Thursday, December 22, 2005


Pre Xmas Syndrome. I still have to buy stuff for xmas and the shopping centre is going to be so packed with people that probably the only way to get close to any merchandise is to shout IT'S CLOBBERING TIME!. Or maybe plan ahead and not shower for a week before going shopping. Fuck this, next year I order everything online down to the wrapping paper. What good is the internet if it doesn't help us to avoid human contact?
#158 seems to be liked, which is a relief. I had it in my mind for so long that I was completely unable to decide whether it was funny or not, like a comedy sketch viewed 20 times. I have vague memories of considering it funny when I first thought about it, but I think that it was last year. #159 is not going to be that great, it doesn't even have a punchline (or anyway the last panel falls below Minimum Punchline Treshold). It's one of those episodes that you need in order to explain what happens next in the story, but that are marginally less lame than a panel of text saying "And then he was told that he should blablah". Maybe I should use the written panel and surround it with random people throwing pies. Oh well.

Monday, December 19, 2005


I'm a zombie because it's really hard to fall asleep with back pain. Eventually I propped myself with so many cushions that I must have looked like one of those frescos of dying Popes, minus angels and rays of light, and managed to fall asleep at around 4am by staying absolutely still and trying to ignore the pain. I tried to do that yoga trick where you empty your mind of all thoughts but it just doesn't work. I haven't managed to do it ONCE. Never ever. I suspect that people who claim that they can empty their minds are full of shit.

I should be able to finish #158 comfortably before I fly home for xmas, I worked on it for six hours solid yesterday evening. I watched Lenny on TV at the same time, first time I've seen the movie even if it's been around for 30 years. It's about a stand-up comedian who fought for our right to swear in public places. Dustin Hoffmann is a great actor and it was an interesting story, but I'd probably have been bored if I hadn't been colouring at the same time and I couldn't shake the impression that Lenny, even if a likeable character, kinda sucked as a comedian.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Resurrection of the blog

This probably makes it an undead blog.

I've fucked my back and have been in pain for a week now, so no gym - which for the comic is a good thing, since I have time to draw more, or I would if I didn't spend it playing games.

Thing is, I've recently had what I believe to be a middle age crisis, and started an aikido class. I've been doing karate for three years, but apart from one fat lip, a dodgy knee and assorted bruises, I've never been seriously hurt doing it. Aikido, at least for beginners, is deceptively softer, but if you don't know what you're doing, you still end up slamming clumsily your back on the floor over and over and over. Sure, there are mats, but I guess I still messed myself up. I've seen photos of the founder of the art, a creepy old japanese guy throwing to the floor everyone in his path, so maybe it's an activity compatible with senile dementia and sciatica and I have something to look forward to, but starting two days after the last class I've been I am in pain every time I stand up.

Comic... hmm... The next episode that I'm going to draw sometime over the weekend, #158, is an episode that has been in my mind for so long that I've lost all sense of objective judgement on whether it's going to suck or not. It's going to have a fixed background, but it's long, looooong, it's still going to take a while. I can't wait to get over and done with the following three episodes, which are just storyline movers, and get to finally draw Cyborella - the slutty elven queen. I have so much fun scripting her dialogues, *lick lick lick @lololol*. I'm quite keen also on D34dly and YNH's storyline, but I have to pace it slowly because it has to match the other timelines.

What I'm not keen at all is the ZERG storyline (although there is one of the future episodes that I kind of like), I got an insane amount of shit from friends for the lame episode about the giant duck, and who can blame them? I have an upcoming episode which matches the lameness of the duck one, maybe I just go undercover for a few days after I post it.

I'm working on the book 2 file, wondering if I should add some additional material to it, like possibly a Cast page. That means work though! Anathema! Well, time for coffee and for feeling sorry about my back. Waah.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Check out these two comics

Elf Only Inn, one of my favorite webcomics, is about to come back from a long hiatus. E.O.I. is the name of a roleplayers chatroom with some memorable characters. If you haven't seen it before check it out, it's very funny.

