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Spotlight - Poharex
September 13, 2015
4:08 pm
Michael Yakutis
Crescent City, CA

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DINOSAURS!! What more could you ask for?

We're spotlighting the savage and exciting adventures of Poharex, by @DoryH !

Please check out the comic and leave your feedback in the comments below. And this would be a great time to submit some fan art for the series! Who doesn't love drawing dinos? They're fun!

Also, be sure to read the incredible #TalkingComics interview between Dory and Kevin Cullen where they talk about technique, motivation, and the inception of the comic wayyyy back in 2003. It'll blow your socks off!

 

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poharex_sample_page.jpg

Comic Name: Poharex

Creator Name: Dory Holtzman


Underdog Forum Username:  DoryH

Comic Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Comic Synopsis: In a prehistoric land, one Tyrannosaurus rises up to become the defender of all dinosaurs. But does the greatest predator who ever lived have what it takes to save the world?

Comic Link: http://poharex.webs.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Poharex

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealPoharex

Do you have a comic that you'd like to sign up for spotlight? You may sign up here! And don't forget to take a look at our Spotlight Tips to learn how you can make the best out of it. 

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September 13, 2015
10:35 pm
keiiii
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Using an entirely non-humanoid cast is definitely a challenging task. It doesn't make the story any less good than its hypothetical all-humanoid-cast version would be, but it DOES make it less accessible. Anthro works have this problem too, to a lesser degree.

The dinos in Poharex are amazingly expressive with their faces, but their body structures place a huge limit on body language -- which is an important part of a story. I think you often do a great job at making up for it with the use of camera angles to set the mood. Frankly, this is a toughie without tweaking their body structures, which is NOT what I am recommending (that seems like it would change the comic in a fundamental way). I would like to see something more done with the body language, though. Little details like claws raking the ground as a part of posturing (which is different from claws raking the ground while running around; the former is a body language, while the latter is a byproduct of a practical action), furious stomping on a dry branch, nervous tail twitch? Something along those lines. Something to think about 🙂 

I like that you use the full range of values when rendering. The darker scenes are kinda hard for me to see, but that might be just my monitor.

Lastly, I think that's the best attitude to have: to believe in the story you want to tell, while accepting your execution could always be improved. 

September 14, 2015
7:25 pm
Zanreo
Norway
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I've read a bit of your comic in the past and gotta say it seems interesting! Dinosaur comics are indeed niche, but it's great that you don't let that stop you and still keep working on what you like!

September 15, 2015
2:18 am
DoryH
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Thank you, @keiiii for taking the time to read through my archives and write down that long, thoughtful comment. You make a very good point about body language. While I usually try to have more "human-like" body language for at least the bipedal characters (so it would be more intuitive for the readers) it is indeed far more challenging for the quadrupeds. You made some very good suggestions and I'll try to work on that more for the next installments.

As far as value issues go- I found out it does indeed vary between monitors. Perhaps one day, when I manage to put out some printed copies this problem can be diminished.

Again, thank you for this thoughtful, and to-the-point, critique. It is greatly appreciated.

@Zanreo - Thanks for your kind words. I hope you'll stick around for the next chapter.

At the risk of coming across as a bit nitpicky, I would like to address what you both said about it being "niche" or "less accessible". Many people have told me that in the past, most of them not in good intention (which I'm sure isn't the case for either of you). Personally I don't care for these terms because they imply the "accessibility" of a work is an objective, measurable thing and that it's the creator's responsibility to make something appealing to as many people as possible. I do not believe that. The only thing stopping readers from "accessing" a work are the readers themselves.

September 15, 2015
12:48 pm
keiiii
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DoryH said
Personally I don't care for these terms because they imply the "accessibility" of a work is an objective, measurable thing and that it's the creator's responsibility to make something appealing to as many people as possible.

Dude! I've actually talked to one writer who specifically tailored his stories for maximum mass appeal, and it made me run far, far away. For each story, he had the core premise, and everything else had a specific, deliberate mass appeal purpose to it. @_@ What a bizarre way to write...

At the same time, you can't fault people for liking or not liking something for purely subjective, even superficial, reasons. It does become a problem though, when they start insisting their subjective reasons are objective truths... Which sadly happens all too often. 🙁 

September 15, 2015
5:57 pm
Tantz Aerine
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COngratulations on the spotlight! It's very much deserved. I haven't really ever encountered a comic where so much dinosaur diversity is so well depited and accurate. And it always impressed me how you could give expressions to reptilian faces. 

 

September 16, 2015
5:35 pm
Pinkilicious
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Dory,

Well, you have managed to make a comic that fulfills every youthful joy of my life - Dinosaurs? Prophecies? Magic? Explosions? All that and more! Niche, perhaps, because of the choice of characters. But, very fun!

