Captain Nihilist Responds To the State of The Webcomics Union

qc

Just yesterday, Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content released his State of the Webcomics Union.

This is the democratic response.

Most of the stuff written was of the “Rah Rah Webcomics” variety like you see below:

• There are a lot more of us, and we’re a lot bigger now.

• The level of art has gotten a lot better. Part of this is old hands getting better at drawing, part of it is people with actual training in the visual arts getting into the medium. I’m glad I started QC when I did, I’d be hell of intimidated trying to start off now with my ’03 art skills. On the flipside of this, some of the very most popular comics have the most basic art (XKCD, Cyanide & Happiness, etc.) so maybe it doesn’t matter so much?

• There seems to be less “drama” going around. I think this is mainly because the more popular creators have wised up to smaller folks tryin’ to troll them, and a lot of the old-school internet jerks have pretty much wrecked their reputations by bein’ internet jerks. I hope this trend continues, I do not miss “flame wars” and “rude folks” at all.

• The sky is still the limit. We’re nowhere near saturation as far as potential audience goes. Back in 2003 I thought there would NEVER EVER be another webcomic anywhere near as popular as Penny Arcade. Now we’ve got XKCD and Cyanide & Happiness who are either as big or bigger. Anybody who thinks we’re all competing for some fixed amount of potential readers is completely mistaken. It’s not a zero-sum game, which is great because it means there’s plenty of room for everybody, new folks and old hands alike, to grow!

As another blogger once pointed out, I’m not really that in tune with the “webcomic community,” so I have no idea whether he above is true or not. Jeph has been around longer, so maybe he knows the score. However, one point ruffled me a little:

• The idea of critical analysis of webcomics has largely died out. Sure, people still blog about webcomics and “review” them and stuff, but it’s become a tiny, tiny niche sector. I think this is mainly because there’s not a whole lot of point to reviewing something anybody can go look at for free and make up their own mind about! Is this a good thing? I have no idea.

OK, I’ve only been running this site for a little over 2 years now. I have no idea if there was some sort of Golden Age of Webcomic Criticism that I missed out on. Maybe there was a fantastic era where webcomic critics were served the finest wine at convention and given the choice cuts of meats, but are now forced to live in tiny little hovels ever since the bottom of the webcomic criticism bubble burst and are now forced to toil in a tiny, tiny niche sector. Frankly, when I started blogging, I had the impression that Eric Burns of Websnark was pretty much the only game in town. Sure, his output is pretty much nil lately. But I think it’s a bit of stretch to say that webcomic criticism has largely died out because Websnark is, for the most part, dead.

But “a tiny, tiny nice sector”?

Here’s a quick rundown of a few I’m familiar with.


The idea that “there’s not a whole lot of point to reviewing something anybody can go look at for free and make up their own mind about” is pretty much a fallacy. Let’s move to another genre: network TV. Over the last year, the two most visited features over at the EW.com and The AV Club were the Lost recaps and analysis. Should I have to remind you that Lost is on network TV, something you don’t have to ever have to pay for? (Episodes of Lost are also freely available online. Why read some blog about what someone has to say about, oh, the “Jughead” episode when you can check it out for free online and make your own mind about it?)

And, if you really want to get down to brass tacks, money is never really a factor in why you supposedly reviews, either. Think of book reviews. What do you think is a bigger motivator in purchasing a book: the money you spend on it, or whether or not you’re going to invest your precious time in reading it? Paperbacks are $7 — a mere pittance, given the size of some book lovers’ libraries I’ve seen. And if you don’t want to pay, most books are also available at your local library for free. There’s even a “New Books” section! How about that!

Consumer report reviews of cars and computers and other capital items can indeed save you money, but entertainment reviews are different. Money is hardly a factor. What you really want to know is: do I want to spend my time reading something I don’t like? Does this book get better after 3 chapters? Is there a good pay off at the end? Will I be satisfied mentally?

