Welcome to Dark Horse, the first installment of the Crystal Lotus Chronicles!
Dark Horse follows the journey of two teens, Kanna and Rhina, and their group of warriors in their bid to save the world from an evil demon and her plans to unleash the Dark Horse, an ancient seven headed beast from age long passed…
I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoy sharing it! If you ever have questions or comments, I welcome you to leave your thoughts, or contact me!
One quick warning:
This comic has mature themes including foul language, nudity, sex, and violence. In later acts, there are also events which may trigger traumatic episodes for some readers. When we reach these acts, out of respect for anyone with these sensitivities, I will have the page automatically upload to a warning page that then links to the most recently updated page. There will also be a permanent warning page set before those acts for anyone joining us following publication of these acts.
And now, let us go where “man’s eyes have never set foot…”
I hope it doesn’t sound too harsh, but your story needs a LOT of work in the writing department. So much of Dark Horse makes so little sense to me, and I’ve read everything published thus far twice. Put it bluntly, you seem to have some issues with foreshadowing and introducing conflict without relying on Contrived Coincidence*.
I’ll be leaving comments in the coming weeks with my observations. Be warned that I don’t mince words when it comes to writing critiques, but know I speak only out of kindness.
*I am a big TV Tropes fan.
Hey there Ember Blaze!
I have a pretty tough shell, so I’m sure your critique may sting (critiques often do), but if you are taking the time to leave comments, I will take them into consideration and answer questions where I can.
I also thank you in advance for your time. While critique is not solicited, I actually do appreciate the time it takes and how much people invest in them. So I will think things over and work on improving in the future! (Some stuff may make more sense much later since time travel is involved, but that isn’t an excuse, so I welcome your comments).
Thank you for advanced warning and for your time!
*Your comments may take a bit of time to show, because I have to approve them individually due to spam/robot comments I get. I will try to approve them as fast as I can get to them, just FYI.
Thanks for replying and greenlighting my future critiques, and for the heads-up on comment screening. I’m glad to hear that you’re at least willing to give them a chance. (I also hope you don’t mind my advance warning. I’ve left earnest, thorough critiques in the past that went completely ignored by authors, so I’ve learned not to spring critical comments on people unless they explicitly okay it.)
A few things I should note:
1. Feel free to let me know if my comments and critiques are overly harsh and/or unhelpful. You’ve probably already planned out a significant portion of the major story beats at the very least, and to be blunt, I don’t want to waste my time trying to point out the story’s (still very fixable!) flaws if the conversation ultimately boils down to “let’s just agree to disagree”/”don’t like my story, don’t read.”
2. Let me know a) if you’re familiar with TV Tropes jargon and b) if yes, how comfortable you would be with my frequent usage of Troper terms. (I reference TV Tropes a lot both online and off, but I realize not everyone visits TV Tropes often or even at all.)
3. I won’t leave comments on every page, only on the ones where I have something to say. I’ll generally focus on characterization, pacing, plot, and dialogue (with an emphasis on highlighting typos and stylistic issues), but I may occasionally point out issues with the art. (I might leave comments on the Cast page as well.)
Also, I just want to be honest: when I first read this page, I thought it was super hype. I enjoyed the ominous imagery of the prophecy, the subtle nod to the Dark Horse Nebula in the background, and your use of verse (I’m ill at verses so I can’t identify the scheme). This was the page that captured my interest in Dark Horse. Everything that followed after…lost it.
I’ll respond to each point to keep myself from babbling too much XD
1) Will do. Like all people, I will initially have that emotional gut reaction. But, I also think and reflect before I respond. I take critique seriously (sincere critique, not trolling, which I don’t get the troll vibe from you). Some things are planned out, but much is being reworked since I have literally been working on this since 2003, and many of my scripts are dated and being rewritten (some story beats of course will remain the same). In some cases, much of what’s going on will be explained, but at the same time, I know I have pacing issues (I’m going to be editing Act 10 soon. Over on ComicFury, the acts I haven’t redrawn are still up (Awakenings, Ceremony, and Time Warp), but last year I decided to go on hiatus to focus full force on redrawing old pages and fixing things: so now is a great time for critiques since I’m still working on Act 10. It will be a good barometer for me to see what’s confusing so I can work things into the story more naturally. Long and the short: I’ll take a serious look at your commentary to see if I’ve planned answers, and if I can or should offer more information sooner. You’ve already given me a lot to chew on. I can’t promise I can make changes to old pages (I’m sure you understand, re-working pages several times over is an endless cycle: trust me, I’ve redone Act 1 three times since 2005, each time to the best of my ability, and each time a *tiny* bit better than before), but I can promise I’ll keep things that are confusing in my mind to try to answer in pages to come. I hope that’s fair for your time.
