Sunday, March 29, 2009

Postcards #8: The Pen

I'm not sure why I'm hitting a superhero streak in the postcards, it's just the order the requests have been coming in I guess.

Hi! You might be interested in the new online comic "The Pen",
available for free at www.thepencomic.com.

The Pen follows the inmates and staff at Wentworth Ridge Penitentiary,
a correctional facility for superpowered criminals. In the current
story arc, prisoners and guards alike must deal with the upheaval
caused by the arrival of an A-list supervillain.

Tonally, the comic is similar to Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman,
and is heavily influenced by such TV series as Oz, The Shield and The
Wire. The Pen is scripted by new British writer Rob Bray, and
illustrated by talented Philipino artist Randy Valiente.

A new 24-page issue (in JPG and PDF formats) is released every
Saturday for the duration of the introductory 4-issue story arc.

Your comments and criticism are very welcome, and a link from your
site would be very much appreciated!

Cheers,

Rob Bray


This is one of the more professionally written requests I've received so far. Any webcomic creators want to learn how to write a review request that has the highest chance of being responded to can learn from this guy:


  1. An introduction and proper link to comic in question (Don't laugh, I've received requests with malfunctioning links before)
  2. Short description of the comic (For your information "This is an awesome comic" is NOT a description. It's self praise. Try something like "This is a comic about superheroes, but from a different perspective" instead please.)
  3. Politely letting the reviewer know what kind of feedback they are particularly looking for.

The only thing that might improve it a little further would be starting it off with the reviewer's name to give it a personal touch, but that would be the cherry on the icing already.



So on to the actual review. 

By the time I'd actually sat down to read the comic, I'd forgotten about the synopsis, so the actual premise of Wentworth Ridge Penitentiary a.k.a. "The Pen" was a nice change. I have to admit I started off thinking: "Oh great. Another superhero comic. Please don't tell me this is a cheesy Superman knockoff."

However, I hadn't even finished the first issue before I was laughing out loud at how the comic managed to give voice to a lot of little things that often bothered me about superhero comics. There's a dark, yet tongue-in-cheek kind of humour prevalent throughout most of the comic, and it is very welcome and refreshing. And not quite what I expected. In a good way.

Rob Bray's writing also has something that many webcomic authors lack: Succinctness and brevity. He knows how to to tell a story without making it drag. He knows what to put in and what to leave out, and when to pace it right. Most webcomic authors (yours truly included) sometimes fail at this due to not having the constriction of a certain number of pages we have to fit the story into. Self-editing and summarizing takes skill. Putting a story into balanced 24 page chunks is quite amazing.

Mind you the writing's not perfect. For example: I don't understand why in the most recent storyline... no one in "The Pen" has mobile phones so they can actually call for help. Maybe it's set in a world where no one invented the mobile phone. I don't know.

The art is very professional. Definitely no anatomy complaints from me this time; the crisp and edgy lines make the body language expressive and the backgrounds impeccable. You can tell Randy is a master of black-and-white comic art from his compositions and balance of tone.

But his art does have one drawback: it's too perfect.

While the crickets chirp, let me explain the above sentence. The characters are beautifully drawn and proportioned, but they are all based on the same ideal proportions and facial features. In fact, almost all the "normal build" guys are identically good-looking and if it were not for the hair and facial hair, I would be absolutely unable to tell them apart. A friend of mine once shared with me the secret of good character design: 

Include imperfection. And not a "little scar on the forehead" kind of imperfection. I mean, nose slightly too big, or crooked, or overly short eyebrows, and apple-chin... or things like that. They go a loooong way to making your character more distinctive and identifiable.

This may sound like a trivial nitpick about character designs, but it's not. At one point in the story, this flaw caused me a lot of confusion. Let's look at the below collage I made from various panels of the comic



These all look like panels of the same character, but they are two completely different people. One is "Bluestreak", the Superman equilvalent in The Pen. The one on the right is Brady Van Elsen, one of the criminal inmates. But they look so similar that I couldn't tell them apart during a fight between "Black Cape", the antagonist of the storyline, and "King Cole" another one of the inmates.

