The Optimist Webcomic Review

What Did I Learn?

The Optimist

Today’s comic under inspection is The Optimist by Tom Pappalardo. It is an interesting little gem of the gag strip variety. There is the occasional cuss word.

There is some word play. There is some political observation. Some regular life silliness and some sarcasm. And there are podcasts and songs and all kinds of other things. Good things.

But let’s talk about the comic. It’s done in black and white with tones and greys. The effect has a lot of visual punch – like all good comics, it makes you focus on what the creator wants you to focus on.

In this comic, it’s almost always the joke. The art has enough of visual hook that it stands out yet doesn’t overpower.

Sometimes the joke can be subtle. Estronaut and Anglonaut were pretty catchy, for instance. Mind you, Enditol was somewhat morbid and not so subtle. Many comics today rely solely on sarcasm and rudeness to be amusing – but those are just two tools of many.

It seems to me that comics that stay focused but aren’t afraid to try something new tend to be more entertaining. Think about your favorite newspaper strips – Calvin’s rare episodes as a private eye or Snoopy’s flying adventures were welcome diversions from the more standard, albeit fun fare you expect.

What Did I Learn?

Some comics are one trick ponies while others wander far and wide. Sometimes this is due to how the comic is conceptually set up and other times it might be a limitation set by the creator or even by the creator’s current skill level. This is not meant as a reflection on The Optimist, but it can be instructive to consider what you perceive is the intent of the comic and what the results are. If they don’t match, why don’t they? What could be done to adjust things?


  1. Pingback: REVIEWS: The Optimist

  2. delos

    Just for those who have done their research, you may note that Tom has posted a copy of the review on his blog ( with a link back to ArtPatient.

    Anyone else who wishes to repost my review of their work has my okay to do that. Not that I’m planning to stop ArtPatient, but websites come and go.

    In some cases, the only remaining image of a certain webcomic is in reviews. That’s a terrible waste as many webcomics are true treasures. Likewise, if someone found value in whatever I publish here I don’t want it lost forever. Repost away.

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