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Apartment 16

So writer’s block for a new article has struck me again, so I decided to share one of my projects that didn’t get off the ground because of all the down times my sites were having last year.

Most people have probably heard the horror stories of famous creators dismissing criticism, even if it’s well thought out and presented constructively, as just trolling or bashing. And with the internet, those types can just ban and delete as they wish. But what if someone like that had to live with someone who could not stop pointing out their flaws?

I’ve referred to the website That Guy With the Glasses in a couple of my past columns. I used to be a big fan of the man himself, Doug Walker, but around 2011 he stopped appealing to me. Nothing bad, it just was not my thing. In 2012 he brought an end to the website’s flagship title, The Nostalgia Critic, to move onto a show called Demo Reel, which was a comedy that parodied well known properties, while also following the lives of the studio making said parodies. I gave the pilot a chance, but it just did not grab me. A day or so after the first episode premièred, I was talking to a friend about the show. I told him I wasn’t going to be following the series and he started to get a little defensive, which he tended to do whenever he felt someone was attacking something he cared about. I might have been, actually, I could be a little over critical back then. So we go back and forth, arguing about the series, until he delivers his trump card: “Well how would you do it differently?” I was unfazed and told him that I would just take out the parody angle and make it a sitcom about an indie studio struggling to find their big break through original properties. We dropped the conversation, but the idea stuck with me for a while until it started morphing into something else.

 

001

This was the first time I ever did set designs. It really helped me with keeping the backgrounds consistent.

I should make it clear that while Walker’s comedy was partially the influence for Pat’s style, he is not the entire basis for the character. Doug Walker has no issues with admitting when he’s wrong. This guy is based on the sorts of people who used to appear on the TV Tropes page Small Name, Big Ego when it was used to give examples of the creators rather than characters. With Pat, anything even slightly negative is a troll. Mention his audio is out of sync, troll. Mention he got his facts mixed up on a movie, troll.

002

Last panel after Andrew Dobson*

However, Jerry is not exactly the noble hero here. The idea is that both of them are presented as right and wrong in many areas. Pat does not put much effort into his writing or research, which causes many of his jokes and comments to be either weak or flat out wrong. But this is because he does not have much time, as he does his best to get videos out almost every second day in order to keep up with the rent on the large apartment they currently live in. Also, Jerry makes his comments, but never offers advice for how Pat can improve. This way, the audience can decide on who they feel is more sympathetic and in the right (A big worry was overdoing it for both and alienating people).

003

This comic helped me realise that I love drawing over exaggerated poses.

After a live stream in which Pat routinely fails and screams at Super Mario 64, Jerry can take no more and finishes the level for him. This immediately catches the attention of the audience, with many anti-fans loving Jerry for putting down Pat. Seeing a new opportunity, Pat uploads the takes Jerry ruined by interrupting him and they become a massive hit. After seeing the money that can be made off the videos, Jerry agrees to join the show. As the comic goes on we see the amount of effort Pat puts into his production levels and also meet some other creators. There’s some other character development and we even get a little back story into why Jerry has a four-bedroom apartment even though he lived alone until the comic started.

004

Addition to panel four: Also, considering how many corrupt cops there are, they’d be all too happy to take him down so they can get back to taking bribes in peace.

I do regret that the project slipped my mind and I may come back to it some time this year since I do like it enough to want to keep going, but most likely I would hire another artist for it, one who could actually do the thing some justice. It also helped teach me the value of planning, I had the first 120 pages planned as a graphic novel that would contain its own story and that really helped me keep the writer’s block at bay. Also, doing the background designs and character sketches made the drawing process much quicker, since I didn’t have to constantly go searching through a pile of pages to double check consistency like I had to do before. It was also fun to try and challenge myself with the art by pushing beyond my comfort zones.

Just goes to show what you can accomplish when you put some effort into your work.

005

The camera is obscured by Pat’s head, I totally didn’t forget to draw it because I was too focussed on the faces or anything.

 

* Refers to the last panel in this comic.

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Posted on February 18, 2014, in slice-of-life webcomic, spoof, webcomics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I’m going to be mean again.

    First off: http://gunshowcomic.com/634

    Mr. Herbert, I don’t agree that you’re putting in the effort and pushing beyond the comfort zone. I think you’re firmly inside the comfort zone. Because someone at your level of skill should conceivably be improving by every panel, let alone every page. You have no business mocking Dobson, who is your superior in art, writing, and success.

    There is only one way I can put this: Your art is terrible. Horrible. I have read many, many terrible webcomics, and your art is among the worst. You just plain don’t put any effort into it. You can’t be talking about poses and backgrounds while you still don’t get basic proportions right. When every character’s face looks the same. when characters have freakish gibbon arms, when you can’t tell a couch is a couch from looking at it. And here you’re talking about potentially having 120 pages of this? I said a lot of this stuff the last time around, but here I’m looking at loads of your art again. If you want to improve, you need to drop all pretenses of being a comic artist for a while, and get busy on the basics. That’s all I can say, and I’ll continue to say it as long as you keep posting stuff like this.

    Art requires effort. It does not flow freely, no matter how good you become. I have written for the better part of my life, and I’ve taken up drawing and haven’t gotten far with it. I’m not either some nobody who never tried judging without experience, nor am I some insanely gifted or focused individual who thinks nothing should take effort. Even when you’ve been working away at something for years, the next step will always require blood, sweat, and tears. You’re not going to become better by half-assedly putting in your 10.000 hours. That’s just you wasting 10.000 hours.

