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"Considering a reboot- critique me maybe?", 8 days ago, 8:22 AM #1
Simzi

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Registration date: 28th Aug 2015
Location: Lost
Hi, so recently I've been feeling more and more unable to work on my comic for a myriad of reasons, but mainly because it feels like I'm working on an unfinished product. I've decided that to get back on the horse I need a fresh start, to work on this thing more seriously and make it better.

That's where I'm asking for your help.

As of now, I have a full chapter posted online, as well as a few more pages from the following chapter. Only 26 pages altogether. I'd really appreciate some writing critique, especially (but not exclusively) pertaining to:

1. Dialogue and character interactions: This is the main thing I'm worried about, since it's important to me that I can capture the essence of the characters.

2. Clarity: Does the text make it clear what's going on? Are there any sort of gaps, plot holes?

3. Pacing: Speaks for itself. I already know it's lacking, but would really like to know what in particular isn't working.

4. Visual storytelling: How do the images interact with the text?

5. Mood and tone: Are they consistent? Appropriate?

Please keep in mind that I'm seeking this critique to improve myself before I begin rewriting, so I'm aware that the first chapter's pretty... rough, so to speak. I'm planning to switch around quite a few scenes in the new version, but overall I'm probably keeping the general idea pretty similar.

Also, even though I'm not really looking for an art critique, if there's anything that really stands out I'd like to know. Especially if it's in the later pages.

You can find the link here, as well as in my signature.

Thank you very much! <3
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8 days ago, 12:53 PM #2
Thorsby

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Registration date: 14th Nov 2013
I have a lot of criticism. I hope I am not too cruel. But since you are planning a reboot of your comic I am hoping this more helpful than hurtful.

Page 1 (Not counting the cover), panel 2. I read the speech bubbles in the wrong order. Avoid panels where one speech bubble is up and to the right and one speech bubble is down and to the left.

Panel 2: The speech bubble is covering part of the characters head. Looks bad.

Panel 3. Big mess of speech bubbles, read one of them in the wrong order. In most cases don’t have more than 2 speech bubbles per panel.

Page 2. Character is talking to self. Feels unnatural, would prefer thought bubbles.

Page 3. There are often, (not just on this page) too little white space between the text and the speech bubble line. Like in panel 5 especially.

Second to last panel. Text seems too long. Maybe something like “Those weren’t the real guards. There’s no way in Hell I’m trusting them.” would work better. In general if you can convey the same information with less text, that is better.

Page 4-5 The action is confusing. I think you should have a panel establishing the golem is about to grab the woman before she dodges out of the way. Similarly you should have a panel of the hammer moving towards the woman before she dodges out of the way.

I think they are supposed to be temporarily safe when they stop and have a conversation. But it is not clear. You should have a panel establishing the golems are down.

The order of the speech bubbles on page 5 is very confusing.

Page 6 -9.
You should have established that Loki can shoot fire, before the woman comes up with a plan that involves shooting fire.

Also: They way you have set it up, the woman comes up with a plan, then there is a bit when they seem to almost die, then the plan works. I think most readers will expect the plan to work, so this is not so exiting.

A better way to do it would have been there is bit where they almost seem to die, then the woman comes up with a plan, then they are saved shortly after. You wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time explain the plan, the woman could just shout to Loki to shoot fire at the sprinklers. Then the golems are destroyed and she says something like “I was hoping the water would destroy the clay.”

Page 10. The woman’s dialogue to the god’s sound unnatural.

The announcement page: Maybe remove this page from the archive, now that the comic has returned?

Page 14, panel 1. Thor is telling the Loki something Loki already knows. Bad writing.

Page 16. Panel 1. This is a bad panel. It looks like the people were standing in a close group and then the golem popped up in the middle of the group. And it seems like the green haired guy must be kneeling on the police car. I don’t think that’s what you’re going for.

Chapter 2, page
Second the last panel. I though the red bit was part of the car. (It’s actually the stretcher.) This made the next panel and next page confusing for me. It took me a while to figure out what I was seeing. A more zoomed out panel that showed the whole stretcher would have been better. A zoomed out panel showing the golem lifting the car would be clearer and also probably cooler.

