Harkovast- the forum

An honest, unbiased review
Jearb at 5:01PM, Sept. 21, 2009
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Good day, sirs! I go by the alias Jearb. I noticed Harkovast not too long ago, and felt the need to review it regardless of whether people listen to me. I read a lot of webcomics (just check my RSS feeds) so I figured I have a pretty good aspect of “good” or “bad” or “so-so”.

First of all, don't get me wrong, I am no artist. By merely looking at some of the comic, I know that the artist is really quite talented. I have trouble drawing cows. So I honestly cannot speak about the talent of the artist or bring that up as a subject.

I can, however, bring up the layout of the comic. I would consider this a little petty, but in my opinion, the mixture of computer-edited fonts and hand-drawn images looks…unfinished. In my opinion, getting a tablet to go along with the fonts would look better, or you could merely write the text in pencil. Whatever works - and heck, keep it that way if you like it and figure it's a “style” by now. The shading looks very well done, so I don't know if switching to a tablet would work.

Next, I apologize, but I have to remark about the anthropomorphic aspect of the comic. I'm going to put this out there early - I don't like humanoid animals in comics, or stories, or, honestly, anything. I feel it's a little overdone, what with Redwall and those owl books and those books about the cats and yadda-yadda.

And lastly (this is really petty)…I don't like how it's hosted on DrunkDuck. The images are fairly large, and they take half a forever for me to load with an only okay internet connection, regardless of all the other noise caused by the social-networking aspect. DrunkDuck does conveniently allow for forums and seems to be free (I haven't really worked with it too much), which is always a plus, but I figure if it's a really serious thing, you would benefit from a switch.

All in all, however, the storyline seems well created and the characters seem solid, so I don't have much to complain about. It doesn't really seem to be my sort of thing, though (I'll stick to Dr. McNinja and Dinosaur Comics). So yeah - My grading: Good, not amazing, not bad.

If you have an opinion or are just angry at me, send me an email (theshakrah@gmail.com). I'll probably check back on this thread, if I can figure out how to subscribe to it.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 5:54PM, Sept. 21, 2009
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Jearb by the standards of my recent reviews, that one was practically glowing!

Let me go through and address the points you raise….

Hand drawn text, to me, always looks ugly and hard to read.
Early on I used it for a few sounds effects, but lookng back I dont like how it comes across.
For dialogue I think it would be a nightmare (especially with my hideous scrawl hand writing!)

I am on Drunk Duck because-
1) I know very little about coding and the complex workings of web page design.
2) It is free and I am poor!
3) It has a really good community around it, which is very encouraging for a writer starting out.

I wouldn't know where to begin hosting it elsewhere even if I wanted too. I never heard of loading time problems on the Duck before, so I cant really comment.

Animal characters…yes that age old problem that any way I slice it, any way I try to claim to be writing an epic fantasy….people will always just call it a furry comic!

Seriously though, I use these types of characters for several reasons. Most obvouisly because I just think they look cool (a point on which we disagree, clearly).
I also use them because Harkovast is a very complex world with a VERY large number of nations and peoples to keep track of (in the region of 30 something different ones I think). Now if they were all humans in different costumes, this would be virtually impossible for people to keep track of. With everyone as a different animal people can quickly recognise who is from which culture in any given scene.
Since the intereactions between the different cultures and races is a central theme of the story, so making this as clear as possible is a huge help.

I also wanted toavoid using Tolkien races (elves, dwarves etc) so I invented my own creatures. Since making a newlook for a creature that is not totally freakish or just humans with pointy ears or a third eye, I decided to make them all animals. This makesthem clearly not human, so the world is alien to us, but still something we can at least relate to a bit.

Thanks for taking an interest though! Sorry to hear it is not completely your sort of thing, I imagine it isn't everyones taste. I write something I would like to read which appeals to what I think is cool. Hopefully it is something other people can get as enthusiastic about as I do!
But I do appreciate your input and encouragement a lot, thanks for reading the comic and posting your thoughts!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Jearb at 6:10PM, Sept. 21, 2009
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Welcome. Figured you get a lot of crap for the whole anthropomorphic comic thing, so merely posted a review.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 6:55AM, Sept. 22, 2009
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posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
Well the comic must be pretty good if it could motivate someone to make an account just to write a review of it!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Jearb at 6:53PM, Sept. 23, 2009
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Eh, whatevers.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 7:43AM, Sept. 24, 2009
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posts: 5,198
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My faovurites just went down by one…I wonder if I just annoyed Jearb into not reading any more!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
tawawawa at 9:34AM, Sept. 28, 2009
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For the text problems, I think putting them in word bubbles would improve the readability and ease the contrast between the traditional art and the digital. http://www.tinykittenteeth.com/ is an example of visually appealing digital text on a painted comic. The bubbles don't always have to be outlined in the same way the characters are, or even have an outline at all. It might take some extra work, but you could probably create a textured outline for the word balloons and it might look very nice depending on how it looks. Check out some past strips for how they outlined the word bubbles for examples.

I personally stuck to the traditional balloon shape and design in my comics. Never drew them on with the strip because I'm a terrible judge of text space but I did leave area in the panels for text. Just a sample strip of an old comic I did with watercolor and crayon for the traditional and digital contrast- http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v316/tawa/comics/bam009.jpg

The balloons will also help in telling who's talking without the use of different fonts for everyone ( a pet peeve of mine in comics, makes it more difficult to read ).

Sorry for the additional review outta nowhere.
I have no comic! I feel so… naked!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 11:09AM, Sept. 28, 2009
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posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
Additional reviews are always welcome!
If nothing else, it shows people are reading the comic and paying attention.
Also, I'm always glad for an opportunity to talk about Harkovast!

The lack of defined speach bubbles does get complaints, but I just like the way it looks, Its sort of become part of the landscape of the comic, if that makes sense.
I also really like the different fonts. Their purpose is to show when people have a different accent (Shogun speaks with a Tsung-Dao accent for example.) I guess sometimes these things are just a matter of taste!
But thanks for the feedback, as I say, it is greatly appreciated!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
tawawawa at 2:23PM, Sept. 28, 2009
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I'd try writing out different accents rather than relying on fonts for a more direct way of showing that these races and cultures have their own way of speaking. I know some would be harder than others to put into type though.

Also, one note I forgot about the text- it's left aligned! Comics are usually have text that's centered. It's more visually pleasing and does not leave you with a heavy looking left side or odd single words left on the left end, instead they are tucked right in the middle giving a balanced look.

Glad you're enjoying the feedback!
I have no comic! I feel so… naked!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 4:51PM, Sept. 28, 2009
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posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
Ooooh making it centre aligned is actually a really good idea. Thanks for that, I'll give it a go on the next update. I just have to work out how to do that in Photoshop….

When you say writing out the accent, do you mean in the way The Speaker does to make him seem to be from the southern US states?
Because I think that might start to get offensive after a while.
How do I “write” someone with a Chinese or Japanese sounding accent, without making it horrible offensive?
I think that method will run into limits very quickly, especially when you consider the sheer number of different races involved (over 25).
Also, I like that not all the accents are particularly defined as an accent we on earth can recognise (it is, after all, another world). And I suppose it leaves it open to the imagination of the reader a bit.

I first saw the concept in the Asterix comic books and it amused me no end as an interesting way to demonstrate what language or accent someone used.
So if you want to blame anyone for that blame the French.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM

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