A Link to the Webcomic

URL: alinktothewebcomic.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: Philip Howell
Run: 11/13-current
Schedule: About four strips a week

Note: This is the second Zelda fancomic reviewed on this site. If you're interested in the Zelda series, you should check out the review of Legend of Zelda: The Edge and the Light, which can be read here.

Website: I don't mind people making fancomics, but if they're going to use a company's characters and copy the company's artwork, then they should at least have the common sense to give the company some amount of credit. Instead, the creator copies the title screen of A Link to the Past, changes the words in the title, and puts "© 2013 By: Philip Howell" underneath the copied image. Meanwhile, Nintendo isn't credited anywhere on the site.

It gets worse, though. According to the creator, he needs money to buy a Nintendo 3DS XL and the new Zelda game, so he made a few unlicensed Zelda T-shirts and is trying to sell them online. Got that? He's basically trying to steal from Nintendo so he can use the money to buy Nintendo products. And if you look at the shop, right below the T-shirts is a section titled "Intellectual Property" that says the following: "In the Terms of Service, Spreadshirt prohibits shop owners from setting up or putting into circulation any merchandising articles that infringe the original author, brand or copyrights of a third party." I don't think the creator has any excuse for not realizing that what he's doing is inappropriate.

Writing: So, who do you think is the best video game character of all time? GameFAQs began attempting to answer that question in 2002 with its first annual Character Battle (or at least have some harmless fun trying). In the final round, Link beat Mario by about 25,000 votes. But, what is it, exactly, about these Nintendo superstars that makes them so popular? Their personalities can't be the reason, as Link doesn't have any dialogue, and Mario doesn't say anything more complex than, "It's-a me, Mario!" Plot-wise, their games aren't anything special, with Mario beating up bad guys to rescue the princess, and Link... beating up bad guys to rescue the princess. It's no secret, though, that the story isn't meant to be a big deal in their games.

It's clear that what made the Legend of Zelda and Mario series have hit after hit for years is their excellent gameplay, and it seems that these non-characters benefit from the enjoyment players get from the games they love. Seeing a picture of Link, for example, reminds players of the positive experiences they've had playing the Zelda games, and they come to associate Link with positive feelings. It helps, too, that a lot of players got their hands on their first Zelda game when they were very young, meaning that Link also carries an association with the innocent, happier, and more carefree times of a player's childhood. In this way, Link has become more of a symbol than a fictional person with a background and personality.

Another way of looking at it, though, is that the lack of personality actually makes the characters more likable. Since Link and Mario are essentially blank slates, it makes it easy for players to imagine that it's the player who's shooting arrows or fireballs. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of both Link and Mario, explained this phenomenon at E3 a few years ago, saying that he "wants the player in a Zelda game to actually feel as if they were going on the adventure themselves, rather than just controlling a character down a path. [...] One would expect you to better remember the experience as your own, rather than one of just guiding Link." In addition, controlling a player-avatar lets players get right to the action without being interrupted by dialogue, which, back in Nintendo's earlier days, would've probably just been translated at the last minute by an unpaid intern anyways. But there's also a certain mysteriousness that surrounds a character players know practically nothing about. They're left to use their imagination to form their own idea of where the characters came from, how they act, what they do when they're not adventuring, and what happens with them and the princess after the credits roll. (Or they could just watch the Saturday morning cartoon version, I guess.)

A Link to the Webcomic, then, has free rein for the creator to elaborate on the Zelda series, but, instead, he makes the mistake of presenting Link as the same personality-of-a-rock non-character as he is in the games, except that here he actually talks... a lot. All the creator's doing is piggybacking off of the huge success of the series while contributing nothing of his own aside from some lame gags. As I explained earlier, players love the Zelda series for its gameplay, and this webcomic is basically just Zelda without the gameplay.

Most of the gags are too forgettable to be worth mentioning, but the comic reaches its low point when it makes a "Navi the fairy's annoying and useless" joke. This flaw was pretty obvious when Ocarina of Time came out in 1998, and The Powerpuff Girls already did a spoof of it in an episode that originally aired on Aug. 18, 2000. In other words, the creator's idea of cutting-edge Internet humor is ripping off a joke that a kids' TV show did more than a decade ago.

