My week of making webcomics
This week, I made a very conscious effort not to review anything. It was vacation week. Time to take in the splendors of fall over a long weekend. So I’ve written not one word of my opinions on webcomics this week. No reading through a decades-long archive. No time using Wikipedia to check my sources. No agonizing whether or not I’ve already used an anecdote or not. Just time to let that go for a little bit of rest and relaxation.
So, of course, I spent the week making webcomics.
The blog that I originally hosted the Webcomic Overlook on, Rooktopia, is still active. After I moved all my webcomic reviews to this site, I’ve turned the blog into something of my personal blog. It keeps me on my toes. While webcomics are indeed awesome, I think a lot of commentators burn out when they write about nothing but webcomics. I’ve been publishing photos — some reposted from Instagram — musing about movies I watch, and writing terrible poetry.
To draw inspiration, though, I check up on the Daily Post blog. Keep things new. There’s a thing called the Weekly Writing Challenge, where bloggers get new ideas to keep things fresh. This week’s challenge:
So this week, we challenge you to step outside your blogging box and try something totally different:
If you normally write non-fiction, try fiction.
If you normally write fiction, try poetry.
If you normally post photos, try writing.
If you normally just write, try including photos.
This was somewhat difficult, since I’ve done just about a little bit of everything. But then it struck me.
“You know what I haven’t done yet? I haven’t actually written a webcomic.”
So, after years of snarky commentary, it was time for the watcher to be the watched. El Santo was going to do webcomics!
My first attempt, incidentally, was laughably primitive. I thought I would try to toss off a quick sketch, like Kris Straub over at chainsawsuit. He makes it look so easy! (It’s also the model I tried to follow. To keep things as fresh as possible, I didn’t want to spend more than 2 hours working on each comic.)
I had a scanner. I had a Sharpie. And I had a piece of white paper. I put together the fantastic debut of Overlook Comix! Which really isn’t a debut, since I made up a fake Overlook Comix for the banner of this site. But you can hardly see that thing. It’s soooooo tiny!
For my inspiration, I drew upon the burgeoning field of Instagram humor. By Instagram humor, I mean jokes about not Instagram, not jokes posted over Instagram. I mean, crap, I’ve actually posted some 500 photos on Instagram already. It’s sort of my latest obsession. (By the way, I don’t suggest anyone using Instagram as a comic distribution site. The resolution is sorta horrible.)
In the end, though, my debut of Overlook Comix ended up looking like crap.
Thus, I decided that I wasn’t quite through with the Weekly Writing Challenge just yet. There were a lot of things I wanted to improve. The horrible art, for one. But I still wanted to do this as fast as possible. I didn’t want to have to pull out the set of professional-grade markers that have been sitting in storage since I took thoses classes at the Center For Creative Studies.
So what tools did I have at my disposal? I had the latest version of Photoshop, which, up to this point, I’d only been using for adding some text to the final product. But what to use to make the actual drawings? I guess I could go with simple shapes. It’s not like I had a Wacom Tablet.
But wait! I did have an iPad. I also had a light pen. And on that iPad was an app that I had downloaded after my love of drawing was rekindled after a passionate bout of Draw Something: something called Art Studio. It worked on the same principles, but with more options to select the brush types, opacity, and layers. I began re-rendering most of the same panels, this time in color.
I also changed the ending a bit, since I don’t think you’d actually go to jail for crashing into another car while Instagramming.
A little bit happier, I published the post over on Rooktopia. I put a link up on the Reddit for Instagram. Then I sat back and I waited for the readers to come in!
Five total likes.
Also four total views… which means, hey, it’s at least showing up on people’s RSS feeds and it’s not registering on my stat counter.
I guess it would be disheartening. However, the webcomic bug had bit me and it would not let go until it had drained me of my vital life fluids. Believing Instagram webcomics to indeed be the true successor to video game comics, the golden palaces of Penny Arcade danced in my head. I decided to work on a second one. This time… I decided to see how lazy I could get.
This webcomic actually consists of only two images. There’s the final image, of course. But then there’s the hand clicking on the iPhone. The thumbs exist on two different layers. Hide one for one image. Hide the other for the second image. Effort! These are the sorts of tricks of the trade that made Garfield the pop culture powerhouse that it is by the way.
All in all, it was fun. Back when I was in engineering school, we were all asked what we wanted to do later in our lives. Maybe one day we were planning on becoming a CEO. Perhaps we were planning on buying a house or a yacht. I definitely remember my answer, “One day, I want to be cable to write a comic.” And here it is.
I don’t ever plan on making this a permanent thing, by the way. There a tens of thousands of webcomics out there, but not many people blogging about them. And while writing a webcomic was fun, these days I find writing to be a little more fulfilling.
And … heh … less time consuming.