#270 - Friendship


December 31st, 2016, 6:10 am

Normally, the "broken door" in this kind of situation would be metaphorical blocks that represent the characters' insecurities or something - kick those open and the relationship is repaired... But no, this time it's actual, physical door we're standing on. Thanks, Daisy.

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I don't know about you, but this is one of the emotional highlights of the entire Yonkoma Nuzlocke for me, no exaggeration. I love Erika, I love Daisy and I love the friendship they have, so to see both of them convinced they've betrayed or disappointed the other beyond forgiveness was pretty painful. Fortunately, their bond is way too strong to be broken by something like this.

Not to mention they are both kind of replacements for one another's lost relatives. In a healthy not-twisted kinda way, I mean - they fill certain "empty places" for one another. Erika lost her outgoing, energetic older sister and become a sad, revenge-driven person, but cheerful and random Daisy brought back the fun and joy to her life, preventing her from committing irredeemable mistakes. Similarly, Daisy lost her parents at young age and was pretty much forced to play their role to Gary. She felt she had to seize responsibility, stay strong, be the guardian and we saw she pretty much gave up on being girly in any way simply because she had to command respect of the boys. And then Erika came in and showed her that femininity does not equal weakness. They also dressed up, did makeovers, had girl-talks... All that stuff that Daisy never got to do enough with her mom and that nobody around she could share with. Yes, they seem like total opposites and in many respects they are - but they complete each other because of that.

There is a reason why Daisy is just the happiest, most non-frustrated, self-satisfied and chill person ever despite the life-shaking tragedy in her youth and all the self-sacrifice it forced onto her... And that reason is Erika.
There is a reason why Erika is the powerful and respected Gym Leader, as well as the calm and collected leader of Heather despite the loss she suffered and the vicious circle of revenge she fell into as a result... And that reason is Daisy.

And on that happy note we end the year 2016! Thank you for reading, commenting, scoring and sharing. Stay tuned for more jokes, plot-twists, battles and character development and death in 2017! Maybe we're gonna find out what Sabrina is scheming there and find out more about Silver's role in Erika's plans... among others. See you soon!
eworm, December 31st, 2016, 7:36 am

A Brief Critique I think the major reason I think this comic suffers is because you, the author, have absolutely no idea what you want to do with it. You can't decide whether you want to make it humor-centric or drama-centric. And while it isn't a bad thing to have elements of both in a comic (in fact, I'd encourage it), it is a bad thing when the comic has such violent mood swings that the reader gets whiplash trying to keep up. Your chibi-inspired art style and yonkoma format HEAVILY communicate to the reader that the comic shouldn't be taken very seriously because it is presented in a very comical way. Everything is set up to make a pretty good HUMOR comic. But, unfortunately, you seem to have let your ambitions get the best of you, and you shoehorn in "tragic backstories" and "character drama" that absolutely does not fit into this goofy world that you've created. Even your ironic self-analysis of Erika and Daisy is proof of this. You're taking yourself too seriously for what you're doing with the comic. It simply isn't a format that you can properly craft a serious story with. You do know what the yonkoma format is for, right? You're trying to fit all of this deep, intense storytelling into four panels per page. And for God's sake, man, it isn't working. It's sloppy, and confusing, and frankly a bit ugly.
Another reason it suffers is because WAY too often you feel the need to point the joke out to the reader. You don't need to insult our intelligence. We're able to pick out a joke when we see it. The most recent example of this is at the end of page #269 when you pointed an arrow to Silver and noted "So confused he forgot to be prideful about it". Would that not have been funnier for the reader to pick out, rather than you notifying us "ALERT! ALERT! THIS IS A JOKE!"? It's like a written laughtrack... In the future, you may want to try just leaving the panel as-is instead of thinking "mm, maybe my readers won't get it because they're stupid as shit, I guess I'll add in an additional message noting the humor of the situation".
Finally, your art style feels stale and artificial. It reminds me of Kappa Mikey, and that's not a good thing. There isn't anything inherently wrong with chibi-inspired artwork, but... it just doesn't look good. For whatever reason, people outside of Japan who try to mimic drawing in a Japanese way just make it look muddled and slightly off in a way that's incredibly difficult to pinpoint. There's a way to adopt it and make it your own (a good example is Delta Emerald by Kagura-chan) but it seems like you've taken all of the wrong elements and blended them together into a thick, disgusting paste that you pour onto four poor panels and slap your heavy, heavy dialogue onto. All in all, it's not pleasant. This comic leaves me with a very poor taste in my mouth.
Overall rating would be a 2/10. It really seems like you have some ideas there... in your head, somewhere. But they're not being translated to this stilted format with this stilted art style, and certainly not with this stilted, self-righteous mindset you have (who analyzes their own characters? who?). Best of luck with it going forward... It seems like you'll need it.

