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Ulti's Comic Reviews

Ulti's Comic Reviews

by Ultizeta
Welcome to Ulti's Comic Reviews! I am your host, Ultizeta, and this is my new and improved hub for reviewing webcomics of my fellow Smack Jeeves peers. Feel free to submit your own comic to be looked at by commenting down below or messaging me, but READ THE RULES FIRST. These can be found on the first page of the site, as well on the tab at the top of each page.

Unlike my previous review site, this version of Ulti Reviews will focus less on being entertaining and nitpicky, and more on proper critique and general analysis. I intend to focus on the author's benefit more than other readers of the review.

Review requests are OPEN!
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Ulti's Comic Reviews

Welcome to Ulti's Comic Reviews! I am your host, Ultizeta, and this is my new and improved hub for reviewing webcomics of my fellow Smack Jeeves peers. Feel free to submit your own comic to be looked at by commenting down below or messaging me, but READ THE RULES FIRST. These can be found on the first page of the site, as well on the tab at the top of each page.

Unlike my previous review site, this version of Ulti Reviews will focus less on being entertaining and nitpicky, and more on proper critique and general analysis. I intend to focus on the author's benefit more than other readers of the review.

Review requests are OPEN!

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Recent Comments

another wrong opinion by Ulti Kirby Cock Sucker
@Punchy: I will admit that perhaps saying that the characters looking similar and being easy to confuse wasn't quite really the issue. The characters DO look similar, though, because they all use the same base of "Mega Man". Head shape, eye shape, body shape, it all feels very similar, and so it's not unreasonable to confuse them. The main issue, though, is just that since they've mainly been just fighting, there hasn't been much opportunity to learn their characterizations. This results in characters that are difficult to tell apart just based on personality alone, so combining that with similar character-bases and it becomes a noteworthy issue.

And yes, you can definitely argue the same thing about Kirby-styled characters. While most of the time, Kirby characters use recolors to differentiate their appearances with bright color differences or different powers and hats, it's still not very diverse character design. I agree with you, but I also don't see how it's very relevant to this. This comic only has one Kirby character, so Quirby is very easy to identify among his peers.

The fights I was thinking of when I said they took too long was the fight against the two characters in Mario 3's Bowser Land, with the shapeshifter, as well as the fight in Napalm Man's stage with the Charizard and panel-breaker. It was less about the number of pages, and more about the pacing of the fights being very slow, with it feeling to me that not much was resulting from individual pages. The fight I was thinking of being over too quickly was the one with Quirby in the Tetris stage, due to the opponent essentially growing tired of the fight and suddenly one-shotting Quirby.

I would argue that ending fights with other author characters quickly was not a necessity. They already received new pages anyway, so continuing their fights to end in a more reasonable way wouldn't have been that outlandish. Even if you were worried that too much unsanctioned continued use of characters belonging to ex-authors would result in those ex-authors being unhappy, well, they still got used anyway, and I would at least think they would be more happy that their characters got a more appropriate send-off than "quickly destroyed by another author being possessed by overpowered alternate-dimension other-author".

The overpowered characters NEED something done about them, though, is the problem. You can't really have an interesting or competitive tournament with characters that can wipe the floor with the others near-effortlessly. Think of it like a fighting game. For an ideal competitive game, the roster needs to be as balanced as possible. Yes, some characters WILL be better than others, but that's for sake of diversity. However, there are situations where a character will be TOO much better than others. In those situations, they'd either be banned by the competitive scene, or patched by the developers to be nerfed and made more balanced as a result. This is what you guys need to try and do with your characters. Don't be afraid to make changes. If you're against the idea of a full-on reboot, that doesn't mean you can't still modify or retcon what's already taken place (in fact, retcons already have happened, so there's no argument against retconning the overpowered characters). It's not good to just say "they've been like that since the comic began, it can't be changed". When it throws the entire balance of your tournament out-of-whack, I think it will be worth the sacrifice, plus it can give you a chance to solve the issue creatively. The essence of the character doesn't need to be removed, just the over-the-top skills that significantly alter the course of fights need to be lessened in effect.

