Comic Talk and General Discussion *

hpkomic's big ol' "Review Your Comics Thread"
hpkomic at 1:03PM, April 22, 2022
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Hello, I go by hpkomic, and I am a long-running user on the site since the early days, pre-Wowio, and I have recently come back to share some of my newest comics on the website.

But that is not why I am here in this thread right now. Instead, I want to review comics from The Duck. Back in the day (which you'll probably hear from me a lot from here on), I was a voracious reader and frequent commenter in comics all over the side, often providing feedback. I would also offer reviews, but I try to avoid unsolicited advice and reviews because some people get upset about these things, no matter how gentle you may be about it.

So, I would like to review your comics using this thread. You can post your comics or specific pages, and I will give you a fair and critical assessment of the work. Never mean, but honest.

But what of my qualifications? Well, I have an MA in literature and writing studies, teach composition at a college level, and have created comics for well over a decade that have been published across several companies, such as Antarctic Press and MTV Networks.

I also have a side gig as a reviewer and have a lot of reviews floating around on the net. I mainly review horror for HauntedMTL.com. Most has been film criticism, but I also have an ongoing horror comic review column. I have dabbled in some long-ass reviews of webcomics independently before.

So yeah, what I am offering here is feedback either on specific pages or overall impressions. How long might these reviews be? Who knows, probably not as long as some of my examples, but you never know how much I have to say. Please post your comics you want me to review, and I'll work my way down the thread; but please, one at a time. Also, be specific, is this for overall impressions, or is this for a particular page?

With that being said, I am hoping that my feedback could be valuable. And by all means, please feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt as this is a highly personal medium to us all; just understand that my assessments are very much based on me explaining my reasoning.
fallopiancrusader at 3:18PM, April 22, 2022
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Wow, that's a very generous offer of your time! I'd welcome any comments or impressions of my comic Tusk. I'm interested in hearing your impressions of the overall comic. There are about 100 pages in the story so far.

Thanks in advance!
Furwerk studio at 3:56PM, April 22, 2022
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Okay, I'm game.

Nakamura Rex.

Just a huge warning, this is extremely adult and fetishy and I made it during some dark periods of my life I am finally pull out of.

If you need something more, mass populace friendly, I got my gag/random thought comic Live action movies are just photo cartoons. and it's follow up/restart Radio Free long box.
last edited on April 22, 2022 3:58PM
hpkomic at 9:02PM, April 22, 2022
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fallopiancrusader wrote:
Wow, that's a very generous offer of your time! I'd welcome any comments or impressions of my comic Tusk. I'm interested in hearing your impressions of the overall comic. There are about 100 pages in the story so far.

Thanks in advance!

I already had Tusk on my favorites list because I stumbled onto it and was immediately intrigued. I won't go too crazy with my thoughts because, well, I am tired.

Overall, I think it is a very impressive comic and one I will check in on repeatedly. The art initially draws me in, but the story itself, while a bit of stock in fantasy tropes, keeps me reading. I think the writing is appropriate for the work and the whole project gives me the feeling of something that would be published in Heavy Metal magazine. The art looks to me to be heavily referenced from photos, which is not a problem, to me. There is plenty of work done to build on those references if that is the process. Is it? I'd love to know. I also appreciate that the colors in the comic are very focused on where the action is. Characters are wonderfully colorful and backgrounds are handled just enough in most cases to give us depth and staging without overwhelming the panels.

Composition is a bit hit or miss for me, but I'll clear up the miss in a bit. As for the hit, the framing within the panels is largely excellent. Dynamic angles, good sense of depth, nice variation in how we see the characters. No succession of shoulder-up face reactions multiple times.

So, obviously, sex appeal is part of why many readers will like Khthonis. She is a sexy, muscled, green warrior woman in a bikini wielding swords and cracking skulls. I mean, if you're trying to write a character I am interested in off the bat, that's pretty much exactly how to do it. She is great to look at. It also doesn't feel pandering, though, mostly due to the confidence displayed by the character. I do think there is more depth to the character that can be explored, but as she stands now, she is good. She also looks good doing it. Also looking good are the action scenes where posing is dynamic, and I get a clear sense of what is going on in the sequence. I never had an issue where I was like “what just happened” or “where is this taking place relative to the previous panel.”

Other characters are serving their roles well, but the comic just isn't far enough to get a sense of developments or standouts in the surrounding cast. That's less of a problem and more of an opportunity, though.

Now, for some criticisms.

I am not a fan of the dialogue. I think it is functional at best and somewhat bland at worst. Sometimes the dialogue sounds very contemporary, and I am not sure if that is the effect you are going for. I personally don't think it works.

