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WintreKitty Reviews

Webcomic Critiques

Month

March 2016

Damn Karen by Francis Ortolan


Karen is kind of a tricky girl.

Story

Damn Karen by Francis Ortolan tells a story about a woman who appears insensitive and upfront. The first chapter offers some insight into some thoughts that everyone may have now and then… but certainly not to Karen’s extremes –I hope. Karen’s insensitive attitude in otherwise sensitive events can appear humorous at times, but it can quickly cross the line into shock. A factor I believe Ortolan was utilizing.

Many of the scenarios that Karen finds herself in could be considered relatable in some sense. The way she reacts to those situations is what separates her from the audience. She isn’t exactly a loveable character all the time. But she does have her moments.

Aside from Karen’s deepest darkest thoughts, one thing that stood out to me is how little the world that Karen lives in is explained. There are some odd events that occur that I’m not sure if I should just accept it as part of the world, or if I should actually be concerned. Ortolan mixed a weird variety of genres into one story, and it doesn’t sit all that well for me.

Dinosaurs, ghosts, magic, and arcades. I just don’t know…

Each page can stand alone in the first chapter but still envelops an overall story. This doesn’t follow through in newer chapters however, as the story picks up and takes on a solid plot. Honestly, I like this tactic. It allows for a quick fun read for new readers, and as the plot develops slowly, the readers don’t even realize they fell right into a plot-based story.

Writing

As easy as it is to follow along with the plot and what is happening with each conversation, the grammar errors are definitely in the higher range of awful. The fact that the comic is still readable comes down to the brains amazing ability to fill in gaps in sentences when words are missing.

This grammar is nonsense.

As much as I don’t want to be harsh to comic creators, there are certain things that I can’t let slide. Grammar and spelling is definitely one of them as it is such an easy fix. All you need is someone to proofread the story for you. A lot of these errors could have been avoided. I recommend consulting with someone about the grammar.

Some of the sentences also appear slightly awkward. It isn’t terrible, but if the words are arranged a bit (and missing words are added), then conversations would flow more smoothly between characters.

Like I said, this comic is definitely not illegible, so it just comes down to watching out for the errors that separate Ortolan’s work from professional work.

Art

Let’s talk about something a bit more positive shall we?

Damn Karen is a very visually appealing comic. Ortolan uses bold, beautiful colours to capture the scenes, with clean lines to really pull each page together. Expert use of paneling also shows that Ortolan’s talent lies in his artwork. The incorporation of abstract concepts really adds to the overall presence of the comic.

 

Ortolan also pulled a simple trick out of his hat that a lot of artists forget: time. This is something that is overlooked a lot of the time. A great way to represent time is by having a clock in the corner of a scene that shows how many minutes have passed during a conversation, or as Ortolan utilized, the sun setting. It is subtle enough that it doesn’t distract the reader from the story, and yet just noticeable enough to give a clear representation of time.

Although there are some angling errors –which inevitably lead to proportion errors– Damn Karen has some great angle shots in general that really capture the emotions in a scene. Always take advantage of those angles as they really can change the way a scene is interpreted by the audience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new angles, either. Shading and light can also be used to capture a scene’s emotional impact.

Dramatic lighting and angling emphasize the emotions Karen feels in this particular scene.

Finally, Ortolan pulls another trick out, this time from his sleeve (because apparently I have a magician theme today), to demonstrate how easily it can be to get the reader to focus on particular things in a panel. In Damn Karen, this is seen with blurred out and faded backgrounds. The attention is focused directly on the conversation between the characters, showing some of the irrelevance of the information provided in the background.

“Could you get me the… uh… sorry, I seem to have forgotten my glasses.”

Conclusion

Although I have some issues with the grammar in Damn Karen, Francis Ortolan manages to pull a relatively insensitive, yet humorous comic out of his pocket (damn these magicians). Ortolan also creates some fabulous art that really helps you forget about some of the areas in need of improvement.

If you enjoy comics that don’t fit into a specific genre and like to break the conventional rules of loveable characters, you should check out Damn Karen by Francis Ortolan.


