Here is why it was bad:
THE TRIANGLE OF DEATH
The strong red arrow in the middle shows the line where the image gets split. This can still work if you have text that goes in your image, or if this image were to be intended for a wrap-around book cover. Since my goal was a stand alone poster image, this compositional dead space was a failure.
How to solve this?
I didn't want to monkey with the characters, because I really like their arrangement and relation to one another. So I decided to employ a classical solution that has been used by artists for centuries: When in doubt, add more trees.
Next: Tight Pencil Drawing