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WintreKitty Reviews

Webcomic Critiques

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November 2015

The Jade Heart by Josie J.E.S.


In a land where people can manipulate their auras to unlock hidden power, Mimi Kaze must pay her fathers gambling debt to the local mob while discovering the ancient secrets of her home city and of her family heirloom The Jade Heart.

cover

Story

The Jade Heart is a story that I would say has a rough start. It certainly didn’t grab my attention straight from the start and this may be one of the reasons why its audience is relatively small currently.

The plot seems to jump around from scene to scene without really explaining how much time has passed, how they ended up where they are (logically), and forgets some important background information, like for example, how they get their abilities –Josie J.E.S. vaguely touches on auras.

To add to the lack of information on how their abilities are formed, there is the confusing transition from chapter one to chapter two. In chapter one the main character has no idea about anything and ends up in chapter two as this total badass with complete control. How that happened is a mystery to me, and as far as I know only seven days had passed since chapter one –which I find it difficult to believe she goes from zero to hero that quickly.

p1
Given a weapon to use…
p2
Summoned a weapon with her newly acquired abilities.

 

However, once you get passed those – relatively large – obstacles, you can see that The Jade Heart has a lot of potential to develop into something fantastic. Like anything, obstacles can be overcome and it’s just a matter of hard work and practice for results to be seen.

Writing

An area in which that hard work may need to be applied is the writing. Although it does improve slightly in the newer chapters, it is quite clear this is not Josie J.E.S’ strong suit. This is unbearably clear in the first chapter in which the grammar errors are in nearly every single speech bubble.

The biggest issues here are the spacing for the words, in which sometimes there is a space between punctuation and other times it just continues on into the rest of the sentence. Although this doesn’t make the story unreadable, it certainly doesn’t help aesthetically.

grammar

Another area is the use of capitals. Josie J.E.S sporadically and confusingly throws capitals onto the beginning of some words –regardless of punctuation. Again, it doesn’t prevent the reader from being able to understand the story, but it takes away from the overall appeal more than it adds anything at all.

Capitals
Random capitalized words make the flow feel slightly more choppy.

Both of these issues become less frequent as you progress through the chapters, although are still randomly there every now and then.

There is some great humour thrown into The Jade Heart which is really where I find a lot of potential in this story. Josie J.E.S. has such a random sense of humour that you just find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of the characters.

The final point I want to address here is the issue of awkward conversations. These happened quite a bit and may have added to some of the confusion in the story. The flow from one conversation to the next could be very rough at times.

awkward 2
The character Mimi should either have more speech bubbles for the two distinct topics, or it should be cut into two different panels.

That being said, there were other times when the conversations were beautifully written and flowed smoothly between characters and panels.

not always akward
Nice transition which really compliments the dialogue

Art

Similarly to the writing, the art contradicted itself at times, sometimes showing great potential and other times falling short of a potentially great scene.

I also want to make it clear that the art in the first chapter does not represent The Jade Heart. The artwork improves from chapter two onwards.

long legged character design

massive improvement
Body feels more proportionate and the addition of colour is more visually appealing.

 

Josie J.E.S. captures some nice movement scenes in The Jade Heart which make a big impact on her action scenes which are pivotal in this action-packed comic.

movement

The movement is complimented by good panel transitions that create flow from one scene to the next. Again, this is key for those action scenes and helps the readers understand what is going on.

paneling nice

One issue that contradicts this is the flat and stiff character designs. Normally I’m not bothered by flat, or 2D designs, but the issue arises when the characters are put in posed stances. What I mean by this is that the characters look like they are constantly posing for a photoshoot, standing in ways that just aren’t realistic for the conversations they are having and the situations they are in.

strike a pose
Side business indeed…

Adding to this is the creepy lack of facial expressions. Either the expression changes are so subtle I’m not noticing them, or the characters are perpetually happy –even in life-threatening situations. Also I found it odd that the good guys were buddy-buddy with the bad guys.

lack of facial expressions
“Why should I be surprised or concerned that you are shaking me upside down? Is fun, no?”

Lastly in the art, although I love the addition of colour that was added after chapter one, I found the backgrounds relatively boring and disappointing at times. Some of the backgrounds even blended in with the characters, taking away from the overall scenes credibility or impact.

not always awkward 2
Yaassss… I am the Invisible Man.
blending into background
“Well I used to have hair, but then I figured, eh, who needs it?”

