of your time!

Also, you may post a "placeholder" if you want to review a comic but need time to think/browse through the archives/go for coffee/vanish for a week, though preferably not the last option. In short, if you can't complete the review within 48 hours or so, DON'T POST A PLACEHOLDER!

I'll get the ball rolling with Phactorri's Decypher, which was up for review in the last thread.

So, yes, let's begin, because it's time for a not-depressing and not-political thread!

------------------

Decypher: The Review


Story, etc.

Now, there are god-only-knows-how-many webcomics dealing with people on the job, from video store employees to newspaper reporters, etc., etc.; Decypher focuses on the employees of a coffee shop called The Grind. For the most part, these comics focus on gag-strips and short story arcs, and Decypher seems to follow this rule. Personally, I'm the sort of person who prefers one long story, but hey.

The other thing is this: In the initial strips, I'm not always sure what's going on. It took me two reads to figure out what was happening when the customers were all outside, and there was a switch, and Monika was trampled by said customers, and all the stuff around that point... It may be the fact that I don't fare well when I read something all in one go, but I think a lot of it is the text. There are a lot of grammatical errors and the dialogue is very awkward, particularly in the older strips, and it's my biggest beef with the comic. Little things like this interrupt the flow. (When you make textballoons digitally, there's no reason why you should have to split sentences up.)

What's neat about this particular comic is the many cameos of various Keenspacers. It was fun trying to figure out who everyone was, then wander off for a bit to the sites from whence the characters came.

Despite being up for over a year, I get the impression that Decypher is a comic that still seems to be trying to find itself; spliced between gags and cameos are hints regarding a larger story involving Monika and S.L.A.V.E. I hope you go somewhere with that.

The current story arc bothered me at first. Being an RPG nerd myself, I was a bit irked by the stereotypical portrayal of the gamer geeks in the comic. However, I'll admit that I'm now interested in seeing where it goes. (Please give the nerds some dignity, though.)

http://decypher.keenspace.com/d/20040331.html
http://decypher.keenspace.com/d/20040428.html
Personally, I don't like it when the characters acknowledge that they're just comic characters. I'm glad to see that you're not doing it in the newer strips.

http://decypher.keenspace.com/d/20050504.html
The explanation seems rather redundant. Who doesn't know what an RPG is? (Filler... Bleh.)


Art

There are some significant issues with the art; in particular, most of the time, characters appear slanted and flat. However, significant improvements have been made, comparing the first strip to the latest; keep working at it. ^^

I would suggest trying to put more backgrounds into the comic; I still don't quite know what The Grind looks like, despite the fact that it's the main setting.

http://decypher.keenspace.com/d/20040616.html
I also don't like it when filler art (or crossover art, as it appears to be in this case) is stuck in the archives. It interrupts the flow.

http://decypher.keenspace.com/d/20041124.html
Have you ever seen Grim and Evil? The skulls remind me of Grim, accent and all. Was it intentional?


Site

The design is good, but it doesn't really remind me of a coffee-bar-type atmosphere -- too metallic, I think. (Now, maybe you're planning on focusing more on that sci-fi element, but after over a year of comics, it might be a jarring change for your readers.) I might suggest something in nice rich coffee browns.

Also, in the first few archive pages, there's a large blank grey box that you have to scroll down past in order to read the archives. Here, one of the boxes actually separates two comics. I think I didn't bother to scroll down on that one, which might explain why I was initially confused.

Also, archived news posts = generally redundant, unless you've said something terribly witty that you want preserved for all time.


Overall...

Hard to say. The art is not my style, but I see a lot of improvement. I'll admit that the grammatical issues turn me right off, but underneath it, there does appear to be an interesting comic and the potential for good characters. I would suggest getting an editor, and keep working on refining your style.
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Postby TheSuburbanLetdown on Fri May 27, 2005 4:58 pm

I suck at reviews, but here goes mine.

Writing: The writing is in this comic is rather good. The plot seems to be of a serious nature, but there is plenty of humor sprinkled throughout. Many fantasy comics tend to take themselves way too seriously, and the humor here helps a lot. This is turn helps us to enjoy the characters better. Speaking of characters, the characters are likable, which is definite plus. On a personal note, I really took a liking to Liam. His manner of speach really conveys they type of person he is.

