This was review was done by request of the author. It was originally given in private and made public with permission. Reviews are available, public and private, by those requesting them for their own comics
The art is good at what it’s doing; it’s rarely disorienting or confusing or mismatched. The cartoony style works although personally some of the expressions and style of the faces are a miss for me. This is personal though and not a suggestion for change.
I think, my biggest take away was that while it seems you’re going to be twisting or deconstructing the chosen one trope, right now the biggest problem is your comic lacks an identity. And this is, kind of several parts leading into one, so sorry if this explanation gets confusing or repeats itself a little. I feel like it’s a problem with many faces to it.
Right now, even if the story will deconstruct, we have two groups that hate each other and something something vague war or conflicting and something something prophecy. But. That’s the whole identity. You need something else to carry it until that payoff, and you have the workings of it but not yet the realization of it. Not the full embrace of what makes this story its own.
I keep thinking to myself: Why are these characters animals? What is gained by having them be animals, and what is lost, and do the benefits out weight the sum? I won’t deny I have a really strong bias against animal comics that set themselves in sort of a prehistoric past and use primitive items and healing plants and etc. But if you’re going to do that, then make it your own. Right now you’ve taken these human elements and just thrown them on the characters without making them specific to your world. Why would these dogs have human items? Why wouldn’t they have developed items more specific to how they are as animals? How do they carry or make jugs? Or pestles? Why would they still be designed to look like humans made them, if they were not made by humans?
I think my best way to explain this is an example. Imagine if dogs developed knives. They wouldn’t look like human knives, which were made to fit human hands. Dogs would create them to be used by dogs, with no concept of the human knife to go off of. Maybe a dog knife would have holes in the handle to fit the teeth, or the blade would face a different direction or curve out like a scythe. So for water jugs, maybe the dogs carve out logs with their teeth and carry them with one dog on each end, instead of clay made pots made for human hands? This is just an example and not meant to be taken at face value. What I’m saying is, if you want to add humanized elements, fine. But don’t do it lazily, make it your own world. Imagine a world where dogs or cats filled the human role, and imagine how it would look different.
The world you have currently just feels, a bit too cookie cutter and relying on our expectations of what we normally see in these vaguely pre-historic civilizations. It lacks identity. The cats and dogs feel like they could be swapped out for any animal and make as much sense (or swapped with human tribes and make more sense). Their being animals adds nothing, when it really should. And sometimes it even contradicts itself. The cats remark the dogs live in packs, which makes sense. But cats are solitary, and yet they’re a clan/tribe/group. And even if the cats did live together in this universe, why would they then remark about dogs being together if in their society they live together too?
I guess my other problem is, yeah I keep saying dogs. But I’m also confused because they seem to have multiple different names for the same thing. When they are introduced as Feliqua and Lupiqua I thought “Okay, these are a fictional creature so how they behave will need to be explained.” Yet then you switch to just cats and wolves, which confuses me because they don’t act like cats and wolves. I don’t know how they’re supposed to act, what is normal or abnormal. The world hasn’t been built around them; again they just feel like human stand-ins.
This is compounded by the fact that the cats….shouldn’t be cats? If that makes sense? If they’re synonymous with regular cats are we think of them, then I lose any ability to take the conflict seriously because…wolves should be able to kill cats easily. And the way they’re drawn suggests normal cats just like….scaled up. Like you forgot to resize them and the scale is messed up. If you want to make them as big as the wolves to be a threat, the anatomy doesn’t imply that. Look at how a lynx is structured, it looks radically different. If they looked more like their larger cat species, I’d be able to take the conflict more seriously.
And I guess my other question is, how seriously am I supposed to take this? I feel like, you kind of need to embrace the cartoony and comic charm fully. You have the comic name introductions, at one point the rat pushes up against a speech bubble. Some of the dialog is quirky and there’s silly action shots with sound effects shouting “INTERCEPTED”. Embrace that more. I feel like that could really give your comic the flavor it needs. But that kind of tone is really hard to do, too. But if you’re gonna go for it, go for it all the way and commit.
I’m going to go into more specific problems next. And I think my next one is the dialog. Some of it feels there entirely to inform of us things the characters should know. Lines like “Didn’t you hear what I just said” and even worse “You’re my best friend” come off very forced and hokey. Like the characters already know it but are saying it again for the sake of the audience. Some of the dialog works pretty well for the tone but occasionally it seems like, you’ve heard dialog spoken like that in movies and throw it in because it feels like that’s how it’s supposed to sound. But it just comes off forced.
I think the other major problem is, I felt so compelled to just skim and skip over the dialog bubbles. There are too many of them, and even when I read them it feels like chunks could be cut out. Some of the pages just feel so cluttered with dialog and I don’t even think it’s all needed. It needs tightening up, or spacing out or something. But I shouldn’t feel compelled to be skimming the dialog, or intimidated when I get to a page and see how many dialog bubbles there are.
I really don’t like to pick on specific scenes because I don’t think it helps. I really don’t suggest going back to fix specific scenes because I feel like energy is better spent moving forward. But the scene in the cave was a slog. It felt exactly like you had a bunch of information you wanted to give us, so you had a character literally talking to themselves about it. An occasional wink wink nudge to the audience rarely works at forgiving something like that. And I think what made it worse was how visually uninteresting the scene was. I’m talking about the technicals, not art skill. All of the shots were pretty much at the same level, from the same angle, from the same perspective. It felt like the character was standing still. There were no shots from behind to imply doubt, or long shots zoomed out to let us feel how large, imposing, and empty the cave was. Nor any close shots to show subtle changes in emotion, and the only close shots we had still pretty much kept the size the same as the other shots.
Some scenes feel like they just go on too long, too. The cave of course, but even when the main character meets the cat outside the cave, that felt unnecessarily long. The fight scene with the cats in the woods could have been condensed, or at least delivered more content. Not enough was revealed about the two cultures or the world or the conflict to really warrant the length of that scene.
I think, also, I don’t really have a feel for the main character by now, and I should. Like she’s quirky and a bit goofy but also so is basically anyone else that isn’t the ‘serious nagging type’ or the ‘supporting type’. She doesn’t stand out. Her personality would have been fine, if so much of the general tone of the comic wasn’t also ‘quirky’. And I think, that’s also not helping with the general feel of ‘lacking identity’. If your character was more of a stand out or engaging it could carry the story better.
While there’s clearly going to be some sort of twist, you need more to draw people in. The setup, as it is, is too generic to support itself long enough to get to that twist. The tone doesn’t feel confident enough to make it work, or if it is it’s too sparse. The protagonist doesn’t stick out enough, and the world feels too undeveloped and relying on expectations of what we’re familiar with to make it engaging.
Summary (from creator): In the rubble of an ancient city, two tribes, The Feliqua cats and Lupiqua wolves, have fought for generations for the right to live alone and tap into the ancient splendor. Recent famine and internal issues settled them into an uneasy peace, and the children raised in the lull know little outside of what’s heard in stories of their parents’ war.
The battles are due to start again, but this time the rules will change. New, powerful forces are appearing all over, and their convergence is upon the land the tribes now call home. It’s not just cats and dogs anymore, and the stakes of this new conflict threaten something higher than any of the players could imagine."