In this scene, Bluestreak pops up (to presumably save the day). Unfortunately, we have no idea Bluestreak is around since we haven't seen him for a couple of issues, so the most logical person we identify him as is Brady... which gave me the wrong impression that while the fight was going on and the guards were distracted, someone pulled a jailbreak and the inmates were loose. Of course I realized this was wrong within the next page or so, but it broke the flow of the story because I had to go back and check again, the two characters were just too alike.

This is not the only instance where the character designs impeded the story, but that's an example to show how it is a problem that might bear some looking into.

Overall, I think "The Pen" is a very good comic. I certainly haven't enjoyed a superhero comic this much since Magellan. The online navigation through the archives takes a little getting used to, but it's good once you get the hang of it although it took me a while to find the back and forth buttons (which hide themselves)

A far better idea is to read the comics through the whole issue PDF releases. Having all 24 pages at once shot is nice, and I definitely appreciate being able to sit down, read and issue, go off and check on my baking/laundry/other things I do on a lazy Sunday while a new issue loads and come back and read another 24 pages.

According to Rob's email, every week we get an issue of 24 pages. How on earth they manage to churn out content that is publishing-quality at that rate is beyond me, but I'm not complaining. I always like having a new find on my list. 

:D



Update: I got an email from Rob clarifying about the updates:

Just one small correction - the 1 issue per week schedule was only for the first 4 issues, when I put the site up Randy was halfway through drawing issue 4 so I had a backlog of completed pages. We'll hopefully be moving to a roughly monthly schedule, as I'm now completing work on the scripts for issue 5 and 6. The site's RSS feed should hopefully be working - will update as soon as we have new stuff to put out.
Still a pretty good system. I'm definitely looking forward to see what's next!


Postcards are reviews requested by (mostly) webcomic authors. They focus less on reviews and more on critical insight and unreserved, honest, feedback. You can request for a review by emailing Ping at webcomicfinds @ gmail . com but be warned, when Ping says honest feedback, she really means it.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Postcards #7: Seek and Destroy (Anarchy Comics)

Some of the requests I get are short and sweet, but they work.

Hey, Check out this webcomic, its dark and edgey.... in need of a reveiw  
http://www.anarchycomic.com
Cheers,
Daragh



Dark and edgey eh? I can go with that. I haven't read a dark and gritty comic for a while... this could be good.

Nice cover page. The monologue is a little pompous though...

Hm. Why does it keep switching from first to third person in the narrative?

And is it possible to stop............ abusing the punctuation........ and exclamation marks!!!!!!!????!!! (yes, I added them for irony)

Also, Contraction Nazi says:
It's = It Is
Its = That which belongs to "It"

Little nitpicks aside... it seems that this is a superhero comic of sorts. Or I should say, one of those Sin-City/Gotham-esque scenarios where the cops are corrupt, everything is dark and depressing and justice only exists in some poor sod's daydream. The main character whose name I never did quite get around to remembering and nor do I want to, is some sort of bloodthirsty, sadistic hitman. And he kills a crime boss for the bounty. And then runs into a scantily-clad female ninja who wants the same bounty. And they fight.

While I do believe profanity has its place in things, and in some situations they are even appropriate, I think the dialogue needs to refine its vocabulary a bit so that it moves out of the "cheap and crass" category and back into "dark and edgy" . When words like "Shit!" "Motherfucker" and "Piss" are blared every 5 seconds or so, even IF the context is like this comic where everything is crude and gritty... it gets annoying. (Heck, ANY word that's blared every 5 seconds or so would be annoying, come to think of it). But point is, they are used so repetitively here they lose their effect, and it just becomes like I said, cheap and crass.

(goes on reading)

Ok this gets a little bit boring. Violent, yet somehow boring.

It's an entire whole first chapter of some super antihero who thinks he's a big shot judge, jury and executioner blah blah. And worst of all, he won't shut up about it in his self-narrative. There's a lot of fighting, gore and waaay to much dialogue that lacks substance. And worst of all... it's committed the cardinal sin of being repetitive and boring.