And the value of time is something that webcomics cannot get away from, expecially if their archives have just crossed the 1,000 mark. Sure, like Jeph said, it’s free … but would YOU want to stick around if you weren’t won over be either the clunky first 100 pages or the relatively banal last 100 pages? Maybe there’s a great story somewhere in the middle. Wouldn’t it be great is someone out there told you that was the case?

That’s the theoretical. I know, though, that’s not the REAL reason you come by to read reviews. It’s closely tied to why I write them. I write reviews because, well, I love reading webcomics. And because I love reading them, I want to share with as many people why I liked certain comics. I also want to tell people what they should stay from, and I await to hear whether others have different opinions. I imagine you like reading them because they might give you a different perspective from what you’re used to. Because, frankly, you also love webcomics, and you love discussing them.

This is, incidentally, why the Lost recaps are so well visited. People want to talk (or type) about something they love. The review is an anchor point, a conglomeration of discussion points to ponder over. The rest is up to the reader.

If Jeph is right — that he’s seeing less webcomic criticism online while business is booming — then here’s my conclusion: people are less enthusiastic about webcomics than ever before. Fewer webcomic blogs mean, to me, that fewer people care enough to blog about them. In an environment where bloggers will post reviews about anything and everything that interests them — movies, video games, music, books — a decline in people blogging about webcomics means, to me, that fewer people care… which invalidates all the shiny, happy webcomics world that Jeph Jacques gleefully discusses in the rest of his “State of the Webcomics Union.”

IF it were true.

I think there are enough webcomic reviewers and critics out there to prove Jeph Jacques wrong.

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on October 15, 2009, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. “Most of the stuff written was of the “Rah Rah Webcomics” variety like you see below…”

    When someone find themselves the big fish in a small pond, they will be very happy tell you it’s great in the small pond and anyone who argues against the state of the pond is a fucking asshole. And that’s fine, as long as the people reading it are smart enough to recognize it as the self-serving propaganda it is.

    Which is why the propagandists are so against things like “critical analysis” and will talk it down whenever they can. They know that not everyone CAN recognize the self serving propaganda when it’s being dished out. It potentially narrows down the number of people they can sucker.

    So never stop doing what you’re doing. Being willing to stand up and say “Yo! It’s not that good!” or, “This other comic is worth your time!” is probably the most vital service anyone can offer to a potential reader.

  2. I am not sure whether it’s the time or the money involved which makes reviewing worthwhile. In the case of a book, if you’re anything like me, you won’t read through something you won’t like; you’ll ditch it as soon as it’s impossible to redeem in your eyes. In my case, it’s around fifty pages, though I may make exceptions if the book is slow in pace and clocks in at, say, a thousand pages (for those books, I’d even be wary of too abrupt a beginning, because such a pace would be impossible to sustain without tiring the reader).

    As for $7 paperbacks, that’s perhaps in the US, but I’m in Canada, and you can bet that even if our currency were kept at near-parity for six months, prices would never go down; they still hover around $11-12 CAD here. But that’s quite besides the point, as by the time a book gets to mass-market paperback edition, it will have been out for a year or so, perhaps more if it’s popular enough to still sell well in more expensive editions. And for most nonfiction (which is what I mostly read now), even for general-interest titles on somewhat niche subjects (i.e. anything not involving US politics or Nazis, or better still, both), the chances of a mass-market paperback issue are practically nil.

    So in those cases, reviews do matter in avoiding the cost of a book more than the time involved if you’re not exactly an assiduous reader. Besides, professional reviews usually study a very recent work. Writing a fresh review of “East of Eden”, no matter if Oprah picked it up, is almost a complete waste of time if you want to turn that into a career (except in niche contexts such as at the academic level, using arcane theories and jargon that would defeat the most eager of readers).

    I hear there is some talk of putting the hardcover first printing tradition to rest, but it’s still around, especially for nonfiction, and it can set you back $30-50 per book, depending on title and publisher. And in my case at least, the amount is not inconsequential. Especially if you ditch it after fifty pages; these days I roam the mixed-bag section known as remainders. I found some great books there which I had never heard about, as well as underwhelming books which I can hardly call disappointments, as I harboured no expectations about them in the first place.