2) I have visited TV tropes a few times, and while I’m not familiar with all the jargon, I will look things up there. I figured what contrived coincidences were without the TV tropes page, but I also referenced it for more context. And I can see why things are coming off that way: as you mentioned, it’s a foreshadowing issue. These things (many of them) will be explained, but as I agreed: I’ve got pacing issues for sure! And even when we think we know a subject, there’s usually more to learn. So I’ll use your comments as places to reference on TV Tropes and get more familiar with the website.
3) Thank you in advance for this. Each year I try to focus/research a specific place improve, and pacing is on my list for 2023. But I also try to work on everything a bit before I start doing additional research. Any feedback you give, I’ll be trying my best to understand and improve!
And thank you for your comment on what lost you. Well, thank you for the complement on my introduction/prologue. Again, if I could I’d try to redo Act One. But as a compromise, after I read your commentary, I could work in a short preface/prologue that incorporates a few non-spoilers and your critique.
I have been doing a lot of zine shorts of late, and I think that since an event in my personal life has come to its close, I could have time to do something pretty that help guides us into Act One.
Thank you, once more.
Thanks for responding to my points! And no worries; I also tend toward prolixity myself.
1) Valid, and I definitely get where you’re coming from. It’s far too easy for people to tear into a creative work simply because they’re not satisfied with it, when doing so erases the humxn* being on the other end of the screen. Also, thanks for acknowledging that I’m not a troll! I’ll do my best to take an even-keeled and objective approach, since I’ll admit I tend to lean on sarcasm in excess and forget to offer praise. And do let me know if you’d rather I take the critiques to a one-on-one channel, such as email; I don’t want to dominate the comments section with my feedback.
On the matter of revising your material, it’s great that you’re willing to engage in that process as you grow as a creator! I honestly had no idea that Dark Horse and its subsequent parts have been in development for so long, but it just goes to show how much work goes into creative works long before they reach the public. That said, you should probably keep the older, non-revised pages as they are, barring any necessary changes to remove typos or iron out plot holes and inconsistencies. Revising your older pages will erase not just the history of your work as it evolves artistically and narratively, but also your own history as a creator honing their skills in real time. (Sort of like how Gunnerkrigg Court started off with crude and awkward art, but is now much easier on the eyes.)
As for potentially confusing plot points, thanks for being willing to offer explanations in advance. Hopefully my responses to the plot will spark useful discussions!
2) Oh awesome, you’re OK with TV Tropes! I always have to ask in case people aren’t familiar with the site or fond of it for any reason. I’ll do my part and review tropes before I include them to avoid Square Peg, Round Trope (aka misattributing tropes where they don’t apply).
About foreshadowing: I don’t disagree! There’s one major, highly confusing example I’ll highlight when I get to that page. (It has to do with Rhiannon/Rin.)
3) Nice! Kudos to you for continually seeking opportunities to improve your craft. You should definitely keep it up!
4) You’re welcome, and by the way, typo alert: it’s “compliment.” (I hope my compliments weren’t too vague.)
As I mentioned before, I would argue against revising Act One so your audience can see how you’ve improved over the course of the story, aside from excising typos or correcting story-breaking beats. It may be more efficient and elegant to incorporate relevant information about the world and conflicts as if you’re learning about them alongside the characters, while the prologue might, say, give us a glimpse of how the anthropogenic pandemic and fae/demon wars intersect long before Kandace/Kanna and Rin get involved. (Maybe something about fae and demons disguised as humxn epidemiologists from rival research labs or pharmaceutical companies?)
