Creator/s: Jason Kerr
Schedule: Once every few weeks
Website: The website's not bad, with the navigation buttons based on fantasy weaponry being its best feature. It's also easy to get around the site, as there are buttons directly above, below, and next to the pages. However, the design's still fairly plain, and it could be embellished with more customization and fantasy elements.
There isn't much bonus content on the site other than a The Brothers Barbarian mini-comic and a very basic cast page. The About page mentions that the setting's a place called "the Dwelmlunds," but neither the site or the actual comic has any specific information on the Dwelmlunds yet.
Lastly, the update schedule's gone downhill since the comic launched, starting off with daily updates, then switching to once-a-week, and now being at about one page every three weeks. The creator needs to get into a habit of updating both more often and more consistently.
Writing: Below Page 6, the creator posted an explanation of the webcomic's title, writing, "I like the name Chainmail Bikini, but I worry that people might think my comic is yet another fantasy spoof. It's not. There might be some funny, even silly things on occasion, but I actually have a serious story line in mind."
Officially, this is a serious fantasy story, but, at the same time, the adventure's presented in just about as campy a manner as possible. Right from the start, the reader's submerged in a high-octane fantasy battle that seems pulled straight out of an MMORPG or Dungeons & Dragons game. Using the gamist archetypes, the adventuring group has a "Crowd Control" chick, a "Damage Output" guy, a "Healer" chick, and two "Protector" types. They get assigned a quest, fight a monster, and sneak around looking for clues and traps. All that's missing is a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a 12-pack of Mountain Dew, and you've got a classic night of nerd ecstasy on your hands. Any moment, the characters are gonna mention rolling dice, or experience points, or, well, chainmail bikinis, but... they don't. This is a serious story, remember?
Chainmail Bikini's main problem's that it's too campy to take seriously, but it's too serious to enjoy as camp. It's about as cheesy and unimaginative as possible, but where it seems like punchlines should be, we get plot instead. I have to wonder: What's the point of this comic supposed to be? There are so many RPG-based webcomics out there that I can't imagine starting one without having a really slick angle. Take a look at the approaches of some of the genre's standouts, for example. Order of the Stick and Looking For Group are ridiculous parodies, Goblins shows the monsters' point of view, and Darth & Droids is, well, Darth & Droids. Chainmail Bikini, on the other hand, is just another RPG webcomic. I mean, I get it; nerds like RPGs, and nerds like webcomics, so put them together and you've got an RPG webcomic. But this is, what, the eighth RPG webcomic I've reviewed? If a creator isn't doing something creative and unusual with it, then they're just wasting their time.
As far as the characters go, their personalities are just the stereotypes of their various races. The half-orc's dumb, the dwarf chick's tough, the gnome chick's wacky, and the high elf's a smartypants. The group also has a human chick, the healer, and she has no personality other than being concerned about the characters' injuries. Most of the dialogue's directly related to the plot, so it might help if the focus was shifted to developing the characters more. This page also sticks out as having particularly unimportant dialogue, as Roslin's saying stuff that everyone there obviously already knows.
Lastly, the lettering was fine when the comic was updating regularly, but it's gotten sloppier since the comic came back from its hiatus. Pages 17, 18, 19, and 20 all have mistakes, with Page 19 having four instances of a missing apostrophe.
Art: Fortunately, the creator has a knack for drawing fantasy action scenes. The anatomy and poses are strong in this comic, especially for Kor, who also has the most well-designed outfit. Kor actually gets a lot of the best illustrations (1, 2, 3), so he ends up kind of seeming like the main character even though, narratively, he's just another member of the group.
The female characters (which, surprisingly, are the majority in the group) aren't drawn as well. For one, Roslin and Velara have these weird, puffy lips that don't look realistic or attractive. Second, Roslin has huge watermelon boobs that go down to her waist, and she looks ridiculous even by the ridiculous standards for fantasy women. Third, Deedle starts off looking like a human with big eyes and ears, but, afterwards, half the time she looks like some weird animu character (1, 2, 3, 4). It seems like the creator's less comfortable drawing women than he is drawing the male characters, and it's definitely an area that he needs to work on.
The goofy parody comics I mentioned in the previous section all have bright coloring, and Chainmail Bikini's generally even brighter than they are. This is another reason why it's difficult to take the comic seriously. At one point, the coloring does start to get darker, but by Page 17, it's right back to everything being neon-bright. The backgrounds also aren't as elaborate as they should be in a serious fantasy comic, especially since the first 15 pages take place in the middle of an empty field surrounded by triangle mountains.
Lastly, the creator made the weird decision to use Comic Sans. I think this font looks terrible, and I personally won't normally read a webcomic that uses it. However, regardless of my personal preferences, it seems very out of place here because I mostly see it used in cartoony, gag-a-day comics. Picking a more appropriate font would be one of the easiest ways the creator could improve his webcomic.
Overall: Chainmail Bikini doesn't offer anything beyond average artwork and a cookie-cutter setup, making it probably the most unremarkable and uninteresting fantasy webcomic I've encountered. It appears to be the creator's first attempt at making a webcomic, though, and doing one for the first time's sort of like getting a bachelor's degree in webcomics. The creator should consider taking the comic in a drastically different direction, and he needs to continue to experiment and refine his abilities.