Archive for ‘news’


The site is up!

Okay, I’ve finally done enough tweaking that I feel this site is ready for the public. There will be revisions and redesigns and all that, but at least everything works like it’s supposed to. You can read a little more about this comic, predictably, at the “About This Comic” page. Link at the top.

Please enjoy, and if you like the comic, the best thing you could do is subscribe to it and tell someone else.

Thanks!


director’s commentary

So a good chunk of Chapter 1 has gone up, and I thought I’d give some of my commentary of what I think about these strips and what I changed. (SPOILER ALERT! read up through #21)

I still feel a little bad about strip #9, which is basically a bunch of plot exposition. I just wanted to get these events out of the way and move things along, but I have to admit that it’s really lame to fill a strip with a block of text like that. Hopefully the punchline elicits a chuckle. I actually changed it from what DBMD-Man was saying before. Not a big change, but I thought it was better to have him specifically mad about Gee-Whiz Boy being smarter than him. I would have left this strip out if the plot elements that are explained were not so essential.

There was a strip that I did leave out entirely, which would have gone between #11 and #12 (as they’re numbered here). I thought it was well-drawn and the timing was good, but it went over so poorly that I had to re-explain the joke in strip #13! It was basically about how it can be assumed that a super-hero and the reporter who reports on him would be romantically linked. Since apparently I was the only person who saw that connection, I had Half-Face explain his thinking a couple of strips later.

Looking back on these first strips now, I am also struck by how much of the humor is based on slapstick! I think the later strips got much “smarter” but I wonder if they got funnier, or more boring? Does slapstick really work in a comic strip at all? I know the panel in this one, strip 19, where DBMD-Man gets pulled under the truck, still makes me laugh to myself. Especially because he wastes the few moments he could have used to free himself doing a dramatic internal monologue.

The panel in this one, #5, where Gee-Whiz Boy plunges off the rooftop, also still makes me laugh. I think what’s funny to me about that one is imagining exactly how poorly he must have approached his rescue attempt to wind up in that position. I guess I like the slapstick moments. Not sure if they’re as funny to anyone else.

There were a few minor dialogue changes here and there for clarity. In strip #20, DBMD-Man actually had a thought balloon which I took out completely. It was basically just very “Garfield,” where something odd and funny happens, and then the “punchline” sucked all the humor out of it. Trust me, it’s much better imagining what DBMD-Man is thinking in the last panel than hearing his thoughts. I always disliked that one, and I’m glad I got the chance to fix it.

So those are some of my own thoughts so far. Any readers care to comment?

-Michael


Welcome to MoCCA people & new readers

You may have noticed that there was no new comic on Friday. I just thought it would be a good idea to let things sit on that cliffhanger for a couple of extra days, since I visited the MoCCA comics fest this past weekend and handed out some promo samplers. This seemed like the best spot for new readers to come in. The comic will resume regular updates on Wednesday with the “Death of Gee-Whiz Boy” strip.

So welcome new readers! I am glad you stopped by to check this out and I hope you’ll be sticking with it!

-Michael


director’s commentary

POSSIBLE SPOILERS! Read through strip 39.

Time for another round of director’s commentary! As we get into Chapter 2, I should point out that this entire chapter serves as a loose parody of The Dark Knight Returns. For those who are not comic book nerds, that’s not the recent Hollywood movie, but the graphic novel by Frank Miller. It tells the story of an old Batman who returns to action in some kind of 80’s-style future world where all of our worst Reagan-era, Mad Max fears have run rampant. (You know how it goes: liberal types have gone too soft on those punk-rock youths who now terrorize all decent folk, Russia is about to nuke us any minute now.)

It’s a personal favorite of course, and since it helped usher in the first big wave of “dark” superheroes, it’s an obvious target. I figured that I would wind up parodying large parts of it all the time anyway, so why not get it out of the way in one big story arc.

Today’s strip, for example, was a direct parody of a scene from The Dark Knight Returns (Apparently DBMD-Man doesn’t have a butler named Alfred, but he does have a cleaning lady named Doris… and thinking about it now, I should have used that character some more), as was the origin flashback strip. If something really makes no sense to you (like the “What the hell is this? Bubbles?” line) then it’s probably a direct Dark Knight Returns joke.

Going back to Chapter 1, there was another strip I left out. It would have gone between strip 27 and strip 28. You know, having a deadline can be a great thing for producing comics, it forces you to just do it and crank them out. But sometimes you get down to the wire and a strip is mostly done and you realize the joke is not working but it’s too late. That’s what happened with that one. It was a joke about how DBMD-Man found Half-Face, where it’s revealed that Half-Face had been sending him increasingly obvious hints all along. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but it fell pretty flat in the strip. Fortunately the story can live without it entirely.

Thinking about that though, I realize I could do a plotline related to that where a Riddler-type character is sending puzzles and clues to DBMD-Man, who is of course incapable of solving them… and maybe he could be named Sudoku… See, before you know it I really will be drawing new strips.

I should also mention: Sorry about using the invisible boxes gag a THIRD time in this strip. Guess I really thought that was clever.