 

Check out Damn Karen by Francis Ortolan here

Undying Happiness by Zelkats


Summer break’s here and Naomi’s dying to leave her house to meet an online friend for the first time. She travels far from the city to where he lives, but upon realizing who or what he is, she might just decide to turn back and run the hell home.

Story

Undying Happiness by Zelkats is a unique comical story about a girl who falls in love with a clumsy immortal man, and spends the rest of her life cleaning up after his mistakes. The story has a great introduction that jumps straight into telling the reader who the characters are.

Best. Date. Ever.

Although the introductions are great, character development is lacking. The characters don’t learn any life lessons from their mistakes, and in fact, they just keep going with what they were doing before. It can be seen as a personality flaw I suppose, but in the end, there isn’t really any strong “moral of the story.”

That being said, the longer you read the story, the more you fall in love with their comical lifestyle. One issue that comes with this story’s amazing concept though, is that you are going to get a ‘technical reader’ every now and then. Technical readers like everything to be explained to them in a very factual way. Unfortunately, Undying Happiness doesn’t offer this. The concept doesn’t scientifically make sense. That will probably deter a few readers, but the idea is not to overthink it. Don’t get stuck in the technicalities of how he regrows, or why he is immortal. You’ll just hurt yourself.

That’s remarkably disturbing.

Aside from the fact that there are some rather disturbing scenes (albeit comical), I would say this comic is relatively family friendly. Naomi (main character) does have a habit of spewing out profanities, but let’s be real. You would too if you lived with a man who constantly received ‘fatal’ wounds.

Aw, she cares.

In fact, I’d say she handles the fact that she lives around the most dramatic people ever, pretty well. Most people wouldn’t be able to handle the stress that she goes through.

“WHAT ARE YOU DO- never mind. I’m over it… we’ll just move again.” – Naomi

But I guess you can boil it down to the fact that her life is sort of predictable. You know at some point something bad is going to happen. Each chapter basically guarantees a comical, unbelievable, accident.

From this, you would think each chapter could be their own individual story, something sort of like a “slice of life” comic, or similar to shows like Friends. You aren’t wrong, they can stand alone, but Zelkats has clearly thought out exactly where she wants the story to go, and how she wants it to progress. She took the time to lay out the story, and it shows, as each chapter flows smoothly into the next with great transitions.

The story, however, can get confusing as it jumps around the timeline a lot. It is really important to pay attention to the dates in this comic. One way to help with this (especially if you are not reading in bulk) is to always reread the last page of the previous chapter. This way you get a sense of what point in time you are at. You’ll understand what I mean better once you see the yearly sequences: It starts at present time, and then jumps to 13 years later. It then transitions into 11 years before, then 10 years later, and then 7 years before again. Confused? That’s why that transition page is important. It gives you a more solid grasp of where you are in the timeline.

Each chapter ends with a statement that segues into the next.

Writing

No matter how great the comic, they all seem to fall prey to grammar and spelling errors. Undying Happiness is so close to having no errors at all, and it probably could go unnoticed if you weren’t looking for them.

Advised* hnnngh so close!

In order to make a rather disturbing story seem more family friendly, Zelkats has included lighthearted humour and implemented this through ridiculously dramatic characters and –something you see in classic comedies– reoccurring humour. These are accomplished in both the writing and the art.

Read the comic. It’ll be funny… I promise.

Zelkats also does a nice job of explaining the immortal family without compromising story flow. There are occasional areas where these explanations could have been shown through actions, but in addition to this, script has been added. In most of these cases, the art is enough to stand on its own.

Naomi, I think we’ve figured out they have little to no pain receptors since the first time they were introduced. Your face is enough to tell us what you are thinking.

Art

Zelkats definitely has shown us what she can do with her art, and this proves how little she needs to actually tell the readers with words. She flaunts her artistic ability by making anatomy drawings look easy.

Grotesquely glorious

She also remains consistent in her art style from page one to where she is now. This is important for giving a professional perspective on the comic. Undying Happiness is also created in a traditional design, which adds to this professionalism.

It would be nice to see some more original backgrounds in this comic, as most of them seem to be “refurbished.” I don’t really have a problem with this, but it can create some disconnect between the art style of the characters and the background. Although backgrounds may not be the most important, it gives the artist an opportunity to be creative.

