Friday, October 23, 2009

Sometimes Bad is Bad

It's hard to criticize someones hard work.  It's even harder to sit and listen to your work being criticized, and the internet is even worse for both as people are more than willing to say "It's great" when it isn't and overreact like a mob when you try to explain that, yeah, it's not good.

But as the song goes, sometimes bad is bad.

It's hard to decide which of my 184 reviewed comics truly gets to be called "bad."  Well, not too hard in many cases, but a lot of the problem is that once I finish a comic, if I don't follow it, I kind of forget it exists.  In some cases I wish they didn't exist, but that's more my problem than yours.  Well, unless you actually read them, then you'd agree.  Anyway, after scouring through my review archives, I've got at least 6 (well, there WERE 7, but then The World Explodes had to go and get good, go figure) that would require an act of God to make me read again, with one exception.  So here's our lucky losers:

Dungeon Crawl Inc
Diesel Sweeties
Small World
Luz, Girl of the Knowing
Daniella Dark

These aren't in any particular order, except Earthbeta which is by far the worst of the lot.  But this isn't really what this article is about, it's about WHY these comics are bad.  And surprisingly, the reasons are very different from each other.

Crime:  Too Damn Preachy

Offenders:  Luz, Girl of the Knowing, Small World

With Luz, it was "beat the message into your skull," with Small World it was "I disagree and you're not giving me a reason to agree."  The internet is about standing on a digital soapbox and making your case (raises hand), but it doesn't mean you should take that sign you're holding and smack the person walking by with it.

Comics CAN be preachy and get away with it if they have a good story or are funny.  Luz and Small World do neither, and so as they scream their message, they override anything positive about the comic and bury in a pit of awfulness.

Crime:  Bad Art

Offenders:  Earthbeta, Dungeon Crawl Inc., Daniella Dark

Daniella is a bit of an exception as the art isn't godawful like the other two, but it's not anything great either.  Earthbeta and Dungeon Crawl Inc., however, are just unpleasant to look at.

Bad art makes it hard to read a comic, and will turn readers away before they begin.  That said, bad art doesn't necessarily mean a bad comic.  There are many, many examples of comics with simple or not necessarily great art that are surprisingly good.  These comics frequently have something else to lean on:  a good story or good humor.

Of course, if the art is REALLY bad, almost nothing can help it.

Crime:  Not funny.

Offenders:  Small World, Dungeon Crawl Inc., Diesel Sweeties and Earthbeta

Comedy is hard, very hard.  Getting a few chuckles isn't impossible in most cases, but when you can't even do THAT, then your comic is in trouble.  It can be resolved by falling back on a good story or good art, but if you're not funny, and you have nothing else, your comic is bad.  Diesel Sweeties is PAINFULLY not funny, it's almost unfunny (as in, anti-funny), and then there's Earthbeta.  Let us not talk or think about Earthbeta much.

Crime:  Bad story.

Offenders:  Dungeon Crawl Inc., Daniella Dark and Earthbeta.

Yes, Earthbeta has a "story," but it involves and evil version of Kermit and remembering it makes me ill.  Now, I won't comment TOO much on Daniella Dark because I really didn't read it much, but what I saw I wasn't impressed with.

Stories are easier than jokes, but it still take some talent and skill to build one, and failure is pretty easy.  A bad story can take even an interesting concept and good art and destroy a comic.  Bad stories can have many reasons: being poorly told, half told, bad characters, poor settings, silly plots and just plan stupid stories.  Execution is the hardest part, and the part where most of the comics fail.  Get over that hump, and the rest can be given a pass.

These are the major reasons, but not the only ones.  Diesel Sweeties has walls of text that isn't funny, Earthbeta and Dungeon Crawl Inc. were sprite comics for a time and did them poorly, and Daniella Dark failed to even begin to grab my interest, so it never got a chance to prove itself otherwise.

Bad comics can come back, though.  The World Explodes was terrible when I first read it, but I decided to give it another go, and the move from a daily comic to a more adventure comic did wonders for it.  Dungeon Crawl Inc. improved when it switched from sprites to (not very good) art, but it still isn't that good.  I'm sure other comics have improved.

That said, there are other comics I consider bad, but I haven't reviewed.  This is mostly personal bias against those comics that I'd rather not get into, and there are even more I've never even read.  Still, bad comics are out there, and sometimes it just needs to be pointed out.

Well, that's enough for this week.  See you next time kiddies.

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