Welcome to Webcomic Trek, a review series that focuses on webcomics. My name is David Davis and I am the author of a couple of comics and published writer. I love webcomics and I love sharing my thoughts about them. So, what webcomic are we tackling this time around?
This time we are diving into the webcomic West Tree Academy of Heroes by Zach Vanzile, or Zachdewd.
West Tree Academy of Heroes is about hero hopefuls in the 25th century who hope to challenge a dark organization. TV Tropes sums it up as an Action-Adventure Dramedy, and for the most part that fits.
The posting schedule is a bit erratic, so I am not able to quite determine a schedule, though it seems lately the comic is getting one to two pages a week.
What works about West Tree Academy of Heroes?
Generally, I try to give a webcomic about 10 pages or so to pull me in. Usually a comic offers something that sparks interest or curiosity and encourages me to dig further. West Tree Academy did grab my attention, but it was because it was all very strange. There is a sort of veneer of satire to it that I fully admit I am not quite understanding. Things seem off like there is a joke just below the surface and I am not getting it. Maybe what kept me reading was that I was feeling challenged to decipher something.
This was compounded further by the author’s plea to skip to just before chapter 21(!). This leads to a recap of the previous chapters. I just found myself more puzzled from there by a recap that laid out a lot of material that was strangely formatted. It was an odd, somewhat offputting experience.
Realizing that I am approaching a comic that is not attempting to be entirely polished, I opted to skip ahead to the most recent two chapters. That brought me to chapter 38, titled “Get your skinny little mexican ass to prom!”
I just found myself even more confused, but I could see some improvement here and there. While characters are still “wonky” the forms seem more solid overall. Well, ignoring some of the more blatant shortcuts.
The writing features some pretty bold cringe-comedy, which I do appreciate to a degree. I mean…
What could use some work?
Regarding the art style: I am not a fan. It’s a blend of manga-expressionism with western cartooning influences, but it doesn’t quite gel. Proportions are strange, the art often looks hurried, and a lot of the shots feel like afterthoughts, putting emphasis on strange places. It’s just too wacky for me. It just feels a little too amateurish.
As far as the writing, I believe I am getting the intent, but this comic needs to be edited. While I have a feeling that the chapter skip suggested by the author is some sort of meta-commentary, I am not entirely convinced of this. The rest of the product just doesn’t really indicate any satirical value in that sort of move was entirely intended. If the comic is satirical, which I am inclined to believe is the aim, I am at a loss for what exactly is being satirized.
I guess I am not really seeing any larger goal in all of this.
While I am not really feeling West Tree Academy of Heroes the comic has a dedicated following and its fans, which I totally get. The comic has elements that have proven appealing to an audience of its own. I just am not in that audience. In my own estimation, the tone feels inconsistent and the art, while it improves, never really does enough to cross over into an appealing style. I just feel like there is a joke being told and I am not quite getting it.
Verdict: Not my speed.
If you have a webcomic that you would like reviewed, please contact me on Twitter (@hpkomic) or you can drop a link in the comments on this review.