Webcomic Book Club Full Reviews
of Better Days by Jay Naylor

"Better Days" made me feel uncomfortable. But in a good way.

Art: Pleasing, with a few flaws. There's not much evolution over the course of the comic, though i don't feel much is needed. I would like to see the background more-when it's there, it's nice, but we usually get one establishing shot and then the rest is white. Also, many of the characters seem to have the same facial structure, mostly in the eyes.

Story: This is what kept me reading "Better Days," but it also unsettled me. On the one hand, it does feel like the sort of thing that could happen to anyone-some of it might be unlikely, but none of it suspended disbelief. However, "Better Days" can be very candid, and it definitely has moments not for children (and probably not for teenagers, either). Fortunately, I never felt like those were inserted just for shock, which is why I say it's uncomfortable in a good way.

Characters: In the beginning, too adult for my tastes. Both of the kids felt like teenagers already at the start, so it was kind of awkward to read their banter. Obviously other comics have similar children, but many of those are somewhat unrealistic to begin with, while "Better Days" was aiming for a more grounded story (outside of the whole anthropomorphic part, I know). That improved over time, of course, as the kids actually grew into their overall attitudes, which was still rather strange. The mother is something of a mixed bag; on the one hand, I think she should look older than she does. On the other hand, a lot of the tension in the comic comes from her sexuality and the cues her kids take from her.

Most of the other characters are used as part of a specific story arc, with the exception of the boy's therapist. Most of them seemed developed enough for their role, but a few felt like plot devices.

Writing: The story was the most important part of "Better Days", but I think the writing was pretty good too. Solid, steady pacing helped the story a lot; if this comic had moved faster, I think a lot of the engaging plot moments would have felt cliched. I also enjoyed some of the subtle mentions of race in the comic. Subtle may not seem like the right word...but most of the time, when a child encounters racism in fiction, they have some kind of shocked look on their face as they run to their parents, and their parents give a sad sigh as they explain how some people hate others because of their skin or religion. "Better Days" didn't hit that trap, which was a relief to me.

Overall: The only thing that I'm left to wonder about "Better Days" is whether or not it's intended as a journal comic. I haven't seen much evidence for it, but the attention to chronology makes me wonder. I give it 8 out of 10. It's a solid and relatively low-key but engaging comic. It might make you feel uncomfortable, like it made me, but I don't hold that against it.
Review by Benor Thu Dec 30 2004 09:10 PM

Characters: Ah characters they can be the high point or the low point of any story. Without out them stories would not exist.
Better Days is a story about characters, revolving around a small family of anthropomorphic cats; a twin kittens, and a divorced mother.
Fisk, the male of the two kittens is more often the pivotal character in most of the stories, a smart kid, as he ages through the comic, so does his seemly boundless wisdom for a child of his age. He is put through many pressures from sources including, family, school, and friends, and his way of adapting, and coming to terms, and conquering these issues are the pinnacle of this web comic.
Lucy, the seemingly younger of the two kittens, is perfectly atypical of young junior/high school girl, worried about her body, its development, her mother, her brother, friends at school, many things I have heard my friends talk about that they worried about in those years.
Sheila, the mother, is interspersed throughout eventually getting more and more story time, strikes me as a wonderful rendition of a single mother raising two very feisty kids, who seem to get into more trouble than most families. She is smart, strong willed, and resourceful, and a superb mother.
This family of cats makes up the main characters mingled with a wonderful assortment of very true to life caricatures.

Story: The comic is made up of various vignettes, each usually leading to the other, or referring to the past.
Each story is a masterpiece of storytelling; they grab you, sink you into the characters, and makes you want to read it to the end. I read the entire archive in a few short minutes, allowing nothing to distract me, it was just that interesting.
Each story is unique, leading from various points that many people may have occur in their lives, from sex at a young age, to a sibling getting sick and hospitalized, to a widows search for companionship.
These stories have many different emotions to them, and though many of them involve sadness, or anger, stemming from such issues as rape and being betrayed, to love and joy, coming from simple things as family and having someone to be there when you need it.

Art: The art is done simply in Black and White inking, however the artists abilities are excellent. Details are intricate and noticeable, the characters are all easy to identify, even as they age. The only character that seems to change design is the mother, from how she is in the first strip.
Great art and good too look at.

Layout: Relatively simple layout, grey background, links to the next pages and previous pages. The ability to read an entire chapter at once is nice, though it might be slow for some slower internet connections; I found it easier, and faster to read. Main page provides links to some other comics that are in the works by the same author. The comic is very self contained, the only other art page is mostly of random images, and there is a links page, profile on author, and a link to a store, the usual fare.

