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"hali's Critique Thread", 12th Jul 2018, 3:29 PM #1
halibabica
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It's a critique thread. I'm not rude, but I don't pull punches, so expect some serious honesty! All critiques come with a FREE CHIBI that may be FEATURED IN MY SIG if the owner so desires. Here's a link to the previous thread.

There's no limit to the number of requests, but there is a line to wait in.

Current: Stimson's Bleeding Ink

Queue
Miaubol's The Perfect Pest
BMR's Ashface's Daughter
Thorsby's Trixie Slaughteraxe for President
omeowcomics' A Song of Mice and Fur
mightguy15's Tsokaka
Kshimimi's A Mortal Touch
mightguy15's Baxton is not a Hero!
GusCamissa's The Concord Initiative
jamanning7's Grand Island
Sikyanakotik's Spider Pizza
ProfEtheric's Autumn Bay
shastab24's Almighty Protectors
TheHiddenElephant's The Wide Ocean
ShaRose49's Sunstrike and Bluemist
Zero Hour's The Adventures of Sir Power

Done

I figure it's about time I restarted this thing. The rhyming title was nice, but let's be honest; it was never every week. I started reading Last Spork in the Universe, and I'm putting the finishing touches on the anonymously-requested critique.
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12th Jul 2018, 3:40 PM #2
InfectedBlood

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Hi! My comic started recently, but I figure by the time you get to it, it will have a good number of pages up. So, if you wish, I'd like a critique on Infected Blood. A chibi would be cool, too! Thanks :)
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17th Jul 2018, 8:08 PM #3
Leafa
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It would be awesome if you could critique Earth in a Pocket sometime! I don't think anyone has critiqued it yet and it's a bit unusual, so I'm always wondering what people make of it.
18th Jul 2018, 4:24 PM #4
halibabica
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No prob, Leafa! I'll add you to the queue next chance I get.

-----

This week, I read the archive of Last Spork in the Universe. I'll write and post my critique of it next time.
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26th Jul 2018, 11:24 AM #5
halibabica
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My critique of Last Spork is now written, but I wasn't able to make the chibi because I forgot to grab a reference when I could (I can only access the internet at work right now). I'll prepare it tonight and post it tomorrow.
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27th Jul 2018, 1:26 PM #6
halibabica
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All right...SMAComix, you’ll want to buckle in for this one. You might find this critique a little hard to swallow, and for that, I apologize in advance. Last Spork in the Universe is a fantasy comic about a group of people that get warped to an alternate dimension by a mystical eating utensil. It also includes a very unfitting side story that can easily be mistaken as part of its canon. But first, let me speak of the comic itself.

Last Spork is, unfortunately, very rough. It’s visually difficult to read and understand. It’s mostly black and white, and looks like it was drawn with charcoal. That could be stylistic, but the result here is too muddled to come across effectively. Special effect panels are indiscernible, and regular shots are hard to follow at best. Many panels are small and feel claustrophobic. It’s hard to get a sense of place for what/how things are happening most of the time. Establishing shots are rare and the overall sloppiness makes it very hard to follow. Some of these panels have perspective issues, such as downward views showing objects as though they were seen from the side. The dialogue is often hand-written and crammed in wherever it fits. While legible, it’s difficult to read, and several places in the comic use a font anyway, so I don’t know why it isn’t universal. Through all this, you can get the gist of what’s happening, but that’s about it. I read through the whole thing three times and I still just barely understand it.

Further story confusion stems from the diversity of the cast. There are a lot of characters involved in this comic, but not enough of them receive screen time to really stand out to me. There are eight people who crossed through the portal opened by the spork, and I can barely remember who any of them are. I’m not sure they even know who each other are; names are rarely used. I can sort of recognize some of them by design, but the roughness makes it hard to tell. There are also a decent number of supporting cast members, but they have similar issues of exposure, and proper introductions are never made. Dialogue feels stiff and unnatural, and all the characters generally sound the same. There’s some humor mixed in, but the jokes tend to fall flat because the context is too hurried. Overall, the story feels extremely rushed and the pace is hard to follow. Some of the later chapters are particularly guilty; 6 being one page long and 7 being just two. Both are explained away so the story can go in the direction it needs to, which all feels terribly forced. Even besides those two short chapters, the comic moves at such a fast pace that getting your bearings is impossible.