Now, the work within the panels is excellent, but the paneling itself isn't working for me because the updates are generally very, very short, so there isn't a whole lot of composition at play here, and no real pacing that comes from the paneling. My theory is that this was originally a scrolling comic that has been carved up into smaller updates. It is the best that can be done at times. I have the opposite issue with my comic on Tapas, but it's clear I am not seeing the panels are they are intended to be seen.

I also think the small two to three panel updates harm the pacing of the overall narrative. This gets better after the first story, but it remains a problem throughout. Despite all the clicking it takes to get through the comic, I also don't really feel like I am progressing very far in the story.

My major criticism with the art itself is that sometimes the work toward realism in the painting doesn't land quite as well as I'd hope. For example, on this page I think the exaggerated facial expressions are a bit too broad, especially combined with the body language. Ironically enough, I feel better about the next page which is more subtle and not so reliant on her face to convey the mood. I would argue, oddly enough, that on the first example you could have conveyed that sequence more effectively across three panels, maybe even two.

I think too much detail can be a problem. Some of my favorite pages are when you are pulled back from your characters enough to where you don't get all the intricacies of the rendering and they have more simplified features.

Overall: I really enjoy Tusk and ended up having more thoughts to share about it than I had originally intended. I think it is a quality comic, and I'm going to keep up on it as best I can. I do have some minor quibbles, but they aren't things to worry about too much and can be easily adjusted.
lothar at 5:30AM, April 23, 2022
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good to see you back here HP . we both joined on the same day


EDIT - hmmm Jan 3 ? I gues im a liar
last edited on April 23, 2022 5:31AM
fallopiancrusader at 8:22AM, April 23, 2022
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@hpkomic
Thanks so much for the comments! They were really helpful.

I'll try to answer some of your questions below:

hpkomic wrote:
The art looks to me to be heavily referenced from photos, which is not a problem, to me. There is plenty of work done to build on those references if that is the process. Is it? I'd love to know.

Ideally, I would never want to draw any panel of my comics without some kind of reference. Even background skies are drawn while looking at references. I believe that the only way to grow as an artist (at least as a classical figurative artist) is to draw from nature constantly. That's the only way to increase one's visual knowledge of the world. That goes for referencing other artists as well. If I can't figure out an artistic problem myself, I will try to find out how other artists did it. For example, this stagecoach sequence was done while constantly referring to the art of Frederic Remington, because he's a master of drawing horses. If I can't find a reference on the googlenet, or take a photo myself, then I will build a 3D model to look at.

My theory is that this was originally a scrolling comic that has been carved up into smaller updates.

The pages were originally laid out in trade paperback format (6.75 x 10.25 inches) and then re-formatted to be displayed on the horizontal format of a computer monitor. So each printed page becomes roughly two updates of the webcomic. You can see the pages of this comic as they were originally intended to be viewed here on my dedicated website

Well, thanks again, and if you are ever interested in another bout of masochism, I would love to hear your thoughts on Mindfold, my other comic here on the duck, whenever you have the inclination to delve into it. The pages of Mindfold, as they were originally intended to be viewed, are also viewable on the website that I linked above.
Ironscarf at 8:31AM, April 23, 2022
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My new comic Ghastley Heights doesn't have many pages yet, but it's in a different style and a new format for me, so any thoughts on what's working or not working so far would be gratefully received. :)
 
usedbooks at 5:00PM, April 23, 2022
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I'm not particularly polished, but if you want more stuff to critique, I have plateaued at a sad elevation for a long time and wouldn't mind a fresh eye and honest suggestions on the newer stuff in Used Books.

I don't think an individual page would be helpful for me (and the archives don't do anyone favors), so maybe a cursory glance through the latest arc – starting at page 1482 (a bit under 50 pages ago). (It's a backstory, not my usual cast.)
hpkomic at 12:57PM, April 24, 2022
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Furwerk studio wrote:
Okay, I'm game.

Nakamura Rex.

Just a huge warning, this is extremely adult and fetishy and I made it during some dark periods of my life I am finally pull out of.

If you need something more, mass populace friendly, I got my gag/random thought comic Live action movies are just photo cartoons. and it's follow up/restart Radio Free long box.

Okay, gonna run with Nakamura Rex because it is so outside my usual boxes. I'll keep in mind that it is a time capsule.

So, having read all 50 pages, I can say this isn't my cup of tea. I have a few criticisms, but I certainly do not think the work is without merit. I just may not be the target audience. I also feel that some of the things I have trouble with regarding the comic craft itself may also be holding this one back from being more than a novelty inspired by a rough patch.

So, my first real concern is the art. The art is rough in the sense it is very loose and only gets looser and more abstract as the comics go on. Character designs are pretty barebones, and the staging is very flat overall. I do not get a good sense of depth and figure from the artwork, and at times it can be tough to figure out what I am seeing because everything feels so loose, almost scribbled. For example, it took me a long time to parse what was going on with this page, far too long. I am unsure if this is intentional, such as an attempt to have the art reflect the energy of the narrative, but it largely does not work for me.