Overall: This comic reminds me of why I wanted to write for the Webcomic Book club to begin with. A wonderful story, excellent characters, great art, easy to navigate page. I like to rate comics the same way i rate books: Would i read it again? for this comic the answer is yes, hence my score: 9/10
Review by Jordin The Learned Thu Dec 23 2004 11:38 PM

Reading this comic has been like being in an abusive relationship. For all the good things that come with it, there are have been few instances where I almost wanted to leave. Almost.

Better Days is a furry comic about Fisk, a Georgian cat-boy growing up with his sister Lucy and their mother. The man of the house was killed in Vietnam, so neither of the kids had ever seen their father. The story takes place in their years growing up throughout the 1980ís, and their dealings with various social issues.

The presentation of this comic is somewhat of a rarity in webcomics, in that it is presented with a high level of sincerity. Despite the characters being manga-styled anthropomorphs, the situations here are done in a serious tone. The art, pacing, dialogue and sheer raw-ness of the comic shows that the author isnít joking around here.

The art is decent. Characters are drawn in manga style, but donít carry the conventions often associated with said style. The eyes are narrower, there are no speed lines or chibis, and characterís faces arenít rubbery. When a character does need to express an extreme emotion it is done in other ways than their eyes or mouths getting impossibly wide, such as their fur straightening. The poses and facial expressions are well-done and definitely bring across the nuances of what the characters are feeling. On the other side of the coin, backgrounds could use some work. Oftentimes they are sparse, and most of the time they are dull. Many times the characters are standing against only whiteness. I know that the characters are supposed to be the focal points for this comic, but putting in a little more context would help me to better know the world they are living in.

The dialogue is also well-done, but it has some notable hiccups. People talk and react with eachother naturally enough, until something big and bad has happened, after which they have an annoying habit of breaking into miniature speeches and pontificating their values for several panels. This happens quite often, expecially after chapter five. People are much more inclined to read back-and-forth dialogue than one big word balloon. Plus, those big balloons are put in place of backgrounds. Speeches or no, you get to know the characters very well.

While the writing for the characters and dialogue are done well enough, there is one thing that I constantly find myself debating over, and thatís the situations in general. I know that no one expects southern life to be easy, especially for a two-kid single mother household, and there are bound to be some major problems, but the sheer volume and extremity of these problems has often made me turn away from the comic for several minutes in order to regain my bearings. These situations involve domestic abuse, over-medication, underage sex, racism, incest, pig foreskins and more. The fact that most of these situations mostly happen to children makes them even more disturbing. I wonít tell exactly what happens, so as not to spoil any surprise (and believe me, suspense is a big factor in enjoying this comic), but be prepared to have some feathers ruffled. I guess it is a good thing that the situations are disturbing though, as they happen with actual characters, and they arenít inserted just for sheer shock value. If the characters werenít well-written, I probably would have abandoned this comic long ago.

The only chapter I had to fight myself in order to finish was chapter four: The Bedbutter Chronicles. In it, a southern democrat teacher is demonized as not only inflicting restrictive, left-leaning opinions on government and environmentalism on her students, but also having very conservative attitudes on what a woman should wear. Perhaps times really were different in 1980. I didnít like that chapter due to my general disdain of poitical cartoons, though, as I often hate it when an opposing side is represented as shallow and one-sided. Itís pretty obvious from this and a few other chapters (notably Chess) what the authorís political leanings are. Iíd prefer he kept them to himself and just created an engaging story, rather than polarizing the readership.

Fortunately, as the strip went on, there have been a few chapters in which nothing disturbing happens, instead using situations that the more general public can relate to. Chapters seven and nine effectively employed smaller-scale problems, essentially dating for the wrong reasons. I liked those because the drama was much more character-driven, rather than having some huge, pulsating trauma cast on the characters. Chapter ten goes back into familiar territory though, with the most shocking event yet (GodÖ DAMN) but for some reason doesnít have long-lasting ramifications like the other events did. Itís still too early to tell. The current chapter is having some great build-up right now, and I like how itís using much more of a show-donít-tell method than previous chapters. Part of me wants it to end peacefully so my mind can rest easy, but another part of me is fascinated by the grotesque and traumatic, wanting it to end in the worst way possible. I definitely will read to find out.

