Sunday, January 31, 2010

OUCS: Team of Rivals

For those unfamiliar with it, the book Team of Rivals discusses how Abraham Lincoln got a bunch of people who did not agree with him to join his cabinet because he was a good and open president. I heard the title and thought of the film The One, with Jet Li. This preview explains it. One thing led to another and another comic idea was born. This is also suitable to be used for a movie preview or movie idea. As usual, contact me if you use the idea.

Panel 1:

We see the White House in an older time. People outside ride those old fashioned bicycles.

Aide (not seen): Mr. President, the machine is ready.


Panel 2:

We see a shadowy figure in front of a giant circular gate machine.( I guess like a Stargate, I never watched the show. Better yet like the thing they used in Johnny Quest to go into Quest World. )It is the silhouette of Abraham Lincoln, giant hat and everything.

Lincoln: Four score and seven minutes ago.


Panel 3:

Lincoln turns to face the wooden control panel.

Lincoln: There was only one of me.


Panel 4:

Close up of Lincoln's hand pressing a button.


Panel 5:

Sparks shoot from the machine and a swirl appears.


Panel 5:

Four more Lincolns are now behind him/ step out of the machine.


Panel 6:

Lincolns all at once: Ladies and gentlemen, do not be alarmed for we are on the precipice of greatness. We shall take back our nation.


Panel 7:

Based on the bestselling nonfiction book.


Panel 8:

We see Union and Confederate soldiers fighting.

Narrator: In a world torn apart by war, only one man could reunite it.


Panel 9:

We see the Lincolns posing for a picture.

Narrator: And there are 22 of him.


Panel 10:

Zoom in on evil Lincoln

Narrator: But one....


Panel 11:

Closer zoom, he has vampire fangs or something evil.

Narrator: was evil.


Panel 12:

Evil Lincoln shoots another Lincoln at the Ford Theatre


Panel 13:

Evil Lincoln stabs another Lincoln.


Panel 14:

Lincoln talks to Grant in his office.

Lincoln: General Grant, we have to stop him. Each clone he kills, the stronger he gets.

Grant: Sir, there is one thing you have that he does not posses.


Panel 15:

Grant pulls out a submachine gun.

Grant: True firepower.


Panel 16:

Evil Lincoln is seen giving a speech outside.

Evil Lincoln: Our nation officially surrenders to the South.


Panel 17:

The crowd looks shocked.


Panel 18:

Lincoln walks through the crowd carrying the guns, looking like Rambo meets Abraham Lincoln along with two other Lincolns similarly equipped.

Lincoln: Hear ye hear ye. Your shit is about to get fucked up.


Panel 19:

Caption of Team of Rivals


Panel 20:

Lincoln and the other Lincolns aim at evil Lincoln.

Lincoln: I'll emancipate the shit out of you.


Panel 21:

Evil Lincoln smirks:

Evil Lincoln: We shall see.

Friday, January 29, 2010

OUCS: Daybreakers Parody

Welcome to the first Open Use Comic Script where when I have an idea I can't use, I will do my best to turn it in to a script. If you need one for the week, feel free to take and use it, possibly even edit, just link me when it is done.

This Episode: Daybreakers Parody
If you were unaware, Daybreakers was that vampire film that came out where vampires who don't get blood turn into crazy Nosferatu vampires and since everyone (not everyone) wanted to become a vampire, there is less and less blood. They hook humans up to machines and the humans not hooked up are fighting back or they want a cure. They find it and then presumably everyone lives happily ever after especially Willem DeFoe's beard. All in all, the movie feels like the Matrix trilogy did with the humans hooked up to machines, the stylistic filming and the few shots with fighting. Also some of the really wooden acting.

Panel 1:

Business Man (the fat guy) and the two executive are in the office talking.

Business Man: All these kids are complaining about Twilight messing up vampires and werewolves. How can we profit from this?

Executive One: Gritty re-imagining of the monsters.

Executive Two: A vampire Matrix!


Panel 2:

Similar

Executive One: You mean Daybreakers?

Executive Two: Hmmmm. What if we mix werewolves and another 90's film.

Business Man: Genius!


Panel 3:

Werewolf Park


Panel 4:

We see Jurassic Park people - the old guy, Jeff Goldblum, little kids and doctor couple standing in front of welcome center doors.

Old guy: Welcome to my park where I made imagination reality. Real living werewolves!


Panel 5:

Goldblum and old man are talking in office with the doctor couple.

Goldblum: Isn't there a threat to having werewolves in a park. Can't they reproduce?

Old Man: Don't worry. They are all males.


Panel 6:

Goldblum looks angry.

Goldblum: That... that means nothing! Lycanthropy is passed on in biting.


Panel 7:

Old Man does not take this shit seriously.

Old Man: At least we'll be fine unless every part of the billion dollar security system fails.


Panel 8:

Old Man knocks coffee on his laptop.


