Author Topic: The Criticism Thread  (Read 28659 times)

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #60 on: February 20, 2012, 11:41:11 pm »
If you do see any more monsters, it probably won't be anything from any DND manual.

ducky_worshiper

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #61 on: February 21, 2012, 10:59:19 am »
How about just, like, wildlife?  I mean Bern rode her horse for weeks through the land and there wasn't even a cameo by like, a bunny or anything.

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #62 on: February 21, 2012, 02:42:21 pm »
Yeah, that's because I've never been that great at drawing animals, so I tend to avoid it.  And even if I did draw a bunny, it would just be a background element.  Well, maybe I could have one of the characters get a pet or something...

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #63 on: February 21, 2012, 03:28:07 pm »
OOOOOOOhhhhh The Killer Bunny of St Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh  ;D
What good is dreaming it if you don't actually do it?.

ducky_worshiper

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #64 on: February 22, 2012, 01:06:08 am »
And even if I did draw a bunny, it would just be a background element. 

I'm not trying to sound argumentative, but those are the sort of background elements that draw people into the world and make the setting feel like an actual world and not just a few things hastily drawn to prop up the only 5 people who matter/exist. 

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #65 on: February 22, 2012, 03:00:51 pm »
That's certainly a good point.  Well, I did give Danzig a pet dog back in chapter 21, if that counts!

ducky_worshiper

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #66 on: February 23, 2012, 04:13:03 am »
Oh definitely.  And like I said, I'm not trying to be argumentative or even to imply that the world you've created thus far is insufficient or lacking or doesn't draw in the reader.  I'm just saying that it'd be nice to see occasional glimpses that there really is a world behind them and not just a bunch of scenery for their adventures.

Enkida

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #67 on: April 27, 2012, 11:43:19 am »
The new video ads on the site are horrible.  you can close the monstrosity after it auto plays but it's still a pain in the ass.  anything autoplaying with sound = lose anyway, you should complain to your web hosts
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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #68 on: May 16, 2012, 08:03:21 am »
The videos are gone but now I see a full page 2012 Optima car ad spread that not only completely takes up the entire real estate of the first page on iPad Safari, but also covers the comic image and menu items up to the blog entries. I think you should keep on complaining to Keenspot about these invasive ads.
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Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #69 on: May 16, 2012, 10:57:57 am »
That's weird, because I never see these ads myself... I'll look into it, though.

9_6

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #70 on: June 03, 2012, 07:26:28 am »
You should really pay more attention to movement.

Just some "movement lines" are not enough to convey a motion.
This has always been a weakness of yours. Action scenes tend not to convey motion at all.

Furtermore, you could vary camera angles a bit to make pages more interesting to look at.
Try to experiment with how much you can convey with as little as possible.

But yeah, be a bit more conscious about your action lines.
Most of those buggers are a straight downward line page after page after page and that is just boring to look at.
You should loosen up a bit.
Be more daring.

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #71 on: June 04, 2012, 09:29:57 am »
Those are good suggestions.  However, in the case of the panel with Regina, I don't know if "conveying movement" is really the main thrust of that panel.  The problem with doing it the way you suggest is that it looks like a hair commercial, which I think adds some unintended comedy to the page.  I wanted it to be a panel of her simply rising out of the water, not dramatically thrusting out of the water... and how do you portray that?  Do all movements have to be dramatic thrusts?  It's hard to know when to do that, and subtlety is hard to convey.  To be fair, I agree that the way I drew the panel is a bit too static, IMO the biggest problem is the way I drew the water.

