Creator/s: Paul R. Zook
Run: 1/95 (really!)-current
Schedule: Once in a blue moon
Oh, boy. Well, here goes nothing...
Website: What's up with the update schedule? I assumed at first this simple B&W gag comic would update three times a week, or maybe even daily, but it turns out it doesn't even update once a month. 2010 had nine updates, 2011 also had nine updates, and 2012 has two updates so far. Honestly, from my perspective, this comic's in a state of permanent hiatus, and I wouldn't have reviewed it if Critters' creator hadn't personally requested a review. Even if I was a reader who was in love with this webcomic, I still wouldn't read it because it virtually never updates.
The home page is embarrassingly primitive. It looks like something from the '90s, and it's by far the worst website of the comics I've reviewed so far. Even the generic templates that Smack Jeeves and Drunk Duck spit out are superior. The creator can start by making graphic buttons, customizing the font, shrinking the enormous banner at the top of the page, and trying to come up with a site layout that has even a hint of creativity and effort.
Critters also has an amazingly terrible blog, where the creator apologizes for his terrible update schedule more often than he posts strips. I'm not kidding -- 2010 has 10 blog posts for nine strips, and 2011 has 11 blog posts for nine strips.
The cast page and extras sections are actually pretty good, although the characters in the cast page are 10 times more interesting and detailed than they are in the actual comic.
There are some problems with the site not working right. Some of the links don't target correctly... what is it, name= for the destination? The 2012 section of the archives still incorrectly says 2010 (we're almost in March now...), and the "previous" link on the May 2010 strip links to itself.
I guess there's supposed to be merchandise or something some day?
Writing: It's the same kind of cute, bland, unfunny, and apolitical slice-of-life gag strips you'd expect to see in the comics section of a print newspaper -- which is a major problem, because the comics in the newspaper are absolutely awful. And to make things worse, it's mostly old people who read print newspapers -- so the people who actually like newspaper comics for whatever reason are totally unlikely to read webcomics anyways.
Rule #9001 of Writing: Know your audience. Obviously the demographics of the people who read webcomics can be broken down into different subgroups, but all these subgroups have something in common: They're totally turned off by traditional newspaper comics. It's like a Mormon walking into a Baptist church and trying to convert people there -- yeah, he might get that weird guy over by himself in the corner to listen for a bit, but for the most part the Mormon's completely wasting his time.
As far as describing the writing mechanically, which I feel obligated to devote at least a few words to, it's never funny or amusing in any way, and the characters are completely devoid of personality. The only character I found to be at all interesting is Leo DeCat, who occasionally shows up to pitch an impractical scheme. And remember how I described the comic as "apolitical" earlier? It is, except for times when it gets very political and serves as the creator's personal soap box. Unfortunately, this political aspect ruins the comic's innocent charm, which would have otherwise been its lone positive feature.
Lastly, the furry world in the comic doesn't always play out very plausibly. For example, in one strip Peter gets attacked by the Easter Bunny, which is actually pretty bizarre since most of the characters in the comic are rabbits. And in another strip, the rabbits use the online screen names "pinkbun2k" and "honey.bun," but why would they reference their species in their screen name? Wouldn't it be strange if someone in real-life had a screen name like "pinkhuman2k"? And for some unexplained reason, there's a human in one of the strips as a one-panel throwaway character.
Art: Readers should immediately notice that the art looks like the famous Looney Tunes style. In fact, the rabbits look a lot like Bugs Bunny, and Leo DeCat looks a lot like Sylvester the Cat.
The art's decent, but it gets boring pretty quickly because almost all the panels are just variations of the characters standing and talking or sitting and talking. The creator does a reasonable job of varying emotions and perspectives, but there are a ton of repetitive knee-up and waist-up shots. Although, I give the creator some credit for always including some new element in the artwork of each strip.
The "pointillism" style of shading used is pretty unusual. It looks okay, but it also looks time-consuming, and I wonder if simply coloring the characters gray digitally with a program like GIMP would cut down the production time significantly.
Overall: If Critters ever actually updated once in a while I could maybe give it some credit for at least trying, but since it doesn't even do that I just don't really see the point of it. The creator writes on his site that he sees Critters as "a serious, full-time potential source of income," but I see that statement as completely bogus. The creator needs to focus on actually having a marketable product before he even dreams about making money off of it.