(Foreword: Tangents: American Reviewer was a poorly-thought-out contest of mine where several reviewers would “grade” reviews. Unfortunately, a combination of not spelling out specifically what was wanted, insufficient interest, and my not having the money to afford any sort of prize for the winner ended up killing the idea. While I still accept guest reviews, T:AR is a dead endeavor and I don’t plan on restarting it. – Rob H.)
Tangents: American Reviewer first started to evolve a year ago when I was struggling with graduate classes, moving, and reviews. I needed to take time off (especially as I was writing 1,000+ word reviews five times a day). So I put out a request for guest reviews, and was pleasantly surprised at the response. It gave me some needed time and if it hadn’t been for my hard drive suffering a catastrophic data corruption, I’d probably have resumed that schedule until it burnt me out.
The guest reviews revealed something to me. People want to see reviews of comics they enjoy, and if a reviewer isn’t up to the task, they’ll do it themselves. Indeed, a number of review sites have arisen because Websnark or Tangents or Webcomic Examiner (and many more) haven’t looked at their favorite comic.
At last count, I have over 70 suggestions for webcomic reviews in my suggestion forum thread. Another half dozen or so requests can be found at the Tangents e-mail site. I even have a couple that have filtered over to my personal e-mail account that I have used at times to send out announcements of a comic being reviewed. Even if I had high-speed internet and could make a living writing reviews, I doubt I could get to all of them.
And I feel guilty about this. People want to see a review on a favored comic. They want people to know just how awesome these comics are. And while getting a tangent might not be the end-all and be-all of linkage that you’d get out of Eric Burns writing something up on Websnark, when you read a tangent you know about the comic and can then go on to read the archives if you so choose.
This is why I’m putting out the call for submissions for fan-written reviews that may appear in Tangents. Write up a review and submit it to Tangentsreviews at gmail period com. Once I receive it, the T:AR Judge’s Panel consisting of myself, Steve Anderson of Reel Advice fame (and the occasional Roundtable here at Tangents), and Brett Hainley of Casual Notice will look over fan-submitted reviews. We’ll write up comments about the reviews (I’m the nice one, Steve’s the sardonic critical one, and Brett’s the hip one).
That’s when it gets interesting. Once we have four winners interested in competing in the second tier, they get their next challenge. All four winners must read and review the same comic, chosen by the Judge panel. The readers then will read all four second-tier reviews and vote on which one they liked the most.
The winner of the second tier can write a review on any comic they want, which will then be posted on Tangents without judge commentary or editing it outside of removing any harsh language.
New guest reviews will go up monthly, depending on the volume of accepted reviews. (If there are none, then obviously there won’t be an AR review put up… while if I get inundated with approved guest reviews then we might update twice a month or even weekly.)
The rules are fairly simple:
* First, cartoonists cannot review their own comics. This isn’t a press release – for that, you want Comixpedia. If two cartoonists want to team up and review each other’s work… then that’s acceptable. But they still have to get accepted, mind you, so if one review goes up and the second doesn’t… them’s the breaks.
* Second, no swearing or vulgarity in the reviews. I try to avoid swearing in this site. There may be adult content in some areas of Panel2panel as a whole, but Tangents for the most part has been child-friendly and I intend on keeping it this way. This also goes for images used in the reviews. If there’s R- or X-rated material being shown, try to blur it out. Nudity isn’t necessarily R, mind you. It depends on the context.
* Third, I prefer to have some sort of image at least at the start of the review. I’d appreciate if you could choose some image you’d want to use at the review’s start. However, image placement is also important. Try not to over-clutter your review with comic art as it could be held against the review.
And last, try to have some fun? At times writing reviews can be like ripping out hair by the handful. If it’s giving you trouble, step away for a bit. Watch some television, read the comic again, just avoid the review for a bit. Indeed, this may be a good idea to do when you’re done anyway. Most of my reviews are first drafts and it shows. BY stepping away for a little bit and returning to it later, you gain a fresh perspective.
Review submissions can by sent to Tangentsreviews at gmail period com.
Robert A. Howard
Addendum note: I’m adding in Brett Hainley’s recent comments in my forum board about what he (and the rest of us) are looking for, after receiving a critical commentary and a critical rebuttal for submissions. It shows that again, sometimes I’m not straightforward enough in what I say.