The characters are obviously the most important thing in this comic, and Zelkats does a great job creating some dramatic expressions that complement the script and fit the scenes together nicely.

Ooooh, he’s snapped!

These facial expressions are also used in the sequential paneling, which are done beautifully, and create another way to show just how gruesome this comic could be if it weren’t so humorous.

Yum~
Yum~

Conclusion

In conclusion, Zelkats does a great job telling a lighthearted (yet dark) story about an immortal family. I would recommend this comic to anyone who doesn’t get worked up over technicalities.

This comic offers a great storyline, but no solid end goal –you are following along with Naomi’s memories and experiences. If you like this style, I think you’ll love Undying Happiness!


You can check out Undying Happiness by Zelkats on Tapastic.

Commander Princess Maisie by Abbie Bacilla


When a family tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Princess Maisie of Nodenbelle must take command of her nation’s army with the help of her sub-commander, Fatima.

Story

Commander Princess Maisie by Abbie Bacilla is an adorably hilarious story filled with tragedy and violence. Yes, it is a weird combination. And yes, it does work. Very, very well.

Abbie Bacilla manages to take the violent death of characters and make them seem very lighthearted and humorous. This takes a great amount of skill and understanding in how to manipulate scenes and depict emotions without coming across insensitive and offensive. This knowledge also indicated the ability to change the mood of the comic easily when a more serious tone is needed.

Aside from the humour, Commander Princess Maisie has some great plot delivery and uses multiple ways to transition from one scene into the next. The character introductions are also nicely done, with some great character development along the way.

Lastly, Abbie Bacilla easily introduces some history to the world by literally including a history lesson. Nice and simple way to get this in without boring the audience to death.

Writing

Obviously the writing is quite witty and charming. The grammar mistakes are very few and far between (if at all), and I’m overall very pleased with the writing quality.

Abbie Bacilla also does an excellent job pairing the depiction of emotions in the artwork with the script. Having the art and the script connect like this is very important to the delivery of the comic to the reader. It creates a stronger bond with the characters as you can feel (and see) the emotions in their voices.

What she is saying and portraying match up nicely.

Commander Princess Maisie also offers some hints in the script that could be overlooked. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is unpredictable, since the hints can be rather obvious at times, but the humour can definitely mask some of them.

 

“I whip my hair back and forth!”
I see what you did there… to be honest this one is pretty obvious. 

Art

I adore the artwork in Commander Princess Maisie. Although it starts off with some  rough and simplistic lines, Abbie Bacilla quickly improves as the story develops.

Massive improvements from page one.

Her character designs are also fabulous and unconventional. I’m a huge fan of the characters’ constant wardrobe changes.

 

Girl, look at you! Fab. 
What a magnificent beast.

To tie in with the emotion and script pairing tactics, Abbie Bacilla also likes to exaggerate the facial expressions of the characters, making it very clear what the characters are feeling in that moment (which also adds to the comedic effect).

"Be as dramatic as possible, really accentuate the emotions you are feeling. Yes, yes, like that!"
“Be as dramatic as possible, really accentuate the emotions you are feeling. Yes, yes, like that!”

One area that could really use some improvement are the backgrounds. Although they do appear very pretty at times, the majority of them are very simplistic. It would be nice to see some more detailing in them. This is a palace afterall,  there are great opportunities for some elaborate designs here.

 

Some eccentric backgrounds could have complimented this scene.
The background is as forgotten as the poor dog. 

Although the backgrounds seem a bit sparse for my liking, the story still remains just as great. With the rate that Abbie Bacilla is growing, my guess is that she will continue to show some artistic improvements down the road.

Conclusion

Overall, I think that Commander Princess Maisie is a great story that will be enjoyed by everyone. There is a great amount of humour in this story, but Abbie Bacilla proves that she knows how to capture the serious tones in the plot just as well. The artwork has also shown some great improvements as the chapters progressed, and I predict that Commander Princess Maisie will continue on a very positive path in the future!


You can read Commander Princess Maisie by Abbie Bacilla here.

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