Looking for Group
Original review author: Phillip Chanter
Webcomic name: Looking For Group
Author: Ryan Sohmer (writer) and Lar de Souza (artist)
Start Date: November 26, 2006
End Date: Ongoing
Genre: Fantasy, comedy, action adventure
Reviewers Opinion: Best%20Sword%20Icon.jpgBest%20Sword%20Icon.jpg A chore to read through, the pacing is erratic and very hard to get into, character development results in not one, but two Gary-Stu's running around in the story. Endless dialogue/exposition also ruins what could potentially be a good comic and can result in the reader wanting to skip over important details. Let us not forget how cramped each page is with numbers of panels. 2/5
Positives: Very appealing towards fantasy fans who enjoy Swords and Sorcery. DnD, WoW, LotR can easily find appeal in the comic and art is on a professional level.
Negatives: Loads of exposition/dialogue, poor character development, jokes that exceed the rule of threes and quickly become unfunny (Richard more than often kills some fantasy character stereotype or pop culture icon), cramped panels, misogynistic depictions and treatment of female characters, and absurdly fast paced story.


Introduction

Ryan Sohmer's "Least I Could Do" is easily one of the most recognized comics out there, the comic itself made me curious as to what other works the LICD group had done over the years. What I found was "Looking for Group", a fantasy based comedy comic that's based in fantasy pop culture (Lord of the rings, Warcraft, etc…). I read over it for a while but quickly found that what was presented here was a very boring and overrated comic that quickly turned from comedy, to action adventure drama.

Let's be fair here, Ryan and Lar do make quite a capable team, but from the first page onward, I noticed this comic's biggest flaw: A great abundance of text/exposition/dialogue. Immediately afterwords we're introduced to the character Richard, along with his wacky habit of needlessly killing people, of course this is done for comical effect. As I continued to read, I noticed how erratic the pacing in this comic works as in the first 30 pages there's 3 different battles with only a page or two between them to slow things down and poor in some story. Bring in some action scenes that are almost always shot from the hips up, have Cale cry about his innocence being lost while not giving an overall damn about what his group is doing (except for what Pella does) and you've got a clusterfuck of confusion, poor character development, and an overrated story!


Story & Plot

Let's start with the characters first, now in the first story arc, nearly every character introduced. Here's a list of them.

  • Richard: Foil to the protagonist, Cale. Richard is the comedian of the group and a Gary-Stu. He can kill anybody without a problem, he can defeat entire armies while others struggle to survive, and everybody continues to hang out with him despite bringing chaos where ever he goes. His joke more often than not is to either get dismembered, or kill a pop culture icon. This happens way too often!
  • Cale: Our protagonist, and despite his objections to killing he's been able to kill quite a few different species of fantasy creatures. He's also amazingly hypocritical as he barely bats an eye at Richard's antics but will lash out at others who step out of line. Often he is the character to rally the troops with motivational speeches. As of now there has been no revelation as to why Richard claimed his race to be evil and there is little to no background on Cale. He owns a black panther named Sooba.
  • Benn'Joon: The Orc halfbreed UNKNOWN BREED (she's an orc) who happens to be the group's priestess/healer, she seems to form a relationship with Cale towards the more current strips for no real reason. Originally she was the one to bring up the plot involving the "Sword of Truth", but she shows no sign of interest in it towards the current strips. She is the adopted daughter of Krunch.
  • Krunch: The Taurin intellectual of the group who adopted Benn, he has some past issues with his father. Half the time he's used for exposition whenever a battle hasn't broken out.
  • Pella: The dwarf, she is the rough female of the group that Richard likes, she has chosen the life of a bard and warrior in one strip, but not much else is known about her past. In the later strips she fights a few of her own kind and kills them for the greater good, Cale gets pissed off at this and threatens her. Real classy, Cale. She happens to have also built Krunch's new metallic arm as well.

Most of the character development unfortunately is forsaken in favor of moving the story along at a break-neck pace. The story here is they search for THE SWORD OF TRUTH! However that plot device is dropped while a new plot emerges. It is really hard to get into this story for a number of reasons; the characters were unrealistic (in terms of personality), the story is very poorly thought out, too many cheap pop culture gags, but if anything is to be truly blamed, it's the dialogue. Shakespeare once said "Brevity is the soul of wit." which means that if you can tell the story without dialogue, DO IT! Nothing ruins a comic faster for me than when it's drowning in word balloons, especially when the pages are crammed full of panels to begin with. More dialogue doesn't always mean more story mind you, as it's quite possible to tell a story without anybody speaking a single word to one another, better comics like Dr. McNinja have been able to do this to great affect.