    Likewise, a film ticket costs $10 and consumes 90-120 minutes of your time usually. In such a case, I would think the price (especially if you add all the fluff like popcorn and such) matters more than the time wasted. Yet does that make film criticism inferior to book criticism? I’m not prepared to say that.

    As for webcomic criticism, unless the webcomic is actually behind a paywall (and it’s pretty much suicidal to do so), there is no tug of war between time and money — it’s all about the time, and not that much, really. A page a minute, tops? Under such circumstances, where everyone can write webcomic criticism (I’m not talking about critical ability, I’m just talking about having access to webcomics; books are expensive if you’re not provided with a review copy, and only professional reviewers get one), how can we explain it’s going down? I’ll try to summarize it in one word (and sorry if I ruffle any feathers):

    Futility.

    I like your stuff, because unlike that guy “Solomon” (yes, I know that you once wrote well of him) who went out of his way to insult (even personal insults that had nothing to do with the comic), you still remain courteous whenever you dismiss a webcomic, no matter how awful it might actually be. But don’t you feel that, whatever you may write, there is nothing to convince someone who writes a bad webcomic and posts it for free on ComicGenesis or DrunkDuck, with no real expectations of making money out of it, to actually improve his writing and/or drawing? Those who expect to make money will just drop making it sooner or later when they realize it isn’t happening, and among those will be many who can’t draw or write no matter how hard they try. But don’t you worry, there will always be many more to continue where they left off.

    Then you get the gorillas, the guys who are so big and powerful that they are impervious to criticism, because they have their own base of readers that just expects them to continue to do exactly whatever they are doing. Thus you get aberrations like Penny Arcade, where the protagonists have been wasting their lives on video games for more than a decade, forever frozen in time in the spirit of the late-nineties dot-com bubble, with only topical updates to give the reader a clue that time has moved on. And nothing could despair me more than the retort “it’s a gaming comic”, which is pretty much a carte blanche for the PA makers to keep on doing exactly what they’re doing until ripe old age (and perhaps then leave the writing to their relatives, like newspaper strips). To their credit, though, they’ve made improvements over the years.

    If you want a good and at the same time bad example of a major webcomic going down, it’s Ctrl+Alt+Del. It’s a bad example, because Ctrl+Alt+Del is a truly awful webcomic without a hint of originality, and because Buckley is by all accounts a prick, but most of all because it isn’t criticism which is going to be its downfall, it will be Buckley. I’m pretty sure you know where this is heading — the miscarriage episode. As a plot twist, it WAS badly handled, and galling if you read Buckley’s comments about it at the time (I think Cyanide & Happiness made a parody of it). But I think that even if it had been tastefully handled, his hordes of fans would have screamed just as loudly. They embraced his webcomic, no matter how bad, since the beginning, and they wanted it to stay just the same. A miscarriage could not fit in there.

    So if you leave out the big guys who can’t be affected by criticism, and who will continue to do what they’re doing no matter what, and all the little guys who likewise won’t improve (many of whom couldn’t anyway), who is going to be targeted by webcomic criticism? Readers don’t waste money over webcomics, and the time wasted is so minimal that it hardly counts (if you’re not doing it from work when the boss isn’t looking to begin with). So you get guys like “Solomon” who indiscriminately attack the webcomic makers and all those who read their works; but what the Solomons do is vicious, pointless, and all about serving the critic him/herself. They want someone to be blamed, but they can’t make it stick to either an unconcerned webcomic maker or its apathetic readers; in the end, they’re all about scoring cheap goals in an empty net (damn hockey metaphors).

