23 September, 2005

Blackaby

(click on the image for full-sized evil)

One of the recent comics I've begun reading is Blackaby. It's set in hell and isn't one particular story. Instead it's a collection of shorter stories (that I'm guessing will eventually create one overarching comic).

One way that it's particularly special is that the artist for it is fairly busy, so while she will be drawing more art then any other particular artist, most of the short stories that make up Blackaby will be done by guest artists, which is quite an interesting solution to the problem of having a writer with more free time then spare time. People like Sortelli from Elf Only Inn will be doing a story. Which is quite amazing for such a short comic.

I originally found Blackaby when the writer commented on a drawing I'd put up in the Comic Genesis forums. And having quickly read through it's archives, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely worth checking out.

19 September, 2005

The elevator to the moon

A company called Liftport has recently gotten FAA approval to create a prototype for a space elevator. While they'll only be travelling a mile from the ground, it's amazing to see yet another company working on making money to get stuff into space.

I had seen the LiftPort website a while back, and I thought it would never even get this far! With all of these companies working on getting into space (and in my opinion, many of them doing so partly because the head has always dreamt about going there), NASA isn't as important as it once was. With the Cold War fuelling the original space race, it's always been a bit touch and go since it ended. Arthur C Clarke imagined the governments playing a much more active role in space-travel in his 2001 series. And yet it's 2005, and the present is very different.

With the government working on ensuring no loss of life ever happens again because of the Columbia mistakes (I saw this on a commercial for a documentary with that quote coming from someone in NASA), I'm convinced the American government is setting it's space department up for self-detruction. Mistakes will happen people will die. If the airplane industry closed down shop everytime someone died in a plane, we would still be travelling by boat. So with NASA crippling itself, I'm damn glad that many companies are stepping up with ways to get into space and on what to do in space. Sure most of them will fail, but with so many seriously trying to do it, one of them is sure to succeed.

The ad... it haunts me.

(click on the thumbnail for full-sized adness)

I kept seeing the above ad over at Comixpedia and it kept calling out to me to click on it. Now normally I'm not susceptible to ads, no matter how good they are. But there was something about the above ad that I just couldn't resist. So I eventually clicked on it, and I was glad I did.

Code Name: Hunter is a webcomic that has previously undergone 3 carnations (one as a text story, the other as a webcomic, the third one as a new take on the previous webcomic). And it's definitely not the worse for wear. It's set in our own world, with one small difference. At the end of WWII magic began to leak into the world once more. Oh, and all of the humans aren't human, but dogs.

The artworks good, and the story is quite interesting. I haven't read the original comic or the text stories (as they're full of spoilers), so I haven't got too much to go on. But from what I've seen, it's a keeper and I'll eagerly be following it as the tale unfolds. Although I just realised. It only updates monthly!

17 September, 2005

Will Nintendo survive the revolution?


The console gamers have been abuzz with talk of the new controller for the next Nintendo console (which is being called Revolution), and it's control is certainly revolutionary.

I saw this article on it, and despite my first misgivings over it, after seeing it in action I can see that it's certainly going to be... interesting.

You use it by moving the physical device. If you're controlling a character, move the device and the character on your screen moves. At first I thought the A and B were too seperate from the diagonal control, but actually the A is right underneath it with the B and the underside of the control.

Just thinking about it a little bit (well, that and seeing it in action), and I can very quickly see the advantages. In the old sega mega drive days when I would play street fighter, trying to perform an attack was never easy (and mostly done on random luck) as it was a random combination of button pressing (down, left b, a). Now with this remote that should no longer be an issue. I can move my person by using the diagonal part, and attack (with a weapon such as a sword) by moving the remote itself.

When my brother got the webcam thing for his PS2, I thought it a gimmick that wouldn't go anywhere (and well, it hasn't :P). But my aunt saw it as a useful input device for any game. When a menu pops up, you move your hand and tap the air to select which one you want. I pointed out it wouldn't be easier or quicker, and she said no. But it wouldn't be harder or slower. And it would be more intuitive. This remote is more intuitive (I can't count how many times I saw my mum move the remote up when she wanted the character to move on the screen).

However an innovative idea isn't enough to sell the console. It needs the games. The innovative Nintendo DS hasn't used it's dual-screen to a very good advantage, most of it has been rather gratuitous. Here's hoping the Revolution will fare better.

16 September, 2005

Donkey Teeth Reruns

(click on the comic for full-sized donkey-teeth)

Queen of Wands is a webcomic that actually finished in February 2005. I started reading it a few months after that. What I've been reading is the re-runs. Yup, a webcomic is actually able to do re-runs.

