|Original review author:||D.Va (and a bunch of other Kiwis who didn't ask.)|
|Author:||Melanie "GlitchedPuppet" Herring, Alexander "Eevee" Munroe, Jayson "Marl" Garcia and Opa-Opa|
|Start Date:||September 19, 2013|
|Defining Flaw:||Incoherent storyline, insane authors|
Floraverse has roots in Melanie's previous DeviantArt group led under her PurpleKecleon moniker. PMD-Explorers was a storytelling group based around the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game series, in which Melanie served as the game master. As the project progressed, Melanie desired more creative control, something she could not have when working with another intellectual property. To the dismay of those who took part in the project, PMD-Explorers was abruptly shut down on September 17th, 2013, and the first comic of Floraverse began two days later. Some plot elements were brought over from PMD-Explorers into the first book of Floraverse, and some characters are analogues of those that were previously developed in PMD-Explorers.
The official FAQ describes Floraverse as "a collection of reference materials and characters in the same universe as GlitchedPuppet’s webcomic, Seeds: A Mini Story". Floraverse is touted as "open source" because of this, and fans are encouraged to submit their own content under license for it to potentially become canon. Ultimately, this is unused as the author has little interest in outside input: the last community-wide 'event' was a species creation contest posted in December 2015, and this has seemingly 5 been abandoned. (archived) Since then, the opportunity to add new characters to official Floraverse canon has only been possible through a a $100 Patreon incentive. (archived)
An adults-only extension of the comic, Forbidden Flora, also contains stories relevant to the main plot of Floraverse. Thus, reading pornographic comics is necessary to get the full story, something which is concerning as there are many underage fans of the comic. The authors have made no attempt to prevent minors from accessing Forbidden Flora, even though they acknowledge that minors read their comic. (archived)
It can be said that Floraverse itself marked the downfall of Melanie's career as an artist. Much can be compared between Melanie's art prior to 2013 and the art that is featured in the comic. Beanmouth is a symptom of Melanie's quantity-over-quality approach to creating as much Floraverse content as possible in a short amount of time.
The story of Floraverse started off well, and many readers enjoyed the comic in the first year of its run. Due to the lack of resolve, the plot started to become incoherent following the publication of Try, Try Again, and several concurrent and overlapping story arcs would run at the same time. Floraverse is also used by the authors as a vehicle for their personal ideologies, further alienating their userbase when readers discovered how insane Melanie and her harem can be.
Story and Plot
A bird and a blob go to deliver some seeds. Eventually, they end up in a place known as Hellside. The importance of the seeds is never quite established, in fact, the original Floraverse story that started in 2013 never quite ended.
Ask any Floraverse fan about the plot and they'll probably shrug their shoulders. Over the course of the story, there are several omnipotent beings that tell the protagonists they will find out about the importance of the seeds "soon", but this never actually comes about. The main plot never really advances, so a lot of content is smaller episodes that take place within the universe, and over time the story becomes more convoluted with the introduction of many one-shot characters and plot arcs that are never resolved.
The release of Try, Try Again marked the point where Floraverse fell out of a coherent narrative. The attempt to present a story through an interactive medium failed, with people in the comments expressing various levels of confusion over the content. In the same book, here goes nothing was a mostly monochrome comic with incredibly pretentious paneling throughout.
Ironically, Seeds: A Mini Story ran for nearly two years. A sequel, Seeds: War is Hell, started a year later. In order of release, the chapters of Seeds: War is Hell are stylised as such:
- Prologue V-i
- Chapter 5 Draft V
- Chapter 5 Draft VI
- Prologue V-ii
Not only is this incredibly intimidating for new readers (Where are chapters 1-4 for this story? What does Draft V even mean?), it only adds to the confusion. By Ch?, not even Melanie knew what the fuck was going on anymore.
The art in Floraverse isn't bad; the drawings are rather pleasant and easy on the eyes. However, the art is a huge step down from Melanie's past work: some aspects are often rushed, which Melanie tries to obscure by using a very stylised art direction. Cutting corners in this way led to some odd quirks that are prevalent throughout the comic, such as 'beanmouth', a condition where several characters are drawn with mouths that look like infinity symbols or beans, and often some bizarre and questionable anatomy.
