Comic Site Rant: Crazy Sunshine

Original Post

This script is pretty much 100% true. I’m not sure if /d/ actually did the shitting dick nipples, though. That may be more up gurochan’s alley. Lineart turned out mostly good, with the exception of the last panel. I tried to be a bit ambitious with that one, and it turned out kind of ok. Colouring is good, though the light/shadows in this one are probably a bit too strong. The background is based off a little ramen place down in Porter Square. I forgot to include the cheesy tablecloths and folding chairs. I will next time.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the comic– mainly how to make it better, and make it appeal to more people. This site gets a modest amount of traffic each month, roughly 1000/1500 visits a day and ~10000 unique visitors per month, according to AWstats. It’s nothing impressive, but it’s fine. However, I don’t feel I’m reaching all the people that I’m setting out to please. There are a number of reasons for this, the main ones being quality and quantity. This comic isn’t very good. The art is below average and the writing is less than amateur. On top of that, considering that I only update once a week, just to bring more crap, who’s going to want to read that? Not that I feel you, the reader, has bad taste, this is just my own personal opinion on what I do. Another reason could be that I start internet slap fights with random people and usually end up as the bad guy, but people read what jerks write all the time so I’m not too bothered by that.

Now, my goal with the comic is to be a Penny Arcade-ish answer to anime fandom, with an NHK/Zetsubou-Sensei/PPD sense of humour. The thing here is, Penny Arcade is about a large shared culture: video games, and therefore their readerbase will be huge. I write about anime. Not just anime, but niche anime. I don’t talk about your Naruto or your Bleach or your Inu Yasha or whatever it is kids like these days. I write about stuff that is a niche within a niche, and I feel I’m still not getting all the people from that niche of a niche. So, naturally you can understand why I’d want to at least get that much. I do just make this comic for fun, but seeing a healthy stats page is inspiring.

So, how do I go about getting more readers? Well, I’ll go back to the issues I mentioned previously: quality and quantity. I need to improve the quality of the comic, while also improving the quantity. This is no easy task, as comics are a lot work. Unlike blogging, which just depends on writing, comics depend on both artistic skill and writing skill, and both of these need to be nothing short of impeccable to create quality piece of work.

Now, the main problem here is time. There are only so many hours in the day, and only so many of those hours can be spent on comic making between school and my other commitments. Now, in addition to producing the comic, this comic also requires something else: anime. This comic is based around anime, so naturally I need to watch anime quite regularly and formulate opinions on them. Not only that, but I need to keep up with the fan scene and news. That takes up a lot of time, especially considering the nature of anime. You can’t really cut down the amount of time you spend watching an episode of anime, since that’s just set. So, I have to make comics faster, and make them the best quality that I possibly can so I can produce a higher quantity of comics per week. This really just requires hard work, experience and practice. As of right now each comic takes about 5-7 hours (totally guessing.) If I can bring that down to 2-3 hours, then that’d be perfect. As of right now, the things that eat up time the most are drawing (lineart), backgrounds, and general slowdowns caused by computers. The drawing and background issues can be taken care of with hours upon hours practice (you should see how many pages of my sketchbook are just filled of different renderings of my characters) but the PC is an issue which I just have to deal with right now. Basically, I just have to get better at drawing, it’s as simple as that.

On the writing side of things, one bit that really needs to improve is character. People attach themselves to works that have likable/entertaining characters. For the most part, my characters have been soulless vessels by which I push my crazy rantings into. That’s fine, but I need to give them more defining attributes. In coming comics I’ll be experimenting a bit, trying to give these guys a bit more life. I’m not going for epic Gurren Lagann-style character development here, but I do want a fun cast of colourful characters that people can find entertaining.

To end this somewhat angsty rant, I’ll ask you guys: what do you think about this comic? Be as harsh as you want. I want you tell me what you think about every aspect of it, and I want to know in detail. Not just that, but do you actually think me updating more would help? Address all the things you like and dislike, please. I’ll be listening.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. I really need to get to work on some art projects before it gets too late. I covered most of what I wanted to, so that’s fine. Until next time.

