|Original review author:||yaouhuntressearth|
|Author:||Starline X Hodge|
|Start Date:||25th of June, 2004|
|Defining Flaw:||Lazy art and writing from a creator who should know better.|
|Things that are fucking terrible about this webcomic:||Gradually worsening art, unlikeable, self-absorbed cast whose personalities flip-flop on a whim.|
|Things that aren't terrible but could use improvement:||I really liked Jesse before her character assassination.|
|Summary:||A victim of one too many soap operas, Candi's overall product just recks of laziness.|
When I first saw ads for this comic and learned that Starline is also a mixed-race female who’s an art major, it sounded like something worth looking into. But the problem is that I feel like she’s just making too many shortcuts and mistakes that it hurts her product.
Story and Plot
Candi is about lives and loves of the title character, Candi, and her friends who all live in a dorm house. Having deep soap opera and 90's Aaron Spelling production roots, the comic is full of bed-hopping, backstabbing and alliances between a bunch of self-absorbed people. There's also the occasional attempt at throwing oddball moments like the Squirrel Mafia and the Sexy Police which were probably taken for anime comedies. She also has a psionic ferret named Menjou that has problems of his own.
Although it was an okay comic at first, things really start to fall with the first appearance of the Squirrel Mafia. You see, Jesse (one of Candi's friends) was recently revisited by her schizophrenic brother who wanted to bury the hatchet with her. Since the brother was first established as someone who felt bad about how his mental disease made him try to kill her as a child, was getting help and wanted to start over with her only to be rejected (which I can't blame her for).
Strips later Starline hints that he took a job at the college fair that his sister was going to attend. So it would be fair to expect this would be a storyline about a screwed-up, guilt-ridden young man who would do anything to get his sister to forgive him only to have him be turned into a cartoon-ish psychotic villain whose being controlled by evil squirrels that are using the cast as pawns to get back at Menjou. I'm sorry but for me it ruined what was established before and makes the brother's mental disease nothing more than a joke. Maybe I’m just a realist about this stuff, but if you’re going to handle something like a traumatizing mental disorder and you’re doing a mostly slice-of-life comic, don’t treat it like a plot device.
Unlike Sohmer and Buckley, Starline is actually a pretty nice person who even gave the LJ where we made fun of her comic an advance one so we "could feel free to critique it". I definitely give her credit for taking her critics well, but I think she could try harder, take the advice and broaden her horizons.
A lot of the comic is based off Starline's own time in college with Candi being the one based the most off her. The whole Linda-Alex-Candi love triangle is even based off a friend (who Linda portrays) that stole her boyfriend from her. While there's nothing wrong with doing this, Linda's character seems to get the biggest blunt of the unfavorable portrayals and bad karma in the story while Starline will go out of her way to make sure Alex's (Candi's selfish and manipulative ex-lover) sins are glossed over. I can understand the hurt of a back-stabbing friend, but when you're doing something that's so heavily based off your own life you might want to step back or have someone look at your story so it doesn't seem like a revenge piece.
While I have a fair tolerance to sub-par art in webcomics, because even the ones that start off with horrid like Questionable Content and Masters of the Art gradually got better, but Candi does not. Even after four years, the style has hardly changed a bit. We still get facial features that are squished together and out of place, people having the same head shape, bad body proportions, overly simplistic and overdone expressions and while she's starting to use some perspective in her background objects, there's no shadows. To tell you the truth I think her art might've gotten worse in some places. The coloring these days is the biggest culprit. The color in the Alex and Candi's hair will leak out into their foreheads in this comic, giving them a "headband". Which is a shame because she didn’t have coloring problems like this before.
The reason I’m being harder on Starline is that she actually graduated with an art degree and should know better. Then again, like me, her art degree has more of a digital focus and while I’m definitely no Mike Turner, you’d think she’d at least try to improve her work over time and develop her own style. It's frustrating because you know she can and has done better, but refuses to. The stuff you learn in those classes (perspective, proportions, and shading) is rarely used in the comic. Judging how she tends to portray Candi’s art professor (and oddly, the only one she has) as a picky, head-screwing jerk who doesn’t understand the main character’s artistic vision and wants her to focus on stuff that isn't anime, I have a feeling she didn’t want to listen herself and really didn’t learn anything. I’ve had my beefs with some of my professors, but we usually came to an agreement and sometimes I had to swallow my pride and listen
Don’t worry; the writing will get its due. Tearing off all the anime-style candy shell, it’s just another dull, bed hopping teen drama with a college atmosphere and no parents. Now humor can be a tricky one and while Candi tries, it doesn't do the job. Things like the psionic animals and sexy police just clash with the rest of the comic's more dramatic aspects. Some stories can get away with mixing craziness and drama, but they work to make these elements fit and try to balance the two. Just throwing it in there will not make you funny or unique.
The dramatic stuff which is the usual staple of Candi fails to impress because it not only has the tendency to drag, look foolish and the characters go through enough face-heel changes to rival a month's worth of professional wrestling scripts. Because of this the characters end up being inconsistent and unlikable because the heel-turns are so over the top with the bad character acting like a total sociopath. Going back to my old review, I'll let Linda off since she never had a real boyfriend and when she learned that Alex (Candi's boyfriend at the time) wasn't that bad of a guy and felt that he was interested in her that she'd even throw friendship aside to get what she wanted. My problem with the series is that so many of the characters are incredibly selfish and willing to kick people when they're down and will turn around and act like they did nothing wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with having a selfish, backstabbing character or two, but if almost everyone in the cast’s (except for Candi) answer to their relationship woes is to thoughtlessly ignore the feelings of other person (at best) or purposely hurt them (at worst) that’s when things get unlikable. Even Jesse, the only character I liked in this comic and actually cheered for when she started trusting men and letting people touch her after all the crap her brother put her through. She thought of others, wanted nothing to do with the pettiness and manipulation of all the love triangles around her, had a good head on her shoulders and decided that she wanted love and her feelings for Chris seemed genuine. But the second her and Chris finally have sex she tosses him aside and treats him like he doesn't exist. And when Candi tells her how hurt he is, she proudly admits that it was all a plan to dump him once she got her curiosity of sex out of her system and that since he was a skirt-chaser it gave her the right to hurt him. As the crowning blow, brags how she will still use him for sex no matter how much it hurts him. I'd understand if Chris was the kind that cruelly abandon his conquests, but it seems to me that the girls he banged knew what they were getting into and he was still on good terms with them which makes Jesse even more strangle-worthy.
Maybe I just see a little of myself in Starline that I have a weird bond with this webcomic and think that just maybe she has some potential if she were grow-up a bit, broaden her media horizons and put more effort into her work.
Place links pertaining to the webcomic here.
- [www.candicomics.com The comic itself.]