Friday, September 11, 2009

Newbie Rant 5: Harkovast (The Bad Review)

(Gents, Gents, and the possible Lady, after much consideration, I decided to put this silly little thing back up again, because I'm already scheming to redeem myself anyhow.)

Hello I'm the WebcomiCritic, I do it because, well... Somebody has to!

Webcomic artists and writers tend to be a very niche category of people. we're all usually geeks. And in that niche category, we're usually the niche categories of anime and manga fans, furry fandom, comic book geeks, video gamers, and fantasy and sci-fi guys. Usually these don't mix, and when you do the audience tends to get even nicher.

Unfortunately, because of our limited scope, we tend to write stuff that's incredibly similar. We usually have our own spin on things but you can guarantee that we will usually tell a story of 2 gamers on a couch and one girl, a Tolkien/Dungeon and Dragons-esque story making fun of the system and cliches, a Tolkien/Dungeon and Dragons-esque story that plays every cliche and system flaw as straight as an arrow without irony, anime-esque things that either make fun of itself or play cliches straight, a furry comic involving either all of the above or a porn studio, a slice-of-life involving most of the above, I think you get the point.

So what was I trying to say? We geeks are very niche-y. Sometimes too much. I come to you with the poorly drawn and cliche-ridden display called "Harkovast" that has the gall to pass itself off as an epic war comic. When the truth of the matter is that it's just a large order of "Tolkien/Dungeon and Dragons-esque story that plays every cliche and system flaw as straight as an arrow without irony" with furries, hold the anime-style.

I'm reviewing this a the request of the reader and frankly, they couldn't have come to me sooner. The writer and artist (2 creators and they still do this poorly?) have been mucking about for nearly a year now and now they need a deep cleaning. It's time for their dosage of honest critque so things can start looking good around here. Daniel R. Stribley and Julie Anne Stribley, it's time you get what you deserve.

the story starts off with far too much exposition about some war we're supposed to care about but we get no context to make us care. There's just "light" and "darkness".


And after we get a monologue from mystery panda, we que the war between the clearly European cat-people using their energy weapons "powered by courage"

They're nameless and faceless mooks? How convenient, now we can mow down as many as we want and as savagely as possible without consequences!

Or so I thought.. Wow, the good guys make great Red Shirts. They're dropping like flies to the Giant Mook there.

But wait, there's still their champion to avert all this. Someone to swoop in and save the day. the Deus Ex Machina who can avert this! Who can it be? His name is... SHOGUN!

Wait what? really? The champion is a one word title? The writer could've called him "Samurai" with the same effect. And that effect is "Silly, cliche, and boring." And what's a Japanese-style fighter doing in a European Medieval setting? Did he get lost on his way to an anime convention? Did they run out of outfits knight's armor at the "Cliche Fantasy War Story" store?

Who is Lel? What's Technomancy? Nyumus? Why are they fighting? It's good to know the Stribleys explain everything without explaining anything. They provide walls of text that tell us nothing but ambiguous phrases that would've been as useful as nothing at all.


What kind of hidden Antagonist name is The Speaker Man? I create lame supervillains and superheroes and even my names aren't that bad!

So now we move on to Native Americans who are Foxes summoning some savior.

Yeah, I'm not touching that. Native Americans are nothing to be trifled with. I'd prefer not to make fun of them nor their portrayal. Make your own joke.

The scene changes to some old battle-worn soldier find a convent where he's attacked by some "nameless". And of course, he'd prefer to fight honorably instead of smart.

Creative. Never seen that one before.

And while the Bird savior, one of the fox Indians, and the monologue panda form the beginning are just standing around watching. The bird wearing a stupid outfit. They're apparently after another poorly named character called the totally uncliched "Heretic". The Stribleys should be writing superhero names for the Nineties...

we go back to the zealot old fighter who really is as stupid as he's portrayed as he attempts to fight three cavalrymen nameless without backup or being fully healed.

And then I found out why I in all 15 of my major story ideas why I never came up with courage-based weapons: Too frikkin' easy and even more too frikkin' god-moded.

Okay, save a damsel, go over her dully presented backstory, have the senile zealot and her try to find the shogun-wait! hold the phone! Here! Only NOW you tell us what Harkovast is? Aren't you a little LATE for that?

Whatever. I don't have enough faith in this comic to lose it.

And then before we can explore one of the more interesting team ups I've seen in comics (No sarcasm this time), we change scenes to this *snicker* Speaker man, whose name should've been "Preacher man" or "The One Voice." But then his name suddenly makes sense when he tells someone to drown himself, and he does it. Cool. Unfortunately it's offset by a wall of text I'm far too bored to read. Thanks a lot for you brilliant pacing, Stribleys, I really want to read this (Blatant sarcasm ^_^).

However, at this point, I'm far too bored to read the rest. I've seen enough here. Now that I've snarked at the content, time for the overviews:

The idea. If I could find out what it was, I'd be able to critique it, but I can't even find that. You have created a collection of cliches. the only thing original about Harkovast is its name. Find an original spin because this isn't it. This has more cliches played straight than Eragon, and Eragon was a horrid book series.

The story writing would put an English Professor to sleep. It's walls of boring text. Don't write me off as immature, I read books like the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony and I read Watchmen. But the point of comics is that it's a VISUAL MEDIA. Didn't get that the first time? let me repeat.


Okay? Good, just so we're clear. I'm here to enjoy a story. But I'm also here to enjoy it in the form of a comic. If you put in too much text and exposition, lord, you're gonna bore us to death. I can barely bring myself to read what you put because there's so much of it, misplaced too. And haven't you ever heard of a speech bubble? This is a comic, it's pictures that tell a story by displaying it and then being supplemented with words. If you're gonna put walls of text, write a book. That's what I did.