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36 Responses to Comic Site Rant: Crazy Sunshine

  1. Seiya says:

    Yeah, that actually really does explain a lot about you. Also, that place has awesome noodles, but Ittyo is better.

  2. I actually stole the punchline from something you said, again. :P

  3. BrendantheJedi says:

    Ah, it was kinda true with me too (though it only took me one or two days to realize what /d/ was…). Ah, we could bring up Char quotes and titles of webcomics…

    Still, the quality of your comic art has never been horrible (otherwise, I wouldn’t have read it for the past 2 years), nor have the jokes been bad (again, 2 years whatnot) even in the GC days (BTW, what happened to the Archive, I know you were embaressed by the name, but why take down the whole gallery?). The only problem you have artwise is consistancy, in a way you’re a 1/144th scale version of Gonzo. However, the characters are 1d (if you could get them 2D, that would be awesome) and your update schedule sucks (but isn’t anyworse than Vgcats, and you know he still has a large fanbase). Still it is good to know you are working on improving things.

    Anyhoo, with those numbers you popped out, don’t be too depressed about them. A smalltime webcomic could do a hell of a lot worse.

  4. 3x as random says:

    Well, I think this place is good for me to read and have a few laughs. I am absolutely useless at drawing, so don’t ask me too much about art >.>

    Updating more will help, but if that will reduce the quality and such Id rather wait longer and see some better work come out. Quality > Quantity.

    One problem is maybe this Anime-orientated comic not attracting more generalized readers.

    Iono~

  5. BTJ: I’ll chock the consistency detail up to me still trying to find my own style. It is something that I’m working on.

    I took down the GC archive (notice I edited you post just a smidge, since I believe in Soviet Russia style history modification) because I’m just not proud of it. I may throw together a giant zip file if enough people want it, though.

  6. SZ says:

    I’ll be coming up with most of this up on the spot since I’ve never expressed explicitly why I read the webcomics I read, but since I do read them I think I’m entitled to talk about why I do.

    I read a couple webcomics regularly, the most famous being Megatokyo, but I also follow some obscure ones like Everlasting Wanderers (at least when it was still updated within a decent time frame). One thing that I’ve noticed when I pick up a webcomic to follow is that no matter the quality, as long as the jokes are funny (even if say, the artwork is entirely stick figures) I’ll read it. I’m talking about xkcd specifically here but it also applies to the famous(ly bad) Shirt Guy Dom comics. I’m not trying to say art quality doesn’t matter, because it does, but I’m saying if you want to improve something, improving the writing side of things is what would mostly keep more people reading your comic.

    Not to say anything bad about the jokes in Mistakes of Youth. They’re obviously funny for me, or I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I like the kind of humor you put into Mistakes of Youth, and I think you’re right, there’s probably a lot of people out there that would also appreciate your sense of humor. What I really think you need to do to increase your readership is not really to increase the quantity (although it would help, but as 3x as random said don’t do it at the cost of quality), but rather you just need more exposure. I can’t remember how I originally came to Mistakes of Youth (I think it was through a link from AoMM, but either Jason changed his links or it was some other blog). Actually this kinda illustrates my point: I can’t find a single link to you on any of the other anime-related websites (mostly blogs) I visit. I’m betting people out there that would read Mistakes of Youth just haven’t found out about it yet.

    Getting that exposure is another thing though. Not having had my own website to publicize myself I can’t say much about how to go about getting other people to link to your website. But I really do think that’s all that Mistakes of Youth is really missing.

  7. as says:

    SUP

    The background in this one is really good, but the character posing doesn’t really work… they look 1D and messed-up from any angle but the front (see her face). And your lines are even heavier than Hokuto no Ken anime, and they never seem to show anything but 90-degree angles.

    also the font isn’t very classically comic, but I never understood what that was supposed to mean anyway

  8. I knew I could count on you.

    “but the character posing doesn’t really work… they look 1D and messed-up from any angle but the front (see her face).”

    I don’t quite get your meaning. Care to expand?