Two other things I want to bring up in closing:
1. I do have some thoughts on the cast and synopsis pages, but since there are no comment fields for either, I may send them through email instead.
2. While I’m not formally trained as a sensitivity reader, I would like to bring up areas where Dark Horse may exhibit issues with diversity, representation, equity, and inclusion (or DREI* as I like to think of them) as I review each page. Let me know if you’d be okay with that. (I’ve had experiences pointing out racist, sexist, etc behavior to authors who ignored my feedback.)
As always, thank you for your time and attention.
*Is anyone else amused that the German word for “three” has four letters? Oh wait, but the English word has five…how odd.
I don’t mind help with sensitivity reading: and in many cases I welcome it. Although I will preface this by saying many of my characters are based on and named after people I’ve known and/or lived with (with slight name changes out of respect for them). In other cases I have been doing as much research as I can without being obtrusive/disrespectful to people (Oisin’s accent needs work, I know that, but it’s intentional that he sounds more Scottish than Irish). That said, I want to hear it because I could totally just be unaware of how things are coming off.
Some of this might end up running into spoiler territory, though, so comment on the page if you like, and I can email you if it’s something that’s being done intentionally to make a point later. I have a feeling a lot of stuff brought up may include spoilers, including someone in Rin’s dream which is intentionally misleading…
My email is email@example.com.
I’ll try to bunch things into maybe one email a week or more sparse, depending on when you comment. I’m sure you’ve got a lot going on and I don’t want to spam your email. Reading back over, I know there are typos, and I haven’t uploaded the edited pages from acts 2 & 3 yet just due to time (some edits I caught when this went to print. Some I didn’t XD C’este la vie, I’ll upload those when I get the chance, whiiiiich won’t be until probably months or early next year).
XD Yeah, it’s funny how language’s natural evolution didn’t take letter count versus meaning into account XD. I wonder how we would say one? Besides “a” singling things out…I guess (I better not hurt my brain thinking this one out).
I think it’s insane the human mind can even remember so many words, and even then words in the living language evolve and change over time. One thing I found fascinating was how “doubt” used to mean both “to believe” and “to disbelieve,” which just adds so much more word play into Hamlet. But even now, the word “literally” has evolved into meaning the literal and meaning its opposite “figuratively” just due to the over use of hyperbole XD XD It drives my partner nuts, but I think…while it’s frustrating, it’s also so cool because that’s the sign of a living language XD
Sorry to nerd out. I love words. Interesting you brought that up about the numbers XD If you watch YouTube and love language, you might check out PBS’s “Otherwords” series. It’s really fun.
Sensitivity reading: Good to know you’re okay with it! And good to know that you’re doing research to avoid stereotypes and misrepresentation as well. I’ve sadly seen authors pull a Dan Brown and claim they did their homework when their work shows otherwise.
Real-life inspirations: That makes sense, and you’re definitely not alone there. That said, I’ve read works where the authors a) used a fictional character to malign someone they knew in real life (right down to using the target’s full name for their character, wtf) or b) created a character inspired by an acquaintance, but for some reason wrote the character as a complete and bigoted Jerkass (also wtf). So, uh, please don’t be offended if I call out any of your characters for jerkassery or bigotry. I wouldn’t know your friends, family, and acquaintances as you do, or know the difference between them as real people and their fictional incarnations.
Accent: I didn’t know Oisin was supposed to be Irish but speaking with a Scottish accent. Good to know! It sounds like the reasons for his accent might spoil the plot, so I’ll leave any further remarks on his character for the pages where he does appear.
Spoilers: I don’t mind; thanks for the heads up! But I should probably mention that the Dream (yes, capitalized) wasn’t what I had in mind. I’ll leave a comment on the relevant pages soon to explain what I mean. (Keeping it vague here to avoid spoilers.)
Language nerdery: YES I’ve found a kindred spirit! But giddiness aside, I don’t want to take over the comments here. I’ll respond to off-topic stuff elsewhere, to be considerate of other readers. (Yes, I know, ha ha I was the one who brought it up…)
Gotcha. Will be responding to your email (but it’s hard to keep things concise XD I’ve been working on it for two days. Will respond to other comments first.