In your own words, you've described the lore and worldbuilding of this second arc as "complex bullshit". I have not been criticizing the story direction because it hasn't been resolved yet. I understand that it's a work-in-progress, I know that it's not finished. My issue is the fact that it is, as you put it, "complex bullshit" in the first place. The comic's direction into alternate dimensions is largely irrelevant to the issues that I talked about in the review. It says that there are different worlds and an infinite multiverse with higher beings that are hosting a tournament, but it explains nothing about why they want to watch this tournament, why fighters are in the tournament, what the fighters get from the tournament, or even where the characters are in general. Really, as far as I can tell, it's main purpose has been to just introduce the evil Kaizen to wipe out the ex-author competitors. The comic is still lacking crucial context, and I feel it would be more important to focus on that context rather than go down this more confusing path that, even if it's relevant as a whole and I just can't see that due to not having future planned information, still feels less important than the critical context.

I also approached this comic from a different viewpoint than you are. Disregarding the whole "you're a co-author and I'm not" aspect, you're viewing the comic almost as two separate comics: the early pages, and the newer pages. You're seeing the newer pages as redemption for the early pages, them as the "actual" comic, the main focus. The problem with that is, in order to get to those newer and better pages, you still need to get through the early problem pages. This is the perspective that I'm coming from: the comic as a whole. Yes, Brawlitup has done a decent job from what I've seen at working with what he's got and doing the best he can, but, using your analogy, salvaging a plot out of a "shitstorm" doesn't mean that the result still won't be, well, made out of "shit". Now, Brawlitup mentioned remaking the earlier pages, and that WILL solve a good chunk of issues, especially visual ones and potentially pacing ones as well. After posting the review, I've also noticed that there was a two-page introduction added recently, whereas the original beginning didn't occur until what is currently page 3. Additional page-inserts to help explain things or context will also be very manageable and helpful to actually getting RID of the "shit". But as I was unable to know of Brawlitup's plans in that regard beforehand, it was entirely reasonable for me to feel very concerned about the fact that no matter how good the later pages have gotten or how great future pages may be, the early pages would still mar potential first impressions and opinions, and those are very important to attracting new readers. Many of my suggestions also hinged on the idea of rebooting the comic entirely, perhaps a mistake on my part, but that may help put into perspective why I had the problems I had and why I suggested some of the things I did.

Something I don't quite get is your insistence that it would be a mistake to restart the comic. I can understand reluctance, it would indeed mean about 45 pages of work would no longer be usable, but only about 18 of those pages are recent works. "At this point in the game", you're really not THAT far into the comic, and only about five months into the revival of the comic. No offense, but it really would not be that severe of a loss to start from the beginning again. Not to mention, you really wouldn't necessarily have to lose your plans. In a theoretical reboot, you would be able to insert your plans in sooner than expected, or simply rework them to fit into the new timeline of pages instead. You would be using these same tournament competitors presumably, so I don't quite see the issue there. Additionally, getting used to the idea of plans changing or not being very rigid could be helpful for future works. Flexibility is an important skill for authors to learn.

You are speaking to somebody who has, in fact, participated in co-authored comics before. I do indeed know what an author comic is. Just because many author comics have vastly different visual styles, though, does not mean it's a good aspect of them. Yes, I've frequently argued against it, and regardless of whether or not people listen to me as you claim, that doesn't mean that my arguments are automatically wrong, nor does it mean I've never had any arguments and merely stated that I disliked it. Perhaps I haven't actually reiterated my arguments in a while, though, so I'll do so now:

The problem with having conflicting visual styles is that it means that the comic itself has no real consistency or visual identity. That is, instead, sacrificed for author identity. This is an issue primarily because it makes a comic difficult to read and get used to. Every single comic has its own visual quirks, but when a comic has brand new sets of quirks to learn for every single page, it can get very tiring very quickly. It can also create severe visual whiplash when one page may have highly-detailed visuals and the next has the bare minimum of effort put into it. Plus, I also feel it signals a lack of cooperation. You argue that individual styles act as a watermark for page responsibility, but I argue that any comic with multiple authors, whether it be two or fifteen or anywhere in-between, should NEVER have pages that are solely attributed to one person. A co-author comic needs cooperation, and that means working together to create pages, even if only one person at a time is actually directly working on visuals. A comic shouldn't pride itself on individuality when it's an overall team effort. Plus, you can just use an author comment to show who worked on a page, if you really want credit to be acknowledged.

