I know I said these would be done a while back but the old job suddenly exploded in my face and I've been a little swamped. I am glad that I was able to take some time to let the current crop soak in. So here goes...
Adventures of Maxy J Millionaire -- This story combines elements of a kid's story (the talking stuffed toy, the cartoon almost child-like art, etc. with very adult elements (the prostitute Maxy encounters for example). The 8 pages presented do a great job of getting the story moving and giving you an idea of what to expect. And it is a pretty clever idea with interesting characters. I'm just not sure it's something I'll be looking to read on a regular basis. Perhaps if it continues I'll wait until a good chunk is done before I decide for sure. But for now, though I think it's worth taking a look at it won't be getting my vote.
Araknid Kid -- Though the 8 pages don't really give us much of a backstory it's an intriguing intro to the character. Dropping the Araknid Kid straight in to battle is probably the best way to present this mute character who talks with pictures (reminding me of Artie from the X-Men). The art is solid with some pretty unique character designs. Though these 8 pages present a pretty standard story it's still enough to catch my interest somewhat. I'm a little unsure whether I could read a whole book or storyline with the Araknid Kid talking in pictures the whole time. I think it might be novel to start but it may get old at some point. So it's another book worth checking out but I don't think it will be getting my vote either.
Avaste Ye -- I have to be honest, this comic was coming in as the underdog right away as I typically can't seem to get in to strips with simple (I don't want to say "stickman") art. I know it sounds pretty bad of me to say that but I guess I'm just too much of a visual kind of guy and feel like I need something more. The story is at least pretty unique with the main character deciding to become a pirate and the jokes/punchlines had me chuckling slightly, which is more than I can say for similar webcomics I've seen of this style. I might recommend checking it out as well but it's not something I'd keep reading and it won't be getting my vote. Which is too bad, I'd really like to vote for someone coming from DrunkDuck. :)
Development Hell -- A webcomic for techies, these usually don't work for me. Yes, I work in the IT field. Yes, I've been in similar situations and laughed at the absurdity. But generally unless there's something unique to the characters the overnight gaming and stupid clients don't seem to be able to carry a cartoon. The art is pretty solid though is it just me or is the first and third panel on page 1 a copy/paste job along with the second panel on page 5? I'm sure this comic could find a niche and it's probably done better than many of the web comics with similar concepts but I have to say this is not one I'd go out of my way to recommend. And I won't be voting for it.
Frankie --Hmm... As someone with a bit of a liking for the classic monsters (Frankenstein's creature, Dracula, Mr Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, etc) I was intrigued with this one. And I was happy to see the creature referred to as the "monster" and not Frankenstein. Overall, it seems they have done their homework on this one and not going with the Hollywood-ized creature. The overall story and the tone that is set seems to be a decent continuation of the original novel. I'm not saying it lives up to the original but it's a good attempt. I don't know if I really feel that the art style matches the story yet the dark settings and the scene where the creature punishes the son are done extremely well. I don't know if this one is going to get my vote but I would like to see more and see where it's going from here. I don't know if I'd even recommend it, maybe just suggest checking it out, but for me (due to the above mentioned interest in the characters) it's something I might be interested in.
Ponbiki Z -- The art is a different style but I kinda like it and leaving it black and white probably fits. But I don't know how much I like the story. It didn't really strike me as unique or engrossing. Some of that may come from the way the story is told, the constant narration, even over details that are evident in the art, kinda detracts from it in my opinion. Though I suppose, given that it's the kid narrating then it could be argued that it makes sense. But from my perspective, it just made it less enjoyable to read. Overall, it's not something I'd recommend checking out and it won't be getting my vote.
Pray for Death -- This one had an interesting premise to me. A detective with a complex past being called in on the latest weird homicide. Right away I was intrigued to learn more about the past as well as the present. Are they connected? The art is interesting in its style and works pretty well for the story. The writing and dialogue is pretty solid and lets the story develop but my only gripe might be that the two stories could have been intertwined a bit more. What I mean is that you start off on page 1 with both, the killer's and detective's story presented. Then you don't see the killer again until page 3 in one panel. It made it a little unclear what was happening, whether these events were going on in parallel or were flashbacks to her previous case. I suppose you could do this intentionally but it didn't seem the best approach to me. Even when I got to the end I had to go back and re-read it to see the connection. It also seems that the victim's hair is red when you see her later but almost brownish at the beginning. That might just be me but it made me think it was two different couples. But enough nitpicking, I still think this could be an interesting story and the 8 page preview caught my attention. It's possible that after reading a bit more it's something I might recommend to others. So it may be getting my vote.
The Crooked Man -- This one seems to be a popular choice yet I didn't care for it. The art is pretty solid, the style fits the tone and setting of the story. But I just didn't get a good sense of the story from the 8 pages presented. I know I can't expect too much from 8 pages but after reading it I didn't have a sense of who the characters were. There was no connection made for me beyond maybe a little when the people turn their backs on the officer as he tries to save the man who has been shot. But that was short lived. I don't think I'd come back to read any more of this book so it won't be getting my vote. Which is too bad as it appears that a lot of work went in to it to research the time period (visually and storywise).
The Mundane Overrated Misadventures of Spudman -- I actually kinda liked this one. The art is solid. The characters look pretty unique and the facial expressions are great. I found myself smiling throughout and chuckling at parts. The story seems to be a pretty unique one that I haven't seen before and it makes me curious to see more. I can see it as a book that might not appeal to everyone but it looks like it could be a lot of fun. So it's something I might recommend and is a possible vote getter for me.
Word of Power -- This one seems to have some potential with the characters but there just wasn't enough story in the 8 pages to hook me. The art is solid manga style stuff and not the over the top stuff that I don't really care for. And it showed the story well. But from those 8 pages I got that this guy plays guitar in a subway, has the hots for a woman who comes by regularly (but can't get up the courage to talk to her), and spaces out from time to time with some visions of playing guitar in a huge concert. I just don't know if that's enough of a story to hook me. The write up talks about making friends with a reclusive composer who may be more than what he seems but not much more than that. I guess in some ways this is rather typical of manga with short chapters that only give you snippets of the story and keep you coming back to by the next part but in this case, I feel I need to see more before I'd vote for this one over the other stories or recommend it. So it won't be getting my vote either.
The 8 page limit really is hampering some people. A lot of times you have to read the blurb beforehand (or after) to see what the story is going to be about. I'd rather the 8 pages do that. So for me, it's looking like it'll be a last minute decision between Adventures of Spudman and Pray for Death with Frankie and Araknid Kid just barely falling out of consideration. I have a couple more weeks to make up my mind. :)