I do agree that I need more variety in my panels... when it's just simple conversations like this, I do have a tendency to draw simplistic head on shots.  I wouldn't want to do it the way you showed in your example because that would overplay this scene and make it look dramatic when it isn't... but I think you're right, I do need more variety, actually I think what I need to do is more medium and especially long shots.  But the problem with those is that they require more background work, and to be frank I get bored of drawing the same backgrounds over and over.  I'll work on that, though.  I'll also think about trying more extreme close ups and angled shots when it seems right to use them in a panel.

charles

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #72 on: June 06, 2012, 01:06:24 pm »
I do think you're very good at background work though.  Something I've seen in Anime here and there are sudden panels that focus on a portion of the background either to show time passing or to just explore the scenery a bit while the characters are doing some undramatic talking.  It can be great to have just one panel such as that in a page with a lot of small headshot panels to remind the reader of where they are in the page and can give some variance without over dramatising the scene as you're concerned about with too many angles on the headshots.  I think it just sets the whole scene and feel of the page much better but to be honest I think you've actually done an awesome job of including a lot of background for quite sometime now.

The only other thing I can think is the use of flashbacks or flashovers to other people and scenes as they're discussed or diagrams such as the strategy against Danzig or the portal idea.  I think you've been including all those in the places it's necessary, but if you feel a page might be a bit bland and the characters are discussing character you can flashover (rather than back) to the character as he or she is being talked about and possibly get a bit if background variety depending on their location at the time.  Only example I can think of is Suspira/Inverness as Crest and Maytag were discussing their sleeping arrangement but admittedly you only had 1.5 pages of that conversation.

On the water rising.  I think I get what you're indicating.  She didn't exactly rise slowly out of the water but she didn't do some jumping thrust and fling back of the hair.  It was a quick but not dramatic rise and I agree the water probably needed a bit more movement but if you were to look at the hair, maybe just her fringe a bit and possibly dip the back of the hair in a bit rather than the straight line down that it has in that panel or having the hair completely rushing over her shoulder.
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Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #73 on: June 06, 2012, 03:37:09 pm »
Something I've seen in Anime here and there are sudden panels that focus on a portion of the background either to show time passing or to just explore the scenery a bit while the characters are doing some undramatic talking.

Yes!  I've been thinking that I should incorporate more things like this in my pages.  I will definitely try to do so.

I think it just sets the whole scene and feel of the page much better but to be honest I think you've actually done an awesome job of including a lot of background for quite sometime now.

"Awesome" is too generous, I try but sometimes I don't try hard enough, and I think you can kinda tell that pages this chapter are noticably sloppy... it's because I was rushing to get them all done so that I wouldn't have to do an intermission strip for the convention.  I had a wedding and then 2 conventions in a row and it's been a bit rough keeping up... but since I just did a 6 page intermission I didn't want to resort to doing more.  Some people would probably say that I should've just done some intermission strips rather than rushing the pages, but I think it's far more important to keep deadlines when I can, and I'm moderately happy with the way the pages turned out.

It was a quick but not dramatic rise and I agree the water probably needed a bit more movement but if you were to look at the hair, maybe just her fringe a bit and possibly dip the back of the hair in a bit rather than the straight line down that it has in that panel or having the hair completely rushing over her shoulder.

Yeah, you're right.  The hair needed to show a bit more movement, as well.  Nothing too dramatic, but if I had combined that with a more realistic looking water splash I think it would have looked great.

charles

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #74 on: June 07, 2012, 02:26:44 am »
I remembered this quote I made below when your backgrounds came into question.

Every now and then I see an entire page, like page 14 of chapter 26, where there are no backgrounds and the whole thing feels a bit empty.  Even if its only a single panel with just a few basic lines, showing a wall, floor of item of furniture, it just seems to give so much more to the entire page.

Also, animals.  Not enough of them or fantasy animals/creatures/monsters.  Seriously, what happened to Maxmillian?

I only checked back through the last few chapters, not all the way back to Chapter 26, but the closest I came was page 19 of Chapter 31 and really it was only 5 panels and you needed a focus on the expressions of the characters.  Page 21 of that chapter had it as well but the immediate page preceding it was choc full of background, so read in a sitting I don't think it'd feel out of place.  almost every page actually had at least one panel with detailed background and many had more or like the recent Chapter 33 pages 6-8 you have at least a few lines indicating the pool edge and the water in almost every panel, so it's not really empty.

I'm just always amazed at how you seem to understand the layout of your homes and scenery so that even if we haven't seen it for ages, it still matches up perfectly.  Vajra's house was a particularly good one.  I remember working at it a while back to figure out the layout and it all fit in with every view of rooms and even the view from outside.