Comic artwork is often washed in magenta or another soft shade. Segments where the art style turns to monochrome for several pages when something important happens have best been described as being "deep but not really". Pages often have more text than artwork, and dialogue may be placed in a very odd way in an attempt to dance around background artwork. The thoughtless placement of dialogue can cause a reader to accidentally skip over entire panels, as eyes will be primarily drawn to the next nearest speech bubble.
Consistency in character design is also an issue. Characters have often changed proportions throughout the series, especially with characters such as Jasmaby and Amdusias whose necks have literally elongated over the course of the series. The variety of facial expressions is also questionable, especially within Forbidden Flora. Jesus Christ! Forbidden Flora retains the same art style as Floraverse, so body proportions and abstract drawings of dicks are all over the place. Incredibly, Forbidden Flora still manages to pull in more Patreon donations and viewers than Floraverse.
Floraverse has not only dabbled with visual art, but with music as well, which has been used as a basis for interactive stories and comics released as videos. Unfortunately, Melanie has severe Dunning-Kruger when it comes to making music.
Melanie has flat-out admitted that she does not plan the story of her comic in advance. This lack of forethought has resulted in a comic with virtually no structure, and major plots have run on for a long amount of time with no sign of resolve. The lack of an episodic model has resulted in what is known as "and then" storytelling: characters often have no consequences for their actions, such as Cress being turned into a demonic abomination twice with no repercussions.
The characters of Floraverse can best be described as being void of personality, and oftentimes a character will suddenly appear out of nowhere without a backstory ever being developed. Melanie often latches onto a character as a self-insert, and when this happens the character often goes from having a distinct personality into being a screechy, angry cunt. This has happened with both Beleth and Kid Neon. Granted, Melanie's self-inserts are far from being Mary Sues. In fact, they are too far in the opposite direction—they are rather insufferable, but often appear as the lead focus for a comic, sucking in the spotlight like a black hole.
Melanie also attempts to take the approach of deep, aesthetic, and encrypted story telling-often simulating things through symbolism and metaphors. This isn't an unheard of method of storytelling, and can be really good if done correctly. However, in Flora there are several issues with this: Melanie uses too much of this method too often (we're talking whole entire chapters). Along with new characters constantly being introduced, it is incredibly difficult to break it all down and make sense of it.
As if this wasn't enough to make the reader's mind want to commit suicide, Melanie also has multiple stories going on at once within the main story (embedded stories). Once again, not an unheard of style of storytelling and can be effective. (Example: The 1,001 Nights). However, like previously mentioned, Melanie overdoes it. On top of that, Melanie also has alternate realities/universe's ('Butterfly Effects') going on at the same time (Example: What would have happened if Min and Cress had made decision A instead of decision B) she refers to these alternate realities as 'Frequencies', and they're constantly being introduced into the comic-derailing Floraverse even further.
Melanie's inability to trim character dialogue means there is a lot of small talk that serves no purpose but to waste the reader's time. The pages of the more recent Seeds: War is Hell story contains way too much dialogue per page, something which can be contrasted with the easy-to-digest dialogue in Seeds: A Mini Story.
As a result of all of this, what was intended to be the 'main plot' ends ups becoming severely derailed to the point of no return. Flora readers are often times left extremely confused and in the dark as to what exactly is going on. This is evident in the comments left on each page.
The Floraverse website is a god damned minefield of confusing navigation and abandoned facets. An official wiki is maintained by the authors in attempt to "bring [the lore] all together", and is presented as if anyone can edit it, however, write access is restricted to the authors. This is unfortunate, as although the events of the first book are well documented, any other information is sparse.
A significant problem with Floraverse is the lazy worldbuilding. A lot of background content has been created for the lore, however a large majority of it lacks any depth. Names of locations are often uninspired and based on animal onomatopoeia, major cities are founded in the middle of nowhere, geographical locations are based on things such as the suits of playing cards, and there are several vague maps with no sense of where anything begins or ends.
The Floraverse universe contains many original species. Melanie has created species sheets for some of these, detailing the 'pure' breeds of each species and several 'hybrids' for each. Characters belonging to the same species often look nothing alike, and even the species sheets themselves exhibit major differences between each 'pure' breed. Not that only some species featured in the universe are actually detailed; there are many shrouded in mystery thanks to a complete lack of backstory. Moreover, interspecies breeding is entirely possible, and the lack of social stigma against doing so means one must question how the population of Floraverse hasn't yet become homogenous.
