Creator: Richard Hodgson
Webcomic Link: Tales from Barks Inlet
Summary: It is hard to categorize or summarize Tales from Barks Inlet because it is not one conclusive story. It is an ongoing series that makes use of the same characters, allowing them to explore different situations and difficulties, without any sort of comprehensive story that it all builds towards as far as I can personally tell. The characters are varied but are mostly genuine, conscientious type people trying to do the right thing, shown especially in the Tales from Peru II arc. Environmental and animal rights concerns, especially, seem to be things that the author wants to draw attention to.
Story: Storytelling in Tales from Barks Inlet is very slowly paced. The strips are heavily narrated, and the majority of the panels are characters talking or thinking out loud. There is very little action or dynamic. In a way, it feels as though it’s written like it belongs in a newspaper. It is something that anyone can follow, even children (and I might have thought it was geared slightly that way, if the first adventure wasn’t climbing Whiskey Dick Mountain). The pages feel a bit disjointed, as though they are being written in a stream of consciousness instead of with a definite goal in mind for each page, and the characters act more like narrative devices than actual characters. From all the pages I read, there’s very little that I can recall that stood out about them as individuals, other than the fact that Jake really enjoys fly fishing.
Art: Tales from Barks Inlet does not boast a very diverse artistic style. Characters are drawn in nearly the same pose and facial expression every time. It is more rare that they are drawn in a new position, or even with their faces making a new expression, than not. The pages, similarly, are a six panel layout for the majority of the time, whether the story calls for it or not. Panels exist where a character reiterates something, or something completely irrelevant to progressing the story happens, and it ends up feeling as though the creator simply wanted six panels, so they forced it. The art itself is not top tier, but not the worst I’ve seen in a webcomic, and the fact that Tales from Barks Inlet is more lighthearted adventure and comedy helps lighten the requirements for more detailed and extensive art.
Conclusion: The website for Tales from Barks is in need of a serious update. The background is busy. The layout is confusing. The comics read from back to front (something it took me a minute to realize). All in all, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone. I do respect and commend the creator for sticking with it for so long, and his lettering is really nice, but I just couldn’t get into the comic myself.