Creator/s: Gibson Twist
Section/s: Book 4, Chs. 8-12
Website: Apparently, the webcomic won some kinda Smack Jeeves award for its website, and it's a pretty good one. The best part's probably the coherent theme of "photographs," as the banner, background, and front page all feature photographs prominently. In a clever move, the pictures on the Fan Art page are shrunk and rotated so that they also look kinda like photographs.
The Archives page is set up a little different than normal, which is kinda neat, but it's also a hassle because the chapter links are below where the page links appear. What this means is that the reader has to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click the chapter link, and then scroll back up to the top of the page to begin reading the chapter. It would make more sense if the page list appeared right below the chapter links.
Writing: The section focuses on a series of dramatic situations, such as Lauren's new guy-friend that nobody likes, Sam getting creative block, and Christo sleeping around, finally reaching its climax when Peter discovers a journal with some not-so-nice stuff written in it. These scenarios could've been somewhat interesting, but the creator makes a big mistake by giving all of these mundane events the pacing and gravity of a death scene. Combined with the clever, snarky dialogue that every character speaks, this tone creates the impression that the reader's supposed to sympathize with the suffering of these hip, intellectual people, but, ultimately, Pictures of You comes across as an overly pretentious story about snotty college kids who are angsty and whiny. Without enough humor and lightheartedness to balance out the heaviness, the webcomic's boring and tedious to read, as the characters aren't as deep or interesting as the creator seems to assume they are.
Pictures of You's most unusual aspect's that, as the webcomic's title suggests, the creator includes a ton of cameos. Chapter 8 has about 30, Chapter 9 has about 20, Chapter 11 has about 35, and Chapter 12 has about 10 so far. Added it all up yet? That's around 100 cameos total in three months, and the creator's definitely gotten sidetracked from the story trying to find places to cram all of them in. I'm sure these people get a kick outta being cartoonified in a popular webcomic, but at the same time, you've got pages and pages of cameos in a story where not enough's actually going on. If I'll remember anything about my experience reading Pictures of You, it'll be the massive amount of cameos throughout the comic, and that isn't really a credit to the creator's storytelling ability, although it might be a clever marketing strategy.
In Chapters 9 and 10, the webcomic goes in a more experimental direction, with Chapter 9 having no text, and Chapter 10 having two silhouettes copy-pasted over and over. I appreciate the creator's attempt at doing something different, but these are just particularly slow and tedious scenes in a webcomic that's already too slow and tedious. And Chapter 10's one of the most irritating scenes I've ever seen in a comic. The main appeal of comics is their visual storytelling, so why does the creator do a whole scene without visual storytelling?
Art: The most remarkable thing about the artwork, aside from the large number of cameos, is the detailed, realistic backgrounds. No matter how normal and seemingly uninteresting the location of a scene is, whether it's a kitchen, a hotel, or a café, there's always a notable effort to give each room a sense of personality and make it seem believable. While I'm not a fan of Chapter 9's concept, this page is probably my favorite of the section, as the amount of attention given to the interior of these places, even down to writing out all the breakfast specials, makes the scenes seem surprisingly real.
As far as the figures go, they're alright, but just alright. It's hard to ignore how lumpy the heads generally look, as the characters have prominent "pug noses," as reviewer Norad Bush calls them, and their faces sometimes blend somewhat awkwardly with their necks (1, 2, 3). The figures also usually look younger than they should be, with the singer in the first panel here being the most blatant example. In this case, with his large head, and short upper body, arms, and fingers, he looks more like a baby in a suit than an adult. The coloring's also very bland and tends to be minimalistic, which is probably the most noticeable in the way the creator shades hair. It's likely that all of these weaknesses are related to the webcomic's aggressive update schedule, which has been at a pace of about 20 pages a month.
Overall: Pictures of You isn't a great comic by any means, but it also isn't as abrasively off-putting as some of the other webcomics I've reviewed. Still, this is one of the least enjoyable webcomic-reading experiences I've had, as there's just nothing fun about it. When it comes down to it, the comic's just a bunch of bland drawings of uninteresting people in uninteresting situations. It's unclear how it's gotten to be one of the most popular webcomics on Smack Jeeves, but I guess its audience is made up of either pretentious, dramatic people who like seeing similar people portrayed as victims, or people who just get really stoked about getting a webcomic cameo.