Art: On the bright side, it isn't a sprite comic. However, since the creator copy-pastes the characters in every panel, the result isn't much better than a sprite comic. Link stands in the same position in every strip, and while it's nice that his outfits change, it seems more like the creator's dressing a mannequin than illustrating a comic. Any changes to the template seem to be a struggle, as the facial expressions are overly simplistic and the proportions of Link's arms are inconsistent. Some of the monsters look decent, but they're boring because all they ever do is stand still.

Backgrounds are another problem with the artwork. In this strip, for example, not only is the background just a dark void for some reason, but the height of the horizon line changes, and it looks like Link's either walking up a wall or is gigantic. Here, not only is the background boring, but the water's so high above the horizon line that it looks like a huge tidal wave's coming towards Link. And here, the page is oddly two-dimensional, as some objects are shaded while others aren't, the leaves and Link are both drawn with the same line thickness, and, again, the perspective makes it look like Link is either huge or is walking down a hill.

Finally, the lettering can sometimes be confusing. See this page, for instance. In the first panel, Link, on the left, says, "Yessss?" and Zelda, on the right, says, "Hey, Link?" Reading left-to-right, it looks like Link is the one speaking first, which doesn't make sense since he's responding to Zelda. And here, Link's on the left again, saying a response to Fledge even though Link's speech bubble's left of Fledge's. Link always appears on the left side of the strips, and a simple solution would be to flip him and put him on the right side for a change.

Overall: A Link to the Webcomic would be a run-of-the-mill humorless humor comic, but its creator's dopey idea to try to sell merch with copied artwork and characters earns it its one-donut rating. Given Zelda's 25-year history, it seems like there's a lot of material there to elaborate on or make fun of, but, unfortunately, the creator puts as little effort and imagination into his project as possible.



  1. I know a response would be worthless but still...
    Wow. I make this comic for fun. I know Nintendo owns the product, I'm not saying I own the characters or idea, I'm saying I drew it that's all. The picture I redrew was in honor of the start of "A Link To The Past" because I came up with a "not clever" on purpose pun of "A Link To The Webcomic"...can't believe I had to actually explain that.
    You're a sad hack of a writer who wants to rip apart someone trying to make people laugh. You don't like the comic, that's fine, but including a joke about buying a Nintendo 3DS XL as a serious thing is hilarious. IT WAS A JOKE! I have made and will probably make ZERO profit from this comic. In all my posts about shirts, I say "THIS IS JUST FOR FUN!" or "IT'S FUN." Nothing like BUY MY SHIT. Also, on none of the shirts does it say Zelda or Link. I even made a shirt where my character states that Link doesn't talk. Meaning he isn't THAT Link. If you want to play semantics.
    If you did ANY research when you write you'll see parodies of Pokemon, Chuck Norris, Zelda, Marvel and a million other "character" shirts on Spreadshirt. And if they take mine down, then cool. I do this for the few people who laugh at my comic, and there are some.
    I feel bad for you, you don't even have the balls to post this comment I bet.
    The dark void in the comic you referenced is the actual background in the game, black and blue dots...do some research. You're a joke.
    The Navi is annoying thing has been said a billion times. Yes. It's a Zelda staple to reference it. So I did. Should I go through the internet and watch every video and every comic to make sure my comic is CUTTING EDGE HUMOR? By the way, when did I ever say "cutting edge" my shit is dull, punny, and not funny. That's what I wanted.
    And any critique of my comic's style is just it. Style. You might not like it, but I was aiming for that effect. You're the type of person to look at a Pollock or Monet and say it's just blotches of paint. (I'm sure you see that as I'm comparing myself to them...don't be obvious.)
    I'm okay with a negative review. I'm not okay with unresearched, oddly hateful, unintelligent dribble.
    Someone needs attention. Sorry for whatever happened to you in your life. You need help.
    It's funny this posted right after a few people said they liked it. I'm going to keep going for them. I started it for me, for fun, but knowing that there are people like you holding others back makes me want to keep going even more.
    Thanks for that. You're a real motivator. And I'm sure no one has ever said it, but I appreciate you. The world needs people like you to strive not to be.
    Good job.
    P.S. I'm not coming back. This website isn't worth a second visit. I only came because you emailed me, as if begging to have me see your hate speech. So sad.

    1. Just because you "succeeded" via setting your standards ultra-low dosen't mean what you've created is any good. And the only hateful thing here is your comment.

