The Mystical Emerald-Man (Comic Book)

So this is what that madman has been working on instead of posting new art topics or bat girl memes.

Indeed. The Mystical Emerald-Man is a comic I have been developing for a while. As some of you boards veterans may have known. You may even remember an older version of this comic once upon a time. Well after years of rewrites and rescripting to get it just right in my eyes, it is finally here: The Mystical Emerald-Man, the Last of the Druids!


It follows Stephen Barnes inheriting a strange gem from his late father, confronted with the spirit of an old druid and a conflict lasting 1500 years. Will Stephen take this burden upon himself or be crushed?

You can read the first issue here:

https://tapas.io/episode/2693629
(If this does not work mods, please let me know, and I will just upload the images here instead so it does not count as promotion. I just desire to have it in one place and not have to upload a butt ton of images to the boards and destroy Eljay and Varderan’s bank accounts.)

Please let me know what you guys think! I will try to update this as much as I can, but making these by myself takes a while.

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Why the heck does it call it “adult content” on your comic site? It’s no worse than the animated Batman cartoons. Or Scooby Doo, for that matter. It’s a good comic. I like the premise quite a lot.

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It’s because of the presence of drugs (cigars) and blood and violence. Though these things are light, the website doesn’t like them shown to children so I marked it for 18 and older just in case.

And thank you! Any questions/critiques?

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Very, very cool! As a fellow comic enthusiast/creator, it’s always great to see other peoples’ projects like this!

I have a few, if you’re in need.

My biggest issue is the paneling, and it’s two-fold: layout and style.

In terms of layout, I was able to navigate the story easy enough, but on quite a few pages you’ve committed a sort of comic cardinal sin. I know the early Bionicle comics did this a lot, but this:

is usually a pretty big no-no.

Because, while most readers will eventually be able to decipher the order, there is no intuitive reading order to this specific layout.

This:

and this:

are both equally valid options. But there’s confusion because typical reading order (in English) is left to right and then down. It’s not usually natural to read down and then left, which is what happens in this issue a lot.

What’s worse is when the layout is so confusing that you need to actually show these arrows in the comic itself. Again, the early Bionicle comics did this, but generally speaking those arrows are immersion breaking and kinda unsightly.

For panel layouts, you should always be striving to make the flow on the page 100% intuitive and natural. There should never really be a need for a reader to go back and check they read the page correctly.

On the topic of style, I should say…this issue doesn’t really have any. Every panel in this first issue is straight and rectangular and, aside from a few exceptions, all have evenly spaced gutters. And only two panels seem to have any sort of art overlap or breaking the panel borders.

Page 6 is my favorite in the entire issue because it’s the one page that actually has some great style. The cloak cutting across the panel borders, transitioning into a blood red color, framing the characters’ faces and being a thematic backdrop to how they’re feeling is just really cool, and it’s very well done (except for the aforementioned confusion layout at the bottom of that page).

The action scenes in particular suffer from the rigid panel borders.

Your panels are just as much a part of the art and storytelling as…well, the art and storytelling. There’s so much more you can do to elevate that aspect of the comic experience here: have characters and objects break the borders more, use diagonal or jagged panel lines, use no borders and fill a whole section of the page, use a double page spread for big dramatic moments, space the panels out really far apart to make time feel like it’s drifting away, etc. Try and make each page different from the last and, most importantly, make the panels a part of the storytelling.

Big moments should take up more of the page. If your characters are feeling stressed and pressured, make the panels squeeze them even tighter. If the action is vertical, fill the entire page with vertical panels that extend down the entire page, or the opposite for horizontal action.

Panels aren’t just the container for the art, they are a part of the art itself.


Speaking of which, the art itself is pretty good. I think perhaps some of the action posing could use some refinement, but generally speaking I like the character designs and the faces and expressions.

I will definitely be keeping my eye on this project; I’d absolutely love to see more! Keep up the good work!

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I will try and avoid those kind of panels in the future! And you’re right, panels are part of storytelling. I must integrate that more. With page 6 I was definitely experimenting with that, as I’m still trying to improve on that but I’m glad it worked out.

Will work on action scenes too. I fully appreciate the critique Pakari!

