Dominic Deegan
Original review author: William Seagate
Webcomic name: Dominic Deegan
Author: Michael "Mookie" Terracciano
Start Date May 21, 2002
End Date Ongoing
Genre Drama, Comedy
Circle of Webcomics Hell residence Ninth Circle
Things that are fucking terrible about this webcomic: Weak, plain characters and story; pretentious writing, ranting and strawman arguments; impaired, lazy "animu"-style drawing; apparent resistance from the author to improve his methods.
Things that aren't terrible but could use improvement: Perhaps if we ever get to slap Mookie hard enough, he'll bother to actually improve his art and story crafting. I also like the fact that he has the discipline and constance to update almost flawlessly all these years, regardless quality.
Summary: A lengendary bad webcomic, Dominic Deegan is the quite the list of things you shouldn't do when making a comic (or any sort of art). You can't really put it any simpler.

Background

So hey, maybe if one day you get real lazy and start drawing out stupid connections, you could come to the conclusion that bad webcomics are like dictatorships. The author is really the only authority in carrying the comic, and his work and desicions are final. Dissent, though widely possible and supposely smiled-upon, is never really welcome. In fact, supporters of the "regime" will likely chase detractors around, as they fear losing their influence on the comic. It scares me to keep drawing lines, so I'll stop here.

Consider Dominic Deegan not only as a bad webcomic, but a perfect fit for the dictatorship analogy. You see, dictatorships are not only consdered bad, but they always eventualy collapse for their tendency to stagnation. Dominic Deegan's biggest sin, in my opinion, is stagnation: how despite running for more than 7 years, it continues to have the same bad art, bad plot, bad characters, and stubborn ranting style. Reviewers may point it out, fans may request it, and people like us may scream bloody murder for it, but Mookie just carries on without any change. His flawed and useless characters, his pretentious writing, his convulted stroyline and his severely downgrade art are perpetuated by his stubborn treatment to criticism. Under Mookie's ruling, Dominic Deegan will likely continue this decadence forever to its final consequences, unless he manages to clear his ears for something other than praise.

Story and Plot

Warning: Spoilerific!

"Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire" is story of Dominic Deegan, who is a Seer (huh?). Originally, he used his talents for providing advice to the common folk of Lynn's Brook. He one day got involved with the Travoria household after the matriach cursed Dominic and he sought to steal the antidote. There, he met and saved daughter Luna, a sorcerer resigned to loneliness and suicide due to her front teeth sticking out like tusks. He later was joined by his brother, the white mage Gregory, and commonly crosses with a vast cast of characters. After conflicting with the ignorant and racist inhabitants of Lynn's, he moved out. He has had increasing encounters with evil forces: The Chosen, necromancers, greedy aristocrats, corrupt authorities and politicians, people who disagree with him, bigots, racists, and even creatures from Hell and other planes of existence.

During a moment of relative calm, Dominic and Luna moved together to a house in Barthis, a town they saved in more than one occasion and was in love with them. Gregory moved with Pam, a conventional nurse that became mayor of said town. Luna and Dominic became involved in a prestigious college, but after several shakedowns and changes, Dominic found himself without job and Luna with unstable relations with her research colleagues (a crazy scientist, a jealous Fantastic 4 ripoff, a testy woman idealist, and an overly-drunk and mentally scarred ork). In spite of it all, they compromised for marriage, and won some vacations throughout the world to prevent Deegan from cracking into madness. The current storyline deals with the situation in Hell and the misterious decay of the plains of Maltak, native homeland of the orks, which so far was avoided by the characters through such vacations and everybody's excessive introversion.

Downfall

I wouldn't say the comic fell down at a certain point. It did sink in writing quality (the Storm of Souls is, sadly, its highest point), and its plots and characters numerously jumped the shark, but all that can be expected. The problem is that we never see a significant improvement in the comic that justifies 7 years of continuous work. SEVEN YEARS. What has changed since then? The plot has become increasingly violent and serious, making comedy seem grossly out of place, and the 4/8-panel strip format very improper. The drawing did become slightly smoother and occasionaly colored, but it never dropped its characteristic shortcomings. Other than that, nothing in the comic's format has proven to be worthwhile. Dominic Deegan becomes stagnant and pointless, with nothing ever happening, and occasional controversy being the only thing that catches attention from the Internet.

