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"Picky Critiques", 10th Sep 2018, 6:45 PM #1
swamp
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Hey! I haven't done this before, but I wanted to actually do a few critiques! I've been a bit shy to, but I did some on request threads and got in the spirit.
I try not to be a mean reviewer, but I've been told I can be a bit of a harsh one, so please don't sign up if you aren't feeling that.

I will
-Read at least 15 pages, and then as much as I feel like
-Probably walk you through my experience as I read. (How the banner/summary worked, how the intro worked, if I stopped read, why)
-Mention it if there's no/few/poorly written women, which certainly doesn't mean I won't read/critique, but don't sign up if that'll be a major turn off
-Try to offer practical suggestions about what you could do moving forward

Check out my first post HERE for my tips on getting the most out of a critique, but if you don't read it, please tell me what you'd like me to focus on or big questions you have.

ROUND 1: No actual comics, somehow
1. snuffysam
2. MissElaney
3. Sikyanakotik

edit: first three are done, and I'm still rolling, so opening three more slots
ROUND 2: Blood themed, I guess?
1. Infected Blood
2. Bleeding Ink
3. Arth and Tech

ROUND 3: Shaping up space themed!
1. Mortal Touch
2. Millenium
3. Autumn Bay
4. Cold Sweat

edit 2: Also, if anybody wants to do my a favor/feels I sound too pretentious and wants me to put my money where my mouth is, I've got a first chapter draft for something I'd love a few eyes on, so PM me if you wanna!
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10th Sep 2018, 6:55 PM #2
snuffysam

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Could you take a look at Idol Paradise World?

In terms of things to focus on... the hook, I suppose? As a light novel, IPW is harder to attract people to than a traditional comic (given all the text), so I want to be sure I'm doing an effective job of it.

EDIT: Oh and since it's early in the story and I'm willing to go back and edit things, skin thickness shouldn't be much of an issue.
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10th Sep 2018, 8:13 PM #3
MissElaney

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Wah, is it okay to hop in line given that you already gave me a rundown? I changed dialogue and have some extra pages and want to get some of this stuff in (feedback) while I'm writing the script for #2. Just like you said people look for critiques like way late...I'd be sending you some pages early.

Some of my concerns here are the style shift across the few existing pages, I think that it's forgivable but am not sure if it's distracting, whether the night scenes are too dark, and I'm thinking that I need to redraw maks in the phone conversation scene so that he's favoring his arm from the get go and make the blood on his head like 609% more noticeable. Not like "gore gore gore" But I think it's lit and staged so obscurely you can't see it at all.
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10th Sep 2018, 8:15 PM #4
swamp
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Go ahead! I'm not sure how much new I'll have to say though...
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10th Sep 2018, 8:50 PM #5
MissElaney

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Actually what if I shot you the script for chapter 2?
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10th Sep 2018, 8:54 PM #6
swamp
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Works for me! Would you rather I do google docs comments then? Go ahead and shoot it over!
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10th Sep 2018, 9:23 PM #7
Sikyanakotik
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Would you be okay with critiquing another script instead of a finished comic? I have a draft for the first chapter of my next comic that I'm polishing up for the final product, and I'd like to have a better idea of where I should focus.

www.deviantart.com/sikyanakotik/art/Spider-Pizza-Chapter-1-script-695918632
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10th Sep 2018, 10:49 PM #8
InfectedBlood

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Dang, can I be on your waiting list, if you open one? My comic is Infected Blood, if you decide to give me a critique, you may want to read it on my official website, as it's updated to the latest page (I started the comic on CF late). Thanks, regardless of what you do :)
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11th Sep 2018, 1:00 AM #9
MissElaney

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I will shoot it over ASAP, I am still writing it. I'll ... Give you what I have within 24 hours? How's that?
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11th Sep 2018, 3:50 AM #10
swamp
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No prob! Just having some time to do the first one now!