Yesterday I stumbled by chance on a comic that really impressed me, Code Name: Hunter. There are only 11 panels so far, but what panels! Script, drawing and colouring are all very good, an awful lot better than what you'd normally expect from a webcomic. It's early to know where it will go from here, but the authors are very talented so it's worth checking out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Scripting for dummies (like me) - part 1

I started this blog and then I suddenly realised that I have very few strong opinions - most of them about the correct way to prepare a pizza and why it should never include pinapple, which you may not care much about.

For lack of more interesting topics, I've decided to share a few things that I've learned in this first year of making a webcomic. Take everything with the benefit of doubt because what works for me may not work for you and (insert disclaimers of your choice here). I'll just describe the way I do things and my thought process, it's up to you to decide if it could apply to your work - if you are a comic author - or if you give a shit - if you're a reader.

1. The idea
First of all, of course, there's the idea for the episode. It doesn't have to be detailed, as long as I think that it could work by being funny or moving the plot, or if I'm lucky, both. For this tutorial, I'll script a very simple idea that I may include in the story whenever Ohforf will group with other newbies to go level. The idea is this (it's not particularly funny but it's simple so it's good as an example):

The group includes a guy who's playing a new character but isn't a newbie like the others, he is - or claims to be - an alt(ernate character) of a much higher level main character. He gives Ohforf and the others some complex instructions of what they're supposed to do when he brings a monster to the group (using a lot of acronyms and expressions that leave the newbies completely baffled). He proceeds to pull while they stare at him(they didn't understand a word he said), and dies horribly while they're still staring or possibly discussing his instructions.

2. The general look

At this stage I still haven't thought of the details of the dialogue, but I form some vague concept of how the strip would look like and about the characters involved.

For example, I think that for the strip to work well the guy that gets slaughtered should be an annoying fucker, rather than a poor bastard who had to join a pickup group of noobs for lack of options. He should be the kind of know-it-all guy who tells pickup newbie groups that he's got a maxed level main character and tells people what to do (generally ending up in everyone's death because he doesn't have a clue, then him leaving the group after calling them stupid noobz). Everyone's grouped with a specimen of this player type at some point, so it would be nice to see one of them die a horrible death - but most of all I'll enjoy drawing it.

The image layout is very simple (within the constraints of my - mostly - 4-panel comic). I think that the guy should pontificate to the group in the first two scenes, leave them to pull a monster in scene 3 while they stare open-mouthed (something that Ohforf is very good at), die horribly in scene 4 (no need to draw it, all it takes is cries for help and blood and guts spraying from just outside the scene borders) while the group is still staring at him with the same expressions. This is the general idea of how the panel looks like that I have at this stage:

Scene 1 - (assuming that the group was already together and the characters were all introduced in the previous episodes). Close-up of the alt guy who's telling the group that he'll organise the pull and what each of them should be doing.

Scene 2 - Group scene with "camera angle" from behind the alt guy talking, so that the confused expressions of the rest of the group are visible. He's completing his speech in this scene.

Scene 3 - Seen from the side, the group staring at the guy as he's running out of camera view to the right of the panel, possibly still talking.

Scene 4 - Blood and guts and cries of agony coming from outside camera view while the whole group is still staring. Maybe there will be a short exchange between group members in scenes 3 and 4 but I'll look into that later.

3. The raw script

Here, I start writing the dialogue without giving myself too many constraints of timing, length and exchange sequence. I've already got a rough idea of the division in scenes though, to fit the dialogue in. Let's say that the characters present in the strip, aside from Ohforf, are the two newbies Sugarbabe and Masterandcommander - who appeared briefly in episode #52 - and the alt, which I'll just refer to as Alt. OK, let's have a first go at the scripting.

Scene 1 - (assuming that the group was already together and the characters were all introduced in the previous episodes). Close-up of the alt guy who's telling the group that he'll organise the pull and what each of them should be doing.

Alt: Guys! My main's a 75, just do as I say! I pull, Ohforf tanks, if it bafs Sugarbabe mezzes the adds, but whatever you do don't agro the left spawn

Scene 2 - Group scene with "camera angle" from behind the alt guy talking, so that the confused, borderline imbecilic expressions of the rest of the group are visible. He's completing his speech in this scene.

Alt: If it's an Evoker and it waves the green thingy hit it with a dispel straight away and go full damage but don't overnuke or you'll be OOM when it regenerates the Hounds of Hell! GTG?

