“The Donut King is a slice of life, comedic story about Neil, a young artist who recently graduated from college and works at a donut shop while aspiring for something bigger. The main character struggles with the shallowness of young adulthood, failing romances, and his personal failures and shortcomings.“
I find The Donut King by Neil Harrington slightly confusing. My brain wants it to function like a typical plot-developing comic, but the comic is actually a slice of life.
And yet… it still has developing plot with some relatively clear direction on where the main character’s life is going. This complexity in genre ‘allows’ for breaks in the plot for slice of life strips.
I’m not sure why I find this so bizarre, honestly, I bet a lot of comics have a similar layout – but I just can’t quite grasp it as a concept for this one.
It’s not even like the comic is hard to follow, because it’s not. It’s just… odd for me.
Maybe the odd genre mix has thrown me off, but I’m actually not a fan of the main character, either. He has a very negative outlook on the world (which isn’t the issue), and dwells on how miserable he is a lot. To be fair, the people around him seem to rub it in –either on purpose or just by living their own, more successful, lives. I think the real issue with this character that I have is how underdeveloped he feels. He has his goal, but he isn’t really striving for it –or at least, not that the reader knows about. He isn’t actively pursuing his dreams as much as he is talking about pursuing them.
Now, I’m a bit biased in this sense. I’ve had the privilege of supportive family and friends which have continually allowed and encouraged me to strive for something that I want. I realize not everyone has that kind of support behind them –and this character is no exception. But there comes a point in time when a person needs to persevere through it all in order to get to where they want to be. His determination remains (currently) in his words alone. For this reason, I cannot get on board with his plot until he does something to forward it. It has been mainly talk and no show.
In fact, the amount of conversation in this comic is quite heavy. Sometimes the conversations feel a bit excessive and could really be cut down. There is a lot of talking in The Donut King that feels really unnecessary and it’s basically just there to take up space (like this sentence…).
The conversations are also ridiculously mundane –in fact the whole comic is –so the excessive talking is actually a rather significant hindrance to the enjoyment of this comic. Don’t get me wrong, mundane style comics can be really enjoyable (just look at most slice of life comics on Tapastic), but I think why it doesn’t quite work here is because it has a bit of a plot. You expect more from a comic when it has an actual story to it. You don’t really read The Donut King so that you can laugh and say, “OMG I totally do that too!”
I will add in that there was some solid humour, though. Maybe because I’ve experienced college/university (currently still experiencing it), and a few of the jokes in here really nailed the lifestyle of a lot of the students I’ve met –in multiple universities.
Although I found some of those moments funny, I didn’t find some of the text style very entertaining. In fact, the text that is used to represent the main character writing to his friend really irks me. I find the letters too squished and awkward, which slows down my reading pace. And an uneven pace leads to choppy waters in terms of flow in a scene.
What I was impressed with in terms of the writing, however, was how good it was. Actually, the grammar and spelling were almost perfect. I saw one or two errors that would probably go unnoticed by most people. Most of the conversations that the characters held, albeit mundane, were actually really well written and flowed fairly smoothly from one speaker to the next.
The paneling in The Donut King also flowed smoothly and helped the comic progress well.
Moreover, I am really impressed with the traditional art style that Harrington used for this comic, and I think he has done a fantastic job making it appear professional and clean. There are a few moments where the character designs feel a bit stiff, but honestly it isn’t often enough to dissuade me from giving this comic a solid two thumbs up for the art.
Another aspect that Harrington succeeded at was the expressions in the characters, particularly in moments of despair. I would be so bold as to say that these could be taken even further and exaggerate them a bit more –especially with the expressions on the happier end of the spectrum. Careful with those teeth though, don’t want to scare away the readers!
To conclude, The Donut King by Neil Harrington isn’t really my favourite comic, but looking back on my review, I can see that a lot of the issues that I have with the comic are personal preference. So if you don’t see what I thought to be a problem, then you may really enjoy The Donut King. I would recommend you give it a chance and see how the comic feels to you. Who knows, you may find yourself a new favourite read!
You can check out The Donut King by Neil Harrington on Tapastic.