What's the advantage of reading the re-runs? Well I get it 7-days a week instead of the 3 that it was updating when it was being published. And I also get to see Aerie's comments on each comic, which is great as she dissects her own comic, I can not only pick up on things I had missed when I first read the comic (such as the "donkey teeth" in the first panel), but I get to see her thoughts on the artistic mutations she has over time, and what she felt were the advantages. Comparing the comic on the right to her first comic, and you can definitely see a massive change, and for the good.

Aerie is able to use the "infinite canvas" (perhaps digital canvas would be a better term) of the web in a useful way. Having begun creating my own comic, keeping text bubbles in a confined space is very difficult. So she did away with that by having a larger background in which the panels are confined in. But little things like the background blurring are also great to see compared with her older comics.

Can I use these tools in my own comic? I don't know, I haven't attempted to yet. But seeing someone who has learnt so much and reading her own thoughts is extremely helpful.

15 September, 2005

Traveling back in time to 1999

(click on the comic for full-sized oldness)

I've been reading the archives for General Protection Fault, and they're actually not that bad. I've taken a look at GPF several times in the past, but each of those times I've read the first few comics, and it's seemed like another User Friendly rip-off. However a recent post by the creator got me intrigued once more.

At a blog I read often (Websnark), GPF has been criticized quite a bit as a failed attempt at the Cerebus Syndrome. The Cerebus Syndrome is when a comic is a gag-a-day, and attempts to move to a serious storyline. Eric Burns of Websnark was quite critical of GPF, because in his opinion it failed to be a good comic after the Cerebus Syndrome began. A few small snippets from an article by Eric Burns on GPF:
It was relationship humor. These were coworkers and friends trying to make a living and have a basically good life.

GPF was good. It was funny, and fun, and cheerful, with good characters who had funny situations grow out of their interactions. It was a geeky strip and a human strip all at once, and it didn't take itself too seriously.

But with the Flood, we had a wholesale abandonment of humor and lightheartedness. There was a terrible storm, there was a terrible flood. Dwayne's wife was having a baby. Nick charged out into the storm and dove into the flood to save someone even though he couldn't swim (an event rife with humorous possibility, but it was played morbidly straight). Darlington stated publicly that he intended for the Flood to say something about how each of the principals dealt with a crisis.

It sucked. I mean, it sucked hard.
You can read the full article here.

When I first read this, I actually got interested in it. Sure, he was saying it was bad, but I didn't see that. What I saw was him saying that it changed beyond the first few strips I had read. So it was definitely enticing. However school and laziness tend to get in the way, so I never did get round to it (except for reading a brief story in it's later years which was, okay. Nothing great, but not too shabby).

However recently I saw a thread on Comixpedia by someone doing a school essay on Cerebus Syndrome, and of course GPF was mentioned. In that thread, the creator of GPF Jeff Darlington made a post defending his "Cerebus Syndrome", here are some quotes:
One is the artist's perception of their own work, while the other is the average reader's perception. Obviously, these two views are very different, because the observer in each case comes to the artistic work from two different directions and sets of experiences.

GPF was meant to be from the beginning a work of growing depth and complexity. I cannot say that from the very first instance I drew my first sketch of the cast that I knew exactly where the characters would be now, years later, and in the future. However, I did spend over a year developing the strip and its concept before it went online, and during this time I scripted what ultimately became the first two and a half years of the comic.

In fact, if you care to really put time into such analysis, there are only two weeks in all of the GPF archive of purely "miscellaneous" strips not associated with a story. Everything else builds on what has gone before, if only for the establishment of a character's personality.

Of course, the true "Cerebus" instance that everyone thinks of (including myself) when they speak of GPF is Surreptitious Machinations. It was a bold experiment, and one I enjoyed, despite the occasional complaint from readers. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was the culmination of four years of planning (five if you count that initial pre-Web year), of carefully placing plot thread upon plot thread, characterization upon characterization. Yet many readers saw it as a "abrupt change," a "sudden shift" from the comic's "true focus." But how could this be? I had carefully hidden hints in the strip for years before this, and I certainly had done many long, involved, and even dramatic stories before. To me, this was what GPF was meant to become. Was I too subtle? Was I being too gradual in building the story?
This was the last push I needed to get me to start reading GPF. The fact that he had planned for it to be serious, and had tried to drop plenty of hints was the last bit of incentive I needed. Partly to see if with my foreknowledge I could see if he had left plenty of clues, but mainly so I could see if I'd like it.

What have I found so far? Well, the stories so far are a little like what I'm planning for The Queen's Land, a collection of humorous situations with a cast of characters. However the big difference is that he planned to eventually move to a serious comic (with the humour, while still present, downplayed), whereas with The Queen's Land, I'm firmly making it a gag comic only, with little continuity. But aside from that, I'm not minding the story archs. Sure, it's a little like User Friendly, but the resemblance is actually fairly superficial.