Some things can get a little confusing at times though, especially right here: http://feyenne.keenspace.com/d/20050131.html and the page beffore it. Unless I missed something (which tends to happen), I didn't really know what was happneing, but it made more sense later on. I also feel that the panel in which the disappeance of the elf shoud've been more prominent, but that's a minor gripe. http://feyenne.keenspace.com/d/20041206.html

There is also a great deal of jumping around to other chracters and not much explaination, but the story is still being told, so no biggie here. This is definitely one comic that's in for the long haul.

Art:
The art is inspired by the anime style, but makes a bold statement in that it is truly its own thing and not some lame derivative
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Postby Subhuman on Fri May 27, 2005 5:18 pm

Peppermint's comic is actually pretty interesting. I don't like furries, but the art is really excellent - you have a knack for both human anatomy and animal face structure. Even the backgrounds are hand-drawn. Nice work. The story is intriguing, too.

Overall, a B+. Minus points for being furry (personal bias, sorry :wink:), but plus points for actually having a decent plot and interesting characters.
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Postby Jigglyman on Fri May 27, 2005 6:09 pm

PALS -

There wasn't much to look at, but what I saw I liked.

Art

Where, it's a stick comic, so what do you expect? But for a stick comic, I really like it. The characters are streamlined and stylistic, and you draw actual clothes on them. It's also colored. I classify this are under "sophisticated doodle," which is what I study myself (case in point).

Writing

From what I see, it's good. Some comics in and of themselves are long, full stories, which you don't see too often. However, I felt that this one had a great set-up but fell flat at the end with a breaking-the-fourth-wall shtick. Might want to work on developing your characters more - I like what I read in the cast page - but sometimes the characters in the strips don't match their descriptions.

Favorite Comic: http://pals.keenspace.com/d/20050518.html
Least favorite Comic: http://pals.keenspace.com/d/20050512.html
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Postby Terotrous on Fri May 27, 2005 7:00 pm

On The Playground
By Jigglyman

Synopsis: OTP is a comic about third graders with a slightly philosophical slant. It's mostly the standard things you'd expect in a grade school comic, discussions about how homework is lame and light politics, things like that.

Another note: This comic reminds me heavily of Ozy and Millie. Not necessarily a bad thing, cause I like that comic.

Art: Simplistic but effective. It's all in colour, which is nice. The colours are bright and vibrant, too, without hurting the eye. The characters themselves are quite different from each other and are easy to tell apart (although there aren't that many of them).
There are some little anatomatical errors (usually hands bending the wrong way, watch out for this), but they don't detract too much.

Writing: Pretty good, but nothing tremendously original. It's solidly executed, but it feels familiar. I was impressed that you brought up Bloom County because if memory serves you're only 12 years old.
Strips are almost entirely independant of one another, some strips continue for a span of two days. No continuing storylines as of yet.

Overall: B+ Fairly fun to read, not exceedingly memorable. It does what it does well, but it doesn't stand out from other comics in the same vein.
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Postby Terotrous on Sun May 29, 2005 8:52 pm

Wow this was the fastest dying webcomic above thread EVER.
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Postby McDuffies on Mon May 30, 2005 6:50 am

We gotta liven it up. I will as soon as I get time to gead some comics.
(this post not in the loop)
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Postby Axonite on Mon May 30, 2005 7:00 am

I did "Philosophy Bites" last time...

Placeholder for "Comic Creatorz"

***

Okay, it's a comic about the creators of a comic, the creation of the comic, and the comic itself... complete with filler, guest art, and an "I'm bored" opening strip! That is, "Comic Creatorz" begins with an "I'm bored," not "Fantastacy," the comic the comic creatorz create. That one begins with "I am a brave new hero looking for a quest!" Art-wise it's on the simple side - and for the strip within a strip, even simpler (or intentionally bad, depending on which of the creatorz is creating), but that often seems to be the point. The writing covers the cliches involved both in the creation of the online comic and within the comic created. There are also some "life in college" strips in there, which didn't make as much of an impression, but work in the context of their effect on "Fantastacy." It's sort of like an extended HNTRAC theme with characters and continuity, and it's a lot of fun. I'll be coming back to read this one again!
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Postby Nanda on Mon May 30, 2005 8:01 am

Placeholder for Station V3! :D

Ok, Station V3

Art - For the most part, I liked the style of art. The more unusual characters, like Ebb and Floyd, are really very interesting to look at. In fact, the only fault I find with any of the character designs are in Emmit and Mr. Maintenance Engineer, the more human looking characters in the comic. Rather than looking interesting, they more often tend to look poorly drawn.

