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Would like to start a webcomic review blog, tips on starting

 
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james113



Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:24 am    Post subject: Would like to start a webcomic review blog, tips on starting Reply with quote

Well I'm definitely not new to the whole website thing. I've been doing html, php, and mysql for 5 years now, it's just that the biggest success I ever had was a very small forum and a small webmanga website back about 3 years ago.

The most success I've had with keywords has been with reviews of new flash projects from newgrounds (in where I got almost all of my hits from one production). I'm thinking of trying to do webcomics as well.

I need all kinds of general tips on starting up the website. I'll be looking for comics that are in either the furry, adventure, or manga formats and have at least 50 or more pages complete. I'm wondering if that sounds about fair, or whether I should drop it to about 20 pages complete?

I also have all kinds of other questions about forming a community, etc... Any general tips would help as well on starting and maintaining a review site. =)

Thanks once again for your time, twl community.
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hitmen



Joined: 21 Dec 2007
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think 50 pages is fair.
Some adventure comics:
Mine (click sig)
Order of the Stick: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html
Skin Horse: http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/skinhorse/series.php
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
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Location: North-East England

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds fair.
Will you be reviewing comics you pick yourself or will you be opening it up for people to submit comics that they want reviewed? Personally, I think a mix of the two would be good, providing of course that you're not going around and deliberately picking comics you don't like.

There's nothing wrong with negative reviews of stuff that people have asked you to review, but I can't see why anyone who's not either been asked by the creator or being paid by a publisher would choose to put themselves through reading a comic they didn't like.
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dooky



Joined: 11 May 2007
Posts: 217
Location: Themiskyra

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fifty pages is good, I'd have that as a hard minimum. Even the best comics won't have hit their stride until then, so it's unfair to review comics prior to that point. Hell, I've done over 160 pages and I'm still not at a point where I'm happy with my art...

I should point out that I'm fairly lukewarm towards the idea of webcomic review blogs. Perhaps it's due to the one time I've ever had a review: It was a truly baffling affair, the main criticism being that my comic wasn't as sexy or violent as the reviewer had hoped. Said reviewer then went on to criticise xkcd for having simplistic art, as I recall.

It could be that I've been reading the wrong review sites, but I've yet to find one that captured my interest. There's always a voice in my head demanding "And who asked you?" when I'm reading them. A good review is nice for the site being reviewed, and might net them some traffic, but what purpose does a bad review serve? Warning people off from a site that they weren't going to visit anyway? The counter-argument to this is that some people enjoy reviewing for the very same reason that others enjoy drawing: it's a creative endeavour. And this is fair enough, I suppose... I just wish somebody would do it better.

So what can I, a self-professed review site skeptic, offer this discussion? Well... how about some Things to Avoid?

- Avoid giving marks out of ten for art, writing and so on. I'd even suggest avoiding specific sections where you discuss these aspects. There are some comics where art figures very little into the overall equation: An extreme example is Dinosaur Comics. You should tailor each review to suit the comic in question.
- Avoid reviewing well-known, well-established comics. A significant purpose of review sites is helping people find new comics. We all know Penny Arcade, Megatokyo and CAD. We've already formed opinions on those comics. The only possible purpose reviewing them could serve is drumming up controversy via a deliberately negative review. And, uh, it's worked for some people, but I'd rather you didn't go down that route...
- Avoid genres you just plain dislike. If you hate horror comics, for example, you won't be able to give a fair review to a horror comic.
- Avoid getting personal. "I dislike this comic" is fine; "I dislike this comic and the person who made it is clearly wrong in the head" is not.
- And for God's sake, be literate. For your own sake. If your prose doesn't seem professional, you aren't going to have credibility as somebody who criticises others.
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gsilverfish



Joined: 30 Jul 2008
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My favorite webcomic review site is the Webcomic Overlook. The author is just a really good writer, and his reviews are entertaining to read, whether they're positive or negative, or whether or not I agree with them. So I'd start there for an example of how it can be done "right."

As far as having a "successful" webcomic review blog goes, though, you actually want to balance between reviewing comics that are new and you'd like to point people to, and discussion of comics that are long-running. Often times, I'm not interested in reading new comics, even if someone says they're really good! What I am interested in is the (well-written) opinions of others on comics I already know and have formed my own opinion about already. It sounds pointless, but seeing what someone else thought can be really interesting, and other people I've talked to about reading webcomic reviews have felt the same way--they'd rather read your opinion on something they know. That's how the reader gets to know you, and learns that they like and trust your opinion, and when you say that comic x is interesting, they'll listen.

The trick, of course, is that you had better make your reviews interesting to read!

