Schlock Mercenary

Filed in SecantTags:

If I’ve mentioned this once, I’ve said it a hundred times, but it bears repeating: pacing is everything in webcomics. When webcartoonists aren’t careful they can end up with a lot of wasted time and effort in their stories. This is especially true for comics without a set ending in mind such as Howard Tayler’s long-running science fiction webcomic Schlock Mercenary, and the current subplot about Lieutenant Para Ventura, whose role as an U.N.S. Internal Affairs Intelligence Corps officer (or to be succinct, a spy) has finally been revealed in the comic.

While Tayler is often good at keeping his stories concise, I must admit I’ve found the “banter” between Para and Thurl to be tedious at best. In the time she spent insulting Thurl, she easily could have told Kevyn everything she needed to and thus continued the story. These last few comics have felt more like padding, with Tayler stretching out the story through Para’s insults rather than letting the comic flow more naturally. I can’t even say that it was Tayler remaining in character for Para, seeing that while she can be arrogant at times, I can’t really recall her being deliberately offensive. Well, not recently at least.

It can be tremendously hard to edit down writing. Often writers can fall in love with scenes, no matter how unnecessary, or with dialogue they feel is cute. But by cutting scenes down, writers can ensure their story continues to flow smoothly while retaining the reader’s attention. Likewise, Tayler has shown a willingness to use over-sized updates on days other than Sunday. Rather than pad these updates, he should have edited it down and presented the inevitable twist earlier. It would have saved him time and effort, and would help keep his readers enthralled with the storyline.