Monday, August 18, 2008

Waking from a Dream

I decided to make a webcomic! A Strong Bad Email seems appropriate here. Make sure you click on the all-caps word at the end. This comic is an enterprise in conjunction with my blog, which currently features an epic and hilarious fantasy story in installments by me, so make sure to check that out as well. There's no real parallelism in content, at least not yet. Anyway, I guess I ought to finish with the ado and produce the comic, and then apologize afterward. Voila (click it):

Sorry about the size, first of all (aha, innuendo, hilarious). This is one of those things I have to figure out, whether I can scale the comic any larger without damaging the visual clarity, or if this is a consequence of Blogger's formatting that I just have to accept. If you didn't follow my instruction above, know that clicking on the comic opens the image at full-size, which makes it, you know, readable.

The comic is a little...rough around the edges to be sure, but at least it's done, which happening was seriously in jeopardy not an hour ago. This project was undertaken by me with full awareness of various deficiencies that would impede its completion. These deficiencies stack nicely in a manner I will detail. The first difficulty is a certain lack of artistic talent on my part, at least in the visual realm. But stick figures serve just fine when well applied, so no deal breaker. Very well, but even if I could draw anything fancier than pretzels with character, I might as well not bother because I don't have a scanner. Annoying, but that at least is something that could conceivably change in the future, contingent upon certain affairs that are in no way connected with the content of this comic. Anyway, when stick figures are all you're going for, just drawing it on the computer is a viable possibility, except that Microsoft Paint, for all its virtues, is ill-equipped for this sort of venture. But that's OK, since I've got a free trial of Paint Shop Pro, except that I don't know jack about image editing software, pardon the double negative.

The result has been an exercise in frustration. Heck, I don't even really know how to make much use of Paint - it's been a long time since I doodled aimlessly with that digital paintbrush on my mother's office computer while waiting for her to be ready to go home. Paint Shop Pro is a whole other beast, on an entirely different layer, if you will. I'm well aware that lots of people know how to use this sort of program and it must seem silly that I should have problems producing what you see above. Normally I'd be the one "conde-sending" instead of being on the receiving end, but when you don't do anything with the visual arts, even Photo Shop for Adobe's sake, and you haven't used a program utilizing layers since high school's Auto CAD class, then trying to learn the basics while at the same time producing a comic with the intention of posting it in short order the same day becomes a more formidable task. Small wonder that what I (naively) hoped would be an hour's work, tops, ended up taking...well, many more. Oh, the fun I had trying to figure out why certain lines were shimmering and how I could make them stop, and then closing the file before making full use of certain important layers and opening the file again to discover those layers as separate entities were gone... Even when I did finish at glorious last, for some reason Blogger doesn't like to be reliable in the matter of uploading images or at least my images (they're clean, I swear!), which meant I had to try far too many times for far too much additional time, before the comic finally appeared on the page as you see it now.

Enough. Sometimes education hurts, and even though I wanted to post this comic this morning and at this point I might as well be doing it tomorrow morning, it is still today, and I got 'er done, as it were. With any luck the stuff I learned slowly and painfully today will allow me to speed up production considerably next time.

It is funny - people always ask or make claims about computer proficiency or technology expertise, but that's really not specific enough. Someone asks me if I can use a computer - well, of course I can use a computer, at least if "use a computer" means turn one on, or if we're operating at a higher level of professionalism, produce a word document or play a decent game of Age of Empires or surf the web or turn out some sort of webcomic shenanigans. But there are many kinds of software of the use of which I am completely ignorant, and even many aspects of just running and tweaking a computer's operating system that I would be nearly as inept at manipulating as someone who's never used a computer before. Just so, I consider myself a technology buff, but it's really only so in certain areas. I don't know how to make use of the advanced features of a digital camera, or even some of the basic features without prompting. I couldn't recommend a particular audio compression format to anyone, unless it was someone I hated. Let's face it - we sure love our generalizations, but the truth is most of the time they're unfounded (not that that's a surprise). I wonder how many more things we take for granted are in fact unfounded generalizations the nature of which only comes to light when it's problematic. That would be, and in fact is, my semi-philisophical or perhaps just sophistical babble for the day, at least on this webpage.

Regarding the nature of this strip, you should be able to get some idea of the general themes just from this first comic, but more will be revealed soon enough. Of course I probably don't need to point out that the events depicted therein are in no way reflective of the experiences going on in my life right now and I really have no idea of where the inspiration and ideas come from. Yeah.

Regarding's hard to say. I'd love to get a scanner, which would definitely speed up the process no matter how skilled I get with computer software, and I intend to do so, but who knows when. As for these ideas out of the ether, I may well run out eventually...but the first day I definitely decided I was going to do this comic, I slammed out early scripts for seven weeks' worth of strips, and that's not including at least the first two or three you're going to see. Frankly I'm not worried about the spring running dry, and certainly sarcasm is never out of season.

Updates on Tuesday and Thursday, unless I'm driven more crazy than usual by production. Today's counts as tomorrow's; that's not confusing at all, I'm sure. Hope you enjoy and stick with me, because this is just the tip of the vitriol. that is confusing...

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