Panel 9:

Room is dark except for eyes of the people.

Old man: Shit.


Panel 10

We see a Jeep ala Jurassic Park with a werewolf on the outside. Researcher and the kids are inside the Jeep.

Researcher: Don't worry kids, they can't open doors. They have no thumbs.

Kid 1: But they do have thumbs.


Panel 11:

We see blood outside of the Jeep.


Panel 12:

Fat guy is seen running with a wolfsbane.

Fat guy: I can sell this for other people to make the werewolves.


Panel 13:

Fat guy is starting down a bunch of werewolves.

Fat guy: Shit


Panel 14:

Parody of Jurassic Park logo but with a wolf howling at the moon ... a wolf made of bones! D: So basically a skeleton wolf.


Possible Extra panels

Panel 15

Old Man and Goldblum are on a boat.

Old Man: At least they can't leave the island.


Panel 16:

Flying werewolves in the sky

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Announcement: Format Change

Ever since I came back from break I have been bothered by my growing sense of ennui towards writing the reviews for the blog. It is not that I have no more of an interest in webcomics. I read through all of PvP, Minus, Marry Me, The Meek, Dead Winter and the new and brilliant Axe Cop (which is currently being overwhelmed on its servers and has no website). My problem is that I have no desire to write reviews for what I read as of right now. It is not that the comics deserve no accolades for their work but that I can't find my muse or inspiration.

Because of this fact, the blog will be temporarily changing formats to a sort of webcomic/comic theory and writing shop among other things. While I have no fully running comics up on the Internet, I have been working on a story for the past 4 years called Socialfist (formerly Super Feudal Communist Russia Team Squad Now!). Socialfist will soon be coming online in about 2 months (late March 2010) if all goes well. Until and after that point, the blog will have a feature called Socialfist In The Making. Here, and eventually at the new comic site, I will post the progress I do when making a comic. This will include character sketches demonstrating and illustrating the development of characters from the juvenile throw away ideas of 4 years ago to more realistic characters that I now have. I will also go into web design and how I went from a bad site to a good one, ideas I have gone through for naming the comic and a bunch of other things related to the comic. I am not entirely sure if it will be useful to everyone who reads the blog currently but the last thing I want is for the blog to die.

Other features that will appear include:

Mini-Reviews - Reviews - But Smaller!

KN/RB News - My Slant On Webcomic News And Also Interviews

Open Use Comic Scripts - Need a comic script to draw, look no further!

and more.

As such, the blog title has changed from Koltreg's Nerding Blog Jamboree to the Koltreg's Nerding/Review Blog. The site should also be moving soon to a non-blogspot post, most likely at the Team Majorca site.


Open Use Comic Script #1 will go up tonight.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Guest Article - Rice Boy By The POWCG

This week the POWCG somehow confused a Tweet to him about not being able to tell good comics from the bad with a request from him to review Rice Boy and as artist negotiations (read: hey, I will work for 2 days and then quit) are eating my time, I present this as a filler.

My 300th Twitter said I was done. No more anger, no more videos, I could finally retire. Then I got the call back into action. Koltreg, that son of a bitch, managed to track me down. As of last week, I was peacefully living in a southern Atlantic fishing village under the name of Mako Hooker. Most of my day was out at sea, catching my dinner. It wasn’t much, but it was peaceful, and nobody there could tell a Sonichu from a Dominic Deegan. I finally knew what inner peace was.


Then again, my 301st Tweet was “Lol. Gonna retire to a South Atlantic Fishing village under the Mako Hooker. Peace, y’all.”


My 302nd Tweet was a picture of the natives I uploaded using the laptop which I brought, with “Man, this South Atlantic Village kicks ass. I hope some jackass doesn’t rope me in to do a webcomic review.” I brought the laptop, so I could continue to post on the Something Awful forums. After all, those things cost ten bucks.


That’s when he walked in. I was on my boat, casting the first net of the day. The sun beat down harshly on my bronzed muscled skin, but I didn’t care. I marked a little note in a book I kept. Thirty. Thirty clear, beautiful days in a row. I stared out to the horizon and saw a small island, the same one I see every day. I never go past it, but today I wondered…

”Enjoying the view?” I heard a familiar voice say behind me.

“I was.” I said, grumbling at the figure behind me.

“It’s been a long time. I haven’t heard from you.”
”Well, I was kinda living in a South Atlantic fishing village under the alias Mako Hooker.”
”Yes, you mentioned it several times on Twitter. And Facebook. ”
I sighed. “You found me. Want to take off that fedora and trenchcoat? It’s like 98 degrees.”
”No, I enjoy the hypothermia.” He was strange like that.

“What comic?”

“Rice Boy.”
”Heh. You really expect that, don’t you? Not even in a million years.”
”And in return, you can come back to civilization. Maybe catch up on Ctrl+Alt+Del?”
”I brought my laptop.”
”Perfect, you can do it here. On a rainy day.”

