Critique Compendium #3: A Lesson For Life

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Ninja Skunk
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Critique Compendium #3: A Lesson For Life

Post by Ninja Skunk » 11 Mar 2009, 06:11

Well, I suppose it's time to start up the next one. Here is Critique Compendium #3: A Lesson For Life...

...and the first thing I bring up is the word bastard. Yes, I would, wouldn't I? Profanity can be an extremely precarious issue in published entertainment. What does it do for you? What does it do to the readers? What amount of profanity is too much? Do you even really need it? A Lesson For Life is a good example of what profanities are usually used for: conveying extreme anger, and for an extra sense of naturalism--some people do swear like sailors--but this will not always be liked. One person might not like feeling such a degree of anger from an otherwise innocuous comic. Another could use Sandra and Woo as an escape, and profanity's realism would be unwelcome. Finally, yes, there are plenty of readers out there who regard profanity as essentially worthless and completely unnecessary.

In addition, swearing and profanities clearly and directly marks a comic for a more mature audience. It should be noted that it's not only young children that are turned away by mature entertainment. This seems like a rather minor issue, especially if your comic is already intended for an older audience; however, it should be brought up that the gains that you could receive from excessive profanities are equally minuscule.

Sometimes, though, you might need the extra impact. Anything less would simply be too ineffective. In the end, it all comes down to an artist's point: What do I need to make an impression, without going too far?

Sandra and Woo has done well enough in handling the issue so far. Profanities are used infrequently (after the next one, we won't see another for thirty strips), and apparently only when necessary to emphasize. It's also notable that in A Lesson For Life, bastard is unglamorized; a heartless antagonist, not a principal character (who seems to avoid using one himself), recites the profanity, and is then promptly punished. Less casual uses of profanity, like this, are definitely less offensive.

For story, A Lesson For Life is mostly more character development. We see Richard's righteous side and further fortifies the Norths as a decent, well-adjusted family. Richard might be a little overly-righteous, though; he regards Woo's owner as inferior, and, as we'll see later, a bit too zealous in his "eye-for-an-eye" retribution.

In the art department, the door frame in the second panel looks wrong. It's hard to tell what it's supposed to look like, but my diagnosis says it's a lack of perspective scaling. The steps and walk leading away from door goes straight down, when it looks like it should come more towards the reader. The rest of it is the quality we've come to expect.

A bit controversial, A Lesson For Life is one of Sandra and Woo's riskier strips, but everything is well and a great addition to the comic.

Personal thoughts? I've never liked swearing. Sure, I catch myself using them when I'm particularly furious; but I (hypocritically, yes) still think they shouldn't be used. Profanities don't add much when used for emphasis, and when used as the basis for jokes and arguments, that is just wrong.

It's also miss for me--about Sandra and Woo having profanities--because Sandra and Woo is so much inspired by Calvin & Hobbes. I know Sandra and Woo isn't as much oriented for children, but with how much Oliver Knörzer flaunted Calvin & Hobbes in the forums, I know he respects Watterson's work. Calvin & Hobbes made it big while entirely omitting profanities, so inserting swearing into a comic inspired by Calvin & Hobbes seems almost like turning your back on your muse.

Or maybe I'm just too sensitive.
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