Firstly, your art has made great strides since the beginning, the most recent jump to digital has really made a tremendous difference! I do notice, however, that the digital pages are a bit dark, and while on some pages it adds to the atmosphere, it can make it overall hard to see things. I would perhaps reserve the darkest pages for moments like the secret cavern, and lighten up your palette. The digital switch also fixed my biggest issue with the earlier chapters - the words were very small and a bit hard to read! Could you have your hand colored pages display larger? (I imagine that would involve re-uploading them all, which would be a pain, but it could be nice!)

Finally, you occasionally explore different sizes and arrangements of panels. I would keep changing things up, as a predictable panel size and layout can get, well, predictable!

Great fun reading your comic!

September 18, 2015
11:02 am
BluRaven C. Houvener
Want nothin' more than ta' leave, Michigan
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 Dory, you are such an amazing artist and I am so happy you got this spotlight! You definitely deserve it!

 

September 20, 2015
10:27 am
DoryH
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@Tantz Aerine @Pinkilicious @BluRaven C. Houvener Thank you all very, very much for the compliments. It is truly heartwarming.

Pinkilicious said
I do notice, however, that the digital pages are a bit dark, and while on some pages it adds to the atmosphere, it can make it overall hard to see things. I would perhaps reserve the darkest pages for moments like the secret cavern, and lighten up your palette.

Interesting...do you only feel this way about the night/dark scenes, or the day scenes as well? Are only the backgrounds too dark, or the characters as well? How much (in numbers) would you recommend me to raise the values? Or is this problem caused by contrast with the gutter, and a black gutter would make it look better?

How many people out there feel this way? If it turns out to be a common problem I would definitely consider changing the colors a bit.

September 29, 2015
9:06 am
Pinkilicious
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Sorry Dory, took me a while to get back to this. 

I went back to look at your most recent chapter, and when I turn my screen brightness all the way up the daytime scenes are fine. (I guess I was looking at it with a low screen previously, my night-owl tendencies.) The nighttime and in-a-cave scenes still seem a little dark to me. I'm not sure how to quantify it, but I think it's a matter of contrast? A character blending into the darkness can be nice and dramatic, but sometimes an item that is meant to be seen and noticed is hard to pick out. I think a black gutter might make it even more confusing! THe fire effects (which are really nice, BTW) mebbe should illuminate more area around them.  Fortunately changing my screen improved the readability, so if anyone else mentions the darkness you should have an easy fix!

September 30, 2015
7:57 pm
Professor Etheric
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@DoryH Do you even know how happy I am for you to get the spotlight, my friend?  This is awesome!  Congrats!

"Keep a spirit of madness in you, just enough so you don't become stupid. Just a little touch of madness will keep you alive, because no one in the world knows how to tax that." -Robin Williams, "Reality... What a Concept!"

September 30, 2015
8:36 pm
melaredblu
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I am a horrible, lazy person who took forever to get around to this, but now the time has come!

As always, website first. Personally, I do prefer that the latest page be the first thing I see when I visit a comic, but I suppose the landing page you have is fine, since there's a nice, easy-to-access link to the latest page right there. Can't complain too much. However, it appears that The World is either a broken link or not made yet. The Games link is a cool extra, but I'm hopelessly inept and couldn't figure out how to play the games upon downloading. I assume I lack the proper software. You might want to consider throwing a mirror up on Armor Games or something to make them easier to access. Or not. Honestly, the comic is the main deal anyway. At any rate, my success with your extras was lacking, but I give you credit for making them. Again, I'm pretty inept, so take from it what you will.

The first thing I wanted to point out was how impressed I was by the dramatic improvement the art made in the latest chapter. While I like the attention to detail and the dino-expressions (it's impressive that you managed to wring so much expression from a realistic reptilian face!), the inking and coloring underwhelmed me a bit. Now, it's much more clean and I can really appreciate the realistic designs of the dinosaurs. However, during the darker scenes, the color is dark and kind of murky and I had to tilt my laptop at times just to see what was going on. Somebody else said higher contrast would fix this, but I have another suggestion--lay off the black a little more. You don't need to make a night time scene actually dark to look like night. Instead, darken it just a bit (unless you have a scene were obscuring things is intentional) and give everything a bluish tint. Also, with the scenes where Raspberry is on fire, you should have the entire page tinted red, especially if it's at night when there's no other source of illumination. I hope these tips help!