Writing - Well, it's definately funny. It smacks of Douglas Adams BIG TIME, so if you're a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide, this comic will more than likely elicit a few chuckles. Case in point, my favorite character is the plant, who reminds me very much of Marvin the Paranoid Android. It also reminded me of "Futurama" at times, in it's sheer absurdity, and the crew's almost total incompetence. Funny stuff.

All in all? I'd give it a B+. I also plan to keep reading. :D
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Postby Warren on Mon May 30, 2005 8:31 am

Ugly Girl
By Nanda

Ugly Girl follows the life of a character by the same name, a mostly-loner type with few friends. She is in high school, boyfriendless, and mostly ostracized by the "cool kids".

What sounds like a mostly depressing take on the teen movie genre (think "Pretty In Pink") is actually not a bad comic. Ugly Girl realizes she's unpopular, but doesn't really let it get to her.

Art style is an evolved stick-figure comic. The cast has a range of facial expressions not normally seen in your normal stick-figures, and each character looks different than the others.

Even if the art isn't exactly breathtaking, it's still worth a read. Even as many years out of high school as I am, I still feel the angst of Ugly Girl. In that uncomfortable, "glad it's not me" way.

That's got to count for something.
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Postby Nightgaunt on Mon May 30, 2005 9:30 am

Comic: Cache
By: P Warren Lawrence

Genre/Type: socio-political commentary

Art/Layout: In lieu of drawings, photos of the subject of the comic are used. The flow is easy to follow. One problem I had was with the document on the bottom left corner of http://www.poorlydrawncomics.com//cache/cgi-bin/autokeenlite.cgi?date=20040913 being too small for me to read (which starts to go into the writing part, because I didn't quite get that joke).But that's just one comic. Not much else to say here.

Writing: The author is angry at the stupidity politics and current events in today's world. He makes fun of both sides. It's similar to what you woould find on John Stewart's The Daily Show (though he pokes fun at John too). The writing overall is okay, I'd say somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, though with only 9 comics it's a bit difficullt to tell. What i've seen though, is on par with, or ahead of a lot of political cartoonists who have their stuff in newspapers. A few quick highlights:
This oneis my favorite
This one I also thought was pretty amusing
And this one I really liked because I've seen this type of stuff when I was in college - so it's more of a personal bias.

Conclusion: The small archives and its being on hiatus are unfortunate because it does make it more difficult to conduct a good evluation. There's plenty of stuff happening every day, just begging to be satired, and I think Warren has demostrated the ability to do so. It's worth a read, and the archives are small enough that you can do so in a just few minutes.
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Postby RemusShepherd on Tue May 31, 2005 9:53 am

(I have the sinking feeling I'm going to regret posting in this thread. :) )

Comic: Rue the Day, by Jon / 'Nightgaunt'.

This comic is mostly about two friends who are apparently in the army and who get lost a lot, and by 'lost' we're talking about accidentally wandering into the Jurrasic era, or 15th century japan. It uses random surreal humor, slapstick gags, and pop-culture references. Scattered among the storylines of getting lost are random gag strips about summoning cthulhu, petting bunnies, or just random graphic violence. Often there are two or three strip setups with no gag that serve only to introduce a joke at the end -- this is a 'no-no' for gag strips. Sometimes the humor is driven home by a character screaming four-letter epithets -- this sometimes seems unecessary, but it works with the army setting.

The art began fairly poorly, but by 2004 it perked up into a unique and attractive style, although that style keeps changing. Black and white except for occasional color strips, or splashes of color (usually blood) in black and white strips. It does not have a fixed panel format -- sometimes it's a 6-panel strip like a Sunday newspaper comic, sometimes it's a one-panel 'Far Side'-like gag, and sometimes it looks like it's attempting an infinite canvas.

Best Joke is here.
Best Art is here.

The best description of this comic is 'uneven'. When it hits a gag, it's very, very funny. When the art is on target it looks very, very cool. But the art styles keep changing, there is no consistent storyline, and worst of all the update frequency is extremely erratic.

I like comics with a little more structure than this. If any one of the panel layout, the plotline, or the art style could remain the same (barring natural improvements) for any length of time this comic would be much better. Right now it's a cross between Beetle Bailey, Sluggy Freelance, and the Far Side...that's too many directions to go at once. :) It looks like Jon is just having fun doing whatever he wants to do and on his own schedule -- which is fine, but not a recipe for grabbing a fanatic readership.