Although, Josie J.E.S. did have some great backgrounds that really were quite a stunning combination of colours. Colour palettes are definitely Josie’s strong suit.

gorgeous artwork now and then
So pretty! 🙂

Conclusion

Overall, I am impressed with the amount of growth Josie J.E.S. has shown in her artwork and in her storytelling. She has a lot of potential for a great story and I look forward to seeing where she takes it from here.

I would suggest working with the first chapter a bit to maybe find a way to better explain some of the background of auras and the world. I’m sure the reader can fill in the blank spaces themselves, but it may be beneficial to offer a bit more information –for structural reasons.


You can read The Jade Heart on Tapastic.

 

The Absolute by Raymond Brege


I’m going to try something a bit different with this review. I’m just testing out some different writing styles, seeing what works best. If you would like to give me some feedback on this style, leave a comment below or write it in the Feedback section of my blog. Thanks!

Once again, The Throne of Caprice has ascended for the take. Whether the desire is of benevolence or madness, the Throne cares not. The mountain has risen and the world shudders as the vying persons and coalitions struggle for their own ultimate end.
For thou to stand at the top and seize both keys, become The Absolute.

THE CITY OF EPICENTER HAS DRAWN PEOPLE INTO ITS CRADLE SINCE ITS INCEPTION 15 YEARS AGO. NOMADS AND CONGREGATIONS JOURNEY TO THIS CITY THAT SURROUNDS AN ENTIRE MOUNTAIN IN HOPES TO WITNESS THE NEXT EPOCH OR TO PLAY A PART IN IT. FOR THERE IS NO GOD IN THE WORLD AND THE MIRACLES AND DISTORTIONS THAT SHAPE LIVES AND REALITY ARE MADE SOLELY BY THE WILL OF MAN AND THE UNIMAGINABLE POWER OF THE THRONE. AND THE THRONE CARES NOT WHO SITS ON IT…

AMEN HAS AT LONG LAST RETURNED TO THE LAND THAT ONCE PURGED HIM. HE VOWS HIS ASPIRATIONS WILL BE ANSWERED, AT WHATEVER COST.

KATHRINE, A YOUNG BIBLIOPHILE AND ARTISTIC SAVANT OF A PROMINENT FAMILY, HAS LOST HER WILL AND IS ON THE VERGE OF ABANDONING THE WORLD WHILST SECRETLY HARBORING THOUGHTS OF MURDERING HER OWN TWIN SISTER. THE FATES BEHEST SHE TO AN ADVENT WITH WHICH NONE COULD HAVE KNOWN.

‘THE FACE OF MY LORD BE FORGOTTEN BUT HIS ACTIONS WILL FOREVER BE EVIDENT” IS THE CREED IMBUED INTO THE HEARTS OF THE FOLLOWERS OF THE GOSPELS OF THE NEW LORDS, BUT SOME SECRETLY BRANDISH THEIR OWN DARK MACHINATIONS FOR THE GROUP AND THE WORLD.

AND THE GIANT OF A MAN WHO ALREADY STANDS AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. WHAT DOES HE WAIT FOR?…

Story

The Absolute has a pretty intriguing storyline, but unfortunately it is a bit clouded by a few things. The introduction to the comic is a bit confusing. I personally needed a bit more background information to be able to really grasp what was going on. The Absolute was very easy to understand the second time I read through it –but this is not necessary since you piece things together as you go.  What I’m getting at here is that you really shouldn’t have to piece things together, it should be clear from the start.

Although in context it isn’t completely unclear what is happening here, the overall purpose of this conversation is what I lacked at first and therefore I dismissed it as irrelevant.

One thing that helps this is the synopsis. It actually breaks down the entire story so far into chunks and it clarified a lot of stuff for me. I don’t think you should rely on your synopsis to tell the story, though.

I’m not really sure where to put this, so I’m just going to throw it into the story section since it affects the overall read. I had to zoom out to get a better view of the layout and the flow of the panels. Zooming out has this nasty effect, however, of making the text harder to read. I found changing my zoom settings to 90-75% was about right to see everything comfortably. This should probably be addressed for future releases so that the reader doesn’t feel cramped while reading.

I was unable to view the entire panel at standard zoom.
This is set at 75% zoom.

Writing

I don’t really have anything bad to say about the writing. The story progresses nicely in this sense and conversations flow relatively smoothly (minus a few spelling errors).

One issue that I do have though is that sometimes there is too much text in a page. Getting rid of some unnecessary conversations or shortening what characters have to say into only what is absolutely necessary could improve this and help create better flow throughout the entire comic.

