Faithful Hearts
Original review author: HackerOnHacker
Webcomic name: Faithful Hearts
Author: Andrea Avrett
Start Date June 2nd, 2008
End Date Went on hiatus after June 26th, 2008, but the artist plans on continuing it.
Genre A supposed adventure fanfiction, but really it's just a vehicle for kissy-kissy goo-Sue.
Defining Flaw The unoriginal concept, shameless plagiarism from Disney, and the Mary Sue protagonist.

Ratings summary:


Background

There was, once upon a time, a lot of discussion on DisneyFan01 on Encyclopedia Dramatica, focusing on her Mary Sue character and the bad attitude of the artist herself. Upon discovering that the artist had made her fanfiction into a comic, I had to go see where the fire was.

Downfall

While this comic was never good, it really went to Hades during the section titled "The Truth," where John Silver goes from simply being a brooding teddy bear into a pile of angst-flavored mush with the salty twang of pirate tears. Eat up, orphans!

Story and Plot

The comic is essentially a drawn version of Avrett's Disney-based fanfiction of the same title, beginning some time after Marina and John Silver became a couple, which just goes to show you how unimportant the actual plot is. Anyone who came to read just the comic will be left confused as a result, as absolutely nothing will make sense unless you have read the fanfic. But even then, you will be left raising an eyebrow, or more likely, a bottle of vodka. It's basically Kingdom Hearts with Sora replaced with the self-insert of a very lonely, desperate woman. Only the story doesn't really go anywhere. Taking out parts that aren't plot-related would effectively reduce the comic to a third of its size. There are entire scenes taken from Disney movies, which the comic's fans will assure you is a good thing. The story is supposedly about Marina and her Disney character BFFs trying to defeat these evil creatures called "Nightmares" with a rainbow sword and rescuing Disney princesses, but does Avrett care? Of course not! Why bother with storytelling when there's mushy love scenes with Long John Silver to draw and crap rainbow sparkles on?

Art review

As Avrett's username implies, she's a fan of Disney, and since it's a story about Disney, she tries drawing in the Disney style. And that's about the only thing she gets right. At first glance, however, you may see that the Disney characters are decently outlined. This is thanks to what Avrett calls "referencing," which means "look at existing pictures of Disney characters and copy them line-for-line." The Encyclopedia Dramatica article on the matter contains a myriad of helpful comparison images, (which Avrett tries to dispove), but really, those aren't even needed. Compare Marina to any of the other characters, and you'll notice something's off. On this page, Captain Hook's facial features are in place despite a wonky chin, but Marina appears to be suffering from a chromosome too many. Let it be known - snorting Tinkerbell makes your jawline migrate. Compare the clear(er) black outlines on Hook to the almost pencil-esque nature of Marina's lines. Also, Hook's finger is as long as Marina's face and that creeps me the holy fuck out.

Another particular point of lament is Avrett's reliance on cheap Photoshop effects to make things shiny and pretty for her precious romance scenes. Take First Date Part 1, please. That blast of colors is not, as you would think, the projectile vomiting of the gigantic cosmic Care Bear in the sky, but rather "the Rainbow Comet." But a rainbow it is not. Rainbows are supposed to have pure colors, like an orange reminiscent of a cheery traffic cone as opposed to the rotten pumpkins of Halloweens past. Alas, this could have been avoided had Avrett actually painted the damn comet as opposed to plopping down the colors and smudging the life out of them.

Her shading technique began blurry, muddy, and not at all like anything you'd see a Disney animator do. There is only ever one shadow placed on the characters, which is fine if you're cel-shading but not at all fine if you want to blend at all. The highlights are even worse. In Pixie Dust Pt 11, there should be bright highlights on the characters from the dazzling pretty lights. Instead, they are smudged dangerously into the aforementioned "rotten pumpkin" territory. And just look at how they're laid on Marina's hair. Her hair must be made of Silly Putty to have that texture. Avrett smartly decides to chuck that technique out later in favor of cel-shading, beginning with Pixie Dust Pt 22. It remains that there are only ever blackened shadows, when in reality shadows do more than that. Also, check out that fire highlight on John Silver's back. He's been rolling in the pumpkins too.