Author biography

Mookie, born July 2, 1979, was a writer of some kind before beginning his comic. I haven't the slightest what sort of writer; the information listed on Wikipedia is, shall I say, less than helpful. Is he an English major? Is he a romance-drama novelist? Or was he a LiveJournal blogger? Probably the last, but since I'm just being pessimistic I'll say he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and won the Nobel Prize in literature for his groundbreaking work Boring Snoutface People and Wolf Furries Rape an Orc Princess.

Oh, holy shit, I misread Wikipedia. It says he was a waiter. Well, at least that makes more sense. I would think of him more like a pizza delivery guy, personally, but hey, you know. Since I'm trying to be nice here, I'll say he waited in Hell's Kitchen. At least that's a cool waiter job.

Anyway, eventually enough people started to pay him enough money that he didn't have to work anymore, and could spend his time working on his comic. Good thing, because apparently it takes more than four hours to construct a single comic. 8 panels a day, five days a week. And, of course, that's with no improvement in drawing style whatsoever. Apparently practice doesn't make perfect Mookie?

It is also said that he is friends with B^Uckley. Next up: Guest filler comic. Spoiler: Dominic has a miscarriage.

Art review

deegan1.jpg
Marker-colored drawings on a book cover? MSPaint Titles and text? The same shitty drawings we can get online for free?! GIMME TEN!!

The obvious thing to say of Dominic Deegan's art is that it's limited and uninspired. Heads, expressions, body builds, hairdos, clothing, backgrounds, all are extremely alike. It is common talk how one character (Garrit) looks so much like Dominic. I could point out 5, at the very least. One of Luna's sisters is her exact twin, minus the tusks. This is funny to Terracciano, even a plot point at times. Where I was born, this situation would be nothing short of a crisis. Deegan's unoriginal story doesn't begin to compete with its unorignal character designs. How is Garrit visually different from Deegan? How is Lynn's Brook visually different from Barthis? How are Infernomancers different from Necromancers?! They aren't, and it drives you mad! It makes the story amateurish and less credible. Mookie needs to take serious consideration into building his world so that characters don't feel like fucking clones.

The next thing to say is that the art style and formatting are bad and incompatible. We have a 4/8-panel strip format with daily Mon-Sun updates (on 2009, scehdule changed to Mon-Fri). This is a demanding format that requires fast writing of self-contained strips. This is commonly used for comedy strips, which rely on cartoonish, low-upkeep art, with only enough details at sight to deliver the joke. On the other hand, the motivation and art of Dominic Deegan points towards anime and drama, which call for a more articulate and sequencial storyline. This is accompained by detailed art in characters and backgrounds, as they must deliver realistic visuals that can express through sights and body language what is said and felt.

Pick any strip: Dominic Deegan is neither option. The format is a strange hybrid that fails any purpose. Where is the simple and funny comic we can pick up at any point in time? Probably deep into the climax of Story Arch 7, Chapter 1, Part 6. And where are the stunning visuals and intriguing storyline of our anime-inspired adventure? Probably somewhere in the cramped little box, behind the huge "FART" sign that explains us our sketchy little hero is feeling gassy. It's so limited, its insulting. Something must be avaliable to make it feel less like draft done on the back of a photocopy.

deegan2.gif
Here, we can appreciate how a guy who hated the original comic actually took more pains towards the details of it than the original creator.

Dominic Deegan's art has stagnated, to the point strips from 2003 are too similar to those from 2007. Expresions are still the same six variations, hairdos are still the three or four elemental builds, clothes are either anachronical or too ridiculous for any time frame. Shading and grays, or the lack of them, make it impossible to guess colors until he shows them in shocking contrast. Art has almost not evolved in all this time, something even the worst webcomics out there have done out of pure, hmm, inevitable human nature.

Trust me on that remark. If Scott from VGCats or Buckley from CAD could be helped to have worse art to save time drawing, they would. But amazingly, they have taken heart and improved. Scott has mastered his skills in digital drawing and introduced new production techniques to his comics. Buckley, lazy as he is, has updated his pallette of expresions, bodies, and backgrounds at least twice. Even Tom Fischbach of TwoKinds has climbed up in the art ladder and has shown the compromise and commitment to remaster his old pages to update them to his present style.

