You know, my love for noir stories and my habit of writing characters with seriously fucked up lives might lead some people to believe Changeling wouldn’t be up my alley, but it is. I like wholesome stuff sometimes. Slice of life can be a nice to consume, almost calming. Stories like this give me that specific feeling of a youthful nostalgia. Just don’t let me anywhere near the genre, or the main character will end up with a horribly abused sister and will be forced to kill someone before she’s even eighteen. That’s not a joke, it actually happened. I shouldn’t be allowed to touch typically cathartic categories.
DISCLAIMER: While I have zero intention of allowing this to affect my critique, for the sake of ethical transparency I feel the need to inform everyone reading of something about myself. A friend of mine works on this comic series. Though, not on the particular comic I’m reviewing here. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Overall, I actually enjoyed Changeling. In between the damn near perfect Adobe Kroger, and the unfortunately lengthed review I had to write about Mythics, Changeling is more of a mixed bag. I liked it, but there are a noticeable few things that could be improved. I think these kats have potential. It’s definitely way better than… some other recent indie comics I’ve seen, related to a certain movie franchise.
The writing isn’t bad. It can be a little clunky, the same words used in the very same sentences a bit too much, things like that. At first I thought Brett (the writer) just might be trying to write as the character who was doing the talking, but then another character who seems to be intended to have more proper speech did the same later. So I’m not certain which it is. Things were set up well, other things were teased well. That’s all you really need to get people invested. The religion angle is interesting, a characteristic all the stories in the Mythoverse seem to share.
There’s nothing all that substantial to say about the writing either way. That’s better than it being bad, mind you. Far better. There was just enough here to latch on to, and nothing that stopped me from doing so. You can always get better at something, you’re on the right track.
There were some minor punctuation issues. One seemed to be a genuine mistake. “Cause” (short for because) is meant to have an apostrophe in front of it. This was only missing in one place, so I’m assuming they already know and just missed that one in editing. However, there were other things. For example: When a character goes to explain something, a comma is used to begin what should be another sentence separated with a colon (:). Kinda like how I started my own explanation just now.
I wish I could point you to a specific place to brush up on this sort of thing, but unfortunately I don’t really remember where I picked up a lot of this myself. School didn’t help me with my writing at all after third grade. I just kinda take things from all over the place whenever I have an opportunity. All I can really do is recommend you do the same. Pick apart other people’s writing, good and bad. Identify what works, what doesn’t, and exactly why. You learn a lot of tricks and subtleties that way. You’ll find what makes certain types of stories succeed, and why others like them fail. Read and watch reviews, look up videos about storytelling on Youtube. These things helped me a lot. I learned to identify everything about a story, and how to more effectively write my own.
One really small thing that kinda sits between art and writing. The same text boxes are used for the main character’s thoughts as the comic’s narration. It never gets confusing, but it certainly has the potential to. I’d recommend maybe making those use different colors before it becomes one.
Another related thing is the use of different fonts. It’s actually the only reason I had a clue that a certain character was meant to be speaking differently, since the writing wasn’t necessarily communicating that. It’s a good idea.
Up next: The art. It’s decent, and I mean that as more of a compliment than it sounds. Victor (the artist) is clearly inexperienced, but I think he’s got a lot of potential. The simple style works well for the type of story this is. This one’s got a bit of that “same-face” problem going on too, but it benefits from the designs being wildly different in other ways. Just eyeballing it, I think a lot of these characters probably have distinct silhouettes. I also have a couple of suggestions that may help. I covered some things in the “Mythics” review, and since I know the creators are reading these now, I won’t annoy Victor by repeating myself. That being said, his style is much more simple than what’s in Mythics, so not all of those suggestions may work for him.
I’m guessing Victor previously worked on webcomics, and that maybe he worked on a lot of furry art? I can’t help but notice he has a hard time drawing full human bodies. It’s a common web comic tactic to keep scenes and shots simple, only showing the upper half of characters.
But when a non-human guy comes into the story, he’s the best looking thing in the whole comic.
This guy looks fantastic. He’s got a lot of detail, even seems to have a texture. If you can give the humans this kind of love, it’ll go a long way.
I have one recommendation, and it’s not gonna be easy: Challenge yourself with everything you draw. Make sure there’s something new in everything, even if it’s small. And don’t call it finished until you get everything as right as you can get it. It’ll make you wanna quit sometimes, but it’s the only reason I’ve made so much progress with my own art as quickly as I have. Draw more full bodies, don’t stop until it looks how you think it should. I understand that’s probably not feasible while working on the comic itself, so you’re probably gonna have to do a lot of practice sketches on the side of you intend to take this advice.
One more art suggestion. As it turns out, the eye technique we both use isn’t actually all that different, yours is just much more exaggerated, where as mine leans far more towards realism. So I can actually show you a technique I use that might help you vary your faces a bit more despite the simplistic style.
I couldn’t help but notice you used almost the exact same style of “eyelash” on all of your female characters. Only one of them seemed to have a slightly different eye shape.
Try experimenting with the sort of shapes and whisps you can make. You might be surprised with the amount of variety you can come up with. I sketched out these two as an example, and neither of these can be seen on any character I’ve ever drawn. When you come up with one you like, ensure it always remains unique to whatever character you give it to.
With this specific feature being so abstract, it’s very noticeable the same style is used for every character. Play around with it, see what you come up with.
One thing I’d like to compliment Changeling on, is that the action has more than one panel. Not to dog on Mythics, but going from that to this was night and day. Even though the action in this was a tad stilted, I could at least tell what was going on. It makes a pretty big difference.
Something interesting I noticed (that you may have noticed the the few pictures I used), is that the space outside the panels is actually colored to suit the scene. Sometimes, it’ll even fade into another color mid page to fit what’s happening. Surrounding what the reader is seeing in what’s basically mood lighting is… actually kinda clever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
I’m gonna stop myself before I write another article that’s far too long. Hopefully I’ve made my thoughts clear. I look forward to seeing what these guys come up with, and watching them improve. Actual effort was put into this, and it shows even if the skill of the creators isn’t quite where they want it to be. They made a complete product, and delivered it on time. Despite what’s holding them back, they made sure something of substance was here to be had.
So yeah, it’s not this huge, amazing action story with superb professional art like you might be looking for. It’s not gonna blow you away. But it is good. It was a nice little note for me to end on with Mythoverse, almost innocent (if it weren’t for some of the darker scenes). I’d like to see what happens next, it managed to make me care about the character.
If you’re willing to go for something that’s maybe not quite the most top tier thing you’ve ever seen, or looking for something just a little more pure and honest: This is a good way to go. I recommend Changeling.