This week, Sunnyville Stories Volumes 1 and 2 got reviewed on No Flying No Tights.
The review overall was a mixed bag. While the review praised the art style and the nostalgic feel, there was some rough spots noted. It’s written that there’s “minimal character development with not enough movement in the plot” and “the dialogue feels forced at times.” (On another note, the reviewer mistakenly refers to the main male protagonist as “Max” and not his correct name of RUSTY.)
To be honest, I should be pleased that my weakest reviews have been mixed ones; at the same time, it’s given me a lot to think about.
I can understand where the reviewer is coming from. These books collect the earliest of my work. The art was (and still is) evolving. What’s more is that I had not grown comfortable with the world of Sunnyville and its characters. It’s one thing to plan everything out on paper and then another to actually assemble that world on the pages. These growing pains are normal in many works. The early years of Peanuts (most of the 1950s) doesn’t resemble the familiar product of the comic strip’s golden age of the 1960s and 1970s. Walt Kelly’s early Pogo pages also feel different from the familiar sociopolitical satire that the strip would become famous for.
However, I can’t write off every flaw as simply being my own lack of experience or a failure on the part of the reviewer. There is some truth to what she said. The question now is what am I going to do about it. I’ve been assembling a plan designed to improve upon Sunnyville Stories during the next ten stories.
The first step is to keep working on the art. While Rusty and Sam look much better than when I first started, I still need to work more on my draftsmanship. The local museum, the Plains Art Museum, will be having life drawing sessions coming up so that works in my favor.
The second step is to keep working on the storytelling. I have been getting better, but still it needs work. I plan to experiment more with some of the techniques I’m seeing in Dave Sim’s Cerebus.
Another major step is that I really need to raise awareness. Comics are still perceived as being for children only and are still viewed as being only nothing but superheroes. That works against me. In spite of this, plans are in the works for advertising with independent author and publisher sites as well as convention program books. I also hope to have more cameo appearances to get more people reading my work. Cerebus will hopefully be making more appearances in the future. At the time of this writing, I’ve been attempting to contact Bob Burden to see about having the Flaming Carrot make an appearance in Sunnyville.
The biggest challenge is to improve the writing. The plots move okay, but there needs to be more characterization and stronger dialogue. That means it will be back to the drawing board. The notes I made of Rusty and Sam must be reviewed and I have to work more on showing what makes them tick and how they relate to each other. This also means I have to dig out my books again like Making Comics by Scott McCloud. On my list is another text to get, one that was recommended to me – Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.
This won’t be an easy road. It is my aim however to make Sunnyville Stories grow the beard and to make the next books superior to the older ones. No matter what happens, I intend to meet this challenge and impress everyone out there.