Running with Swords

Creator/s: "RoochArffer"
Run: 9/11-current
Schedule: Mondays
Section/s: Pp. 27-46

Website: It's the same exact decent-looking blue-and-gray template I saw in the last Smack Jeeves comic I reviewed. And similarly, this comic's lacking any sort of bonus material.

The comic seems to stick to its weekly update schedule pretty consistently, only missing two updates so far this year.

Writing: The creator seems to make the following assumptions when wracking her brain for comic ideas:

1) Referencing a video game is inherently interesting, funny, and/or clever
2) It's relevant to point out that video games aren't realistic
3) The reader will always be interested in the games being referenced
4) A goofy facial expression is an appropriate substitute for a joke

None of this is true.

I don't see any evidence this creator has a sense of humor, or that she's interested in trying to come up with an actual joke. "Hey, everyone! Look! It's Skyrim!" isn't a joke, and especially not when the creator does it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. You'd think this was some sort of Skyrim fan-comic, except that it's the same idea ("Hey, everyone! Look! It's Skyrim!") terminally recycled. It's kinda like seeing the characters in Groundhog's Day tragically living out their lives the same exact way every day, completely unaware they're stuck in an infinite loop. Once in a while, though, the creator experiences a surge of creativity, showcasing innovative new concepts such as "Hey, everyone! Look! It's Mass Effect!" and "Hey, everyone! Look! It's Phoenix Wright!"

The other failed aspect of the humor's the over-reliance on facial expressions. Goofy faces can be effective if timed well and used sparsely, but it's a bad idea to try to use funny faces as the main gag for almost every page in the comic. Appropriately enough, two of the strips I linked are titled "Crazy Eyes" and "This Happens Every Single Time."

Art: This is actually the third time I've tried to review Running with Swords. What happened the first two times, you might ask? I didn't feel like trying to browse through the humongous panels. Unless you're trying to do some kind of avant-garde infinite canvas webcomic, your strips should not be 1,400 pixels wide. And having giant, 650-by-650 panels in a simple gag comic, with size 34 text, is a recipe for an eyesore. By comparison, everyone's favorite gaming comic uses 800-pixel-wide strips, with 250-by-350 panels and size 12 text. If I wasn't committed to doing a review, I think the obnoxiously large artwork would've quickly driven me away for good.

The style of Running with Swords is kinda... confused. Some of the times it's an underwhelming slice-of-life comic, and at other times it's an underwhelming fantasy/sci-fi comic. The creator's tolerable at drawing video game characters and monsters, but the backgrounds look like they were done in MS Paint. Here are some more lazy attempts at backgrounds. And don't expect to even get any backgrounds in the slice-of-life parts. The creator seems to be more-or-less trying to pass off the casual, simplistic artwork as being for "just a gag comic," but since the gags are so weak, the artwork's largely forced to take over as the comic's sole potential source of entertainment value. The art's not terrible, but it isn't nearly skilled or detailed enough for the comic to be considered art-centric.

Overall: Gaming comics are the most overdone archetype on the web, and a creator who tries to make a gaming webcomic is basically either proclaiming their work as brilliant enough to make a meaningful contribution amongst an endless chasm of underwhelming gaming comics, or they're ignorant of the fact that there's a whole lot of other people out there doing the same thing. But this creator isn't a brilliant cartoonist, and isn't really even mediocre, so all we're left with is yet another bad gaming comic to forget about.


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