“Fat chance. Tomorrow will mark 31 days of sunshine. Go find another patsy.”

The next day was a torrential downpour. The worst I’d seen in a while. Not even the worst Nor’Easter compared. None of my usual wifi hotspots worked, and I think one of the local children ate my laptop.




Rice Boy is a story set in the ninth century of the Red Age of Overside. It stars Rice Boy, who is chosen as the fulfiller of the prophecy to, YOU GUESSED IT, save the world.

Who is Rice Boy? A man made of nothing but rice? A ridiculous Chinese Stereotype? Possibly a guy who races ricers?

Rice Boy is “a little fellow with no arms or legs who lives in the Matchwoods. All he can do is grow plants and watch sunsets and listen to stories, but he's gone on his way to maybe repair the world" Um… Yeah, I’ve seen comics pull things out of their ass before, but this one takes the cake.


Everyone will say this comic is so awesome, especially on the Something Awful Forums. We’re only ironically liking it, like we ironically hate Ctrl-Alt-Del. And here I am to slaughter the sacred cow. It sucks. It lacks coherence, background, and everything thrown in feels like the writer, Evan Dahm did it to say, “HEY GUYS LOOK HOW WACKY I AM!!”

So, the comic starts of with a robot called “The One Electronic” (TOE. LOL it spells toe! See how wacky it is?) and a fat orange guy that ends up dying in the next few chapters looking for someone to fulfill this mysterious prophecy, that we never really feel the weight of. The world seemed just fine, thank you Robot Man. Now fuck off, I got a bunch of shit to do (watch sunsets, listen to stories) that wasn’t explicitly stated in the comic, so we have to go by the author’s word. Speaking of which, you might think that the images T-O-E’s screen mean something, but they don’t. (They’re from old black and white TV shows; observe my indieness!)


So, T-O-E tells Rice Boy all this shit while Orange Fatty fucks off and dies. No good sir, don’t let us get attached to him or anything, like we did with Darth McManus (Ethan and Lilah’s baby, hello?). Yeah, just kill him off to show his desperation. Maybe if the Rice Boy universe had LiveJournal, he wouldn’t be in this mess. So Rice Boy, initially doubting that he is The Fulfliller, sets out to go some wood. Then another fat orange thing, Gerund (It’s a language thing, aren’t I so smart?), hops onto his boat. Like, out of nowhere.


I’ll be saying those four words a lot this review.


Gerund is going to slay the Bleach Beast, in possibly the bluntest conversation ever:
”I guess I will tell you somethings. The monster ate my brother, and ran off. I don’t like killing things, but I love my brother, so I guess I have to.”
”That is a super sad story. Killing monsters is probably a hard thing to do.”
”Maybe, but I have an axe to help” says Gerund pulling up an axe. Like, out of nowhere. “I think is a magic axe.”


“I guess”? “I think”? What is this guy, an Animal Crossing character? I think?


So they go into the woods, talk to an asshole Cyclops, then a tree walks in and helps Rie Boy and Gerund get to their next plot point.


In the meantime, an assassin named Golgo is sent by a frog king Spatch, son of the previous candidate to fulfill the prophecy, to kill Rice Boy and TOE. Let me restate that: A fucking frog sends a black thing that fucks its sister, named after a Japanese manga series (gamers, weaboos, lend me your viewership!) to kill Robot Rorschach and a quadruple amputee.


One more time: A fucking frog sends a black thing that fucks its sister, named after a Japanese manga series (gamers, weaboos, lend me your viewership!) to kill Robot Rorschach and a quadruple amputee.


Rice Boy, ladies and motherfucking gentlemen.


Right, so TOE dies, and Golgo scares off his assistant Dolly in a drunken rage. It walks off into the forest, and uses its GPS boots to find TOE. Luckily, she finds the body in time to bring him to a shaman. His brother or something, invalidating his name, The ONE Electronic, comes to take him away on a cube horse.


You know what? I’m not gonna bother relating all this crap to you, because the second something’s introduced, it’s disregarded, like it’s part of its own world or something, and all this shit is common place, like A GIANT KKK MEMBER CUTTING OFF HIS HAND TO GIVE ROBOMAN PASSAGE INTO A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN SEE PEOPLE’S MEMORIES.


Although we do find out that Rice Boy comes from A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO REPRODUCE AND COMMUNICATE BY CUTTING OFF THEIR HEADS…


Like, out of nowhere.


So a few hundred strips later, the machine fight off some purple things and the frog men, so Rice Boy can go fulfill the prophecy. BUT WAIT! Turns out The One Electronic was the fulfiller all along! JUST… FUCKING… DANDY! So the words of Ridrom have been fulfilled, and Rice Boy wakes up in his house as if NOTHING HAPPENED.


Seriously, like, out of nowhere. At least it’s competently drawn whatthefuck.