Merged Doublepost:

Review of Idol Paradise World! I'm a lot more used to reviewing writing, so here we go

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"Bleeding Ink", 11th Sep 2018, 10:48 PM #11
Stimson

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When you've got the room for Bleeding Ink, I'd be thrilled to add it to the cue.
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11th Sep 2018, 11:12 PM #12
snuffysam

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Thanks for the critique! Just going to go through this real quick...

swamp:THE SUMMARY -

So... my original take on the summary is no longer relevant so here's my more relevant take-
I get the whole joke is to advertise yourself as a stereotypical harem story, then plot twist it into an action story with lesbians, but there's a bit problem here I'm not sure you've thought through.
As somebody who's 200% more on board for 'action story with cyborg lesbians' than 'mediocre guy gets idol harem', I just would have.... never read long enough to discover the truth. Your actual audience would never make it past the summary.
Meanwhile, the person who's tuned in for a harem romance with idols is going to just be disappointed! Your actual audience won't make it past the summary, and the people who make it past the summary aren't the actual audience.


Yeah, that's fair. I'll change that to something that makes it clear that there's a surprise, but specifically a surprise for Rick. Something along the lines of "Rick thought he was in for a fun senior year with his favorite idols, but he was shocked to find out that..." and so on, describing the girls.

swamp:THE COVER-

The character designs are really cute, but I think they're hurt most by the lack of noses. I'd prefer more edge lines all around (around eyes, eyebrows, hairline, lips and skin/cloth separations especially), but the noses hurt it the most for me.


Hmm... the issue is that the characters aren't drawn, they're 3D models. I'll have to figure something out to get the renderer to put outlines on the noses properly...

Also, did you think the lack of noses/lip outlines was a problem with the vector art versions (on the top bar and at the end of chapters), or just a problem with the 3D models?

swamp:
HEAVY EDITS ON FIRST TWO PAGES (written before reveal)-

Already, it's off to a rocky start. We're dropped in with four lines of dialogue where-
-I have no context for who's talking
-The attempt at dry humour is very intentional in a way I find offputting
-No human speaks this way

Then we get the protag, intro-ed as “the boy with grey hair”, who then.... monologues his life story. Jokingly pointing to the internal narration does not give you a free pass for the fact that this boy is sitting in the car mentally introducing himself to nobody.

If I was to restructure the intro, I'd go with this-
-Rick Weeks sat in the car blah blah establish place.
-Exit dialogue here with dialogue tags
-Internal dialogue about.... what you might be worried about on the first day of school. Better yet, talking to his mother about it. It can also be a much more organic way to bring up his disability (cheers for having a disabled lead btw! #1 way to get me reading) Is he behind on school work from medical issues? Does he feel guilty about his family having to move? Is he doing better and hoping to get a more normal life?
-Rather than suspiciously convenient billboard, bring in the girls in a more organic way. Maybe he asks his mom to blast some of their music to get pumped up for the new school year.


Ok yeah, I'll fix all that.

Although while I'll concede the first page is pretty much all terrible in terms of "people don't talk like that", I can't really think of a better way to establish tone than "as the top door-to-door botched door installation personal injury lawyer in the world". Like, the story is supposed to be somewhat over the top and absurd, and I don't want to take that away for the sake of realistic dialogue.

swamp:
SWAMP'S MEDICAL CORNER-
Okay, what the heck is wrong with Rick Weeks? If you're writing a medical condition, it can give you some great tools to work with in terms of obstacles, conflicts, and characterization, but you need a clear sense of direction. Sick since he was born with a horrible reaction to the flu says immune issue, artificial heart says heart issues. I'd just stick to heart issues, and do some research on the effects of artificial heart transplants.
Neither of these would be fixed by moving to a warmer client. In fact, as somebody who's condition can cause some heart problems, heat actually puts more strain on your heart, and there isn't exactly clear air in big Cali cities. It would be far more likely that he'd move to be near a hospital or doctor. This could also be a chance to bring in idols. Maybe they had to move for medical access, and he put in a vote to move near his favourite stars.
Also, added from later but.... how did he not die during that workout routine. Like... if he doesn't also have a future tech artificial heart, he hasn't got great chances without a lifespan taking it easy. That whole scene I was just “on no this child is going to die”


It was indeed supposed to be "immune issues + heart condition", but yeah I clearly didn't do enough research. Cutting it down to one makes sense - and that cutting it down would be to the artificial heart, as that fits the themes of the rest of the story more (given that the rest of the main cast have prosthetics too, although theirs are more futuristic).

