I stumbled onto Pen Hits The Pad completely on accident, as I was clicking through some recent follows on Twitter. I am glad I did, as what I found was a well illustrated comic with a lot of promise.
Pen Hits The Pad is a storyline driven comic that follows the adventure of a slightly less than prototypical ‘good guy’ as he rids his city of evil henchmen. At least to me, the main antagonist has yet to emerge. What you will notice right off the bat is the dark, moody backgrounds and character designs, which is reinforced by the heavy use of black & white, often in a monochromatic setting utilizing a dark blue or similar color. The effect certainly translates well in terms of setting the scene, and to me, is very effective in conveying what I presume is creator Alpha Ballistic’s intention of giving you a very specific, for-boding sense of the city in which our hero resides. As a good vs. evil story, you might assume there is a great deal of action involved, and you would be right. Action scenes are executed well, with the right balance of explicit & implied motion, as well as bat-man esq action words to boot.
I started this review by saying that I think the comic has a lot of promise; meaning that for me, the creators are off to a good start but certainly have a few areas for improvement. To start, I think the dialogue could use a little refinement. The main character is antagonistic in his own right, especially during action scenes, which is fine, except that he seems to employ a great deal of simplistic name calling and silly little catch phrases. I get that this is ‘part of the character’ I’m just not sure it works for me; the mechanisms in play seem a little over-used. Additionally, each bad guy that is ultimately taken down all seem to have the same street slang way of ‘talking;’ again, I think this is an opportunity for variety.
My other main critique has nothing to do with the comic at all, it is the site used to present the comic. The wordpress theme being used is not the standard comicpress that so many creators use, and I personally think the comic suffers because of it. I had a difficult time navigating through the archive of strips, because there is no easy way to go through all of them sequentially. To make matters worse, on the ‘list’ pages, you have to click on each comic individually, and are taken to an image of the comic, that isn’t set within the context of the rest of the site. The whole experience is very disjointed and made me appreciate how much making good use of comicpress can make such a huge difference in how a comic is perceived.
All told, I think Pen Hits The Pad is a good webcomic that has a great deal of potential. The issues above are certainly not traumatically bad, and could be fixed with relative ease. If you’re looking for some well drawn, gloomy action scenes, given Pen Hits The Pad a look-see, and you might just find exactly what you’re looking for.