Captain’s Log 0210507.084

I’ve decided to storyboard a book in which Jump the Shark fights a giant robot on a volcano. Standard Kid’s Pulp formula faire, designed to be read to your kid in 7 minutes before bed, and yet be entertaining for all.

This is partly due to peer pressure…

Partly due to the fact that I’ve pursued my prototyping comic extensively for the last couple of weeks, and, stepping back, I’m not sure what I think of it. I think I’m investing too much effort for something I’m supposed to be able to take or leave on the cutting room floor, but not enough effort for something I’d like to sell.

For the last week or so, I’ve been assuming the comic is a resounding success that adequately pursues my goals while giving enough headway to my ADHD to avoid being confounded by it. But now I’m not sure. I want to trash or heavily revise two or three long-running storylines in the comic — and fair enough. It was designed so I could take it or leave it — but I’ve invested enough in the art that it’s a genuine emotional struggle.

Making a formula book is a good way to take a step back. It gives me the boost of adding another finished product to my lineup. It allows me to focus on all the lessons I’ve learned making books thus far, whereas more “serious” work, while incorporating those lessons, isn’t focused on them. It’s also a good dose of humility. I need to remind myself that my artistic pretensions are no substitute for skill, and what I want is not more important than what my audience wants.

And it’s an excuse to just have fun. The Jump the Shark books are me bullshitting for the sake of bullshitting for the entertainment of myself and my offspring. And, probably because they have that energy, people respond to them.

But frankly, there’s a part of me that thinks I should just make big ol’ children’s books. It’s the one win I ever get. I am inevitably drawn off that path, and yet whenever I step back on the path, things work out better. If I just stuck with it, I might see some proper success, too.

Anyway, I’m considering switching from a workflow of making these comics every day to a workflow of just building draft PDFs of children’s books. Maybe do a few pages of Jump the Shark, a few of Hat Trick, whatever strikes my fancy, all of them by the book and hewing to the formula (until such time as I have mastered the formula) and then produce whichever one is ready to go first.

In side news, I’ve been sculpting Crossover Arcade characters to fit in a toy voxel diorama world.

I really like this look. I want to use it for something some day. A book perhaps. But that’s… a lot more work between here and a finished product (although it will have the advantage that each finished book will make sequels exponentially easier due to asset reuse).

Captain’s Log 0210404.095: Re-re-evaluation

My comic making test has been a resounding success. And yet, it’s too high effort. I can spend a half hour to an hour on a single strip.

That’s fine for making a product I care about selling. In fact, I’d rather spend longer on it. But that’s too much for a first draft. I tried upping the quality and I love it, and yet I also hate it. I don’t want to pour an hour each day into prototyping two strips worth of stuff. I don’t want to constantly redraw characters and backgrounds for strips that might not even see use.

But the pixel art sprite comic also doesn’t work for me because I need to be disconnected and analogue when prototyping.

Basically, the part where I draw this whole comic almost needs to be phase 2 of the process rather than phase 1. I need something even more off the cuff for the prototype. I need something where a single comic is gonna take 10 minutes instead of 30 to 60.

I have considered, before, making a blank monthly journal that I send off to KDP and have them print for me. Give ’em page numbers and an index in the front, and I can just have a shelf in my house that has all of my storm brains findable.

But now I’m remembering the Slip Box stuff I worked with last fall, and I’m considering whether I might be able to combine all these notions and make a system that works for me.

Make initial comics on my cards, one panel per card, with art and writing that makes Cyanide and Happiness look formal and polished. Then, from the stack, put the effort into only those Bunny Trail Junction elements that want to move forward on.

Anyhow, I need to tinker around with it today. So, I guess I’ll get back to ya.

Captain’s Log 0210430.111

On the last day of April, we are at 45 comics. Enough to have a backlog of a month, right? Well, technically, yes. I’d like to go another month before I pull the trigger so I can be more selective, but I’m very pleased with how I’m going.