The comic is basically Prog Rock without the wicked solos: fucked up imagery, incomprehensible bullshit, and terrible writing all ham fisted in the name of symbolism. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. And Rice Boy is one cigar I’d like to stamp out and kick in the sewers.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking For A Webcomic Artist

I am working on about communist superheroes called Socialfist. It is a socio-political farce pointing out the flaws of logic in political extremism along with classic superhero humor and more.
Due to my previous artist getting a promotion I suddenly need a new artist to restart/continue the comic. It would be preferable to continue though the comic (as to not need to pay for each page again but if the artist is unable that is fine and understandable.
If anything I am looking for an artist who is able to create a comic style similar to that of Russian poster art out of the 40s and 50s. Like this [link] or similar. I figure the average artist has an idea of what I was talking about. The very stylistic and blocky design.
The comic would be at least a weekly update (depending on pay and contracting and such) with eventual funds coming from ads, product sales and cameo donations. Along with this I am also working on getting the comic picked up by a decent number of comic producers and if that happens, compensation would quickly increase.
Pay will be negotiated with each candidate depending on quality, etc. If the comic goes well, which it should and will do, there will possibly be an average wage within a year or so. Factors of this include an ability to produce comics on time, working ahead of schedule, doing additional designs (for shirts, buttons, etc) and more.
If you somehow find this, link to your work and I will look through your gallery and decide based on what I see there. Also if you have an IM or something that works.
I've been working on the story for about four years and I really want to see it published/produced.
The previous comics by Iori may be seen here (site is being redesigned): Due to a contractual thing, the character costumes would likely need to be redesigned as well so if you are accepted, that would be the first thing to do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interview With El Santo

This week I went toe to toe with webcomic reviewer El Santo of The Webcomic Overlook. We met in the battleground that is known as that creepy chat box I have on the site. Things got tense and funny. Enjoy.

Koltreg: Greeting sir. How is it going?

El Santo: Sup

Koltreg: I just finished dinner.

El Santo: Awesome! I need to feed myself sometime soon. I am just drinking me some Coke.

Koltreg: I highly recommend it. I had store brand cream soda, a french dip sammich and some rice crackers.

El Santo: That is hardly a dinner. It is barely nourishment.

Koltreg: The rice crackers were carmel covered. That makes all the difference.

El Santo: Yum.

Koltreg: Well let us get this interview going.

El Santo: Sure! Let's do it like Brutus.

Koltreg: Quisling time has come today...er...what got you into webcomics?

El Santo: OK, to question 1 (I have no idea what a Quisling is by the way)...

Koltreg:A Quisling is a reference to some French war where the locals sides with the opposing side. Also they are crazy people who act like zombies. And I thought you were referencing the Hives. (wealth of knowledge!) Oh, it was apparently named after a Norweigan politician who helped the Nazis take over the country.

El Santo: I shall have to use "Quisling" in passing some time, then.

Koltreg: It is a fun word. Back to the interview though. What got you to start reviewing webcomics?

El Santo: My original response was missing. OK, here goes: I basically love reviewing. I used to to movie, anime, and video game reviews on another site called Guthwulf.com. When I decided to start my own blog, I reviewed a bunch of stuff, but my most popular posts were the webcomic ones.

Koltreg: What were some early ones you reviewed?

El Santo: Oh, the popular ones. Perry Bible Fellowship, Irregular Webcomic, a few of Bobby Crosby's efforts. I have a soft part in my heart for minor efforts, though, so when something like "Year One" comes my way --- a sort of Li'l Marvel's parody --- I'm on it like Donkey Kong.

Koltreg: Was there any point where you realized "Hey, I should just focus on webcomics," like after a certain review?

El Santo: I have to thank David Morgan-Mar. After I posted a pretty positive review of Irregular Comic, he posted a link on his site and I got, like, 1,000 page hits over night. To which I thought, "Man, people who read webcomics are pretty passionate!" That lead me on a long dark road. Pretty soon I broke the webcomic reviews out from my main blog, and then I bought a domain name, and then the rest is history. Truly, I am a glutton for attention.

Koltreg: There are worse and less reasonable things to be a glutton for though.

El Santo: Don't get me wrong, though... it's highly enjoyable.

Koltreg: Oh I know. I'd love that level of semi-notoriety. As you have gotten more notoriety, have you had many fringe benefits?

El Santo: Well, just as a disclosure, the blog isn't really all that notorious. I don't want readers to get the wrong impression here. At best it gets 1,000 to 1,500 page hits a day. It's a nice number, but hardly Comics Curmudgeon numbers. As for fringe benefits... I did have a reporter from MacLean's call me to do an interview regarding Kate Beaton. And I was all like, "I'm an authority on Kate Beaton? What the what?" So... getting my name in a Canadian news magazine ... pretty awesome.

Koltreg: Yeah. Lets talk recent news though.

El Santo: Okay

Koltreg: The Webcomics.com Policy change - are you going to subscribe?