Annoying, arrogant, self-obsessed characters can be made to be likable. But you need to have attributes that allow the antihero to still identify with the audience. This guy... well... he has nothing. He might as well have been a cardboard cutout with WARNING: DARK AND MYSTERIOUS BADASS CHARACTER printed on him for all the depth he has.

The art isn't too bad, page composition is good, and I like the way he uses shading to convey the night. But I get the feeling it is drawn using published superhero comic books (you know the Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse types) as a reference. How do I know? Well... the bad anatomy, latex costumes and mysteriously missing nipples particularly might have some influence on my suspicions, yes.

By the way, women have butts. And hips. Just saying. The way this gal's drawn at the moment... the only way she's plausible at all would be if her supervillian name was something like "Anorexia".

Taking pity on the poor girl, I whipped out my tablet and made some proportional corrections. The one on the left is the original, the one of the right is the modified version to show how the female figure (even if idealized) should really be.

The breasts are almost right though. Just need to make them more err... less solid and more organic. At least it's not the usual pair of over-inflated balloons pasted on. But I do feel obliged to point out that if she's going to wear something that uncomfortable without her bra, her nipples are going to be poking out like gobies on the seabed. Really. Yes... Even IF she wore nipple stickers.

I can just say... referencing from print comics for your anatomy is a really bad idea?It's like taking a photocopy of a photocopy's photocopy. One thing I dislike about a lot of print comics when I did read them was that the artists often referenced other artist's work whose anatomy was already atrociously bad to begin with. And if you in turn reference their work, you really get some awful, awful anatomy that looks more like a botox nightmare or a blow up toy gone mad than the streamlined female or well-built hero that you were aiming for. If you want reference, look for art nudes, movie stills or sport magazines, then adapt accordingly. Or invest in a digital camera and be your own model.

Oh it's over. Is it a bad sign I'm relieved?

So, my assessment? Well the best way to describe Seek and Destroy would be like the guy in this comic. (BTW, Dresden Codak is updating again). As in: A guy who is initially not bad looking, might be quite interesting and cool... then he opens his mouth and you throw up a little inside.

Similarly, my initial impression of Seek and Destroy wasn't bad. Nice cover page, atmospheric shading... then the narration boxes started clogging the page with long-winded and pretentiously trying-to-sound-impressive trash talk. Then the whole thing started to feel like bits and pieces of Spawn + The Punisher + Some other "dark and edgy" comic mixed in and I feel rather let down that originality seems to have fled somewhere along the bloodbath.

I think it's mainly because it feels shallow, like a pale imitation of a dark superhero comic. Nothing to set it apart from the norm, and not enough of the real author in it to make it live.

But to be encouraging, this really does remind me of Jess Calcaben, whom I reviewed years ago. I loathed Bilaran Wars for the same reasons as the above comic (yes and I ripped it apart the same way), yet the same author created the masterpiece that was Mute (which to this day I rank as one of the best webcomics I have ever read).

So maybe Daragh just hasn't found his true niche yet. Personally I think he needs to stop emulating superhero comics and write more honestly about something closer to home and his own life. About something original he really knows instead of artificially regurgitating up stuff from other comics out there that have been worn threadbare already.

And that's my opinion. If this comic is just a experimental practice comic, feel free to consider me to have gone overboard and disregard my words (Even if they were requested). Just keep in mind I cannot in good conscience give my recommendation of Seek and Destroy to anyone, sorry.

And Daragh? Don't give up. Keep on trying. It's all part of the journey in finding your niche, all the best to you.



Postcards are reviews requested by (mostly) webcomic authors. They focus less on reviews and more on critical insight and unreserved, honest, feedback. You can request for a review by emailing Ping at webcomicfinds @ gmail . com but be warned, when Ping says honest feedback, she really means it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

39th Leg: Rice Boy

Wayfinder and Kensington the Mouse lounged by the side of the busy festival street, watching the fracas between a group of overly confident hooligans and a rather portly Shaolin Monk.

