The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Evolution of a Bad Review

One of the worst revelations about reviewing anything, restaurants, bands or comics, is in deciding when to shake your head and tell people something really stinks, despite the presence of talent. Not everyone can have the most awesome, fantastic, oh-my-god-you-must-read comic and for Monster Machine, boy is it true.

Pulling off a four panel comic strip that is poignant, funny and doesn’t use cheap tricks for a few chuckles is hard. Pulling off a four panel strip that uses only two or three characters and hardly any backgrounds or body changes is even harder. Her! Manages the feat with startling entertainment and runs on the same principle that Monster Machine does. The difference is one has good dialogue and motion within the strip and the other remains motionless and uninspiring. There is no real personality or history to the characters. They are flat and offer no genuine or unique funny.

Two of the biggest sink-holes new (and occasionally, old) online comic creators get sucked into is in thinking that they can pull off Breaking the Fourth Wall and ego maniacally referring to the comic creator in the comic, in this case Daniel Davis. It nearly never works out and readers flinch with mistrust. Once you start self-referencing yourself, it’s hard to gain back the respect of readers. More often than not readers want to be sucked into the world and the characters you create, even if they are set-ups for one liners and shattering that illusion is a mood killer. Even without these two troubled approaches to the comic, Davis’ writing is just bad.

To be fair though, the comic is new. As in, it’s been around for two months. To Davis’ credit, he updates almost every day and has maintained this schedule from the beginning. This is encouraging and hints that perhaps in a year the characters and writing will flush themselves out and if he keeps up his updating schedule, he’s sure to find his voice. There is truth in understanding that comics don’t hit their stride until at least a year out, and for Davis, I hope he keeps going that long and I’ll tell you why. Davis has something that even long standing comics don’t have; amazing and unique artwork.

If you check out everything he has done over at his site Steam Crow Press you’ll find yourself entrenched in quirky and delightful monsters of all shapes and sizes. His print work reminds me of Meghan Stratman over at Bunny Pirates. I was honestly shocked to discover that this comic that seemed so terrible was created by someone with the choppy, sweet and well crafted talent I’d been impressed with for so long over at Bunny Pirates. Davis has a cool mind for art.

So did I change my mind about Monster Machine? No, it’s still a terrible comic. But Davis has given me hope for an evolution into funnier and better writing. I’ll cross my fingers.

Hey, thanks for the review.

I’m doing this to learn HOW to do a webcomic. I can’t learn, if I don’t try. The writing is evolving week to week.

Best regards,

– Daniel

I think you’re going to learn how to get better very quick. And I look forward to seeing that happen. Good luck!

Every time someone writes that breaking the fourth wall is a bad thing, it only encourages people like me to do it more.

Long live fourth wall violations!

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