Ten Ways Bendy Straws Saved My Life

URL: bendystraws.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: Bridget Ellen
Run: 1/11-current
Schedule: About three pages a week
Section/s: Pts. 6-8

Yeah, I dunno what the hell the title's supposed to mean either.

Website: It's the same exact template and colors as the blah website from Pixelated Toaster. This comic could use some TLC here. At least the extras are nice.

Also, the straight-up URL goes to the archive page, and the "latest comic" and "news" links go to a mini-comic from October. Both the home page and "latest comic" page should show the real latest comic.

Lastly, I'm a little confused at the update schedule. The creator seems to routinely post multiple pages in the same day, which is very unconventional, with the weirdest case being when she posted five pages in one day immediately following a two-month hiatus. Regardless, the creator's currently updating quite a lot, posting an average of about three pages a week since Jan. 21.

Writing: It's the same kinda "awkward realistic moments" thing Loud Era does, and like that comic, Ten Ways Ben--... uh, TWBSSML... is really good. Probably the standout aspect of the writing to me's that, even in this little section I read, every character projects a very clear and distinguished personality, and to me that's one of the hallmarks of quality writing. Even with a minor throwaway character like the grumpy receptionist, the readers get her shtick immediately. And these aren't just generic characters, either -- Jimmy, for instance, is fairly complex, as he's trying to help everyone but at the same time's quite clumsy about it, and so his encounters are as abrasive as they are good-natured. Andy's great, too, and I got a kick outta how she manages to simultaneously assert and degrade herself.

And then for the other part of the writing: This comic's pretty funny. This page stands out not just as a great way of utilizing page layout to make a joke work, but also as an effective way to introduce Lisa as an annoying and clueless character. I like this one, too, as an example of a mundane event being portrayed in a funny way mainly just through good timing, strong page layout, and the goofiness of the characters. And here's another funny one, this time stretching the dialogue over many bubbles for dramatic effect. The writing in general seems very natural, sort of like the creator's merely filming several interesting people interacting with each other.

Aaaaaaaaand... there's a bad part. The spelling really sucks. As good of a writer as this creator is, she consistently manages to screw up the simplest words. "Nicley" instead of nicely; "meen" instead of mean; "enouph" instead of enough; and the more difficult words don't fare any better. And check out this doozy of a sentence: "You're here for you're girlfriend?" All these mistakes aside from the last one I mentioned would be prevented by running the dialogue through a spellchecking program.

Art: The art's particularly animated, confident, and playful, and I feel like the characters always have an amusing pose or expression, or both. The excellent caricatures are a highlight of the comic, and I was constantly entertained at how goofy Jimmy looks, with his huge glasses and hands, and scrawny neck and limbs, and at how blatantly unattractive Andy looks. The grayscale coloring and shading also looks fine.

Another feature's that the creator likes to use silhouettes a lot. In this comic, they look good and flow naturally as part of the page layouts, and I feel a little surprised that other webcomics aren't using silhouettes more often.

Overall: If the creator gets a real website layout and fixes her spelling woes, I think she'll have an outstanding webcomic.


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