Parallels can be drawn between Pokémon and the species prevalent in Floraverse. Bearrings are described as bipedal, furred, with elongated arms, and having one or more ring patterns on their body.
Stance on identity politics
Melanie has often used Floraverse to push 'positive LGBT representation', however, this has backfired due to Melanie's warped understanding of social issues. As a result, same-sex couples are nearly non-existent in Floraverse, and Melanie tries to take the easy route by attempting to claim trans representation in a universe that does not abide by the traditional concept of gender.
The only explanation ever given by Melanie about gender within Floraverse implies that gender only exists as a social construct, and genital dysphoria does not exist (archived). This conflicts with her decision to identify several characters as being 'trans', as there are no 'assigned' genders, and the genders of these characters often correlate with their sex. Nevertheless, this is pushed by the creator in a superficial attempt to grab the attention of a young, impressionable audience, and these 'trans' revelations are often inserted retroactively into character biographies.
Melanie has a severe disdain for male characters, despite their blatant prevalence in Forbidden Flora. The best example of this was with Biff, a male character who won an official favorite character poll by a large margin. Melanie did not receive this well—the character was male, after all—and subsequently killed the character off for it to be "resurrected" with a different gender identity to spite her audience. Despite this, Biff still retains a two-pronged penis for their antics on Forbidden Flora.
Melanie has often used Forbidden Flora, the adult-oriented version of Floraverse, to push her views on sexuality and identity politics. Beleth, one of Melanie's self-inserts, often ends up in sexual situations with other characters in an attempt to justify how asexuals can still enjoy having sex (NSFW).
Despite Melanie's insistence that her pornographic content is 'queer', (archived) an overwhelming majority of Forbidden Flora content is heterosexual.
Melanie Herring (best known as GlitchedPuppet, PurpleKecleon or glip) is an artist living in the greater Las Vegas area, Nevada. Melanie lives with her husband Jayson Garcia (best known as Marl) and boyfriend Alex Munroe (best known as Eevee) in a polyamorous relationship.
Melanie is notorious for her passive-aggressive reactions to criticism. (archived) This has been demonstrated several times when other artists have redlined her art (archived), in such cases never responding directly to the artist, instead preferring to make a public post complaining about 'unsolicited critique'. Melanie often responds to even the most subtle and kind-hearted critique as if it were a personal attack on her artwork instead of just a friendly observation. In other instances, Melanie has disregarded criticisms about the convoluted plot by sincerely insisting it is too deep for them to understand.
Melanie claims to be an asexual (archived), however holds a stance that asexuals often have enjoyable sex. This is something she tries to portray through Forbidden Flora.
Alex spends his time writing interactive features for the Floraverse website. Previously, Alex received fame in the software development field for an article he wrote criticising the PHP programming language. On occasion, Alex has also tried to deal with critique by means of creating massive textwalls, such as a since-rescinded 133-page Google Docs document in retaliation to a callout post from an ex-contributor of Floraverse. (archived) Alex now spends a lot of time drawing fetish artwork (NSFW).
Jayson is credited as a writer for Floraverse, but not much else is known about him due to his limited online presence. In the past, Jayson has been caught up in accusations of pedophilia and zoophilia based on the personal accounts of several individuals.
Opa-Opa is the most recent lead writer of Floraverse. Oddly enough, it turned out Opa-Opa is a significantly better writter than Melanie herself is. His most recent contribution to the Flora fandom was a story based on Melanie's 'Turf-Tiger' species called 'Tangle, Tussle, Tiger'.
The lack of forethought has turned a promising start into a mess of Homestuck proportions. Melanie has, repeatedly, deflected criticism about her works, which in turn has had a lasting effect on the quality of Floraverse as a comic. Melanie's refusal to learn from her mistakes has resulted in a steady decline of output quality, and her short attention span stops her from committing to major story development. For these reasons, it is not possible to remain optimistic about the future of Floraverse or Melanie as an artist.
Other comics by this person reviewed on this site
Melanie has submitted two guest comics to Oh Joy Sex Toy.
- Forbidden Flora (NSFW, but at least we actually tell you that before sending you there!)
- @glitchedpuppet on Twitter
- A very, very long thread about PK filled with juicy tidbits