Regarding the side story I mentioned earlier, the bonus chapter titled ‘Aprilocolypse’ doesn’t belong in this comic at all. It’s especially jarring since it’s the last chapter in the archive, and so can be mistaken as the most recent canon chapter of the story. Basically, it goes from ‘creative fantasy comic’ to ‘Tumblr-esque political rampage.’ I can tell this is a sensitive subject for you, SMAC, so I want you to know that I’m saying this with only the best intentions. This side story is doing no good for anyone. It’s understandable to be passionate about your heritage and to want others to be aware of how your people were mistreated in the past, but using your comic as a soapbox is completely inappropriate. First of all, it’s a disservice to the story you were trying to tell by making it about something it wasn’t. Second, your attitude in presenting this info is damaging to your reputation. It makes you appear very ornery and unwelcoming. Lastly, it’s hurting the message itself. You can’t expect to find an understanding audience by shoving these facts in their faces. Your readers didn’t come to hear this political vitriol; they came to read a story about a magic spork.

Apart from the overarching issues, there are many other troubles I noticed in this comic. Page sizes are all over the place. Some are so small, they’re hard to read, while others are excessively huge (to the point of horizontal scrolling). There are pages where you can see notebook binding on the edges. Some pages are posted twice in a row. Coloring is uncommon and seems to occur randomly. 4th-wall jokes don’t do it any favors.

I’m sorry I can’t say more positive things about your comic, SMAC, but it has serious troubles that need addressed for it to be effective. I can see so much potential in this series, but everything about the presentation is falling apart. The artwork is rushed and sloppy, the pacing is much too quick, the cast is too diverse to keep track of, and the tangents about the Armenian genocide are totally out of place. I don’t make this recommendation lightly, but you should seriously consider a reboot. A fresh start would give you a chance to flesh out your ideas better, and consider how your comic is being seen and understood. Remember that the audience doesn’t see what you don’t show them. Give them the context they need to comprehend what they’re reading. There’s so much creativity in this series and I can tell it has lots of potential to be great, but as it currently is, it’s just a huge mess. I’m sorry. I wish you the best of luck with it.
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1st Aug 2018, 5:18 PM #7
halibabica
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This week, I read the archive of Pulse. Critique and chibi are pending for next time.
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1st Aug 2018, 11:30 PM #8
DrFurball
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I'd like to offer Weird in a Can to your queue, if it's all right.
I enjoy reading your critiques, and am curious what you'd have to say about my comic.
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2nd Aug 2018, 8:18 PM #9
SMAComix

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Thank you for reviewing my series. Yes, I agree it needs work. I signed up for a critique and it's a critique I am satisfied with no matter how harsh it is. I'm glad that somebody is telling me what needs fixing.
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3rd Aug 2018, 11:25 AM #10
halibabica
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That's good, I hope you find it useful. And that the chibi took the edge off a little. :3
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3rd Aug 2018, 2:18 PM #11
SMAComix

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More than useful, helpful. Also M'asumaza is adorable. Thanks.
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8th Aug 2018, 8:08 PM #12
halibabica
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I keep forgetting to snag chibi refs while I'm still able (no internet at home, can only get them at work). The critique for Pulse is written, but I won't be able to post it until Friday. Welppp!

EDIT: I am a supreme fool. Yesterday, I grabbed the refs I needed to draw the chibi, but got them mixed up with a bunch of pages I was updating, and deleted them instead of taking them home. That means I can't get this posted until Monday next week. x_x
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13th Aug 2018, 11:59 AM #13
halibabica
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Pulse is an atypical sort of superhero comic. It follows the action surrounding Annie (aka Pulse), a lower-level super girl who sees a big increase in her power...along with a big increase in her bust size. It’s a pretty solid comic all-around and a long one at that, with no end yet in sight.

The artwork in this is simply phenomenal. It’s stylistic, clean, and appropriate. Nothing looks strange or out-of-place, even with Annie’s unusually large assets. Perspectives are great, coloring and shading are top notch, and there’s enough detail in the environments that it’s visually interesting while still making sense. In terms of how this comic presents itself, I found nothing to complain about, except to say it was a little confusing early on when things were grayscale instead of full color, and it was still very good even then.