    I’m trying to work on my lineweight a bit. Doing my best with a 0.3mm pencil and it still comes out too thick. I don’t want to go back to tracing with the pentool.

  9. Generic_Mistake says:

    As far as more updates go I am fine with once a week, 2 would be nice but not “needed”. The comic itself is a little ruff around the edges, so polishing it would not hurt. But it not like i have any big problems with the majority of your work. Your comic, as harsh as you are on it, is a fresh breeze for the western otaku.

    so W/E you do keep up the good work

  10. as says:

    actually, I guess the “messed-up from any other angle” part isn’t right – it just comes out of the extreme flatness in everything (which is more obvious in http://mistakesofyouth.com/index2.php?id=moy_comics/69/index)

    the problem I see here is that her face is too narrow; the forehead and nose should be pointing out more

  11. wildarmheero says:

    Dear god, I can’t believe how old this joke is. Seriously, it’s been tossed about 4chan for months now, and you’re JUST using it? Ugh. I see your art’s gotten worse as well. I was kinda hoping that in my absence you’d improve and maybe get a life and grow some balls, but I see that I was wrong.

  12. shiokenstar says:

    Just ignore that wildarmheero guy. I mean, if he’s going to say BS like this, you think he’d pick a name that wasn’t one letter off of yours.

    Anyways, I really can’t remember how I came across your webcomic, but from the first time I read it, I was hooked. I’m not even into the niche of niche anime (well maybe just NHK), but I like your jokes and comics. It’s also awesome how you actually care about the producers and creators of the anime. I don’t see that anywhere else really. So just stay on track with your writing style and things will go fine in my opinion. (Some stuff goes over my head though, like the comic where Rets just says “nice boat”)

    For your artwork, I really like it. There’s just some panels that look a little weird like the last panel in this comic http://www.mistakesofyouth.com/index2.php?id=moy_comics/69/index
    Shuuichi Ikeda’s head looks a little twisted, but there aren’t any glaring problems that I can spot.

    The last panel in this comic cracks me up everytime though (in the good way)http://www.mistakesofyouth.com/index2.php?id=moy_comics/55/index

  13. 3x as random says:

    Hmm, thats true… you need more exposure? Maybe make like a banner or something so fans of these comics can stick em on forums etc… may generate more traffic.

  14. CyberTRex8u says:

    if you want to give your characters more soul, try doing small story archs. small 3 to 5 page stories that just focus on a character or 2 in a peculiar scenario. doesnt have to be serious. it gives people an idea of how the characters would react to certain things.

  15. dood says:

    more updates.
    thats all.

  16. Magusman says:

    Too lazy to read through the rest of the comments, I will agree with BrendantheJedi. Consistency would be nice especially considering how you still have school and eventually a dayjob to contend with. Updating more frequently would be nice but it’s fine as is.

    I’ll probably tell you more of my opinion later. What you can take away from this comment, however, is that you’re doing a damn fine job even if there is always room for improvement. Keep up the good work.

  17. TheBigN says:

    “:V”

    It’s like a paradox. Only not.

    It seems like maybe you’re trying to force the humor through in recent comics, where it seemed to come more naturally in the beginning. Maybe ratchet things back a bit?

  18. Zanz says:

    Speaking of Tampopo, you’ve got to see the movie.

  19. Anonymous.rar says:

    1. I loved the name Gangsta City, because it didn’t describe the comic whatsoever. Takes a man with a swinging dick to mislead his readers like that.
    2. I would adore that aforementioned zip file. Personally, I like gangsta city more that the latest stuff, but maybe that’s just me.
    3. I would suggest bringing some of the old characters back. I miss them. Then, I would definatley do the plot arc bit that was mentioned before. Also, I would not mention more famous shows. The obscurity of this comic gives it it flavor. Finally, get out more often. Social interaction will probably improve your humor.
    4. Yes, /d/ had shitting dick nipples.

  20. rikchik says:

    IIRC I came to Mistakes of Youth via Tsunami Channel – either the rant or the forum had a “check out this guy, he does stuff like the anime parodies here”.

    I’d say if you’re going to concentrate on anything, work on consistency. Everything gets better and easier with practice.

