Saturday, February 07, 2009

Postcards #5: Addanac City

Today we're looking at Addanac City, which has had a request correspondence worth reposting:

Hi there,
 
I was just letting you know about this webcomic that's been out for a minute that's pretty funny (at least, I think so. I'm the creator.). It's called ADDANAC CITY, and it's about a seven-year-old kid named Hank who always seems to get into hot water with his friends, family, and school officials to comedic effect. Check it out if you wanna. I update it 5 days a week, Monday thru Friday. Currently, I've also been updating the site with strips on the weekends during December.
 
The link is www.addanaccity.com  Hope you enjoy!
 
Thanks,
George Ford
creator of Addanac City


I always have a suspicion that when someone starts a mail with "Hi there" the mail's been mass mailed to other people as well. But oh well... benefit of the doubt and all that, so I reply:


Hello Hank,

Thanks for your interest, I will have a look and postcard it when I have the time. Of course due to my ruthlessly honest policy I can't exactly guarantee a positive review, but I'm sure you understand that it's all part and parcel of submitting your comic for review :)


Regards,
Ping Teo
http://webcomicfinds.blogspot.com



Incidentally, I should mention that when I do Postcard reviews, I tend to be more critical than in my normal "Journey Leg" reviews. This is because when I do those, the creator never asked me to review their comic in the first place, and those reviews are geared more for readers looking for new comics . Postcards are different however, and the assumption I make is that they are more for the webcomic creators themselves and the requester is after criticism and feedback.


Hello Ping Teo,

I understand you on that one. There are a whole lot of web-comics out there that I don't like either. However, there some I do. Maybe ADDANAC CITY will be one you will, at least, appreciate even if it's not your cup of tea. We'll see.

Thanks for your time,
George


Fair enough. So I add this comic to my postcard list, which takes time to work through. Imagine my surprise when I get another mail over a month later that gave me a feeling of deja vu:

Hi Ping,

I just wanted to let you know about a webcomic that I create called "Addanac City". The strip features seven-year-old Hank Addanac, a wild n' wacky 2nd-grader who constantly finds himself in hot water with his parents, friends, and school officials.

ADDANAC CITY is updated five days a week, Monday thru Friday, only at:

www.addanaccity.com

I would love to get some feedback and/or a review whenever you get the chance (positive or negative).

Thanks,
George Ford


My bemused reply:

Hi George,

Call this odd, but didn't I receive an almost identical email from you on the same subject about a month ago? In fact I think I replied it.

Can't really say anything different this round, except that the comic is indeed in my postcard waiting list. There's only a couple of comics in front of you I think.

Anyway, thanks for your email.

Happy comicking!

Regards,
Ping Teo
The Webcomics Travel-Blog
http://webcomicfinds.blogspot.com


I guess that was a subtle hint I need to speed up my postcards replying rate.

I should mention that even before I had a look at the comic I had a feeling I wasn't going to like it. It sounds like I'm prejudging, but let me explain. When someone describes their comic and tries to tell you "it's pretty funny", I start feeling suspicious. It's the same kind of feeling I get when an salesman approaches me saying "Good day, Miss! I have an offer here that I'm 100% certain you will love!"

Maybe it's the part of me that resents being told how to feel. I'm ok with people describing a comic as a "humour comic" or "I found this comic funny". But when you tell me a comic is a funny comic, I get skeptical.

It's not the same thing, you understand. one is an opinion. One is enforcing your opinion on someone. The difference between them is the difference between being recommended something and being told that you should like something. It's also the difference between being recommended and being offended. Basically, if I want to feel that X object is funny, good, or worthwhile, I will be the one that decides that, thank you very much.

(Incidentally that's why I write my reviews is without any star ranking or ratings systems. I don't believe in scoring comics, only describing them and giving you my opinion of them. If I really like something I'll say I recommend it, but that's about as far as I go.)

Anyway, little rant over. Let's go see what this comic is about.

...


...


...


Well, I don't know about the comic itself, but my first impression was: "Wow. This is a prime candidate for How Not to Present Your Comic."