The Art. Good god, how do I say this? Stribleys, your artists is great. Kinda. You're good at poses, views, scenery, backgrounds, coloring, settings, and textures (especially textures).

And you suck, at anatomy, at drawing furries, at drawing scenes that make them look dynamic. Don't believe me? I've seen your fight scenes, those are more static than my fresh-dried laundry. There's no feeling of movement, everything is a freaking still life and it bores me. I hear these things called "Speed lines" are still in high fashion.

Your anatomy, my god, would it kill you to study the human body before you did something like make a webcomic? You stink at drawing people. the good news is that, so did I. but I learned. I observed people and learned how they work so I can make anatomically correct people while still maintaining my manga-american art style.

Your furries, my god, would it kill you to learn how to do that before you made a furry webcomic? I mean, this is poor, mediocre, sad, and sorry excuse for furry people. If you need help, study, that's what I did. If you need help, than I'll provide exampels that'll help:

Here's your beginner's class

Here's intermediate class one


and three.

Here's your master class

Here's your "same thing but with many years of success" master class

And here's your big book of DON'Ts.

So, now what? Stribleys, do as I saw, you NEED help. You're not original, your art isn't good enough, seek help. Learn what "original spin" means and use it.

I can't end with a quote, there's nothing funny or memorable about this comic.

-Read Or Die You Uneducated Buffoons
The WebcomiCritic


  1. So overall, a B+ then?

  2. I just noticed that your example of "'professional level without colour' master class" is a link to Peter is the Wolf, a furry porn comic featuring giant muscular werewolf women with boobs three times the size of their heads.
    I don't know if it was intentional, but I think you just outed yourself as a furry porn fan.

  3. Outed myself as a furry porn fan? Eh, people will believe what they want to believe. I met Bar-1 at AnimeUSA last year and he gave me the link to the site and advised I go to the PG-13 side. I put him up there because his art was good.

    If anyone is going to say I'm a furry porn fan... Well, I wouldn't blame them. 3 of my reviews are about furries/animal people and my next one in the making is one too.

    Well like I said, people believe what they want to believe and the facts they remain blissfully oblivious to.

  4. I know, when I link to naked children, people think im a paedo?! What gives?

    I like how you say:

    "You stink at drawing people. the good news is that, so did I. but I learned"

    And in your review you have a beautifully pencil shaded page from this Harkovast comic, followed by some child like scribble that you drew, using the same pencil crayon medium no less!

  5. I just want to say, "You stink at drawing people. the good news is that, so did I. but I learned." made me lol.
    Not because they haven't actually drawn any people in the comic, but What is up with this gentleman's left arm? Looks a bit detached.


  6. So I stink at coloring, so sue me. It's not like I own photoshop and I didn't want to present myself in black and white.

    We all have strengths and weaknesses. I can draw people lickity-split but i can't color them to save my life. the Artist of Harkovast does good with coloring, textures, poses, backgrounds, etcetera, and can't do anatomy for squat.

  7. This is not criticism, its just mindless yelling at a comic. If you think that Harkovast's artwork is sub-par, take a look at your own drawings and 'jokes' (are those jokes? they are not funny). Oh, and by the way, someone needs to become your critic, I'm sure that they would be able to complain as much as you. Enjoy!

  8. "The Artist of Harkovast does good with coloring, textures, poses, backgrounds, etcetera, and can't do anatomy for squat."

    But your 'art' has bad coloring, no textures, poor poses, no backgrounds etcetera?
    I fail to see why your venomous attack on someone's comic about art is then supplemented by your poor drawings attempting to mock them just because you claim you can draw people 'lickity-split'.

  9. While I agree that the reviewer's art is pretty bad (and on the whole, the review would have done much better without it -- just a tip for future posts), it hardly stands as a counterpoint to the arguments he raised. I, and many others I've talked to about the comic, share many of his complaints; the dull story and characters, the poor art, the comic's tendency to take itself far more seriously than it has any right to, et cetera. Yeah, the reviewer can't do much better himself; so? He's not the one being reviewed here.

    And, brotip: dismissing a review as "mindless yelling" doesn't actually mean anything. Maybe there's a reason the review was overwhelmingly negative, huh?

  10. "And, brotip: dismissing a review as "mindless yelling" doesn't actually mean anything. Maybe there's a reason the review was overwhelmingly negative, huh? "

    I agree that Harkovast is a bit slow paced, and that the coloring is wonderful. However, a critic can be negative without being harsh. TheWebcomicCritic is unnecessarily harsh. A good critic undertakes his/her job to improve the quality of the media. There are times in this "critique" when an attempt was made to do that. However, this is not a critique. A critique, however negative and however ture, is at the very least civil. It may not be "midless" but it is yelling nonetheless.

  11. Some things just need harsh criticism.
    Some things just need a good verbal hangin'.
    I'd say this is definitely one of those webcomics that deserves a hemp necktie. It's so bland it wouldn't even qualify itself for Entartete Kunst.
    For such works, civility is a wasted effort. Nothing else will jar the creator enough to improve his work.
    I would compare the feeling to, say, Avatar, which was some of the most horrible and unrealistic writing of the past decade, but continually gets free passes because it was so dang pretty. But for one who has seen true unblemished beauty, the falsity of the world of Pandora is glaring. And even muted, it is enough to constantly remind you how bad and nonsensical the story itself is. And no criticism is enough to improve the work because it simply isn't savage enough.
    This comic suffers from the same problem, a paint-by-numbers mess of a plot done by someone whom is colourblind. He will not realise what he cannot see without a good rogering.

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