Creator/s: Jessen Sheridan
Section/s: Ch. 8, "Prejudice"
Website: The webcomic describes itself at the top of the page as "bedtime stories for all ages," and even after reading a chapter, it's still a mystery to me what the creator means by this. There are descriptions of the pages throughout the comic (which I'll get to later), and I guess they could be read in sequence as a story, but that just seems like a lousy format for storytelling. Or is the reader supposed to look at the webcomic on a computer or smartphone before they go to sleep? The chapter also deals with the serious subject of racism, which probably isn't proper bedtime material for "all ages," although Owl and Fish-man lists a rating of "Web-PG." Or maybe this header's supposed to be a joke; I dunno.
The color scheme is red, gray, and white, and I think these colors look bad together, especially the gray-on-red links. The creator should probably try out some different color schemes to make the site more attractive.
One very unusual part of the site's that it treats the creator like some sort of video game character, updating his HP, MP, level, money, and status with each new comic page. The site also shows various drawings of the creator based on his status, such as grinning for "refreshed," sickly for "poisoned," and zombie for... "zombie." I guess this is intended to be funny, but I just think it's distracting from the comic, and I don't think it's a smart move to have the creator's character competing for attention with the comic's characters.
In the center of each new window, and above the comic, is a lengthy post from the creator, and they mostly seem to be about video game stuff unrelated to the comic. These posts are fine, but noncomic stuff shouldn't be featured so prominently on the website, and it'd be better placed below the comic pages or on a separate part of the site.
Lastly, there appear to be a bunch of different comics on the site aside from Owl and Fish-man. I don't have time to check them out, but fans of this comic have a lot of material from this creator they can read while waiting for new pages of Owl and Fish-man.
Writing: The first thing that stands out to me's the "recap" header at the top of each page. While it's blatantly redundant and unnecessary, the reason it stands out's 'cause it actually diverges from the comic quite a bit. Foremost, the header consistently switches the sex of Cicada and Den, as shown in this page where they're described as "a most noble Prince, and a lowly, though beautiful, common girl." And there are more problematic headers: Here, the guardscaptain's called "the King"; here, it says, "Owl led the Fish-man to a humble town nearby," but in the comic they're out in the wilderness; and here, it says, "Seeing Owl, the girl threw her arms around him, crying," but Den's obviously trying to attack Owl in that panel. It's unclear why the creator includes these headers in the first place, but he may as well get rid of them if he's gonna use them so carelessly.
As for the story, named "Prejudice," the creator puts a lot of effort into trying to deliver the message that "racism is bad." The guardscaptain plays the role of the racist straw-man, trying to disrupt the princess's relationship with a furry, while the heroes, of course, are much more tolerable, and try to help the princess and furry out. Over and over and over and over the guardscaptain makes it clear that he doesn't trust Den and Fish-man because they aren't humans. At the chapter's conclusion, the racists are ideologically defeated when the king calls a disguised Den a "charming young man" and "quite a gentleman." Unfortunately, the creator doesn't bother to give any of the characters more depth than being "racist" or "not racist," and he chooses to forgo entertainment value in favor of strictly focusing on the story's anti-racism message.
This anti-racist presentation is extremely simple and unsophisticated, and it's particularly disappointing since the creator has a degree in English Literature. He's obviously fairly well-read, so I don't get why he presents his work as if "racism is bad" is a novel or interesting concept, when it's really just the opposite -- it's been done a ton in the past several hundred years, and all of the notable examples handle the subject of racism in a much more complex and capable way. Now, I'm not implying the creator needs to match wits with some of history's greatest literary minds; rather, I just mean that if he chooses to focus a chapter entirely on a well-established subject, he should be familiar with and understand some prominent works related to that subject, and I don't see any evidence of that in this comic.
Also, I think it's kinda lame that the fish man is just named "Fish-man."
Art: While there's a respectable amount of detail in the characters' outfits and in the backgrounds, the artwork generally seems fairly lazy to me. On top of the characters looking overly basic, the drawings are repetitive, and the creator doesn't vary the comic's composition as much as he should. My chief complaints are: The creator overuses silhouettes (like here, here, here, and here), and they mostly come across as an excuse to avoid detail; the characters have the ridiculous side-mouths from low-budget anime, which should never appear in a comic; and the creator does this thing (here, here, here, and here) where the character in the foreground looks straight at the "camera" while interacting with the person behind them. I'm also very underwhelmed with the wide shots, with this one being the most uncreative angle possible, and this one being too minimal for the reader's introduction inside the castle.
On the plus side, the line art's rather clean, and the creator does a good job of varying line widths to establish depth. The characters also have distinct designs and are rendered pretty consistently, although they all seem to have large hands.
Lastly, the creator should consider using a different font, as Comic Sans is overused and unattractive. I also think the weird text-wrapping here is kinda ridiculous, and I hope the dialogue in that panel isn't important, 'cause I didn't force myself to try to read it.
Overall: This webcomic seems very immature, even though the creator's been doing it for a long time. While the comic updates a lot, the creator doesn't display much skill or effort, nor does he make any real attempt to develop the comic's title characters, aside from making it abundantly clear that they aren't racists. It's also unclear who this story's intended for -- the site says "for all ages" and "Web-PG," but it seems strange for racism to be the main focus of a story for children. I think the creator needs to seriously reconsider his intentions for the project.