As for the writing, the reliance on narration is a bit much as we're told things over seeing them in a primarily visual medium. However, the narration also becomes essential because the images are frequently unclear. It's a catch-22 situation.

Also unclear is the hand-lettering early on. I had to repeatedly stop and re-read some dialogue because I wasn't sure what I was reading in cramped hasty sentences and fragments. It gets better as you switch over to typed lettering. But then you return to hand-written lettering again.

Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the darker themes with the furry character designs just doesn't click for me. Furries and sexualization aren't necessarily unrelated, but something about the attitude toward sex exhibited in these comics bothers me. For example, the lead offers to solve a case in order to raw dog some sex workers.

The nastiness and darkness of the setting would go over better if I got the sense the comic was going somewhere with it, perhaps making a larger point, but I simply didn't get a sense of that. It is especially tough when the characters say some pretty questionable things, and the narrative doesn't really push back against them significantly. The lead is an oversexed raccoon mage sex worker but is also complicit in exploiting others.

There are a few elements I found interesting. I think this page communicates the passage of time and hardship well. I also think your art was at its best in the third story. I think there could be a potential throughline of the fusion of sex and magic, and there are moments where you almost get to it, but you never quite develop it. The later pages featuring the protagonist having sex with an egregore based on his adopted mother are interesting but not treated as disturbing as they should be. Again, getting close to something but not sticking the landing.

Overall: Just not my speed. I couldn't really find a point within it where I was compelled to continue reading or was invested in what was going on. I also feel the looseness of the art is detrimental to the darker themes approached.
Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:51AM, April 25, 2022
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I have recently reuploaded all of the pages of my comic Endtide, changing the format from a typical sequential art format to something closer to a picture book sort of format that I'm thinking about using for all of my comics henceforth, since it is a lot faster and easier to produce and also gives me more expressive freedom, as well as brings me closer to my novelist sensibilities. Its only seven pages in so far, but I wouldn't mind hearing what impression you get from the format itself above all. Anything you have to say about it all I'd love to hear.
last edited on April 25, 2022 12:58AM
sleeping_gorilla at 1:23PM, April 26, 2022
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Ha ha. No thanks. I got reviewed once and got destroyed, I tried to take the advice and improve my work. Had it reviewed again a year later, and got destroyed again. It turns out I can't handle criticism.
hpkomic at 6:09PM, April 26, 2022
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good to see you back here HP . we both joined on the same day


EDIT - hmmm Jan 3 ? I gues im a liar

Hello again Lothar! I hope you are doing well. Feel free to hit me up.

My new comic Ghastley Heights doesn't have many pages yet, but it's in a different style and a new format for me, so any thoughts on what's working or not working so far would be gratefully received. :)

Next on my list, read it and liked it, just haven't written anything down due to some stuff on my plate.

I'm not particularly polished, but if you want more stuff to critique, I have plateaued at a sad elevation for a long time and wouldn't mind a fresh eye and honest suggestions on the newer stuff in Used Books.

I don't think an individual page would be helpful for me (and the archives don't do anyone favors), so maybe a cursory glance through the latest arc – starting at page 1482 (a bit under 50 pages ago). (It's a backstory, not my usual cast.)

Always good to see you. Hopefully, I'll get to you in a couple of days.

I have recently reuploaded all of the pages of my comic Endtide, changing the format from a typical sequential art format to something closer to a picture book sort of format that I'm thinking about using for all of my comics henceforth, since it is a lot faster and easier to produce and also gives me more expressive freedom, as well as brings me closer to my novelist sensibilities. Its only seven pages in so far, but I wouldn't mind hearing what impression you get from the format itself above all. Anything you have to say about it all I'd love to hear.

I am looking forward to diving into this one.

Ha ha. No thanks. I got reviewed once and got destroyed, I tried to take the advice and improve my work. Had it reviewed again a year later, and got destroyed again. It turns out I can't handle criticism.

I'm not all that mean, but I get it.
bravo1102 at 12:21AM, April 27, 2022
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sleeping_gorilla wrote:
Ha ha. No thanks. I got reviewed once and got destroyed, I tried to take the advice and improve my work. Had it reviewed again a year later, and got destroyed again. It turns out I can't handle criticism.
Was curious as to when and how someone would say this.
My comics have had mostly positive reviews over the years and now the current one got featured and bumped into the top ten for a brief time. But review? It's not that I can't take criticism, it's that I'm already very hard on myself and doing this is often a bitter struggle so I'd rather not submit the current mess to expert critique right now.
hpkomic at 12:01AM, May 18, 2022
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Alright, it is now time to dive into Ghastley Heights. Going to keep it to a reasonable length. In truth, I had read through the archive like two weeks ago, but time makes fools of us all.