The main place I recall scenery panels with text bubbles used on a regular basis was Elfen Lied such as this page: http://i16.mangareader.net/elfen-lied/8/elfen-lied-1886889.jpg  Its a poor example since there's some drama occurring but I do recall that there were pages of characters doing nothing but talking out their feelings in a park and every now and then it would just have a smaller panel of only a section of scenery with some speech bubble/s in it... Here's a sort of example in the first (top right) panel. http://i7.mangareader.net/elfen-lied/11/elfen-lied-1887701.jpg
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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #75 on: June 16, 2012, 04:59:03 pm »
Okay, 2 things you have been doing for *ages*.
First off, lips:

She either has an unrealistically thin lower lip or murderously large lips.
My guess is the latter so I'll just throw in that the stylistical choice of making specular highlights black is... questionable.
So consider dropping that reverse hitler beard and consider if may really has... this:

I mean if that is your thing, have at it.

Another thing, eyes:


You have a tendency to make characters cross eyed.
Try to avoid that or they look... well, cross eyed.
Your eyes won't cross like that unless what you're looking at is very, very close to your face.
Like, right in front of it.

I guess that is not the case in this scene.
I can tell because regina would be blocking the view on may if she were that close.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2012, 05:03:37 pm by 9_6 »

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #76 on: June 16, 2012, 11:08:09 pm »
On the lips, I disagree with you.  They are supposed to be as big as the second example, and I don't care if it would look silly on a real person, I think it looks good with my artstyle.  The black mark on her lower lip is basically just a reverse highlight to add depth.  I like the way that looks as well.  I think that if I did actually shade the lips, as you did in your example, it might look a bit silly and bother me, but with just the hint of lips from those lines I think it's okay for them to be that big.

I didn't use to draw May's lips so big, but now I tend to err on the side of bigger is better.  For one thing it's unusual in manga, for another it's a subtle thing to make her face stand out from other character's faces.  If I toned down her big lips and drew them at a more realistic size, her lips wouldn't stand out as much anymore.  So because of this maybe I have a tendency to make them a bit too big, but I still like the way it looks.

Also, IMO you are jury-rigging your argument a little bit by using that pic... it's not only that that woman's lips are big, but they look like they are injected with something.  There are women like Angelie Jolie who have lips about that big and it looks great.  I actually don't think May's lips, the way I draw them, are that much bigger than Angelie Jolie's.

Well, maybe I'll think about toning down May's lips a tiny bit.  Only a tiny bit, though.  I'll see how I feel the next time I draw them.

As for the cross eyed thing, you're right.  That is something I've realized in the past, and I keep forgetting to watch out for that.  I think I have a tendency to not notice if the characters are cross eyed... I think when the eyes are that big it's harder to notice.  I'll try to keep it in mind, though.

charles

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #77 on: June 17, 2012, 12:41:47 am »
I'll have to grab my books and double-check but I have it in my head that you seem to accentuate Maytag's lips more often when she's out of costume than when she's in it.  Again, I'll have to double-check but obviously you don't put in that extra little detail all the time so I can often forget that Maytag has such voluptuous lips and then a close-up hits me.  It could be that her jester hat somehow off-sets the size of her lips so they're just not as noticeable when she's in the suit.

I'll have to check this as well but I usually think you've made Bern's lips fairly narrow in comparison, which I think is somehow a fitting difference between them that sort of fits with their different personalities.  I'd be worried if you made Bern's lips too narrow in comparison but I don't think you have (at least if memory serves me right... then again, maybe Bern's big hair has been off-setting them, much like I suspect Maytag's jester suit has).

Strewth! all this checking to do!  Lucky I have the dead-wood books.

Maybe that bottom lip has been just a tad over-done in a few scenes:

HOT!


HAWT!!!


