I randomly stumbled onto The Bottom Rung this evening, and knew that it was going to be the subject of my review. The reason for that is simple; there is a lot to like about this webcomic, but there were a few things that immediately jumped out at me as areas for improvement, which I happen to think would be an already very good comic, great.
The comic follows the lives of three friends as they navigate their mundane jobs and lady troubles. The writing is good, often sarcastic and cynical, but always with a bent towards humor. While not overly vulgar, there is just enough profanity to give the dialogue a realistic edge. The strips develop in a mostly continuous storyline fashion, with some random comics thrown in for good measure. Some strips are downright hilarious, and I really grew to like the characters involved. And, as I’ll discuss further below, there is a great deal of robust text, so you really get to know the characters, their thoughts, and in very specific detail how they are taking the current situation.
Artistically, the characters are without lavish adornments but certainly well defined enough to be both believable and interesting. Backgrounds follow a similar pattern, but clearly convey the scene. One of my favorite aspects of the work is the consistency and expressive facial expressions. From childish grins to shock & outrage, you always know exactly what the characters are currently feeling or trying to convey.
Now, as I alluded to above, the amount of text involved with this webcomic is…above average. In some ways, this can be beneficial – scenes are often very detailed, with a lot of banter between characters, which in many cases can be very entertaining. However, in some strips, I found myself itching to abandon, because it was taking me so long to get through the text. This is not a good feeling for potential readers! In tandem with this, there were a few strips in the archive where it felt like the art itself was being oppressed by the sheer volume of text, to the point of starting to infringe on the integrity of the work.
Unrelated by no less worth pointing out are some issues with the site itself. To start, the logo at the top is gargantuan, and pushes the comic itself so far down the page as to be almost entirely below the fold. I don’t usually mind this if there is some purpose, but in this case, it is just wasted space and might have a negative impact on someone visiting for the first time. The other issue is the lack of normal webcomic navigation. To read the archive, you have to navigate to a separate menu item instead of just being able to hit the “first comic” button the way most readers are used to on a standard Comic Press site. While these issues aren’t a result of something comic related, I feel that addressing them could have a nice bonus in terms of getting new readers to stick around when they land on the site for the first time.
All in all, The Bottom Rung is absolutely worth a read. The archive is about 50 comics deep right now, so you can flip through the entire thing in one sitting; which if you are anything like me, means you will end by bookmarking the site and looking forward to future updates!
You can read The Button Rung here: http://www.thebottomrung.net/
You can follow creator Andy Humphreys here: https://twitter.com/#!/BottomRungAndy
And you can like them on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bottom-Rung/160976367289688