I agree that the moving for medical access is a better choice there.

Also, my plan was for the next chapter to be Rick basically dying. Like, after the mile run that Scarlet's forcing Rick to do. She learns a lesson about pushing Rick too hard, and also not to be as much of an asshole in general. With that said, I'll make sure to edit the first part of the arc so that it's clear Rick's having difficulties from the start.

swamp:
MAJOR TAKE AWAYS

Your twist is a big issue. I get the impression the mislead was your opening idea, and it's a fun joke, but it also totally shoots you in the foot for a joke you only get to play once. I feel like you got excited about surprising a reader, without really thinking through who the reader is. People who come from your other works might know what they're in for, in which case, it's just a boring wait for the action to kick in, but everyone else will get lost at the summary or the twist. You are limiting your audience to “people who want to read a stereotypical harem story, then react well to being mocked for that and getting an action story with little romance instead”, which is not a big slice.
If you still want that joke, I'd flip it and make it clear early on Rick is in the wrong genre, and have the humor coming from “confused harem guy who can't understand that he's in an action story”, but that causes problems on my next point


Thing is, I'm not sure how to make the story more clear that it's in the action genre (and that Rick is the only confused one) in the first chapter. I guess make it more clear that Scarlet is coming back from some sort of combat, or show Olive's magnetism when she first shows up?

Also, I'd debate it being a joke I can only play once - as while the genre won't flip again, I have plenty of opportunities to introduce new concepts that come from complete left field in this story.

swamp:
So Rick's problem is that he is a harem protag, even if he doesn't have the harem. Here's what I know about him
-He has grey hair
-He's sick
-He likes a band
We're told he's resourceful, but the fire alarm thing didn't impress me that much. I admit to a grudge against boring harem dudes, so my opening question was “what about this dude should make three pop stars fall in love with him”. Now it's “why should three badass robots want to train him” and.... still looking for an answer.


Hm. My goal with Rick's character is that his strengths are street smarts/resourcefulness and kindness. And it's difficult to get that point across in one fight where Rick has no idea what's going on.

Maybe I can make the girls decision to train him more reluctant? Like, he discovered their secret, so their only options are to train him or kill him, and Olive doesn't want to kill a classmate?

swamp:
Your action writing is obviously your comfort zone, but your dialogue feels really stilted and it's probably the weakest point. Being comedy doesn't totally get your out of realism, just like you can't play bad anatomy as Picasso. Learn to nail it first, then you can use hamminess and cliché on purpose. I'd recommend listening to people and writing down the way they talk, listen to some good comedy and see how they blend that realism with humor.

You also need to stop formatting thoughts like dialogue. “This method doesn't work,” he thought, convincing the audience he was talking out loud until the dialogue tag. Italics would be most standard.

You're writing is fun, but you need to solve the core summary problem and polish your dialogue skills to let your humor and concept shine. Keep writing and good luck!


All right, thanks for the tips!

(oh, and the thoughts formatted like dialogue is just a mistake. It seems the formatting goes away when copying text into photoshop, so I'm not surprised I missed some re-italicizing.)
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11th Sep 2018, 11:51 PM #13
MissElaney

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SCHVAMP

Can you gimme an email address in PM or otherwise to lemme know where to send this here script to
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12th Sep 2018, 12:55 AM #14
swamp
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snuffysam:Hmm... the issue is that the characters aren't drawn, they're 3D models. I'll have to figure something out to get the renderer to put outlines on the noses properly...

Also, did you think the lack of noses/lip outlines was a problem with the vector art versions (on the top bar and at the end of chapters), or just a problem with the 3D models?


Doesn't bother me on the vectors. I'd just go in and add in noses in an art program after. Should be a lot easier, especially since you're using them over and over.

snuffysam:Although while I'll concede the first page is pretty much all terrible in terms of "people don't talk like that", I can't really think of a better way to establish tone than "as the top door-to-door botched door installation personal injury lawyer in the world". Like, the story is supposed to be somewhat over the top and absurd, and I don't want to take that away for the sake of realistic dialogue.