Can we say the same about Dominic Deegan? Even die-hard fans must know they could have it better. The guy colors with markers and crayons, not at all decently. His book covers seem like a 30-second trip to MSPaint. The fucking panels of the strips are clumsily traced by hand, and rows are normally tilted. I can't help but wonder HOW the strips look in the book. Does he do anything to improve them? Are they the same as online? If so, what's the trade-off of buying a book? Why not just spend an afternoon ripping his archive? I also got some weak animu shit I scribbled in strip format back in 2002. How much would you pay to see it, in a glossy marker-colored book cover?

Writing review

Oh, the writing…

It's not really that bad. The ideas are good. Some storylines and plotpoints are relatively interesting, and anyone can be impressed by the work he seems to have invested all these years into keeping the story moving. It's really hard to actually not like anything at all from Dominic Deegan, and it's really hard to not laugh at least once. He is, after all, human, and has the same chances of coming up with something good as anyone. However, the writing or its potential is bogged down by numerous defects. Since Luigiian must be after my blood for the length of the Art Review, we will trick the paragraph count with a rundown of bad characteristics of the comic's writing:

  • Its characters have a huge identity problem, which Mookie tries to heal through a bunch a tedious soul-searching monologues that try to define their motivations and beliefs. This, of course, makes them even more alike!
    • Everybody was struck by a horrible event at a tender age, thus scarring them for life.
    • Everybody hates somebody to the point of irractionality. Everybody as well is madly in love for someone. This drives to 99.9% of all twists and plot points.
    • Everybody will either die alone for its wickedness or pair up with someone and become good.
    • Everybody is personally affected by the present threat. Whether it's a band of thieves or a War in Hell, situations have the power to impact the whole fucking universe.
    • Everybody who is not on Dominic's side is either a one-dimentional strawman waiting to be pushed aside or ingnored, or some one-dimentional evil force waiting to be puched aside or ignored.
    • Everybody except Dominic is a fucking coward. They normally are not able to speak their mind directly and spend a whole day talking to some crude rendition of the person they want to speak to.
    • The former also applies to most people ON Dominic's side.
  • Strips are boringly predictable. The main typecasts are:
    • "Comedic" strips have only one type of joke: an alliteration at the last panel.
    • "Important" strips have only one type of twist: Dominic asking what could go wrong, just to be shocked by something.
    • "Dramatic" strips have only one type of tool: people crying about someone's death, about losing someone over something stupid, or because they try to sustain a self-reflecting monologue and fail miserably.
    • "Controversy" strips have only one type of outcome: Deegan, or the one closest to Deegan, pulls something out of his ass to barely outsmart a strawman character.
    • "Confrontation" strips (either verbally or physically) have only one type of result: after dragging on for more strips than DBZ stand-offs, heroes will magically (even to the comic's standards) get stronger and win.
    • Sunday strips had only one type of purpose: Making you wish you hadn't opened the website that day.
  • The plot is often convulted and complex, dialogues are boring and expositional, and solutions are often irrational:
    • While bad webcomics like VGCats drop their leads on the curb whenever they can, Deegan has such a big cast under the spotlight, it takes months to move along the plot, as ALL characters must be consulted first.
    • In a deserving anime fashion, heirarchies of evil people often become more and more extense as revelations keep piling up. Additional supporting characters bring additional generic backstories into play, and results are too hard to add up.
    • Most problems or explanations are often never hinted to the reader, never anticipated and never considered. Whatever explantion exists to a certain event is just made-up and revealed wholesale through some deus-ex-machina at the very end of the arch.
    • As a result of the former, the few bits and pieces already used are repeated to the extreme. Can you count how many times characters have toyed around with the concept of "assault"? Or how many times people have strived for "closure" in their lives? Or how often they make puns about "deus ex machina", "puns", and other meta-humor a 5th grader could find boring?
    • As a result of ALL SAID, countless strips have been wasted with exposition, summarizing, post-game explanation, and simple failures at character development. And the bad jokes. God… the bad jokes.
  • Finally, Dominic Deegan is the motherfucking god-character, ultimate Mary-Sue of Terracciano in the comic, and his word is the law handed down by God Mookie, bearer of the VERY IMPORTANT OPINIONS:
    • Mookie continously stacks the deck against dissent. When some strawman shows up with opinions contrary to Deegan or, god forbid, doesn't like Deegan himself, he's quickly downplayed, shut up, verbally abused and humiliated on a long list of apparent defects. But don't worry, nobody liked him anyway.
      • This later fact is most prominently shown with the rivarly between Celesto and Deegan. Celesto too wishes to change the world and rid it of ignorance, hate, and bigotry. However, since he has no patience for the meek that pollute the earth, he is played down as bad, following the wrong path towards change, and against Dominic. He also crowned under the principles of CHAOS, EVIL, and DARKNESS. Mookie does everything he can to convince you he is the OPPOSITE OF DEEGAN, therefore BAD.
    • Deegan is often given too much credit, is able to withstand any hardship, and reality is often thrown in the blender to make it possible for him to recover from any injuries. White Magic, Alterists, Proesthetic Replacement, and Vacations were all invented or first mentioned when Dominic needed them. He has no permanent weakness, other than susceptibility to embarass himself in every possible way.
      • An example of Deegan's apparent omnipotence is the Snowsong arc. In an arc in which he barely appears, a chick named Snowsong starts trying to destroy Barthis and is ultimately stopped by Gregory Deegan and his group of homies. However, in the most incredible display of arrogance, Dominic steps up to Mayor Pam and explains her how IT WAS ALL HIS IDEA, and weeks of strips are spent showing the backstory of the story we just saw: how he maneuvered Greg and all other people into the fight and he was THE PUPPET MASTER. Fuck this shit, for a moment I thought someone else had merit except Dominic.
    • Political Commentary, Social Commentary, Culture Commentary, you name the controversial subject, Dominic or his gang have spoken out against it. The opposite side is always played by strawmen or villians. Never has a supporting character spoken against Deegan without eventually changing his mind, being beaten into submission, ridiculed, or had sex with (Luna and Dominic only "get jiggy wit it" after some back and forth shouting). Mr. Mookie's stance is final, PERIOD.
      • This situation has been perfectly illustrated by the orc rape storyline that underlines the Battle for Barthis arc. After a quick back and forth ranting, the guy who did the dong jamming eventually explains himself, Deegan understands him, and that becomes IT. Rape becomes justified, trivialized, and defended tirelessly by Dominic against all detractors, who are either evil or influenced by evil forces.
DD3.gif