Also, I continue to argue against it because, even if it "never changes", I will at least not be conceding to something that I genuinely think is poor design just because it's commonplace.

I admire your dedication to trying to expand the reach of comic pages and the senses they can affect, but I don't care for your tone. The problem with autoplaying music, though, is that reading webcomics is not a sole activity. Many people online like to multitask. While you could argue that having music meant to be played on a comic page is like how a movie has a score meant to be played during particular scenes, or a similar auditory analogy, the difference here is that webcomics are, 99% of the time, a silent affair. I like to browse the internet while listening to music, or to podcasts, or to YouTube videos or Twitch streams. This causes a problem when I try to do something like read a comic and suddenly have my ears assaulted with discordant tones due to an unexpected autoplaying song. I can also guarantee that I'm not alone in this regard. Saying that "the browser has a mute button" is not wrong, but serves nothing to solve the core of the issue, that being you're expecting readers to put effort into dealing with the problem instead of taking care of it personally. If you absolutely cannot do without removing the autoplaying videos, then instead I suggest adding a warning to the pages that have it, and putting a start delay on the song being used so that it doesn't start immediately, giving readers a chance to realize that a song is about to start playing and pause what they may already be listening to, or leave the page before it becomes an issue.

A full reboot was not the only way I saw this comic, or any comic, succeeding, and you can see this if you look at my other reviews and the suggestions I gave to them. The reason why I focused on that for this review was because I believed it would be the BEST course of action, not the ONLY course. Since you have refuted that option entirely, I hope that some of the other small bits of advice or more detailed elaboration on my issues that I've put into this response comment may help you out more.
*sticks my leg into the comments cuz WHOA dude..*
i want to give my thoughts; i agree that it would be waaay too much work to undermine like 2 years of work from many people, even though there is a lot of problems. but i believe that with what we have, it could be fixed. like if we were to cut the parts that drag on, or to add more to whats lacking. because we need to think; whats approachable to the average viewer! not specifically towards those who know what a tournament comic is, or a multiple author comic.
so wat im saying is yeah reboot is too much, but with some EXTREME editing, it would be cool! theres really a lot of awesome ideas that just havent been seen yet in this story. but i can understand that from an outsiders point of view that things can seem really confusing, which is a huge deal, impressions matter.
real quick tho, it would be weird if context of the tournament were to be given like 40+ pages in, unless thats something thats emphasized throughout the comic, which it hasnt really. just good ol battle timez. IDK my opinion probly doesnt matter too much cuz ive been here for like 4 seconds and my contributions so far have just been the cover oops.
*backs up into the shadows*
for thousands of years i lay dormant waiting for the perfect opportunity

that day has finally come

pros of this review: my name was first on the list of authors

cons of this review: everything

Okay that's a gross overestimation but I have a lot to say in response to this review.

First off, I appreciate the compliments in response to the visual style and general positive response to the comic as of late. And I will reconfirm that yeah, since the comic's reboot we've been all working closer together in order to tell whatever story this comic is about.

In reference to the problems you listed:

Visual style, yes, not all of the comics are equal in terms of how they're put together. Especially at the beginning when (and I don't say this to put down anybody) only a few of us who were part of the comic at the beginning had a good amount of experience at making sprite comics. So yeah, towards the beginning there's some rough pages and as Brawl said, there's plans to return and revisit them. The human Mega Man based characters looking similar I honestly disagree with, especially considering they all wear different colors (and Mega Ian is the most complex out of all of them), and other than Casey and Kaizen having somewhat similar hairstyles, I would just chalk that up to the visual style of the sprites we're using. You can argue the same thing about Kirby styled characters which are worse offenders than what we're doing.

