What Did I Learn?
Today’s review is on Ace Hoyle, a comic written by Phill Provance with art by Tomas Batha and later Edgar Arce.
Well, many of my thoughts echo what other reviewers have said, so I will just run through them quickly for efficiency’s sake. I would have preferred to see the sketchy art done just a bit tighter, though that’s a personal preference. I also liked the spots of color in the comic – they gave the comic some spots of visual interest that would have been too subtle without them. The art reminds me of a certain comic artist that I enjoyed and I wish I could call a name to mind. Maybe it was a panel or two from Fafrhd and the Grey Mouser where the spot blacks aren’t so heavy. Maybe not.
Obvious Admission: I’m not into poker but I do have a rough sense of what hands beat others. There was in comic talk of the game being a single hand but it didn’t seem to be. Perhaps my lack of game familiarity caused me to overlook some of the poker drama or misunderstand somehow.
That may also have caused me to focus more than I was supposed to on the Dolly Finegold subplot. And I think I can say (without spoiling) that I’m not sure why there were explosions. It could mean something particular to poker players (that would be the primary audience reading this comic) as part of their jargon or something. Maybe it will be explained more later as the story progresses or maybe I’m overthinking it. The storyline will probably seem more pulled together and natural as later episodes come out.
The characters are a good fit for the comic’s genre. Each of them are a little bit archetypical, little bit wild-west-ish, a little bit corrupt and yet strongly motivated. I would make the statement that the depth of the characters is perfect for its primary intended audience; it seems the point of the comic is primarily to offer a distraction on the poker site, or a little something extra. This provides a bit of a cushion – the comic does not have to wow anyone right out of the gate and it has time to progress without many being too critical of it.
And that’s what I wanted to talk about the most in this review. I applaud Ace Hoyle for reaching out to a particular audience. Most webcomics today put up their flag on their own site and hope that people will come to them. They are their own audience draw, which is normally very difficult to overcome and gain any momentum. Comics are given away for free in order to gain attention and repeat visitors.
This comic is using another activity as the draw and snaring readers as they come by. The creator promotes like any other webcomic creator does, so by default this comic will automatically gain more readers than it would on a site by itself due to the exposure within the niche. Rather than simply hope that your comic will resonate with readers, it makes perfect sense to me if you take the comic to the reader. Comics like Unshelved or Mutts do quite nicely in part because of this, along with newspaper comics in general.
I assume Ace Hoyle comic was created and named for the site which some might not like but is just good marketing. Some might prefer that a comic and a niche site align into a partnership by sheer happenstance – this may somehow seem to preserve the comic’s artistic integrity. However, there isn’t anything that breaks that integrity if the comic is inspired by the site or even made for the site. My personal rule of thumb is that a niche hosted comic should not simply be a mouthpiece for the site but have an identity of its own. You don’t care that the characters in a movie all drink Coke but you would get annoyed if they also worked in a Coke bottling plant and wore red all the time, right?
What Did I Learn?
This niche partnering seems to be an obvious way to see some direct income for your comic. The quality still needs to be there but if the niche site sees far more traffic on the days that your comic updates then they may pay for the privilege of having your comic appear on their site. For those determined to make a living from their comic, this might be an avenue to pursue – at the very least, you will gain a larger exposure simply by hosting your comic on another site. You can even have a separate site with different comics from the same comic property and have the best of both worlds. Plus you may see less stress and expectation because your comic does not have to carry all the entertainment weight of a site. It may also allow for readers to be more patient with subtle story events or a slower pace. In any case, you may want to read Ace Hoyle and see how it interacts within the poker site it is on.
You may also want to read the other reviews of Ace Hoyle, such as Webcomic Asylum’s review of Ace Hoyle, Longbox’s review, Optical Sloth’s review, Webcomic Week’s objective review and Indy Comic’s Review.