Page 17. Why is he asking her to take his hand? Seems unnatural.

Chapter 2, page 1. Unless you are planning to print this comic with each chapter in separate magazines, there is no need to have a recap here.
8 days ago, 5:01 PM #3
NiaNook

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Registration date: 11th Oct 2017
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If you feel like you've improved a lot, then by all means, you're sure to have more expirience to add to the story, now. :)

Thorsby covered a lot, but I'll see if there's anything to chip in.

You mentioned this in the comment for page 1, and I agree, you don't need to worry about establishing Julia and Adrian as siblings right away, as long as the reader can figure out that they're close before Adrian goes missing. It will come up naturally later in the story and the readers will understand. (just in case you were unsure about this)

Like Thorsby said, there are some speech bubbles I keep reading out of order. My eyes tend to automatically read the ones highest up on the panel first, then move to the left-most one below it. An exception to this; if it's a speech bubble that sits on the border between two panels, I'll read the first panel, then the speech-bubble sitting between them, then move on to the next panel. (it can come in handy if you MUST have a lower speech bubble be read first)

Page 3: Are you trying to establish that the orange-haired guy is handsome with the pink sparkly effects behind him? (Uhuhuhu) Since we're reading the story from Julia's perspective, this gives off that Julia finds him attractive, and I don't know if that is what you were intending or not! (Also, in the last panel, I couldn't tell what was happening to Julia. It looked like a hand around her neck?)

Page 11: Oh wait, whose orange thought-box is that saying "Thinking I might have gotten the short end of the bargain"? I assume it might be Loki's, since it looks a shade darker than the ones on previous pages, but it was very hard to tell, at first. I suggest you make it easier for the reader to tell it's coming from Loki the first time we see it, so we establish in our minds that "orange ones are Loki's". Maybe it can be a panel with just his face below the box (nobody else), or have a little trail of circles leading to his head or something.

Page 16: The enraged golem looks pretty chill, actually. Make him angry! Make him break some things! MWAHAHAHA >:D Then the people will REALLY have something to run and scream about.

Page 22: Here, you're using different perspectives and angles to show Julia and Loki as they're talking (one from above, one from the side, one from head-on) They're good and make it more interesting. Make good use of those perspectives and angles in the other scenes, too, if you remake this. :)

You seem to get a lot better with a lot of these issues in the latter pages, so I suppose most of my words aren't needed. One thing that stood out throughout the story was some parts seemed to go by so fast. When a character experiences something very shocking, you would want to linger on a moment a little longer, so we (and the character being shocked) can take in the moment! So using less speech bubbles collected all in one panel, and putting emphasis on the "shock" in someone's facial expression can help build that tension.

Parts where they're having long conversations in the middle of a fight can probably be shortened down, or the characters can talk properly when the danger is passed over.

Hope this helps!
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8 days ago, 5:42 PM #4
Fabian W.
it feels so good
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OK, I just read all the pages! (And overall I quite liked it, so take the following as nitpicking rather than as harsh panning!) Let's begin...

1. Dialogue and character interactions
That's actually the thing I have the least to say about. The only issue would be that we only really get to know Adrian relatively late in the game, obviously because he is knocked out most of the time. See "Pacing" about how this could be fixed.

2. Clarity
The plot was easy to follow so far, except for the following small clarity issues:.
- It took me a few pages to realize that they are in a museum. There is a sign that says "Museum of Anthropology" on the first page, but I didn't notice it at first, and thus it should be made more obvious. Perhaps it should be included in the establishing shot in the first panel, either as huge sign on the house wall, or as part of the caption.
- When the firemen and the police are there: Are Thor and Loki hiding in that alley, or are all the other people aware of their presence?
- It's not entirely clear what kind of pact Julia is and Loki are having at the end of Chapter 1. That he'll turn a blind eye in the future if he notices that they try to escape again from Thor?

3. Pacing
You try to set up the basics about Julia, Adria and their lives (siblings, she works at the museum) within the first page, and then the adventure immediately begins. While it's on the one hand neat that we get to the action relatively soon, I wonder if it wouldn't work better to extend that to at least too pages. Perhaps with an inner monologue by Julia about what she thinks about her museum job, while we see her interacting with some visitors (thus earlier in the day than when the current version of the comic starts), and then Adrian shows up and she has some thoughts concerning him, plus some more banter between them.