As I said, comedy doesn't get you out of weak dialogue. It's kinda like using Picasso as an excuse not to learn anatomy. Picasso could do what he did because he learned to do it right first, then play with it.
Let's take the first four lines



snuffysam:Hm. My goal with Rick's character is that his strengths are street smarts/resourcefulness and kindness. And it's difficult to get that point across in one fight where Rick has no idea what's going on.


Don't wait until the action starts to tell us about him. All of these traits make sense outside of combat.
For example, maybe flip the dialouge with his parents leaving. Perhaps they don't want to leave their son alone, and he insists he can take care of himself. Moving is also a great time to show resourcefulness. He can't lift boxes, so what can he do to help?
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12th Sep 2018, 1:01 AM #15
snuffysam

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Ok, that all makes sense. I'll work on that for when I edit the first chapter!
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12th Sep 2018, 1:33 AM #16
swamp
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Good luck! Editing can be a pain, but it's kinda fun in a way. And feels very powerful for us webcomickers who usually don't get to.
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12th Sep 2018, 2:53 AM #17
MissElaney

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oh god i sent it

what have i done
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12th Sep 2018, 4:50 AM #18
swamp
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Ikon has the notes!
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12th Sep 2018, 6:55 AM #19
MissElaney

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Thhhhankyou~!

Re: pacing of the chapter,
I share your concern! It's definitely a pacing contrast, maybe too slow, especially after chapter one essentially pacing like "Yo! Check out this skinhead! He's about to get thrown into a tablesaw! Just kidding! <hardbass>But now we have parking lot fights and adidas!</hardbass>"

I might see about shaving the opening scene to 5 pages instead of 8. Not sure how just yet because my initial attempts at shaving it makes it feel abrupt to me, but I probably could figure something out. The first candidate on the chopping block right now is the first page because what characterization it does offer is minimal, so it mostly exists for humor.

But if I can't shave it to 5 pages, I'll put 2 or 3 pages up at a time until we get past the scene, so that the audience wait-time is compensated.

Re: seeing Abram as the villain of the situation
That genuinely didn't occur to me! My fear was honestly people seeing Anna as an enabler and being turned off of her character...Because she totally is an enabler. With golden intentions, but still an enabler. Anyway, yeah, I didn't think about that, my concerns being laser-focused on Anna. I will see what I can do, although I'm very likely to keep it as-is (with exception of your dialogue suggestions and some of the points you rose, thank you for those)

Re: copious research
HAHAHA YOU HAVE NO IDEA
OH GOD
AND I'M STILL TERRIFIED THAT EVERYTHING IS WRONG

My favorite line in the entire chapter is, hands down,
"18,000 rubles? I have five dollars."

Because it's just, wow, that disparity.

I went tracking down modern-day unofficial taxi cab prices online and averaged out the uh, rubles per mile, converted that into 1995 prices, then converted that into October 1995 prices in USD, and its probably wrong, but the point is the disparity of 18 THOUSAND rubles versus just, just five dollars, and apparently five dollars is enough to make the cab driver just be like "WELL THEN IN THAT CASE"

(because aleks is giving him the equivalent of ~22,000 rubles when the guy asked for 18, this is stuff NONE OF YOU WILL KNOW OR APPRECIATE BUT ME)
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12th Sep 2018, 7:17 AM #20
swamp
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I didn't really see anyone as the villain. It felt like... imperfect people doing what they can, but I think readers usually tend to try and pick a 'bad guy', and will rarely choose the young and attractive character, even if they're.... literally doing crime. Readers are going to be hard on Anna, but Abram is important in that... your stakes assume the reader wants Abram to live. If they see Anna as an obstacle to that, there's still tension, but if they just think it's his own dang fault, the stakes will be Aleks' safety only, which means they're in a position of "I hope this dude dies so Aleks can be free!"

But perhaps I am getting too carried away with hypothetical readers. I hope you don't overthink the pace and cut too much scene either.

Yeah. I think comics, like a lot of work, is working so hard that the reader never has to think of your hard work. Art so clean and writing so good their wholly immersed. History sucks because a single paperclip will throw off a picky reader (especially since your story has a lot of cars and guns, two things people get wild picky about) and sometimes even doing it right seems off.

Good luck with chapter 2!
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