"Brief" Response @readerman: Woah, that is not "brief" at all! And I love it! No joke, long analytical comments like those are my favorite. Thanks for taking time to think about my comic so much and write an essay ^^

Now, let me address your points.

I am, of course, aware that the format I've chosen is a comedic one. That is because I wanted to draw a comedic comic. I myself have read yonkoma manga that managed to do more than just jokes - they've created developed characters, intriguing stories, plot twists, all that good stuff, sometimes not even resorting to temporarily dropping the four-panel format (which I do on occasion). So I can't agree with you on that "it simply isn't a format you can properly craft a serious story with".

Most of all though, I need to disagree with your very first sentence, the suggestion that I have no idea what I'm doing with YN. Feel free to discuss the results, but my intentions, goals and plans are mine alone and I can assure you that I am very deliberate about the humor and the serious parts being mixed into one, I'm not drawing two comics at once, changing my mind about its most basic ideas every week.

One thing I can definitely understand you criticizing is the "violent mood swings" part. I have been told and believe me, I'm trying to do better in this regard - either keeping the humor around at all times even when the Plot is happening or foreshadowing the serious moments before they happen. Like in this case, where a couple strips back you can see Daisy with a troubled, worried expression on her face, sitting quietly and clearly being out of character. I know it's not perfect, but I'm trying.

And mood swings are not exclusively a bad thing, either. A sudden change for the comedic can be especially effective when done right. Which I don't claim to do every time, but again, trying.

Explaining the joke does not mean "thinking my readers are stupid", especially not in this example you've chosen to pinpoint. Without that text box, the strip's punchline would have been Silver's "Wait, aren't I the kid here?" - meaning the joke would be "look at the grown up women bawling", which is only half of it. The other half, Silver being too confused for pride, could easily be lost - not because the readers are dumb, but because I haven't established his character well enough yet. He's just been introduced and simply because he said "I'm not a kid!" once, doesn't really make "pride about his age" a defined character trait. It's like if I introduced Daisy just a couple strips back and make her kicking open doors a character trait, something she always does - and then made a joke by showing her standing next to a door at the end of the strip, NOT kicking it down. It's been only one instance so far, the joke of something NOT happening needs a pattern before it can work.

And last but not least... artstyle. How do I even comment on this one, I'm never satisfied with my drawings either. Unfortunately, aside from "feels stale and artificial", your comment doesn't provide me with a lot of help here. Saying "not pleasant", "disgusting", "off in a way that's difficult to pinpoint" - that's just a lot of non-information, subjective stuff I can't use to improve. But if by "stale and artificial" you mean "stiff and awkward", then we're actually in agreement, as making my characters more expressive and natural in their poses is the #1 thing I'm trying to gradually improve on.

"Who analyzes their own characters?" you asked, perplexed. I'm trying to think of who DOESN'T. Writing good characters requires one to either be an "accidental genius", so inspired that one just happens to write relatable, likable, complex characters without a second thought... or, more often than not, it requires actually thinking about what the characters are like, why they're like that, what they've been through and how it affected them, what they're missing and how their relationships with other characters are like. I really can't see me being analytical about my characters as something to be weirded out by and certainly don't see it as a flaw. Maybe if you mean posting my thoughts out in the open for everybody to see is weird... But I dunno, I always enjoy when I hear creators talk more in-depth about their own creations, so I like providing such info myself just in case anyone's interested.