4. Visual storytelling
One major issue I have here is for the rectangles/captions for thoughts and those for when someone off-panel is speaking are looking too similar. You should change the color of at least one of them.

5. Mood and tone
Overall, I would expect a museum after closing to be darker (and thus creepier). (I usually put a transparent black layer over the image to get this effect.) This would also provide some cool opportunities for mood lighting when Thor and Loki are using his hammer and his fire powers respectively! (BTW, I would consider Autumn Bay to be "required reading" concerning mood & lighting in urban fantasy webcomics.)

Art
The art is certainly not perfect (I always feel like a hypocrite whenever I say something like this in critiques...), but it has visually quite improved over the course of just those 28 pages! (And sorry if this sounds mean, but one think I just have to mention: Here, it looks like Julia and the Golem are dancing! ;-D )
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One week ago, 9:49 AM #5
Simzi

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Hey guys! I just got the chance to read through all of this, thanks so much for the feedback. I pretty much agree with most of what's been said, and I'll try to keep it in mind.

@ Thorsby:

I realize the text bubbles in the early pages are fairly problematic, lol. Also I agree that the dialogue in some places could be snipped.

Pages 4-5: Yeah, I think it could’ve been handled a bit better. In general, I think the newer version of this scene will have more action and less dialogue, to avoid some of that confusion.

Pages 6-9: In my head it made sense that she’d make the conclusion of “lightning can set things on fire, therefore we can get fire with Thor’s known abilities”. Honestly that whole bit was superfluous—in the newer draft, she just plain pulls the fire alarm without explaining what her plan is in advanced.

Page 10: Looking back, I was trying to fit too much into his page, so it came out sounding really forced :/

Page 14: While I think you’re right that it could’ve been handled better, the tone I was going for was more “Don’t try to appeal to me, since we’ve parted ways and I don’t want anything to do with you” and not just trying to clumsily exposit. But yeah, poor choice of words on my part.

Pages 16-17: I’ll admit I was being a little lazy with some of my art choices here lol. Thanks for pointing out how my cutting corners makes things unclear.

Why is he asking her to take his hand? Seems unnatural.

Dude it’s a handshake. I guess I could've made it a bit clearer lol

@ NiaNook:

Page 3: Are you trying to establish that the orange-haired guy is handsome with the pink sparkly effects behind him? (Uhuhuhu) Since we're reading the story from Julia's perspective, this gives off that Julia finds him attractive, and I don't know if that is what you were intending or not! (Also, in the last panel, I couldn't tell what was happening to Julia. It looked like a hand around her neck?)”

I was trying to convey that he was trying to be charming, but I clearly didn’t convey it well! Honestly, page 3 is a mess and I hated it even as I was making it. He's kinda supposed to be both attractive and off-putting in-universe, buuut I don't think I did a good job expressing that.

Page 11: Oh wait, whose orange thought-box is that saying "Thinking I might have gotten the short end of the bargain"? I assume it might be Loki's, since it looks a shade darker than the ones on previous pages, but it was very hard to tell, at first. I suggest you make it easier for the reader to tell it's coming from Loki the first time we see it, so we establish in our minds that "orange ones are Loki's". Maybe it can be a panel with just his face below the box (nobody else), or have a little trail of circles leading to his head or something.

Yeah, you’re right- I think I’ll wait before adding in his perspective until it’s truly necessary. I was kind of hoping that having it complete his dialogue would be good enough, but in retrospect it’s… not.

Page 16: The enraged golem looks pretty chill, actually. Make him angry! Make him break some things! MWAHAHAHA >:D Then the people will REALLY have something to run and scream about.

Noted. I think I was just too lazy and in a time crunch to draw actual destruction.

Also, thanks for your kind words! I'm glad to hear that I've at least gotten a tad better.
I 100% agree that the pacing’s a big problem. It’s partially because I kept revising the script as I went, so suddenly I needed to cram more things in and it became really busy.