NOT!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 12:45:12 am by charles »
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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #78 on: June 17, 2012, 02:34:53 pm »
For one thing it's unusual in manga, for another it's a subtle thing to make her face stand out from other character's faces.  If I toned down her big lips and drew them at a more realistic size, her lips wouldn't stand out as much anymore.  So because of this maybe I have a tendency to make them a bit too big, but I still like the way it looks.
Okay then if you wanna do "unusual stuff in manga", why not go all the way and give her an actual mouth?
Like, with definition and all.

In fact screw the eyes, it seems those big dumb eyes is what every manga artist assumes they need to put focus on.
Why don't you try and go for mouths? Give characters definite, recognizable, consistent mouth shapes.
That would be something to make flipside stick out and also kinda suits its theme.

Also, IMO you are jury-rigging your argument a little bit by using that pic... it's not only that that woman's lips are big, but they look like they are injected with something.
That was my point.
It could be interpreted as such because you used pretty vague lines there to describe the mouth.
It seems practicing "manga style" over the years made you afraid to make bold statements, give anything other than eyes clear definition if the character is supposed to be "cute".

That is a shame, really. Unfortunately, you have your "style" established over hundreds of pages by now.
It is ingrained in yourself and the audience that might be alienated by the experimentation I try to encourage so I'm actually not really sure what to suggest.
You're the first case I've seen in which "it's my style" is an actual, valid excuse. Gotta keep that comic consistent after all.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 02:38:57 pm by 9_6 »

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #79 on: June 18, 2012, 01:39:14 am »
Okay then if you wanna do "unusual stuff in manga", why not go all the way and give her an actual mouth?
Like, with definition and all.

When I try doing this with one of the main characters, I never think it looks good.  Part of the problem is that it changes their look pretty severely, and also I feel like it doesn't work well with some types of character designs.  Or perhaps I'm just not good at making it work.

Although, there are certain manga I read with well defined lips.  I LOVE Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, and all his character have well defined lips, and I like the way they look.  Kishiro also does that with some of his characters in Battle Angel.  Recently I've been reading Kimi No Todoke, and the artist uses defined lips on one of the characters to give their face a more unique look from the other character... (and she's one of my favorite characters in that manga too.)

I have no plans to try this with my main characters, I'm happy with the way I'm drawing their lips right now.  Not all characters need to have well defined lips, and I like the way manga artists draw lips using certain lines to convey the shape of lips while letting the reader fill in the blanks.  I think it looks great.  Having said that, I like the idea of using different lip styles and shapes to differentiate characters, and I've already been experimenting with this a bit with Moby and Polly's lips.  The black lips is something I've seen Araki do in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and I think it looks great the way he does it.  I wish I could do mine as well, sometimes Moby in particular looks a little clownish with her big black lips, but Polly seems to come off better since I draw her lips a bit thinner, and also since she has a goth style anyway.

So there you go, two characters with fully formed lips already!  See, I started before you even said anything!

That was my point.
It could be interpreted as such because you used pretty vague lines there to describe the mouth.

Well, I think most people would have to really *want* to see such bloated lips precisely because the lines are vague.  That's the advantage of doing it this way.

It seems practicing "manga style" over the years made you afraid to make bold statements, give anything other than eyes clear definition if the character is supposed to be "cute".

That is a shame, really. Unfortunately, you have your "style" established over hundreds of pages by now.
It is ingrained in yourself and the audience that might be alienated by the experimentation I try to encourage so I'm actually not really sure what to suggest.
You're the first case I've seen in which "it's my style" is an actual, valid excuse. Gotta keep that comic consistent after all.

I think there's room for some experimentation with the art, but as you say it can't really be that "bold", because consistency matters.  But does it really need to be that bold?  I'm generally happy with my style the way it is.  Yes, it's a sort of "manga" style, but I get told that it stands out a lot from most modern manga.

In terms of experimentation and improvement, right now I'm trying to think of ways to make my current roster of characters have more unique faces that stand out from each other.  When I introduce new characters in the future, I'll definitely be thinking of how to give them more unique looks, to stand out from the main cast.  But in terms of "boldness," I think I'm much more likely to be bold with my writing than I am with my art.


Churba

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #80 on: June 18, 2012, 02:46:02 am »
I don't have a critique, this discussion is just really interesting.