Oh, @Pakari what did you think of characters/storytelling?

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I love this! It feels like an official comic made by Marvel or DC. You nailed the art. The simplicity of your style fits your characters perfectly. And I enjoy the story. It’s very rare to see this plot in current media.

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I dunno about that but thank you.

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Sorry, didn’t see this until recently!

I was going to talk a little bit about the writing, but I figured that I had much more actionable things to say about the art and my first post was getting long anyways. But since you asked, I can certainly provide my thoughts!


Generally speaking, I will say that I think it’s a good premise. Out of everything, I especially like the focus on Celtic folklore and mythology as that’s a topic and aesthetic I’m personally very fond of. There’s a lot to explore there, and I think delving deeper into that mythology and putting your own twist on it is a really good idea to roll with to expand the story’s scope as it progresses.

As a suggestion, I highly recommend a read-through of the Mabinogian. While not Scotts-Irish in origin, it does hail from nearby Wales and contains a veritable treasure-trove of ancient Celtic folklore and legends that might serve as inspiration for future characters or storylines. Definitely give that a look, it will expand the reach of your themes beyond just druids and give it much more authentic historical basis.


Let’s talk about the general story-telling. For starters, I will say I enjoyed the story and I look forward to seeing where it goes. I’m not going to say that it’s anything particularly ground-breaking (protagonists’ ancient lineage and destiny is thrust upon him only for the dangers/sins of his forbears to suddenly interfere in his life is a pretty well-used formula), but I don’t make a habit of judging things based on similar stories. The aesthetics, topics, medium, and your own personal style are things I think are enough to set this apart from other similar things, and often it takes time to really reach that core of your work.

However, I think I have two main issues with it:

  1. The story is extremely fast-paced. I understand there’s a lot to get through and a lot to explain, but I think a story with as much potential gravitas as this can maybe take its time more to set up the stakes, characters, and relationships.

Since you’re putting this out as a web-comic, slowing down and splitting these parts of your story into distinct releases is a good way of both dictating the pace and releasing more frequently (something that seems to help generate more of an audience when releasing content online).

As an example, let’s take this issue. I can distinguish at least 3 separate scenes that I personally think could have been fleshed out into entire issues (and therefore slow the pacing down a little):

  • The backstory (setting up Danu and Fetch, their rivalry and history, the Emerald and its powers, the Sons of Candall, and history of the Emerald-Men).
  • The inciting incident (introduction of our protagonist Stephen, supporting character Carolina, first encounter between Stephen and Fetch, the first meeting of Stephen and Danu, and Stephen’s rejection of his legacy)
  • The ordinary life (Stephen’s ordinary day, further development of Carolina, Stephen’s further rejection of the call to adventure, and the emergence of a new threat)

I think all three of these could have easily been their own issues and could have taken a bit more time to flesh out the plot points they present. An added benefit of splitting things up like this is that it gives each issue more of a directed focus and purpose.

As it is right now, Issue 1 is kinda a grab-bag of Act 1 tropes. There’s historical backstory, character introductions, inciting incidents, rejection of calls to adventure. If you’re planning on making this a long-running series, this entire first issue is practically one-third of your entire story. Taking your time and spreading things out can help set the slower pace needed for longer-form storytelling.

Hypothetically, you could do something like this:

Issue 0 is entirely about the backstory. Set entirely in the ancient past, it introduces us to Danu and her conflict with Fetch, the relevant magical elements to the story, the conflict that sets the story in motion, and the history of the Emerald and its protectors. Ending the issue, we get a glimpse of the present-day to gear us up for the actual story.

Issue 1 is all about introducing us to the protagonist, Stephen. It shows us what his life is like right now and what kind of person he is, and shows us the areas where he must grow. It also introduces any relevant supporting characters like Carolina and sets up her relationship with Stephen. This issue can then end with Stephen receiving the Emerald and his first encounter with Fetch.

Issue 2 starts with Stephen meeting Danu and learning about the events of Issue 0. Here we can set up the dilemma Stephen faces and the stakes of the story. Why exactly must Stephen become the Emerald-Man? Why is he the only one who can do what needs to be done? What dangers lurk ahead that threaten to uproot the life he knows? And most importantly, why does Stephen reject all of this? You can end this issue with the cliffhanger of the new threat of Mario Valentine.