My comic template has lines pre-scribed so I can divide the panels in half if I want. I tested that for the first time today.

It works well enough. Ideally, we’d export with that center strip transparent instead of white, but we’ll let it be for now.

At the moment, I have a pattern of 1 comic on my days off, and 2-5 on my days on. So far, it has balanced out so that on my days on, I scan in 4 comics, so that’s nice. The plan is to keep production ramped up for a month, then produce a book, a website, the subscription, etcetera.

The ultimate plan is to always do at least one strip a day to keep my backlog, but to work full time on projects like Awesome Moments, Last Legend, or what have you in one-month blocks, then switch to a month of going all out on the comic to keep the backlog up. The comic will always be available free online, and as cheap paperbacks, but those who want can subscribe to fund my undertakings, and then individual, higher quality projects will be prototyped in the comic, crowdfunded, and produced.

RE: ADHD Unleashed…

I have a few thoughts there, but we’ll come back to that after we get some chores handled.

Captain’s log: 0210423.064: Mini Knights?

So, on a lark, I decided to try printing out templates to just draw twitter/KDP formatted comics on. And the idea, then, was I would just draw whatever I felt like. Hopefully, with the constraint that I am just scribbling ideas down, I can generate 2 or more per day, and after a month or two, show up with the best 30.

After my visit with my man, Greg, last weekend, I decided that trying to make things cheaply and quick needed to take a back seat to considering why a thing is awesome and looking for the awesomeness. My man, Greg, said, of spending more time and effort on a project, “is that effort worthwhile?”

While I mulled it over, I tinkered with making an HD hand drawn game.

After debating it for a while, I realized that hand drawing a black and white, three panel comic is not bad. I just need to be focusing on creating the best thing I can rather than being as efficient as I can. So I jumped back on the train of trying to crank out 2+ comics a day. And this time, I just jumped into trying to make Jump the Shark / Crossover Arcade.

The art is getting nicer and nicer. There are some really good moments. I’m starting to be actually proud of some of the stuff I’m cranking out.

But the thing is, I’m not just alpha-testing my kids’ books as a comic. I’m dumping anything I think of on the page. I’m using this format to exorcise my inventions. Then I can further develop any that I consider worthwhile. So, interspersed with me laying down the start of a Jump the Shark story, this happens:

Cute V-Knights Game Concept

It’s getting added to the list of projects.

So, for the next few weeks, my plan is to keep cranking out comics, keep praying and considering my next move. When I’m active on producing a project, such as when I do the Kickstarter for Awesome Moments, I will aim at a maintenance pace of one comic per day. Otherwise I’ll try to alternate months of building up backlog (2+ per day) and months of maintaining. But today, I may, may work on creating an animated mini knight sprite instead.

Because I can’t find my pens. Which is pretty serious. And will be the focus of an intense search once the house is roused, but I’ve gone as far as I can without rousing the house, and I need to tap my creative hours while I still got ’em.

Update:

So, the first step in building a part-swap based character is what I call the Solar Guard. The Solar Guard is low resolution, and has as many spikes sticking out as far as possible, so that future characters drawn over the top of the solar guard have plenty of room for crests, ornamentation, and the like. That’s this guy:

And the solar guard for my robots?

I figured a spear and a shield would be a good way to get maximum size and make sure enough space was reserved in the picture, and this certainly looks cool but… I’m rethinking that. I’m starting to think I want to approach the arms differently. Create something more universal and less dedicated for the base arm, and have shields, spears, etcetera, fold out when used.

Cache Miss? Crossover Arcade? Alpha Test?

To be honest, I’m thinking of naming the comic Brain Dump, or else, ADHD On Purpose. My one guiding principle is I have no guiding principles. If I have a thought and my pens, down goes a 3-panel comic. My hope is that if I produce fast enough and many enough, eventually I will be able to curate quality stories out of a mountain of mostly trash drawings.

Captain’s Log 0210408.043

I am kind of sort of burned out.

