Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Banner from Baristagirl.com
Ed Note: Small typographical updates
TITLE: Barista Girl
DATE OF REVIEW: 9/17/08
Author: "Ratchet DuPwah"
Other Works: N/A
Started: January 7, 2008
Number of Comics: Almost 100
Incentive Updates: N/A
Genre: Work Humor
Rating: T - Heavy course language. By the second comic, this comic is sure to expand the vocabulary of young readers in a bad direction. A lot. Occasional violence. Rarely blood, but certainly murder.
Notes: Chosen by request. First "blog" comic. This will be the penultimate review of Season 1 of Read My Complaints. Be sure to join us for Season 2, which won't have any gap of time between it at all. I just thought I'd split them into seasons every 4 reviews for the lulz. More to the point, I learned what a "Barista" is from "Questionable Content", I think I should look forward to this. I'm a fan of sarcasm, and the first page seems to be a good sign for me.
Coloring: Black/Pen; Inked
Style: Unique, some American influences.
Effort: Art varies a lot. It will go strip to strip looking good and back, varying with little rhyme or reason. While I have no trouble what's going on, and the style has definitely improved, it still has a lot of refining to do, as well as finding a 'happy medium'. Look into doing color: the few that you colored looked great.
General: People's clothes change. While they wear them. This can be confusing for when you're trying to get a hold of who is who. A lot of shirts say one thing in one panel and by the end it's cycled through several unique shirts. While this is amusing at first, it makes it very hard for a new reader to grapple with faces for new characters. I guess you don't need to know anyone but the main character? There might be other important characters, but with no names and little plot importance for them, they all sorta become faceless. Distinguish your characters and have a reason for them. That's not to say that Barista Girl doesn't do things right. Action scenes are nice, and there's excellent panel variation. The nice frenetic feeling that the comic gives off is good considering the action. Emotions don't often variate from 'bored', 'angry', 'annoyed', or 'stupid' though. Some variation would be nice.
Background: Basically the story is about the pains of being a Barista. There isn't really a plot, so much as there is a girl dealing with a sucky job.
Complexity: This one's pretty flat. Nothing too complex, you can take it for face value here.
Continuity: It's basically like a story without a plot. It jumps randomly, and a lack of color makes it impossible to tell the time of day. Suffice to say, you could accept this as a series of running one-shot comics that are chronological and are all canon. The closest thing you get to a story is that at one point the BG quits and is unemployed a comic or two, then gets another. At another coffee shop. So close to character development... and yet so far. Lots and lots of fillers, though.
Clarity: Pretty clear. Nothing much to follow. You'd probably get it more if you're into indie stuff. And coffee.
Substructure: Once in a while there is a label. There was a 6 comic storyline, the title of which I can't use in present company (apparently I get thrown out if I go "overboard"). Other than that? Nada.
Draw: The main draw here is complaints. People like to complain, misery loves company, and people like to hear complaining. That's why I named my reviews "Read my Complaints".
Overall: I may have missed something, but I don't think any of the cast has a name. There's the main character, who complains, a coworker who isn't good at his job but gets paid more, and a myriad of customers, all of whom are depicted as idiots. I'm not saying it's not true (I've never worked in a coffee shop), but that's how it plays out. I find it ironic that she is continually called a Barista Girl, however, when a Barista's job is expressly to mix drinks, and she refuses to deviate from a set menu. By the by, this is basically a no-plot story about a girl who hates her job, and it just continuously cuts to another seen where the main character is seen suffering. Combined with the color scheme, it feels very emo. Bear in mind that while I say they could all be one-shots, they are all about the same person and I in chronological order, it's just that no event seems to effect anything outside its own comic. Without a plot, it seems a running chain of jokes that's purpose is only humor and violence. Or maybe humor as a result a violence. Since the author is a Barista (I assume, from the blog posts), this comic may be their way of venting. It's funny, if you're into people being mad.
