Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Introduction to Webcomic Review Month

As I mentioned yesterday, welcome to webcomic review month! Sorry I don't have a snazzy name for it yet, I simply cannot think of any puns involving webcomics, but like last year I plan to spend all of March reviewing webcomics from all corners of the internet to try and give them a bit more publicity, although some of them might not need it.

I suppose I should introduce myself first though, I don't believe I ever have on this blog actually, but I'm Helen, a third year photography student in the south-eastern US who isn't quite sure if that makes her an artist or not (especially since at my school the photography and graphic design departments are in the technology department, I swear it's to help even out the gender ratio*). For the moment I just say that I do have a bit of a background in art but, as the blog's tagline says, generally I care more about the plot going on in a webcomic than the art. The art can, and generally does, improve along the way but it's more unusual for someone to get massively better writing-wise. I really do love webcomics (and manga) because this way I can get both my pretty art and story in one package and I follow a ton of series. Currently I have 144 series bookmarked (I'm guessing that roughly one half to three fourths of them update on a regular basis that I follow) and have tried out at least that many if not twice that many in the two and a half years I've really been into webcomics so by now I have some distinct ideas of what I like and don't like in a comic.

So, I'm reviewing 40-odd series this year not including a number of finished webcomics and god only knows how many Pokemon Nuzlocke comics (both of which are getting their own days just for them). There were initially more comics on my list but I cut some of them because they hadn't updated recently (I don't know when to call a webcomic "dead" but if it hasn't updated in 12 months that seems like a reasonable call) and others since they're so new there's just not as much to talk about. Also, I'm not repeating any comics from last year but I will link to all the reviews I posted last year to try and get more exposure for those comics as well. I'm keeping my Sunday, Monday, Friday, Saturday update schedule for now and will also be reviewing comics on the last two Wednesdays of the month, normally updates go up, erm, sometime before midnight EST so it might actually be better to check back the next day. Part of the reason I'm doing this month is that doing quick reviews like this is a lot easier than full reviews and this semester is turning out to be unexpectedly difficult for me^. There are however a few things common to all webcomics that I'm going to cover here instead of talking about in each review:

Every page that has a comic page on it should have at least three buttons, the previous comic page, the next comic page and a link to the archive, preferably there will also be buttons for the very first and last comic pages as well. I have come across a few comics that seem to be completely lacking an archive (either that or it's exceptionally well hidden) and that frustrates me for obvious reasons. I do follow a few comics through deviantArt but even there the creators are very good about creating a separate gallery in their folder just for the comic so it's easy to skip through the archives and sample the story or figure out where you left off, if I take a break from reading a story and can't figure out how to simply pick back up from where I was it's unlikely that I ever will again.
 Once upon a time my favorite way to keep up with comic updates was to make bookmark folders for everyday of the week and simply open each one up on it's respective morning and read everything then. Then I switched to firefox and firefox won't let me bookmark new things in multiple places so I've experimented with nearly every other way of keeping up with comics. I'm less fond of RSS feeds since I then have to remember to check the feed (and at that point why aren't I just checking the comic itself) but I know a lot of people like those so that's a nice option. Normally however I follow the creator on twitter/facebook/tumblr and click the link to the latest update there but if you use that, remember to update every time! I don't mind if it's an account just for the comic or, as many people do on twitter, a personal one as well but I do get frustrated when I start a comic, follow the twitter for updates, go a few weeks before suddenly remembering the comic and realizing it was updating the whole time.
 Well, here's the big one and I can feel people getting ready to throw things at me already. So I'll keep it simple, as Kate Beaton said recently, if you have a schedule you need to honor it. I know that different people's lives have a vast effect on how often they can update, heck I've felt that just writing reviews, but it's much easier for me to remember and webcomic and get into it if I can expect it to update at a certain time/rate per month. So please, find a schedule that works and just try to stick with it, and if you're going on hiatus please post a quick "don't worry, I'm alive!" message every now and then!

And that it's folks! Tomorrow things will really get going with all the finished comics I found last year and after that I'll start going down the alphabet, hope y'all enjoy it!


*to clarify, our technology department overall normally has a pretty high male to female ratio. I suspect it's more balanced in the graphic design department, more like 50-50-ish,  and the photography department is 80% female. I think we're also one of the biggest departments in the technology department as well and frankly I'm glad it's not the art department since ours is a bit nuts.
^ie, if a review is delayed suspect that homework or organizing the local nerd con at my school is the case and that it's probably the con (if you really want to know go on my twitter and just see whatever I'm currently cursing at).