Work on Awesome Moments is at present stalled out. I’ve received proofs, done some out-loud read-thru edits, which I need to translate back into the PDF, and…

This post is gonna be long and self-indulgent, so I’ll stick the fold right here, and less a progress report than me writing down thoughts on why progress is stalled in hopes that explaining the problems to random people on the internet will cause my mind to settle on a solution I actually like.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log 0210408.043”

Captain’s Log 0210322.045: Unfinished Business

I should receive my proofs in a couple of days. In the mean time, I have paperwork and unfinished business from when I moved halfway across the country that has been waiting. This week, I need to get a bunch of life stuff sorted out, and it’s literally become a roadblock in kickstarting Awesome Moments.

A part of me is tempted to just begin production on Awesome Moments without running a Kickstarter. Hope that the Good Lord blesses it. Another part of me is hoping the Good Lord doesn’t bless it, and it remains between me and my family. After all, any man who desires to teach will be judged more harshly; but teaching my offspring is my duty before God, so…

But suppose I skip Kickstarter and just produce the book the long way? I’ll still need to get that paperwork done eventually. I’ll need to get a day job until the months or years from now when my work starts earning its own way. And I’ll still want to kickstart my RPGs.

Speaking of RPGs:

I really want to spend a month or so just trying to build the Last Legend engine. But if I got Last Legend running, what would I need to do? Kickstart. I’d need to get my nonsense together anyway. May as well do it now.

Captain’s log: 0210320.054

The PDF of the Awesome Moments draft is done and can be downloaded here. Right now, I’ve just posted it to my subscribestar on a public post (so you don’t have to offer me money to get it).

Awesome Moments 1, maybe all of Awesome Moments, was always meant to be freely available to anyone. I want money, yeah, but I want people to have easy access to my religion even more. I think ultimately, the PDF of the finished book is going to be available on gumroad or something.

Yesterday I slept through my alarm and, being between tasks on the Awesome Moments project, made some half-hearted stabs at setting up the Kickstarter. There’s going to be a hiccup in the process of getting that going: despite it being several months since moving states, I still don’t have a lot of paperwork sorted out. So I guess getting my paperwork sorted is now officially working on my book!

Proofs are in the mail.

I included 4 ‘blank’ pages at the end of the proof, in case I decide I need to insert more pages to make the book work. Any more than 4, and I have to remove pages to get pages. Ideally, they remain blank, and I can use them in future prints to advertise the later books in the series.

But my brother suggested that any blank pages at the back of the book be turned into coloring pages. “Kids are going to color in books either way. Might as well have an officially sanctioned place for ’em to do it,” he reasons.

Well, it’s not a terrible. idea. In fact, I would like to make coloring books. I have avoided doing so thus far simply because I’ve yet to dig out a POD service like unto KDP in ease of use, and because everything I’ve made doesn’t naturally fit that format without extra work.

I broached the idea of making storybooks and just not coloring them on twitter and someone suggested the obvious thing I was missing:

Duh.

I’m not sure if I’m going to take that tack with Awesome Moments 1, or wait until my next book. It’s a tiny bit of bonus work, but it may be worthwhile just so I can sell a version of the book for $4 instead of $12.

I always get hung up on the price of my products. I should charge top dollar and make it worth my while, but I’m podunk, born and bred, and I want my people to be able to buy my stuff.

Continue reading “Captain’s log: 0210320.054”

Captain’s Log 0210315.061: A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Not much to say. I left y’all on page 36. We begin this week on page 44. In addition to transcribing a handful of pages, I sculpted a face designed to look enough like Clay to be related, but distinct and different. This face will serve for Joseph and Jesse and I have named it Bo.

I’m not happy with the nose. My rough idea was take everything that was triangular and make it square, and I’m mostly okay with it. I also made this guy:

He wasn’t meant for the Awesome Moments books, but I might stick his head on a random bystander. I meant to make a political cartoon with him but then I thought better of it. His face is distinctive enough, though, that I do not regret making him.