As for the writing, I do appreciate a good adventure story and I like the mish-mash of sci-fi, action, and fantasy you have here. On those points, the story does a great job mixing and playing around with those story elements. If I had one thing to criticize, it would be that some of the character writing is awkward. Most of the side characters, besides Poharex and Raspberry, don't really stand out much. I think you might want to give more limelight to your ensemble cast. I'm also not sure what to make of the villains at this point. I assume they're trying to colonize Earth, but the reason for that seems to be a mystery. Perhaps that's something you intend to reveal at some point, though, so I won't harp on it. Really, only two things kind of bug me. First, Poharex really seems to repeat himself a lot. Self-doubts, saying he should have this or that power, and in chapters that have self-contained plots, it seems like he reiterates what's on his mind just a few too many times. For example, the mating season thing. You really only have to bring up his motivation once and let the story move along from there. The other thing that bugs me is Soraya. You have this one character among the ensemble cast who's unique, who knows about things the dinosaurs don't, and who has connections they don't have, but she's mostly been used as a plot device with no real character growth. I'd really like to see her unique skills come to play. In a story all about dinosaurs, I know it seems weird to focus on the human-like creature, but she's supposed to have joined the main group and I was a little disappointed that she hasn't really played much of a role beyond having to be rescued again. She even points out to the characters that her knowledge of cities would be useful to them, only to completely disappear for a while. It seems like a waste.

That's probably a lot to take in, but honestly, despite finding some parts of the comic needing work, I did enjoy reading it and I'll probably subscribe on CF so I can keep up with it. I hope my feedback is useful, but believe me when I say this--you latest chapter is by far your finest work yet, both in terms of writing and art, and I really want to see what you're going to do with it from here on in.

October 2, 2015
1:59 am
DoryH
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@Professor Etheric Hey, good to see you again. Thank you for the congratulation, it means a lot coming from you.

 

@melaredblu Many thanks for taking the time to read my comic and to write this lengthy, thoughtful and honest critique. Your criticizing strikes me as coming from a good place, as in "I like this comic and want to see it become the best it can be" rather than the all-too-common "I hate dinosaurs/you so I'm going to tear you a new one". Honestly, this kind of reader interaction is what I always needed, but rarely ever got. I want to know who my readers are, what they think, what they like and what they don't. If it took me a while to respond to this critique, it is mainly because I spent a long time thinking about it. It is truly appreciated.

As always, website first. Personally, I do prefer that the latest page be the first thing I see when I visit a comic, but I suppose the landing page you have is fine, since there's a nice, easy-to-access link to the latest page right there. Can't complain too much. However, it appears that The World is either a broken link or not made yet. The Games link is a cool extra, but I'm hopelessly inept and couldn't figure out how to play the games upon downloading. I assume I lack the proper software. You might want to consider throwing a mirror up on Armor Games or something to make them easier to access. Or not. Honestly, the comic is the main deal anyway. At any rate, my success with your extras was lacking, but I give you credit for making them. Again, I'm pretty inept, so take from it what you will.

Heh, I'm glad you didn't see the previous site design. It was a glorious mess. For the current design I took a few notes from @keiiii 's Heart of Keol, whose minimalist approach, in my opinion, really hits the spot when it comes to navigating what is, at its core, an art-focused website.

The World section is still pretty much in the planning stage. The main reason behind me making it is there are many aspects to the world I've designed that cannot be explained in the main story without making some really awkward excursions. Also, it would hopefully make understanding some aspects of the comic a bit easier to those readers who don't have a lot of knowledge in paleontology.

Playing the games should be simple enough. Just extract the ZIP into a folder of your choice and run the EXE to play. The reason I didn't post mirrors on Armor Games, Kongregate etc. is simply because these are not Flash games. I lack the ability to make games in Flash, and instead use Game Maker. It may limit exposure significantly, but... that's what it is. But, like you said, the comics are the main attraction anyway.

the inking and coloring underwhelmed me a bit. Now, it's much more clean and I can really appreciate the realistic designs of the dinosaurs. However, during the darker scenes, the color is dark and kind of murky and I had to tilt my laptop at times just to see what was going on. Somebody else said higher contrast would fix this, but I have another suggestion--lay off the black a little more. You don't need to make a night time scene actually dark to look like night.

I'm contemplating making my colors a bit brighter. Do you experience any problems with the day scenes, or only with the night/dark scenes?

If I had one thing to criticize, it would be that some of the character writing is awkward. Most of the side characters, besides Poharex and Raspberry, don't really stand out much. I think you might want to give more limelight to your ensemble cast.

