Sunday, February 01, 2009

Postcards #4: Jovian Luck (Code Red Comics)



Anyone who knows me will know that I am a terrible correspondent. I tend to leave requests a bit long on reply, so here's one of my earlier comic review requests.

In fact, this was one of the ones that got me started on the whole Postcard thing.

I've left it a little bit later to give it a bit more time to build up more of an archive, but maybe four months was a little much...


Ping,

I'm Kyle Sanders, writer and penciller behind a new
webcomic miniseries I would like you to consider taking a look at.
The introductory 15 pages are finished which are hopefully
enough for you to get a sense of the characters and plot.
...
(Summary of comic)
...
I hope you enjoy it! It will be interesting to see how it
fares against an honest review. Thank you for your time and
consideration.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!



The comic is located at http://www.coderedcomics.com. This is a portal site of the many webcomic projects. At first glance it's momentarily confusing but after the initial "Umm... which one is it again?" I found my way from the hover option menu on the left. Thankfully there is a link there to start from the first page.

The cover page, the first page, is a very important page. That's the point where people either decide to go on, or hit the back button or surf out of the site. The art is definitely promising; clean lines, full colour, nice style.

Well I say the art style is nice. The composition however, is less impressive. It's nicely drawn, but a few characters standing around with bored expressions against a planetary background is kind of... well... boring. A cover is supposed to draw you in and make you want to read more, not act as a cast page.

Nevertheless, it passes the test. On we go.

The second page is a chapter page. I'm not a big fan of those, and when I do see them I like them short and sweet, or with something profound. Or both. I'm here to read a comic, having to read a bunch of text to start off doesn't necessarily put me in the right mood.

This seems to be a conversation here, but the all black page and white dialogue text is severely uninteresting and I really don't want to read through it. At the very least pop some still objects into it. I like the concept, but the execution of the chapter pages could improve.

Well as far as I can tell the story is sort of an Ocean's Eleven kind of thing, set in space. Unfortunately the introduction to the story IS rather choppy and confusing, so it took me a while to figure that out.

The character introduction is almost overwhelming, too many (especially unnecessary ones at this point) too fast. Most people I know are guilty of this, including yours truly. We tend to forget that because we know the characters too well before we start. All that said, now that I've learnt that fact, it shouldn't happen if we can help it. The characters seem borderline stereotype, but I am sure that's merely because it is new. After all, most characters do start off as stereotypes and develop into distinct individuals later on. Which brings me to the other thing.

Hm. I just figured out something that was bothering me about that character art. All the male characters have the exactly same facial expression (Mouth slightly agape, with a worried/confused look) 90% of the time. This can get really annoying. I am happy to report that the later pages definitely show improvement on this and the posturing though. Which is a good thing, else you might see me complaining more here ;)

Despite the four month lead I gave it it's not quite enough for me to be able to give an accurate appraisal of the data. Sample size matters. But overall, Jovian Luck has the potential to be an interesting comic. At the present it suffers from trying too hard to be an epic story that it forgets to tell the story coherently. A bit of a rough run to work out the kinks is natural, but since I've been asked for feedback and advice, I'd recommend the following:

  1. Improve the posturing and composition. The art style is already good, and the inking and coloring is as well. The postures are improving, just more work needs to be done on the facial expressions.
  2. Slow down. Jumping from scene to scene is the first chapter was confusing. A new reader needs time to get oriented, so give them a bit before you try to pull off too many scene-jumpingQuentin Taratino-que time mixups. At the present a second read through sorts of helps things fall in place, but a really good comic shouldn't have needed that 2nd read through.
  3. The chapter pages need more work to make them 1) shorter and to the point  OR 2) Attractive enough to take the time to read though all the dialogue. Otherwise the tendency to skip them is a little high.
  4. I like how only 3 main characters were introduced first, but in my opinion, there was still too much detail given to the characters that were unnecessary at the point they were introduced. Keep in mind when a reader is new they can't tell the difference between extras and main characters, so it helps to make it obvious which is which.

But it might be worth checking out sometime in the future. You can't really judge a comic by its first issue, the same applies to webcomics. I guess only time will tell.

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