Books Don't Work Here
|Original review author:||Groggarioth|
|Webcomic name:||Books Don’t Work Here|
|Author:||Kai Faydale’s Blog|
|Start Date:||Tuesday June 14th, 2011|
|End Date:||Indefinite Hiatus, starting Wednesday May 23rd, 2012|
|Genre:||Comedy, Action, Drama|
|Defining Flaw:||Stiff art, way too much exposition style writing, Poor pacing, bad jokes, and generally being slow and boring.|
I’ll admit I have no particular personal connection to this comic, nor to its subject matter unlike the previous comics I've reviewed, so I can’t summon up any particular bile for this piece of offensive mediocrity, but, and it’s a big but (ha, ha, ha); I can’t see how anyone could potentially summon up any emotions in regards to this baffling piece of the internet, it’s just so goddamned boring.
The sad thing is, looking at the beginning of this comic, it had a little potential that if handled well could’ve made for a nice contained short story, or a deadpool-esque collection of vignettes about the main character with a varying secondary cast of normal characters who didn't know they were in a comic, besides maybe the villain, the narrator being just another voice in the main characters head.
As it stands the comic has all the characters know they are in a comic, and it suffers for it, as it stands the only part of this premise I liked was when the villain started talking about how nothing would work as it would in the real world, especially when the characters could declare things that would be useful, like just having a book in their pockets, or making up a room-mate who then just suddenly existed, mostly because it reminded me of a cracked out ‘Dresden Files RPG’ game; actually that would have made a decent plot point, they keep on making declarations, and declarations and then they run out of fate points and then shit goes down hard core style.
Sadly none of this happened and the comic remained boring, with a slight tinge towards sleep-aid.
Story and Plot
There is a story to this, but it never really makes an appearance, inside we get slow introductions to various character while plot happens in the background: in order we get introduced to the narrator, the hero (Robin Galling), and our villain Dr. M (Dr Mroczkowski), who is by far the most entertaining character in the comic, if only because it always looks like he’s enjoying himself, the only expression that ever shows on his face is mad, smiling glee, he has as much a perpetual smile as the fucking Joker (that makes two, insane comic character comparisons, I think I know where this guy got their inspiration), then the room-mate that Robin poofed into existence, and after that we take a break from story for a long, long while, so I’m going to break the story down into paragraphs trying to detail what happens in each chapter.
Chapter 1 (You've got to Start Somewhere)
Introductions to the main character Robin Galling (There’s a joke about how if she keeps pulling shit on the director, her middle name will be C, but that makes no sense so I’m just going to assume he meant B, but couldn't be bothered to correct the botch), and the Narrator/Director, who are technically different people but seeing as all the narrator does is read the directors dialogue, and pretend to be the director, and then get punched in the face for being annoying to the main character when it really isn't his fault and he’s just following relatively harmless orders; I’m going to assume the director solely has the narrator because he has a slight English accent, and that they are otherwise the same character, otherwise he’s purely a scapegoat for the shit the director pulls and is the most sympathetic character in the entire thing.
This chapter covers Robin being aware she’s in a comic, getting a shirt with “Words” on it (The quotation marks are there for a reason people), some shading on her jeans, Robin telling us to go celebrate father’s day (her first, and possibly only decent act), the fact that Robin doesn't wear shoes at all until some point in Chapter 3, awful stiff art, and the comics use of copy and paste, before it finishes with her leaving to go and confront Dr. M, in between jokes about the economy, and the writer having a degree in creative writing.
Chapter 2 (Somewhere (real fucking cute there, must’ve taken you hours to come up with that joke))
The first page has a title drop, a title drop on the first page, and it’s done in a way that makes it feel obviously scripted, we’re not even given a title page, or some piece of art that denotes we've finished a chapter and begun a new one, but, you’ll get your title drop and be fucking happy with it, I, the writer, thought it was funny and so shall you.
I’m sorry I felt that piece of knowledge should be known, it’s such a glaring piece of bad writing and it’s likely to get lost in the shuffle with the rest of it.
