Karen's Rants and Raves

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Tag - Stupidly Ambitious Projects

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Thursday 10 December 2009

Comics, Decisions, Decisions about comics

DJB treehouse mock-up

You may have noticed that, between the book talk and music essays and such, I try to blog about topics other than my personal dilemmas; I would hate to create the kind of self-indulgent blog that's of no use or interest to anyone but myself. That said, a personal blog is the place to put down some of your personal feelings and musings- especially for someone like me, who writes a lot but usually has to abide by certain topical constraints. This is the place where, instead of worrying if something is 'appropriate for the readership' or not, I can just jot down whatever. So I've decided that I won't hold back from strictly personal blogging on occasion, but I will tag it 'personal' and let readers decide to read it or dismiss it as they see fit.

The header image is a piece that I'm working on for Dark Juice Box, a project that has become problematic as of late. A few months ago, I had realized that just because ''Sterling'' is always going to be a sporadic comic, that doesn't mean that I'm strictly incapable of doing a regular webcomic. I look at something like XKCD, and think "you know, I could really do that." My MO has always been to attempt something incredibly ambitious and fail, rather than attempt something more feasible and succeed. It's just part of my nature to be that way, but enduring all the fail does get tiresome; nothing teaches you like failure, but it's not worthwhile if you can't turn those lessons into something better.

The idea behind DJB was that it was going to be a much easier comic to do than Sterling, and that updating it regularly would take priority over everything else, something I've never done before. I figured that if a page of DJB took me two or three hours as opposed to, oh, I don't know, twenty, updating two or three times a week really would not be a big deal at all. So I could do DJB, have the experience of doing a real and proper webcomic, and still keep plugging away on Sterling in the background like I always have.

This was all great in theory, especially because I'm a lot older now than when I started Sterling, and there are obvious advantages that come with that. However, the more I worked on DJB, the more I realized that I'd created a monster that didn't fit the format. Instead of a simplistically drawn webcomic, DJB would require lush, colorful images, more vivid than anything I've ever done with Sterling, and if anything, would be far more dependent on the art than Sterling. If you're curious about what this would look like, the whole "Northern Continent" sequence was kind of a test run for the art style in DJB.

So, what do I do now? I like what DJB is turning into, and I think it has serious potential- I always wanted to do a fantasy comic as a kid, and now it feels like I'm doing what I've always wanted to do. But I'm hardly giving up Sterling. Yet, I'm certainly not going to have two sporadically-updating, soul-sucking, time-devouring webcomics- that sounds like the surest recipe for going insane that I've ever heard. I could come up with something else as my "easy" webcomic project, but what, am I supposed to have THREE comics going on? In the midst of blogging, writing for newspapers, and other projects? More insanity. Oh, and did I mention that Sterling needs to be reformatted like a son-of-a-bitch? Forget even adding new art, all of it needs to be cleaned up, and the earlier pages need to be broken up into multiples for better readability. When I started doing webcomics, there really were very few standards for this kind of thing, but now there are, and webcomic readers expect certain things, with good reason. But how can doctoring up the archives take priority over updating new stuff?

Right now, I'm putting off making any decisions on any of this, and focusing on finishing a few projects that have been on the cusp of completion for a while- this includes things like my Nine Inch Nails series, my Parasite Eve series on Destructoid, and most importantly, Kids, Sterling Chapter Two. There are many possible solutions- one is to just save DJB for a couple of years from now when I finish Sterling, so I will actually have a plan for "life after Sterling." Another idea is to not even try to do DJB as a comic, but instead do it as something more like a light novel series with illustrations- that way, I can draw the kind of images that I feel are integral to telling the story, but I don't have to waste hours and hours drawing people doing mundane things like walking to school and opening doors. Both are decent ideas (and come to think of it, I can combine them for maximum effectiveness), but does that mean I'm never to have a real and proper webcomic? That just seems really disappointing somehow.

Anyway, after being on back-burner status ever since I started writing for Japanator, "Kids" is now front and center and will be concluding shortly. What's awesome is, I've drawn every background I need in this chapter already, so I can just borrow that stuff from my image library and focus on the stuff I actually want to draw. Bwah hahah, it's like hacking I tell you.

Friday 30 October 2009

Blog about Blogging

Tomoyo Facepalm The idea of having to write a blog about blogging makes even sweet little Tomoyo facepalm.