So, I really enjoy what I read, and having caught the last couple of strips since I last read it, it's still a swell comic.

Visually, the look is on point. I appreciate the art style and the character designs are solid. Everything is expressive and there is a vibe of a newspaper comic to the pacing of the panels and the art. The character designs are fun and so far we've only seen Audrey and the new character in their non-“monster” form, but the design difference is fun. I can tell it is the same character, just with different flourishes. Colors are great and the grain gives the overall comic a pleasant, warm feeling. Again, I think it evokes a lot of classic newspaper aesthetics.

The writing is good. I think the gags are cute overall, and barring some misspelled words here and there the dialogue is solid. As far as “world building” goes (again this isn't vital as this is a gag comic) I wish we had a more complete sense of the family. The brother has only been in a single strip so far and I think spending some time getting the family dynamic down first would benefit, especially using Audrey's friend as the person learning about them.

Also, let's talk about the two-ton elephant in the room: this comic is heavily evoking The Munsters. This isn't a bad thing, but my first impression as I read was “this is The Munsters.” While this is part complimentary, there is a slight criticism: I don't think you have done enough to differentiate your project yet, making it feel a bit like a Munsters-lite. I know that it isn't, but the association is pretty strong right now. The biggest issue is that the comic is slower to update and the archive is not large enough yet, so there just isn't enough to differentiate the comic enough.

And that is the impression so far. If I had to suggest anything right now, I'd prioritize updating more regularly as you have a lot of ground to cover. This can end up being a real crowd-pleaser, but the pace right now will make it hard to catch on.
last edited on May 18, 2022 12:02AM
Ironscarf at 6:21AM, May 18, 2022
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hpkomic wrote:
Alright, it is now time to dive into Ghastley Heights.

Thanks hpkomic - some really useful and insightful stuff there which will give me plenty to think about going forward. I really appreciate it!

 
sleeping_gorilla at 12:40PM, May 25, 2022
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bravo1102 wrote:
Was curious as to when and how someone would say this.
My comics have had mostly positive reviews over the years and now the current one got featured and bumped into the top ten for a brief time. But review? It's not that I can't take criticism, it's that I'm already very hard on myself and doing this is often a bitter struggle so I'd rather not submit the current mess to expert critique right now.


The thread is still in the archives here. I am in a better place right now and I don't need to read the review again. I do not think they said anything particularly mean. They just said some things that “triggered” me. I am a bad artist, and they just confirmed it. I think what hurt my feelings was that some of the people who spoke up were regular readers.
HawkandFloAdventures at 3:44PM, Aug. 8, 2022
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I'm down for hearing what you have to say about Ice Cream truck of doom ;). Your feedback has been really useful in the past and i've been recolouring backgrounds like you've suggested ^^.
hpkomic at 5:37PM, Aug. 9, 2022
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CosmicWarriors wrote:
hi can you check out kung fu grandma? It is a completed story with a part 1 and part 2 but all in the same comic here. It is pretty short about 85 pages, not much reading mostly pictures. I actually made this a couple years ago but just finished uploading it here a few minutes ago

Kung Fu Grandma isn't really my type of comic, but it's definitely striking. The comic definitely has an underground comix quality to it. The comic thrives on grotesque imagery, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though - I get Ren & Stimpy vibes. The art is pretty good, and the grotesque nature of the art is actually quite well developed.

I think the fact it's all in pencils is not doing it any favors, however. I believe inking the art, and adding some color, would add a great deal to it. I also feel the pages as a whole feel more slapdash than they should, as these seem to be scanned pencil drawings composited onto the page. I wish some more care were put into the assembly of the pages so it feels more like an actual comic and less like a series of collages. It would also help if the scans were more uniform, as the values in the comic are all over the place; this is a large part of why I suggested inking earlier.

The action scenes feel a bit stiff, though. A comic such as this can get away with exaggerated forms and motion that other comics may not, and it is a bit disappointing to see that while the comic has character designs with all kinds of intricacies and details the characters look like they can only move like action figures.

The writing is probably where the comic loses me the most. It is going for the absurdity that reminds me of some of Fletcher Hanks' work, but I get some off vibes from the way certain characters lean too far into some unfortunate tropes and depictions of different cultures. I also found myself a little bored with the idea about twenty comics in. I feel like the overall effect would have been stronger if it was a limited series of strips. I couldn't find myself willing to read beyond 40 pages.
HawkandFloAdventures at 10:17AM, Aug. 19, 2022
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Sorry I forgot to provide a link to mine ^^
Hawk and Flo Ice Cream Truck of Doom!

I'm such a dope somedays…
TheJagged at 2:06PM, Aug. 21, 2022
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I'll throw one of mine out there for an overall impression:

WeAreWe


It was my first attempt at an earnest horror story, has a bit of body horror but no excessive gore. Less than 50 pages long so it shouldn't be too daunting of a read.

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