This pales in comparison to the face that Avrett cannot make poses or expressions look even the slightest bit natural. See this? Silver's either floating or standing on an invisible table, but I don't think a table would support that much weight. Anyway, do you really think anyone would be able to position themselves like that when there's no ground beneath them for support? His legs are almost perfectly level.

Protagonist Marina's character design is an eyesore in particular, sporting cyan, mismatched clothing, bangs on the goddamn side of her head, and proportions that would make a vintage Barbie look like the Venus de Milo. This is because her design was supposed to be based off of Jessica Rabbit and Sailor Neptune, which, I might add, have absolutely nothing to do with either Treasure Planet, Kingdom Hearts, or even the Disney Princess canon. Good thing Andrea Avrett realized this recently, and thus, is giving Marina a more series-appropriate makeover. The new design is improved, but is not without its problems. For one, it'd be doubly humiliating to see a woman who looks like an actual adventurer being forced into the same old damsel-in-distress roles.

The speech bubbles are also horrendous. The font is Arial, centered to leave weird spaces around it, and the outline of the bubble itself is either squiggly and blurry or looks like it was done in MS Paint. Clearly, Avrett just didn't care.

Writing review

TOTALLYNOTAMARYSUE.jpg

The characters are not the Disney characters we know and love. They are dead. They are dead, and Faithful Hearts has killed them. Their bodies now serve as a vehicle for a demon whose name can only be spelled with rearranged baby guts, whose diabolical plot involves taking a beloved universe from our childhood and placing Marina Sue at the center of it. Either that, or Andrea Avrett just really sucks at writing. Admittedly, the comic relief scenes are kind of cute, Genie's scenes in particular. While Avrett attempts to have the character's voices and personalities (with the exception of Silver) remain the way they are, it's but a facade when you consider the fact that all of their motivations are exactly the same - helping Marina do whatever the hell it is she does. Don't they have lives? Don't they ever talk to each other, about something besides Marina and Silver? Most of the characters serve no purpose in the plot. They're just there for the sake of being there. Can anyone explain what the hell Dodger, Chip and Dale, Mushu, Basil, Stitch, Dumbo, Jiminy Cricket, or this inexplicable floating rat are doing in the story?

One thing that's irksome in particular is that Tinkerbell actually talks instead of using body language to express herself. However, since Avrett cannot portray body language to save her life, this is probably for the better. But worse yet, Tinkerbell is actually… not a complete and utter bitch to Marina. In fact, she kind of sort of cares about her. This is Tinkerbell, mind you, the little pixie full of negative female stereotypes who greets other females by pulling their hair and calling them stupid and ugly.

And what about the plot? Storytelling is once more thrown out the porthole. Plots are meant to have beginnings, middles, and ends, scenes are meant to just get the point across and move on. Faithful Hearts inverts this entirely. The plot begins at a weird part of the story, has no discernible rising action leading to any sort of climax, and entire scenes seem to repeat themselves. Such as the time when Marina Sue is romantic and John Silver is depressed and when Marina Sue is romantic and John Silver is depressed and when Marina Sue is romantic and John Silver is depressed and when Marina Sue is romantic and John Silver is depressed and All work and no play makes Hacker a dull girl
All work and no play makes Hacker a dull girl
All work and no play makes Hacker a dull girl
All fluff and no plot makes Faithful Hearts a dumb story