I'd kind of like to know what fight scenes "take too long" and are "over too quickly." Once the comic rebooted, some of the fight scenes involving characters whose authors were no longer around had to be ended quickly so the plot could proceed. In response to the "overpowered" characters, there's not much that can be done about that, especially considering the two worst offenders have been like that since the comic's inception a year ago.

In reference to the context behind the tournament: Again as Brawl said, the comic started off in a very different state and I think props need to be given to him instead of criticism for trying to salvage a plot out of the original shitstorm that was the comic. We're adding lore and worldbuilding so the second arc of this comic can be better than the first. Most of your complaints about "muddying" everything prove you understand what's going on but are criticizing it due to the fact that we haven't gotten to the resolution and payoff of all this complex bullshit we're doing. Give it time. There's a reason things are being done in the way that they are.

Generic characters... That's another thing that comes with time. Again, this comic just got a revival and we're working through it. (also id like to beg to differ that my character has acted like his character description from the get go but thats just me being nitpicky)

In regards to the solutions:

A complete overhaul and starting from scratch, imo, is out of the question. We're taking steps to rectify some of the problems of the early pages, but starting from scratch, especially at this point in the game, would be stupid considering how much work and planning would be down the drain just to have to start over to redo EVERYTHING.

Context is coming. Brawl has literally been setting that up since the Kaizen vs. Quirby Epilogue.

Introductions are different, and that will come over time. Four of the characters from the original tournament bracket are still in said bracket, and that plotline needs to be resolved and addressed before those characters can get proper characterization.

Visual styles more consistent. LOL. I am partially convinced that even after all these years you still don't know what an author comic is. Like... how long have you been doing this and how many times have you said that line and how many times have people actually listened to you? Bro it's an author comic. The visual style becoming the same between all of us is bland and boring. Yeah, I can see where it'd be somewhat distracting but the different style of each comic essentially acts as a watermark as to who's responsible for making what. You think I want someone to see my page I spent 8+ hours on and have them not know who made it? hell no. Having distinct visual styles is fine, and I don't understand why you complain about it in every author comic because it's never going to change and it's always just you saying "i dont like it."

Also no, I refuse to get rid of autoplay music. If there's autoplay music on my page, that means it's meant to be read with that music playing. Your browser probably has a mute button somewhere.

"Strongly urge"

Dude most of what you've said either doesn't apply here, won't work with what we're establishing, or is already being worked on. I appreciate you want us to succeed but a complete comic reboot isn't happening. If that's the only way you see a comic succeeding then damn, that is truly unfortunate.

I appreciate you taking the time to read the comic and give this review but I disagree with pretty much everything you've said.
Hey there, @Ultizeta! Thanks for reviewing my comic.
First off, yes, I am the original creator (sorry for the confusion). I also see your confusion with certain uncredited authors, as well as the different art styles.
To put it in Layman’s terms: I goofed up at the beginning. When the comic first began, there were much more flaws than listed here, namely, with how authors created comics, who they were paired with, and how much time they had to complete each comic. There was no time to explain who the characters were, and authors seemingly forgot to make comics. Eventually the comic slowed to a halt, and people, including myself, forgot about it until August, when I remade the rules, plot, and general scope of the comic. Was it a bad idea to abandon the comic for that long? Absolutely. But now that I’m back, I’m working to make it better. As for why some authors are not present, a portion of the original cast either left the comic, left SmackJeeves entirely, or became very inactive to the point of no contact. There’s nothing I can do about that, but if it would make it easier to understand which characters belong to who, I can work on that.
Now then, I absolutely agree with adding context to the older pages. I was actually planning to remake the first pages so that characters could be understood more and explained. I don’t plan to do this until the first section is complete, but plans may change.
If there’s anything else you would like me to add, please let me know. Thank you again for reviewing the comic! I'm sorry for your dissatisfaction with the format. Hopefully I can change it for the next time you see me ;D
EDIT: also i completely missed the music thing at the end, imma go get that fixed
I thought you said your reviews would slow down.
You sly dog, you.
lol, makes me want to try that genre. If I were to write one I'd probably just use a ton of OC's from my Universe.
@Pokemon Fun and Craziness: For good text placement in-panel, the best way to do it for most sprite comics is to leave about two-thirds of the panel "empty". As in, the lowest third of the comic is where you place characters, and the rest is just background material. That way, you're free to cover up as much of the background as you need to with text bubbles.

