What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

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What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby wolfman123 » November 9th, 2017, 7:28 am

... that feature an at least decent story?

Like the original One Punch Man, for example. if the remastered version didn't exist, would you read it?
Do you enjoy reading any webcomics here on Smack Jeeves that feature less-than-stellar artwork?


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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby eishiya » November 9th, 2017, 8:42 am

Art that does not complement the story gets in the way of enjoying a comic, for me. If the art's "badness" suits the tone of the story, then it's generally not a problem for me, but usually unintentionally bad art does not, and it's distracting. In addition, because I'm shallow and picky, I'll often not even start reading a comic that doesn't look well-drawn, so I'll never even know that it has good writing.

If "your friend" is worried about their bad art getting in readers' way, have them focus on presentation. A good presentation shows the reader that the author cares about the comic and isn't just being lazy and careless, it gives the reader hope that the art will improve. Make the panels neat (if appropriate), make the lines clean, make the bubbles easy to follow and read, etc. You can do a lot to make a comic look good that doesn't require drawing skills. A good presentation might not help with the pickiest of people, but it'll help a lot with people who are just uncertain about giving the comic a read. A bad presentation, on the other hand, can damage even a well-drawn comic.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby MK_Wizard » November 9th, 2017, 10:23 am

To be honest, I would not call it bad. Just... sketchy, but that does not stop me from reading at all. Many of the best comics are simple and old fashioned, but they are fun and interesting. Think those 8-bit games that were fun to play and still are bench we we can still download them. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and really th best art in the world means nothing if you can't write a compelling story. And sadly many great artists need to practice their story writing skills. The potential is there. It just needs practice.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby darkenergy » November 9th, 2017, 2:23 pm

As someone who has a badly drawn comic but has a way more legit writing and drawing background, it interferes with storytelling. A, I straight up don't know how to create some of the images I want to in a panel format, B, I muck up pacing and some storytelling elements because I'm not as conscious in my use of panels and such. Obviously I've done a bit more reading on it (thanks, Scott McCloud, et al) but it doesn't change the fact that bad visuals are messing up what I think would be an interesting story otherwise.

Now that said, I find sketchy/quick art not as problematic, cause you still get the full quality of storytelling.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby MemaiShirosaki » November 9th, 2017, 9:42 pm

Depends on how you'd define 'bad'. I mean, the original One Punch Man comics were hilarious BECAUSE they were so badly drawn. They were very quick reads (4 panels if I'm not mistaken for the first few) so it wasn't like you needed a good long time to settle down and get into the story.

But like eishiya said, presentation can go a LONG way. Making the website easy to read, neat panels, cleaned up lineart, etc. This way I know the author is trying, they aren't just putting together some doodles from work/school and calling it a day. I think with webcomics, most readers can always expect a jump in quality. People get better with art the more they draw (and webcomics take a lot of drawing), so readers tend to be a little bit more forgiving with less-than-stellar artwork. I mean, there are always going to be nitpicky grinches out there, but they're thankfully the 0.5% :p
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby thelordbaeron » November 10th, 2017, 12:51 pm

I'd like to chime in and get some thoughts on something here. If you have an ongoing story, and the earlier stages look like a hot mess, do you think it's better to leave it and show the progress you've made, or to eventually go back and remake it, to put your best foot forward for your reader?

I myself like seeing the progress. And I'm in agreement with Eishiya that a "bad" art style can still fit, but if it's sloppy or unintentional it can be rather off-putting.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby eishiya » November 10th, 2017, 4:39 pm

thelordbaeron wrote:I'd like to chime in and get some thoughts on something here. If you have an ongoing story, and the earlier stages look like a hot mess, do you think it's better to leave it and show the progress you've made, or to eventually go back and remake it, to put your best foot forward for your reader?

I myself like seeing the progress. And I'm in agreement with Eishiya that a "bad" art style can still fit, but if it's sloppy or unintentional it can be rather off-putting.