    And the Solomons are doubly nefarious in that they can stifle promising webcomics with a review that knows no other adjective than “irredeemable”. Who wouldn’t call it quits after reading that? (In the case of one of “Solomon”‘s victims, a webcomic with great artwork but stilted dialogue was just yanked from the web, presumably as a result of it.) It’s reviewing at its most parasitic, and it wouldn’t offer constructive criticism out of personal pride (can’t dilute the “Solomon” brand, can we?).

    I remember that review you wrote of that strip (I forget the name, sorry) featuring cats in the Revolutionary War. I think you gave it one star, and it was the first time I strongly disagreed with you, perhaps because the artist truly had drawing talent. But at least you were gentlemanly; “Solomon” would have shouted it off the web. Yet that was a webcomic which could be redeemed, with a few slight changes to the artwork and maybe by getting a second writer on board. When I see such cases of wasted talent, I don’t feel like hurling insults at them; I almost feel sorry for them. I would not whitewash my criticism, but I would at least give pointers of how it could be improved, which is what you also seek out to do. Hence I’m reading you and not “Solomon”, if “he” came back.

    But webcomic reviewing, despite how much I enjoy reading it, remains quite futile. Except perhaps for people seeking to begin a webcomic (or at least, I hope so!)

    • Thanks for that well reasoned reply, Vetty! I think I’m going to have to do a “why review webcomics at all” piece one of these days. I wanted this one to be mainly a refutation of Jeph Jacques’ position that webcomic criticism is all of the sudden a niche issue rather than an examination of the nature of criticism itself.

      How about this analogy: say you’re at your public library, and you’re surrounded by shelves and shelves of books, both new and old. You want to pick up something to read, but you have no idea what. In fact, the only thing catching your eyes is the Twilight series, and the only reason it HAS caught your eye is because a) you like the cover and b) it’s the only book anyone ever talks about.

      But tucked away on the shelves is this nifty series by Kate Elliott. The book is a little old, though the saga itself is only in Volume 5 of a 7 part series. It has very ugly cover art, so you’re turned off immediately. But tucked inside is a really well written story with very three-dimensional characters and a lot of suspense. But having hever even heard of it before, you pass it by.

      My point is that if I, who have read that Kate Elliott series, wrote something very glowing and very wonderful about it, that reader may have come across that review and, curious, may actually go ahead and read that series. And maybe they will be rewarded. Or maybe they’ll hate me with the fury of a thousand suns. It doesn’t matter. At least they heard someone’s opinion of the series, and it piqued their interest.

      Now, as to the effect of critics: Roger Ebert said it best when he said that, in the end, the effect of critics is nil. (This is the most read movie critic in the US saying this, mind you.)

      At no point do I think I’m going to ever cause mass waves of people to, all of the sudden, embrace Set To Sea, which I gave 5 stars, or even discover Lagend, which I think is quite good yet only has a very small amount of readers.

      Like I said in my closing statements, I’m really doing this because I love writing, and I love reading webcomics. And I like trying to figure out why I like something, or why something else turns me off. That’s about it. I’m a self-absorbed gasbag. :)

      Though Ebert, again, addressed that point far more nicely:

      Too many simply absorb. They are depositories for input. They can hardly be expected to be critical of their own tastes, can they? Of course they can. It is not enough simply to be a “Cubs fan,” although I confess I am one. It is necessary to feel the philosophy, the history, and even the poetry about the activity called “baseball.” It is helpful to step outside a little, and see that sports teams are surrogates for our own desires to conquer, and expressions of our xenophobia. For some, they are even the best way ever invented to drink beer outdoors. If you are only a Cubs fan, you are a willing automaton in a business venture. Join me in being a Cubs fan, but know why you do it.

      Anyway, I’ll probably elaborate on this further at some point. For now, thanks for the excellent comment, and keep checking this site!

      • I, for one, am waiting to see ‘why review webcomics at all.’

        I think I speak for all of us reviewers when I say thanks for standing up and posting this for the rest of us. No one gets enough feedback on the web, including reviewers.

