Li’l Kids: road to god knows… adventures!

Von Allan really knows a lot about comics. He writes knowledgeably about the business at his blog, and he’s clearly thought through what he wants to do. Which is write and draw a graphic novel.

Lil Kids cover
Li’l Kids
Buy this book

Unfortunately, his art is not of professional-level quality. It’s uncomfortable to read, because the characters are off so much they don’t quite look human. There’s no flow between panels, and even when the art is technically correct, it’s the wrong choice because it gives the reader the wrong impression of what’s going on. For example, the first page shows a girl bouncing a ball. The ball is drawn as an oval instead of a circle, which is correct in how it appears to the eye in real life, but it took me much too long to figure out that the ball was really round instead of football-shaped. As a result, I didn’t know what the action was, since the panel sequence only showed the ball and her foot. That’s much too much work for a sequence that’s only meant to set the scene.

See for yourself — the whole book is downloadable as a PDF, so no need to spend any money. The package consists of three interconnected comic stories (for a total of 25 pages, only a quarter of the 88-page book) and an extensive amount of backup material, including concept art and for each story, breakdowns, outlines, and full script. This book would be of much more value if he’d left out the comics and just shown how the process works in developing a story for the medium. He should write instructional books instead of drawing.

6 Responses to “Li’l Kids: road to god knows… adventures!”

  1. amanda Says:

    I think it seems almost as if you have a personal grudge against him, rather than a firm critique of his work, considering that your only able to give one concrete example of why you personally think it doesn’t work and your previous entry regarding him comes across as snarky. I think his angular, geometric shaped bodies give a better sense of how awkward they are as characters, which gives them more a feeling of believability. I honestly wish MORE graphic artists were as open as Von Allan, he’s SO forthcoming with his information in an age where its each man for himself, everything about him and his work is REFRESHING, plain and simple. It’s nice to see something, that although you feel is “unprofessional”, at the very minimum least is honest and isn’t run of the mill where everything is so “perfect graphic art-like” that it becomes a boring cliche!

  2. Riana Says:

    I second Amanda. You don’t even discuss the plot. The jab at the end comes across especially inappropriate.

  3. Drea Says:

    How is it that his work is “not of professional quality”?

    How does his drawing style make his comics “Uncomfortable” to read?

    You site one example from an entire book.

    His style is different than a lot of what I’ve seen, and that is in no way a negative. Whats wrong with having a personal style? Isn’t that what professional illustrators aspire to?

    “He should write instructional books instead of drawing.”

    I think perhaps you should spend less of your time staring at balls on the first page, and actually read the story, and look at the characters.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Amanda, I’m afraid you’ve misread me — I don’t have any grudge against Von. The times we’ve spoken in person, it’s been quite pleasant. And I must say, he took this review much better than you did.

    I’m glad the art works for you. I agree his openness is refreshing, but I stand by my statement that his actual drawing is of amateur level.

    Riana, it’s not a jab, it’s a compliment. I think he’s got great skills in other areas and I would love to see him exercise them more. And there’s no need to discuss the plot when I’m recommending people don’t buy the book. Especially since these aren’t so much stories as incidents.

    Drea, it seems that I can’t win with you. If I don’t give an example, you want one; if I do, it’s “only one example.” I’m not writing an essay on the work’s flaws here, I’m giving my recommendation.

    There’s nothing wrong with an individual style. However, if having the characters’ features look like they don’t fit or belong on the skulls underneath is an artistic choice (instead of a sign more practice is needed), then I would argue it’s a bad one.

  5. Johanna Says:

    OK, obviously Von’s got fans, and I see people coming from livejournal based on a friends-locked post. That’s great, that people are willing to defend such a nice guy. But I’ve already had to delete one comment for going overboard in their defense and personally attacking me. Insults towards any participant in discussion here are not allowed and will be removed. Other than that, you’re welcome to share your differing opinions.

  6. Alan Coil Says:

    I am not a comic book creator, but if I was, I’d welcome yet dread having you review the work. Welcome the blunt honesty intellectually, dread the blunt honesty emotionally.

    The hardest part of taking criticism is trying to separate the ego from the work.




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