I think remaking anything is only worth it if the pages are so bad that readers can't understand what's going on. Improving art is an expectation with comics, and I think most readers who care about art check the latest pages before starting to read a comic. The benefits of redrawing early pages just aren't worth the work it takes. The author's time is better spent making new pages, finishing the comic, and moving on to the next project.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby JakiraJurosawa » November 10th, 2017, 4:43 pm

I like a badly drawn comic as long as it's not badly drawn:3
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby darkenergy » November 11th, 2017, 9:20 am

eishiya wrote:
thelordbaeron wrote:I'd like to chime in and get some thoughts on something here. If you have an ongoing story, and the earlier stages look like a hot mess, do you think it's better to leave it and show the progress you've made, or to eventually go back and remake it, to put your best foot forward for your reader?

I myself like seeing the progress. And I'm in agreement with Eishiya that a "bad" art style can still fit, but if it's sloppy or unintentional it can be rather off-putting.

I think remaking anything is only worth it if the pages are so bad that readers can't understand what's going on. Improving art is an expectation with comics, and I think most readers who care about art check the latest pages before starting to read a comic. The benefits of redrawing early pages just aren't worth the work it takes. The author's time is better spent making new pages, finishing the comic, and moving on to the next project.


What about having a good hook? I mean, I know that I don't expect the art to be as good as later pages when I pick up a new comic, but I do expect not to have a huge barrier to being interested, if that makes sense.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby mitchellbravo » November 11th, 2017, 11:40 am

darkenergy wrote:
What about having a good hook? I mean, I know that I don't expect the art to be as good as later pages when I pick up a new comic, but I do expect not to have a huge barrier to being interested, if that makes sense.

I wonder about this in my comic. I recently (edit: uh, maybe not so recently, back in 2012) added a 3 page intro to the beginning of my comic so that when a reader goes back, they kind of get eased into the setting a little bit better and it also shows better art than what actually becomes the first content page. It's not as assertive a hook as I'd like but I haven't thought of anything better and so far it hasn't seemed to be a problem.

I've thought of redrawing and rewriting much of the first chapter, to the point of I actually wrote scripts up and was preparing to do it, but I really think the effort:result ratio just isn't worth it. My first 2 chapters are pretty grody, but getting rid of them would mean that chapter 3 would now be responsible for introducing all of the cast and their relations again, and using the rewritten scripts to remake pages would take up time I could (and should :oops: ) be spending on making new pages for my long-suffering 7th chapter. Not to mention there would then be a nother dropoff in quality after chapter two ended and chapter 3 began. At least as it is you can follow how the character designs changed over time and things like that. And as much as I cringe at some of the early pages, I am really proud of how far I've come over how ever many years I've ben working on this thing. (Like compare these two exterior streets, or these two nature settings).

Also, IME, readers who are patient enough with the art of those first chapters seem more likely to enjoy the story as the comic goes on. I guess in whatever way the art precipitates the tone of the story enough that it only puts off people who would have lost interest later anyway.

But yeah, I felt a lot better about the comic after I added the little intro. It's not my best art anymore, but it's a little less aggressively mediocre and provides a better narrative springboard than just diving into the storyline content.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby darkenergy » November 11th, 2017, 8:28 pm

mitchellbravo wrote:
darkenergy wrote:
What about having a good hook? I mean, I know that I don't expect the art to be as good as later pages when I pick up a new comic, but I do expect not to have a huge barrier to being interested, if that makes sense.

Also, IME, readers who are patient enough with the art of those first chapters seem more likely to enjoy the story as the comic goes on. I guess in whatever way the art precipitates the tone of the story enough that it only puts off people who would have lost interest later anyway.

But yeah, I felt a lot better about the comic after I added the little intro. It's not my best art anymore, but it's a little less aggressively mediocre and provides a better narrative springboard than just diving into the storyline content.


Huh, thanks for the thoughts there. I think aggressive mediocrity sounds like a decent starting point :p
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby Jules_The_Mayfly » November 12th, 2017, 8:01 am

How important is the art to the story will determine the answer.

