URL: kokiro.comicgenesis.com
Creator/s: Star Glover
Run: 12/05-current
Schedule: "Usually updates once a week, most likely on Thursday"
Section: Pp. 382-399

For some reason, the Comic Genesis home page always displays multiple "pogs" for Kokiro. Weird.

Website: The website comes across as cheerful and cutesy, with cute rainbow buttons, a smiley and heart in the title, and chibi navigation buttons.

The main unique aspect is that most of the comic's bonus content's in its own Wiki page. This includes character info, world info, and an archives section. There seems to be a lot of material here for the more interested readers to browse through. Although, I noticed the archives are a bit out of date, and don't include any comics from 2012.

The cast page uses a cool trick called an tag to make image links in all sorts of weird shapes. It's a neat way to do a cast page, and since the main characters are drawn the largest, I knew to get their information first.

Lastly, I noticed that the footer on all the subpages is in black text, which can't be seen on the black background. This can easily be fixed by adding text=white or text=#FFFFFF to the < body > tag of the subpage document.

Writing: I thought this was gonna be a cutesy gag comic, so I got caught off-guard when it turned out to be really dark and serious -- probably even moreso than some of the "dark and serious" webcomics I've reviewed, like Bee Police and Demon of the Underground. The section I read is all about murder, abduction, and torture, and the setting seems dystopian and post-apocalyptic.

That said, I get the impression that these dark elements are handled by the creator in a sort of "accidental" way. It reminds me of those gag commercials where the producers of a snack food or cereal have a "disaster" at a factory that explains the origin of their product. I'm a bit perplexed at what the creator's thought process behind this creative direction is. It's almost as if she read a Frank Miller comic one day, and then gave guns and bad attitudes to the characters in a Tastes Like Diabetes webcomic. I'm reminded a little of Jhonen Vasquez's Squee, where there's a cute, innocent, scared little kid enduring just about the most horrible childhood Vasquez can imagine, but that comic's intended as dark humor -- Kokiro, on the other hand, is played pretty straight.

As for the quality of the writing, the noir aspects come across as very anemic, as if the creator doesn't have much interest in writing a noir story. More attention seems to be given to portraying the cute but distraught childish characters, who look like they're in sore need of a blanket, a warm glass of milk, and a hug. But while showing cute children struggling to survive can be a touching subject, I feel like it's a subject handled in a much more mature way in movies like Grave of the Fireflies and Oliver, which are more focused on how the children overcome their hardships than on how pitiful they are.

Art: The art seems "doodly" and rushed to me, and I'm disappointed because I get the impression the creator's more capable than she shows in the comic. The faces are consistently oversimplified, arms and hands are lumpy or pointy (the characters switch between having three, four, or five fingers, for instance), and details like clavicles seem to be hastily scribbled as an afterthought or left out altogether. Backgrounds are rushed as well, with all interiors being completely empty, all buildings being generic rectangles, and the exteriors being empty wasteland. It's feasible that this fictional setting is really that devoid of detail, but it's still visually unattractive for the reader.

Another thing I noticed is that Kokiro never goes out of the way to show something in a particularly interesting or impressive way. It seems like every good comic will have an elaborate wide shot, or a splash page, or an action pose, or a cool perspective, or an unusual panel layout, or just something sort of special like that to catch the reader's attention, mix things up, and slow down the pacing.

Also, the coloring's bright and cheerful, which is completely out of place for the comic's dark story. Noir's associated with black-and-white art or grayscale, so any coloring in a noir comic should be handled very delicately. Shading is also generally much more intense in noir.

Overall: "Sugar rush" and noir are two fundamentally opposed styles, so it's not a surprise that they don't mesh well together. A master cartoonist could maybe pull it off somehow, but the creator of Kokiro isn't that cartoonist. If I wanted to read a "sugar rush" comic, I'd read a real "sugar rush" comic, and if I wanted to read a noir comic, I'd read a real noir comic. It doesn't help either that the artwork's over-the-top cutesy and colorful, which sends a weird mixed signal when trying to process the violent and serious parts of the story. My recommendation's for this creator to re-evaluate her creative direction and determine which style she's most comfortable working in. I think the comic would also benefit if she tried to challenge herself more with the artwork.


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