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Feb 2014

Critique of The Demon Archives – by School of Psychologics

Posted by / in Blog / 10 comments

Hey, listen! *channeling my inner Navi*

We got another review/critique!  It’s from Snark, creator of webcomic Anybody There? and the new webcomic review website School of Psychologics.  It’s kind of long, but goes pretty detailed into what the author thinks are some strengths and weaknesses of our comic and site.

I’d like to bring a couple up and get your thoughts on it:

  1. Home page vs latest page:  Do you guys like the way the home page looks or would you rather have the latest page on it front and center?
  2. The Prologue:  Too annoying tell-y, or helpful in setting the scene/overcoming the too wordy first couple of pages of Chapter 1?
  3. Wordiness and Show vs Tell:  I know I was pretty bad at this in early Chapter 1.  Does it get better?  How are Chapters 2 and 3 feeling?
  4. Tenzin’s actions:  Do they seem unbelievably irrational/dumb?
  5. Anything else that stuck out to you in the critique or in thinking back about the comic?

Thanks a bunch guys, you rock.  And thanks again Snark for the feedback and spotlight :D

  • Nate the Robot

    On point 1, I’m not sure any more. There was a time I’d agree with that but now I use a comic reader ( to read my comics, and so it completely bypasses your main landing page, and always takes me to the latest comic I haven’t read yet. I’m not sure how many comic readers use tools like this, but it HAS to be a growing number. Until I used one of these readers, I was only reading about 5-10 comics because it was just too much work to poll them every morning to see if there was an update. Now, I think I read about 50 because the tool lets me always go straight to what I haven’t read yet.

    On point 2, it’s been a long time since I read the prologue, and considering where the story and how little it’s involved once you get going, now it seems a strange point to focus on. Maybe it’s needed and maybe it’s not, but in a super long running story, are a few pages of background really going to mess with anything?

    On point 3, I guess I’m an easy audience. I’m too ignorant to notice the issues pointed out in the review, I just am not trained well to understand how to critique. Now that they are pointed out, I do see what he said, but I have to be myself and be a bit contrary. Not everyone who reads is at the level to want to deal with the kind of issues pointed out with the reviewer. I’m a 42 year old dad with lots of stresses, and sometimes I really don’t mind the plot and background being handed to me for entertainment purposes. That being said, there is clearly improvement going on as your comic progresses, and that is just the sign that you have talent and are improving like every comic creator should.

    On point 4, I thought it was fairly established that the AI was new, his suit was new, and really it seems like this is the first time Tenzin has been put into an incredibly dangerous situation. I don’t find his actions irrational or dumb at all.

    On point 5, I think he had a valid point that at times, the action has been hard to follow. But I think the art is growing right alongside the story, and it’s something that will naturally fix itself.

    • Thanks @natetherobot:disqus :) You forgot to finish your “Overall” sentence. Unless your new sign off is a reference to some clothing ;)

      ComicRocket is a good tool. I use an RSS reader, which also links me to most recent pages and updates.

      The prologue seemed important because without it you just jump straight into Chapter 1 without any context.

      Tenzin has had Jane for a decently long time, actually. He’s just a bit of a grumpy pants for reasons we will get in to. Also, it was just a bad day from the beginning.

      Sorry for confusing action. Sometimes we are doing it on purpose, like on Chapter 2 Page 1. It’s chaotic, Tenzin doesn’t know what’s going on, so you don’t know what’s going on either.

      • Nate the Robot

        (edit fixed the Overall, it got hidden in my wall of text =)

        I knew Tenzin has had Jane for some time (although short enough that the other soldiers are jealous, right?), but how many times has he had her for missions like what he’s going through now? For a routine mission where nothing is critical, it’s pretty easy to get into the habit of brushing off an AI that could be making suggestions for improvement that really don’t mean much, and instead focus on the past and how you’ve gotten used to doing things. I would think that this would be a turning point for him.

        • You are totally right. Tenzin has not been in an experience quite like this with Jane. That’s a good description of how and why he’s viewing and treating her that way.

          And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with how it all turns out ;)

          • Nate the Robot

            I love robotics and AI (big surprise =), it was actually my focus on college … but like lots of people, I ended up doing something completely different than what I really wanted. When people put either of these elements into a story, I really dig in to trying to understand how things would work. Once an electrical engineer, always an electrical engineer!

          • Well you’ll really enjoy Chapter 5-7 ish, where we delve into and explain more about Jane, AIs and robotics in our world in general. In fact, I might be emailing you with some of our science ideas to make sure they aren’t too far fetched. We prefer our sci-fi hard around here.

          • Nate the Robot

            I’d love it!

  • Ydo Ucare

    After reading Snark’s “review”, here’s my two cents:

    1. I say leave the website as is, in terms of the home page. I like the organization. It makes it easier to navigate if I’m looking for one specific page. And who’s really too lazy to click one link? Like, who’s actually put off by the fact that he/she has to actually CLICK something on the INTERWEBS (dun dun dun! Worst ever!)

    2. Prologue is awesome. It gives everything else context and makes me more willing to slog through Chapter 1.

    3. Yeah. Chapter 1 is definitely some nice word vomit. He has a point there. But I think it gets a lot better, so I wouldn’t let it bug you too much. Although if there’s any way to fix Chapter 1, I say go for it.

    4. Sometimes Tenzin seems dumb…but because he is dumb (in my opinion). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that he has flaws. The story would be super boring if he was completely perfect. That’s Jane’s job, anyway.

    5. I have a lot of thoughts about the critique, most of which aren’t necessarily the nicest. I get that he’s trying to be funny and all, but there’s a fine line between poking fun while being helpful and being jerky just to try to get laughs. He definitely crossed that line more than once. Some of his critiques are kind of ridiculous and don’t make any sense (the composition is bad because Tenzin is close to Jorge in one panel and far from him in the next? Heaven forbid the characters actually move or something). He does have a good point about Chapter 1’s wordiness that I totally agree with. But at the same time, I don’t think your comic overall is too much “tell” rather than “show” since it does improve a lot. Although, after reading the other review Snark wrote, I would say the guy has a serious vendetta against explaining anything to the reader. Which is too bad, because I read the first story in his webcomic…and it definitely would have benefited from a little bit of that (although you probably shouldn’t get me started on his comic…maybe it gets better after the first one or maybe it’s just not my style, but it just brings to mind the idea that those who can, do; those who can’t do, criticize).

    So I’m not saying the Demon Archives is perfect or anything, but I do think the critique unfairly lambasted you for some earlier verbose tendencies without showcasing much of what your comic does well.

    • Thanks Ydo. Glad to see it’s not just me. And glad to hear that I have improved since Chapter 1. I have some edit ideas that I’ve sent to Seba, but new pages take precedent over old ones :)

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