There's one more thing. All the point you've made I have received other comments about - except they were positive ones. Throughout those 4 years, I've had a lot of incredibly nice people praising me "mixing comedy and drama effectively" or "being funny" or "creating really interesting characters" to paraphrase. And yes, even my drawings have somehow got positive reactions. Now, none of that is an answer to your arguments. Your opinions are still as valid as any and all of the positive ones I get, but I just wanted you to know my readers seem to enjoy a lot of what you don't. Doesn't mean you're wrong and they're right (nor the other way around), but... well, take it as the reason why this comic just keeps doing all that stuff - why I haven't dropped the humor or the drama to focus on just one of them, why I do backstories and plot, all that stuff. It's because I'm getting really great feedback about all that.

Now that I've got yours, I'm sure to give it some thought. I'm not gonna do any drastic changes, but your post is likely gonna stay in the back of my head.

Also... Your comment got kinda rude in places. I'm not gonna judge, I very often come across as a jerk myself whenever I talk about negatives, even if I have the best intentions - and it certainly doesn't seem you meant to just offend-and-run. Still, as much as I appreciate your comment (like, a lot!), do try to refrain from saying things like "disgusting" (just too strong of a word) or "you have no idea what you want to do" (assumption and, arguably, an argument ad personam) in the future. Not under my comic, but in general.

But the thing that most interests me is you making it through two hundred and seventy strips/pages of something you didn't enjoy at all. I'm genuinely curious whether or not you would be able to pinpoint any particular reason that kept you reading. Sheer boredom? Utter "how come it's so bad" confusion? Or did you find something you thought would be worthwhile, even if I ended up disappointing?

A Brief Response to Your Response @eworm: I'll admit that I was definitely rude. Part of that may have been because I felt like I had spent too much of my time reading your comic. To address your last paragraph...hm. You have quite a following, don't you? If this comic only had a few readers, I think I'd have left it alone. But I wanted to see what so many people were reading. Surely there ought to be something worthwhile if I just kept reading? I'm not going to judge something based on its first few pages. That'd be idiotic. So I kept reading and reading, still not quite enjoying it, and eventually I was just reading so that I could shape my thoughts into a critique. Unfortunately I think all the time I spent on it frustrated me, and my critique became more rude and less analytical. A lot of what I said was completely subjective, and there was no need for me to treat my opinion as fact. But I think a lot of my criticisms were essentially due to difference in taste. I don't find your comic particularly appealing, sure, but that's just me, right? You have plenty of people who read it. So regardless of what I think, you're doing something right, aren't you? And perhaps if your comic were changed into something I enjoyed more, your readerbase may enjoy it less. I'm not sure what my intention was, after the fact. I didn't expect you to change anything, but... I suppose I just felt...entitled? Entitled to give my thoughts after I had given your comic so much of my time. I apologize for my more crass remarks (thick, disgusting paste was certainly unnecessary - as was most of the entirety of my third paragraph), and I also agree that there's really nothing wrong with posting your own thoughts on your comic. I don't know why I attacked that. I was unhelpfully rude about your art style as well. I still stand by my earlier criticisms, about the mood swings and all that... But I just wanted to rectify some of what I said that was perhaps less-than-helpful.

@readerman: No offense taken, don't worry. No comic can appeal to everyone's tastes (nor should it try to, I think), so while it's unfortunate that you don't enjoy YN for what it is... I can't exactly help it at this point. I am certainly going to do my best to keep improving what I do, but drastically changing what it is that I do would be pretty jarring and unfair at this point.

I still appreciate your time and your thoughts. Feel free to drop by in another four years, see if it's any better ^^

It's Subjective I was surprised by Readerman's comments, mostly because I don't completely disagree with much of it but that I still enjoy this comic regardless. I have to be honest, the art style was one of the main things that put me off reading it for the longest time. After coming this far, you're craft has certainly gotten more polished, but the style is still very what I would call "juvenile." Basically, the eyes and hair are just SO OVERLY anime, the proportions and perspective are wonky, and the digital-ness of it stands out so apologetically that it feels a bit artificial and flat. But the thing is, at this point it feels like part of the aesthetic, and it's got it's own charm to it. Some may call it ugly, and I wouldnt exactly disagree, but you just own it so well that I certainly dont think it holds back the comic in any way, especially since it's the characters, humor, and story that are the focus. In any case, I'm glad to hear you are interested and eager to improve your craft, because you certainly have potential, and I'd love to see what you can do with some work (and i am more than happy to help in that reguard)

