I was sent two review copies of Robert Walters’ book The Lunar Antics Presents: Boy I’d Hate to be Made out of That Stuff! To be honest I have been putting off this review because I really did not enjoy the book. I hate to disparage something that someone else created because it takes so much to be creative. It also takes a lot to put a book together and print it and sell it.
Comedy is subjective and what one person finds funny other people don’t. I read through this book of comic strips and was not amused, I didn’t laugh and not one of them felt like something I’d share with friends. I am a comic strip fan. I collect all of Charles’ Schulz works, Calvin and Hobbes and others. I also like web comics and read 15 different strips each day.
The Story: Where is the story, it is contained on the back of the book and even that is a thin premise. The characters are not really well defined or introduced. No build up, no storytelling, just pun after pun.
The writing: While the strips are pretty accessible so they are available to anyone they just did not strike me as funny. Maybe it was that there were many puns and corny things but mostly it did not hold my attention. I did not read strip after strip and see marked improvement in storytelling.
The characters: Bland, poorly developed and contrived. The leader is egotistical, the human is dumb in one strip and smart in another, there is a token female character and two additional characters. The back of the book tells you about the characters but in the strips it is sometimes hard to tell them apart.
The art: Read page one and flip to the last page. Do you see any difference in the characters? Do you see the mark of improvement in the art? I didn’t. One thing that I have noticed in reading many comic strips over the years is that creators improve their craft the more strips they create. These strips are crudely drawn and did not improve over time.
I can’t say whether I was more distracted by the uninspired writing or the high school doodling art style. I was looking forward to reading this book but once I did I was not that excited.
With all of that being said and I do not like writing negative reviews. I can say that this book might appeal to a kid who is just getting into reading comics and who appreciates puns. Everyone has to start somewhere. I started reading Garfield way back in grade school and for some reason found it funny. My 10 year old self might have enjoyed The Lunar Antics, however my grown up self did not.
How I’d improve the strip.
I know I wasn’t asked for my advice but this is what I would do. I’d completely redesign http://www.lunarantics.com as a web comic site. I’d allow a rating system for each strip and a comments area. Right now it looks like when a strip is done it gets tweeted out (by every character simultaneously (@LunarAntics, @LunarAnticsDrus, @LunarAnticsLind, @LunarAnticsProf, @LunarAnticsZeno and @LunarAnticsZeno). Stop doing that. It is spammy and doesn’t add a thing to the Twitter conversation. Here is why it looks bad. Each character follows more people that are following them. If the strip were better then the follow/follower counts would probably sway the other way with more people wanting to follow what was happening in the strip.
There is a twitter account for the strip, that is a good place to promote the strip and interact with readers. I’d just leave it at that because unless you are tweeting as each character having conversations as the character with people on Twitter then it is just promotional spam. There is a way to promote the strip as the characters and there is a wrong way to do it. The way it is being done right now leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
There is a facebook fan page too with only one fan, the author. Why not build that up by posting strips to the page and getting fans. That way you would get more feedback on your work.
At this time, the whole site centers around selling the book. Make the site someplace where you can get direct feedback your work. I think that this idea needed more incubation time, tighter storytelling and improved art. Where is the about the author page?
I said it earlier, Comedy is subjective, you can view the strips for yourself and decide if you think they are funny. I’ve read posts by other bloggers who got the book and they even state that they were rolling on the floor. You be the judge.
So, I have two copies of the book, a finished one and a review copy, the only difference is that one has some color pages). If you have a child who is just getting into comic strips and would like a safe, non-threatening set of characters who enjoy puns then leave me a comment on this post and let me know that you’d like a copy. I’ll choose two random winners next week.
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