Creator/s: Minna Sundberg
Schedule: Every day but Sundays
Section/s: Ch. 4
Website: It's very appealing, greeting the reader with a large example of the comic's colorful, dreamlike artwork. The navigation buttons are also very distinct, and they give me the impression of something like Native American or Norse wood carvings.
The comic has a lot of extras, including various drawings, tutorials, creator comments, and information about the comic. I like how the characters in the cast page are interacting with each other, although I think the cast and home pages should elaborate more about the comic.
Lastly, A Redtail's Dream updates six days a week, which is extremely impressive considering how detailed the artwork is. The creator obviously started off with a large buffer, but still, I don't know of any other webcartoonists out there who are this prolific.
Writing: Surrealism's one of my favorite genres, so I was pleased to stumble upon A Redtail's Dream, which takes place in a dreamlike reality called the Bird's Path. I was eager to discover more about this imaginative setting, which includes talking animals, magic portals, and immortal monsters; however, every time I expected the creator would deliver a bit of exposition, she passed up the opportunity to do so. Puppy-Fox's conversation with the bird's treated as being a big deal, but the subject they're talking about's only referred to vaguely as "this whole mess." Similarly, when's Hannu's asked why he and Ville are looking for Mr. Moose, he brushes the question aside, saying, "I have my reasons." And a lot of the chapter deals with a killer ghost-zombie-moose-thing, but its origin's only casually mentioned in one panel, where zombie-squirrel-things are given no specific explanation of why or how they made an undead monster. At one point, I breathed a sigh of relief as the creator appeared as if she was finally gonna give a clue as to what was going on; however, her idea of a plot synopsis is this: "See, we're all trapped in a dream reality right now, because of some hocus-pocus accident that some magical sky-fox caused, and the only way for you to get home is if a person, who I strongly suspect is your dad, puts this trinket on and agrees to return." That sentence is all the plot information I got from reading an 88-page chapter of a webcomic that's 228 pages in. Also, if Hannu's objective is to get the trinket to the guy, then how come, when they finally meet, all they do is chit-chat, and not even mention the trinket once? Just two pages later, Hannu's already beginning his next mission, which is to hunt down and kill the zombie-moose. But what happened to using the trinket to escape from the dream-world? It's possible that Hannu could've been lying about it, but if that's the case, then it means the reader's even more lost as to what's going on than they were before.
I'm aware that many, if not all, of the comic's mysteries are probably answered in the previous chapters. However, I think reader accessibility's just as important as, if not more important than, having a good story. And the irony is, while a creator might obsess for months, or even years, over their story, trying to get it just perfect, failing to include a necessary sentence of information here or there for new readers can be more damaging to the comic than any problem with the narrative. This information might be superfluous for established readers, but the minor annoyance caused by redundancy's far outweighed by the utter confusion caused by not giving new readers anything concrete to latch onto. They could go back to the beginning to gain a better understanding; however, why bother to make that level of investment when a reader can, instead, visit a more coherent webcomic and start enjoying it now? It's just a bad strategy, and if a surrealism fan like myself is gonna lose interest in the story, then I imagine the majority of webcomic readers are gonna find its vagueness even less appealing.
I think it's worth bringing up here the short review I wrote a few months ago for June, which is also a surrealism webcomic that doesn't really have a plot. The reason June works better's because it's more abstract, jumping around abruptly from scene to scene and portraying nonsensical imagery, so the comic itself seems to have more of a dreamlike nature. A Redtail's Dream, on the other hand, reads pretty much like a fantasy adventure story, and its plotlines of "bring this trinket to this guy" and "find and kill this elusive monster" seem like side quests straight out of an RPG. I'd even prefer something like an incoherent David Lynch film, where the situations are so intense and bizarre that it doesn't really matter that much that you barely have any idea what's going on.
On a more positive note, A Redtail Dream's characters are decent, with the playful dog-moose Ville stealing the show. I'm not one to typically get amused by cute animal characters, but he really is adorable here, and I get the impression he's having fun going on this weird adventure since his normal life as a dog's so boring. Hannu could stand being developed more, though, as he's basically the same generic, boyish protagonist as Ilias in Gaia, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.
Lastly, the amount of spelling and grammatical mistakes would be somewhat higher than normal for a native English-speaker, but it's really not that bad considering that English is the creator's third language, after Finnish and Swedish.
Art: The creator iterates throughout the About page and her comments that this is merely "intended to be a practice comic," but it should be obvious to every reader that the artwork's superior to just about any "real comic" out there. I'm hesitant to put her in the same category as some of webcomics' "elite" artists, such as Tracy Butler, Aaron Diaz, and Sarah Ellerton; however, at only 22 years old, she's a lot younger than they are. For those of you reading this who just want a quick glimpse of her abilities, the amount of talent displayed in this page is off the charts.
If the creator has any weakness she should focus on improving, it'd be human faces, as I was consistently a little underwhelmed with them. The faces in these pages, for example, seem just sorta so-so to me, and the manga-ish noses and mouths seem out of place.
Overall: A Redtail's Dream's lack of a plot leaves too many unanswered questions for me to fully enjoy the comic, but its gorgeous scenery and lighthearted situations make it a fairly fun read regardless. If I were a casual reader, I'd consider checking out A Redtail's Dream solely for the phenomenal artwork. The writing might not be anything special, but at least it's not angst-ridden or offensive like some of the other webcomics I've reviewed lately.