The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Yay! Wait, I mean, Noooooo!

Some people doing something at Dominic Deegan.

Ok, now that I'm finally clear of schoolwork for the semester, it's time to catch up on some webcomic reviewing. I've got SO much to talk about.

But let's start with Dominic Deegan. Dominic Deegan is one of those comics that I've been considering dropping for quite some time, not because it's bad but because most of the time I have NO idea what the HELL is going on. No offense to Mookie Terracciano, but Dominic Deegan has FAR too many characters, who seem to come at will and never really go away. Combine that with long, twisted, winding storylines and post it all in a daily format with no Cast page to speak of, and you've left me standing in the middle of a maze, completely lost.

I seriously just can't keep track of all the characters in Dominic Deegan. I don't know if anyone can, without constantly going back in the archives and refreshing their memory. A few days ago we had this strip, in which an infernomancer comes along and gives a bunch of characters the stabby-death. And in that strip, I really can't tell you who any of the characters are beyond the infernomancer, who I know is associated with the orcs somehow. I'm pretty sure the goal of that strip was to envoke some sort of emotional response in the reader, but I really have no emotional attachment whatsoever to a bunch of random characters, so instead I just found myself cheering: "All right, Mookie's finally going to thin the cast!"

Only, he didn't. Now here we are two days later, and pretty much everybody's ok.

What's the only thing worse than having an overload of characters in your strip? Having an overload of characters and never being willing to kill any of them off. I mean, Terraccino could kill off a great many of his support cast and I honestly wouldn't give a rip, and with all the violence in recent strips, he'd be well justified in doing it. It would get us back down to a nice core of characters that we could actually relate to and sympathize with. Instead, we get a miraculous healing of someone we didn't care about to begin with. Whoopty-doo.

It would be hard for me to give up on Dominic Deegan, because I do greatly enjoy the long-form story, and it's very difficult to do, especially in a webcomic. But it's a drama strip, and the key to drama is tension, and it's just impossible to build tension if the viewer doesn't care about the characters. There's no getting around that point.

I'd like to hear from some real hardcore Deegan fans, though. Are you guys following all this? Is the delicate interweave of so many characters just another example of Terracciano's brilliance? Am I just completely missing the boat? Let me know.

11 Comments:

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Dagda said...

I wouldn't call myself a hardcore fan, but I'm having no difficulty following the comic and I know all those characters. And I would disagree about the lack of tension; in this case there are two sources, concern for the infernomancer (who up until now has been a conflicted character but now appears to have been manipulated into being far more evil) and concern for the girl he's kidnapping, who up until now has been his closest friend.

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that I only really care about half of the characters--mainly, Dominic, his family, and Luna. And of course the cat. Everyone else...I have the same trouble of keeping them clear in my mind who they are. I wouldn't've said before that I'd cheer on their demise, but now that you bring it up--yes, it would be nice to get back to that smaller group I care about.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Kneefers said...

I'm not having too much difficulty, either. I'm not *terribly* emotionally involved in the story as it's going right now, but I can't really say that for any of the comics I'm currently reading, except for maybe Sluggy (and CRFH, before this new Spring Freak storyline, in which the updates have been sporadic enough for me to lose a little bit of the tension from update to update). I'm the type who enjoys the initial archive crawl immeasurably more than actually following the comic each day.
Even so, I'm afraid I have to say that I'm following DD with relative ease, man. :)
Good essay, though. I Feel Your Pain.
_Kneef

 
At 12:56 AM, Blogger Gilead Pellaeon said...

I think perhaps my problem is that I read too many webcomics, and only spend like an average of 30 seconds a day on each one to keep up. So it's really hard for me to keep track of characters that haven't been in the strip for a couple weeks. I forget them in all my other reading.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Mr Myth said...

It may be that I read through the archives recently enough (within the last year) that all the side characters are fresh in my mind, but I am mostly able to keep track of them.

That said, I'm having a harder time remaining concerned about them, especially with the number of characters at hand in this story alone.

Having lots of side characters is one thing, but having all of them show up in one storyline definitely brings things to a new level of complication.

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Sili said...

Interestingly Jappus the Verbose of the CRfH board expressed his opinion on Dominic Deegan. If you have a few spare hours his dissertation starts here. In short, he reads (and even likes) it, but has a lot of reasons for not calling it high art.

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i read through the archives once a year or so, to keep things fresh in my mind, and b/c i enjoy doing it. however i do that with all the comics i read, its like a treat.

anyway, no i dont really have any trouble keeping up with whats going on, though i tend to jump back a couple strips to keep things straight if he's switched from one set of character to another.

i guess what i like about this particular arch, and what is so frustrating, is the fact that he *is* using nearly all of his side characters, to the effect of near confusion. the reason i like it, is because it really strikes home the complexity of the current situation. in past archs mookie has had world-threatening events happen, but it was hard to feel their impact on anyone other than his main characters.

however now, you've got a war in hell, the outcome of which could mean hell on earth - which would have huge ramifications outside of dominics little clique. And you really start to feel that, b/c he's pulled in all of these varrying characters. you have representation of orcs & werewolves & humans, commoners and aristocracy, magic weilders and those less blessed.

specifically i like how the reader shares dominics own sense of conflicting interests. he's got this war in hell that he has to directly monitor, but then there are all of these earthly rammifications that he wants to watch over too, his family, his best friend, the orcish infernomancer, the kingdom of callan... just as the story is jerked around so is dominic.

anyway, yeah, just thought i'd toss up that view point.

 
At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Tropylium said...

I've never given half a thought at Dominic Deegan having "too many characters". This group of orcs was only introduced in the previous storyline (and have hanged around ever since); the only thing I could see being potentially confusing is Jayden, Milov & Siggy turning up... I pretty much took them at face value, that is, I couldn't recite their backstories if asked, but that's *far* from "no idea what the hell is going on". OK, I don't know why the orcish infernomancer has gone crazy (except that it's because of the war in hell), but I don't think we're even *supposed* to, at this point.

As far as thinning cast goes, there's many characters (like those thieves - Bumper and Stunt, were they?) which I don't think will be appearing again anytime soon. Hopefully there will be a cast page up by then...

 
At 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, while I was not a terrible fan of the Dominic saves the universe deal, I still very much loved the comic otherwise. It's extremely difficult to create tension when the hero supposedly knows everything beforehand, and yet the author does manage to pull it off. Brilliantly in the earlier strips, to which I was extremely addicted to, and still well enough in the latter ones. Quit it? No, I don't think so, with it still being in my top 5 web comics spot (no longer #1 however)

 
At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, while I was not a terrible fan of the Dominic saves the universe deal, I still very much loved the comic otherwise. It's extremely difficult to create tension when the hero supposedly knows everything beforehand, and yet the author does manage to pull it off. Brilliantly in the earlier strips, to which I was extremely addicted to, and still well enough in the latter ones. Quit it? No, I don't think so, with it still being in my top 5 web comics spot (no longer #1 however)

 
At 3:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number of characters in the story don't bother me. The only people you need to recognise are the Deegans, Luna and Spark. For everyone else, you only need to read a few strips to understand what's going on. My main problem with the comic is the fact that Dominic has become a mary-sue. For me, that ruins the story. He's the main character, so we see him all the time, but I personally can't stand him any more. I'd much rather read about his parents and the school. Also, what ever happened to Siggy? Is he doomed to remain backstage forever?

 

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