"So Ken..." said Wayfinder as one of the men lost a front tooth, "Where do you think we should go next?"

Kensington, who was preoccupied with a piece of spilt melon, did not bother to issue anything more than a muffled, can't-speak-my-mouth-is-full kind of squeak.

"Thanks." Wayfinder rolled her eyes before ducking by reflex as a thug whizzed past her right ear. "Very helpful."

"If you're looking for a place to go, I can recommend going to visit the Rice Boy." said one of the onlookers in the crowd, who were too enjoying the free martial arts demonstration.

"Rice Boy?" Echoed Wayfinder, her curiosity piqued. "Sounds rather odd."

"Strange and psychedelic." The Onlooker helpfully supplied further as he pointed to the relevant anchor tag.

"Sounds good to me... KEN! ANCHOR TAG!" Ken gave a resigned squeak and finally abandoned the melon rind. "I guess we'll be out of here." said Wayfinder to the onlooker. "Thanks for the recommendation... Mr..."

"Max." said the Onlooker with a wave as Ken activated the anchor tag and sailed them away into another world...





Comic: Rice Boy
By: Evan Dahm

Setting and Elements: Fantasy, Surreal, Anthropomorphic
Content Type: Epic Adventure

Art Medium: Inked, Colour
Art Style: Unique

Is About: Rice Boy, who has been chosen as the fulfiller of an ancient prophecy to restore balance to the world.

Website: http://www.rice-boy.com/
Frequency: N/A
Availability: Free

First Impressions and Presentation:
The main page is a portal page, which links to several comic projects, Rice Boy being only one of them. It looks to be that Rice Boy is a completed project, so I should be able to give you a complete review this time round.

Hm ok maybe not several comic projects. More like two, I think I got a miscount first time round.

The website design is really nice. It's minimalistic, but effectively pleasant.

And the art style looks interesting... Weird, but interesting.


The Concept:
A tiny little hermit of the woods, named Rice Boy, is chosen by the "divine messenger" T-O-E as the fulfiller of a great prophecy. But T-O-E doesn't really believe in the prophecy, and neither does Rice Boy. Unfortunately for them, the previously decided "Chosen One", does.


The Art:
The art for Rice boy is very interesting, with loose but well-defined lines, clean but moody colours, and character designs that can only be called unique.

There's a lot of design in this despite the initial simplicity, and a level of detail I find surprising. From the different faces displayed on T-O-E's monitor/head, to the plants in the background, the the landscapes of the radically different places in the world, it's quite amazing how Evan has managed to come up with so different designs for each race and character. Characters (will most of the important ones) are easily recognizable, yet bear elements in their clothing and such that mirror those in the real world that allow the reader to associate it with what they are supposed to represent.

I also love some other non-story details, such as how the header for each chapter is customized for an image suitable for the chapter.


The Writing:
Rice Boy is set in a strange, very original, and very fantastical world. The characters are all non-human, but have human characteristics, and in a way are a pastiche of our own societies.

The dialogue between the characters is often charming and well thought out. It's rare when I find a comic where I can read a page and just enjoy it for the sake of the dialogue. It's not something many comics do well. 

One thing I especially like is how characters introductions are done. The pacing is excellent, you never felt swamped by too many characters, and even the secondary characters who make brief appearances radiate depth of character.
The story starts out whimsical, and light-hearted, until a turning point where it begins to get darker and scarier.

So ok, the story is based on a prophecy being fulfilled and all that. And you all know that due to the premise being overused I tend to look askance at any story that is based around a prophecy. But the reason for that is stories based on that premise tend to be incredibly cliched and (what is possibly the biggest sin of all when storytelling) boring. If someone can take an overused premise, put in interesting characters and give the story new life, there's no reason why I won't like it.

Problems:
The story was an interestingly good read and had lots of original points about it, but there were also times when annoyance at the plot broke my suspension of disbelief. I do think Evan has done a sterling job coming up with the characters and background, and the twist at the story is a refreshing change, but the sheer number of times Rice Boy can run into trouble only to saved/rescued by dumb luck/good samaritans/destiny gets little irritating after a while.