El Santo:Me? No. No-ho-ho-ho-o. I mentioned on my blog that it seems to be more for webcomic professionals, which I am not. More of a blogger who comments on webcomic professionals, really. I can see how it can work out for people who go to conventions to promote their stuff, but I'm an irascible homebody, so I'm not likely to take advantage of their fine, fine benefits package.

Koltreg: What would happen if everything with the policy change goes south? Like, nobody subscribes or only 100 people do?

El Santo: You know, if the main purpose of the subscription was to pay for the site itself, 100 subscribers still translates into $3,000, which is not bad. They're definitely going to start small, but I think the idea is that they have to set a precedent somewhere or no one does. Failure is definitely a possibility --- a strong one, since everyone was getting used to a free blog --- but I think everyone involved is well aware of the risks. Few people make a profit in the first couple of years, I think.

Koltreg: Then again, 3000 is more than the average webcomic makes in a year. Though so is $30.

El Santo: It sure is. What webcomics.com needs to do now, though, is make it clear and communicate what they're trying to do ... and it's been an uphill struggle for Guigar and friends so far.

Koltreg: Do you think instead providing the blog for free and the other services for a fee might be more reasonable? Help more people learn to make money and to build the brand.

El Santo: That's actually not a bad idea. However, I can kind of see where Guigar is coming from, too. I think he or one of the other Halfpixel guys regularly do seminars at colleges on webcomics, and there, they're being reimbursed for their time and work. It's kind of disheartening to spend all your time putting your brainpower on, say, writing a tutorial and never seeing any compensation for it.

Koltreg: I see it more like farming though. You plant the seeds but the last thing you want to do is try to eat them just after planting them. If you foster though, you get a meal...eventually

El Santo: I did mention on my blog too that I thought it might be too early to do such a thing as what webcomics.com is doing. I don't know if the webcomic medium is mature enough. Like many have said, it's still the wild wild west.

Koltreg: With a giant robot spider?

El Santo: Noooooooooaaaaahhhhhhhh~!!!!!

Koltreg: Since you have reviewed other genres, what do you different about reviewing webcomics?

El Santo: I try to delve into more far flung anecdotes with webcomics. I think if I was really matter-of-fact in a webcomic review, it can get pretty dry, especially since people will most likely be very unfamiliar about the comic since they wouldn't have seen commercials, heard third-party anecdotes, yadda yadda yadda. So if I'm reviewing a comic about vampire women, maybe I'll tell a story about my views on the Twilight phenomenon and then bring that into my review. I find I do that more often with my webcomic reviews, which are now about 2000 words or so each ... and that's what makes it fun to write.

Koltreg: Anything about the fact that the story can change and that it is fluid? It kind of bothers me from time to time that "Hey, something I write now may not be true in a few months." Unlike movies or war. War never changes.

El Santo: Ha ha ha ha! Yes, that is very true with, say, Shortpacked!, which started out as a comedy about people in a toy store and ended up being about an LGBT community. I was like ... Ohhhhkay.

Koltreg: Who is transexual in Shortpacked? Is it Mike?

El Santo: Probably Supercar.

Koltreg: Great, now I have to reread everything with that in mind.

El Santo: It will blow you away.

Koltreg: *gay joke*

El Santo: Note to gay readers: I totes did not mean that.

Koltreg: 90% of what I write is hate speech against various groups but my multi racial transgendered bisexual editor cuts most of it. Thats why I only post two articles a week. That and college.

El Santo: ***gggaaassssssspppp**** I am shocked out of my monacle.

Koltreg: You have a monocle under your luchador mask?

El Santo: Monocle, dresses like a Mexican wrestler... maybe I'm really Dr. Mindbender Hmmm?

Koltreg: I have no idea who that is. I am a horrible/recovering nerd.

El Santo: Google him sometime. It's a bald GI Joe villain who has a handlebar stache, a monocle, and no shirt. Best villain EVER.

Koltreg: Oh, I know him. What is your favorite webcomic. As in, all the other webcomics online are going to be deleted by....Digital Porn Warriors and you can only save one. Which would it be?

El Santo: It would have to be ... Jack! The greatest furry webcomic about death and disembowelment and gratuitous nudity. What? It's actually really terrible? OK then... probably Gunnerkrigg Court, which is not Jack. Which is A GOOD THING.

Koltreg: I enjoy that as well. Besides it being a good comic I used the print book as a distraction for my sister so I could burn her Twilight books. Gunnerkrigg Court - Helping Everyone!

El Santo: Tell her it is beloved by Neil Gaiman. Girls love stuff by Neil Gaiman.

Koltreg: Gaiman she likes less. I am the Gaiman Man in my family. Where do you see your blog in 5 days?

El Santo: Five days... what, is that a Saturday? I'm probably going to be reading and reviewing the Dead Winter webcomic while my wife hits the gym. Her and her exercise, pfeh. Who needs that when you got bone crunching zombie action?