Strip #30 had the first instance where I felt the need to add some new art, and a new punchline. When I read it back, it made no sense why Janice waited until now to escape, so I added in her broken handcuff. Clearly, the distraction gave her the first opportunity to break it. Clearly. Actually, it would be easier to break off the refrigerator handle she was handcuffed to… and funnier also… oh well.


off the rails

Sorry about the funny little glitches in the delivery schedule of the comics. Something strange happened this past Friday where the WordPress software I’m using reported that a scheduled post was “missed.” ??? Why did that happen? Unclear. Anyone have any clues?

Apologies for the couple of odd M-W-F’s without new strips. Things appear to be back on track and I’m rebuilding the buffer of prepped comics, so all should run smoothly for a while.

I may as well add a little trivia/commentary to this post: One strip snuck past me with part of the dialogue unchanged from my original handwritten lettering. This one. I plan on fixing it, but for now you can see what I mean about my lettering being a bit irregular. It looks downright wobbly next to the font I’ve been using. The completely uniform look of the font also makes things more legible at the size these appear on the screen.


other webcomics I recommend, Part 1

To be honest, when I started putting this strip online, I was not following any webcomics. But since I was getting into the “business,” I thought I should explore what the field has to offer. So I started browsing around and let me tell ya… yeesh! It’s an extremely mixed bag out there. And a BIG mixed bag too. Wading through it all to find the gems can be a chore. Recommendations are very valuable. And so, I’ll share a few of mine. I haven’t explored too deeply, but I’ve found a few quality webcomics I could share.

First up, ROBOMEKS by Miguel Chaves.

www.robomeks.com

This comic is about a group of teens in some distant future who are basically the Ghostbusters of malfunctioning robots. It sounds like the set-up to a Saturday morning cartoon, and in fact it looks and feels like a Saturday morning cartoon too. But this would be one of those cartoons about which, years later, you’d find yourself saying something like: “You know, that Robomeks was actually good. In fact, it was REALLY good.”

First of all, the art is fantastic. The figure drawing is always fluid and natural and the expressions are clear. Everything looks seamless, and the coloring effects are top-notch. The look and feel of the current pages is much slicker than the early stuff on the site, and takes full advantage of the digital medium.

Secondly, despite the Scooby-Doo-like premise, the story continually proves to be a bit deeper than you’d guess. The implications of a world filled with artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and nanotechnology are fully considered. It’s not just flying cars.

All this and it’s updated like clockwork 3 times a week. Hopefully, someone will take notice of this comic and turn it into an actual Saturday morning cartoon. And then hopefully they don’t dumb it down.


The best is yet to come.

Seriously. I just dug out chapters 3-5 of the DBMD-Man strips, large chunks of which I have not looked at in years. Some of it I had completely forgotten! I always felt that things got better as this comic went along, but at the same time I remember thinking that the events got more “down to earth” and crazy, wacky things stopped happening. Actually, I was just forgetting lots of the crazy stuff that I had put in!

I also noticed how much better the art got! In fact, I know I missed a comic strip update this last Friday and I was thinking about tossing out a batch of new ones at once as a consolation, and so I could rush ahead and get into the later strips. (I decided against it, a steady publishing schedule is probably smarter) Sometimes the art in a strip will make me cringe, but I’m sure anyone has that reaction to some pieces in their body of work.

The message here is: stick around people. If you like what’s you see now, I think you’ll really like what’s coming up over the next several months.


director’s commentary 40-55

Time for another installment of no one’s favorite feature: the director’s commentary! Some webcomic artists seem to like adding some commentary along with each strip, but I prefer to let the strips stand on their own, then compile my thoughts in one of these posts periodically. Read up through strip #55 – potential spoilers ahead.

In fact, 55, the most recent strip, is definitely one of my personal favorites. I like the pacing, the straight-faced set-up, and how odd it is. I’m also happy with how the underwater effect turned out. I did make a small change though – shortly before this was going to post, I noticed that my dolphins had no dorsal fins! It’s so easy to grab photo reference now, with Wikipedia and Google image search, so I confirmed that I was right and then added in the fins. I’m sure my dolphin anatomy is still really off, but it’s better at least.

I also thought about changing the underwater-guy’s symbol. (he still has no name) When I first drew this I was somehow oblivious to that fish-shape being such a strongly associated Christian symbol. So I thought on this for a bit, but then I decided that underwater-guy probably wears that symbol on his chest BECAUSE he is such a devout Christian. It’s just a coincidence that he can breathe underwater and talk to dolphins. This has never come up, but maybe I could do a new strip about that.

Going back to strip #40, I altered the art a bit in that one too. Originally, the punk had a liberty spike mohawk, making it basically impossible to tell what was happening in the panel where a safety dart sticks in his head. Hopefully it’s a LITTLE more clear now. I always thought this scene was pretty funny, but I don’t think anyone else ever got what I was going for. DBMD-Man is supposed to be proud of himself for proving that “safety” darts can inflict harm. I probably should have drawn him with a smile instead of a frown in panel 3.