    (And I hope you saw Madarame quoting the “mistakes of youth” line in a recent Genshiken episode.)

  21. MegaVolt says:

    Fuck more frequent updates. Make your writing _impeccable_. Really, if you have that down, everything else will be fairly trivial. IMO, anyway.

    Also, Penny Arcade is two guys. One is an artist, and the other is a writer (and a good storyteller). Their strips are also short, and make heavy use of copy and paste. You probably already knew this, but fuck it—I’m writing it anyway. The point is that in order to be the Penny Arcade of niche animé, you’ll have to either split the workload, or become godly at both writing and art.

    In any case, I’d have to say that writing is much, much more important than art. If you want more readers, the writing is what you should work on. Again, IMO.

  22. as: I think I probably need to work on shading more, too. I also think they look pretty flat.

    wildarmheero: I know you’re a troll, but I feel I need to address this. The joke was more about the main guy than it was the shitting dick nipples. I don’t visit 4chan anymore, so I don’t know the memes, I just heard about the SDNs in a channel I frequent. Also, considering they’re talking about the past, wouldn’t it make sense to reference old memes? Troll better plz.

    Anon.rar: GC’s name only happened because I was dumb and 13 when I made it and it didn’t know what it meant. When I did I kicked myself for like 4 years while making that comic. That comic was probably more loose since it was more or less made of injokes between my HS friends and me, and that can basically never come back. We’ve all moved on, and this current comic represents more who I am now.

    Rest will be addressed in another blog post.

  23. Pocket Nerd says:

    I like your webcomic, and I’m picky about the ones I read. Yeah, that sounds snobby, being picky about a goddamned free service, but if I kept reading every webcomic that made me laugh once, I’d have 80 or 90 bookmarks in my webcomics folder. Your comic is consistently good– enough so that I check it every day.

    Could your comic improve? Well, of course. But nobody pops out of the womb writing bestselling novels or painting famous pictures. Those come with practice. But you’ve already got the spark, the *soul* that makes a creative endeavor good, and that’s something you can’t buy or learn if you don’t already have it. Sadly, there’s a lot of soulless shit out there, even among professional comic artists. (Note to Bil Keane: GET SOME NEW FUCKING MATERIAL.)

  24. Andrew Jacob Leopin says:

    Hallo.
    The Good: like Pocket Nerd already said, your webcomic has a certain soul, as if some of your otaku essence has escaped from your being and somehow found its way onto your computer. I like your art, mainly because its a hell of a lot better than anything I could ever do (I can only draw things in a front-standing pose, and even then, not that well). But seriously, its good stuff (especially Tina; the only reason I don’t fap to her is because I live with other people and as such don’t get much alone time). Your writing is not the best I’ve ever seen among webcomics, true, but its as good as it needs to be; it fulfills its purpose rather niftily. Another thing, and this I must thank you for, is that your webcomic makes me do research when you use a reference that I don’t understand or don’t know about; thus, I learn more about the world of anime than I previously knew. Mistakes of Youth keeps me coming back, checking it every day. It doesn’t matter to me that you update once a week; such a thing just increases my eagerness to see the next comic. It has happened more than once that the weight of a bad day has been eased by your comic, drawing much-needed laughter out of my sadness.

    Bad: you could update more. Personally, once-a-week doesn’t bother me, but what the hey, it couldn’t hurt, you know?

    Finally, you’re way too hard on yourself. Ease up a bit. In my time on the Internet, I’ve seen some pretty shitty webcomics, where I couldn’t stand the writing, the art, the characters, any of it; in other words, tragically complete heaps of crap. But you, you do not belong anywhere near those. Your place is in the ranks of those webcomics that can be known as being entertaining or worthwhile. Never forget this.

    Keep up the good work and never give up!

  25. Jusuchin says:

    Hmm, what can I say…

    I’ve only been following for a few weeks. But I can understand the update thing. Megatokyo got me used to it, the fact I’m also in college and have basically no time to watch anime (le-gasp) makes me understand your release schedules.