Koltreg: Reiley is a good guy who deserves more views for his comic. I also figured that 5 days is more reasonable to estimate than 5 months.

El Santo: I'm still on page 50, by the way. It ain't bad, but the bone crunching action hasn't really happened yet.

Koltreg: As we wind this down though, are there any questions you have for me?

El Santo: Yeah! It's always nice to run into a fellow blogger slash mortal rival. What sort of character or personality do think your own webcomic blog is? Like I imagine myself the Anthony Bourdain of blogs, and I think Eric Burns-White once said he was the Pauline Kael.

Koltreg: I see my blog as a submachine that gained sentience. It is deadly in the right hands but it just needs that hand to help it. Which is both crazy and yet...yeah that is just crazy.

El Santo: Yes. Crazy. You might want to lay off the Call of Duty for a day or two.

Koltreg: Actually I have no video games. I only have a Gamecube.

El Santo: That's no good. Now you'll have idea what webcomic guys talk about all the time. Video games is the common language.

Koltreg: I used to room with people who shared consoles. I am a recovering nerd as I say though, I put my money towards webcomics, music and food.

El Santo: So, given your meal earlier ... just music then?

Koltreg: Well sir, thank you for doing this interview. It has been... interesting.

El Santo: No prob, man. Thanks for asking me!


This Friday I should be running the review I expected to have up on vacation that came in late of Rice Boy by a controversial Internet figure.
See you then!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No Friday Update

New schedule means that I need to work out when to update. The schedule will probably be the same. I am going to take off today though to not rush the Minus review. Tuesday is an interview. See you then.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Webcomics.com - My Problem With Paying

If you live in some cobwebbed, unused part of the webcomic world, you may not have heard that Brad Guigar and the Webcomics Weekly group have transformed the website into a pay site. For $30 a year you get access to: all of the full articles (instead of previews); information for webcomic conventions; and the http://www.webcomics.com/ creators and community and merchandise deals. All in all this seems reasonable and you end up paying $2.50 a month. If you even have shitty rates for your Project Wonderful ads you can probably scrape this together.


I have a few problems with the change that go beyond being able to afford the yearly fee, though.

1. You Are Already Selling A Book On It - I bought How To Make Webcomics at Mid-Ohio Comic Con and the book covers most of the stuff I remember seeing on the website. And it costs 20 something dollars online (I paid $13 at the con if I recall) as opposed to the $30 annual fee for the website. It does not make financial sense. Oh, and most of the stuff in the book I figured out myself, which leads me to my second complaint:

2. The Help Listed Can Be Learned Freely - Mr. Guigar is a professional artist and I respect this fact. He probably learned a lot of webcomic information while working. Still there have been other webcomic artists who learned everything all by themselves. I bet that most webcomic artists that are making a living or even a profit out there have learned what they need to do not through a book or website but by learning over time and through hard lessons. For example a lot of the small webcomics that even make a small profit have to guess and learn which is natural.

3. There Are Better Profit Venues (While Still Seeming Charitable) –Mr. Guigar has reviewed and critiqued several webcomic websites. If he wants to make money off of his own site, this would be something better to charge for. I would be willing to pay a guy who knows about webcomics and web design to review the design of my site. I'd pay more if he offered to services such as making some alternate design schemes. I'd shell out a good amount if he did the entire design for me (or I would if I were not a web design student with several people helping me make my comics sites as I speak). You though, webcomic makers and makeresses with no web-design training, probably would. It would be a smaller market at first BUT if the advice on the site really works, more webcomics would make enough of a profit for the service. What I am saying is that if you offer more people the tools they need to make a profit for free, the more money they can have to pay you later on.


4. Creating Free Content Online – I respect Mr. Guigar for doing the blog and wanting to make a profit. I also respect his belief that ad money may not be enough for a "niche site". But let’s look at another webcomic maker/business man for a second.
Ryan North (of dinosaur comics) has a Master's in Computer science (notably not a business and marketing degree). He has developed several helpful webcomic sites and tools for transcription, RSS feeds and advertising (Project Wonderful, which he profits from). He didn't necessarily have a business or design background and yet he makes his living from webcomics, thanks in part to the other tools he has developed. I can't say if he learned everything over time but every time as I don't know but chances are that he did. He made three tools that he provides free tools for webcomic makers and the only one he charges for directly pays the people that use it!

There are several hundreds of people producing free web content for blogging or coding and numerous other things that take a considerable amount of longer time than a daily article and these people work for donations or just because they love the work they do or because they want fame. Either way though, they are still producing for free.

If you are going to ask people to pay a membership fee, then offer something more than articles, a convention calendar, a community and merchandise deals. Everything currently offered on the site can be acquired free elsewhere. People can blog about webcomic advice (heck, I provide it without people wanting it); convention planning beyond the local conventions is rarely needed unless you are an advanced webcomic maker; communities of comic fans and makers are everywhere online; and (delete then) merchandise deals are only worth it if you want what is being offered.


