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About Literature / Hobbyist Member Ian Chisholm26/Male/United States Group :icongrammarnazicritiques: GrammarNaziCritiques
Truth can be harsher in a Crit
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The writing tactic of “add a character when things get slow” should probably be the main takeaway from my The Story – Character Importance piece (found at ) because the rest is kind of uninteresting now that I read it again. Doesn't everyone know that stories are built from characters? Doesn't everyone know that different stories require different heroes and villains? Not everyone knows that characters can have a life of their own, but most writers tend to discover it sooner or later. I like the reminder that a place can be a character, but now I would want to add examples of how and why this should be interesting. And I must have been watching Ranma 1/2 back when I wrote this, because it's clearly on my mind. So anyway … when things get slow just add a new character, or bring back an old character, or explore the character of the protagonist or the antagonist. Base stories on people, not on stories; every story has been told before, but characters come from us. Do I like it? Meh, I think it focuses on the wrong things. What did I learn? To pit characters against other characters and watch the sparks fly.

This week it's the finale of High War's chapter 13! I don't want to spoil who or how or why, but a character meets a bloody end! And so our heroes leave at a run, having finally achieved the same feat as “bandage-wrapped adventurer” from an earlier chapter! Next week, maybe that big fight from the Game or maybe something else I've got on my mind!

by Tracy J. Butler


Consistent tone is a big part of keeping an audience held within the world of the story. The tone sets an expectation for events to follow, and when events turn out differently the reader is taken out of the story for a moment as they stop to consider this new direction. When a story takes on a strong horror tone, we expect people to die grisly deaths or walk around in a constant state of dread; if no one reacts to the scary things going on we might stop to wonder if there's something wrong with them. When a story has a strong adventurous tone, we expect travel to exciting locales and acts of bravery; if the hero turns out to be a coward who runs away when facing actual danger we might start laughing at this terrible hero. These examples do show that breaking expectations can bring interesting results, but a tone must first be set to be then broken, and doing so too much can cause the audience to lose focus on that element of the story. This webcomic sets a strong “historical fiction” tone from the very beginning … Our hero is a fast-talking bootlegger in Prohibition times, working for a once-famous speakeasy on its very last legs. He's far too clever for his own good, slightly bipolar and has a certain luck for getting in to and out of tough situations. The eponymous jin joint has fallen on hard times after the mysterious death of its founder and it's our hero's job to get it up and running again or die trying, and he might just die if he keeps tempting fate by burning down rival operations. He's got a nervous side-kick of course, who falls into a murderous but very effective rampage when given a gun, and they can sometimes count on their aging war veteran mentor to help when things get messy or just for a little advice. The side-kick may have a love interest in the perhaps more-clever college flapper with old connections to the bar, and our hero meanwhile is pursuing the affection of the bar owner, a young widow with other interested parties aplenty. And all the while hints of something big going on above their attention tend to pop up, but for now the cast remains ignorant. There's a certain Disney-esque feel to the art which starts a little simple and becomes very professional, plus a strict use of old-timey browns for the coloring.

Why you should read this: There's plenty of action as the cast runs, shoots, stabs, brawls and otherwise knocks each other senseless, though deaths are kept off screen. The wordplay is fantastic, with our road-educated hero trading verbal jabs with his more eloquent fellows, making fun of those less so, and even breaking into song and rhyme when the mood hits him. The comic's creator really cares about historical authenticity, practically apologizing for any slight anachronisms below the comic.

Why you shouldn't read this: If you can't get past the fact that the hero is a talking, walking on two legs, pants and shirt wearing feline, the same as everybody else in his world, which only really changes the way they say “now” and how difficult it is for them to take a shower. The faces tend to fall a little close to memes when making big expressions. The comic can be slow and prone to hiatus, though that is perfectly understandable with art of this quality.

Other cool stuff: The Archive is split by Volume (but after that you'd need to remember a comic's individual title, which are varied and interesting) and the Gallery page is chock-full of fun random stuff like: strange questions from the readers and the strange art they inspired, very cool mini-comics canon and otherwise, tutorials on art programs and expressions, and to see the characters as humans. The Characters page is very cool for how everyone gets their own uniquely-styled “character card” and check out the Ishkabibble page for a definition of Ishkabibble, a helpful glossary of historical terms the comic uses, a comic wiki (very useful for the timeline) and links out to other places of interest.