When I found this comic, this was the current page. At first I kept up due to morbid curiosity as to what would happen next, but after a while, I kept reading because I had grown attatched to the characters. They are people (furries, whatever, I donít really give a damn) I care for, and will follow through the good times and the bad.
Review by Cobra Wed Dec 22 2004 06:36 AM

Better Days
Jay Naylor

I know Jay from the Vixen Controled Library. His artwork is very good, something I wish VCL had a "List this guy first" feature of their seive in addition to their "Don't even show this person's art EVER!" feature. It's something you don't mind seeing every day -- infact, it's a pleasant style which won't make your stomach want to tolerate much of the slime you may find on VCL and reach for that skull button. It's better than Superosity (sorry, Chris). It's better than alot of beginner stuff you may find on KeenSpace.

And it's made me catch the Productivity Virus again.

The storylines done by Jay are very much close to real life as possible, bringing in subjects that would be glossed over by "perfect society" strips (including Simpson's Ozy and Millie). A mother bringing up two kids, widowed due to the father's role in Vietnam. The kids, male/female twins, who are looking at life and reasoning things out. The male being more grown-up than the female. A rape with the son to the rescue. Friends helping.

The comic should be in print, formatted for hand-held viewing instead of online -- but if you don't mind scrolling, you won't be disapointed.
Review by Dr. Mikail Markov Wed Dec 22 2004 12:46 AM




Further details at 1am.
Review by Oralee Hoa Wed Dec 22 2004 12:12 AM

Visitor Reviews & Comments

Well, I just discovered this recently, and I've fallen in love.

Even though I am a hardcore Democrat, and the comic contains very conserative views, it doesn't get in the way of my enjoyment in the comic very often. There are some places where it could have been toned down, but otherwise I don't mind it.

In the beginning chapters, Fisk does seem way too intelligent and insightful for a child at the age of nine. His character seems much more realistic as the story progresses. I would like to see a little more about his twin, Lucy, whom doesn't usually go through the same troubles as her brother.

The artwork is pretty good, and the lack of backgrounds sometimes reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes, for some reason.

The storyline is excellent, although the number and seriousness of bad situations the family has been in is astounding. This is the first comic that focuses on drama, rather then comedy, that I enjoy.

I hope the comic keeps running for a very long time, I would hate to see it go.

Review by Mr. Chuckles Thu Dec 01 2005 09:11 PM

Yet more filth from the not merely bent, but twisted mind of a furry pedophile.
Review by Begone, Foul Beast! Sat Nov 26 2005 05:09 PM

Ok, I've been following several comics for the last few years and I'm always on the lookout for new stories to follow. Enter Better Days.

I first heard of it when a reader of Badly Drawn Kitties (Another good comic, though leaning toward more humor than drama) mentioned the similarities between BDK and Better Days. Upon reading the beginning chapters, I instantly fell for the comic.

The art isn't going to win any awards, but works perfectly for what the artist is doing. Expressions, actions and emotions are realistic and easily identifiable.

The characters are well fleshed out and have distinct, consistant personalities that grow as time passes. My only issue is with Fisk in the first 5 or so chapters, who displays intelligence and maturity that enters the realm of abnormally advanced. Junior high kids never made speeches about philosophy and human(ish) nature when I attended!

One hot topic that must be mentined is the tone. While primarily dramatic, BD does have some laugh out loud funny moments to lighten the mood. And the mood does need it. Now, myself and any other internet user worth his salt has seen some strange things floating around. Believe us, there are some crazy stuff to be seen. But some situations still had some shock value, and while many will see it as unnecessary, everything that happens has substance behind it and is not just there to make people cringe.

Easily a comic worth following. 9/10
Review by Brett (ThatGuy25) Thu Nov 10 2005 04:57 PM

I love Better days! I read all the way up to the updated one in one night! Its so addicting!
Review by Sakura Sun Sep 11 2005 10:05 PM

Reading the comic was just like reading my own life as a child.

I should call my sister.
Review by AVM Mon Aug 01 2005 01:26 PM

So I'm sitting at my computer, munching on chips and chatting to the various anonymous weirdos and nutbars of the Internet (and I happen to be one of them) when a friend of mine links me to Better Days. I had never heard of it.

Before I tell you about clicking on the link and reading my way through the whole story. I am something of a furry fan, have been for the past eight years. Even so, I don't usually read furry webcomics. I limit myself to SSDD these days, as Class Menagerie is gone, pretty much. But I digress.

The problem I have with most furry comics is that they frequantly seem to be an outlet for the writer or artists darker emotions, that have to be anthropomorphized in order to be expressed safely. To me, that's a bit of a cop out, though I must admit i very rarely take an interest in g-rated furry mediums, as I had my fill of those when I was a kid.