    As for the art and stuff, the art to me is a refreshing move from the few webcomics I visit, and eversince Gone with the Blastwave is kinda on…unknown amount of time hiatus, I need something to balance out the nicely drawn stuff I usually read. The script, although kinda a bit more out there, tends to be the same things my friends and I talk about…and I really like your ‘niche in a niche’ thing. It just goes to show me that not everyone in America watches Cartoon Network and Naruto, Bleach, and InuYasha. (Bleach is ok for me because of one thing: Uryu)

    In the whole scheme of things, you may have a small memberbase, but I really like this comic. I dunno…I somewhat relate to Rets alot…

    >>;;

  26. BoukenLou says:

    I love the comic the way it is. There are times when you reference Anime that I don’t recognize and therefore the joke/reference/commetary goes right over my head but that just lights a fire under my ass to go find then watch the Anime in question.

    Although its counterproductive to the sucess of your site, I say fuck the Naruto, Pokemon, Blood+ mainstreamers and keep up what you are doing now.

  27. Lillian says:

    Hi.

    I came here on my search for new webcomics to read, and seeing that you’re asking for feedback in your latest blog entry (at least the one corresponding to your last comic), I thought I’d give it a go.

    You’re writing about very specific, non-mainstream anime – anime I, for the most part, don’t even know about – so I can’t really give you any advice about writing. (You do seem to have a very specific idea where you want to go with that, however, so I guess you don’t need that anyway ^^;).
    You also mentioned you wanted to attract more readers… That might prove a bit difficult. You’re targeting a very niche group, so the topics as well as jokes might not make too much sense for anyone not familiar with the kind of anime you’re writing about. Going for more general topics would certainly help. On the other hand, the readers you already have like the comic for its non-mainstreamness and might not like too much changes in topics and jokes.

    I agree with you on your characters, especially the “soulless vessels” bit. Might sound harsh, but there. It would be nice to have some defining character traits. Especially Tina needs some of those. It’s nice to have a female character in a comic such as this (’cause, yeah, there actually are female anime fans, and some of them do like niche anime >_>), and she would be awesome if she had character traits other than “cute” and “wish fulfillment”. I admit I haven’t read all of the comics, but for the most part all she does is ask questions and smile prettily/somewhat embarrased at what Rets says. Except for comic 66, that is – that was her most interesting moment.
    Personally, plot/jokes and characters are much more important to me as a reader than artwork. Even if the art is brilliant, if the characters are inconsistent and the plot or the jokes are boring, I can’t bring myself to read a comic on a regular basis.

    Speaking of art… That certainly needs work. It’s not the style itself – the anatomy of the characters seems somewhat off, sometimes the shadows are too harsh. The characters tend to look a little flat. The colors are good, though.

    On the update question: As long you update regularly, take your time to make the comic as perfect as you can. Nothing puts me more off than frequent delays or inconsistent update schedules (*pointed look at megatokyo*), but I don’t mind a slow update rate if the comic is worth it.

    Wow, that turned out longer than I intended it to. To sum it up:
    I see a lot of things that need much improvement, but as your rant suggests you are aware of those things and are already working on them, I’d say there’s potential there too.
    Put some work into the foundations and the characters and don’t be afraid to experiment in your next comics.

    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind a complete stranger waltzing in and commenting way too long on your comic… ^^; Ganbatte ne ^^

  28. I’ve followed both GC And MOY from pretty much their beginings. Your art has come on leaps and bounds and I feel that, although some of the jokes go over my head slightly, the writing still has a core humor in it that transcends anime fandom. Is Rets a self insert ‘soulless vessel’? Not if he really an avatar for your views and indeed our guide through the events in the strip. The question you have to ak yourself is-If Penny Arcade is the level to which you aspire-can you deliver? Updates wise story wise and art wise. Will it meet YOUR standards?
    As for the writing-if you need a guest strip or something drop me a message. I’m bored off my ass since my comic seems to be doing jack all with our artist taking a massive time out from art and me having the drawing skills of a retarded crackbaby.

    And about /d/-you just did 3 years of therapy. Thanks. Bastard.