If you've been following me on Twitter, or paying attention to what I'm doing whatsoever, then you've probably noticed that the blogging situation has got a bit...complicated. I said in an earlier blog that I planned to blog every day, and while it may seem like I'm failing at that goal, I'm really not-- true, I don't blog EVERY day, but it's not uncommon for me to do 4-5 blogs per week; they're just all on different websites. I update my GamingGoddess blog at Destructoid.com regularly, and recently I've started doing some anime-related blogging at Japanator.com. With this blog, that makes three distinct blogs that are being regularly updated; I think it begs the question why I don't combine them all into one huge, multi-disciplinary active blog, and call it a day. While I want to, I don't think I can in good conscience.

I've gotten a lot of exposure from Destructoid and lately Japanator, and moving my articles about game and anime related content, respectively, off of those sites would seem like an attempt to parasitically steal some of their audience. That's the last thing I ever want to do. While I'm not 100% in favor of everything these sites do, the fact is they've allowed me to connect with readers in a way I never could before, and I'm very grateful for that opportunity. I could just mirror the content, but that just seems like a less obvious way to do the same thing.

And yet, this is the blog with my name in the URL; I'd love to have everything in one convenient archive. At first I rationalized it by saying that all of my "personal" stuff would go here, but really, my feelings about games like Final Fantasy or anime like Evangelion are no less personal to me than my thoughts on Nine Inch Nails. And my narrated playthrough of Parasite Eve on Destructoid is part extended-review, part how-to, part literary analysis, and part personal narrative. I may not feel the same way about it as I do about the comics I make, but I still think of it as a creative project-- something far more personal than just reviewing a video game here and there. Ultimately, that's something I want my name on.

So I've decided that the best compromise is this: my gaming and anime blogs will always go up on their respective sites first, but after a week or two I can add those entries to this archive if I want to. That way, I'm still contributing to those communities by always giving them any relevant content first, but further down the line, when someone looks through the archives here they'll be able to find everything without having to navigate multiple websites. Of course, in the event that I ever start doing any professional writing on the web, that content would not be mirrored here because my employer would be paying for that exclusivity-- but I put that in the "I'll worry about that when/if it happens" category. I just wanted to state that for the record.

Anyway, I hope you don't mind my taking the time to explain what's going on in the land of Karen Bloggery. Meanwhile, I have a backlog of stuff now that could definitely go here, so updates of older (but hopefully, still entertaining) material will be intermixed with the new updates for a little while. Some of them may even be REFORMATTED for your reading pleasure (whoo!)

Thursday 6 August 2009

New Comic????


Sterling isn't a webcomic; it's a graphic novel that happens to be online. In a perfect world, it probably wouldn't be.

It's never had a lot of readers, but I tried not to ever get too upset about it, because I knew from about two days into the process that Sterling was completely unsuitable for the webcomic format: I did not care. Well, I cared, but not enough to keep it from being anything other than what it is: A messy, bizarre, uneven labor of love that would require a huge attention span from readers under the best of circumstances, and my updating schedule could never be considered "the best of circumstances."

However, despite the fact that I'm proud of Sterling and I can't imagine it being any other way, the fact remains that I've never really TRIED to make an actual webcomic. Which is a shame, because I think I could make a pretty decent one if I wasn't shooting myself in the foot from the word go. Furthermore, Sterling is very much a writing project-- the art is important, but it's rare for me to sit down to work on a page and be completely in the mood to draw whatever the story currently requires. In fact, a large portion of the time I would much rather be drawing mermaids and unicorns, but the order of the day is to draw someone opening a door.

Do all comic artists come to absolutely hate doors, or is it just me? I plan to kick my door a few times after writing this blog.

Anyway, Sterling can be fun to draw sometimes; Aeka is particularly fun to draw, and all of the 'gameworld' sequences in Chapter Two represent a rare convergence of creativity where something I want to draw actually works in the story. But it occurred to me recently that if I was doing a comic that involved mermaids and unicorns and all that stuff I always find myself doodling in my free time, it would be a helluva lot easier for me.

So, all of this is a long way of saying that I'm starting a second comic. I won't go into too much detail yet, but just to give you a general idea....let's say it's Naruto-meets-My-Little-Pony-meets-Doctor-Who-meets-Immanuel-Kant. There, now you should have a crystal clear image of the forthcoming comic in your mind-- and if you don't, it's YOUR fault, not mine:).