Summary: Rue the Day is an eclectic comic with a lot of talent behind it, but little discipline. It's pretty obviously a comic drawn in someone's free time in an attempt to stay sane. :) I'd keep an eye on this artist to see whether in his next project he'll actually have a story to tell.
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Postby K-Dawg on Tue May 31, 2005 10:30 am

What the heck, why not again.

Placeholder for Indefensible Positions.

site: Pretty barebones, but functional. Need to fix up that cast page though.

story: To be honest I have no clue at all what's really going on in the story. It goes from Foil about to head to college to him ending up in what seems like an insane asylum. From my understanding he has a power he doesn't know about, and he's now trying to find out about it.

overall impressions: The character designs are pretty interesting while not being too out there. I think the biggest problems I have with the comic is I don't understand anything in it, and it's way too wordy. I think you may need to knock down the word count on the comics. Sometimes it's way too much to take in at one time. With me not understanding it; I just don't see where the magic is coming from and how it's being used for this and that. There are explanations but they all just go flying over my head.

I think I'd have to be wait a couple more months for when the story finally reveals itself to really see where things are going.
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Postby Corgan_dane on Tue May 31, 2005 11:46 am

Da monkey is mine!

~takes away his placeholder~

Site: Looks good. Love the header...it fits the comic perfectly. Colors are bright and shiny, like the comic. Need to update the cast page, though. There are a lot of side players that some people might not know who they are without reading the entire archive. (I realize some stuff hasn't been revealed yet, but you know what I mean.) That link to Many Tidings Grim really brightens up the front page, too. :D

Story: In flashback mode as of now, it's maddening waiting to know how Happy is gonna die. Geez, I hope it's not my ADM meanie alter ego that does it. Eh. Probably not. Anywho, the story is good, though I think at times it moves a little fast. Of course, a lot of people say my comic is slow, so I might be talking about something I'm not qualified to judge.

Overall impressions: I love ADM. It's bright and colorful, and cartoony, and full of interesting characters. It's childish, but has a touch of adultness (is that a word?) to it, with the boobie/sex jokes and the use of words that aren't reall kid friendly. It has a world all it's own, but I think I'd like to see more of it, eventually. Oh, and Ton is awesome. TOOOOOON! :x
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Postby Anywherebuthere on Tue May 31, 2005 12:02 pm

So...I've been holding off on this for long enough:

Scarecrow

I will admit, I have a fondness for the ORIGINAL Grimm
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Postby Tangent on Tue May 31, 2005 1:08 pm

*shiftyeyes* I've got to do this, it's sooooo tempting...

Click here for review of above comic! *evil grin*

Hey, it's already written and all that... why not? :D
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Postby The Neko on Tue May 31, 2005 1:30 pm

These are notes I wrote to myself as I was reading through the archives, since it's not a standard comic and the content changes a lot.

I'd suggest not adding "wink" or "smile" or "grin" to your pieces. It's kind of like adding a "lol" to the end of your sentences. It really feels unnecessary and sorta smarmy.

I don't really understand references to "The Kittens" even when I do know it's an IRC collective.

Sometimes you go into tangents within your tangents. And yes, that is why it's called "tangents" and all, but it's hard to ascertain your focus. I tended to skip over paragraphs when you went onto a rant about certain things like the sexuality double-standard, etc.

My only real problem is that it seems like you really want to be Websnark. He gives out biscuits, you give out cookies... I could read the same kind of content at Websnark. Your opinions are different and interesting, but it's basically the same concept.

The addition of images to the articles really helps.

I think the site needs a better layout, and the background pattern is kinda unpleasant.

An organized archive page might also help.
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Postby McDuffies on Tue May 31, 2005 5:33 pm

Go for it!

Go for it! is a gag comic about one sarcastic guy, his brother and sister, his friends and enviroment. It goesn't get much into storylines, so far I've seen just a few, and very loose (which is neither good or bad, I'm just observing). It is basically a "talking heads" comic, which means that it's usually picturing characters talking. Neko tries to get away with copy/pasting in a few places, but it's easy to notice those.
What differs it from other "talking heads" comics is the sarcastic view, the violence and the lengths to which he goes (I've seen many extreme jokes, but I don't think I've ever seen joke about Mall Santa Pedophile before). What gives the comic a special flavour is that you can expect just about everything becuse Neko won't be limited by conventions of what's tasteful. On the other hand, I believe that he does it with a lot more style than most of webcomic "shockers" so his comic might actually pass below the radar.
Neko likes to get back to things and behaviours he hates in his comic very much. The problem with such approach is that author usually comes to the topic too passionate, instead as a levelheaded critic. So does Neko, sometimes having too much exageration and caricature of said things and behaviours in those "getting back" comics, that they're simply not convincing. Say, you have some kind of fanboy pictured in a comic: his words can be so exagerated that at one point, you don't see it as words of the fanboy: you clearly see Neko pushing those words into his mouth to make him look as worse as possible. In that situation, revenge that comes after a fanboy even doesn't seem appropriate so we fail to appreciate a humor in it.