    2. Actually, his email to let you know about the review was a pretty respectful and professional move.
      This is literally a textbook example of a hurt reply to a review. There's obviously nothing wrong with taking issue with LC's criticisms, and you could have said "Hey, you said X, Y, and Z, but the reasons I did those were because of A, B, and C." Instead, you feel that LC only said these things to feel good about himself?
      Where's my "Creators' Cringeworthy Responses to Reviews" bingo card?

      A good rule of thumb- Never write back mad. If you're pissed off, wait a while and cool off. Then write back with a level head. Maybe you aren't mad, but you sure seem that way through your writing, and it makes you look kind of sad here. You have valid criticisms of LC's review in here, but the dismissive, emotional tone absolutely undermines them.

    3. A week ago, Liberty Cabbage sent me a message saying that the Webcomic Police email account was full of requests for reviews that no one has gotten around to doing yet, and gave me a list of ones to consider doing. Your comic was on there. He didn't send you an email because he wanted attention, but because you specifically asked for a review.

    4. My bad, it must have been a different "P.Howell" who sent the following e-mail:

      "Just wondering how my comic 'A Link To The Webcomic' could be on your list to review? Great website by the way, you really know your stuff! Keep up the good work.

      But, anyways, if you're doing the comic "for fun," then it shouldn't matter if some guy on the Internet doesn't like it.

  2. "Then it shouldn't matter if some guy on the internet doesn't like it."
    Yeah. I'm okay with that. But this wasn't that. My response wasn't a "hurt" or "mad" response...which is such a simple way of looking at it.

    I gave a little while and there were some points that I didn't make.
    It wasn't just the things the guy says he didn't like. He attacked me for trying to make money off Nintendo's designs. Check out http://www.levelupstudios.com/runaway-entei just one of a billion places. Also how do you explain the billion videos on Youtube DIRECTLY making money off Nintendo from ads? There's nothing recreated or redone...just exact music and images owned by Nintendo. So taking a shot at me, or the pretend copyright I did as an homage was not correct. And just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it right, isn't fair, because you're not attacking everyone. You attacked me so I responded with cases where it is allowed. Also, I've made shirts in the past on spreadshirt (that included titles or character names), but they refused them due to copyright, so they are checked and mine must be fine.
    Also, tons of animations, SouthPark and comics have characters in roughly same poses that don't even change clothes. Hell a lot anime has a single pose and just the mouth moves. Seems like the only comics that would be good to this person are super action crazy lines, mega poses! I wanted it to be stifled. I wanted it to be static. Like the other comment that I am okay with setting my standard low for my comic. I never said it was "good". I said it was my style and I wanted it that way.
    About asking if my comic could be on the list, yes, I asked. I never said I didn't. (and I knew someone would try to be clever and involve me asking and turn it into a "I asked to be raped" challenge.) But to be turned into a Nintendo trademark thief, that wants to be super cutting edge funny, and action packed but fails at my goals. Nope. Sorry. Those are made up goals and accusations, not a "review".
    And to get an email saying the review is posted, was like a "Hey come see all the mean things I said about you." You might not see it that way, doesn't mean I didn't.

    In the end, these were attacks. They weren't true. It's easy to walk away and let someone walk all over you or watch as someone is being put down for doing the same thing as everyone else, but they're the one being attacked out of everyone. Everyone has seen how a bully works. There will always be people to back up the oppressors, the gang of bullies...just like the other comments here. But people will always fight back. Sometimes they're emotional and sometimes not...that's how it is. That's okay if standing up to someone for false claims makes me unpopular here or in life. At least I know I don't let it go by unnoticed. And I will stand up for myself and others around me when something is not right. No matter how much it shouldn't matter.
    Truth matters. This review was a libelous creation. So I stood up for myself.
    After all this, comments will follow with "Good for you" or "No one cares." or some other stupid remark. But like I said about the last comment, it matters to me and people have thanked me for standing up for them when no one else would. This time it was for me.

    1. The reviewer only "attacked" you on the account of lazyness, both in humor and art... which you admit to be true here. Plus trying to milk your readers for money after only a few updates(ironicaly or not) isn't funny, just pathetic. It's not techinically illegal, but it's not in good taste. I'd also like to point out that you promised never to return, because this site "isn't worth a second visit".

    2. There is nothing wrong with being hurt by a bad review of your comic. It hurts when someone doesn't like your work, I agree. But this isn't bullying - if you are this defensive about something like this, I loathe to think of your reaction were you see this review on the Bad Webcomics Wiki.