The information page about subscribing also raises some questions:
- Who gives you feedback and guidance on the site?
- Are you (the people writing the site) going to provide it or is it part of the community?
- What will the feedback include?
- Where do you get the merchandise deals? Is it only with people who post on the site?
- How can you tell how the forum will be and if you will like it as there are many forum personalities?
- Aren't there several thousand free online resources for webcomic makers already?
- How can you say there won't be value for an advertiser when a good deal of webcomic makers make a majority of money off of niche webcomics ad space?
- Wouldn't a cheaper price invite more people to use the site and thus increase the community and the profits?
- Why have a yearly fee and not a lifelong fee for the same amount?
- If you can only see previews of the articles now, how can people tell the value?
- How can you say that this site has the value you are selling it for?

I enjoyed looking at the site every once in a while when it was free and the articles on design where actual sites were critiqued were some of the most important and interesting things.
As I suggested before, why not charge just for that if you need an income stipend?
Why not continue to provide the free loose tips and continue to sell the book instead?

I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering why Mr. Geigar decided at this time to change to a pay site, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will look for advice and community elsewhere rather than pay. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Geigar gets the response he’s hoping for, or if he suffers a backlash.


See you Friday for the Weekly Review!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Back From Mexico

Nothing like a relaxing week of walking around ruins, not being cold and reading. I had expected another review but c'est la vie. See you Monday. Sorry for the lateness.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guest Article - Learning To Write Through Webcomics

This is from a good buddy and longtime internet associate Eric who does a few things on the Internet, Eric. I am drawing a blank on his site but he wrote a enjoyable article nonetheless.

I’ve been a buddy of Koltreg’s for a while, so I was honored when he asked me to write an article for his blog.
I love webcomics, I really do. I’ve been getting back into normal comics (Transmetropolitian, Deadpool, Batman Confidential to name a few), and while that’s a neat little monthly adventure, I enjoy loading up Firefox at midnight, and checking that day’s bookmark folder. (Yeah, I have ‘em broken down by update schedule). Whenever I want, I can stroll through the archives, and chat with fellow fans for the always pleasing price of free.

One of my best memories associated with webcomics was earlier this year. I was working on a short story, getting maybe 100 words a day in. On my usual check ups, I load up Horribleville. With the night still young, I decided to read through the archives. For the uninitiated, Horribleville is the brainchild of K.C. Green, and it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad look into his creative process. All the breakdowns, the anxieties, the rewrites, are filtered through a demented art style that manages to be sketchy yet sharp at the same time. If you’re ever feeling uncreative, read it.

Then I finally make it through the guest strip month. Out of the blue, I decided to check out Fred Sherbet’s Dead Winter. I plow through the zombie action, with Coheed and Cambria blasting on repeat. I come to the last strip in the archives, and sat there in lament that the next update is only two days away.
My imagination was kicking at the base my skull, I felt like I was going die tomorrow, and if I don’t finish this story by tomorrow, I’d have nothing to show for it. I put on a pot of coffee, and got to work. My favorite part to mention of this story was that I had three songs on repeat for the next 6 hours: “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones, and both version of “Desolation Row” (Bob Dylan and My Chemical Romance).

The point I’m trying to make here is that good writing is good writing, regardless of the source, and you can always tell where things went right. Now, while I don’t have a webcomic of my own (artists inquire at ericdigiwriter@gmail.com), I still love to tell stories, whether it was my short story, writing articles for my school’s paper, or in webcomic form, so I’m here to teach you all some tips on how to be a better writer through webcomics.


Live.

Seriously. You know the old mantra, “Write What You Know”? Then get of the computer (after reading this, of course) and do something for a while that you’ve never done before. Go out with some friends. Meet new people. Take a trip to a place you’ve never seen. Peoplewatch. Take up a new hobby. ANYTHING. If you go out and experience life, then you’ll have all the more stuff to draw from.
Want to know the difference between your average “LOL [RECENT GAME HERE]” comic and the greats like Penny Arcade, PvP and (to a much lesser extent) Ctrl+Alt+Del?
Those people have done shit with their lives. Gabe, Tycho and Kurtz are married with children. Buckley is doing house renovations last time I checked. They’re living. Look at your average gamer comic: do you really see these guys doing something other stereotypical 18-25 male “gamer” stuff? That’s why the same jokes are beat into the ground over and over again, creating a barrier for those who just want to read something funny, instead of wanking off over the “THE CAKE IS A LIE” of the day.