@ Fabian W.:

- It took me a few pages to realize that they are in a museum. There is a sign that says "Museum of Anthropology" on the first page, but I didn't notice it at first, and thus it should be made more obvious. Perhaps it should be included in the establishing shot in the first panel, either as huge sign on the house wall, or as part of the caption.

I think I'll just have the newer establishing shot be better, or have the characters acknowledge it in their dialogue :)

- When the firemen and the police are there: Are Thor and Loki hiding in that alley, or are all the other people aware of their presence?

I... don't know, honestly. I probably was going for the angle of "hiding in the alley", but OH MAN... I should probably mention that in the new draft that whole scene doesn't exist.

- It's not entirely clear what kind of pact Julia is and Loki are having at the end of Chapter 1. That he'll turn a blind eye in the future if he notices that they try to escape again from Thor?

That's it! Do you have any suggestions of ho I can make it clearer, without it being too obvious?

3. Pacing
You try to set up the basics about Julia, Adria and their lives (siblings, she works at the museum) within the first page, and then the adventure immediately begins. While it's on the one hand neat that we get to the action relatively soon, I wonder if it wouldn't work better to extend that to at least too pages. Perhaps with an inner monologue by Julia about what she thinks about her museum job, while we see her interacting with some visitors (thus earlier in the day than when the current version of the comic starts), and then Adrian shows up and she has some thoughts concerning him, plus some more banter between them.

While I definitely want the banter scene between Julia and Adrian to be longer, I'm really worried about making this scene too long. After all, the purpose of it is just so we kind of know who's who. In the newer draft, Adrian doesn't get knocked out, so I'm hoping that might also help.

Overall, I would expect a museum after closing to be darker (and thus creepier). (I usually put a transparent black layer over the image to get this effect.) This would also provide some cool opportunities for mood lighting when Thor and Loki are using his hammer and his fire powers respectively!

Chock that up to 2015 Simzi being very inexperienced with colors. I agree that it's WAY too light there, and I probably should've just used cooler pallet to convey the darkness.

(And sorry if this sounds mean, but one think I just have to mention: Here, it looks like Julia and the Golem are dancing! ;-D )

Lol! It's not mean, I actually chuckled a little.
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One week ago, 3:14 PM #6
Fabian W.
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That's it! Do you have any suggestions of ho I can make it clearer, without it being too obvious?

Hmmm, good question... Perhaps Loki could say something like: "It would be a shame if you later slipped away anyway, just because I failed to keep an eye on you. I wonder would happen then... Thor would be furious, most likely, that's always fun to see..."
Or would that be a tad too cliche?

While I definitely want the banter scene between Julia and Adrian to be longer, I'm really worried about making this scene too long. After all, the purpose of it is just so we kind of know who's who. In the newer draft, Adrian doesn't get knocked out, so I'm hoping that might also help.

I know what you mean, I guess it ultimately boils down to find the right balance between providing sufficient character introduction and not boring the reader with a too long preamble. Though I guess if the sibling banter turns out to be really entertaining (e.g. a slight quabble over something?), the audience may be more forgiving.
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One week ago, 8:44 PM #7
NiaNook

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Simzi:
I was trying to convey that he was trying to be charming, but I clearly didn’t convey it well! Honestly, page 3 is a mess and I hated it even as I was making it. He's kinda supposed to be both attractive and off-putting in-universe, buuut I don't think I did a good job expressing that.


Well, his appearance alone gives off the "attractive but off-putting" look, I think. With the stitched looking lips and whatnot. A lot of series make that charming effect by giving them sparkly teeth or just making their expression look very "cool" :D

Also, thanks for your kind words! I'm glad to hear that I've at least gotten a tad better.
I 100% agree that the pacing’s a big problem. It’s partially because I kept revising the script as I went, so suddenly I needed to cram more things in and it became really busy.


You're very welcome! I know the feeling so well of wanting to rush and save space. I actually have so many regrets with my old story because of how I handled it too lazily. The rushed pacing totally screwed up the big grand climax I was working all those years for and am still kicking myself for it! It ended up going by too fast and the tension was so minimal. Don't make yourself have to live with that regret later! It's worth taking a break and re-reading your draft with a fresh mind to make sure it flows well.
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