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Did I also happen to mention that Richard is the Mayor of a town of undead villagers and he has a huge army? Guess I forgot.

Writing review

Originally, Looking For Group was intended to be a comedy, from the first strip the main character of Cale was comically burn into ashes. This however took a back seat when the writer decided to make the comics more dramatic. This is usually a very very bad idea, but I must admit that this was done so quickly that there were only a few comedic pages before the story took this turn into Cerebus Syndrome alley so that can be overlooked slightly. Unfortunately the comic is still firmly rooted in it's comedic base as is the case with Richard and his wacky antics. It's so off putting however as one minute there's a song and dance or some pop culture icon being the butt of a terrible joke, to Cale weeping over a dead ghost. The writing is so schizophrenic that one moment you enjoy the jokes and humor, the next moment you get a slap in the face as we're plunged back down into depression.

What's worse is (yes I'm diving back into this) the characters. We know little to nothing about Cale except that he's a bleeding heart douchebag, and Richard ends up hoarding the spotlight and ruining the mood most pages try to make. The female characters seem to be properly developed, but old habits rear their ugly head (see picture below and links above). I gotta admit that sometimes the writer can hammer out a decent joke, but again… bad habits are hard to break, and one liners are pretty fucking stupid when that's the only joke you got left. Overall, Looking For Group is much better than the writing than Least I Could Do, but to me that's because the ego wanking is kept to a minimum.

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Yeah, it's no surprise to me that Ryan put this in his comic. Nothing says funny like a sexy pillow fight!

Art review

Lar De Souza isn't a bad artist, he can draw a person and make it look like a person. The art he provides is great, but… the first thing I noticed with this comic is that the guy crams in an ungodly amount of panels into a single page, this often limits the space you have with your art and Lar here is forced to draw each character from the waist up. With a comic that focuses on action and storytelling through the images, you need that extra space! Often at times he's allowed some room for more detailed panels, but he has no idea how to structure a page. The funny thing here is there's no room for the dialogue either, and at times he's forced to cover up his own art with a speech bubble.

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Aside from that, there's only two things that bug me about his art: the coloring of the characters, and their expressions. For the colors, they're too bright. Take a look here for example. Everything is as bright as the morning fucking sun. He does get it right at one point with this night-time shot, but that quickly changes in the same page as a red glow illuminates the characters completely leaving the background the same. Admittedly I don't know much about color theory as I hate coloring, but I do know that a red glow would make almost everything that it would illuminate at night look red, including the trees and background! For his expressions, well, whenever I look at some other comics and how they display emotions, they often show some teeth. Here we usually get that sorta expressionless look on every character (aside from the occasional smug smart-ass look) and they always look like they are missing their dentures.


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Author review

You kidding me here? Haven't you seen the review on "Least I Could Do"? Well, I suppose I could give you my two cents here. Ryan to say the least is an egomaniac. He will all too often be quick to rub in what success he's had in the face of those whom he deems to be lesser people as shown in his other comic when he happily mentions how he updates regularly, doesn't use MSpaint, and how he's tired of how he's the only hard working guy in the comics industry and every one else is a drunken peon!. The guy's got the appeal of an angry rattlesnake and he's just as venomous to boot.

As for Lar, I don't think he has any dignity left in him as he continues to work for this guy. It's astounding that he has no objections to the type of shit Ryan pulls, I mean for Christ's sake, he's lashing out at other comic artists for no fucking reason at all in those strips! Can you honestly draw those comics without thinking "Hey, do I really want to draw a comic that allows the writer to tear people down in order to fortify his already inflated ego?" The man pretty much said in those 3 strips "I'm the hardest working man on the planet and everybody who isn't me is shit!" which is ballsy of him because he doesn't make the comic by himself. In the end however, Lar is just a doormat, and I can't respect that.


Conclusion

It'd be too easy for me to say that this is total crap as there's plenty of potential here for a good comic (which sounds like a stretch considering who made this comic), it's nice to see Ryan not spew his wish fulfillment into the open, but his bad habits are still here. The story has poor development of the characters short of the warlock, Richard. An over abundance of dialogue and exposition that makes the comic more of a novel with pictures, couple that with the lack of a decent pace for the story and you've got a comic that's hard to digest. The art is decent but the expressions of the characters are often awkward looking, it's always always brightly colored even when the mood and setting calls for different tones, and cramped panels make understanding the action a difficult task. Highly over-rated.


Links

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