I realize all of that comes with the benefit of hind-sight, but I think keeping a slower pace going forward and making sure each issue has a focused purpose might be beneficial.


  1. I can’t tell what tone you’re going for yet.

Parts of the story, particularly the intro, led me to believe you’re setting up a pretty serious and dark tone. Other parts, particularly some of the dialogue, feel a lot more like you’re going for a golden-age superhero comic type of tone.

Some things feel like grim-dark historical modern-fantasy. Other parts feel kinda…He-Man and Skeletor.

I’ll preface by saying neither one of these are bad on their own. But it’s the lack of a consistent and clear tone that is the issue for me. I’m tempted to critique parts of the writing and dialogue based on the assumption of a darker, more grounded tone, but if it’s meant to be something more adventurous and light-hearted then I don’t find those kinds of critiques warranted.

Another part of the tone issue goes back to the art, and that’s the use of color. The cover and a lot of the more action-oriented scenes are pretty muted in terms of color and go for a darker aesthetic. Other scenes, however, are pretty brightly colored and feel, as mentioned earlier, a bit like golden-age superhero comics or He-Man.

Again, either are fine, but making a choice of one and committing to it means you’ll have to ensure the art’s tone is consistent with the story’s going forward.


On the subject of the characters, I don’t have any major grievances. I think the designs of them are really cool, and for the most part I’m excited to see how they develop.

That being said, I think Stephen in particular needs some more definitive character traits. In this one issue he’s simultaneously depressed and resolute to bury the past, yet excited and confident in taking up his father’s business. He wants to get rid of the necklace, but is extremely against giving it over to Fetch despite not even fully knowing his intentions aside from Danu’s vague insistences.

I hate to really say it, but Stephen just feels sort of blank-slate. I’m more interested currently in pretty much every other character besides him, and he’s the protagonist. Giving him some defining character traits and some obvious flaws to overcome go a long way in getting your audience’s attention and making your protagonist interesting to follow.

Having good character relationships and interactions is also a good thing. Having two characters and their personalities bounce off each other helps to characterize both of them. Stephen and Carolina and Stephen and Danu are both character relationships I’m interested in seeing evolve.

In particular, since I’m assuming Danu is going to become the sort of “angel on the shoulder” mentor character for Stephen, giving them some pretty opposing personalities makes for good drama and gives good opportunity for them to both grow. It’s kind of a cheesy example, but I’m thinking a lot about Sonic and Caliburn from Sonic and the Black Knight. I recommend maybe looking into that and other similar character duos to get inspiration on how to handle that (Steven Grant/Mark Spector and Khonsu from Moon Knight also come to mind).


I know this was all kinda rambly, so if you need clarification on anything, just let me know!

But again, I hope none of that comes off as too harsh. I really am genuinely interested in this project, and if I can help improve it at all through feedback, I’m more than willing.

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I have been reading that don’t you worry.

I appreciate all the critiques, will keep them in mind as I am making the next issues. I already have been getting rid of the habit of making those panels you criticized earlier, and it’s forcing me to be more creative with panel usage. Will say, I think you’re right on the smaller issue format to mention; trying to consistently get 20 pages is a lot of work. I may experiment with it.

To be fair Fetch approached him with a knife. :stuck_out_tongue: (And also posed as his friend… And just overall looks creepy.)

Perhaps I should have reconsidered when I desired to make a quiet character. Will keep this in mind, it’s clear that some things didn’t get across as I wanted to. In particular his fear. Good notes to have, thank you.

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Some previews for you guys, since I know it’s taking a while…


Issue 2 is still in the works, but I hope to get it done by the end of this month or at least early january. I have been working on a page or so a day for the coloring.

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Merry Christmas from Barnes Jewelry! Reminder that we are closed on Christmas but will reopen on the 26th. God bless and have a restful Christmas.

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I swear I am almost done. I have two pages left to do, hopefully can finish them by this week! Some more previews to keep you guys from getting impatient…


Finally picking up after a busy december. Coloring really slows me down. (Also just been drawing the action scenes with some complicated lighting so that also takes a while. Drawing and coloring stuff I never have before, it’s likely gonna look wonky. But I am trying!)