In terms of writing, it holds up decently well, but it left a little to be desired for me. The story itself tends to move fairly slowly. In this universe, superpowers are relatively common among humans, but vary drastically in magnitude. Divided into power classes A through E, A’s are extremely rare, B’s and C’s do most of the hero work, D’s play supporting roles, and E’s are somewhat negligible. The main character is an E, so she’s not usually on the frontlines where the exciting stuff happens. There’s some degree of mystery to the things that happen around her, as she’s in training at an underground research lab that facilitates the growth and development of superheroes, but we’re essentially following what would otherwise be a bit part in a normal superhero tale. In other words, this isn’t so much an action-oriented story. It does fine for what it is, and there are still some big fight moments, but it often feels like things take a while to progress.

The written word of the comic is effective, but felt a bit flat to me. Grammar and wording are fine; I noticed very few errors, but the dialogue seems rather indistinct. The characters all talk appropriately, but I had a hard time getting a beat on their individual tones. Especially in the grayscale pages, I had trouble telling characters apart since the dialogue was so same-y. The colored pages solved that handily, but it still feels like you could point those bubbles at any given mouth in some situations. There are also points where the writing feels a bit too telling. When something complex needs explained, it’s put across to you and you’ll get it, but not with much style.

That may sound rough, but I want to reiterate that it’s still a well-written comic. The dialogue and storytelling don’t detract from the work, but could still contribute more to make it stand out. The only other trouble I had was that it’s occasionally hard to tell which bubble to read next. It seems to prioritize left-to-right while semi-ignoring bubble height (ie the next bubble may be higher than the one before it). Some panels also have a lot of bubbles in general, so they could use a little better management.

As a last note...this is going to sound really nitpicky, but I’m not 100% sure about the angle with Annie’s bust. I’ll admit, I’m a boobs guy, but I’m turned away by improbably-proportioned women. I’m sure this will do it for plenty of guys, and props for not going too far off the deep end fan service-wise, and it’s certainly too late to change it, but they never quite figure out why it happens in-story (beyond an obvious explanation), so to me...it feels like kind of a cheap grab at sex appeal.

Still, it’s very solid, and I can tell all those years of work have not been squandered. Well done.

Would you like Annie to join my sig?
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14th Aug 2018, 10:47 PM #14
Lightfoot

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I noticed you had posted this, but I had to give myself time to work up the nerve to read it.

halibabica:
except to say it was a little confusing early on when things were grayscale instead of full color, and it was still very good even then.


I've heard that before, and it's part of the reason why I switched to color. I started the process of redesigning the characters, and my instant band-aid was color. This was the first non-color comic I had attempted in a long time, and I don't think I had prepared enough for it. I've been trying to go back and color all of those grayscale pages, but it's not something I get a chance to work on often.

halibabica:
The written word of the comic is effective, but felt a bit flat to me. Grammar and wording are fine; I noticed very few errors, but the dialogue seems rather indistinct. The characters all talk appropriately, but I had a hard time getting a beat on their individual tones. Especially in the grayscale pages, I had trouble telling characters apart since the dialogue was so same-y. The colored pages solved that handily, but it still feels like you could point those bubbles at any given mouth in some situations.


I've heard that before. I wonder if like with the character designs, I should have tried to make them as radically different as possible, instead of aiming for just enough difference to not be the same.

halibabica:
There are also points where the writing feels a bit too telling. When something complex needs explained, it’s put across to you and you’ll get it, but not with much style.


I think my writing sometimes focuses too much on the long-term and I lose track of the current part of the story. Like I'm setting up or teasing something a couple of years away, and missing making the current scene as interesting as possible.

halibabica:
The only other trouble I had was that it’s occasionally hard to tell which bubble to read next. It seems to prioritize left-to-right while semi-ignoring bubble height (ie the next bubble may be higher than the one before it). Some panels also have a lot of bubbles in general, so they could use a little better management.


Some of that is probably bad habits. Also, what usually happens is I roughly letter the page before I draw it. Then I go back once it's done and finalize the dialog. I probably make the art too tight to the lettering for the amount of dialog, and then I only have bad choices about the lettering placement. I should leave more room.

halibabica:
As a last note...this is going to sound really nitpicky, but I’m not 100% sure about the angle with Annie’s bust. I’ll admit, I’m a boobs guy, but I’m turned away by improbably-proportioned women. I’m sure this will do it for plenty of guys, and props for not going too far off the deep end fan service-wise, and it’s certainly too late to change it, but they never quite figure out why it happens in-story (beyond an obvious explanation), so to me...it feels like kind of a cheap grab at sex appeal.