You can also probably consider my comic safely under the adventure category.
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Miluette



Joined: 03 Feb 2009
Posts: 679
Location: TN, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've found that I pretty much only read reviews of things I've already seen/read, since it's pretty unlikely that a review will sway me to want to read something (or not want to). Most of the time it's a friend's personal recommendation that gets me into things, and not reviews. I started reading the Overlook a while back to be entertained (and see what would be said about a few comics I had on my reading list), but I started seeing weird patterns in the reviews that made me wonder, lol.
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helloearthling



Joined: 24 May 2009
Posts: 64
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to see Zero Punctuation style reviews.
Seriously, Yahtzee is funny enough that if it were me he was ripping down I'd still watch it every week.
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Wolfus



Joined: 06 Mar 2009
Posts: 527
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look for comics that haven't had lots of reviews already. Not many people want to read your opinion on Penny Arcade. Seek out the hidden, but great webcomics.
Try not to review similar comics in a row. Alternate. Say you review a gamer comic, make sure your next review isn't in the same genre.
50 pages is fair, less than that and it's difficult to give a full review.

Perhaps after a review, speak to the author and they will link back to your review? I dunno how that works. I've only ever had one review and it was fairly early on.
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LukeSurl
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 1050
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't give bad reviews.

"What?" I hear you cry. "Surely you have to give bad reviews in order that your good ones stand out?". No. Not for webcomics.

Obviously you don't change what you think about comics, you just don't bother to write a review of something you don't think is worth reading. You can openly state that this is what you do. Also you should aim to pick out points of comics that are not so good and/or need improving, but you don't do a review that is all negative.

There are several advantages of this:
  • You don't have to force yourself through the five-year archive of something you don't like.
  • Your blog is actually useful - people can actually use it to find good undiscovered comics to read. If a blog gives comic Z which I've never heard of a negative review, what do I care? I was probably never going to read it anyway. If you give Ctrl-Alt-Delete a review, again, what do I care? I've already formed my opinion of that.
  • You don't make enemies - instead you make friends who will link back to you. I suspect you probably wouldn't enjoy writing a bad review.
  • You don't come across as a cock - I'm sure some people enjoy seeing a new comic done by a 15 year old ripped to shreds, but to me it just comes across as passive-aggressive bullying.
Webcomic reviewing isn't like films, where reviewers essentially protect consumers from wasting their money and time. Webcomics are free, and if someone doesn't like the first few updates they see, there's no compulsion to read the rest.

I, and I suspect a lot of other people, want to find new webcomics to read. If half your reviews are "This comic isn't worth reading, here's why" then half your reviews are useless to me.
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james113



Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm probably gonna bookmark this thread now. x_x Thanks guys for some really great tips! =)

Quote:
As far as having a "successful" webcomic review blog goes, though, you actually want to balance between reviewing comics that are new and you'd like to point people to, and discussion of comics that are long-running. Often times, I'm not interested in reading new comics, even if someone says they're really good! What I am interested in is the (well-written) opinions of others on comics I already know and have formed my own opinion about already. It sounds pointless, but seeing what someone else thought can be really interesting, and other people I've talked to about reading webcomic reviews have felt the same way--they'd rather read your opinion on something they know. That's how the reader gets to know you, and learns that they like and trust your opinion, and when you say that comic x is interesting, they'll listen.


Thanks for the tip. =) That's really something that I hadn't thought about before, reviewing comics that already have a lot of attention...

Quote:
Fifty pages is good, I'd have that as a hard minimum. Even the best comics won't have hit their stride until then, so it's unfair to review comics prior to that point. Hell, I've done over 160 pages and I'm still not at a point where I'm happy with my art...


About comic length, I think I would do some comics that are 10-20 pages (new), but mostly comics that are at least 50 pages in length. There are, of course, those that haven't hit the 50 mark and have been in the drawing phase for a year.

Quote:
I should point out that I'm fairly lukewarm towards the idea of webcomic review blogs. Perhaps it's due to the one time I've ever had a review: It was a truly baffling affair, the main criticism being that my comic wasn't as sexy or violent as the reviewer had hoped. Said reviewer then went on to criticise xkcd for having simplistic art, as I recall.


Whether people find it irresponsible or not, I always give reviews that have a 6:3 positive:negative ratio (that is: I always at least give about a 66% or higher review). I can find the good aspects in just about any comic, but at the same time I won't review anything unless it meets a personal kind of criteria (more of a focus on writing, and less on skill).

I agree with most all of your points dooky. Especially the point about being personal with the webcomic artist.

Quote:
That sounds fair.
Will you be reviewing comics you pick yourself or will you be opening it up for people to submit comics that they want reviewed? Personally, I think a mix of the two would be good, providing of course that you're not going around and deliberately picking comics you don't like.