Scene 3 - Seen from the side, the group staring at the guy as he's running out of camera view to the right of the panel, possibly still talking.

Alt: (partially out of view, only a leg still sticking out) -=*** PULLING (GREY GOBLIN EVOKER) ***=-
Sugarbabe (whispering to Ohforf): What did he say?

Scene 4 - Blood and guts and cries of agony coming from outside camera view while the whole group is still staring.

Ohforf (whispering): "Guys!" and, hmm, some other stuff
Alt (from outside the panel): AAAAH! HELP! AAAAAAH!
Monster (from outside the panel): grrrrrr

Now that there's a basic script I'll have to do the finetuning work, cleaning up the dialogue, working out the sequence, possibly changing the camera angles if required. I'll cover these things in part 2.

Monday, May 09, 2005

#102 - Land of peace and harmony

The latest two episodes were directly based on old UO history and may be possibly the closest I've ever come to expressing an opinion through the comic. I'd rather not make it a habit, since I'm not particularly opinionated and in the few cases where I am, I'm usually full of shit. However, I'll expand a bit on old UO, at least of what I remember of it six years later, mostly for the benefit of those who didn't play it.

UO was possibly the largest and most impressive virtual dystopia to ever grace the internet. Since those days, game designers took a hint and separated people who wanted to pvp and people who didn't by different servers, pvp flags, safe areas or even different games, so that UO's glorious and involuntary experiment in recreating Lord of the Flies online hasn't been repeated since.

The people who originally designed UO did a fantastic job in creating a virtual world where you could be and do anything you liked, I can't think of any other game that did the same in such detail. They also made a mistake (and it's hard to blame them since they were threading in unknown territory) - they assumed that a virtual society would police itself. I think that their idea was, let's allow people to murder and steal from each other, because there will be "good players" who'll take care of the micreants.

What the fuck were they thinking?!? If you consider the aggression level and pvp experience displayed by your average pk guild and your average, say, craftsman or roleplayer guild, what the UO designers did amounted to taking Hannibal Lecter to a Weight Watchers meeting and counting on the fat people there to defend themselves in case he got peckish.

It was crazy to see a game that was the ultimate griefer paradise, with a design/support team trying desperately to stop people from doing exactly what the game allowed them to do.
"Do you want to watch people explode to bits when they open chest boxes that you've trapped? You got it!
Do you want to steal stuff from people's bags while they're standing around in town? You got it!
Do you want to kill someone, loot everything he's wearing and carrying, then hack his body to pieces while he stands there watching in ghost form? You got it!
Do you want to burglar people's houses and take away all their belongings that they took months to collect? You got it!
However, we count on you not to do any of these things, because they're very very naughty."

They found themselves dealing with a huge amount of complaints and reacted with what appeared to me as kneejerk reactions, such as what seemed to be almost GM harassment towards pks (who weren't after all doing anything that the game mechanics didn't allow them to do), extremely severe penalties for killing other players and so on - and the end result was that they managed to piss off everybody - both the pks (who always found a way around the penalties such as macroing off their kills - the murder count decreased over time) and their victims, who kept getting killed left and right no matter how much they complained about it.

The solution that they finally implemented, a mirror world where PKing was disallowed, would take another three paragraphs to explain and I don't know much about it because it was done after I had stopped playing. When I checked the game again, though, it looked changed beyond recognition. The lands where PKing was allowed were completely deserted. The lands where it wasn't allowed were covered in player housing in every available inch of terrain, with very beautiful and imaginative furniture and decoration arrangements, but again it seemed to lack any life or action - the most exciting thing was to try and find your way out the labirinth of houses built next to each other.

Friday, May 06, 2005


I decided to start a blog linked to the noob comic site for those days when I have too much commentary for the side of the latest strip. I'd say more, but it's early in the morning, I drew until 2 am last night to finish the strip, and my brain refuses to work. Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaain.... Maybe I could update this blog every day, but just with ...braaaaaaaaaaaains.... braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains... Lines and lines of it! Pages of it! The zombie blog! OK enough bullshit, I've got to get ready for work. This template looks nasty, but I don't have time to replace it now.