The Prime of Ambition

Creator/s: Naomi Craig, Alyssa Follansbee
Run: 1/06-8/08
Section/s: Ch. 2, pp. 22-42

Website: It's attractive, original, and fully-featured, and it has a clear fantasy theme to it. The creators also use random-banner and mouseover-image code to spice up the site a bit.

There's a good amount of information about the fantasy world and the characters, including the unusual element of giving each characters a theme song, which I think's a cool touch. There's also a notable amount of extra artwork, and some information on the comic and the creators.

The creator-reader interaction in The Prime of Ambition's pretty significant, with a forum, a Twitter feed, a Tag-World board, and news updates from each creator. I think the text on the main page would look more attractive if the creators used a less generic font, though.

Lastly, there's some code on the bottom of the main page that went a little haywire. The creators might wanna fix that.

Writing: This section has a monomaniac focus on the racial animosity between the sun elf Audriel and the drow Thanatos. The 21 pages I read are almost completely about the elven adventurers dissing, competing with, hurting, or threatening each other. In my last review, I praised fostering conflict amongst protagonists, and while this creator's attempting to do something similar, in this case I feel like the hostility's way overblown. Having some racial tension between the characters would be a fine idea, but the subject got boring after only a few pages of it, even though the hostility was slowly intensifying. The banter between Audriel and Thanatos is witty and amusing, so the creator does a decent job of handling the situation, but the situation's stretched far too thin to be saved.

A few ways come to mind how the creator could've handled this section better on a conceptual level:

A) Break the scene up into segments and switch around between the story's various groups, like how the Lord of the Rings movies do it

B) Have a few pages of the elves' racial tension, then move on to the next part of the story, letting the reader know the elves begrudgingly traveled through the jungle together for a while

C) Have the elves' hostility be more severe in the beginning of the section, and then either have it result in serious violence between the two, or have the experience help the elves abandon their prejudice and achieve a sense of camaraderie

Art: The pages where the creator does full coloring and shading, like here, here, and here, look gorgeous, and are notably high-quality artwork for a webcomic. Unfortunately, these pages are sparse in the comic, and far more prevalent are the black-and-white pages. These pages have a lot of background detail (I like the little animals here), and the line art's consistently pretty strong, but they always seem starkly incomplete, and they don't have the skillful shading and color contrast that a purely black-and-white webcomic like Four Tales has. The comic goes through a variety of other visual styles, including flat colors, shaded characters with flat backgrounds, and colored characters on a black-and-white background.

I've criticized inconsistent artwork in a few of my reviews, but it hasn't been as much of a major problem as it is in The Prime of Ambition. Not only is it jarring for the reader and makes the story feel less coherent, but the brilliant coloring makes the colorless pages look particularly dull and underwhelming by comparison, even though they're still pretty well-drawn. It's understandable if the creator can't commit to doing the terrific full coloring because of time constraints, but I think it'd be best if the creators choose one visual style and stick with it, even if it means not necessarily updating as often.

Overall: Both creators display some obvious skill and talent, but neither of them seems to have possessed a clear vision of where the comic was going at the time it went on an extended hiatus. The writer seemed to have been struggling to make a concept work that wasn't that well-thought-out to begin with, and the art's obviously all over the place. Fortunately, though, the impending reboot gives the creators a chance to redeem themselves, and as long as they do a better job of figuring out how they wanna do the comic ahead of time, I think they have the creative abilities necessary to make a pretty good fantasy webcomic.


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