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #81 on: July 25, 2012, 09:44:00 pm »
May's legs appear incredibly long in today's strip (third panel).

Today's strip is super creepy, good job.

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #82 on: July 25, 2012, 11:51:27 pm »
You have a tendency to make characters cross eyed.
Try to avoid that or they look... well, cross eyed.
Your eyes won't cross like that unless what you're looking at is very, very close to your face.
Like, right in front of it.

I disagree with the cross-eyed comment. I don't think there's anything wrong with it- Dragonball does it too. And it doesn't look bad or anything.

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #83 on: August 02, 2012, 10:52:12 am »
Agree with 9_6 about the lips.  When reading the comic, I originally stopped and stared at them every time May's lips looked like that, trying desperately to figure out what was going on with them.  It bugged the hell out of me.  I like taking out the black shading as a solution.  It fixes it completely for me.  If her bottom lip is really that big, I think it's weird-looking, but at least I can tell what I'm looking at.  Disagree about the cross-eyed deal though, that never bothered me at all.

Going back a few posts, also totally agree about the Regina panel in the water.  That was another "stop and stare" moment for me, just trying to figure out what was going on there.

I'm no artist though, this is the only Manga-style comic I read, and I have barely seen any other Manga.

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #84 on: August 19, 2012, 10:54:03 pm »
I love this comic and I've read it on and off for a long time!

I hope I won't offend anyone with my opinions, and I just want to remind people I am but one person and this is a purely subjective view.

Okay.... Bern really makes me mad. I'm sorry, she's awesome and caring but... she makes such a poor partner! She's possessive, controlling and typically quite unwilling to 'understand' Maytag or compromise. It seems every time Maytag goes out and tries to have fun or do something interesting Bern has a knee-jerk reaction of a child seeing a toy played with by another child. "No, mine!" And every -single- time it leads in a quasi argument of, "Do you love me?" It's manipulative and shows that she has no trust in Maytag. And it's a scene we have seen over and over again. I thought after that carriage ride something would be different but no... Chapter 27, Page 25 they are right back at it again.

Maytag is trying to become a better person, trying to do better and Bern either doesn't notice (Which would be odd considering how Maytag has announced it a few times and they are lovers) or doesn't care. Maytag is always sacrificing for Bern, and Bern still throws her little hissyfits. Bern, it seems, is always dragging Maytag down be it her magic phobia or her possessiveness.  The only time when I felt that Bern really was listening and trying to understand Maytag was during the carriage ride. And it really impressed me that we got to see a little of how Bern reacted to Maytag's wandering. But then she went back to being immature. (And I mean immature as in 'not mature enough for the kind of relationship she's in right now')

I understand that they are both inherently flawed people, which makes them both interesting. But a loving relationship has to include compromise and understanding. Maybe it's because I identify more with Maytag and find Bern's view restrictive and close minded. We seem to get the same push and pull argument every few chapters. Does anyone else feel that it's starting to grate and become repetitive?

Oh and on the lip argument.... the way he does lips reminds me of Flame of Recca's mangaka. http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg64/Rei_Bender/Renge.jpg
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 10:56:34 pm by EvilParfait »

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #85 on: August 20, 2012, 06:23:20 am »
I love this comic and I've read it on and off for a long time!

I hope I won't offend anyone with my opinions, and I just want to remind people I am but one person and this is a purely subjective view.

Okay.... Bern really makes me mad. I'm sorry, she's awesome and caring but... she makes such a poor partner! She's possessive, controlling and typically quite unwilling to 'understand' Maytag or compromise. It seems every time Maytag goes out and tries to have fun or do something interesting Bern has a knee-jerk reaction of a child seeing a toy played with by another child. "No, mine!" And every -single- time it leads in a quasi argument of, "Do you love me?" It's manipulative and shows that she has no trust in Maytag. And it's a scene we have seen over and over again. I thought after that carriage ride something would be different but no... Chapter 27, Page 25 they are right back at it again.

