OK, I thought I would post the original text of the review and then in subsequent posts, tackle each section with additions, updates, my own commentary and the like. I thought it would help to have the review on the site visibly nearby for reference.
Original review author: Yaoi Huntress Earth; images, captions and some commentary by Lesbot
Webcomic name: Exiern
Start Date: June 9, 2005
End Date: Ongoing
Genre: Fantasy, Fetish
Defining Flaw: Large doses of shallow transgender fanservice that waste professional artists' time and talents.
Things that are fucking terrible about this webcomic: It’s shameless whack-fodder that refuses to admit its whack-fodder all while trying to grab your wallet.
Things that aren't terrible but could use improvement: Compared to a lot of gender-swap comics, the art is pretty decent.
Summary: Drowemoss wants nothing more than your money with his cliché story, shameless fanservice and an annoying geek hero later on.
Very good by webcomic standards.
Originally a Conan The Barbarian-type fantasy comic, but then it brings up transgender issues when the hero is suddenly transformed into a woman. (Yes, really!)
Unrealistic fanservice stereotypes.
Miscellaneous Details: 1/5
If you want to actually see the naughty bits, you must send money to the author. I wonder how much money the author actually gets, when naughty bits are easily found on the Internet for no charge at all?
Hideous fanservice comic.
Disclaimer: Drowemos recently contacted us explaining that he wasn't interested in money and that he hated the character "Denver". For those interested, his complete response can be found in the reactions section of the site.
2 Story and plot
4 Author biography
5 Art review
6 Writing review
8 Other comics by this person reviewed on this site
Why be a barbarian warrior when you can be a prostitute!
As hard as it is to believe, the transgender market is a very popular one in the webcomic world (counting this one, I know five). And this isn't transgender as in people who believe they were born the wrong gender and how they cope with it; but more in the lines of masturbation fodder where men get turned into women, get poked in the boobs a lot, get into weird trouble and realize they kinda like it.
Usually transgender comics seem to be set in a high school environment; one assumes for the promise of short-skirted fluffy-haired young schoolgirls to transform one's character into. Exiern breaks this mold a little by choosing 'generic medieval magic land' as its setting, and Conan the Barbarian as its unwitting man-turned-lady main character.
Story and plot
Our story begins in a generic fantasy world where aforementioned Conan the Barbarian stereotype is off to rescue a princess with an attempt at humor. So one assumes its first attempt is at casual fantasy fans; until the wizard casts a spell that turns the barbarian into a topless woman (literally seven pages in) and we get to the transgender market. Our eternally angry hero now goes by the incredibly medieval and barbarian-like name of Tiffany, and her life consists of as many tit and twat shots as possible, and some good old-fashioned gender stereotypes.
One would assume that being a barbarian and as such being obsessed with his own physical strength (GRR LOOK AT MY MUSCLES), Tiffany would be pretty fucking pissed to now be playing the part of an apparently significantly weaker woman, but most of the time she seems content to shrug it off as an inconvenience and an embarrassment. Got to stay positive I suppose. At least she didn't immediately start groping her own tits as soon as she changed.
This thing really hit the fan when Drowemoss decided to try to appeal to hopeless geek market with Denver, a nerdy scholar who looks like exactly every other geek webcomic hero (bushy brown hair and glasses). Not only is Denver the only man who doesn’t leer at Tiffany (which automatically earns him the right to not only travel along with her and her knights) and gets her to think he’s cute, he’s also the bravest, has a tragic past, the mean ol’ knights that throw his book in the fire get their comeuppance, he might be a dragon and not even know it (OOPS I WAS A DRAGON); and all the while getting to be the only man able to kiss Tiffany without getting his legs ripped off. When it would surely make more sense for Tiffany to be a lesbian since she’s a straight man trapped in the body of a woman. Unless of course Tiffany was once a big gay barbarian.
Can we say self-insertion anyone?
Though that's not to say that Exiern was any good before Denver shuffled on-stage. It was already terrible, it's just that now it seems even worse.
Monsters always aim for the rack, it's where the vital organs are kept.
The interesting thing with Exiern is that it’s a great chance to play guess what Drowemoss was trying to cash off on. There is no sin in making money off your art, but when it becomes obvious you care more about cashing off on your fans, that’s something different. Especially when Drowemoss demand a membership ($9.50 for the first month and $4.50 for each additional) to see the titties and naughty bits that are usually teasingly covered up when you can just pick up a Vertigo comic and usually get a better story and they’ll at least not censor the boobs (and maybe you’ll even get some penis) for a cheaper price.
"As of November 2, 2006 the World of Exiern comic are being drawn by the skilled artists of Studio Boom. They have been contracted to draw the Exiern comic through the month of December. The are open for commission from any who will pay."
The art in Exiern is admittedly a lot better than a lot of the crap that webcomics of its genre try to pass off as art, but it's hard to judge this creation by art alone when you consider that the artist is being paid to draw this drivel. Drowemoss' original attempts to draw the thing himself were an embarrassment to the word 'drawing' and as such have all now been redrawn by "Studio Boom"; artists whom certainly know what they are getting themselves into when advertising themselves as "open for commission from any who will pay".
Though that's not to say the art is in any way perfect; in particular the artist seems to have some trouble with expressions. The princess is supposed to be struggling and screaming, but she looks so neutral in the example I showed.
As I said before, the comic was cliché at first; but it got really annoying when Denver joined the cast. There are moments where Drowenmoss tries to be dramatic - the part when Tiffany discovers the monster she fought (and ripped the top off of) is really Denver’s estranged sister made me want to chuckle more than feel bad. It gets worse when Denver throws a fit when she doesn’t take him along to fight the monster because she knew he’d get killed. Dude, she has a point; you run head-first into things, can’t fight or use magic and you don’t know anything about combat outside your fantasy novels. She's clearly just keeping you around as her PUNY MAN TOY.
Granted the story has gotten a little better without him, but it’s still the same generic crap and clothes-ripping (the cartoony filler comic is even more exploitative with suggestive lesbian undertones to appeal to the lady lovers) as before, until Denver comes back with Tiffany probably begging him to forgive her. The only thing that’s interesting is that how dragons will leave their babies (in human form) for humans to take care of until discover their heritage during adulthood. It's as if all the dragons got together one day and decided "Hey guys, let's all be really shitty parents. Then all our babies can be Mary-Sues!"
Once again, Exiern reminds me why webcomics are the new fanfic. It’s just masturbation fantasies just to exploit a market than share an idea or entertain people.