The lack of focus on some of the cast did not evade me. Back when I was a significantly less experienced writer, I actually did give Todor and Eperok a day in the limelight with issue #6, and that happens to be my least favorite chapter of the lot. That said, with my (relatively) recent transition to digital art, my intention was to improve more than just the artwork itself. I wanted to one-up my game in every possible aspect, from the cleaner visuals, through more realistic creature designs to changing the story format. Starting with the current story arc that begins with issue #12, my intention is indeed to give a bit more focus to the secondary characters. They're still going to play second fiddle to Poharex, the greater good of the series demands it, but their light will shine brighter from now on.

I'm also not sure what to make of the villains at this point. I assume they're trying to colonize Earth, but the reason for that seems to be a mystery.

Not sure which villains in particular you refer to, but there's just one problem with your hypothesis- this isn't Earth. I've planned a whole cosmology for the series, and, in fact, one of the main reasons the World section isn't ready is I'm having a bit of writers' block with naming the planet. At any rate, whatever villain motives aren't clear yet will be later on.

Poharex really seems to repeat himself a lot. Self-doubts, saying he should have this or that power, and in chapters that have self-contained plots, it seems like he reiterates what's on his mind just a few too many times.

"It's not a bug, it's a feature".

It may seem like a writing oversight, but this is something I've been planning, deliberately, since the beginning. Poharex carries a lot of psychological damage from his life prior to issue #1 (something I will touch upon eventually, whenever I get around to telling the origin story), and while he can get the job done when it's time to act, he can still get lost in the darkness all too easily. This is something I've been planning to tackle hard (and perhaps, partially resolve? or not?) in issue #13, so you're going to either really love or really hate the upcoming chapter. Hopefully you'll stick around long enough to find out.

The other thing that bugs me is Soraya. You have this one character among the ensemble cast who's unique, who knows about things the dinosaurs don't, and who has connections they don't have, but she's mostly been used as a plot device with no real character growth. I'd really like to see her unique skills come to play. In a story all about dinosaurs, I know it seems weird to focus on the human-like creature, but she's supposed to have joined the main group and I was a little disappointed that she hasn't really played much of a role beyond having to be rescued again. She even points out to the characters that her knowledge of cities would be useful to them, only to completely disappear for a while. It seems like a waste.

All true and valid. You might be pleased to know that I have already been contemplating ways to bring her back at some point during this story arc, but your succinct and accurate analysis of Soraya is the one thing in your critique that made me think hardest. In fact, your prompting me to think about Soraya from your perspective had just inspired me come up with some new ideas that may yet help her and other characters grow. So, thank you for that. You were obviously invested enough in the story to give me this analysis of the character, and again, this is the kind of interaction I've been missing most.

October 3, 2015
3:42 pm
melaredblu
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I'm contemplating making my colors a bit brighter. Do you experience any problems with the day scenes, or only with the night/dark scenes?

My problem with the colors is mainly visibility, not hue. I could make suggestions in the future on how to make the colors even better, but let's focus on the practicals first. Your colors look nice and I can see just fine during the day scenes. It's the dark portions that are hard to see. Like I said, you can solve that by just using a cooler color palette, rather than adding black to the scene.

See this random picture I pulled from Google images? I types in "night time anime" to give you an idea of how they do scenes like this in animation (Also, I'm a weeb. Sue me.). In both Western and Eastern animation, blue is a popular choice to dominate a night scene without making it hard to see. There's an illusion of darkness, but as you can see from the picture, it's actually really bright. Of course the moon is a huge clue that it's night, but even without that, you can clearly tell it's supposed to be dark without actually being dark.

If you haven't already, looking into color theory for examples on how to use color palettes for certain moods or times of day can be very helpful for ideas. I highly recommend it. While a full palette is nice, sometimes a monochromatic or analogous scheme is the better way to go. I'll leave you with a few more examples for you to mull over.

October 4, 2015
9:49 pm
hipopotamo
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Better late than never.

When I was a kid, I used to make littel movies and comic strips with color pencils over white paper.

Reading Poharex reminds me of these endeavors. The first chapters look pretty much like my humble beginnings.

This is one of the things I like about this comic: the perseverance to create a wold and develop it, as the author's abilities also developed. 

It is quite the journey to read through the archives and see the story and art improve.

The story has become more solid and engaging, specially with the last chapter.

There is not much I can add in terms of art. Melaredblu mostly nailed it: a more light palette might do wonders.

I love the idea of the videogame, and in general I congratulate Dory for all the effort devoted to this comic.

I love dinosaurs, and I think this is a clever idea to create a story about them.

Cheers from the Potamus

M9 Girls

November 26, 2015
9:08 pm
Atsuuikakura
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Oh hey, it's Poharex! Poharex  kind of reminds me of Worf on Star Trek, because he's this badass talking dinosaur, but boy does he get beat up a lot. I gotta read more of this sometime.

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