Update: This comic updates pretty much without any warning. I had to search hard for a schedule: on the first comic, the "blog" update says it updates Mondays and Fridays. Aha! Looking at the dates on the comic, it's clear that there is no real pattern here. Three or four days feels like a good estimate for this one, but I've seen fluxes go from one day to seven as quickly as one comic to the next, and its follower.
Site Design: Okay, so BG is hosted by PPP (Papal Petrol Productions, which doesn't make any sense lest you simply wanted a bit of alliteration for the letter P. The Pope rarely deals in oil. So rarely, in fact, his oil glands have probably all dried up. But enough about names and elderly religious leaders.) and set up with ComicPress. Fair enough, but it feels very bloggish. To the point where I have serious doubts it's not a blog. You get a blog with author comments for every update, which is not uncommon, and below that blog responses. Well, I guess that throws the need for a forum out the window. On the other hand, they have a nice layout for everything else (they even have a shop: surprising in something so new, possibly suggesting a fairly devout fanbase). They have the standard "Contact", "Home" and "Shop", suffice to say, while an Archive and Forum are unneeded since they appear on each page. What IS shocking missing is some form of FAQ or Cast page. I think this is a must for webcomics: you need a place to inform your readers, especially new ones. People want to know what kind of comic it will be before it begins, so they can see if they will like it (in my experience, at least).
Comic Navigation: I'll be honest with you. I skipped down here just so I could say this one now. There is no latest button, and the only 'first' button is on the main page. Ouch. Aside from that, there is a nifty calendar with which you can quick nav to a date, if you know it. On that page, there is no forward/back, you have to click the picture to go to that 'post', at which you can navigate. A little confusing, but intuitive enough. The lack of buttons hurts my soul though, especially considering it can be hard to pick out. There's no search option, and while a 'first' button may not be necessary on every slide, and you can use the home button to get to the latest, it makes me cry myself to sleep at night knowing there's not one here.
Art: 3. Art could use work. It's shaky, it's messy, but you can always tell what's going on. I've never had trouble identifying a scene. There are a lot of fillers, and there could be more effort, but that's clearly not what this comic is about. If you'd give us more story and less fill, and you'd put a little more effort in (those colored strips, where they were, were big improvements in my opinion)... and maybe distinguished between characters, I would kick it up a notch. I like the art on a core level, but some parts look downright ugly. To contrast, pages right next to that can look great. I think you need more time to refine your style.
Story: 1. Story is nonexistant. The longest running 'story' took 6 strips. It's pretty much all one-shots. Somewhere else in there there was a sequence of 3 that seemed to be more than just one-shots, as they were related.
Upkeep: 2. There is just so much to improve. This is a weak point. Make getting around a little easier for us, and I think it will help a lot. An FAQ or cast page would be an even better step in the right direction. A solid update schedule, though, is what I'm pulling for the most. The reason I'm inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt and push you up to 2 is that you did a whole lot right, but sadly these three things are pretty vital. I'm not saying 'slow down so that your fans have to wait', but I do think that having a schedule will not only make life easier on you (not in a constant rush to get your next comic out, and if you stack up, you can save them for later updates), but it will also make things easier for your readers when they know when to expect the next comic. The fact that you have a subscribe button here must be a Godsend: otherwise people would have no idea when to look.
Final Grade: 2. This comic has its ups and downs. While it may lack in the common areas of comic analysis, it has its strengths in something we can't measure, which is that it was designed to be a humorous comic. However, that is all a matter of taste, so I can't remain objective of it. Simply put, I'm scaling this comic with the best in the business, and on a scale of 5, 1 does not mean that you should avoid it like the plague. Look into it if it interests you. If you like violence, sarcasm, and anger in a comic, look into it. But what I can say is that if you aren't interested from the beginning, that is unlikely to change.
This isn't necessarily a 'bad comic'. If you're reading it for the humor of anger, then more power to you, but nonetheless, I grade hard and there are great expectations. Sadly, this comic, while good in its own respects, can only put up two indie girls fighting against public idiocy out of five.