Moon Crest 24

Creator/s: Derek Joao Calixto
Run: 2008-current
Schedule: A full chapter every few months
Section/s: Ch. 17, "Altercation"

Website: It has an appealing layout, with a creative logo, a red-and-black color scheme, and a large, colored image of one of the webcomic's main characters. Also, the edges of the site look withered, which adds additional personality.

There's a solid amount of extras, including information about the comic, a couple image galleries, a store, a music video, and several social media pages. I'm surprised that there isn't a cast page or more information for new readers, though, as the story's fairly lengthy at this point. It's redundant that the About page has the same synopsis of the plot as the home page, so making it more robust would be a good place to start.

The archives are organized by chapter and are generally easy to use, but they aren't optimal for the latest chapter because there's no quick way to skip ahead to the most recent pages. Even the most basic webcomic sites have a "Latest Page" button, so it's disappointing that a well-designed site like this lacks such a simple feature. I assume it's set up this way because the chapters are intended to be read in one sitting, but it'd better to give readers more flexibility. The archives also don't have a link to the home page, which is a little confusing since that's also a standard part of most websites.

Lastly, the Contact section of the site has an extra navigation button that doesn't work, and the page footer has several miscellaneous symbols where a copyright symbol should be.

Writing: Sometimes, webcomics will start off pretty slow, with a lot of time spent introducing the characters and setting before the plot starts to become apparent. Depending on the update schedule, it can takes months before anything interesting happens. Moon Crest 24's an example of a story with this sort of sluggishness, except instead of leisurely making its way through its first chapter, the webcomic's on its 17th chapter and has been updating for five years.

The chapter's only 19 pages long, so I don't expect it to advance the plot significantly; however, the creator could've hardly paced it any slower than he did. The opening scene starts with Liz parking her car, and it takes six pages for all the characters to be shown exiting the vehicle. The most significant part of this scene is when Derek calls Dwayne a "beach nerd," complete with a cartoony anvil with the words "Beach Nerd" falling on Dwayne's head, and not only does the gag unnecessarily prolong the scene, but it's out of place in a chapter that's otherwise somber. A scene like this would normally serve as a heavy pause before a dramatic event, but nothing happens in the next few pages, either. It actually isn't until Page 12 -- the end of the first two-thirds of the chapter -- that something notable occurs, which is that Liz suddenly realizes that the characters are vampires, and she reveals to them that she's a vampire as well. However, this big reveal takes all of two pages, and is followed by six pages of insignificant dialogue. The chapter can basically be broken down as having 16 pages of filler, a poorly-timed gag, and two pages of actual story, which makes reading it an underwhelming experience.

A big reason why the plot seems to be at a standstill is that the chapter's fixated on its kawaii female characters. The two vampire chicks aren't given personalities, but they're shown prominently in all but six pages. As seen here, here, and here, the creator has a tendency to use multi-panel group shots that feature the two women even though they aren't doing anything interesting or relevant. In addition, their facial expressions rarely change. Rachel always has a neutral expression with her mouth slightly open (1, 2, 3), while Dory looks concerned and has her mouth hanging open, as if in a state of mild shock (1, 2, 3). These issues combine to create a discordance in the storytelling, in which the women are written like minor characters, but have the visual prominence of major characters.

Art: Readers should be drawn to the clean linework and realistic figures, which are done more capably than in most webcomics. The creator also demonstrates that he has a knack for detail, as the chapter has quality renderings of cars, curtains, and a variety of clothing, and the line-width variation helps the scenes feel more dynamic. The creator also excels at drawing hands, which are an area that a lot of cartoonists struggle with, although he tends to make them too large.

While the characters are skillfully drawn, the creator overemphasizes them, and the composition suffers due to its overreliance on close shots. This panel on Page 2 of indistinct buildings is the only establishing shot of where the interior scene takes place, and, afterwards, the reader's left trying to decipher the claustrophobic imagery. The few instances of interior detail are a bed and curtains on Page 7, a toaster oven and cabinets on Page 11, and dishes in a tray on Page 15, which are just enough clues to indicate that it's an apartment or dorm room. The setting should be less ambiguous, and the creator should put more thought into conveying it as an interesting and believable place. The panels on Pages 2 and 11 are also rendered in a bland way, as the lack of details and diagonal lines makes them look like technical drawings.

The characters' poses can be overly repetitive at times. In the opening scene, Rachel's copy-pasted here, and Derek's appearance in the fifth panel here is copy-pasted in the next page, where Liz also gets copy-pasted. After that, the creator avoids copy-pasting, but, instead, he starts redrawing people the same way. Derek's the main subject for this, as he gets redrawn here and here, and while it's supposed to show that he's spacing out, the effect doesn't work well since the chapter already has a lot of repetitive figures. The worst instance, though, is here, where Liz is shown from the same angle in the second, third, fourth, and sixth panels, and then is shown from that angle again in the first panel of the next page. There are also too many front-on shots, especially of Rachel and Dwayne; for example, in the interior scene, Rachel's shown front-on in half of the pages despite only having two lines that aren't just one or two words.

There are a few inconsistencies and issues with the artwork that stood out to me. The pages here and here have white backgrounds even though it's clearly supposed to be a night scene, and Rachel has light skin here even though she has dark skin in the rest of the chapter. There are a few instances where a character's neck appears to be too large, with the most blatant example being the bottom panel here. There are also several instances of cheek-mouths, and while a lot of manga artists draw them, I find them unappealing, and I don't acknowledge there being a legitimate reason for having them. Lastly, I'm underwhelmed by the cover since Liz's head's too big and she has a much more kawaii outfit than what she wears in the actual pages.

Overall: The creator of Moon Crest 24's a competent illustrator, but he still has more to learn about the fundamentals of making comics. With its slow pacing, forgettable characters, and bland, repetitive layouts, the webcomic falls short of being noteworthy.


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