OK, here we go with some more feedback. Wil, I hope you're not feeling too worn out by all this and I really hope you don't feel like we're piling on. We just wanted to give you a thorough review that hopefully helps even in a small way.
Today's installment is from editor Lucas Wetzel. Lucas is the "first read" editor behind such comic gems as Big Nate, Drabble, F-Minus, Frank and Ernest, Jump Start, Lio, Monty, Nancy, Reality Check, Soup to Nutz and our newest comic WuMo! Lucas can also play various assorted musical instruments (not the bassoon sadly though), speak German and worked at his family's butcher shop/meat market for many years. -JG
Take it away, Lucas.
First of all, great title for a strip, and a fun concept. These are familiar characters with an everyday twist, which gives the strip an instant lightness and likability that might otherwise take a lot of time to achieve.
Visually, I'd like Steinway's character to stand out a little bit more, maybe a little bit brighter green. There seems to be a little variation in his color tone. For example, the 9/25/13 strip shows him with a nice, luminous green skin tone, while the 9/26 strip he looks a little bit darker and more dull. The characters' eyes are a bit too bulbous for my liking, which can make their faces look a little too generic and similar to each other.
I enjoy the fun, laid-back interaction in the comic. The teasing is good-natured, such as in the sequence where Steinway's hands are replaced by feet. I also like that the comic adheres to rather short story-arcs — they're fleshed out but not overdone. I enjoy the simple moments where they're hanging out at home, watching TV or goofing around on the computer. These feel more natural than the occasional gags that feel engineered mostly in service of a punchlines.
I think the strip is strongest when the characters encounter bizarre people or interesting environments, whether it's the fun, detailed excursion into Comic Con, or the visit to Steinway's Buffet Club, which is a much more enjoyable and humorous read than a series of one-off fat jokes. I hope the strip continues to pursue bizarre and interesting scenarios like that, which to me are more interesting than familiar tropes such as the "characters works as Santa" storyline of the past two Decembers (I've noticed some of the Sherpa storylines repeated in 2013).
One of the strip's most unique qualities is how Frank and Steinway are part of a larger monster / spirit-world fraternity. It's not just any strip where a cameo from Ghost Rider or The Invisible Man is routine. I'd like to see the strip continue to take advantage of that, perhaps giving the reader a chance to get to know them beyond their most obvious qualities (Girls don't notice the invisible man in the bar, etc.).
My recommendation: Keep writing gags. A lot of gags. Pare down to the ones that you like, that surprise you, that make you laugh. Don't be afraid for the characters to sound intelligent and to give them a little more depth and complexity beyond being just lazy, annoying or overweight. Think of the characters as real people rather than cartoon monsters, and readers will begin to do the same.
The artwork, comic timing and likability in Frank & Steinway is all very solid, and I hope to see the strip tread even weirder and more eccentric ground as time goes on.