Creator/s: Veronica Vera, Oliver Bareham
Section/s: Ch. 71, "Just Beautiful"
Website: With its bright colors and Care Bears-esque imagery, it looks like something out of a happy-go-lucky kids' show. I think it's an excellent design, although it seems inappropriate for this comic considering how depressed some of the characters are.
The comic's got a "New Reader?" section similar to Boy with a Secret's "New Here?" section, which is nice, although its snippets from the various chapters are jarring since the scenes don't have any context. The cast page is great, though, with large portraits for the main characters, and smaller ones for the minor characters. The "Extra" section's weird because readers have to pay to join "Bittersweet Club International" in order to see most of it; however, it's ultimately the creators' business decision to do it that way. The site also appears to have almost 4,000 fan-art entries, which is way more than I've seen in any other webcomic before.
The creators run a few other webcomics on the side, including a Sonic the Hedgehog parody, an "ask the characters" comic, and a journal comic.
Lastly, the site has a forum, and its store has a 592-page print version, along with various jewelry, posters, and other goodies.
Writing: I heard about this webcomic from The Bad Webcomics Wiki and from Anthro Kai's links page, so my impressions of it were very mixed. BWW's "oddguy" describes Bittersweet Candy Bowl as "angsty tween drama shit," while Anthro Kai's "Raxki Yamato" says it has "very deep characters and an interesting story." So, who's right? While I generally don't see the BWW as having much credibility, "oddguy"'s definitely spot-on here. The comic piles on angst, drama, and sadness to perpetually tug at the reader's heartstrings, but it's boring because every page is so overblown. The fashion-show scene's already overly sappy, but by around this point, I couldn't stop myself from literally laughing out loud at just how ridiculously overdramatic the chapter had gotten. And as the cherry on top, the creators channel Megatokyo by finishing things off with a sad girl in the snow.
The source of all this soul-crushing angst is that 15-year-old Mike has two hot teenage girls chasing after him, and he's just so sad about the whole thing. And I guess the reader's supposed to be wiping their eyes while they cry about how miserable and tortured this poor catboy is. But I don't feel sorry for Mike at all, and if I could, I'd give him a high-five for being so lucky with the ladies. I mean, how many ninth-graders have even been in a serious relationship? This kid should be at home playing XBOX and posting awful Megaman sprite comics on his Smack Jeeves account. And take a look at his character bio: "Mike often finds that the girls who vie for his attention are the source of most of his problems." So, I'm supposed to feel bad for Mike because... he's too popular and attractive? Are you kidding me? If Mike's anything, it's annoying, because he's so whiny and mopey all the time.
When the comic took it into overdrive with its climactic "sad kitties in the snow" scene, at least half of my attention was devoted to trying to figure out what this thing is. Seriously, what's this even supposed to be? It doesn't look like anything, and the cast page doesn't help at all aside from saying its name is Yashy. "oddguy" suggests the creators are ripping off Nintendo's Yoshi, which is definitely plausible. If it is Yoshi, then the creators need to show the common sense, courtesy, and professionalism of crediting Nintendo for the character. Although, Yoshi obviously shouldn't be anywhere near a dramatic comic like this to begin with.
Art: Awww, look at the sad kitty.
No, really. Look at it . And look at it again. And here. And here. And here. And here.
Congratulations, you just read Chapter 71 of Bittersweet Candy Bowl.
The characters are so overwhelmingly adorable that they almost look like they came out of the Hello Kitty universe. And this factor leads to the comic's ultimate downfall: Its ubiquitous angst and depression makes everything seem super-important, but at the same time, the characters are so over-the-top cutesy that it's impossible to take any of it seriously. And the creator seems so fixated on drawing her signature doe-eyed expressions that the more important elements, like character and plot development, get pushed to the side. The first page of the chapter clearly demonstrates Mike's sadness, so showing it over and over doesn't give the reader any new information.
The creator's actually a pretty good artist, and Bittersweet Candy Bowl features some of the best illustrations you'll see in a furry webcomic. This page stands out as an example where the creator shows off her skills, and her strong anatomy's consistent throughout the chapter. Some of her backgrounds are nice (I like this page in particular), although the creator overuses a technique where she shows circular lights against a murky background (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The watercolors are also detailed and attractive, and they give the comic a unique look.
There are a couple things that bothered me about the art, though. Like the last comic I reviewed, Gaia, the characters appear much younger than they should be in order to make them more likable. The adults in the comic (1, 2, 3) are drawn with much smaller eyes and more realistic proportions than the teenagers, but this difference is exaggerated too much, making the 15-year-olds look like they're about 8. My other gripe's that the creator's ability to draw mouths falls apart during the scene where Mike talks to Sandy. Check out the cheek-mouths throughout the page here, with the characters' mouths being drawn completely differently in the last panel even though they're in the same pose. (The same thing's done here as well.) I dunno what's going on with Sandy's mouth in the third panel here, but it's obvious that her teeth would show when her mouth's wide-open like that. Similar shots are shown here and here, where Sandy's mouth still has no teeth but looks a lot different. Most of the time the creator just draws lines or half-circles, which is fine, but characters need to look consistent no matter what perspective they're shown in.
Overall: The creators seems to equate emotion with depth, but that isn't necessarily accurate. Bittersweet Candy Bowl's characters, while intended as angst-ridden teenagers, come across as whiny and annoying, and I'm hard-pressed to care about their problems when they look like they crawled out of a Lisa Frank drawing. The comic's about 1,000 pages in right now, and I'd suggest that it's about time to wrap things up and move on to a new project; however, considering that the creators just raised $35,000 on Kickstarter to print a second volume, there's probably no chance of that happening. So, I'll end my review with this: Jeff Smith's epic adventure story Bone is 1,300 pages long; how many pages do you really need for sad cats in the snow?