It doesn't necessarily NEED to be done that way, especially since with your comic, you're working with top-down sprites rather than sprites from a 2D sidescrolling game, however this is generally still the norm and will likely be easier in general than trying to mix it up. In your current set-up, you mainly have the characters in the center of a large area. This isn't necessarily wrong, but it's likely where you're having placement issues stem from. I recommend googling the "Rule of Thirds", which is a art/photography term that relates to ideal positioning and scene composition.

Don't be afraid to make the panels themselves a bit larger, either, if you find you're still running low on room. It's also worth paying attention to what is context-critical to show for each panel or scene. Like, for instance, once you showed one panel of the entirety of Wigglytuff's room in his guild, you wouldn't need to devote every single follow-up panel to maintaining all of that visual information. Zooming in would be effective because you could keep the focus on the characters instead, since readers would now know exactly where they were and what was in the room from the first panel.

Also, for good sprite editing, especially with THESE sprites, since there's very little detail in them, simplicity is definitely the best. Even changing just one or two pixels will likely be more sufficient than leaving the sprites the same. Plus, you could always look into alternative sprites. Regardless of if you continue using PMD backgrounds, you could try and find different sprites that might be easier to convey emotion with. I know that the Spriters' Resource has an extensive section of custom Pokemon sprites, and you could also choose from another spin-off series like Pokemon Ranger or Conquest to see if those might allow for a wider range of emotions or easier emotive edits for you to make.
Thanks for the review, especially for the constructive criticism. I know that this being my first (real) try at a comic with a good narrative doesn't excuse its faults, and I strive to improve from what it is now.

Up until now, I haven't even realized that the "mystery" elements I'm trying to convey are actually just confusing moments that lack context. I could say the obvious excuse of "it will be explained later", but I should try to explain more. The characters don't question enough of what they should, yet sometimes they focus too much on another thing.

However, the main problem that I don't know *how* to fix is the placement of the text. Since I am barely able to change how the sprites look due to how terrible I am at it, the character close-ups at the bottom give their only expressions of emotion. If I put the character close-ups and dialog all in one image, it becomes too crowded, even if I did increase the size. But if I don't, you still become disconnected from the visuals above by having to look down at the bottom. And since I lack the artistic ability to instead draw the comic, I have to pick one way to do something even if it it's the best.

Still, thank you for the review. Most of the feedback I get is completely positive which, though nice, doesn't help to improve the faults. After all, if you build a table that tilts but nobody ever tells you about that fault, you're just going to keep building tables that tilt.
Read Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Umbry the Thief here.

