Creator/s: Tony DiGerolamo, Vig Starmax, Tim Racadio, Doolaeh Wooh
I use the archives pages a lot when I write reviews, and it quickly gets really annoying when they aren't user-friendly. In this case, the archive page for Tales of Pizza just links to the first strip that each artist drew, making it basically useless. Through some trial and error, what I found works the best is to click on the protagonist's name in the comments section of one of the pages, as it conveniently brings up thumbnails for the whole comic. It'd be better if the archives linked to this page so that readers don't have to waste time trying to find it. There's actually a page titled "How to Navigate the Factory," but it isn't helpful.
Lastly, it's a little ridiculous that the creator not only posts his name twice on every page, but he also uses two different spellings. It's not as bad as it is in this parody comic, but it's been the standard for a long time for copyright info to be put in a website's footer, or somewhere else that's out of the way. The most popular webcomics out there don't have any credits on their pages, so it'd be hard to argue that doing this is actually necessary.
Writing: The site has about thirty different comics in total, with around half of those being inactive, and I chose to write about Tales of Pizza since it's a brief webcomic that's been through a lot of changes. I think it's understandable that I was skeptical of the idea that one person could capably write so many webcomics, although, at the same time, I'm aware that it's not overly difficult to quickly create scripts. I'm also generally supportive of the concept from a pragmatic standpoint, as most creators greatly overestimate their writing abilities and could take advantage of the imbalanced work ratio, and there's a networking advantage as well due to the hub dynamic. On the other hand, there are some major downsides for everyone involved. For the writer, it can be a pain in the ass to rely on flaky amateur artists, and for the artists, it can be difficult and time-consuming to evaluate script quality, and there are also likely motivation issues inherent in conveying another person's characters and ideas. In that sense, it'd be surprising if the creator was writing three or four comics, so doing fifteen seems absurd.
For Tales of Pizza, its legitimacy's hurt by its incoherent tone. Tone consistency's probably the most essential aspect of webcomic writing, and having this area be a weakness is a sign of a lack of foresight. Specifically, while the comic starts out as a wacky workplace comedy, it abruptly gets dark and sexual in a storyline where a horny customer attempts to seduce the protagonist. I don't know if the creator intended it to be dark humor, but it isn't funny, and it's an uncomfortably serious scene for a webcomic that had been a light, gag-a-day strip up until that point. The storyline also ends in an inappropriately downbeat manner, with the customer's ugly husband threatening the protagonist and then ruminating on the unhealthy state of his marriage. Then, in another storyline, the protagonist's robbed by a couple kids with a gun, and that scene also seems like an attempt at dark humor that isn't funny, especially since it's a life-threatening situation that's presented as being very intense for the characters. Then, the comic goes back to being a regular humor strip again, with gags about chicken suits and free pizza. You could argue that the creator's doing this on purpose to achieve some sort of erratic effect, but that would be giving him too credit, as it would be extremely difficult to pull something like that off, especially while working on all these different projects simultaneously. Instead, the impression I get is that he still hasn't figured out what genre he wants the comic to be, and that's a critical failure that suggests a particular lack of focus.
This comic should have a lot of material to go off of since it's based on the creator's experiences as a pizza delivery guy, but the jokes are all pretty obvious stuff. For example, in the early strips, there's a gag about rich people undertipping, and one about an aggressive dog at a customer's house, and these seem like ideas that anyone could come up with if they spent a minute or two making a list of problems that a delivery guy can have. The later strips are somewhat more creative, but the comic never evolves past its tedious and uninspired setup. Even the part with the failed seduction, its most memorable scene, seems like just a version of the porn cliché. Also, as I complained about in my review of UnCONventional, seeing someone feeling miserable while doing a job they hate isn't really that entertaining or funny, especially when it's shown over and over like it is in this webcomic. It actually seems more bitter and depressing than anything, and I wouldn't be surprised if the creator was at least partially using the comic as a means to vent about his past experiences, which is really not an effective writing strategy. Without jokes, the comic tends to have the same approach that VG Cats infamously uses, which is to have the "punchline" merely be a goofy facial expression or visual.
Art: Starmax used to do a webcomic about sexy sorceresses called Hocusha, and while he's generally competent, he's particularly skilled at drawing hot women (1, 2, 3). I don't know if he's drawn porn or not, but it wouldn't surprise me if he has, and I'd go so far as to say that these women are the comic's main feature. This is probably partly why the seduction scene comes across awkwardly, as the woman's portrayed in a more attractive and sensual manner than seems intended considering that a caption confusingly describes her as "ugly." As for the main character's portrayal, the comic manages to always be visually appealing through its body language and facial expressions, and there's a notable absence of lazy techniques such as copy-pasting and redundant close-ups.
Starmax is the third artist to work on the project, with the first two being pretty good themselves. The original artist, Racadio, starts things off well with his heavily stylized characters, but his art has some blatant issues, including sucky color choices, low-resolution images, and some of those lazy techniques I mentioned in the previous paragraph (including a bizarre instance of a cheek-mouth in Western-style artwork). The second artist, Wooh, only made two pages (1, 2), and he brings a unique style that seems rooted in animation. He has a knack for backgrounds and composition, but his character illustrations are mediocre, and the coloring's too bright and isn't shaded properly. Starmax's work has gotten a lot better since his debut page in terms of the coloring and detail, and it's clear that he's the right artist for this kind of comic. The only thing that's kind of weird is that he doesn't color eyes separately from skin, and it makes it look like all the characters have pink eye.
Overall: Tales of Pizza is the only webcomic on the site that I read, and while it's possible that some of the other comics are creative and well-written, this one's a major disappointment. It's highly questionable if it was a good idea for the creator to add yet another webcomic to his already packed workload, and I think there has to be a point where someone can only have so many projects going on before they get creatively tapped out. The site's header describes The Webcomic Factory as a "Hub of Quality Webcomics," but it seems more like it's taking a quantity over quality approach that doesn't have a place in the webcomics world. Starmax's excellent artwork helps this comic stand out to some extent, but it's otherwise just another humorless humor webcomic that probably isn't worth adding to anyone's reading list.
|Scores (out of 5)|