      You are using strong verbage to shift the tone of LC's review into something it is not. Your baseless ad hominems in your first post did not help your case.

      You have the freedom to refuse the review's points or refute them. You can fight whatever delusional battle it is you perceive to be fighting, but the amount of ire you are harbouring is not proportional to the disposition of the review itself.

    3. You are unable to differentiate "criticizing someone's comic" from "criticizing someone."

      LC didn't say *ANYWHERE* that you are a bad person. He didn't even make it out to sound like you were "stealing" anything out of a sense of malice, or anything like that *at all.* More like you were just doing something either because you were being lazy or didn't know any better.

      But welcome back, anyway! Congratulations on your second visit. Hope each subsequent visit will cause you less ajita.

    4. You keep going back to the easy defense of "It's my style," when someone calls the art lazy and unappealing. You've also compared it to Pollock, Monet, South Park, and anime in their uses of shortcuts or something that isn't top caliber art but get away with it. But you fail to understand why they do it in the first place. Pollack wanted to give a sense of chaotic energy (not to mention he did them on huge canvases, giving those random splats of paint more impact). Monet wanted to focus on color and light more than the little details of the subject so he would do "impressions" of the subject (also, he had cataracts, so he probably couldn't see the random details anyways). South Park is made to make topical references to politics and pop culture, so they cut corners on the show so they can literally put it out the day before it airs. And anime also has a similar problem with low budgets and high turnout, so the animators find cheap ways to cut down on the amount of animation needed. Styles have a reason behind them, and so far, you haven't provided any reason besides not wanting to put in the effort.

    5. You're not a victim, and you're not a bad person, either. You're just a guy who makes a webcomic that isn't funny. Before you write another tirade, try putting things into the proper perspective.

    6. Man, if someone makes a model ship for fun and says see? And you tell them they stole that idea from the original person who made the ship and that they're selling it trying to milk money out of people on someone else's idea. Then tell them that the way they built it is shit. Anyone logical would call you an asshole.
      But there's no logic here. Using a reference to art, then turning it back saying that styles have a reason behind them, my reason was just to draw a stupid comic. That's it.
      Who says they were trying to be original? Who says they were trying to sell the boat? Who said it was their idea? Who cares if it is "shit" or lazy in your eyes?
      I wanted to make a Zelda comic for fun, not funny, not original. I wanted it in my own style and I wanted to make shirts designs. NOT sell shirts. NOT make money off Nintendo. I never sold one shirt. It was never my intention. Just design shirts, have a fun store where I could see them. In every post about shirts I said it was for fun or for people who like shirts that no one else has. One time I put in a joke and it is taken out of context about a 3DS XL, how many shirts would that be 200?? I didn't sell one! Where's the accusation now? You act like I'm stealing money from Nintendo and raking in the money. You attacked the weakest target. That is the truth and it is sad.
      It's funny that this many comments come from someone just trying to make a fun comic. That's the proper perspective. It was for FUN. It doesn't matter if you think I've over reacted by standing up for myself, think I'm not funny, or think this comic's style is "lazy" (which I'd love to see you remake any one of my comic's JUST like mine, in flash with a mouse, and tell me it's easy or lazy!!)

      "He's basically trying to steal from Nintendo so he can use the money to buy Nintendo products." Yes, you did accuse me. You did attack my integrity and the comments here are bullying. A group of people picking on someone who does something for fun. If someone dresses weird because they find it fun to make a fake store to show off their styles and a group of people gather around and point out reasons why they're not normal or dressed like everyone else, or put more effort into their wardrobe and stop being "lazy" or accuse them of stealing the Levi brand because the outfits have jeans in each one.
      But I stopped the comic. You've killed the fun in drawing it.
      I shut down the store and stopped the comic. If you're as honorable as you claim to be, to create fictional flaws in my character, delete this whole review.
      I dare you to take the high road. We'll see.
      We'll see if the purpose was to stop the comic by pointing out what you didn't like about the comic or if you were just looking for attention. Who even runs this kind of website that doesn't make anything useful and instead just judges, nitpicks, and makes up shit about others' work? How lazy is that?
      We'll see if this review stays up. It probably will to feed your ego that you've won and shut down a comic that was only meant to be fun. Be proud of that. Or delete it and do the right thing. We'll see.