Nahast: Lands Of Strife
by Alejandro “Al-X” Melchor


Is it wrong that writers can't seem to tell a story about a woman without sex, her sexuality or her sexual history becoming an issue? Perhaps it's impossible to avoid; a female character of a certain age range will be viewed by the audience in those terms, and the author must explore the character along paths to which the audience will be receptive. We want our heroes to feel that great and mysterious human emotion known as love, and so (after giving them family and friends to love in a platonic fashion) we give them a romantic love interest to pursue. Notice how even the words we use to describe a woman hold some sexual charge, from her manner of dress to the shape and size of various body parts. Even calling a female character “beautiful” or “ugly” is in a sense rating her on sexual desirability. And if it is impossible to separate women from sex, then at least the modern writer loves nothing more than to show them so in the best possible light, as the creator of this webcomic attempts in many ways. Our leading lady is a swordswoman who is right on the edge of being too competent in fights; she's been told that as a woman she can't be any good as a fighter, often right before she proves them wrong … although to be fair she's not really an ordinary warrior. Ordered to start a school for female warriors in a coastal city rife with corruption and intrigues, of course she finds a lot of people who think girls can't be fighters, but also a lot of girls who really want to be fighters. Like the half-elf who formed a lady-crush on her after watching her fight, or the bookish girl who mainly wants the side education in arts and sciences they will be getting, or the poor girl who wants to earn money for her family. The girl who wants to be there the most though is the one who ran away from a brothel where she was being forced to work, and her personal trials quickly become the focus of the story; her desire to distance herself from men, to be independent, to Not Go Back become the first major steps of the girls' adventures. So while the swordswoman is battling against giant demons, powerful witches and dead heroes, the girls must contend with smaller challenges that test their bonds as friends. The art starts a little on the simple side (with some early pages having been re-done) but grows in time, though the artist still seems to be finding their style.

Why you should read this: Strong feminist story of women showing they can fight too, with many strong female characters and some decidedly mature stories being told with them. And this isn't some lopsided “men are evil, women are good” world either, especially for the older women who seem to rule from behind the thrones as shrewd spy-masters. A great big world of intrigue and secrets that only holds together because everyone is trying really hard to keep it from crashing down, which feels realistic at least.

Why you shouldn't read this: It's sometimes very obvious that the author wants to show off their big unique world, with classes and races being introduced with a lot of fanfare and explanation and then going away again, almost to the detriment of story. Fights tend to focus more on action poses and less on any sense of movement, which can be annoying if you wanted something more lively. The comic goes on the occasional hiatus, though the artist does seem to have a lot of other projects on their plate.

Other cool stuff: The About page provides a decent synopsis and history of the world, the Links share some other great webcomics, and the Cast page is full of info you may have missed in the comic. The World might be the original design document and has a lot of background material, while a helpful Glossary sorts the information. There's some fan art, a website for fiction set in the world, and a blog where rules are (slowly) being crafted for Pathfinder.
  • Reading: Mechademia Vol 1
  • Watching: Fairy Tail, Galaxy Angel


Ian Chisholm
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm here to tell the stories that play out in my head, mostly because they crowd out all other thoughts until I write them; I love Anime and so I'm aiming at a career writing animation scripts, but for now I'm a writer in search of an artist to collaborate with. If you read something here that inspires you and if you can make pretty pictures, I would be interested in enlisting your help. Graphic novels, comic books, webcomics, animated shorts and more; if you can do the visual I'll provide the story. I will gladly cooperate or collaborate on your projects, or even take on requests, all to sharpen my writing skills. If you'd like a critique or some proofreading you only have to ask.

So here's the plan: every Friday I will a) upload a written piece, either a part of an ongoing story I am writing or something more random like a character sketch but always at least a page in length, b) look back at something I have written and uploaded to DA in the hopes that I can glean something useful from it, and c) share a webcomic review in my Journal section. Occasionally I collect the webcomic reviews into compilations of ten and I try to do critiques of other writers at least once a week. If you want to contact me about anything go ahead and send me a note, I'm pretty quick about responding to people. My avatar for this year is Trubl, my Pathfinder pirates campaign Cat Hengeyokai Gunslinger. You may notice the Internet's CatBeard under that Paint-job, but the sometimes-calico-cat sometimes-blunderbuss-wielding-dwarf is all mine. I need to get this guy in to my High War story!

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Add a Comment:
FictionLover987 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist
Hi! Here's the link!…
thanks again! :)
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Got it, and I'm looking forward to your reading of chapter 10.4 of High War
whaddadafukk Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014
Thank you for the llama.
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'd put up a stamp saying I return llamas ... but I'm afraid of becoming a stamp collector :)
seika Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you so much for the fav! :iconcutehiplz:
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Of course, of course!
Willowbranwen Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2014
Thanks for the fave dear :D
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Of course, I'm happy to fave a talented artist.
Willowbranwen Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2014
Bear Emoji-13 (Blushing Hnnng) [V1] 
Bclement117 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014
You've been tagged! :)
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