But let's get to the creamy filling of the comic, Marina Seadrift herself. This is not going to be pleasant for you or me. For the heroine of an "adventure" saga, she's so pathetic and helpless that Cinderella looks like Mulan next to her. It makes you wonder why she even bothers with the whole thing of defeating the nightmares and saving the princesses when she could be getting her hair done. Every time she's in trouble, she just sits and wails until another Disney character comes flying to her rescue because she's that damn important. Nearly everything she does is just reacting to someone else, as she never takes any initiative to do anything herself. I understand that she's meant to be very demure and princesslike, but if that's the case, then why cast her in a story that she clearly doesn't fit into? If it were played for laughs, like making fun of the ideals of femininity while everyone's trying to have an adventure, it'd be fine. But it clearly isn't the case. Plot and character should never exclude each other. It's like casting Jackie Chan as King Lear. Here is more information on Marina, if you're that masochistic.

As far as plagiarism goes, I feel it'd be easier just to link to individual panels while listing what they've ripped off:

The plot itself is plagiarized from Kingdom Hearts as well. Note how Donald and Goofy have the exact same roles, there is a King Mickey who pops in and out, Nightmares and Nobodies are different only in name, Maleficent is the leader of the villains, and so on. This wouldn't be as bad if Avrett would just up and admit that this is a fanfiction for Kingdom Hearts, but she continues to insist that they are both entirely different stories. Say what?

Author biography

How can I put this lightly…

Andrea Avrett has issues. Let's lay the Disney obsession and the John Silver crush aside for a moment and think about exactly what she says and does. One thing that she enjoys insisting upon is that she is a virgin, and that Marina is a virgin. She's so fixated on the idea of virginity and innocence that in this comment, she describes herself as being "nauseated" by the topic of learning how to draw breasts. While she has no qualms about drawing her self-insert in various states of undress, she is sickened by the thought of doing so correctly. If she were twelve years old, this wouldn't be an issue, but as of now she is twenty-three. Her character is supposed to be thirty-two.

Now, while she used to violently reject all critique that was given to her, thankfully she's taken a greater interest in improving her art. Her anatomy is improving, and while she's trying to make Marina less of a Mary Sue and have her fit into the story more, it's not going to save a story that is 99% plagiarized. Even though she'll sometimes admit to her scenes being "inspired" by a scene in a Disney movie, it doesn't help the story one bit. No one wants to read a lesser version of what they've already seen on screen. That's just not going to work. She could be a decent artist if only she'd come up with her own concepts and ideas. Even Marina's new look isn't entirely her work, she basically had another artist do the whole thing for her. And let's face it, she's not improving her art to better herself as an artist and creator, she's just doing it to satisfy her obsession with all things Disney. Seriously. It's all she ever draws. It's okay to be a child at heart, but not when it consumes your life. Her very identity is her love of Disney, and things reminiscent of Disney. It's not healthy.

"So she's just another goofy fanartist. What's the big deal?"

I'll tell you what the big deal is, dissenting hypothetical reader. She's not just another fanartist, she actually works at Disney World, albeit as a custodian. She honestly aspires to be a serious animator, at a company legendary for its high-quality, not-just-for-kids animation. Beauty and the Beast showed us traditional animation mixed with CG beautifully in a captivating "tale as old as time." The Lion King showed us the power and majesty of nature through lush scenery and brilliantly crafted action scenes. Faithful Hearts shows us that wishing upon a star doesn't work every time. Sometimes, there's just no hope for people. Andrea is trying to fit in with the legends when she can't even draw a character that doesn't look inbred. She's been to art school and spent years of work, ten years on one single character, and look where she is now. On the Bad Webcomics Wiki.

She's also in love with a fat, one-eyed cartoon pirate cyborg bear. Take that for whatever you want to.

Conclusion

While this work was created from a love of Disney, it spits upon its canon like nothing else witnessed by man. While Miss Avrett claims that she now works as a Disney cast member, but let us pray to Azathoth that no real Disney creator ever sets eye upon this blasphemy lest the world become awash in a stew of vomit and tears. Because then we'd need a lot of sawdust to clean it up, and the trees will not be happy with that.

Links

Place links pertaining to the webcomic here.

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