Yes I do realize this is often typical of any stories that involve destiny and prophecies, but it does detract from the writing when it happens too often because it really does smack of being rescued by a deus ex machina.

Of course, it's not saying Rice Boy is an entirely passive or cowardly protagonist. He really is quite courageous in his own way after all. Keep in mind for him, what he does what for him is an incredibly scary thing... he leaves the home he has grown up in, ventures into places he has never heard of and despite all he goes through he never gives up on his goal.

It's hard to put my finger on why it bothers me so much. It could be that my over-thinking mind wonders what would happen if Rice Boy DOESN'T get lucky or saved, and then immediately realises that there wouldn't be much of story left in that point. I guess my preference is for less luck and fate and more on the things the characters proactively do.

However the story still works, mainly because Evan carefully balances out Rice Boy's innocence, naivete and faith with a foil character. This comes in the form of T-O-E, the ancient, jaded and somewhat cynical "divine messenger" who is beginning to suspect his "god" is a hoax.

Still, part of me is niggled by the thought that without this flaw it could have been as close to a perfect find as I've seen.

Overall:
Rice Boy is a beautifully done (and even more amazing) completed comic. I definitely enjoyed it very much despite its flaws.

So... if you have a lazy Sunday afternoon to spend, I'd recommend a comfty seat, good music (Last.fm has really been good at giving me good recommendations of late), a tall glass of iced tea, and reading Rice Boy from page one.

I certainly didn't regret it.


The Next Leg:
"Say Ken..." Wayfinder as she looked as the description on the anchor tag. "What do you think of 'creepy and strange'?"

The winged mouse looked at her with a somewhat aggrieved expression.

"C'mon!" Said Wayfinder, grinning evilly as she tossed him onto the anchor tag. "
Where's you sense of adventure?"


So many comics! So little time! Journey Legs aim to explore webcomics through creator recommendations. From the links page of a comic, I select another comic, record my first impressions, and then review it in depth. Once that is done, I repeat the process by selecting another comic through the links page of the current comic. This goes on and on... no I have no idea when I plan to stop...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hotspot #17: Decom(ic ex)pression stop @ 5m...


If I didn't have that regulator in my mouth, I'd be grinning my trademark cheesy grin, I bet. Incidentally, trying to draw comics underwater... not so good when there's a current, actually.


So... I do other things in my life besides making comics and writing about comics... and making them. I work in a totally non-comic related job, I indulge in culinary endeavors (and enjoy them), I brave leeches, bugs and other pestilent things to see wildlife that most people wouldn't understand WHY I want to see, I toss around balls of fire on chains for the heck of it... and I scuba dive.

I often wonder what part of me is it that makes me feel alive when I'm swimming in a sea of blue, with the surface a blindingly bright glimmer far above me and all I can hear is the stream of bubbles issuing from my regulator. Is it the danger? Is it the disconnect from the everyday world and the entry into a new one that makes you feel that even if you died the next second, it would all be worth it?


Floating around in the big blue... Nothing to see here, all the good stuff is at the bottom.

I don't know. But one thing I do know... When making comics, you need to do other things as well.

I truly believe this is important as someone who spends most of their time only making comics and not living life can't connect with what they are supposed to make comics about. Like it or not, to make a comic come alive, you need to be honest. You need to put in a bit of your own life experience in, else it's going to be a sad, flat, soul-less thing. 

If there was one thing I can say I finally learned in my love affair with comics for over a decade, that was it. I used to churn out a lot of shallow rubbish that had 0% Ping content in it, and I couldn't understand why I couldn't find the heart to finish them. As it turns out... I'm one of those people who can't write about things that I don't understand. I can't connect. So I need to write about things that do, or make it so that even though it's something that I may have not personally experienced before, it has some similarities to something that I have.

Back to the topic of doing other things... In the one period in my life when I stopped doing all these other things, my comic work suffered until I couldn't do it. Then I stopped comicking (yes this was during my hiatus). And I was miserable. Then I tried to start comicking again, and almost panicked when I found I couldn't. Not until I'd gotten myself out of the funk I was in.