Well! Time to transcribe until I can take it no more, at which point it is time to do something else. Preferably create art that can be used in the Kickstarter. At this rate, I should finish the PDF this week, though that may be tomorrow or Thursday, depending on how I manage to get on.

Captain’s Log 0210312.064: A critical workflow lesson.

It’s Report Day. We got the cover art made:

Created puppets for the fallen serpent, and for the floating mountain/garden/ziggurat of Eden/New Jerusalem:

We also, in what is a super tedious process, made it through page 36 of transcribing the storyboards into Scribus. I’m becoming more and more familiar with the software, finding ways to make it behave. So that’s good. But this sucks and I never want to do it again.

This book is not the first book I’ve storyboarded, nor the last. Fortunately, most of the others are comic books, which wouldn’t use this process to begin with, and the exception is my Bestiary, which is still in tinker mode.

I settled on this method after my previous books.

Jump the Shark 1 was storyboarded on paper. Alphabeasts had no storyboard at all, just concept sketches for the characters. Death of Arthur was storyboarded on index cards. And Pirate Princess was written, with no illustrations, to test the Kids’ Pulp Formula.

The result was that for three books, I wrote to illustrations, and for the fourth, I illustrated to the writing. I was dissatisfied with both approaches. I felt I ought to write and illustrate at the same time, so that the words and pictures could be designed to support each other and edited at the same time. And thus I have done. In each case, I create a template with margin lines and some sample text at the target point size in Inkscape, then import this template into Krita:

Then I draw and write what I intend to draw and write in Krita. Krita’s text tools are not nearly so accurate or useful, though, so I do it with the knowledge that I’m just composing and positioning the text to get a rough idea of where it’s gonna go…

With the idea that for the first draft, I’ll import the storyboard image minus the text into Scribus, and type the text in. This is the step I’m on now in Awesome Moments 1.

Now, Scribus isn’t embedding the image data in the .sla document. It’s pulling it from disk. Which means when I finish the final quality image, I should be able to just save it over the storyboard image, and it will magically update in Scribus. Nice!

Problem is I can’t just copy and paste the text over from Krita to Scribus, and retyping everything is tedious as heck. I want to tear my hear out after two or three pages.

I think, henceforth, I shall be composing my storyboards IN Scribus. I’ll add the pages in the appropriate place, save a “storyboard image” that is nothing more or less than the template in the appropriate folder, then I’ll type the text into Scribus, and draw the art in Krita, saving over the template image as I go.

It is, alas, too late to do this for Awesome Moments 1. I am committed to see the drudgery through. But the pain will serve to strengthen the lesson.

Anyway, I become increasingly doubtful I’ll be ready to Kickstart even by the Equinox. I’m moving the target to April.

Tomorrow I have to do farmhand stuff during my normal creative block, and Sunday is for the Lord. I’ll try and make headway on the PDF draft today, and burn off my aggravation by sculpting things that will actually be useful for the campaign. But I have to allow that this may be the end of the progress for this week, and if I have more to show when I start up again on Monday, it’s a gift from God to me.

Frankly, the realization that I find this process tedious, and I could have composed the storyboards in Scribus from the very start is a gift.

Captain’s Log 0210309.073: Cover Me

The correct time to make this update was yesterday, but I was unfortunately hijacked by dogsitting.

The original intended launch date for my crowdfund is the Ides of March, a week from yesterday. In that time, I aim to:

  • Create a 3D mockup of the book.
  • Create the PDF of the first draft and send it to Amazon for a print test
  • Create the trailer for the fund.
  • Pick one of the more spectacular pages or 2-page spreads and produce it as an example of the finished project.

I strongly doubt I can accomplish all of this in that time. It’s just barely possible, but I’d have to devote a lot more time to work on it per day. So my new plan is to have it ready for launch on the Ides, but to actually launch it on the Equinox.