This is the first chapter of actual story; here we are introduced to the mechanics of the setting, and our only antagonist so far, Dr Mroczkowski, possibly the best character in the whole bloody affair, maybe because I love mad scientist characters, or maybe because he’s the only guy who’s obviously enjoying himself (That massive fanged smile makes me forget that the rest of the comic is complete crap for a second every time I see it)
It is also here that we discover the comics theme of retroactive continuity and declaration, simply pulling a book out of your pocket as long as you at no point say, I have nothing in my pockets, a theme that could have if it played straight, but unfortunately the authors head is so far up his ass, that he assumes we find this hilarious just ‘cause it’s there, and he then proceeds to exposit on how this sort of shit works for about 5 pages.
The chapter ends with Robin escaping by telling the good Doctor, that her room-mate (whom she just poofed into existence) will go on a date with him, this works because the bad guy’s plan is to use mad science to get girls (truly a nobler pursuit could not be found), Dr M blowing his own base up, for the lols, and a good guys don’t look at explosions moment.
Chapter 3 (Damsel and Distress (the only distressing part of this chapter is just how long it is))
This is the longest chapter of the entire comic, and it’s about nothing, nothing at all.
Robin meets the room-mate she poofed into existence, Charity, who is anything but her name, a bitchy, rich-girl whose every thought can be traced to either looking pretty, making others feel guilty for her or just getting others to do her work for her.
So we spend way too long on a bus ride that goes fucking nowhere, go shopping with girls, (Robin finally gets a pair of shoes), finding out how the author justifies their laziness in not drawing crowds of people (Apparently non important characters (NPCs) do not want to get involved in the wacky hi-jinks of the hero so they stay off-panel, and are introduced to avatars, who are people who paid to be in the comic (HAHAHAHA, talk about wasting your money).
The chapter ends with the two main characters getting arrested and abusing karma to get themselves out of it in a system even I couldn't follow.
Chapter 4 (Date the Cheerleader, Take the World (There’s no joke for this one, it’s actually a decent title for what’s happening here))
This is the chapter where the comic comes to a ‘temporary’ end, Dr M’s goons kidnap Charity and Robin fights them off before going to buy coffee and then save Charity, while the good Doctor treats her to a romantic, candlelit dinner, accidentally mentions that he’s rich, and Charity starts planning on how to abuse him and his money. … Now I was verbose in that description of what happened in the first two chapters, and even the next chapter could have been summed up much quicker than what I actually put, why did I do this and waste your time like this, simple, THAT’S WHAT THE FUCKING COMIC DOES. This is a comic; you have the advantage of being able to tell stories in a visual medium, SHOW, DON’T TELL. This comic is one of the most needlessly verbose pieces of writing I have had the misfortune of reading, and the biggest problem is that all the writing is fucking boring
It’s hard to make a proper critique of the art to this comic, mainly because if I start taking about it we’ll be here for hours, and you've already had to slog through the Story and Plot section, so I’ll try to be brief. The art is stiff, and stilted, often using the same unbalanced pose; proportions are often incorrect, with legs being incredibly thin at the base and pretty damn large heads, especially in the early pages, mouths are never drawn well, most usually just being black holes on the characters face, and expression are usually hard to decipher due to the problem with the mouths.
And now the good point, it’s actually less painful to say this rather than list all the bad points, but the art here does have its own strong point, the artist is good at conveying motion.
I know after saying that the art is stiff and unbalanced, and then saying that the artist can convey motion well is pretty damned oxymoronic, but read the pages that cover the fight scene in chapter 4, then look at any fight scene in Boss Noodle, which fight is easier to follow, I know, it’s a fucking miracle but this art is better at conveying the motions in a fight better than Dave Cheung’s art.
It blows my mind.
As I said in the Story and Plot section this comic has a major problem with pacing, the conversations last forever often spraying pointless exposition at us, it’s most likely that the writer was trying to establish a much more deeply made setting than something like A Game of Fools, and actually wanted to show their work, but the major problem with this exposition is that it mainly comes from the narrator, as a direct response to Robin asking a question, which leads me to a problem I didn’t notice until my third read through of the comic.
If the Director is having the narrator read all his responses to the characters, and actively removing and punishing them, does that mean the narrators voice changes all the time, or does that mean whenever he wants the narrator to read his response there’s some kind of weird pregnant pause, where the characters are all like.