I've found out recently that I'm not the only creator who has experienced something of this sort. 

Anyway... during a decompression stop while on my recent dive trip (it's this thing we do where we stay at 5m below the surface and bum around for a few minutes, to give the nitrogen in our blood time dissipate.) Anyway, on my decompression stop while hanging on to this painfully barnacle-encrusted rope, my mind wandered and I thought about the current problem I was having with one of my comics, The Jaded

The truth is, The Jaded is currently hiatused not just because I'm focusing on finishing The Longest Sojourn, but also because I'm having trouble re-identifying with it. 

There. I admitted it.

Compounding my problem is my stubbornness and insistence that I at least plan to finish what I started. But I have a massive problem there. One can't just drop a comic for over 3 years and go back to it like nothing has happened. Things have changed. My mindset has changed. When I read my own comic all I see is the discrepancy between how I think now and how I used to think. 

I could drop it and start anew. I have lots of other ideas for comics that would strike truer to what I feel now. But I want to finish The Jaded. I'm not going to be one of those creators who start something and leave it hanging.

I could restart The Jaded and start from scratch again. But that would be going backwards. I do not want to go backwards. 

So, while still underwater and thinking about it while checking my depth gauge, it suddenly occurred to me that what I was doing now is a very likely thing for a one of the characters to be doing on some covert op. In a flash, the obvious solution came to me. 

I needed to make situation in The Jaded match what I'm doing now. I need to make it identify it with me by dumping my old plans on how it was supposed to go and adapt it to what I feel now. I need to make the character change and grow just like I have. I need to change how the story goes, and scrap what attempts I have made so far because they no longer fit. I may even have to put in a timeskip to match real life.

It's not an easy solution, because it means a lot of what I previously planned will now never see the light of day. But it feels... right.

Maybe in a year from now when I finish TLS and restart The Jaded I won't feel this way... but right now... for the first time in years, I'm feeling optimistic about having to finish this comic again.



Barnacled ropes don't make good descent lines. Really. Ouch!


Now... if only my poor blistered hands would hurry up and heal so I can draw properly...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Stopover at LinT: Hooray for Happy Creepy Grins!

This seems to be a good week for memorable webcomic moments. First we get someone being clouted in the face with a shoe, then we get this:



Given that in the entire comic run of LinT I don't think we've ever seen Zedwig even come close to a smile, that cheesy grin is creepier than what he's saying. Even more so when technically Fang (that's the blonde) supposedly has Zedwig under mind-control.



On another note, I'm going to be away for the week (why yes, I'll be busy traveling again. Life imitates art and all that). I'm going to get my advanced open water.

If I'm behind on mail... you'll know it's because I'm busy 30m underwater ;)




With an underwater slate maybe.




Yes I am incorrigible.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Stopover at Penny and Aggie: Now... that was worth waiting four years for...

From the most recent installment of Penny and Aggie:

I snorted with laughter. Then I read it again and couldn't stop giggling.

Other than the richly-deservedness of it, why do I have the overwhelming urge to place an order for the Marshall shoe now?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Postcards #6: The Battle of Dovecote Crest

In my previous postcard we had an example of how bad presentation and marketing correspondence can negatively colour one's impression of a comic. Today I'm going to do the polar opposite and show how good presentation and communication can elevate one.

Some time ago, I received this email from Bridget, the artist who does The Battle of Dovecote Crest

Hello Ping,

Just wanted to make a request for a critique, if you have the time. The Battle of Dovecote Crest is my second webcomic, this time as the artist half of an artist/writer team. We're pretty new, having only started updating in late September 2008, but we've got a bit of an archive going and are about halfway through our first story arc. If you have any advice, it would be greatly appreciated!

Here's the link if you decide to check it out: http://dovecotecrest.comicdish.com.

