The Belfry WebComics Index

Altermeta

CID:1437 Subscriptions:232Readers this Week:5
Frequency:Inactive
Url:http://altermeta.net/
Genres:Action-Adventure, Anime, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Furry
Description*:Sex, Dragons and Rock & Roll! (well... it has dragons!)

About a world called Cavris as seen through the eyes of several teenage outcasts in the town of Star Rock Falls. It's a slice-of-life webcomic that follows the day-to-day adventures of a group of unlikely friends as they stave off the boredom of small-town life.

And fight ninjas.

- created and written by Casey Young.
* Descriptions are user submitted and might not express the views of the admins of this site, or of the comics creators themselves.
Flags:A Adult Situations
L Adult Language
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Entry Added:Mon, Apr 28, 2003
Entry Modified:Tue, May 31, 2016

Reviews: 2   Average Rating:
 

06:52pm 12/01/2011
 
Altermeta: The BANE of my critique.
To say that Altermeta has been a handful to try and critique would be one helluva understatement, and it's only recently that I've discovered why exactly, thus being able to counter that problem and write the following spiel. The problem in itself with critiquing is also the most significant problem of the comic, but one I' foresee becoming less and less of a problem, as I've gotten to see Noben's efforts at fixing this problem first hand.

Altermeta, in the loosest sense, follows the lives of a genuinely interesting ensemble of characters... who happen to be anthropomorphic dragons. There's Sasha, the loud and boisterous upbeat dude who falls victim to being one of the most effeminate characters in the comic. There's Ruth, the coffee sipping misanthropic who only loves appear to be aforementioned coffee and using his seemingly unlimited knowledge of just about everything to debate and quip with the other characters. T-Square, the pirate/tom-girl/well rounded character who brings a nice, healthy sense of normality to the nuttiness of the rest of the cast... when she's not beating up ninjas. CC, the aloof, but caring, older sister of the group who's seems to have seen and done more than any other person in the group (double entendre intended). Jo, the seemingly happy and ditzy girl of the group. Boo, the quieter, but innocuously cheery and nerdy "goth". And lastly, we have D'Shea, who on a superficial level, is an intelligent, athletic, and good looking average Joe who is one of the few people who keep debate nearly on par with Ruth, but in reality is a deeply socially awkward fellow who's personal relations are more than haphazard.

Obviously, we have an incredible range of characters going on here. Shame, though, the story that should tie them all together has been more or less nonexistent, and hence the reason why this comic is so damn hard to critique.

As a character study and a straight forward comedy, Altermeta excels for the most part. Noben has an admirable way of establishing character relations very thoroughly through her dialogue. I can tell plainly that Ruth seems utterly unimpressed with the crowd he hangs out with, but at the same time seems to accept them in stride in the fact that they truly are his friends. Sasha is intelligent and witty, only to be offset by a jaw that remains completely unhinged, for better or for worse (mostly for worse). All of this is almost lovingly tolerated by the rest of group. CC has an subtle "Been there, done that" attitude, yet doesn't hold it over the heads of others. Instead, she becomes the big sister to everyone.

The only two characters that don't follow this method are Jo and Boo, who only give the slightest indication of anything deeper. In fact, I learn more about them in the bios than I do in the comic. This is a rather significant problem for an ensemble comic as ambitious as this. I need to see these characters and the small moments of deeper introspection. Read: If there's something more underneath, it should show. We, as people, all put up masks to hide things we don't want to bother other people with. Occasionally, though, we slip up, and it sometimes puts an awkward halt on conversation. That said, in order to establish Jo and Boo as deeper characters, special attention needs to be paid. Do too little, and the moment where the reasons for their personality facades become contrived and unexpected. Too much, and it becomes overly dramatic, and to an extent may take away from the focus of the comic... whatever that may be.

And here's the part where I have to give this comic a somewhat-serious pop upside the head, and at the same time a hand shake and a hearty slap on the back.

Firstly, the pop. Quiet simply, the story up until the most recent arc have been in utter shambles. At first it seems like we're following some misadventures in the lives of some students (high school or otherwise), but then it takes a turn for the seemingly goofy and strange, concerning a possessed bath scrubbie. This is not a joke, though it can be forgiven, seeing as ninjas had previously attacked T-Square, our pirate friend. But the story itself was disjointed. Then it goes into a medieval dip, dragging the characters into what I can only assume is a non-canon fantasy trip. Then we're snapped back again, back into an arc that is loosely connected to the first, making a small callback concerning the scrubbie. Then we have an April Fools comic arc that paired D'Shea and Sasha in a yaoi fantasy. And on and on and so forth.