      • I have no idea why, but until a few weeks ago, I would never have heard of the Twilight series, but now I hear about it everywhere, and always in the negative. And I never actually read what you might call a “review” in the proper sense on Twilight, just the odd remark here and there; enough for me to stay away. However, the name Kate Elliott means nothing to me, so you have a point there. A review which seeks out to promote what might be overlooked is a great idea, and it is probably the best context in which a review can be written.

        But it also means that a “John Solomon”, who just seeks to dismiss everything, is useless as a critic, as he will not pay attention to worthy but unknown webcomics; he just wants to pan heavyweight and obscure webcomics indiscriminately. (The Bad Webcomics wiki seems to have taken over that role.) Nothing is easier than to despise everything, because to like a webcomic, especially a less obvious choice, would actually force you to stand your ground. (There is always something to be learned from the shortcomings of others, but when it’s mostly done to stroke the ego of the critic, it quite loses its usefulness.)

        As much as I like to see a contrarian opinion on a webcomic sacred cow (I _want_ to read someone’s complaint about The Order of the Stick, a webcomic I like, but I can’t find any), it’s starting to be dubious when the reviewer seemingly has all the sacred cows lined up for shooting them down one after the other, along with much safer targets, with the reviewing process having all the inevitability of a Stalinist trial disguised as an impartial process.

        This raises one question: To what extent is webcomic criticism compromised by the webcomics scene being dominated by networking (or, to put it less kindly, cronyism), and that those who criticize webcomics are just as likely to want to start one? It might be especially true for awards, but it could well be the same for criticism in general. Webcomics are still nascent, and probably considered frivolous by most outsiders, so who is usually concerned enough about webcomics to start reviewing them?

        You get people who either don’t really care about webcomics and just think that it’s the easiest thing to review (meaning the result isn’t very good) or skewer (guys like “Solomon”, smart, but who like their targets to be the size of a barn), or who gravitate around the scene and would rather use it as leverage, i.e. nary a negative word, except for ultra-safe targets. (In a way, it reminds me of video-game reviewing, though in that case it’s not because everybody works in the industry or wants to, but because their hands are tied by advertising.)

        Cases like yours, where I can’t see you belonging to either group, are rare. I don’t remember how I first came across your site, but I think I was just looking for a decent review of “Sore Thumbs”, and you were one of the rare people who reviewed it as a webcomic rather than from a political perspective. I disagreed with your assessment (two stars at the most, I’d say), but you were willing to put your arguments on the table, and I respect that. I’m getting quite tired of opaque criticism driven by agenda.

        It’s interesting that you should mention Roger Ebert, because I have never been a film guy, yet I have heard of him and maybe read a review or two of his. I also remember you writing recently about a controversy between him and Armand White, whom I’d never heard of. (I later went to the New York Press site and read a few of his reviews. I quickly had enough: he seems the archetype of the agenda-driven critic, though I’m sure that there are even worse cases I don’t know about.) Ebert definitely seems to have a very nice touch when addressing such issues, based on your blockquotes alone.

        I like Ebert’s baseball analogy, but I’m not convinced that watching Ken Burns’s “Baseball”, or being able to recite “Casey at the Bat” in its entirety, or to chuckle over parts of “You Know Me Al”, or even to admire the quaint atmosphere of Wrigley Field, is a good idea. It risks detracting from what major league Baseball has always been: a business, and a particularly ruthless one. If not for the Black Sox scandal, that easily might have been overlooked. Contrary to Ebert, I can’t find a single reason to be a fan of professional sports.

        By the way, I love public libraries for one reason: they’re a blend of everything you can think of, but they sometimes have such gaping holes in their holdings that it will look almost erratic. What I enjoy far less is that the older books gradually disappear to make way for the flavor of the year. At least university libraries will retain one copy of everything they acquire. Municipal libraries, on the other hand, never seem to hold on to what they have. Mine seems like that anyway; I went there recently, and the contents on the shelves all looked so clean and recent; nothing older than fifty years at the most.

        And I would like to second Delos’s comment: I can’t wait to read your “why review webcomics at all” entry.