Thanks,
Bridget Underwood

If you compare this to the previous postcard, I'm sure you can see the difference in approach. There's no self-promotion, only statement of the facts. It's kinda like the difference between a good resume and a bad one really. A bad one has stuff like "I'm intelligent, self-reliant, able to multitask and am a team player." A good one says it like "I did project [X] with a team of 7 people where we coordinated to produce [Y]. My role was doing [A], [B], [C], where for [B] and [C] no prior documentation or precedence had been set yet.

In short, it lets the reader decide. And this does mean a lot.

Anyway, short prattle over, let's get to the comic itself.

I have to admit my initial expectation was apprehensive. It's a comic about history? (History was one of my most hated subjects back in school). However, the site design was just so charming (made to look like a civil ware recruitment poster) and in tune with the rest of the comic that it did allay any reservations I might have. The art and writing pretty much did the rest.

Anyway, Dovecote Crest is a joint project between writer Hailey and artist Bridget. Joint projects tend to be either amazing (think T Campbell and Gisele Lagace) or short-lived (I'd link some comic that this happened to, but I can't for the life of me remember the name) or both. The really bad ones... well they never really get started ;)

Back to the topic, this comic follows the life of "Charlie", a young graduate who majored in history but is finding life out of college with a history degree not quite up to expectations. Stuck working for a historical enactment museum in the diminutive town of Dovecote Crest while her fellow classmates somehow have found careers, her seed of discontentment is offset by the support of her friends: Her sweet but socially-inept boss Jeremy, nice but no-nonsense Tess, and the always cheery and comical Ben. (Well that was a lot of alliterative description).

I really like the art style... it strongly reminds me of Faith Erin Hicks' (of the Demonology 101 fame) early work. While it lacks a lot of flash and fancy special effects (which is not necessarily a bad thing, as it matches with the context very well) it is well done, and the strongest point of Bridget's work is her sublime facial expressions.

Of course all the best art in the world is nothing if the story is not compelling. But as it turns out there's no worries there, because the story crafted by Hailey transcends its setting. OK, so I'm a self-confessed history hater (though that might have been due to the inaccuracy of the history I was made to study suffer, but that's a whole different can of worms), but somehow the characters and writing made it come alive for me. I think even though the setting and subject matter may be unorthodox, there's a lot people who can identify with in the characters themselves. And by association they start to become interested in the setting and subject matter when they couldn't originally.

I think it's really obvious by now I really really like this comic. I guess it's because it surprised me by taking a subject that was anathema to me and transformed it into something interesting and compelling. It takes a lot of skill to be able to do that and when you do manage to do it, you're pretty much doing everything right. In fact I wrote this with the usual feedback and criticism thing in mind but I really can't find anything I would nitpick (well maybe other than don't put the news page posting in every page of the archives too).

So this comic is a rather special and unexpected Find. But when I read a comic like Dovecote Crest I thank the Web for webcomics. Dovecote Crest is a comic that would probably have never been accepted by a conventional publisher because of the unconventional and niche subject matter. It's a shame, but traditional publishers have budgets and costs and businesses to run, so their sense = cents (and dollars). It's business.

The webcomics don't have to be business. It can be about doing something for the heck of it.

And that's the beauty of it.

Spammers spoil everything, as usual

I really hate spam and spammers. About as much as I despise the online game World of Warcrafts "Gold Sellers".

When both of them are trying to invade my blog, I get REALLY peeved.

In case any of you were wondering why your comments weren't showing up on the blog, I had to turn on comment moderation because they were spamming the comments with their ads and I was tried of playing catch up and cleaning up their mess.

(Edit: Comment moderation is now only on post older than 14 days. So that should make things a lil easier. I'll adjust the number of  days as appropriate later.)

Of course, I'm not so familiar with the comment moderation feature on Blogger yet, so I only found out recently on return from Bangkok that I had a whole stack of pending comments to approve. I really do apologize for the lateness. I'd figured they'd send me a notification or something. Turns out... not so correct actually.

(Edit: I just found out I have to manually set this in settings. So that solves one problem)

Speaking of Bangkok: It was great, I got food poisoning and for some reason it's really really hard to find an internet connection you don't have to pay through your nose for. Now I have a newfound appreciation for free wifi...