I must admit, saying that the story is in shambles implies that there was a solid one to begin with. I'd have to compare it more honestly to attempting to complete several jigsaw puzzles at once. You're not getting a full picture, and before you can, another one has been started. This was the problem that plagued me on my previous attempts to critique this comic. I wanted to critique more than just on the art and occasional punch lines, but how to do so when the story isn't there? Well, I have to look at kept me reading this comic, and it was the characters. They're charming, simply put, in the ways they interact.

Now, before I launch into the more optimistic part of this critique, I must make a small aside concerning the author and the fact that she's fully aware that the story is disjointed. In fact, I think it's a bit of a Catch 22. Noben recognizes that the previous story arcs had little to no direction, and she obviously has no hesitation about changing thing. Admirable, in a way. She's the driver who doesn't wait fifty miles before admitting she might have made a wrong turn... no, she's the driver who drive half a mile before she launches into another direction. Is this good? Is this bad? It's both, and it really depends on the direction she settles on in the end, or if she settles on a direction. She's no doubt heard this many times before, and I hesitate to bring it up once again, but, I'm fairly certain I would have my webcomic reviewing license revoked (if such a thing existed), if I didn't mention it. With the exception of gag-a-day comics, story is key. More so, consistent story is key. Settle on a direction. It's the only way a comic will keep one involved.

So, that said, I must state my admiration for the newest direction of the comic (with the current intermission aside, more on that later). I consider the "best" start of this comic to be the full introduction of Ruth, the coffee sipping eternal skeptic. His arc concerning a dinner party with Sasha's parents and other company is what I would call a perfect example of how the comic needs to go. I get to learn more about Ruth, see him deeper than the superficially snarky fellow he is, and I get to see him interact with Sasha on a more socially intimate level. Even Sasha's portrayal in the arc is well crafted. He's certainly himself, but not the focus of the farther character development, and I beleive that the fact that I can SEE this clearly, but not redundantly, speaks volumes about how much Noben has sharpened the stone throughout her story telling.

(Currently there is a VERSUS story arc going on between CC and Boo, characters chosen to duke it out through the forums. Scott Pilgrim inspired? Or maybe more basically inspired by fighting games? Either way, it's entertaining as an interlude as the rest of the story is crafted, and something that impressed me as something to get the readers involved. You don't get that very often, with the exception of MsPaint Adventure comics.)

The last thing I'll touch on, though just briefly, is the art. In earlier arcs there's the expected lack of luster and polish, but it gets better. Much better. At first Noben uses a type of shading that seemingly dulled the colors in the characters and background in an effort to create depth. To a degree, it worked, but blurred lines and made things seem... undefined. More so in some scenes than in others. (Nonetheless, Noben makes good use of her interesting dragon design to effectively convey an extremely wide range of emotion and expression.)

However, this small bit of critique is invalid as of the March 26th update. In fact, Noben utterly lampoons this while shattering the fourth wall with Ruth's line, "...some characters don't require heavy shading and highlights to have actual 'depth'".

And that, I think, is the greatest strength of this comic. A willingness to change style and story. And so interesting are the characters in the mean time, I'm willing to wait eagerly for when the story finally settles on something solid.

~LSC
09:41am 11/07/2011
 
Wonderful art, great characters, a fun story.
Well worth checking out! ^.^
08:30pm 02/25/2010
(Unrated)
A delightful moment's diversion...
but only a moment's diversion, and nothing more.

Altermeta is a beautifully rendered comic with extremely endearing characters, but seems to be the artist's inspiration dump--not that there's anything WRONG with that, mind you--it's just that, things only happen when they want to happen, and that's not often.

Stop by once every few months and see if a page or two has been added; really it seems like an author's attempt to give their characters a few desperate gasps of life as often as they are capable, and that capability seems fleeting.

Maybe they're going to college?
Maybe they have a work schedule that eats their entire day and does not enable them to do anything on the side?
Maybe they have a constant case of artist's block?
Maybe they're a chronic gamer/chatter and have more interesting things to do?
One way or another, the comic seems to be a dreamlike, intermittent labor of convenience. Come here and appreciate the character design, and a few excerpts of personality... but you won't find much else.

Over all, I don't think it's appropriate to rate this as a comic. As far as artistic prowess, it is without a doubt top-teir, but be advised: there is NO pace, there is NO progress. It's just pretty art and wonderful characters. Use your own imagination if you want them to do something.
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