      • And if I may add, what this website needs is some proper paragraph spacing in comments. My walls of text look even more daunting.
        ———-
        I noticed that another commenter also discussed (well, linked to) the “xkcd sucks” blog, another interesting case. I’ve never been a fan of xkcd, it’s too nerdy-borderline-arrogant to my liking, and the artwork usually isn’t even at the “serves the story” level of The Order of the Stick (despite plenty of evidence that Munroe can draw), but my reactions to the “xkcd sucks” blog are mixed. Some good points, but overall too much attention given to just one webcomic that isn’t really worth it. Especially since it’s entirely dedicated to demonstrating how xkcd is “sucking”, and has been at it for over a year. I suspect that even if I were one of xkcd’s biggest detractors, I would not go to such lengths.
        ————-
        Bad Webcomics Wiki is another case, but it isn’t even up to the quality level of “xkcd sucks” or even “Solomon”. Take “Sore Thumbs”; BWW says the artwork is “terrible”. No, it isn’t. It isn’t original, it’s American pseudo-manga, it doesn’t serve the story, but it’s not “terrible”. It’s actually quite good, but those guys would lose their “cred” if they admitted such a thing.

  3. Hah! I read that part and thought of you. I like reading your reviews… It’s good to have someone I can trust to recommend comics for me. I’m always looking for new stuff to read. It makes me either resort to the links page in a webcomic I’ve already read, or come here and browse your older reviews. And Jeph has another thing coming if he seriously thinks there’s “a lot less drama” now.

    There will always be drama.

  4. I sure hope:

    Webcomic reviewing isn’t dead. I just posted my first review over on the webzine Strange Horizons and was hoping to make it a monthly sort of a thing over there…

    Mike

    • Holy crap! There’s webcomic reviews over at Strange Horizons now? Oh, man … I used to check out that site quite often back in the day! (it was a favorite over at the Tad Williams Message Board.) That’s actually fantastic news … for an old reader like me, anyway. :) Thanks for the post.

      • Mine’s the first they’ve printed:

        I was looking for someplace that paid for reviews after ComixTalk stopped, so I sent the review editor over there a query. I eventually had to send him a whole review to convince him, but he says he’d like to see more. So here’s hoping!

        Mike Again

  5. By nature I’m almost always a lurker on blogs and forums, but this one got to me.

    Not a whole lot of point to reviewing webcomics?

    I could not disagree more with Mr. Jacques.

    I took up drawing and art years ago as a hobby. I quickly learned that honest (perhaps even blunt) criticism was the best thing I could receive. It helped my meager skills improve. When I decided I wanted to make my own webcomic, I began to wonder what makes a webcomic good/bad. I looked at comics I read and began to analyse them. Since my critical mind was still immature, I found the process difficult. I turned to reviews and critiques written by others. I have to rely on people who “blog about webcomics and ‘review’ them and stuff” since criticism is difficult to find in the webcomics’ forums that I’ve read. The fans tend to attack critical behaviour, even when it is not trollish. Heck, some creators are notorious for doing it themselves. Especially on smaller sites, the reader feedback seems awfully skewed. Some comics don’t even host a forum. Off-site reviews help me fill this gap.

    I’ve avidly read your blog for a while now, and I love it. You can’t give me an easy recipe to a good webcomic, due to the complexity and subjectivity involved. But you have helped exercise my critical mind. You offer viewpoints that differ from mine, and I learn to see my work from various angles or think of how differing people might view it. I might even change my mind or expand my view. You offer viewpoints similar to mine, and I learn to analyse and consider WHY I think the way I do. I hope that when I finally have a product I can share with others, it will have benefited from this process.

    Webcomic reviews shouldn’t be a tiny niche. Art and storytelling is a form of communication. If you don’t understand how your viewers/readers respond, how can you be sure your message is getting across? As a creator, you should be concerned with that. It baffles me how, in the small portion of the webcomics jungle I’ve seen, so few are.