I showed this page to a mate of mine who described it as "the most zen-disrupting page they had ever seen".

The site is very badly laid out.

Let me rephrase that with less understatement. This isn't a comic page. It's a badly compressed thumbnail of a comic hiding in an obnoxious online equivalent of a classified ads with and even more obnoxious self-adulating tagline: The Official Website of Frank Addanac: America's Funniest Comic-strip Character!

*deep breath*

Ho-kay. Let's start with the comic presentation. If you click on the comic, you get the full-sized thing, which is slightly better than the badly compressed image that most people won't realize is a thumbnail. They'll just think the creator doesn't know how to compress images.

The thing to remember is that your comic is the MOST important thing about your page. Give it prime space. Even if you do not want to put it on front page, make a nice cover page instead. But your comic is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. NOT YOUR ADS.

Yes, everyone wants to make a little money off their comic, but the number of ads in this one is way over the top. Everyone needs to eat, but in the world of webcomics, this kind of over-excessiveness screams to your potential readers that the creator is in this for the fame and not for the love of the art. Whether it is true or not does not matter, because in a net full of other webcomics, first impressions count the most. And the first impression this comic page gives make me want to hit the "back" button and never want to come back.

Let's move on to the dubiousness of the claim on the tagline. How does one even qualify as "America's Funniest Comic-strip Character"?! Did the poster of that tagline do a survey out of all Americans? Was it just based off the comment of a handful of readers who found the comic amusing? Or is it there because someone thought it sounded professional and impressive?

I am being harsh? I don't think so.

Selling your comic is one thing. Pretentiousness is another. It's like the local kebab shop or chippy claiming it's a Michelin 3-star when anyone can see it's not. It puts people off. They may like kebab, but no one likes being told something is something else when they know it isn't. So you end up losing people who might have read your comic but got peeved because they felt misled.

Speaking of misled, for a comic that claims to be funny, I found the level of humour rather absent. There's a lot of old, rehashed attempts at jokes that reminds one of the Sunday funnies you read in the news papers. Except well those stopped being funny a long time ago. 

Well, I'm quite aware that humour is subjective, and my sense of humour may not be the same as other people's sense of humour... for example I find stuff like "Happy Tree Friends" crass instead of funny. Still, while my sense of humour might be slightly kooky I have learnt to recognize what makes other people laugh, even if I don't find it funny personally. And my gut feeling is a lot of people who read this blog won't find it very funny either. 

The navigation of the site is non-existent. It's just a bunch of links to the images, which are hosted on... Photobucket. 

Well, at least they don't have to worry about exceeding Photobucket bandwidth limit at this rate.

One thing that I do notice about Addanac City however, is that there has been a lot of effort (mayhap misguided) put into it and you can definitely feel the enthusiasm of the author in his work. I can commend the the zealousness of the creator at his task of updating the comic 5 days a week, which everyone who has ever done a comic will know, is not easy.

While the art style I personally dislike, (personal opinion only) the lines are cleanly drawn and the colouring and detailing isn't bad. Given time, and if he keeps on drawing, he will probably improve. That is, if he learns from his past work and critical feedback.

But first, he needs to get his head out of the clouds and stop giving himself congratulatory thumps on the back. He needs to learn to present his comic for what it really is. Not what he thinks it is.




Phew, and that was one of the tougher postcards I've ever had to write.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Ping,

    Thanks for taking the time to check out Addanac City. I'll definitely work on some of your suggestions.

    George

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi George,

    I'm rather relieved you took it so well, especially since the review was not exactly positive.

    Don't give up though. Keep comicking! Practice is the best teacher you can have.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So...

    Is "Addanac" Canada spelled backwards with and extra "d" in there or what?

    'Cuz I thought so at first, but then there were some references to American football.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If George is fearless about blunt reactions, he is 50 times more likely to succeed than someone who starts out decently but gets prickly when people comment. I enjoyed the review, and George's reaction, and I think if he keeps studying the results he will only improve.