Maytag is trying to become a better person, trying to do better and Bern either doesn't notice (Which would be odd considering how Maytag has announced it a few times and they are lovers) or doesn't care. Maytag is always sacrificing for Bern, and Bern still throws her little hissyfits. Bern, it seems, is always dragging Maytag down be it her magic phobia or her possessiveness.  The only time when I felt that Bern really was listening and trying to understand Maytag was during the carriage ride. And it really impressed me that we got to see a little of how Bern reacted to Maytag's wandering. But then she went back to being immature. (And I mean immature as in 'not mature enough for the kind of relationship she's in right now')

I understand that they are both inherently flawed people, which makes them both interesting. But a loving relationship has to include compromise and understanding. Maybe it's because I identify more with Maytag and find Bern's view restrictive and close minded. We seem to get the same push and pull argument every few chapters. Does anyone else feel that it's starting to grate and become repetitive?

Oh and on the lip argument.... the way he does lips reminds me of Flame of Recca's mangaka. http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg64/Rei_Bender/Renge.jpg

Maytag has a long, sordid history of cheating on Bern. Call it "free love," call Maytag a "free spirit," say whatever you want, but if informed consent is not given beforehand, it's cheating. Bern has every right to be "possessive," suspicious, even a bit paranoid about May's "encounters." In fact, it would have been well within Bern's rights to dump May at the curb the moment she found out. The fact that she did not shows far more "understanding" than MOST people would be willing to tolerate. Further, there's good reason for Bern to be concerned. Any time a girl spreads her legs for someone, she runs the risk that the "someone" is going to think that there's a lot more relationship there than there actually is. There are MANY people who equate sex with love, and if someone like May "puts out" for a one time fling, they will not let go. They can be also be insanely jealous, and if they find May with someone else, they could become murderous. (Look at Fatal Attraction some time.)

The fact that this has not yet happened is either only a quirk of Brion's universe, or there could well be a jilted "May Lover" in the shadows out there, looking for her since there was a time where she "collected first times" and one of those "firsts" may well not be satisfied until he or she "owns" Maytag.

gyoza

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #86 on: September 12, 2012, 08:59:45 pm »
Hi Brion,

Let me start off by saying my busy schedule means that I sometimes go months without reading webcomics and I tend to lose interest in most of my bookmark list after awhile - but after any webcomic hiatus, Flipside is always one of the first comics I go back to reading, so I think you're doing a fantastic job!

I have just one small issue I remember having from a few months back (if you're no longer doing this then disregard my post). I recognize the need for intermissions; they're occasionally informative, occasionally entertaining, and they give you an (I assume) much-needed breather. But could I suggest not using your 'extra donation pages' on intermission strips? Seeing the meter hit $100 and going 'OOH EXTRA PAGE' and realizing it was an intermission strip is somewhat akin to Bern finally meeting Grant and... okay, not that bad, but you get what I mean  :P

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #87 on: September 14, 2012, 02:50:21 pm »
I have just one small issue I remember having from a few months back (if you're no longer doing this then disregard my post). I recognize the need for intermissions; they're occasionally informative, occasionally entertaining, and they give you an (I assume) much-needed breather. But could I suggest not using your 'extra donation pages' on intermission strips? Seeing the meter hit $100 and going 'OOH EXTRA PAGE' and realizing it was an intermission strip is somewhat akin to Bern finally meeting Grant and... okay, not that bad, but you get what I mean  :P

I don't do this anymore.

BurnGarn

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #88 on: December 19, 2012, 01:38:18 pm »
> stumbled upon this comic via tvtropes.
> started skimming quickly (skipped book 0)
> saw Crest call May scum for trying to cheat   ;D
> skimmed slower
> finally finish chapters nineteen and thirty five X hours later
> stopped reading there  >:(
> skipped to May's wardrobe malfunction
> saw Crest make May cry by pointing out the trust issue with her lying 24/7   ;D
> best male character ever, like some sort of self insertion who acts as a much needed voice of sanity
> monster girl Nessy is <3
> finished reading up to the latest page

So I haven't read everything, but there were a few big letdowns in this otherwise great comic:

First, Kin was killed off. The guy was a total boss, and any development stemming from his demise wasn't worth the loss of such a great character. It seemed like a total waste of an awesome, newly introduced character, and little more than a cheap excuse to give Ness a reason to throw herself at Crest. Sure, the guy deserves to get some hot monster girl tail. But not at the expense of another bro's brutal murder at the hands of a cannibalistic serial killer.