Usual going in "Go for it!" is several times interrupted by outbursts of violence. For the most part, even though it's not, this violence somehow still manages to stay in frames of "cartoon violence". Interesting strips are those in which Neko gives his, violent, view of some syndicated comics. Those comics are funny and well done, but if he decides to do more of those, the joke might get old. All these "violent" comics are preciouss for the archive, as they break the usual template of people standing and talking to each other (not to say that there's no violence in talking comics. That violence in verbal, and in ideas. As I said, Neko talks about many nasty things).
Now, characters aren't very memorable. I don't manage to get them out of the usual "sarcastic guy", "crazy guy", etc characterisation, so it took me some time to remember major ones, and I didn't even bother to remember many walk-throughs in this comic.
Best thing in "Go for it!" is definitely timing. It is timing that makes this comic funny all through it, and saves quite number of bad jokes too.
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Postby Axonite on Fri Jun 03, 2005 5:56 pm

Bump, since I just did my review of Comic Creatorz.

And why not... placeholder for McDuffies. :)
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Postby Lintjinks on Sat Jun 04, 2005 4:52 am

I certainly didn't know the vast sea of archives I was diving headfirst into when I offered to review Station V3, but it paid off. I enjoyed reading this comic. Now the challenge is to put all of my reflections into a coherent review.

Station V3 is about a space station that sucks. No one wants to stop there, and the inept crew is both too underqualified and too lazy to change anything. The comic follows the languid "adventures" of the crew as they attempt to keep the station from falling to pieces, being taken over, killing them, etc.

Firstly, the writing. No, I can't do that. The writing really goes hand-in-hand with the art, so I'll start with that.

The art in Station V3 is simple, right? We all know that, Tom knows that, heck, the characters even know that. At first it might seem rudimentary, but after a short while one realizes that the art fits the writing like a good pair of socks. I can't imagine a thing that should be changed with the art. The characters and sets are always consistent, and occasionally Tom tries something unusual. I particularly like the "psychedelic" aspects of some of his more random art.

So there's the writing. The writing is good. It dances with the art in a subtle jig that, in fact, is so subtle most people won't notice it.

The dialogue in this particular strip tickled me and it's a good example of the understated humor of this comic: http://www.stationv3.com/d/20040913.html

I mean, come on. Robots!

Tom really knows how to let the humor flow in his dialogue, and it's consistent. So consistent, I could see it being taken for granted. This comic often made me smile. In fact, I read most of the archives while I was on vacation last week, then upon returning to the archives it was nice to see the characters again.

The characters are all under-developed, as they should be in a comic like this. We don't delve into the deep pathos of Ebb's dark and mysterious past, or Floyd doesn't experience epic melodrama at never fulfilling his hopes and dreams; they're just there, like normal people are on the surface. All of the characters have their own unique characteristics, and I got a strong sense of character with each one. I also, from the beginning of the archives, delighted in Ebb, a cute kidney-bean shaped green blob that does nothing but float around, observing things curiously, and never speaks.

Some of my favorite things:

- Ebb, period
- Floyd. His name, firstly. Pink Floyd? Secondly, he's a robot that scoots around on one wheel, and he's the boss.
- The fact that Alternate-Universe Floyd's face just happens to show up often in a wavy space-time continuum hole and have regular conversations with Normal Floyd like it's nothing unusual.
- The Cook's menu signs. Sometimes they're just delifghtfully witty.
- Those hunchbacked frog-like Space Conquerors. They're identical, and take over everything, although they never look hostile in any way whatsoever. Also the fact that one of those frog-like Space Conquerors became the station's security officer is pretty rich.

There are a lot of details in this comic that are good. With updating every day for the past, like, TWO YEARS, Tom deserves a medal for one thing, but it allows for lots of detail to go into the characters and the situations. There are no gut-wrenching belly laughs in this comic, no, but there's a constant stream of understated humor that I enjoy even more.
Last edited by Lintjinks on Fri Jun 10, 2005 8:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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