[REVIEW] The Tribulations of Kid Review #1

Lalo Martins lalo.martins at gmail.com
Sun Mar 1 15:48:52 PST 2009

Why oh why is this reply so big?  I could be writing #47 instead.  Ah 
well, hoping there's actually useful discussion below rather than ego-
massaging and self-importance.

quoth Andrew Perron as of Sun, 01 Mar 2009 17:05:59 +0000:

Can't wait for someone to review this.

All right... thanks for the review :-) even though I got a better idea of 
how you feel about the series from previous emails, but the review raises 
a few good points I'll keep in mind.

> "First is the fact that the author leaves out quite a bit of
> information, often requiring you to have read both previous issues of
> the series and other LNH series that came before.  Thankfully, this
> lessened after Lalo introduced cast lists for each issue, 'how to write'
> guides, recap boxes. In the end, a huge recap in issue #39, not just for
> 58.5 but the whole LNH imprint, cleared up most of it."

That has been brought up before, and I like to think I learned the lesson.

It's a though balancing act though :-) part of the fun of writing in a 
shared playground is referring to stuff other people (or yourself) wrote, 
sometimes long long ago, and part of the fun of reading it is feeling 
very smart because you caught that little obscure reference the author 
inserted there, or understood that other thing's context without having 
to go check the wiki.

I still prefer to leave a few things unexplained.  Like, when there are 
LNH (or villain) cameos, I don't bother telling you who the character is; 
I'll assume you're generally familiar with LNH characters.  And the thing 
with Footnote Girl and Footnote Cybergirl, it's almost a minor subplot in 
itself, but you have to have both read a lot of LNH, and followed 
Infinite Leadership Crisis, to fully appreciate it.

In the end, I'm pretty happy; I set out to write this as an exercise and 
a learning experience, and this was one of the things I think I'm taking 
out of it.  I'm not going to claim I mastered the skill, but I believe I 
reached a level of balance that's, well, good enough.

> "Second, the author likes killing off characters.  Now, this isn't
> itself bad or good; what matters is the way it's handled, the dramatic
> impact and the characters' reactions to it.  This varies; Locked Room's
> death in issue #26 was dramatically-appropriate, and she was thoroughly
> mourned, while Smiley seemed to die just for a random joke and hardly
> got any reaction at all."

That's kind of intentional, and I do understand that not everybody will 
appreciate it.

I can't really say the series is a critique of the trend of killing off 
characters; in honesty, I think killing off characters is good, if done 
right.  If anything, it's more the opposite; what I do oppose and dislike 
(and that's something the LNH hasn't been guilty of, which I like) is the 
annoying tendency for all change to be illusory.  As much as Arsenic was 
one of my favourite characters in recent history, I really appreciate the 
balls and the dramatic strength of "dead means dead".

On a secondary level, one of the goals is that the characters shouldn't 
feel safe to you (the reader).  When you're reading a story, you're not 
sure things will, in fact, turn out all right, because historically, they 
haven't always.  If anything, you know I'll pull Bonnie out somehow, but 
everyone else is fair game.  That helps you suspend your disbelief a 
little, er, higher, and appreciate the story more.  IMHO.

That said, re Smiley: guilty as charged :-) generally I try to show at 
least some emotional (or sometimes other) consequence when someone dies.  
You could argue, in the case of Smiley, I did show one: denial.  The way 
it happened was so stupid, her friends refused to talk about it.  But I 
didn't really explore that in the story.  And the reason I didn't was, I 
think, valid on-panel and off-panel; they were, after all, rather busy at 
that point.

In this fourth and (hopefully) final stage of writing 58.5, I no longer 
feel the need to constrain the line count.  It was a worthwhile exercise, 
but now the only goal is to finish the story, so I'll do that to the best 
of my ability, without any other kind of artificial limit.  That MAY mean 
I won't have to force myself to make this kind of decision anymore :-)

BTW, one thing I've been happy about this series -- apart from silly 
spelling/grammar/dyslexia mistakes and one or two incorrect references 
(like Green's universe on #45)... well.  Let's phrase this differently.  
In the subset of comments regarding narrative traits proper, all 
reviewers picked up almost only on things that I had actually thought and 
made a conscious decision about.  Sometimes that decision was wrong, and 
sometimes I even changed it after reviewer input; but the fact that they 
were mostly my decisions, right or wrong, makes me feel a little good 
about the whole thing, about my plot planing and overall... hmm... 
preparedness?  Or something.  :-P  (Clearly not that well prepared to 
write this paragraph tho.)

> "Somewhere in the middle is Ultra-Mobile Dawg.  I never really 'got' the
> character, and this kinda detracts from his death; while he nobly
> sacrificed himself, I had no idea what his powers could do, so the fact
> that he absorbed the Xinerama Brother's size but spread himself too thin
> in the process came out of left field.  Smoke-Ring Girl's decision to
> kill Acla Fright is similar; she was introduced during an issue-skip,
> and hardly gets any characterization before the deed is done and she's
> gone."

One funny thing about those skipped issues is that I do still want to 
write them at some point, and I think of them this way, as something that 
I may still get back to.  If I do, you'll get to see what happened to 
Laran (kind of Tom's request in fact), and maybe know Dawg and Smoke Ring 
Girl a little better.

> "One extra note on this: All these deaths made the fake-out of
> Blackbird's death in issue #43 much more believable.  Well-done."

Thanks, as I said above, that was part of the goal.  Here's hoping you'll 
enjoy Stuff.org.

> "A few other comments and complains: Blur has recieved next to no
> characterization, and I'm still not quite sure what his deal is.

One of the few things I didn't plan on or decide, it just happened, 
mostly because I lost interest in him but not enough to get rid of him 
for good :-P  I feel kind of guilty about it...

> Also,
> the Xinerama Brotherhood plot was introduced in the first issue, but
> took a long time (issue #40) to actually go anywhere.  In and of itself,
> I don't really mind, but I wish we'd have had a bit more reminder of it
> in the meantime."

Guilty and, again, unplanned.  The plan on Cannon Fodder's side was 
always, introduce the threat, forget about it for most of the series, 
work him up as a bad-ass, then bring the threat back.  But I don't think 
I did it well.  As you said, a sense of dread from the threat hanging 
over our heads would probably have worked better.  I did try for a few 
issues, I just couldn't maintain it.  (Maybe the line count working 
against me once more?  But that's a bad excuse, if I was writing an 
actual comic I'd have a page count.)

> "Oh, and speaking of Ultra-Mobile Dawg... seriously, what was with the
> way he talked?"

Ghetto Ebonics, Net.ropolis dialect.  (Yes, Ebonics has dialects, 
apparently.  The version spoken in NY (our universe) is very different 
than that from LA or Miami or, even, Washington DC.  Or so I read.  Since 
Net.ropolis supposedly moves around, I composed their dialect mostly by 
picking Ebonics terms at random from every other area...)

Note to self: if I do get back to the skipped issues, add Dawg's "how to 
write" to the very first one.  Not that people will want to write him, 
what with him being, you know, dead, in present continuity, but then 
again, "present continuity" means different things to different people, 
and very little to most of us.

                                               Lalo Martins
      So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
       then they seem improbable, and then, when we
       summon the will, they soon become inevitable.
GNU: never give up freedom              http://www.gnu.org/

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