Anyhoo, that being the case, there was something about Better Days that, despite my apprehensions, really started to grow on me. I came in toward the end of chapter 11, but I started from the beginning before I read anything else.

Ok, I've blathered long enough, so I'll give you what I think. Taken in it's entirety, the comic is outstanding. There's a real touching element of humanity in it, that's never quite grim, never quite humorous, but easilly encompasses both. The humor is more touching and warm then it is pure slapstick, but when it gets dark out, one finds himself surprised that the author can juggle the black aspects (dealing with issues like abuse and even incest) and still keep one interested.

Every once in awhile, he loses a step and you find yourself looking at a scene with some dubiousness (in particular, the situation with Harve Longfellow struck me more as a pre-adolescent male daydream then a comic plot), but I give Jay credit for rebounding in good time. There's also some confusion as to the way time passes in the comic: it does so in fits and starts, and the only way you really know time does pass is in the physical and emotional development of fisk and lucy (which may be deliberate)

These flaws aside, it's impressive to me that such things don't actually strangle the comic. In fact, they become easily forgotten, at least in my case, after reading a bit longer.

As for the characters, well, some might find them a little too psychological (particularly fisk) but there's a lot of personality to be found. I have a particular fondness for Lucy; she says more in the comic through her body language and facial expressions then through dialogue, and the author has a good nack for revealing what's going on in her head without the use of the thought bubble. Interestingly enough, he doesn't seem to have that ability with Fisk, who is pensive and introverted, and usually is an enigma unless he speaks his mind. Not that I consider this a flaw: quite the contrary.

In any event, what really jumped out at me was, and I hate to bring it up, but let's face it: the incest. By the point it showed up, several things had happened: One, I had gotten attached to the characters, two, it was late at night and I needed coffee, so I had some while i was reading, and three, I had become convinced that Jay had went as far as he could go as far as risky subject matter was concerned. When the dirty deed occured, you can imagine what happened next. I am looking, as we speak, as a huge coffee stain on the rug that vaguely resembles the former Soviet Union.

See, it's moments like that where I think "this is a webcomic with teeth." It takes a lot of courage to do something like this, and it takes a lot of brains to handle subjects like incest, through a medium where you wouldn't expect it to show up, and still have a very sweet, enduring, painful but perceptive story that we have here on Better Days. In my mind, it is one of the best stories of innocence lost I have ever seen.
Review by Jake Richard Sun Jul 31 2005 04:03 AM

I discovered this comic only a few days ago (early hours of July 22) and fell in love with it. I think part of it is, it feels real. It's an honest, frank portrayal of a family that struggles, not with money, but with the world.

They are not a cohesive family unit. It feels as if the children are a separate unit from their mother, rather than all three of them being a complete working family unit. As a product of a broken home myself (although I was 14, and my parents divorced) I feel safe in saying that perhaps if the father had been there, all four of them would have operated as one.

Some people complain about the rather extended vocabulary of Fisk and Lucy when they were young. I feel it's realistic, to a point. You won't often find children who have that kind of vocabulary, but they do exist. Both Fisk and Lucy are quite intelligent, even if they express it differently (particularly Fisk, who seems always lost in his own thoughts.) I also believe that it's also because their mother at that age is still quite young, probably not even 30.

As far as political views goes, it's rather obvious Jay is injecting his own opinions into it, but if you think about it, the mother is an Army wife. It stands to reason that she would raise her children in a conservative point of view. I don't mean the stereotypical conservative, the God-fearin' gay-bashing Anglophile type. That's neo-conservatism, which is a category all its own. As far as the incident with Fisk's teacher goes, it was less about political leanings and more about a teacher pushing too much of her own political views into her cirriculum- and bringing down the hammer on anyone expressing a view that she disagrees with (i.e. Fisk.) As far as her comment on the way women should dress, keep in mind that Democrats hate fun too. Mrs. Bedbutter is a caricature, but then again I've met some people who were very much like her- possessing a warped, far-left worldview wherein the majority is scum and the minority is raised to messianic status, but her views on internal American society are warped in a different way.

What I like about this comic is the way it touches on serious matters. I feel that through different incidents Fisk and Lucy have both grown too fast for their ages. In Fisk's case, it's the loss of his virginity at a young age, only to find out later that such things just shouldn't be. I think Fisk is intelligent enough to realize that what happened with Nikki is an abnormality, and has adjusted accordingly to it. The sad truth about that incident is that sex at a young age is occuring far more often- far, far more often- than anyone realizes. It's not about how much sex we put into the media, it's how much deviancy that is put into families. Fisk also has gone through a relationship that turned rather adultly sour, as well as seen his mother raped (as well as severly hurt the man responsible, who also was his very own principal- an authority figure) not to mention he possibly still feels ultimately responsible for Lucy's near-death experience. I think Fisk may have trouble with authority figures in the future. His principal turning out to be a creep (and Fisk beating him up for it), Nikki's father, as well as the feelings of betrayal he had when his mother was responsible for his best friend moving away.

