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Postby Caroline Parkinson » June 24th, 2017, 3:40 pm

Harmony Monsters is a webcomic about a character named Kyanite, who begins to see monsters based on the seven chakras (centres of spiritual power) of the body. The comic is just starting out, and this makes it quite difficult to review, as at the moment it feels as it could go in several directions- romance, adventure, emotional journey or monster battles.

The first chapter is focused on learning what these monsters are, with the assistance of Shane, whom Kyan meets at a coffeeshop. Shane seems to have a crush on Kyan, though it's too early to know whether this is reciprocated. The description of the comic hints that there may be ways to use these monsters to fight other's "aggressive" monsters, which I'm choosing to interpret (maybe incorrectly) as negative emotions. No fighting yet though.

The idea of the chakras is unusual and distinctive, and the monsters are (mostly) cute and Pokemon-esque. Though we've only see two or three monsters so far, the cranky, multi-headed green turtle is particularly appealing. I would quite like an angry stuffed turtle toy!

The art style is rough and scratchy at times: while this lends an appealing hand-drawn quality to the comic, it also needs work in many areas such as facial expressions, backgrounds and hands. Some of the backgrounds have clearly had more time and effort spent on them- for example the office on page 25 is drawn with more effort and an unusual design that makes me think the artist used reference. Whatever was done here- it works.

The spot colour is striking and can be used very effectively, such as the dream sequence in page 36 (which I would say is one of the strongest points of the comic so far), but occasionally the limited colour use makes it difficult to see what is really going on in a scene- when you have, say, a green turtle standing on the head of a character with green hair. Thankfully Kyan's character design is monochrome and it does make him stand out nicely against brightly coloured backgrounds.

The diagonal panel layouts reflect the angular, scratchy artwork nicely but the panel transitions need more work in places, as sometimes it is quite difficult to follow the story if you don't already know what's happening. The conversation in the coffee shop made a lot more sense on a second read, but I'm still confused about what's happening on page 30, for example, and there are a couple of places where the reader is told and not shown things that would have been better communicated in art than writing, such as Kyan passing out on page 31. It might be interesting to add a prologue showing (maybe without dialogue) what went on the night before and why Kyan is so traumatised by what happened, as well as hinting and discussing the events in the first chapter.

There is a good sense of humour throughout the comic. Page 3 made me laugh! However some of the dialogue needs tweaking -the conversation in the coffee shop at the start can be read as both Kyan and Shane being rather insensitive. Shane offers conventional platitudes in response to Kyan's bereavement and Kyan reacts quickly and angrily. This can be read as tactlessness, and aggressiveness. While it's understandable to react less than perfectly in a awkward situation with people you don't know very well, I feel that it's important that characters come across as interesting, likeable or identifiable at the start of a story, and this scene might benefit from a few added speech bubbles reinforcing Shane's kindness and more of a build-up to Kyan's outburst. There are also a few typos.

The website is extremely basic and could benefit from bringing more of the hand drawn quality found in the comic into the web design, with perhaps the addition of some "about" or "character" pages. The author's Patreon site has more content and and is quite chatty, containing higher quality artwork, so I would guess that this may be a concious effort to direct readers towards Patreon? I'd also recommend using a regular update schedule if possible as at the moment there are gaps of several weeks between pages.

In conclusion, Harmony Monsters has an intriguing concept and plenty of interesting directions to explore, but needs a little more work on the technical aspects to make sure it lives up to its full potential.

Hopefully this review wasn't too harsh :) Looking forward to seeing where this comic goes.
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Caroline Parkinson
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Postby MariaQuinn » January 30th, 2018, 4:32 am

An impressive in-depth review of Harmony Monsters. For I have recently developing interest in monster comic books. My Favorite Thing is Monster is the book I recently enjoyed. It has excellent illustrations and by excellent I mean they're perfectly illustrated in a manner a monster comic should display.
The story is told by the author herself and the creatures are quite impressive and believable at same time. She has been working on it for quite a long time. Only thing that remains a mystery is why she changed the front cover of her book. Maybe the previous cover was planned for the second part of the book (my point of view) but whatever it is, the second part will be fun again I'm sure.
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