Updates for this are likely to become a tad more scarce than they have been. I'm working hard on a lot of other things, including my upcoming new comic, so it's tougher to find time to read comics and write a review. I'm not going to cancel this already, it's just going to have less frequent review updates than I've had in October and November.
artofjoe
November 30th, 2017
I read the first 20 pages or so last night and found them to be pretty enjoyable. I actually dig the writing style complete with typos because they are annoying in a funny way that makes you laugh. I did have a headache and I hadn't had any sleep due to being sick, so I haven't continued it yet.
Slitherhen
November 29th, 2017
WOOOOOOO IM SO HAPPY TO SEE THIS REVIEWED AFTER HAVING IT FOR SO LONG... thank you again! I think one the problems it has like soul field, was that it's ~mysterious~ for the sake of being mysterious, and it comes off as really confusing, I think I said that on the last review. Anyway yeha my idea for having it reconstructed was making the pages larger, I've been wanting to double the page sizes to be 800x1000 and sort of condescending two pages into it. It would probably make it seem shorter but I might just do that and taking the advice of expanding on scenes and give em more purpose and time to settle.
And YEA THE INTERMISSIONS WERE THE PARTS I HATED LOOKING AT LOL. I don't know if I can destroy it as a whole, but like completely change it and have there be only one so far. And when this comic is reworked, I'll have the opportunity to differentiate the main three. I honestly hadn't noticed that they were similar! I've always thought of them as they were pre-amnesia, their personalities at the beginning were kinda blank and that they're slowly becoming who they were before. I'll make it more obvious oops. As for bonbon, she really does have purpose n stuff, but like I said before I keep trying to make thing overly mysterious and it's just confusing. ALSO for the whole, Everyoen in hot dagn is trans and gay in some way, you're darn right it's gotta be stated in canon, I'll find a way to bring it up naturally!!!
Not one of the points brought up in the review but the thing I'm worried about is when the world outside the mansion is introduced. Because you said it works well for what it is, mansion shenanigans and the characters in it. Like SPOILER but eventually that's gonna come into play and it's been leading up to that starting with the tv segment thing and hot actually being outside, hopefully I'll be able to shift things smoothly towards that part.
The changes I make won't be drastic, I'd really just like to expand on some scenes and merge to make larger pages and redraw/rewrite some stuff. Also keep how my old art looked cuz it's always fun to compare the first page with recent pages omg...
Now that I think about it, salvageable is too dramatic a word. I'm just either loving what I make or GOD THIS SUCKS WHOD EVEN LIKE THIS, ya know! I've really thought that if it was ever critiqued, it would've been torn down and all the time I spent on this thing would suddenly become invalid and everyone who read it would feel tricked or soemthing. I think I have a big flaw in my stories where things are just really incoherent at times. Like if a person were to analyze my work with the mindset of "Aha! The creator is trying to Tell us something!" they'd be like Wow this persons frickn random xD! IDK I started this comic when I was 14 and tired and never though ppl would think much of it. But the comic rly makes me happy overall! And I'm always SO excited for the things that will happen in its future and OH MY GOD THAT DOG.

This is a big weird pile of text and this point I'm rambling oops. But YEAH thank you so much!!! I'm glad u enjoyed some of it! I'm gonna make this thing better
Also that's ok u can keep the link, people can look at what it is now before it changes.
Ultizeta
November 29th, 2017
Read the under-construction Hot Dagn here, though due to how Slitherhen is trying to discourage that for the time being, if they ask I'll remove this link.
Squirreltastic-Blue
November 25th, 2017
The art of the comic is pretty stylized.
And I like it!
Miley Silus
November 25th, 2017
All valid points! I think I've struggled with the pacing a lot because I know the characters so well that I forget that no one else knows them at all!
I'll hopefully be resolving these issues in the next chapter arc as I'm going to extend the story into longer chapters than being a monster an episode sort of style if that made sense?
Ultizeta
November 25th, 2017
Read Bakemono here.

Also as a reminder, I am still open for new review requests, if you were curious!
artofjoe
November 22nd, 2017
@StrangeWorldComic: That last panel is something to be proud of. I love parody comics, so I might check yours out. :)
(especially parody super hero stuff, One Punch Man is my favorite)
Thank you for the review!
Thanks for reading man, I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to review my comic and give it a (fairly) positive verdict!

I'll definetly make time to go back and fix the word spacing soon. As you can probably tell, this is my first time making a comic, and problems like that didn't really occur to me at first. Like you said, I've been trying to shy away from that stuff in my recent pages since I've become more layout-savvy.

Another thing I want to address is my "Unwillingness to draw". I'll admit, I wasn't confident in my abilities enough to draw some stuff at first, but over time I feel like I've become more comfortable with my art and I really try not to limit myself anymore. I promise that isn't an issue anymore, but I appreciate that you acknowledged it as an issue!

I'll definetly take your issues into account moving forward! One question I'd like to ask you, though: Who was your favourite character so far?