Simon at Webcomic Musings reviews Hereville. The review is positive, but critical. He thinks my muppet-like jaws are a bit too much, drawing most of his examples from the early pages. I have to admit, I agree with him about that; especially in the first 20 or so pages, my devotion to big muppet-like mouths goes too far (if such a thing is possible!), and prevents me from using appropriate expressions. (In my opinion, anyhow.)
Simon is also critical of the Shabbos sequence:
The plot looks like it will be an interesting one; it’s the first I’ve heard of a Jewish dragon-slayer, much less one who looks to be about twelve or so (unless I’m mistaken, which I often am). The upshot of this is a unique viewpoint for the main character and a really novel setting and personality for people. The downside of this is that right as the Marilyn Manson impersonator reveals how Mirka can get started on the path toward dragonslayerhood, the plot gets interrupted for The Great Muppet Shabbat.
(A side note: challah is delicious bread, and I wish I lived closer to a Great Harvest store so I could buy it more often, but after seeing this page, I will spend the rest of my life checking my loaves of bread for ethereal possession or possible interment of small young girls.)
The downside of any comic that cuts the action in order to present a tidbit of information in earnest (as opposed to Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams novels, which play such up for laughs) is that the reader generally feels cheated. It may be interesting, it may be essential, but it’s not what the reader came for. It’s like when I went to Subway recently and they mixed my order up with another person’s, so I ended up with roast beef and mustard instead of peppered turkey and mayonnaise. Sure, it was still a good sandwich, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Steven Bergson, of Jewish Comics Blog, emailed me:
I understand his point, but personally I not only didn’t mind the “interruption”, but enjoyed it. I don’t think one has to be Jewish to appreciate that section of the story, but when one is Jewish (even if non-observant), one understands that in “real life”, shabbos is a kind of interruption, but one that (usually) one looks forward to. Mirka isn’t the type of character who would ignore shabbos just to hunt trolls (there are priorities, after all) and I think it would be dishonest to purposely leave out shabbos from her narrative since it is an important part of the character’s life.
I can see both their points. I wanted to really get across how central and important shabbos is in Mirka’s life (and the lives of most folks who live in Aherville). And I wanted to “show, not tell” — hence, many pages were devoted to shabbos. But it’s one of the things that I know could throw some readers off, so I certainly understand Simon’s criticism.
Anyhow, thanks to Webcomic Musings and Simon for his review, and to Steven for his thoughts.