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Excited to see it!

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One page left to draw and then issue 2 is complete.

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https://tapas.io/episode/2748795

The second issue is released! Choose whatever platform you prefer. I have been trying out GlobalComix as well. Good website.

Comments and critiques are appreciated! Need engagement.

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Nice! I like the way you had Stephen make armor out of stone. That would be really nice in a gunfight…

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Working on issue 3 now, after a small break to draw a comic with a very misleading title. February is a short month and I have a birthday in it, so probably won’t have a February update. I expect to be done around March. I originally wanted to make this a monthly comic but that just isn’t feasible at the moment when working by myself.

I will also be changing how I handle drawing the comic. I used to go all 14-16 rough pages, then ink all said pages, and then convert all pages at once and color at once. I will probably change how I go with this. I will instead be drawing 1 rough page, then inking a rough page, and then convert and color a page. I think this will keep me more motivated, but we shall see.

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Just food for thought, but when I did my graphic novel, I set a page quota for the day and then used the same approach you plan to use (finish one full page, move on, repeat).

So if you do want to aim for a once a month thing, you could try setting a deadline for say, the end of the month, and then divide the pages up across the entire month.

So if you want to do about 16 pages per issue, that’s about a half a page per day. You could instead do maybe 1 or 2 full pages per day and have time left over (or do more pages), or perhaps set aside only a few days a week and do 3-4 pages on those days.

I just find it helps to spread that workload out and make sure a full day’s worth isn’t too much. Allowing for days off is also a big help in terms of motivation.

Excited to see more!

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I’d love to do half a page per day… but working full time makes that sorta hard. It’s possible but I get exhausted after work often and desire rest and breaks. I certainly will try to shoot for it. It’s just a lot of time to spend.

What did you think of the issue Pakari?

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I relate to this completely.

Overall, a great improvement over the first.

The first page definitely stood out. The full use of the space on the page works very well, and it’s actually something I think you can definitely take more advantage of in the future (the large top panel with Danu and Stephen on Page 7 would be a good place to remove panel borders entirely and just take it all the way across the page, for example).

It was also intuitive to read and well laid-out, so that critique of mine is entirely alleviated.

I can see that you’re starting to mix in some more dynamic panel shapes, which is good, but I think you can definitely push it more to add more immersion.

When everything fades to black after Carolina gets kidnapped on Page 3, for example, you could gradually fade all of the panels out until the very last one is black, or maybe even have an entirely blacked out page. As it is on that page now, the “blackout” feels like an almost negligible amount of time has passed. I barely even registered that panel was there. She gets knocked out, kidnapped, tied up, and interrogated all in the space of half a page, which is too short in terms of “page real-estate” to really feel like a significant amount of time.

As a brief aside on that note, if you didn’t know already, page turns are a really great way to add moment-to-moment suspense for the reader. The time it takes to flip the page is like a mini-cliffhanger and can keep your reader, well…reading. I think Page 3 would have benefited greatly from hiding the reveal of Carolina’s fate and the introduction of Mario Valentine (which, by the way, it might be good to actually name certain characters even if they’ve already appeared an issue prior. I actually forgot Mario’s name and had to look back on this thread to find it. I don’t think anybody, even Carolina or Stephen, actually name him in this issue).

In terms of the story, I’m still invested.

I really enjoyed the ending cliff-hanger. It’s certainly one that would have benefited from a page-turn and maybe a full-page spread to really emphasize it, but as is I was quite shocked.

I really liked the themes about man’s dominion over nature and the use of rock “alchemy.” I think that could really be expanded upon, or even challenged, later down the line in future stories.

If I did have a writing complaint, I think it would be that it feels like Stephen’s first transformation (or suit-up, if you would) into the Emerald-Man isn’t really a big deal. Or, even a deal at all. He just kinda does it. No big reveal, no questions asked or testing things. Secondarily to that, the random mob enforcer knows what an Emerald-Man is? I can’t tell if that’s meant to be significant and it’s a mystery, or are Emerald-Men and their powers just a known thing in this universe?


Overall, a lot improved over the first issue. I am always excited to see more!

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