Lucy I feel is also older than her age, yet not quite as old as Fisk would be. She has gone through quite a bit. First, she nearly died at the age of 9. She doesn't seem to fault her brother for it, at least not as much as he does for himself. Throughout her entire adolescency, she has felt unwanted and unattractive. Throw in seeing her mother raped, not to mention the whole Ted issue which couldn't possibly have helped her self image any...

...which leads me into the incest issue.

I honestly didn't know what to make of this at first. But as I thought about it, it slowly started to make sense. Fisk seems like the loner type- he's always lost in his thoughts, doesn't trust anyone, may have the beginnings of authority issues. The only person he really trusts is his sister. He loves his mother, that much is evident, but she's an adult, an authority figure, and therefore beyond trust. He has lost trust with society, with authority, with his peers, possibly himself- everyone except his sister, who he feels responsible for and has never seriously hurt him or did something to break his trust. Lucy, on the other hand, also trusts nobody but her brother. She has gone through a great deal of personal grief, and has a very low self-image. It is only natural that those two would gravitate towards each other. I think they're closer than any sort of family tie could ever bring them. It's as if they are two sides of the same coin- they are a package deal. This isn't incest for the sake of sex, it's incest for the sake of emotional shelter.

Good grief, enough analysis.

I feel the characters are likeable, believeable, and you feel compassion for them. Jerry, Elizabeth's dad, reminds me of my doctor, actually- he's 90, Jewish, still the best doc in town, and yet a joy to talk to and learn from. I feel that his gun enthusiasm is meant to mean anything except that he is very much for the cause of Israel, which during that timeperiod was facing some serious problems. Besides, who's to say he isn't a veteran?

The writing is excellent. To some it seems that some of it is purely shock value, but I think it's less about shock value and more pivotal points in the characters' lives.

I've always liked Jay's art, and while there isn't much improvement from the beginning to now, there didn't need to be. With practice the artwork has become sleeker and more flexible. The lack of background I think is a non-issue. This isn't a comic with a heavy focus on good art (although the characters themselves are excellently drawn)- this is a comic with a focus on story. Some can pull off both, but I feel a story like this is more important than fancy backgrounds.

I'd highly recommend this comic to anyone open-minded enough to accept anthro art and real-life situations that most people don't seem to want to talk about.
Review by dethtoll Sun Jul 24 2005 06:10 AM

ok im a fur as it is so eventuly i came to this comic i wasss looking for yiff but what i found how shall i put this what i found was something unbelevably wonderfull furrs going through normal life dating ect. mixed in with a bit of dysfunctuality wow what a great comic i enjoy this so much and look forward to all wonderfull episodes of this enticing comic (yes i did have dirty thoughts at the incest one)
Review by bucky (check me out at furry-furry.com) Tue Jun 28 2005 07:23 AM

I will admit, a while ago when I first stumbled upon this comic I myself was jarred by the content, considering everything that happens to a nine-year-old kid.

I can't really claim I have done my research considering the topics at hand (Fun Fact: I'm forgetful and lazy) but regardless, the comic is very entertaining for me. It definitely might be unrealistic, but isn't that what makes a story interesting? Imagining that the improbable has actually happened?

Of course, I could just go watch one of my grandmother's soaps if I wanted to go see the improbable unfold. That is, if I could keep up with all 268 characters (23% of which are members of the mafia).

If you want to complain about how unrealistic it is, at any rate, then why not take a stab at the fact that all the characters are anthros?

Honestly, I'm not quite sure at times why I like this comic so much. The character depth is definitely a huge factor. The clean-cut continuity and the fact that the characters actually AGE is another perk. It does have it's moments. It can be quite charming at times.

If you are easily offended then I suggest that you do not read this comic. If you are under 14 (at the least) then I highly suggest not reading this comic.

...If you have a good sense of humor, are over 14, and can take it as what it isóadult-esque entertainment and morality in the form of an anthropomorphic comic stripóthen definitely give it a read. Overall, I give it an 8.8/10.
Review by Chel J. B. Sun Jun 26 2005 12:49 AM

Better Days is a realistic depiction of the hard lives of children and teenagers in a somewhat fanciful world that is a mirror to our own. It overtones a loss of innocence, and the unnecessary complexities of modern society.