Like most everything else that goes on in Chapter 2, that scene is based on events in the Dark Knight Returns. If you are following this comic but haven’t read that, and absolutely refuse to do so, you could look over the Wikipedia entry here, which will explain most of the parallels. (don’t look at it if you DO intend to read Dark Knight Returns) I’ve been calling this a “parody,” though it’s not really a parody in the Mad Magazine sense. Neither is the comic in general. I guess part of my approach is to point out the silliness of the source material by making events LESS absurd, rather than MORE absurd. How would the events from Dark Knight Returns (or comic books in general) play out in a slightly more realistic world?

By the way, the female Gee-Whiz Boy talks like this because the DKR Robin (and the punks) talked in some kind of invented, Clockwork-Orangesque future slang. (I really like how DBMD-Man’s “huh” expression turned out in panel 2 of that strip) She doesn’t always talk that way, which I figure is because she’s intentionally doing it to be cool and sometimes forgets. One of the changes that actually took the most time was coming up with Gee-Whiz Girl’s line in this strip. It used to be a phrase straight from DKR, but I wanted to make it slightly different and maybe funnier. So yeah, I spent a rather long period of time deep in thought coming up with “pogo balls.” This is my life.

I like how the talk show events played out, but I have to admit that strip #47 would make absolutely no sense if you hadn’t read what came before.

That brings us to the introduction of Really Good-Man in strip #52. I actually had strong regrets about bringing in this character who actually had real super-powers. Up to that point the comic was just about crazy people in costumes, which I kind of liked. I suppose I could try to ret-con an explanation about his powers all being trickery and illusion, but then I did also put in the guy who can talk underwater and later there’s will be an alien… I guess I’m stuck with this stuff.

We’re still missing a strip where Really Good-Man actually first appears, which I intend to insert when I find it, and actually I just realized that I should have left an extra number for that strip! I think I’ll have to renumber these… I hope that doesn’t screw up the links.

And that brings us up to date! Thanks to anyone who actually reads through these lengthy ramblings.


other webcomics I recommend, Part 2

My next recommendation: Heroes, Inc.

That link takes you to the first page of the first chapter because this webcomic is a coherent story done in comic-book format.

heroesinc2009-06-01-page01

As far as I know, there aren’t too many webcomics trying to do what Heroes, Inc. is: create a serious and thoughtful superhero story.

Here’s the summary: The story takes place in an alternate history where Germany won WWII. The Allies had some super-hero/super-soldiers on their side, but apparently that didn’t help. (yet to be revealed exactly what happened) In the modern day, some of those superheroes, who are old but not as aged as if they were normal people, are helping a corporation to create new super-people. These characters also happen to be actual public domain characters from the comic book Golden Age.

I chose an action page to paste above, but really this is just as much of a talky-thinking comic.  The backstory is well thought out and is gradually being revealed along with the present-day story. The tone and dialogue aims to be as realistic as possible given the subject matter, similar in some ways to the Watchmen.

The art matches the tone well and is perfectly suited to telling this story, using a more muted watercolor look and – I’m guessing here – lots of photo reference. The photo reference is actually not my favorite style and sometimes the characters can look sorta stiff or a wee bit “off.” (Please note that any critiques of someone else’s work should not be taken as an assertion that my own is any better) But this is minor, art-class-critique nitpicking. The main thing here is the story and the art always works in its favor.

This comic is on a hiatus right now, but that’s actually the best time to jump in. Heroes, Inc. is paced as a comic book, with 2 issues complete. So it’s best read in issue-sized blocks and could seem a little slow when read as it updates. Go to the site now and you get 2 free issues of a cool comic book that will probably leave you wanting to read the rest of the story. It certainly feels like there’s a 6- or 12-issue story arc here and things are just getting started.


Are you drawn to dark, brooding men?

Had to share this unintentionally hilarious Google search juxtaposition. These are results 3 and 4 under a search for “dark brooding.” (That’s right, I’m number 4!)

dbmd-man-google-results

Ha! I wish they allowed comments on that link #3 article. And by the way, if you’re interested in a minute of distraction, you can go read it. At first glance, it would appear that the letter-writer sounds pretty rational and seems to have a decent grasp on their situation, while the “advice”-giver is bat-flipping insane.

His advice includes: “without getting into a lot of detail, let’s just say that in my own therapy I do some talking to certain creatures who aren’t literally in the room” … ummmm… [backs away] “I made contact with this victim/martyr avatar within me, this diminutive devil of failure and quitting … He is allied with feeling as well as chaos. He is of the soul, of the earth and pain …” [sound of door slamming, tires screeching]

My first thought was: THIS PERSON IS GETTING PAID TO GIVE ADVICE TO OTHERS. Then I looked at something else the guy wrote and realized it’s self-consciously nutty, a kind of anti-advice column. Sort of like a hippie version of Chris Farley’s van-dwelling character from SNL, you know?

Also googling-related, Google’s Analytics tells me that one of the top search terms that sent people to this site was “how to look like dark brooding look.” Seriously. I sure hope those people found what they were looking for! I can’t really imagine a better dark and brooding look than all-black boots, gloves, cape, mask, and underwear on the outside of the pants.