    I have been having a chat about this issue on another webcomics blog the last couple of days, Mike Perridge's MPD57. ( http://mpd57.wordpress.com/ ) I can collapse my major point here, which is site design is graphic design and comics are cartooning, and not all of us have both skills. Yet in webcomics, both are very important! Mike argues that people with low graphic skills should go minimalist, and makes other good points -- some readers might want to browse the thread, it's not long.
    Again, I enjoyed reading this segment, especially since I am familiar with the comic, and because critical issues and a resolve to consider them were discussed in a professional, not emotional manner.
    Always rewarding to visit this blog. Best of luck, George, and don't be daunted.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello Ping,

    I definitely think this review consisted of several rants gone too far. Was this attack sparked by the creator's unintentional reminder that perhaps the review time line needed speeding up? Probably so. While I agree that you are entitled to your opinions, which you have definitely made clear, and you are entitled to comment however you wish, on this, your "professional" review site, I am happy to announce that I do not share in all of your critiques of this site.

    I found Addanac City and its characters to be quite funny. Some strips more so than others, but I can say, with confidence and enthusiasm, that there is something here for everyone. I think you missed the point here, in regard to your "Sunday Morning Funnies" reference. I believe the creator is successfully attempting to recapture that old school feeling of those funnies we grew up loving.

    I LOVE the art style! It's reminiscent of Fred Hembeck's work-very colorful and those eyes . . . ! Remember?

    Updating this site five days a week takes a lot of commitment and shows love for what he is doing. I definitely commend him for that, especially when many of the sites I visit take weeks and months to post new comic strips. There are so many people who become discouraged and go on hiatus.

    I pray that this will not be the case with this artist, because I feel that there are many people who will enjoy the brand of humor Addanac City has to offer. I pray that he will be able to benefit from your review and from the reviews of others, as his gracious nature would suggest. Despite the harshness displayed here, there are several other critics who share an appreciation for Addanac City.

    All I can say to anyone reading this response . . . This artist has a lot of potential, so take the time to check out Addanac City for yourself.

    tj

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi tj,

    Opposing views are more than welcome, I love to have differing points of view balance things out.

    I don't think the overall bad impression was the reminder, but just the overall presentation and marketing of the comic. Like I said in the review with the analogy of the kebab shop with the 3-star Michelin tag, I like kebab (even if it did give me food poisoning in Bangkok), but the marketing turned me off and the resulting impression was bad even when the actual product wasn't that bad at all.

    I did have another read through, it's not as bad as I remember even if (maybe I'm just a little bit jaded when it comes to comics) I still don't really like it.

    And I have to say that George has been really gracious and admirable in the way he's received the criticism. He's gone and revamped the site according to the feedback, it really is a great improvement!

    Like Bengo says: He has the potential to go far. I suspect I might have been a bit too harsh, but like I said, I tend to let myself go more when people specifically ask me for criticism.

    Also TJ, I'm not a professional reviewer and Webcomic Finds has no intention of being a "professional" review site. I do this for fun and myself only.

    However, you all are welcome to come along for the ride! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Ping!

    I hope all is well with you and yours. I just wanted to let you know that I've given my Addanac City website an Extreme Makeover to coincide with my 200th comic strip. Hopefully, it's easier to navigate and more pleasing to the critical eye. If you get a chance, check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi George,

    I see you've been hard at work!

    I have a couple of points about the new web design:

    1) I'm not a big fan of the bright turquoise background. It makes the text very hard to read. I would suggest either a) toning the colour down b) putting a white backing layer for whenever there's text. That way you can still have your turquoise without straining the reader's eyes.

    2) I actually liked your old header better. This new one is nicely done and attention-grabbing, but it's TOO attention grabbing. It's got waaay too much going on in the image, it's even interfering with the comic itself as the reader's eye is drawn to the banner more than the comic.

    The rest of the layout is a massive improvement. I like how it's a lot easier to navigate, the calendar function is a plus! And reducing the number of ads really does help massively.

    ReplyDelete