I give it a 9 out of 10, simply because anything can be improved, and nothing is perfect.
Review by FW Wed Jun 08 2005 10:23 PM

I've been keeping up with this comic for a few months. The first time I started reading it, I didn't quite understand they they were kittens at first until I got some context clues and thought they started the story in middle school already from the locker rooms and the well developed girl. Both kittens were very innocent with Lucy being more aggresive then Fisk in the beginning.

I enjoyed the steady pace with the few jumps of age. I relate with the incident of the early sexual encounter and maturity level that followed. I'm not really surpised with Fisks insight on the world because adolescents think about situcations like war and the meaning of life to find their own place in society. It felt like a teenager talking to an adult, which it was.

The political chapter with Bedbutter Chronicles was not about either liberal or conservative veiws but on the fact that the teacher was forcing her veiws and not giving the whole story for the children to decide for themselves on what's right. I appreciated it greatly when my teachers let me decide. I related to Fisk getting in trouble for his views and thought he was a very good writer. It just pisses me off when a teacher thinks someone is stupid when the evidence is right in front of them that they arn't.

I understand what Lucy is going through with the trust factor. It is very hard to know who is really on your side sometimes... the incest thing.. even though it did bother me, I understood. Besides it's something again you can see an adolecent going through. Experimenting yet expressing they feel they can only trust each other. What can you do? I can also see they fact that they are twins can have a hand in that with mental bonding. Hell... with the painful reasons that they have, I wouldn't care, its their business, as long as it didn't become public, they dont conceive a child and they kept it on the down low. It's a form of emotional protection. In the end... all they will have is each other.

I notice that as the story goes, Fisk becomes more aggresive in general which made his character more appealing. The psychotrist kinda amplified society's thoughts that Fisk might be a danger to other people. Just in case they monitored him to see if he was. The frustration of his mothers sexuality... you can't help but pity from all sides of the story. I also like how the story will come back about something that happened ealier as well.

As the graphics go, It took me very little to get use to the graphics. The style of the eyes were different then I'm use to, but it was all good. Side profiles annoy the shit out of me. Even though a good portion of the backgrounds are white, it never really bothered me because I have a good imagination and only need a couple backgrounds to understand the rest. I give it a 9 out of 10 for a good concept and keeping things real.
Review by StormyHotWolf88 Sat Jun 04 2005 09:30 AM

Amazing. I have never read a more deeper, funnier, outstanding comic in my life. The story was great even though it is more character based than story based. I just love Fisk and Lucy, the best characters ever. Jay, this MUST become an animated film. it would be a box office smash, I know it would... Furs everywhere would flock to the theaters..I know I would.

Keep up the good work Jay, you're an excellent writer and artist.
Review by Dave Jones Tue May 24 2005 11:24 PM

best webcomic out there, only one i'm interested in reading. the artwork is fantastic and the storylines are great.

keep it up jay
Review by tammy bartlett Fri May 13 2005 03:17 AM

i really thought your comic is pretty darn good. It is a bit disturbing in some chapters. and it has some real life situations which some people would of thought of as depraved situations branching off of a Demented person, but i for one think it is good that some one is making a comic that is more real life then cartoonish
Review by Grey Mountain Fox Mon May 09 2005 08:55 AM

Just b/c drama moves a comic forward doesn't mean that it needs to go over the top. A romance novel would be a good analogy to this comic. It is flawed in much in the same way that a romance novel goes overboard with gratuitous sleazy details. My main complaint is that this comic lacks a lot of subtilty. You can still have an interesting comic, and I believe, interesting and likeable characters without subjecting them to random acts of the writer's fancy.

As for the incest in this comic- I don't see how one would think that it was less "offensive" than the relationship between Luke and Leia. Luke and Leia never had sex, and more importantly, they didn't even KNOW they were siblings when they kissed. Putting my feelings about incest aside, I didn't think that act necessarily developed the characters or the storyline in anyway. Maybe the writer will return to this issue, but as of now it seems like it was an episode that everyone just forgot about. Consequentially, the whole situation seemed seemed like it was put there purely for shock value- a tool that seems to be used a lot in this comic.

For some people, the drama is enough to draw committed readers, but the whole thing seems too fabricated and insincere that I just don't care about the story or the characters.
Review by obake Mon May 09 2005 04:31 AM

I got into this comic a couple days ago(today is May 6, 2005) and I'd have to say I am hooked.