In terms of the mood whiplash, I didnt feel much of it at all while reading these last few pages, in fact I feel like you were able to get across a very touching moment in these two girl's relationship while keeping true to the light hearted nature of the comic. I was surprised when I read your description to find this was an emotional highlight for you, which I can see how this is an emotional moment for the characters but I certainly wasnt choking up or anything XD. But I liked that. I was able to get the strong feelings the characters were going through, but this is totally how they would get through their troubles, and it would have been out of character if they had a serious talk about that kinda stuff. I'm thinking back on this comic, and I remember way back in the beginning of the comic when Gary first finds out how much Daisy was sacrificing to take care of him, and I didnt feel any whiplash at all going from the heavy comedy bits that came before and after that part. I'm not sure why, thinking about it objectively it probably should have felt out of place, but that was one of my favorite moments in the series!

Maybe it is a difference in expectation. It seems Readerman came in expecting some amazing comic, and kept waiting for it to (get good), whereas I started reading it because I didnt know who to nominate for the extravaganza and since you were such a faithful commenter on my run I wanted to give yours a chance. I was hooked from the start because of Gary, and was pretty happy the whole way through ( i think i got a bit bored during the cave fight with the rockets ).

But in any case, the most important thing about these nuzlocke comics is that you can do absolutely anything, you arent held by any rules or conventions like normal comics. The first one started with stick figures for crying out loud, and I wouldnt disagree if I saw someone call those comics ugly either. They are still great and so are your pages, and as long as you keep doing what you want to do with them then that's all that matters. What you're doing so far is working well for you, and tons of folks like me support you in it, but also dont feel like you are trapped in this style if you ever do decide to change it up a bit. Your strength is in your story telling, and like I said I look forward to seeing what you do with Silver!

(sorry if anything I said makes no sense it's like 5am and i cant sleep XP)

I read through readerman's comment. It was quite crass in some places, but they seem to be aware of that (it's cool that you both remained pretty civil after the fact, btw). I think I get readerman's issues a bit about reading it through despite disliking it just to see what it's all about (I've done that with other things I've read/watched).

In the end, it is subjective. I happen to be one of the readers who like your mixture of humor and drama/action, and I think you do it quite well! I also totally understand about analyzing your own characters. I do that all the time, to the point where sometimes I talk about them like real people (that's not crazy at all, right?).

Though there is one thing I do sort of agree on that I didn't really think about until readerman pointed it out - and that is that there is a certain amount of mood whiplash. In a sense, I don't really mind it, since there are many other things I watch/read that do similar things. To me that is more of a humor style and less of an inherent flaw. In some cases in YN, this is done well, and in the cases where you go from beginning to reveal an important piece of info to go off on a joke, it creates suspense. Other instances aren't always that great and you get more of that mood-whiplash-y feel. From your response, it seems like you definitely understand that flaw in your comic, and from what I can tell, you have certainly improved on that front since the comic started.

Artwise, I wouldn't worry to much. Kind of like what Jet said - it's very much got its own aesthetic, and it really fits with your format. In a weird way, I actually don't really see the anime comparison. It's just too, well, comical looking. Maybe I just tend to watch anime/read manga that have more realistic proportions? Idk.

In the end, I'd just say keep doing what you're doing, but keep the parts of these critiques that you find helpful in mind.

Hey! I wanted to add that I enjoy your nuzlocke comic (and Judgement which is discontinued;;) the most storytelling-wise (and I read MANY nuzlockes) and I can't think of another comic that kept entertaining me through and through like this on my first time reading through it. Also I think storytelling > art. Not that I don't like your art, it is good, it got better and even before it had tons of charm with the sprite-y backgrounds and all.

I'm going to be sick.

These are great! .......how long ago was this posted LOL

I love it when I can read large essays on criticism and replies when rereading a comic.

Also, I really enjoy your comic, but how dumb Doug was at the start threw me off for a while. Glad I came back! :)

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