Mermaid Comic project - writing feedback request
Michael Howe last edited by Michael Howe
Hello everyone! I have a comic project I'm working to finish up this year. My issue is that I wrote the original 4 pages for very rapidly, and I believe I may have baked a problem into the writing/story. I did the problem of "oh, a female is only useful to die and send a hero on a journey." How bad is it in this story, and do you have any suggestions to fix it? There are more pages after this to give more sense of closure, and send the hero on his journey.
K.Flagg last edited by
Great detail! this looks really cool. Is this jumping right into the story or are is there more backstory that we are not seeing. I think the story problem could be solved if you gave her a little more of a backstory to give her some character. You want the audience to feel sorrow for her death and that's harder if they know nothing about her.
RachelArmington last edited by
Hiya...because you asked about the female, those are the panels I focused on. At first I thought the net draped around her arm and waist was part of her clothing. It was only the second read that I realized that humans must have caught her. The bloody spear doesn't feel integrated as it doesn't feel as if the light under the water is affecting it...it feel almost pasted there, like a symbol. Not trying to encourage gore here. but that female mermaid is looking pretty healthy...no sign of injury.
The brother's pose is dynamic as he leans in..you can tell he's invested. Purple mermaid man's body language, not so much invested. The pose is reminiscent of a western romance where the cowboy is carrying off the love interest in his arms.
Purple mermaid and injured mermaid are supported by water...and neither have legs per se. In water, would it be more streamline if he held her body closer, along his side, with her head on his shoulder? Maybe their bodies could be at a slant, so to better fit the panel.
Again, not trying to encourage gore here, but do you show the attack on the female mermaid before this?
How do you feel about milking the drama of her dying? Again, she seems pretty healthy up to the end. I do like the way her body dissipates...I wonder if that is one way you could show that she is expiring, if you showed that disintegration in the previous panel.
Our fearless leaders of SVS talk about borrowing inspiration from other creatives. Recently, I finished reading a YA novel where the king wasn't considered the most important person in the kingdom, the protector of the king was the most important person. I wonder if you snagged that general idea and had the female character be the leader and purple guy was supposed to be the protector...then she would feel less passive a character, and you could have fun with his angst.
I'm not a comics person, so please take everything I say with a pillar of salt. I do really like your color palette. Story-wise, it's poignant that the brother is going to stand up for what his sister wanted.
Melissa_Bailey last edited by Melissa_Bailey
@Michael-Howe first off -- good drawing skills. Nice character consistency. Expressive characters. Strong storytelling.
Now to answer your question of "how bad is it" to use a female's death as a device to propel the plot forward? It's not good. Not only is this device overdone, it also objectifies women. The fact that you noticed this as a problem all on your own -- it's commendable that you don't want to perpetuate or reinforce that stereotype. It seems like the voice inside is telling you that you should fix it.
Just looking at the first 3 panels (the only ones that include the female character), here is what went through my head. (And this is just one woman's perspective.)
Why is he holding her in the traditional comic book or romance novel pose? (Much like what @RachelArmington said.) What happened? Where are the humans of which you speak? There are other ways to illustrate the opening scene, which you may want to explore in thumbnails.
Why dress her in the token mermaid bra with her back arched, making her chest prominent? If she were gravely injured, wouldn't she be slumped, not having the muscle strength to hold herself in that position? And the blue bra against her tan/orange skin tone really makes it stand out. This sexy pose objectifies women (again, my perspective). What do these choices say about her personality? Could she be dressed or designed in another way to make her a stronger character and less stereotypical? (By the way, love the muscle tone in her arms! But everything else about her look reminds me of a blonde pinup model, minus the gills/tattoos.)
The thing that really bothers me: why is she apologizing? She's hurt, about to die, and she's apologizing to her merman? She only gets 4 speech bubbles. 25% of what she says is an apology.
To be fair, the good: 50% of what she says tells us a lot about her personality. She's empathetic, peaceful, and forgiving. These are admirable, strong qualities. She could be a great character and a force for good, but then she's gone two panels later.
That was my honest reaction to the first 3 panels -- there were definitely some things I personally found problematic. Reading through the rest of the comic, I liked the tension. The brother seems to be the MC and he is written as a strong, sympathetic character. What will his journey be? He seems to have the strength to stand up and make tough choices -- that's a character arc I'd like to read about.
But ... yeah ... killing off his sister? Does she have to die? Does anyone have to die for the plot to work? Would just being injured be enough? Or what if the purple guy thinks that she's dead when she isn't, just injured? (Another trope but you may be able to make it fresh or put a new spin on it.) Could she push through her injuries to catch up with her brother and team up with him? That could really add tension if she's facing off against her love interest/husband/whatever he is to her. What if she's the queen/ruler instead of Purple Guy? How would that change the plot?
Not my intention to step on any toes or to be negative. This honest feedback is provided with the intention of helping you improve your work, and you absolutely can do whatever you want with it. Thank you for sharing your work and being open to honest critiques. Would love to see where you go with this!
Michael Howe last edited by Michael Howe
@K-Flagg Ok - that does make sense. There WAS not more to the story, this being the idea to just hope into it. But I'm strongly considering it now.
Show a little more of what she was like, then? Thanks for your feedback!!!
Michael Howe last edited by
@RachelArmington Hi there! Thanks for the thoughts! Haha that's a good point about the cowboy-holding-girl pose. I don't remember if I was trying to have him be gentle, since she's injured, or if it was me just being unsure how to draw it! But with that said, I may adjust that a little bit. And good point about not much blood elsewhere - I was trying to avoid being gorey, but also you're correct that we need something to tie it together and believe she's hurt. No, I don't plan to show the attack itself.
The idea to have the girl be the ruler is intriguing. It could work, apart from then, purple guy wouldn't have authority to do what he does later in the story. (Which isn't shown here yet).
Thanks so much for the feedback! I really appreciate it!
Michael Howe last edited by
First off - thank you so much for giving your time to write up a thorough response! I really appreciate it - wanting to respond in kind is why I have taken so long to answer. But thank you very much! I don’t think you were too harsh or stepping on toes, but rather giving good, honest feedback.
Thanks for the kind words about the overall good things! I appreciate those too.
I agree. I think I should fix it in SOME way but didn’t want to have to do a lot of re-writing or redrawing things. So at this point for me, it’s the balance of releasing something that’s not perfect, vs spending who knows how long rewriting and re-drawing a short story.
Based on what you and @RachelArmington both said, I’ll probably tinker with their pose a little bit, and maybe her costume. Haha I think I went with the token mermaid bra so there was a small level of familiarity with the world.
Regarding number 3: That’s an excellent point that I completely missed! I will certainly cut the apology part, regardless of what else I do with it.
With the suggestion by @K.Flagg about a backstory - would a page showing/describing her character before this point be helpful, or just make it that much worse that she dies early off?