    • I fully agree that this needs a better artist, which I said in the article. Though I do resent the idea that I’m half-assing this. Yes, there are better ways I could go about it, which is why I’m looking into classes for next semester, but at the time this was my best effort. Which, as I said, is why I’m going to get another artist on this.

      Also, I don’t understand where you got the idea I was mocking Dobson. I was only crediting him. In pro comics, sometimes artists will use other works as a reference, which is why they’re sometimes signed as “After George Perez” or something along those lines in order to give credit to the original artist.

      • Because your foil character exhibits the same negative qualities attributed to Dobson? You’re linking the petty character in your comic to Dobson’s self-insert in a page where you go out of your way to show exactly how petty and sensitive that character is. That looks like an insult, no matter how you put it.

        I know what a reference is. I assumed you were mocking from the comic itself. It seems less like you’re giving credit, and more like you want people to know you’re jumping on the mock Dobson bandwagon.

        • Your interpretation is understandable, but the main inspiration for him was actually Todd McFarlane circa early Image. He used to do a lot of interviews and panels where he would openly brag about how he made no effort to improve his creative talents and refused to let even his wife offer criticism (She was his editor at one point). When I found out about that last bit, I started to wonder what problems that would cause at home and then the comic started to form.

          • I understand the character isn’t exclusively based on Dobson. I’m talking about that one particular joke. The foil character is quite obviously the butt of the joke, and by linking him to Dobson by reference it makes Dobson the butt of the same joke.

            I’m not opposed to the concept itself. But as Count Otto Black said, your writing needs work. Not as much work as your art, but work. In an earlier post you implied that getting a good artist on this would make it work, but I disagree. At present, the only sort of interaction I’ve seen is these two characters being obnoxious to each other. It reads a lot like Ctrl-Alt-Del, but with Ethan living with a twin brother. If you want a gag or comedy comic set around the idea of someone who is impervious to criticism, you need to come up with some strong punchlines around that. The most obvious route for that would be him ignoring something that no reasonable human being would see as criticism. Or maybe the main character discovers he can manipulate the foil by using reverse psychology on him because he’s so pointlessly contrarian he’d drink battery acid if he thought you wouldn’t want him to.

            If you want this to be a slice-of-life thing about incompatible characters li… OK, if you want this to be a sitcom, make it a sitcom and give these guys more personality. Right now they’re extremely two-dimensional.

            But I can tell you one thing: If you need to explain what sort of humour you’re trying to use in the comment section, it’s not coming across.

  2. I read both this and your earlier post with the comic with the alien creature. I like the concepts in both, but moreso in this one as it’s pointing the focus on the people who put content on the internet, and that ain’t pretty. While some journal comics (e.g. Overcompensating) technically are already doing that, your comic is fictional which opens up lots of opportunities to parody the overblown drama of those who become “internet famous.” This one is more hampered by the art, however, because the characters have fewer distinguishing features.

    To be more constructive, a big reason these characters are hard to tell apart is they have no skulls. Their heads just reform around facial expressions, not held together by anything. Give them bones under their faces that hold them together and make the skull proportions distinct for each character. Do this and I suspect people will say the art has improved, even if you only change that and the other problems persist.

  3. Do the critical standards applied by El Santo to everybody else also apply to people who are either his best friend or himself? (I’m not being sarcastic – I honestly don’t know whether El Santo and David Herbert are different people). Because the above is worth 1 star in every department. The “art” is somewhere between can’t-be-bothered and non-existent, and the writing isn’t much better – every aspect of it has been savagely critiqued elsewhere on this blog when other people do it. May I draw particular attention to the page where the entire “joke” consists of one of the two potatoheads being painfully unfunny, and then the other potatohead correctly pointing out that what we’ve just read isn’t funny?

    • Well, I’m not David Herbert, if that’s what you’re asking. 🙂 And I don’t know him in person, just online.

      So… it’s a thin line, admittedly. One the one hand, I do feel bad if someone sends me their comic for review… and I didn’t like it. Most of those times, I don’t bother reviewing them. (Of the ones I did give a negative review to, like, say, Aushweeptz, I was in dialogue with the creator informing him that I didn’t really like his comic and only a negative review would come out if it were published.) So, yeah, I admit to feeling a little leery about flaming someone’s work if I kinda know who they are. BUT I also won’t stop you from critiquing it, as long as you all are being somewhat civil about it.

    • As El Santo said, yes we are different people. In regards to the writing though, the humour is not so much in what’s being said, it’s more aimed to come from recognising these characteristics in other people we know and also ourselves. For example, the show Everybody Loves Raymond, a lot of fans would tell the writers and actors they loved the show because they have had the arguments that were written into it, or know a Marie, a Frank, even a Raymond.

      Though you’re right, I should include some stronger punchlines. Thanks for the critique.

      • Incidentally, over at a fantasy/sci-fi literature message board I have frequented for over 15 years, some of the regulars were confused that I wasn’t a woman. Apparently there’s also another fan out there on Facebook whose real name just happens to be also be my generic online handle (“Rook”).

        Long story short: with regards to mistaken identities, it’s been a banner week for me. 🙂

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