    7. Let me just ask one question: if you only made this comic for your own enjoyment, why did you put it up on a hosting site for everyone to see? And why does it hurt you so much, that someone called your comic bad and lazy that you've admittedly put zero effort into?

    8. Man, enough with the comments. You guys trolled this guy so hard he quit. Fuck him and delete this shit.

    9. I'm with the other people, why is this here? The comic is dead and deleted.
      Now it's becoming sad for webcomic police leaving it up, more than some kid with a shitty comic.

    10. I'll leave it up 'cause the comments are amusing.

  3. You really think that this review was posted with the intent to make you stop working on your comic.

    You really think that. Please take some time to think about this.

    Let me see if I can put this into good terms:
    If your comic is fun for you to make, YOU SHOULD KEEP MAKING IT. If you are literally doing it only for your own enjoyment, you shouldn't give a shit that a handful of people (and that's it, it's not like there's roving bands of people going around discussing your comic FYI) on the internet didn't like it. Less than ten people, on the internet, didn't like your comic.

    Less than ten people, on the internet, said they didn't like your comic. They said this on a webcomic review website whose purpose is to discuss *how the reviewer/readers feel about given comics*.

    Less. Than. Ten. People.

    No one went to your site to leave harassing comments. No one bombarded you with email after email full of ad hominem attacks, and if they did, they're a dumb shit and I don't know why they did that. THAT would be trolling.

    If you were doing this comic because you wanted swathes of fans, and because you wanted popularity, this is how you learn to make a comic that would get you those things. You seek feedback (which you did) and then don't run out of the room when you don't hear what you wanted.

    So freaking what if someone on the internet wrote mean words about your comic? Please, tell me why this is such a devastating life event. One. Person. Wrote one. Review. And then a few people came along to comment on it.

    You need to put this in perspective. There are creators who get magnitudes of order more hate every week than you have received in the ~two months this review has been here. And guess what? They keep working. Either they don't give a shit about the reviews and keep on truckin', or they give a shit and change their work patterns to try to make a better comic.

    Or? And this is also an option? They care about the reviews, they let it burn a little bit, and then they *stop giving a shit and go back to what they were doing because it's still fun for them to make a comic even though some. People. On. The. Internet. Don't. Like. It.*

    If you give a shit what other people think, evaluate why you give a shit. See if you can use that shitgiving to make a better product. If you don't want to take feedback, then stop giving a shit. It's that simple.

    Deleting your comic isn't going to "show us," it just makes you look really sad, like when a kid doesn't get what they want so they break one of their own toys just to show how mad they are. I'm sorry you deleted your comic, because you could have worked harder to make it better or just not given a shit and kept making it because, like you keep repeating, it was fun for you to make. Why would you stop having fun just because a handful of people on the internet didn't like the product you made? Jesus Christ.

    1. Jesus Christ? You went nuts cause some dude stopped having fun making the comic? It's his decision, I can see why he did it.
      It wasn't that "someone from the interwebz didn't like it" as you put it, he wasn't trying to "show anyone", they attacked his character. They said he stole something, it bothered him, he stopped.
      Stop writing giant comments because you don't agree with what he did. He can do whatever he wants. Why do you HAVE TO understand?
      Plus, if the comic is dead, why is this even here? Everyone move the fuck on.

    2. I didn't "go nuts," I just like to use a lot of words, thanks :)

      I admit, I do get disappointed when I see that someone quits something for what I don't perceive to be a good reason.

      You realize also that my comment is over a month old, and that by posting another comment, you're just bringing the discussion back up again just to tell everyone to stop discussing it.

      I will continue to write giant, long-winded, TLDR comments as much as I like, because it is fun for me, and don't plan to stop just because you told me to, or because you didn't like what I said. Similar to how I feel ALTTW should have just kept going, despite a perceived insult to his character. Because who cares?

      I stand by everything I wrote above. I think ALTTW's reaction to the initial review was unwarranted, and I think he put too much stock in what a small handful of people said about him. It disappoints me that he stopped working on his comic because of that.

      Shall I make this comment longer or is it long enough? Want to comment again in late March to remind us all about this conversation, even though it was mostly over and done with in early December on a review written in November?

    3. Creators quit their webcomics all the time. It's pretty common for people to draw a few pages or strips just 'cause they're bored and don't have anything better to do.