Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday Revue October Second: The Wretched Ones

Wretches And Wonders Await!

Deep dark magics opened along with an ancient trunk. Family mysteries and fantasy of all sorts. Sword and sorcery fiends and Regency fans have found a friend here. The comic is 'The Wretched Ones' by Iainne Johnson. The story is legendary. The reviewer's verdict is below

The Rating

Not a bad first project, but there's still a lot of  work before this apprentice becomes a master.

The Raves

What this work does have in incredible abundance: potential. There's already a great grasp of style, a strong sense of narrative drama, timing, and a growing sense of framing and imagery. The color palette is bright and alive and the storytelling style is dramatic and stylistically rich, drawing deeply from the well of Regency fiction and European folklore. Not a bad beginning at all. 
There's also the beginnings of a dry, wise sense of humor that will blossom if given care and cultivation. Now and again you can't help but chuckle in empathic commiseration with the characters.

The Razzes

What this comic doesn't have is workmanship. This is a very early work, and it has several major areas to intensively improve. Figures are flat and blocky, the story is erratic, and the website itself has some issues. But, speaking from experience, there is nothing better in the world for an artist's improvement than the daily drawing required to produce a comic. Below is a step by step improvement regimen to strengthen the creator's skills.


All the social media savvy in the world means nothing if the art itself isn't good. The artist of 'The Wretched Ones' has A LOT of work ahead of them, though they've made a good start. First, they must make an intensive study of the human body and its anatomy.
I recommend beginning with a solid book as a study guide of the human body and a self-imposed study course. First, put the comic on hiatus, or discontinue it.  Pick up 'Anatomy: A Complete Guide for Artists' by Joseph S. Sheppard, and make drawings based on each section every day for a week. Get to the end of the book. Repeat. Then do the same with this free link to Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life. By that point an aspiring artist will have a solid foundation.
During such a slog, take a break by checking out the wonderful free tutorials on Cartoon Block, and check out the pintrest boards of the wonderful Comic Underdog Community.
Once the human body has been mastered, it's time to get a handle on perspective and architecture. I'd recommend the youtube series How To Sketch Like An Architect, a perfect starting point and a nice change from hitting the books. A slightly more intense course is Circle Line Art School's Channel, which is a solid primer in the area.


Font and dialogue layout are one of the hardest skills to learn in comics, but it's a critical skill. Right now, the font used in 'The Wretched Ones' is boring and overly small; it rather looks as if pieces from a newspaper were simply cut out and plopped on top of art. This isn't appealing. Make the words of your comic look like part of the art; they're conveying a lot of your story, and deserve the attention equal to their responsibility. They deserve to be beautiful as well as functional.
Changing the shapes and sizes of the speech bubbles can help with this: flat, cookie-cutter bubbles can give a clunky appearance to even the finest artwork. Vary the sizes and shapes, keep the eye interested!


The general layout is good, but here's some suggestions:

Add Images To The Cast Page- there's not a lot of help in textual descriptions of comic characters. Portraits would be a big help here.

Make The About Page Interesting And Helpful- right now the About Page reads as a goofy, offhand introduction. Save the cuteness for Facebook and help the reader figure out what's going on in the story if they're new to the page.


There's a lot of interesting ideas and possibilities in 'The Wretched Ones'...but the writing style makes them difficult to access. By ten pages in, we hadn't been given any introduction as readers to the characters. This is unacceptable in storytelling. There's a good sense of drama, but not nearly enough understanding of storytelling here. It makes reading the comic a chore when it could be a joy.
I'd recommend that the creator read the seminal book 'Making Comics' by Scott McCloud, followed by 'The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics' by Dennis O'Neil

Follow that with a LOT of practice. Write, write, WRITE! Then have friends read your writing. Take their advice. Rewrite. Keep it up until you're really proud of what you've got. THEN draw.

The Revue

My final recommendation to the creator: use this project as a springboard and a learning experience.  Study intensely. Then go on to create something new and greater. You're off to the right foot, but there's a long road ahead.

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