Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Revue January 21: Once Stung

What was that?!


It's a classic story. Radioactive insect, bullied kid, great power, witty repartee. Once Stung knows it's classic, and it's a strip that takes self-aware tongue in cheek parody to wonderful places.
For the arachnophobes in the crowd, good news! This time it's not spiders, it's BEES!
The creation of Firebrand128, Once Stung can be read at this link

The Rating

A definite Bee. It's certainly got zing!

The Raves

I'll begin my comments with the humor. This strip takes superhero spoofing in witty and wonderful directions, and it does it in style. All the things you said in your head at the last Marvel movie, this strip says out loud. 
The story begins with an amusingly offbeat action scene and keeps on from there in fairly rollicking style, with a steady stream of jokes and good scientifically calibrated to make the reader grin, especially the reader who's had a bit too much caped crusader in their comic reading diet of late.

Our heroine is Cynthia, and you know the drill. 
She's bullied at school, lives in a metropolis where a lot of the bigwigs work at (*snort, giggle*) Unnatural Sciences Inc. She goes on a science class field trip. One big sting later:
 See what I mean about humor?
The jokes are steadily amusing and exactly what you got shushed at the movie theater for whispering to your buddy, which is deeply satisfying. The art keeps up gamely ninety percent of the time, especially when the action starts.
Throughout the story the characters are mobile and dynamic. The stylization is a good fit for the subject matter and improves throughout the strip, and the character design is really amusing. Just wait till you get to the poor guy bit by a radioactive armadillo. 
The background designs are a mix of freestyle art and stock manipulation, and ninety percent of the time it's quite nicely done. Definitely a fun page turner.

The Razzes

Like I say above, we've got a Bee here. Now here's what to work on in order to make it an A.

Get Clarity

It's all too easy to overdo a style. You thought you were making something visually exciting, and instead it ends up visually confusing. This visual bewilderment happens for a handful of reasons:

*Lighten Up!
Overly strong and over-used contrasts create a visual maze that obscures edges and blends everything into a mess of dark and light, as in the image to the right. Cutting down the contrast by as much as 20% will accentuate the linework and make it much easier to see that this is a girl holding a phone. At the moment the eye takes crucial seconds to sort that out. It would also help to choose a single light source direction and only add highlights in that direction: otherwise the effect is to flatten the image by randomizing light and shadow, which the brain stops reading as light and starts reading as meaningless patches of color.
As a small note, I'd like to see a little more attention paid to facial anatomy.
*Terminate Tangents
A tangent is the technical term for any place where lines intersect to insinuate a relationship in a way that the artist didn't intend. Tangents confuse the eye and make reading slower.
For example, this is a textual tangent:
Pointing the tails of the speech bubbles directly at their speakers would go miles towards fixing this issue.
Tangents really slow your readers down, and that's a great way to lose them.
In order to improve, I'd recommend reading up on them at 
 The Schweizer Guide to Spotting Tangents and at Avoiding Tangents: 9 Visual Blunders Every Artist Should Watch Out For
By Dianne Mize.

*Left To Right, Up To Down For English Readers.
A little more attention to word bubble placement would be good. Currently we get the occasional panel that furrows the reader's brow as they sort out who's talking when. Not good.
*Proof Read!
Typos don't look good on anyone.
Not even gorgeous bee scientists.

Adding a favicon to your website is a lot like a gracenote in a sonata. Just that extra touch of class and polish.
Adding it's easy too: just add this code to your website's html and save your favicon in your website's extra files.

<!DOCTYPE html 
      PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
<html lang="en-US">
<head profile="">
<link rel="icon" 

The Revue

It's the bee's knees when you need a break from Marvel!

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