Webcomic Reviewers

Here's my take on some of the Internet's most prominent webcomic review blogs. The following are listed in alphabetical order.

Blog: Tangents Reviews
URL: www.tangents.us
Reviewer: Robert A. Howard
Section/s: 7/12
Average Word Count: 413

I found this blog to be somewhat misleading, as while it has the word "reviews" in its title, and clearly promotes having webcomic reviews, none of its posts gave me the impression of resembling anything close to an actual review. Instead, what Howard does is provide brief commentary about a specific aspect of a webcomic he feels like writing about, effectively "going off on a tangent." These commentaries are fresh and interesting, and Howard has a comfortable and confident writing style that I find appealing, but I'd prefer it if the blog was presented in a more honest and straightforward way. This narrow approach does have some merits, though, in that it provides an in-depth analysis of a particular part of the comic that a review, approaching the comic in a more general manner, would probably only touch on briefly. However, because the subjects are so acute, the commentaries seem targeted at fans of the comics being discussed, rather than to a general webcomic-reading audience. Because of its esoteric nature, Tangents Reviews isn't as enjoyable to read or informative as other review sites, even though its writing's of a relatively high quality.

Blog: The Webcomic Overlook
URL: www.webcomicoverlook.com
Reviewer: "El Santo"
Section/s: 5/12-7/12
Average Word Count: 629 (short)/1338 (long)

This is the No. 1 webcomic reviewer by far. Witty writing, a knack for comics, and a solid variety of scoring make this a particularly fun and engaging blog to read, and the "Ridiculously Long Webcomic Reviews" are significantly more elaborate and insightful than what other blogs offer. The blog also features "Small, Bite-Sized Reviews," which are often longer than the other sites' normal reviews. And while other review blogs tend to give every webcomic an "A" rating or equivalent, The Webcomic Overlook's average rating for this period is 3.3 stars out of five, which includes a couple one-star reviews. I'd like it if the reviews had a greater focus on the webcomics' artwork, as that aspect gets brushed aside to an extent in favor of the excellent writing analysis, but The Webcomic Overlook definitely sets the standard that other review blogs should look up to.

Note that the 1338-word average for the "Ridiculously Long Webcomic Reviews" excludes the massive, 3373-word review of The Least I Could Do that El Santo wrote to celebrate his 200th long review.

Blog: WebcomicZ
URL: www.webcomicz.com
Reviewer: Caitlin Hart
Section/s: 2012
Average Word Count: 648

Hart's reviews are reasonably detailed, but, unfortunately, almost all of this detail's put into summarizing the webcomic's concept and plot, which results in a series of tedious and uninspired posts. One notable example of this disconnect between summary and analysis is Hart's review of The Super Fogeys, in which she begins the last paragraph with "We’ll start the critique with [...]" -- that line comes after she's already written 70 percent of the review. Hart's anemic criticism seriously undermines the worth of her blog. She's able to clearly demonstrate that she read the webcomic she's reviewing, but who cares about that if the reader doesn't get anything out of it? I think a reviewer should try to approach a webcomic from the perspective of an expert, and that means presenting a keen and insightful understanding of the comic's strengths and weaknesses. And while not every reviewer will consider themselves to be an expert in writing or illustration, I think everyone's capable of demonstrating an intimate familiarity with the webcomic they're reviewing. So, while they might not be an expert of comics in general, they can be an expert of the particular webcomic they're reviewing, and provide the perspective of someone who's carefully read and considered that webcomic. In Hart's case, merely giving a plot summary isn't expert-level commentary; rather, it's something that even the most casual reader would observe. She also gives the webcomics she reviews an average rating of "A-," which suggests to me she's reluctant to discuss webcomics' more negative aspects.

The blog also has a review written by Sergio Ragno (misspelled as "Sergio Rango"), a.k.a. Comic Genesis' SergeXIII. This review's much better than any of Hart's, as it's primarily focused on analysis. However, at only 383 words, the review's very short, and it suffers because Ragno doesn't elaborate as much as he could've.

Blog: Webcomic Reviews Every Monday!
URL: webcomicsweekly.tumblr.com
Reviewer: ?
Section/s: 4/12-7/12
Average Word Count: 1053

This anonymous reviewer might be the most highly skilled writer featured in this article, but I can't stand his or her reviews because they're all so over-the-top in praise for the webcomics being reviewed. Employing flowery prose and punchy lines, this reviewer seems more concerned with flexing his or her literary muscle than discussing anything of substance, and the endless depictions of jaw-dropping awe at every aspect of every webcomic being reviewed quickly gets redundant. It's almost as if this reviewer's central motivation is trying to one-up their previous efforts in extravagance. It's unclear whether the overly positive nature of the reviews is due to the selection of webcomics, or whether it's related to the reviewer's inability (or unwillingness) to discern faults, but either way, the drastic lack of variety is this blog's major downfall. If there was even one review here that evaluated a webcomic as being merely "good," I would have a higher opinion of this blog, but, unfortunately, that isn't the case.

The blog also has a strange habit of including an elaborate "Warnings" section, which catalogs the violent, sexual, drug-related, or potentially offensive material in the comics being reviewed. I don't inherently object to this method of cautioning sensitive readers, but I'd prefer if it was presented in a way that was more relevant to the rest of the review. These "mature" subjects could also potentially be the most interesting part of the webcomic being reviewed, so I think the reviewer may be missing opportunities by treating these elements as "unwholesome" topics that readers could be averted by.