For example I read Selkie every week but to be honest the art is pretty bad and at this point I don't think it will get better. (Not that the author isn't trying, mind you.) However the story is (at this point at least, there seems to be bigger stuff coming?) mostly about people talking, so as long as I know who is who it doesn't matter.

Now, if the story was super action-heavy or trying to show the beauty of the world and create stunning set pieces...it would fall apart pretty quickly. With webcomics there is also the charm of seeing a creator evolve and grow so I am far more patient to weird art if the ideas are so out-there and quirky that you just get instantly sucked in. Hell, if it's an interesting enough idea and execution even what I said before doesn't hold neccessarily true and you can have "ugly" battles and scenic shots. But it has to be a stylistic ugly that is consistent with the tone and ideas. I mean Homestuck was the most popular comic in the world at one point, if you have a weakness work with it and agressively make up for it in other parts.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby Hornmeister » November 12th, 2017, 9:03 am

There's this quote by Mark Rosewater, who's part of the people who make Magic the Gathering, going around: "Restrictions breed creativity."
And while he's specifically talking about game design here, I'm certain that this is applicable to basically any creative workprocess.
If your art is limited, either by skill or by choice, you can still tell a great story, especially if you utilize it in a way that reinforces your storytelling.
It's also a great learning opportunity because bad writing and composition are much more noticeable and jarring that way.
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby K-cho » November 12th, 2017, 12:42 pm

When I've talked about this with other people in the past, it seems like most people would rather read a comic with less-good art but a really interesting story than a comic with beautiful art but a boring story, so I think there's hope for anyone who's self-conscious about their artistic ability! (At least, I'm crossing my fingers that that's true, haha.)

However, I do think that in terms of attracting new readers, it's easier if the art is very good since that's what makes the most immediate impression. If you can't catch someone's eye with art alone, I think you have to work a little harder to promote the other appealing points of your work.

Add me to the group of people that would love to redraw their comic (especially as it gets longer and longer and it feels like there's more and more of a slog to get to the most recent art), but yeah, totally not practical. I've also seen a lot of situations where it feels like the artist is redrawing because they've really outgrown the comic in general, not just their old art, and the comic usually goes on hiatus a little while after that.

In terms of webcomics that were redrawn and it DOES seem to have worked out well, two that I can think of off the top of my head are Autophobia on Smackjeeves (which has gone through at least 2 reboots/redraws since it was first created, iirc) and Knights Errant (the original version of which used to be on SJ but has been sadly deleted, current version is on Sparkler Monthly). In both of those cases, the new version of the comics seem to be progressing steadily and attracting a healthy audience. I think it really takes a ton of motivation and self-discipline to pull off something like that, though...
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Re: What are your toughts on "badly" drawn comics...

Postby snowwhistle » November 16th, 2017, 11:37 pm

I do think bad art can genuinely put people off of reading a comic. I know a lot of people like to say that story is king and that if you're a good enough writer you can overcome having poor art and I think to an extent that's true. But I don't see that mindset quite the same as other people.

Typically the first thing I do when I look at a web comic I've discovered for the first time is skim a bit through the latest chapter to assess their art and storytelling (and be possibly spoiled, but whatever) to see if I jive with the story and art style of the comic. Then I actually start to read the comic from the beginning, at which point I will tolerate early artwork which may have been poorer than what is found in the newer comic pages in order to read through their story and get to the better artwork.

However, if I see a newly made comic that's just starting out and has bad looking artwork I typically won't even start it. Bad art (not stylized art, there's a difference) is genuinely hard for a lot of people to sit through and look at. I'm not discouraging people who have less art experience from starting a web comic (how else will one improve?!) but it's important to understand that as a visual medium people will judge your comic based on the quality of art.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using stylized art or using simpler art, but I don't think people should be actively looking to draw comic with "bad art" just because its easier to do so. Bad art isn't the same thing as stylization or simplification and unless you understand why traditional art works then it's nigh impossible to break established art conventions effectively. I'd like to encourage people who think their art is bad to go out and learn perspective, draw from life, and practice so that way their art can improve. Your art doesn't have to be perfect when starting out, god knows mine isn't. But people should always be learning and looking to improve themselves.
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