“Hello, I’d like a response”
“Gimme a second the boss just thought of a really good zinger, he’s passing it to me now”
I ask this because the characters hold dialogue with the narrator outside of the script, and they make mention of having jokes and an artist, but they also mention not having a script in the first comic, and these off the cuff conversations seem to flow naturally, along with punishments to the characters and exposition from the narrator, when if you’re doing an off the cuff conversation with somebody, and you’re both using other people as mouth-pieces it’s going to be stilted and slow, like a conversation between interpreters, who are working for people who speak different languages, it’s gonna be awkward; and yet in the comic these conversations are without pause or stutter on the narrators part.
This can be mitigated in that most of this dialogue is exposition and the narrator might just have a cheat sheet full of the necessary information in front of him, it becomes a lot more difficult to explain when people are just bantering with the director, and the narrator is responding for him.
The other major problem is the fact that there is this much exposition dialogue, the writer never bothers to show the exposition, we must have it shoved down our throats as we are too dumb to understand anything that is not blatantly spelled out for us, and this goes back to the show, don’t tell rant I had back in the story & plot section, yeah we get told about all this cool stuff, we get to see Robin pull a massive book out of her pocket, we are told that there are betting programs on other comic, other heroes and other villains; but when do we get to see it? NEVER.
Oh all this stuff would be pretty damned cool if we got to see it, but we don’t the Author is too busy showing us images of Charity fixing fans (Hahaha fan-service, you get it, YOU FUCKING GET IT!!!), so all the time while there is this great concept, kinda like a trunk reality which watches all the other realities, allowing them this massive set of entertainment, and if transport can be made between them, which is so loosely hinted at that I’m half tempted to just say it’s not ever mentioned, a great bit of potential storytelling and leisure, we get poorly drawn shopping sprees, an obnoxious self-interested hero, and a bratty, oh-I’m-too-frail-and-have-such-great-tits-won’t-someone-please-help-me room-mate (is there a word for that description, I feel like there should be a word for that and I’m just forgetting it), rather than the awesome shit we could have had.
Now this is a fleeting suspicion, brought to me by MakarovJAC, and neither of us could find anything to support it, but neither he or I think this guy has received any fan-art from outside sources, drawing it himself, to directly quote MakarovJAC, from the conversation we had in the forum about me taking on this review.
“Ask me if you need help with it. I just happened to find something really fishy about this ‘enthusiastic’ author. This is, in his words, his first fan art. Pretty neat, isn't it? Well, he seems to have fan art, which most of it is made by people with the same or inferior level as him. Now, the other fan art has artist name and all. However, this first one just ‘appeared’ in his mail. No names given. Another thing I noticed is the quality. The picture is re-sized. And it's pixelated. Unlike the other images.
My point is, that either he got an image from somebody telling him that character looks like another one (it happens), and he thought it fan art made for him. Or he is making things up to look important. It's clear that he's a talker. He loves to speak A LOT about his life. Even when replying to comments. So he thought to himself it would be a good idea to make others believe he's so important that he got A-class fan art from A-class artist”.
What set me off is this image, pretty crappy, even by the standards of this comic, but read the comment below it, “This was sent in a while back (before anyone saw the video and knew what I looked like) by Twitchy Fan”, how did this guy know what the director looked like, does his writing style scream sunglasses as the director suggests, how about the goatee, or the long black hair?
Ho, Chupacabra! (MakarovJAC's add-on):
Investigating a bit about the author, we find that he is received higher education at Pacific Lutheran University in writing. This is important, kind-of. The many flaws in the writing aspect of this comic are, in it's author's words, because he can't put enough time into the writing. He has blamed his comic's low quality on having to draw and paint it. And has been spotted saying he thinks he would improve if he could get someone to draw his comic. Worst, he's been saying he plans to go somewhere to dedicate all his time writing this comic.
In all seriousness, if he can't do things well by making the goddamn writing decent (like any professional does), it won't help in the least for him to lock himself up in a cottage in the middle of Nowhere, Alaska to continue with this junk.
Okay, I’m going to level with you here, first time through I didn't dislike this comic, it was boring sure, and it took me two days to read through which is a fucking miracle seeing as I read all of the Lord of the Rings Books in a day (Including the appendices), but on my second and third reads, I realized just how much wasted potential there was here and it made me mad so I guess what I’m saying is, this comic could’ve been good, maybe, if the author wasn't an egocentric fucktard, but it just ended up being awful.
Don’t let this happen again.