As much shit as he gets from the whole miscarriage scene, Tim Buckley had the right to do the infamous “Loss” strip. He went through one of his own, and knows how it feels. All that anticipation and buildup, all those expectations of a new life shattered? That’s a powerful moment. The reason why it’s so hated and mocked relentlessly is because A. Three strips ago we were having silly comedy, and have had the wackiness for the past 5 years, making it the worst possible place to do it, and B. Ethan and Lilah are more archetypes than characters, so the moment has no weight. Speaking of Archetypes:


The Double Act
You might know this as the “Wacky Guy-Straight Man” thing, but it refers to any comedy where the jokes are derived from the uneven relationship between two characters, and the play off their personalities. Felix is neat, Oscar is messy. Adam Savage is very loose and friendly, Jamie Hynemann is reserved and professional. PC is stuffy and in denial, Mac… doesn’t really do anything. Usually in a webcomic this plays out where one guy is a sarcastic eye-roller, paired with a man so wacky that he mails bobcats to strangers ( http://xkcd.com/325/), eats paper bags ( http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20091202), and beats up his Dreamcast in a drunken stupor (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2000/9/8/)


The most recognized double act is between Bud Abbot, who was usually a schemer, and Louis Costello, who was normally a man-child, and former always tried to play the latter for a fool. Sounds familiar, right? However, consider the average webcomic to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo4NCXOX0p8


Cool, right? Costello (the fat one) was wrong, but at least knew enough in his own weird way that his solution was possible. He isn’t really stupid, he just thinks in a different way. In the usual “GamerDorks” or “ROFLiends”, Abbot (the tall one) would punch Costello in the face and call him a retard, then cross his arms and go “Heh”.


I’ll give you a more contemporary exampleof a good double act: Homestar Runner. Yeah, Homestar’s the dunce, and Strong Bad is the “smart” one, but at the very least, they’re still their own people. The different peripheral characters have their own associations with either one. Marzipan tolerates Homestar, but hates Strong Bad, and Bubs’s “sales tactics” work better on the na├»ve H*R, whereas Strong Bad gets screwed more indirectly. The important thing here is that this play on personalities is an act, and not the sole motivation behind the characters.

3. Going back on the whole “experience” thing, Read.
Not just blogs either. But books. Did you know that Hunter S. Thompson, the writer of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, re-typed “The Great Gatsby” ad verbatim for practice? He wanted to get a feel for Fitzgerald’s writing. Or, as he put it, “to know what it’s like to have those words flow through him”. Since webcomics are a more “minimalist’ medium, you don’t need as much prose, but books can definitely serve as an inspiration. Read different styles too. Even read the newspaper, just to see all the different ways people can convey information and put a picture in your head. To counter that:

4. Read shit as well.
Just so you know what NOT to do. I think something like Sonichu servse as an example of how to do it wrong in every way possible, from writing dialogue, to telling a story, and even life in general. Just try reading it, as well as any bad webcomic aloud. Doesn’t it feel awkward to say? Aren’t you left with frustration wondering who the hell thought having someone say that was a good idea? Good. Now go back to your own work. I’ll guarantee you’ll be looking out for poorly written walls of text. (http://cogsdev.110mb.com/cwcki/images/9/98/SchuComic9P92.jpg). It’s even worse when the author gets really pretentious about it and yells “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT!!”, like in the infamous Broken Mirror, a comic John Solomon soundly thrashed in his blog.


I’m serious, the bitch writes like an English major desperate for validation of her liberal arts degree. The most infuriating instance of this is when a punk rock looking chav says: "Shouldn't I furtively thrust a wad of fifties into your palm before heading to the sewers… clandestine, intent on pursuing my perilous trade?" instead of “Shouldn’t I slip you some cash, then sneak off into the sewers with the other crack heads?” Who the hell use furitively in casual conversation? I know what those words mean, but they belong in the mouth a pretentious douche, not a druggie. It’s a sound lesson in giving each character their own voice. Which brings me to:


5. Remember, you’re writing for ME.

At the end of the day, you need to get your idea into my head. Because it’s the internet, there is some leeway as far as your audience. You don’t have to use stock jokes and appeal to the lowest common denominator. Penny Arcade assumes you keep up with video game news. Theater Hopper assumes you keep up with the latest movies. Some comics, like a regular read of mine PhDComics, assumes that its audience has at least gone through some post-undergrad work, or at the very least is college educated. However, you have shit like XKCD which goes too far in that direction, with some strips assuming that I look at random physics entries on Wikipedia just to get a half-assed pun.

Or anything Kate Beaton, that makes me go back to the nightmare that was High School Global History. However, she at least jokes that can be amusing outside of the historical context of the strip. Same goes with Penny Arcade: you might not get the reference, but you can get the joke.



Those are only a few of the ways webcomics can teach us some valuable lessons about writing. Oh! One more important lesson:

6. Set a schedule.

I was super productive during NaNoWriMo because I had a deadline to work with. All good webcomics follow a strict updating schedule, to keep in the habit of writing. While something Lackadaisy Cats is the exception to the rule, the author does have multiple page updates that are of professional quality. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a VGCats-like scenario where you’ll get something meh every other month that ends in a Y.


But really I brought it up was because Koltreg wanted this by Sunday, and instead I masturbated and played Team Fortress 2.