I tend to be a fan of comics like this that have a sad or dark theme with lots of drama and good character development. Before this comic, the only other comic I'd come across with good character development like this was (is) Miura's Berserk (which is still better in a lot of ways, in my oppinion, though set in a fantasy medieval world, and not in modern times with everyday situations; well sort of).

I love this comic because it has all the ups and downs a good comic should, while not being afraid to make some of the downs leave scars that effect the characters much later in the story. (I think the whole incest thing between Fisk and Lucy is a result of Fisk's premature loss of virginity, and maybe even that they both witnessed the rape of their mother.) With having seen and experiance such things I can see how Fisk would have trouble trusting anyone but his sister, and Lucy trusting anyone but her brother. Plus sometimes twins are just weird like that as best as I can figure. Usually incest stuff like this would make me cringe (Princess Leia and Luke anyone?) but this case makes it seem justified, and doesn't have it go by without guilt in the minds of Lucy and Fisk (though mostly Lucy it seems, Fisk seems quite a bit less bothered by it then I'd like to see, but from looks of it he is the "stick by your guns, even if they're wrong" kind of guy.)

In short... good comic. I hope it comes out in print, and can't wait to see it through to it's end.
Review by Tristram Shandy Fri May 06 2005 03:08 AM

I ran across Better Bays after I found it linked on a friends website. Although I had a paper due first thing in the morning I stayed up until four in the morning reading every strip. It was nice reading a comic about Southerners that was written by a Southerner, and although the problems and situations that are addressed in the comic are by no way confined to the South, Better Days offers a perspective on them that I believe only a true born Southerner can provide.

One of the complaints I've read about the comic is of all of the drama that happens to Fisk and his family. This complaint puzzles me because no one would read a comic that had no excitement. Fisk's family is used to illustrate a host of problems that are faced by families across the United States, and as such will face many more problems over the course of the comics run than would be wished upon anyone.

Another problem some have with Fisk in particular is that he is too insightful for his age. I heard a similar complaint about Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes. People thought that the six year old boy had too extensive a vocabulary, and was thus unrealistic. HELLO! IT IS A COMIC! This is art people. The author writes this to express himself and to entertain us. Not everything about the strip will be realistic (bipedal, talking cats are not realistic by the way, no mater how well drawn they are) and it is not meant to be.

There is much to love in Better Days. The characters are interesting, and I found myself caring about them after the first few strips. Some of the subject matter is hard, and controversial, but it is handled with maturity and with respect towards the characters and the intelligence of the audience.

My only real complaint about Better Days is the gap that appeared between Fisk and Lucy's 7th grade year and their starting High School. It is obvious that they both matured a great deal physically and mentally (in Fisk's case this might be due to his experiences with Elizabeth) but the jump is rather abrupt, and for me it was jarring.

Other than that, this is a great online comic, and I would definitely like to see it in print sometime.
Review by SomeGhol Mon Apr 25 2005 01:46 PM

It is a very well-written comic, though it is unfortunate that the creator, Jay Naylor, used a few characters from the comic Badly Drawn Kitties and yet does not have a link to them, as apparently there is a great deal of bad blood between him and the author of BDK.

The art is excellent. The political leanings are at times uncomfortable, but as I am a liberal that should make sense given Naylor's beliefs, and they are sparse. Mostly though it is a fairly "clean" comic insofar that it doesn't really seem to be written to offend. The storylines are interesting, but this comic definitely covers mature topics, so young readers and the sensitive beware.
Review by Titanium Dragon Wed Apr 20 2005 10:58 PM

Loved it. I probably could go into what everyone else has, but I want to add something: mostly, about Fisk(the male twin)'s level of maturity in the comic. It's already been mentioned that it was pretty high, but the reviewer didn't really go into it. Lemme put it this way: the boy could be a goddamned self help guru. This might be because I'm just a naive little kid, but I went into this comic looking for just another furry webcomic to pass the time, and I came out reflecting on my own life. Fisk has some things to SAY. They were mostly in the "mini-speeches" someone mentioned before, so it kinda is hassle to read for a webcomic, but they're really good insights into life. If I had to compare him to anything, I'd say he seemed like a conservative version of Huey from the Boondocks(another of my favorite comics). Actually, the only problem I have in the comic is the constant portrayal of the species that are paralleled to blacks(hyenas)as... well, stereotypical. Only two adult males of the species are shown in the comic: in is raping his wife and gets shot in the next strip, and the other refers to the mother as "white chocolate." I'm sorry, but that is not the norm, just an outdated perception that we can't seem to shake. Bu-t, I've been rambling. Long story short, it's a smart comic. I can't wait to read the next strip. 9/10
Review by Brandon Sanders Mon Apr 11 2005 07:15 PM

I think its great, This is a world where the worst comes out anyway. I could actualy imagine this happining to a real family. is a real thing, and is a real thing. Parents try to hide it from thier kids but they find it anyway.