If I can skim through these speech bubbles and still know what you are talking about, you can cut some stuff out.

Art

One reason why I struggled to really grasp the beginning of this comic was because of the art. The line work is a bit sloppy and can make it difficult to see what is going on all the time unless you slow down and really take your time to look at each panel.

Scenes could be much more visible with cleaner lines.

Talking about panels, there is some nice panel overlap that really flatters the flow. It’s pretty conservative though, and I would prefer to see more of it.

Take advantage of panel crossovers! They really bring a page to life.

Actually, there is something that I find a bit odd with the panels. Every now and then the side border of the panels are missing. Maybe it is a bit of OCD kicking in, but it bugged me more than it probably should have. The page felt incomplete and needed that one straight line to really finish the aesthetics.

The missing side border of the panel makes it feel cut off (especially the left side here).

I found the overall art a bit awkward sometimes as there was a mix of different mediums, which can be a good thing if done right, but in this case it didn’t quite work because they weren’t blended together correctly. Also, the lack of straight (ruler-precision) lines irked me.

The bending buildings does add an eerie vibe, but that could be done with straight lines and sharp angles. The smoke in the top left corner also stands out as separate from the rest of the art style and looks awkward.

That being said, there were some nice art improvements that occurred in the later pages. The lines are slightly cleaner, and the scenes appear easier to interpret what is going on.

Nice clean lines here with relatively simple designs, previous pages were too busy.

Conclusion

To sum up, I think that The Absolute has some great potential with some really nice writing. Raymond Brege’s art is better, but still has plenty of room for improvement. Not much of the plot has been developed, I feel like we have just been introduced to the prologue in a way, so I’m looking forward to seeing where Raymond takes his characters as they climb the mountain.


Read The Absolute by Raymond Brege here.

Alone Time Compass by FromFinn


After we engineered the new world maybe then we’ll seek entrancement for ourselves..

Before I start this review, I want to clarify something. FromFinn is, in a way, remastering the comic. I will be looking mostly at the original version, however, I have taken some examples from the “Encore” version. Needless to say, this review can apply to both. Enjoy.

Story

Alone Time Compass is a very unique story, particularly because it is interpretable. Each page is related, but could also stand alone as an individual piece of work.

One thing that may irk some readers is that the story is very vague. This is purposeful, but it may not be enjoyable for everyone. That being said, this is a story that deserves more attention than what it currently has.

I’m not going to say too much in this section since it can be interpreted a million different ways and I don’t want my interpretation to influence how you view it. What I can say though is that it encompasses a field of emotions and a desire for more work by FromFinn.

Writing

If I could describe the writing in Alone Time Compass with one word, in its simplest form I would call it “poetic.”

I’m not just going to use one word here to explain the writing, though. FromFinn clearly thinks about what he writes and what words are used to perfectly describe what is going on. The words are used in such a way that they could be understood differently depending on the person and that individual’s experiences.  Each page makes you slow down, stop, and think.

To help create a more poetic vibe and to enhance the overall reading experience, FromFinn uses multiple types of font and spacing to capture emotions in each page. I constantly found myself becoming mesmerized by the way the page was laid out.

One thing that should be addressed are a few sentence structure errors (ex. missing words) and several spelling errors. There are points where the writing is a bit more difficult to read due to blurring and small letters. I haven’t tested this out on a phone or tablet platform, but I’m assuming it could be difficult to see there as well.

Art

Using several art platforms, FromFinn captures the beauty of the creation of a world, and the feelings enveloped by it. Each page can be held on its own as a single masterpiece, or put altogether to tell a story.

The paneling that is used in Alone Time Compass breaks up the page nicely. FromFinn spaces out his page elegantly and takes advantage of blank spaces and the effects of different word placements.

The colouring that is used is absolutely gorgeous. FromFinn manages to capture light in a way that can make anyone envious. He also has a knack for combining different types of art platforms into a single page, using photography, water colours, and digital arts (something I’ve only seen by a few other creators). This is especially true in the “Encore” version.

Conclusion

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Alone Time Compass. I would recommend that everyone give it a read at some point. It is a relatively short read, but one that you could read over again and get different perspectives each time.

I personally prefer the original version because of its simplicity in art next to the “Encore” version. However, both give a different interpretation to the same story. So I recommend still reading both.


You can read Alone Time Compass by FromFinn here.

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