I'm enjoying the Ki and Nick relationship, which is one of the obvious recurring story archs so far, which is where I'm up to at the moment. Eric Burns kinda ruined the ending for me, and the one storyline I read from 2004 also ruined it for me, but I'm still enjoying it. I'm looking forward to see how it gets to where it is now. At first I thought Ki manipulating Nick was a terrible storyline, but it isn't. How it came about was just a little careful playing. A light joke. But it eventually developed into something deeper. Which I guess is what the whole comic is, on a much smaller scale.

The only other obvious recurring story arch (so far) is Trudy being evil. And I don't like it very much. Sure the gags were funny at first, but now she's just coming off as two dimensional. But fortunately I found out in a forum post that Jeff develops Trudy's character. She does eventually become three-dimensional, which is good. Because I wouldn't want to read the entire comic with her being flat.

I'm only up to 1999. But so far, it's okay. There are hints that the comic will eventually deepen into something more. And all indications are, that the deepening will be a good thing. Sure people may have fallen in love with with the comic as it began, and didn't see the signs (which aren't very obvious and you do have to look for them), but I'm not one of those people. I knew from the get go that it would deepen into a story, and I'm chomping at the bit to get up to Surreptitious Machinations.

14 September, 2005

Back in my day we drove up-hill both ways!

I saw a recent comment about how cars are getting so advanced these days, that people are forgetting how to drive.

And to that all I can respond with is "so?" As long as they don't get into a car they can't drive, what's the problem? It's like manual vs. automatic drivers. Quite a lot of manual drivers go on as if they're so much better because they drive a manual. How much smarter they are. As long as I can get from point A to point B without causing a car crash, I don't care what my car does.

All the new fandangled gadgets cars are getting these days are good if someone's willing to pay for them. Myself, I'm not. But really, who cares if it has all these gadgets? As long as having them doesn't hurt the driver.

I just don't get this superiority over driving. Myself, I eagerly await the day where my car will drive me from point A to point B and I won't have to worry about anything.

Being busy leads to laziness

I haven't posted in 12 days, at first because I was busy, but it quickly lead to just being plain lazy.

The Webcomic Telethon I mentioned in my last post is underway, and they've reached $21,000 so far (that's American ;)). Which is simply amazing. I only ended up entering one comic (because I've been busy), and it's yet to show up, but keep an eye out for it. There's quite a few good comics that have donated to the telethon (such as this one).

I've been busy with school work, but I've also been busy with my webcomic, which is coming alright. I've got 4 comics done (I'm suppose to have 6 by this Sunday) so I'm on track with creating a buffer. I'm hoping to have 12 comics done by the end of the month. And sure they're a bit rough around the edges, but I'm learning.

I got a good deal the other day, where I was able to get 100% store credit on Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing. So I used the rebate to buy her Liveship Traders Trilogy. So I basically got Shaman's Crossing for free (as I was going to buy her Liveship Traders Trilogy anyway :D).
The Liveship Traders Trilogy is the second one in her Realm of the Elderlings universe. Having
recently finished her Farseer Trilogy (which I originally began reading YEARS ago), I have been looking for an excuse to buy the next Trilogy, so this was a good one. Although having said that, I've got 20 books I need to get around to reading. So I really should stop buying books :P But these "100% rebate deals" are very tempting (especially when they're on books I'd already planned to buy).

That's it for today. I hope school and the webcomic (and laziness) don't keep me from posting her more often.

02 September, 2005

Webcomic Telathon for Hurricane Victims

Brad Guigar of Greystone Inn and organizer of the MDA Webcomics Telathon of 2002 has organized another telathon to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hosted on Blank Label Comics, people will be publishing comics on a special website in order to raise funds for the victims of the recent disaster. All of the revenue generated from site advertising, donations and proceeds from merchandise bought through the site will be donated to the Red Cross to help in disaster relief. And anyone is welcome to submit comics for the cause, you don't need to be a webcomic creator. Click here for more details on how you can help.

I know I'll be submitting at least one comic (based on the characters of my future webcomic that I was keeping a secret :P). And feel free to spread the word (and you're welcome to copy the above paragraph word for word ;)).

01 September, 2005

BBC won't sue it's customers?

It looks like the BBC has decided to respond to the demand for online content in a way that doesn't involve sueing it's customers. Instead it will be placing (at the very least some) of its content online. I think this is a much more positive reaction to filesharers. People sharing copyrighted material have been around forever, only recently have major companies decided it was time to sue them to the degree they are, instead of responding to the demand that's out there.

Is it illegal? Sure. But that isn't stopping people, and neither is sueing them. So it's good to see that the BBC have provided a legal alternative for people. I do wonder though if they'll use bit-torrent, and/or if it will only be available to people from the UK (or if I could download it as well). I'm also quite curious as to what (if any) DRM they'll ruin the download with.

Regardless though, it's good to see that companies are slowly getting the hint that the internet has changed how people want to access their entertainment. Now if only I actually liked some of the Brittish shows :P