Second, the Bloody Mary arc was such a big disappointment, I couldn't continue reading past the end of it. She started off as an immortal scythe wielding badass who turned out to be kind of a babe and would've probably cleaned up nicely had she ever come out of the cave for a shower. So after a bunch of chapters dedicated to this cute monster girl and her tragic woobieness, I was expecting there to be some sort of satisfactory conclusion that mad me feel a little less bad about how the arc was playing out. More specifically, I was hoping she'd join the heroes as a designated hero/token evil teammate, even if it meant May having to offer her arm as a chew toy for the rest of the comic. In fact, I wonder if there's a gallery image depicting just that, with May blushing suggestively while Mary nibbles at her flesh. Anyway, it wouldn't have made up for the loss of Kin, but the heroes slapping a leash on Mary and bringing her along as a pet people eater would've at least been something of a consolation.

However! The arc ended with Mary running off and May, upon finding out it was impossible to cure her, doing a complete 180 to the point where she appeared to be A-OK with her "friend" being murdered by what I've decided to call the "government goon squad". It felt like the story arc didn't accomplish anything, aside from using and discarding a likeable character, and my opinion of the series mascot nosedived once she easily tossed aside any concern for Mary's wellbeing. Throw in how quick Nessy seemed to move from grieving for Kin to coming onto Crest, and it seemed like the comic had taken a turn for the worse. I began to dislike the characters that seemed so great at first, and didn't really want to see how much worse they could get. Which is why I skipped 10 whole chapters that I consider ruined forever by the Mary Arc ending, and only started skimming again beginning with Maytag's confession in chapter 30 about her true self.  At least her friendly personality being an act explains why she callously sold out Mary to Phalanx.

Although, I did go back and read a little bit of the 20s, but don't get me started on how Glyph(?) wasn't the only one sad to have not had the chance to get to know Kin better, or how stunned I was at Bern denying May sexy fun time. At one time I empathized with her wanting May to be loyal and modest. Now it just comes off as her being a possessive control freak, if she's even started refusing to be intimate with May. Apparently, monogamy no longer means having sex with only one person as much as it does simply not having sex with anyone else no matter how pent up a person is from not getting any. I thought Bern was supposed to be the "guy" in the relationship, but apparently not. She's the inconsiderate wife who puts her own feelings above her partner's need. As much as May's developed into a more caring person, Bern is starting to sound like she's degenerating into someone who takes her relationship for granted. It's a shame Crest is taken, since this sounds like exactly the kind of thing he tagged along for in the first place.

But once the whole "pay money for directions" arc started, and the guy started preaching personal responsibility, well, that just did it for me. It only served to make me feel that much worse that Mary wasn't around to eat their faces. Or that Kin wasn't around to point out the error of their ways. That Bern even entertained their money grubbing ways warranted not just a single but a double facepalm. I began skimming through the past couple chapters again, and with monster girl Nessy gone, and Crest just letting her go, I couldn't think of a single recurring or temporarily present character that I actually liked reading about anymore. Crest's ballsy calling out of wymenz who do crazy shit was no longer present once Nessy started growing a few too many horns out of her skull. May's friend to all living things persona was slipping. Bern was far too pacifistic for her father's own good. And the rest of the characters don't even seem relevant, important or awesome enough to mention. Well, maybe it's also worth mentioning Regina's creepy dialogue about her being a stalker with a crush, leading to the unfortunate implication that she'd much rather be May than be with her. Yikes. That girl was crazy, and I can't help but wonder what the point of her being with that other dude was in the first place if she was just going to run off after the comic's resident sex goddess. Guess that whole plot was pointless.