I'll be deliberately picking comics that I enjoy, and I think will also have a submit a comic for reviewing kind of thing. I'll have to meet a quota for reading comics daily on my own time.

Quote:
I think 50 pages is fair.
Some adventure comics:
Mine (click sig)
Order of the Stick: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html
Skin Horse: http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/skinhorse/series.php


I'll make sure to put them on the submitted for review list. Thanks. =)
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jdalton
Spambot Extraordinaire


Joined: 01 Jun 2005
Posts: 2182
Location: 1 hr east of Vancouver (currently)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LukeSurl wrote:
Don't give bad reviews.

Webcomic reviewing isn't like films, where reviewers essentially protect consumers from wasting their money and time. Webcomics are free, and if someone doesn't like the first few updates they see, there's no compulsion to read the rest.

I, and I suspect a lot of other people, want to find new webcomics to read. If half your reviews are "This comic isn't worth reading, here's why" then half your reviews are useless to me.

This, this, this. So hard.

Only GOOD comics deserve linkage and attention and the traffic you will send their way. This is the internet, we know there are bad comics on it. We want to know about the good ones.
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Santaroga



Joined: 01 Aug 2009
Posts: 94

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

here are my suggestions:

1. Be constructive.

Snark is always easy... You can tear any webcomic a new one with an elegant and devestatingly cruel review. You can state the obvious seven times in a row. You can remove all context and then make fun of individual elements until the cows come flying in.
What's difficult is being constructive.

You can tell the world that webcomic X is yet another masturbatory excercise. Pointless and idiotic. The comedic elements are predictable, and derivative, its whole style stolen from those whose sense of timing and originality is beyond simplistic understatements and sarcasm.

That's not helpful.

Telling the author that you think most of the jokes rely on inside knowledge, which isn't available to the casual reader, seems to undermine the punchlines delivered. You note that the dialogue is too formal, when the situations depicted are informal, pointing out that there's no shame in having characters say "I'm here" instead of "I am here".

That's helpful. You point out what you think is a weak point, something that could do with improvement. You're specific enough in your criticism that it would make the creator aware of the issue, and at the same time you make a suggestion on how to do it differently.

And on top of that, you manage to not sound like a total douche.

2. Fair and balanced.

Mix the good with the bad. Give a fair and balanced review. Point out what you think is a strong point of Comic X and point out something that needs improving.

It's easy to fall into a negative spiral, but it's just as easy to give a glowing review of something you're not really behind fully. By maintaining a balance you add just a bit of class to your reviews.

I like this and that about Comic X, but at the same time, I hope he changes such and so.

That makes it look less like it's a fluff site. If I read 7 reviews of 7 totally different comics, and all of them are glowing reviews, then I'll zone out and just shrug when I read review number 8, because I'll know that it's going to be same kind of glowing review.

Same goes for negative reviews, if I read 7 that tell me everything sucks, then the 8th review is going to be more of the same. Why read the review, you hate everything.

So mix the good with the bad in a single review. That way the final score gets something of weight. If you never mention anything bad about a comic, and then give it 3 out of 5 stars, then I'm wondering what that is actually based on.
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darrylayo



Joined: 30 Apr 2009
Posts: 120
Location: Brooklyn, New York

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I strongly disagree with the notion that bad reviews are "bad."

As a former art school student, I believe in the value of a sound thrashing. And I don't mean "constructive criticism" either. I come from the old school Comics Journal school which supposes that there is something for the reader to gain from ANY in-depth analysis of a work.

Reviews and critiques are not for the creator's benefit, but for the benefit of the public. That's why many of the best critics are non-practicioners; those who have little or nothing to lose by praising or condemning a work.

Sometimes there's more good to be said for the artform in making an example out of its worst practicioners. As played out as Rob Liefeld-bashing is, for example, many of us, both readers and creators have gained a good deal from the extensive analysis (or rather, condemnation) of his work. As an example.


Personally, I feel that most of the branches of comics--webcomics, minicomics, literary graphic novels, etc--have become far too comfortable and complacent throughout the years and much of this is due to the fact that the writers of criticism are too close to their subjects. Most critical voices in comics are good friends with the subjects that they cover and most are peers as well. I've heard people say in conversation things that you would never read on the internet or in a magazine because people just can't express their feelings. There's trends, styles and genres that simply would NOT exist if the people who disliked them all stood up and voiced their opinions on the subjects. But nobody wants to be the bad guy. Nobody wants to be the person who isn't invited to the next party or who offended Person C because C is friends with B.

During the waning days of The Comics Journal's "mean" criticism, I managed to learn a great deal and found my world enriched by the hard standards established by the "bad guys" who dared to say "you know--this comic is just NO GOOD!"

I'm just saying.
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