Friday, January 27, 2006

#165: Script rescue - giving credit where it's due

The original script of #165 was giving me trouble because I didn't find it funny at all and it had no jokes or punchlines, but I needed the queen to enter in Ohforf's room to link up with the upcoming episodes so I didn't want to get rid of the episode altogether. I was so depressed about not having any idea on how to turn it funny, that was thinking of adding a complimentary Yo Mama joke at the end of it. For real. (Well, there's a particular yo mama joke that I'd like to draw, but that's unrelated.) So I went to an irc channel of people I game with and whined about it. Whining pays off!

Readers seem to really like #165, but the people they should praise are two friends of mine:

-AF, who helped me rewrite it from scratch. He's had the idea of the queen using a house break-in bug to get in Ohforf's room, as well as Drakoola's reaction (I had written at first "Aaah, 'sploiter!", which is more what a Baconian of Hope would shout, while "Hax!" isn't so judgemental - and you believed that there was no thought involved in writing forgettable gag strips about games!).

-Lan, who suggested that she could use a bug like the one in UO circa-1998, when people broke into houses from the roof by doing some weird shit with piles of crates.

Incidentally, AF had already suggested in the past that I make a strip about house break-in bugs, his original idea was that it would be used by Jehova witnesses to break into people houses and preach. It was an awesome idea, but it's fairly hard to work it into the story. Darkblade is going to experience a religious epiphany sometime soon, though, so it's not necessarily discarded, yet.

At the moment I'm going through a creative block, by the way, so I'm glad that I have script to last me 30 episodes because almost every time I start adding a new episode I decide that it's rubbish and discard it. The problem is that instead of thinking of the script in every waking moment, as I do when I'm inspired by a storyline (like the pks kidnapping Ohforf, or his meeting with Cyborella), I only think about it when I sit down in front of the blank page and it doesn't work. I spend every single waking minute doing something that doesn't give me time to think about it (such as gaming, working, reading etc.) and even if I am on a train for 5 minutes I'll read two pages of a book. Today I thought about the script for a solid hour during lunch and a few ideas started to pop up, so I should make a habit of doing that until I get past this draught. It's weird how it always happens when I've just published some episode that I'm inordinately proud of. Last time it happened when I posted the updates about Ohforf ninjaing the orb, which were good stuff, and this time I've just posted his meeting with Cyborella which was an idea that I had been holding on to for a whole year. I think it's because if I post something that I find particularly good, anything else that I write feels like shit in comparison and I keep throwing it away.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Episode #165 is going to be one of the longest I've drawn so far, double size length. I was afraid of putting pen to tablet, yesterday, when I started colouring it. Progress has been slow yesterday because I got home at 11pm and first had to do unspeakable things to some chicken strips with chilli oil and stirfry sauce. Tonight it's karate night, so I'll probably get home at the same time (and first do unspeakable things to broccoli with garlic and anchovy fillets). Tomorrow though, I should have time to do a lot of work on it. Once I post it, I'll explain how it happened that a short and painless update ended up as this monster double-length feature. I hardly ever do last minute script changes (the episode with the giant duck is a sad testament to this) but this update was an exception.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Do's and don'ts

There's a thread on the comicgenesis forum about do's and don'ts of webcomicking so I added mine. The third "do" is actually one of my pet peeves as a webcomic reader.

Do care very, very much about your script. Script well in advance and keep re-reading it and tweaking it all the time. This is particularly useful if you have more than one storyline progressing at once. Be your worst critic and if you think that an episode is not going to work, can it.

Do realise what are the pages that a new reader is going to check:
1. The latest episode, maybe the one before last. You can't always have the best work on your homepage, but someone said that your comic's as good as your latest update, and that's very true.
2. The first 5-10 episodes. Here is where you keep or lose your new readers. Many times I've seen some author lament their low readership, checked their story, and it didn't suck. It just lacked that humph in the beginning that made you want to keep reading. Do you think that your initial episodes are crap and don't do justice to your improvement as a webcomic artist? Think of the best possible prologue to your story, think what makes you sit on the edge of your seat when you watch the beginning of a great movie, and draw 5-10 amazing pages of prologue that will be the first thing the new guy sees after the latest page. If you outdo yourself, chances are he'll put up with your so-so early work after that.

Do understand that new readers don't give a flying fuck about your characters. In your eyes Nebula Coltrane, Galactic Detective, may be the epitome of cool, so cool in fact that she can carry a whole episode just by standing coolly in a corner lighting a cigarette and making smart remarks, because she's so, you know, cool. That works for YOU. Possibly for existing readers. A new reader is just going to think, what's this shit? When is something going to happen? Why am I reading this?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Uh oh

Yesterday the WoW Europe page linked the comic again, but the strip I'm drawing at the moment makes fun at the expense of WoW... It's going to be kind of rude of me to have it linked straight from their website! But what can I do, it's already all drawn and halfway coloured... Maybe next time I logon my shaman, a GM will show up and rip my First Sergeant badges off! Oh well, I had no idea, and now it's too late! I better keep colouring.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

#162 - The noob Graduate

I wonder how many people spotted the reference to the Graduate in episode #162. The episode seems to have been liked, but someone said that the script was confusing. Maybe it's because it follows The Graduate's script quite closely. Here's the original:

Mrs. Robinson, naked, is shutting the
door to the bedroom behind her.

Oh God.

She smiles.

Let me out.

She turns the lock on the door.

Don't be nervous.

Get away from that door.

I want to say something first.

Jesus Christ!

Benjamin - I want you to know
I'm available to you. If you
won't sleep with me this time -

Oh my God.

If you won't sleep with me this
time, Benjamin, I want you to
know you can call me up any
time you want and we'll make
some kind of arrangement.

Let me out!


Mrs. Robinson - I can't do

You what?

This is all terribly wrong.

Benjamin - do you find me undesirable?

Oh no, Mrs. Robinson. I think -
I think you're the most attractive
of all my parents' friends.

Cyborella's storyline is fun to draw as it was to script, but the next two episodes will take a break from it, for the relief of anyone who's getting tired of the slutty queen. I won't have much chance to do a lot of drawing until Friday, so it's unlikely that I'll manage to get #163 ready until Sunday at the earliest. I also have to start drawing the cover for book #2 and various stickers and magnets and buttons for the convention A.S.A.P. and I don't really know when I'm going to find the time for all this. I've started taking the Wacom tablet with me in case I get some free time at lunchtime.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy new year and all that

Life's picking up pace again after the holidays, so I can't spend all night playing games and then sleeping until sunset, much to my regret. I'm going back to aikido tonight after getting patched up and encouraged by my chiropractor, I'll hover with my butt a millimeter from the floor before I do any breakfall, hopefully I don't get a repeat of back pain. I'm a bit scared about it, but the chiropractor said that aikido is really good for the back (or did she say for her business?) - so we'll see.

Now, on the comic front, finally Cyborella's made her appearance, after I'd thought about the character more than a year ago. Maybe the story IS slowpaced. The next episode, #162, is BIG. 8 rows, and not much to copy-paste like the backgrounds in the fountain episode, either. I'm excited about it, though, because I quite like the script. Plus, I get to quote a movie, and I love doing that! Given the likely young demographic of my readers, though, I doubt that many will recognise the scene and remember what movie it's from. After lots of wrestling and cutting and cursing at the script, I'm finally at a point where I'm quite happy with the next dozen updates, but I've been cutting so much that it's actually shrinking! It's ok, though, because I've got some new ideas to work on, as long as I stop being lazy and write them down.