Blog: Your Webcomics!
URL: www.yourwebcomics.com
Reviewer: "Jack"
Section/s: 4/12-7/12
Average Word Count: 378

Jack has a keen and intuitive perception of comics, which allows him to provide some insightful analysis of the art and writing in the comics he reviews. On top of that, he's also a pretty good writer. This blog has some decent potential, but, unfortunately, it's perpetually hampered by the extremely brief nature of the reviews, which prevents them from providing any substantial amount of commentary. Jack identifies highlights and deficiencies in the comics he reviews, as well as indicating their notable stylistic aspects, but without taking the time to elaborate on these subjects, I don't consider reading these underdeveloped reviews to be particular worthwhile. Jack also has a meek and almost reluctant tone when bringing up comics' faults, and I'd prefer to see him take a bolder approach. As a result of his overly amiable attitude, it's unclear if the comics he reviews are great based on their own merits, or if it's because Jack's uncomfortable with being negative about their work. I think this gray area compromises Jack's credibility as a reviewer.

Overall: I'm pretty disappointed in the current state of webcomic review blogs, as out of the five I listed here, Tangents Reviews and The Webcomic Overlook are the only ones I have high regards for, and The Webcomic Overlook's the only one I'd continue to visit. I'm also somewhat surprised that there's such a limited selection of webcomic reviewers, considering that the number of actual webcomics around seem to number in the thousands. The Bad Webcomics Wiki has gained some clout, but I consider it to be more of a bad joke than a legitimate effort, which is why I didn't bother making an entry for it here. Ideally, I'd like to see an increase in the number of competent reviewers, as quality reviews legitimately recognize artistic accomplishments, encourage the perception of webcomics as a serious endeavor, provide creators with useful feedback, and help instruct novice creators.


  1. (Been a long time reader of this blog, I simply tend to lurk more.)

    The main problem with the bad webcomic wiki is that it has a very loose grasp of quality control- I feel as though there is a more serious effort for webcomic reviews out there somewhere but I have nothing of substance to provide. I feel another reason why some reviewers (who run blogs at least) may be a bit more timid about bringing up faults is due to the internet nature of the medium.

    That reason being that because more popular webcomics can have an intimidating fanbase and sometimes (though unlikely) can be an internet threat of sorts. The other side of it is that some reviewers take their criticisms straight to the authors (since they can) instead of consolidating them into blogs because while they may review they don't do it consistently enough to run a blog (though I do appreciate when I can find them).

    That being said I find the "Webcomic Reviews Every Monday!" to actually be the most detrimental review site since it has a fairly clear bias on style over substance and as you mentioned it rarely (if ever) delves into the weaknesses of the comics (and oh boy do some of them have problems). But again, this is merely my opinion on such a matter.

    Regardless, hope you'll keep at it with this blog- I'll keep watching this blog since I consider this one to be one of the more in-depth and thorough review blogs.

    1. Dear patriot,

      Several of our top officials convened at our D.C. headquarters to discuss the important issues you've addressed. We feel that these topics deserve our immediate attention, even though our focus as of late has been solely concentrated on perfecting our... avant-garde interrogation methods (or, as we refer to them at the water cooler, "blowing some steam off"). What follows are the conclusions we eventually arrived at.

      1. We disagree that quality control is the BWW's primary issue. Wikipedia, YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as webcomic sites such as Smack Jeeves, are successful projects dependent upon user-generated content of varying degrees of quality. The BWW's quality control and functionality could use some improvement, but we feel that its main problem is the intentionally negative bias in its reviews.

      2. We disagree that "there is a more serious effort for webcomic reviews out there somewhere." For whatever reason, webcomics criticism hasn't developed at anywhere close to the same pace that webcomics have. This likely contributes to the prominence of underwhelming projects like the BWW, which don't have to compete for attention the same way projects in more developed areas do.

      3. We also disagree that the Internet promotes timidity. Instead, we feel that the unfiltered, publisher-less nature of the Internet provides an environment for people to try to stand out and be recognized for their contributions. Reviewers who choose to avoid negativity are choosing to be irrelevant.

      4. We believe that some reviewers may be receptive to the idea of featuring guest reviewers. We've also considered that a general review wiki, similar to the BWW, may be desirable. However, it could be argued that many webcartoonists don't update consistently enough to run a webcomic, either, and this has clearly not deterred them from developing their projects.

      5. We determined that the main problem with Webcomic Reviews Every Monday! is that the reviewer's more concerned with conveying his or her writing abilities to the audience than conveying the webcomic being reviewed. We feel that a review's primary subject should never be the reviewer. We'd also like to remind you that we previously reviewed another review site, titled Narrative Investigations, that's even more underwhelming, but we considered it insufficiently noteworthy to include it in this entry.

      6. We're pleased to hear that you're on our side in our ongoing war against anti-American extremists. We're also pleased to add that the American taxpayers have generously bestowed upon us the additional funding needed to bolster our number of security personnel, as well as enhance our data-storage capabilities by 12%. Even if it takes us 100 years, we'll keep fighting until every terrorist is dealt with.

      We have control. We keep you safe. We are your hope.