I loved the art in it. It shows talent. There could have been more backgrounds, but it shows the carecters are more important. Also I like how its black and white.

Story was real good, like I said before, we live in a world where all this is possible (unfortunetly) but its also very funny. I very much look forward to reading more and eagerly await the next comic.


Note - I would have given it ten but... It can still be improoved. sorry Jay.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The terms before "is a real thing" in the review were blank. Management did not edit them out. Tserio is welcome to submit an addenum and I will edit the original review properly - Furilius]
Review by Tserio Pacturie Sun Apr 03 2005 12:47 PM

It reminds me of a soap opera that relies on shock value to keep its viewers coming back for more. The storylines are consistently over the top and predictable after only two chapters. You end up expecting the "worst" or the most shocking plot twists, thus making this comic nothing more than a furry version of a bad tele-drama.

I cannot symphathize with any of these characters. They seem more like objects of the author's fancy rather than real "people."
Review by obake Fri Feb 04 2005 12:23 PM

Been a long time reader of Better Days and this place, so I might as well give it a shot.

Better Days is a comic about a single parent mother and two kids; a younger sister and an older brother. The comic focuses on the main character, Fisk, and goes through his life from when he is a kid, to whatever state Jay Naylor had in mind.

The comic itself is really drawn in a pseudo-manga style, but Naylor does have his own sense of style. The character's facial expressions and posture really bring out the life of characters and shows the level of detail Mr. Naylor is willing to put.

On the other hand, the backgrounds seem to be a secondary objective in Naylor's artwork. The characters are often in front of white space, talking to one another, and little detail is given to the background, if any. Either that, or the house that Fisk lives is very bare and his mom is incredibly cheap.

The writing itself is sort of a double edged sword here. Naylor knows how people talk and react, yet at the same time, doesn't know how they would react. As Cobra mentioned already, the characters sometimes produce huge speech bubbles just to explain something. There was even one scene where a Jewish mouse father explained to Fisk about the relationship of a 'gun'. It was mind boggling and a form of rape to my eyes to read that.

Another flaw within Naylor's writing, or should I say Fisk, is Fisk himself. Fisk seems to be a vessel for Naylor's thoughts, and while I don't have a huge problem with this, the reality of some eight or ten year old boy giving an interesting and thoughtful insight on a subject (chapter Chess) is a little too unbearable, even for a comic. As Fisk grows in the story, at least there will be a reason why he has interesting insight, but a ten year old kid playing chess with an adult and giving the adult a challenge? Nah, too much.

I will finish this later, maybe.

- Mark Iradian
Writer of Chronicles of Garas
Review by Mark Iradian Sun Jan 23 2005 05:50 PM

A quick response to Monk: I thought I said it well enough that some of the situations were a little too hard for me to handle, and I did not want to spoil the surprises some of the comics delivered. I don't condone any of that stuff, but when it's presented in literature, I reserve my judgment for how well it's presented, and being that the sex scenes didn't seem like blatant wank material (they were largely glossed over), I felt they were presented better than most scenes of this nature.

While I can't speak for the rest of the crew, I feel that if one enjoys a story that involves a certain sexual fetish, that does not necesarrily mean the viewer enjoys the fetish. There's better things this comic has to offer.
Review by Cobra Wed Jan 19 2005 01:36 PM

It's a comic about sibling children, who are anthropomorphic cats. Fine. No problem. But when they have sex? JESUS CHRIST, is every positive reviewer on this board blind to paedophilia? Do they condone paedophilia? I've never seen such a blatant projection of fantasy onto what would otherwise be an okay webcomic.
Review by Monk Tue Jan 18 2005 05:59 PM

Good art. Beautiful characters. Thoughtful dialogue. Good story. I'd buy this as a print comic in a heartbeat.
Review by Paul O'Keefe Mon Jan 10 2005 07:10 PM

This comic is amazing. It brings me through thick and thin of two furry children and makes you want to continue reading.
The Writing: HILARIOUS
Humor: Where there's not humor, it makes up for it in drama(superb drama I must add).
Definitely: 10/10 Blood-stained roses
Review by Kuro Arashi Mon Dec 27 2004 01:28 AM

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