    Sure, we can each read a free webcomic, form our own opinions and leave it as that (as Mr. Jacques seems to suggest), but it’s not until we share them that we learn about each other.

    Also, as a reader I unfortunately have little free time to read through the archives of very many webcomics, even if they are free. It helps if somebody does some quick reviews and explanations for me so I have more information when I decide what to try out.

  6. I don’t know which internet Mr.Jacques is reading, but the one I’m familiar with is still full of plenty of drama, trolling, rudeness and Ace Plughead’s trademarked freakouts.

  7. I’ve seen a definite decline in the number of webcomic review blogs over the years, and the ones that start up these days rarely keep at it over the months. I consider that a bad thing, because to me it means there’s less interest. That probably also accounts for some of the drop in flame wars, which don’t miss, but also I expect most of the teenagers that started such things are now confronted with real life and can no longer carry on their ego crusades. Also, the webcomickers who are targeted don’t care anymore, so even if new haters started in, they’d be ignored.

    But reviews are worthwhile, maybe not to the big guys, but definitely to us smaller folk. Drumming up an audience takes luck (the right crowd finds you and starts advocating for you) and money (you advocate yourself – ads, conventions), and the web is a big place where your comic can be easily overlooked. Yes, I enjoy seeing you review comics I already read to see your opinion, but I’m also very happy for whoever is lucky enough to make your queue. They’ve been noticed.

    My comic has been reviewed four times. The first was a request that got a mediocre review (good scores, the review itself was poorly written). The second was not a request exactly, but alerting the guy to my existence which resulted in the most gratifying response to my work I’ve ever seen written. The third was from Robert Howard, who found us at a convention. The fourth was a review so negative and out of left field that it still churns my stomach (doubly worse because I followed the reviewer’s work but opted to lurk because I figured it wasn’t his cup of tea but he found my comic anyway). Ironically, the last one garnered me the most hits.

    Now, of all those reviewers…Tangents is still sort of going. Four reviews, and I think my comic hit a glory spot of 1,200 unique IPs. I dunno how that compares to other comics, and there’s likely a bazillion factors at play, but hey, I like to think the publicity helped. And reviews or forum discussions help regardless, because it’s easier to plow through all the work involved in making a comic when you know someone cares about it.

  8. Ach, dumb me. There was a fifth. That one was done by one of my regular fans, so I consider it more a recommendation that he wrote. I was one of five “reviews” he wrote, and he didn’t continue past that. :-/

  9. I generally find something useful in every review no matter how negative or poorly written. Granted, it’s usually between the lines and not what is actually said. I was “Solomanized” in the SA forums, but once I took out all the personal tastes and insults I could see what he based those on. Especially by looking behind the many things he got wrong about the comic by doing such a quick read-through. A couple of other points were actually valid and helpful. Again, most of it was between the lines of what he said, but it was still useful information. It also helps that I don’t give a rodent’s behind what is said about me or whether someone likes the comic. I only care about the things that will help me improve the quality of storytelling.

    Didn’t Scott McCloud say something like that recently? About everyone trying to take something from every review and critique? I can’t find the link right now.

  10. Subjectively, I’ve had the opposite feeling from Jacques; I think webcomic reviewing has gotten better. It seems like years ago Tangents was pretty much the only game in town, and I remember it being relentlessly positive and upbeat, always ignoring even glaring flaws in story or art.

    That was what I loved about Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad; it was very cathartic to find a reviewer who actually was willing to say if something was a piece of crap.

    I read reviews to find out about new webcomics. There are thousands of them, and most of them suck. I’m sorry, but going to Drunkduck and reading them at random until I find one I like WILL, in fact, take up quite a bit of time.

    It seems like nowadays there’s more willingness to judge webcomics with actual standards, where in the past the attitude seemed to be that amateurs should never be criticized, because they aren’t professionals.

    This site is the first one I ever found that had good, critical reviews, and the ones I’ve found since have been from links posted here.

  1. Pingback: The state of the union is strong | Paperless Comics

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