Everyone asks that question. (I didn't know what to expect in advance, and I thought it would be a wash, but) I think it's more likely to be somewhat of a negative to readers overall than a positive. It may drive away more than it attracts. And it gives people the wrong impression about what the comic is like, and the people it does attract are ultimately unhappy because it's not as fan-service-y as it seems like it should be.

I did an older comic with similar characters once. It was more pure fan-service. When I was deciding what comic series to make here, I thought about that old comic and decided it had some interesting ideas. Turning it into a more standard comic seemed like an interesting challenge, partly to have a lead character who was abnormally busty, and try to make them into a believable character without falling into any of the usual pitfalls. Like I'd try to do a comic about the bustiest superheroine- and not make her an idiot, constant fan-service-girl, a mary-sue, promiscuous, the elite, not every girl envies her, and every guy isn't after her.

I almost didn't have her change when I got to that part of the story, but I did it because I thought it helped make her into a more unique character. Sometimes she's fun to draw, or a challenge to draw, other times she's annoying to draw. I like that there's something different about her physically as the lead than any of the other characters. In retrospect, I don't know if I'd make the same choice again or not.

I think because of that older comic I made some mistakes here. I didn't originally reconsider what each character should look like physically. I also may have ended up with some characters that have too much overlap in purpose. I should have cut or combined people more.

There is more to the explanation about her transformation in the next storyline. I guess I wanted to keep it a mystery during act 1, and when I got to the point of needing to plan out act 2, it didn't seem like they should be able to figure out the reason with the details from act 1. They only experimented on a few, and only Annie changed. Unless there's some thing she did differently, she's physically smaller than the others, the others are all busty (which isn't true based on the one shot of them), I didn't see how they could be certain of why without more test subjects.

halibabica:Would you like Annie to join my sig?


Sure.
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14th Aug 2018, 10:57 PM #15
MissElaney

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Sweet merciful baby Jesus

I will attempt to finish the backediting I rambled about wanting to do and upload this page which has ONE MORE PANEL LEFT FUCK

and perhaps i will be able to upload it in time D:
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16th Aug 2018, 1:16 PM #16
halibabica
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@Lightfoot: It sounds like I've echoed some things you've heard before. At least this way you know what's sticking out.

For differentiated dialogue, it's kind of a tough call. There are many things that any given person can say, and people living in similar circumstances will naturally talk similarly to each other. For me, it's not so important what a person is saying, but why they're saying it. Mood, demeanor, everything about them contributes to when and how a person speaks up. Characters don't need verbal tics to stand out from each other. It's very situational.

It's good to hear they'll eventually get to the bottom of Annie's "dramatic" transformation. If you feel your unsatisfied about her proportions then, maybe you could make a change at that point. She could believably have a surgical reduction. Maybe even put it to a vote from your fans. Ultimately, it's up to you.

MissElaney:Sweet merciful baby Jesus

I will attempt to finish the backediting I rambled about wanting to do and upload this page which has ONE MORE PANEL LEFT FUCK

and perhaps i will be able to upload it in time D:

Don't sweat it. My timetable got all thrown off this week, so I won't be able to read until tomorrow.
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16th Aug 2018, 2:26 PM #17
MissElaney

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Okay, I can also pm you links to whatever WIP stuff I have if you want
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16th Aug 2018, 4:35 PM #18
Microraptor
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I think you haven't done a critique of my comic yet, right? So then, go on, do your thing! Link is in the sig!
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17th Aug 2018, 7:37 PM #19
halibabica
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MissElaney:Okay, I can also pm you links to whatever WIP stuff I have if you want


You can if you want to; it's fine either way. I read what's there and I can get the critique ready, but I'm at work, so I can't draw the chibi yet. I also have no internet access at home, so the results will have to wait until after the weekend.
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17th Aug 2018, 11:04 PM #20
MissElaney

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Nah dun' worry about it, I'll go with what's as-is.
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