  29. 0okami says:

    I think its going fine. Art is good, jokes are good and right on!
    I really laughed at the ko’jikan mention so true. I would not mind seeing more mentione of 4chan.

    IMO, your right on track.

  30. That Guy says:

    Hallo. I’m a long-time Gundam fan that came here… somehow? Maybe I was looking for Char’s famous quote, maybe it was a link through /m/. Anyhow, I was hooked from the first comic, referencing a very relatable situation. I went through the archives, took in the rantings, and still watch the page for updates and lawls. Although I’ve enjoyed the comic very much, it has its shortcomings. These come in the form of writing and art.

    Writing:
    The first noticeable issue is that the characters need… character. Their dialogue sounds flat and, especially in the case of Tina, robotic. Rets sounds like an attempt to get your feelings across on a subject in three panels, while Tina is placed in there to play catch with the conversation. Sometimes you add the angry hot potato between Rets and Brad, but even that is not really played with in an interesting fashion. Highly obscure references are expected with a niche within a niche. However, it appears that sometimes you either try to jam too much or too little into a comic, not giving enough focus to the actual joke. This destroys your comic timing. Of course, I understand how difficult it is to convey a thought in a limited-panel comic strip. The best place to look for the way to do it right, though, is Penny Arcade. Gabe and Tycho take a comical concept and run with it, hitting it out with character-defining dialogue and images. Even if it’s a one-time character, he’s unique. Instead of trying too hard to explain a reference and completely tell a deep opinion in three panels, each comic is accompanied with a splendidly written and sometimes equally comical newspost. This explains the perspective the writer is coming from, along with a more realistic look (as the comics usually depict heavily exaggerated feelings on the subject). Both the comic and the newspost can exist standalone, the comic doesn’t need the post to exist and be very funny, the post doesn’t sound like a heavy-winded rant, and it doesn’t deteriorate the comic, even enhancing it. You don’t need to treat your newspost like this, though. This is just a method with a high rate of success. In review, pay more attention to character interaction and how they speak, fleshing out who they are without needing a character page. Also look at your timing and trimming the comic for a streamlined and funny joke.

    Art:
    Simply put, your characters look flat and have really odd bodies. Most of the time it looks like the head is pasted in front of the neck, which itself is two sticks coming out of the shirt or collarbone. It doesn’t help that the faces look like they’re squashed between glass from any angle and the bodies are just cardboard. You’ve probably heard it before, but anatomy is immensely important. Rets’s poofy clothes sometimes seem like an attempt to skip having to define the shape of his body. Tina needs some help with the overall female form. Her breasts just look… weird. Even though your drawings seem to lack, your use of colors and backgrounds takes the comic a great distance and keeps it pleasing to the eyes. Your nice, 3D backgrounds make the flatness of your characters a bit more noticeable, though. In the end, give your characters form. Don’t make them just a bunch of lines.

    As I stated before, I really like the colors of the comic and the backgrounds. Additionally, your wordless comics are some of my favorites. Don’t take my comments too hard, I really enjoy Mistakes of Youth. May it continue and grow into something truly great.

  31. Yeah, Penny Arcade gets it pretty right these days.

    Your points about the writing are right on the money, and I’m trying to employ such techniques in these latest scripts I’m doing.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I personally like it how it is, if only because it’s the only comic I know of with a sense of humor similar to /a/’s.

  33. This is actually quite a coincidence, given I hardly ever visit 4chan. Apparently I have something of a readership over there…

  34. Xenos says:

    4chan referencing web comics in MY Porter Square cafes?

    It’s more likely than you think.

    Actually, I wasn’t a fan of the ramen place, but that’s just more my personal taste. I prefer the Tampopo tempura place, Ittyo
    (which a friend actually worked at), or Cafe Mami. A bunch of friends have been going sometimes weekly to Porter for years. To think 4chan browsing web comic creators are there. Scary.

  35. I’m pretty new to Porter Square, and still sampling. A friend of mine took me out to Cafe Mami and I really liked, and have even been there on my own. If you know any other good places down there, let me know!