All the orcs are clamouring for the job as "the guy who checks to make sure all the tribe's vaginas have been suitably violated"

TL;DR, Mookie does whatever the hell he wants, whenever he wants, about whatever he wants, with disregard to any advice. And it doesn't work.

Conclusion

Is it fair to say that a badwebcomic is a dictatorship? After all, everybody is entitled to his very own form of expression, his own opinion, his own description of reality.

Many people say art is completely subjective, and that there is no such thing as "wrong" in art. That's very self-pleasing, and I'm not completely into it. If people really didn't care for other people's opinion and thought every piece of art was perfect within itself, criticism would not exist at all in this world. Artists wouldn't have stages, drawing wouldn't have sketches, art wouldn't have techiniques and schools of thought, and every piece of shit would be worth a million dollars. That is not the case. Artists who aren't doing things for self-pleasure or therapy do try to get themselves across people, and for that, they DO need to give in some. They don't need to completely sellout, there are markets for everything. However, one can't just hope to attract everybody in and still not bend in to people's expectations. You can't sell everybody your favorite flavor of cake. Not everybody likes it.

Mookie's cry of "I am what I am, I like it, and you better like it or leave!" is a rather sad one. Reading through his massive 2002-2008 archives, a proof of dedication and consistence to anybody with a dream, I often see the same mistakes and shortcomings again and again and again. It is really annoying to think "fuck, he did it again! Has nobody ever told him that is not funny/clever/possible?" at a work that, with a steady improvement and feedback, should be among the top webcomics fighting for recognition. Instead, Dominic Deegan is the Cuba of Webcomics: small, flawed, outdated, out of touch and misunderstood.

Cry for Mookie, Argentina, he won't be okay unless something big and quick is done about him and his comic.

Links

Links pertaining to the webcomic:

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