Archport City Chronicles

Creator/s: "TommyShizuko"
Run: 5/11-current
Schedule: T/Th
Section/s: Ch. 8, "Blast and Flurrie"

Website: The gray-and-white template is kinda drab, and I think it could stand to be jazzed up a bit. Some sort of extra feature, like sketches or characters bios, would also make the site more engaging and help it stand out. The creator also may wanna consider taking a moment after posting each page to leave a little comment or ask a question to the readers.

This comic updates fairly frequently, and it's impressive to an extent that it's already up to its eighth chapter after only a year. It'd be better if the creator spent more time on the pages, though, which I'll get into more later.

Writing: This chapter's preoccupied with establishing the hierarchy of its strange creatures, with Vincent obviously being the head honcho who rules with an iron fist. But Vincent's just a generic Evil Overlord, and the comic wastes too much time on this drab character. The chapter also presents Blast and Flurrie as being subservient to Vincent but above the dopier characters, and that really dopey bouncing kid's beneath everybody. This display of social dynamics comes across as tedious and insular, though, and the creator should've condensed them and directed the story towards more interesting subject matter.

On top of that, none of the characters besides Vincent and the bouncing kid seem to have any discernible personality, and it'd be preferable if the creator devoted at least a little time to showing something unique about each character. I'm also unable to tell Blast's personality apart from Flurrie's, which is strange since they're presented as being important characters, and no context is given for why that weird hopping thing is following the princess around.

Also, the creator only shows two dots for an ellipses, which is something I haven't seen before. An ellipses should have three dots.

Art: I don't know what sort of comic influences convinced this creator that doing black-and-white art means hatching and crosshatching everything instead of actually drawing. Almost every background in the comic's just a bunch of hatching, and it gives the comic that jarring "floating in space" feel that cartoonists should really try to avoid. A major consequence of this sketchiness is that it's almost never clear where the scenes are taking place; for example, it isn't until the fourth page that the comic implies the opening scene's taking place inside some sort of building. The most awkward instance of this, though, is when the scene instantly changes from a forest to the middle of a town without even attempting any sort of transition. Drawing actual backgrounds takes more time, of course, but it's a necessary part of conveying a coherent reality for the reader, and it's especially important for fantasy stories, which are often particularly concerned with presenting the creator's imagined setting. In addition, a lot of comic's hatching seems rather sloppy, and the creator should consider doing the hatching with a ruler.

The creator starts trying to do real backgrounds in pages 11 and 12, which I appreciate to an extent, but these backgrounds both suffer from major perspective issues. Neither of the panels on page 11 make sense visually to me at all, and the buildings in page 12 are starkly two-dimensional in what should be a three-dimensional rendering. The creator's clearly in need of practice in this area.

The comic's hand-lettering looks childish and rushed, and the creator would better be off doing digital lettering for the time being.

On a positive note, the animals and weird creatures look somewhat decent, so the creator at least has that going for her. They could still be improved significantly, though, obviously.

Lastly, showing the dark edges from a scanner might be alright for a sketch or doodle, but it's definitely not acceptable for an actual comic cover.

Overall: I admit, when I first started reading this webcomic, I assumed it was made by a 14- or 15-year-old, so I was disappointed to find out that the creator's actually in her 20s. The creator explains, "I am not patient enough to a completely color comic and I lack the time and skill to do digital," but it doesn't appear to me she has the patience, time, or skill to do black-and-white illustrations, either. The essential thing for her to recognize is that she's still at a very primitive level in terms of her cartooning skills, and that she needs to start pushing herself considerably if she wants to make something readers will respect.


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