In the end, I found the first third of the comic (after Book 0) to be absolutely fantastic, but the last two story arcs I read just...seemed to crush the admiration I had for a cast of characters that, up to a certain point, I couldn't find any fault with.  After the halfway point they just seemed to start suffering from badass decay, sanity slippage, poor judgment or just a worsening of their personalities as the story dragged on. It just wasn't much fun anymore, no matter how much nudity or hot girl on girl action was thrown in. It wasn't so much the personality flaws of the characters, which used to make them endearing, as it was the way they were being written in later chapters. Or maybe their worst flaws just became more prominent.  No character development is bad, but developing characters to be more drama prone isn't much of an improvement, either. Still, maybe it's just a matter of Cerberus Syndrome taking root, or the last 15 chapters simply being less interesting than the first 20. Granted, I didn't read 10 of them. But from what I saw of them, there wasn't much worth reading about aside from things like Kin's funeral rehashing one of my biggest beefs with the Mary arc, or Bern's ever increasing prudishness reminding me of one of my biggest beefs with modern wymenz in general.

The only quick fix I can think of to immediately improve the comic would be Bern and May splitting up, so that May could actually become a(/the only) fun character again. Monogamy and modesty hasn't done her any good from a likeability standpoint, and having her be more of a free spirit is the easiest way I can imagine for the comic to be a little more enjoyable to read. Other than that, it's hard to see things getting better without a cerberus retcon of what I see as the two greatest mistakes, or some jesterly silliness, even if the greater prominence of characters' negative traits will still be present.

Then again, I'm just the vocal minority and not even a regular reader, so it doesn't really matter either way. It's just a shame to start a webcomic with a smile, only to wind up with a frown and wondering when exactly it stopped being a good read.

Brion Foulke

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Re: The Criticism Thread
« Reply #89 on: December 19, 2012, 03:49:57 pm »
First, Kin was killed off.

Understandable.  Whenever you kill any character off, no matter who it is, it's always gonna be someone's favorite character.  It's a risk worth taking, though.

Second, the Bloody Mary arc was such a big disappointment......I was hoping she'd join the heroes as a designated hero/token evil teammate, even if it meant May having to offer her arm as a chew toy for the rest of the comic.

Of course this was considered, but from a logical perspective that would've been just too hard to swallow.  But keep in mind that Mary's fate is still up in the air, and there's always the possibility of her return.

and my opinion of the series mascot nosedived once she easily tossed aside any concern for Mary's wellbeing.

I don't think that's true.  It's just that she was put in a difficult moral position where she has no choice but to leave Mary to her fate.  The only people who could've cured Mary claim that she can't be cured, and without that Maytag can't continue to defend Mary without being an accomplice to murder.  That's not to say that Maytag doesn't feel any sadness over Mary's fate, but morally what other choice does she have?

Throw in how quick Nessy seemed to move from grieving for Kin to coming onto Crest, and it seemed like the comic had taken a turn for the worse.

I wasn't trying to portray it as "coming on to Crest," more like just she felt very lonely and needed someone.  At least until the "change" happens.

Apparently, monogamy no longer means having sex with only one person as much as it does simply not having sex with anyone else no matter how pent up a person is from not getting any.

But that's very common in monogamous relationships.  Bernadette wasn't refusing her to be mean, she just didn't feel comfortable given the situation.

The only quick fix I can think of to immediately improve the comic would be Bern and May splitting up, so that May could actually become a(/the only) fun character again.

I don't agree, because that would be throwing away one of the most important underlying themes, which is the contrast between the philosophies of those two characters.  A comic that's just about a free spirited Maytag is a different comic; perhaps it's a good one, but I'd have to ask myself what do I want to say with that story.  But at the moment, I think I have more interesting things to say with Bern and May wanting to be together and make their relationship work.

Then again, I'm just the vocal minority and not even a regular reader, so it doesn't really matter either way. It's just a shame to start a webcomic with a smile, only to wind up with a frown and wondering when exactly it stopped being a good read.

That is a shame.  I'm not sure I fully understand your reasons, but it sort of sounds like you just want to read a different kind of story from the one I'm trying to tell.  If that's the case, there's nothing I can do about it.  But thanks for expressing your thoughts.