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Archive for November, 2008

User-created comic: Lightning Made of Owls

Saturday, 8 November, 2008 | Posted in Lightning Made of Owls by David Morgan-Mar

We have a name and a new page for the user-created comic we announced a few days ago:
Lightning Made of Owls.

Yes, that’s the weird phrase we came up with a few days earlier, with no idea beyond “this is a weird phrase that we should share with the world”. Later we were sitting around brainstorming names for the new comic project, and someone yelled, “I know! Lightning Made of Owls!”

Do two half-baked ideas make a fully-baked idea? Only time, and you, will tell.

Garkov

Friday, 7 November, 2008 | Posted in Webcomics by David Morgan-Mar

If you enjoy the concept behind the mezzacotta webcomic, you might also like Garkov, by Josh Millard. It’d take too long for us to explain, and Josh does a pretty good job himself, so just go check it out.

Josh, by the way, has dozens of other half-baked projects that he has launched and sporadically worked on. Some of them are really cool ideas. (i.e. we wish we’d thought of them first.) Except for the fact that we don’t know him at all, it’s almost like Josh would fit in nicely with us here, daring to be stupid and throwing it all out there for the world to see. Good work, Josh!

Comic cast added

Thursday, 6 November, 2008 | Posted in Comic, News by The Hyperstig

It’s about time we had a cast page for the comic (the original mezzacotta comic, not the new one announced yesterday), so I added one.

User-Created Webcomic

Wednesday, 5 November, 2008 | Posted in Comic, Ideas, News by David Morgan-Mar

We’re going to start a brand new webcomic. Anyone who wants to help us can create the strips. You can create the strips.

We tried this once before, with Infinity on 30 Credits a Day. It was an experiment, and unfortunately it hasn’t taken off as well as we would have liked. But we’ve learnt some very valuable lessons about the idea, and we’re ready to give it another go.

The problem with Infinity on 30 Credits a Day is that it has a story. It has continuity. We had to plan around it, writers had to take it into account, and – although the story we adopted is a fairly open-ended framework – it kind of gets in the way. It makes it hard for the people who want to contribute to get all the information they need at any given point. We tried to implement voting schemes and user accounts and job queues and all sorts of fancy stuff. It means administrative overheads for us and requires time and organisation that ultimately we don’t have. It’s simply too darn complicated.

So here’s the plan. We make a gag-a-day strip with no real story to it. We don’t try to make The Order of the Stick. We try to make Dilbert. The former has an ongoing story that you follow across multiple strips. The latter has one-off situations that you laugh at, and the next day something different happens. Or maybe a tiny story arc that has a joke a day and takes 2 or 3 days to resolve.

So, if you want to make a comic, you use our characters, you stick them in whatever situation you want, and you make a gag at the end of the strip. No story, no restrictions*. Send the completed comic to us, and we’ll stick it in the queue and publish it.

If you always wanted to make a webcomic, but didn’t think you could commit to a regular update schedule, or didn’t know how to get publicity or readership, or how to build a website, this is your chance. All you have to do is make a strip and send it to us. We’ll do the rest.

Now for the fiddly bits. We’re not publishing strips for this new comic right away. We don’t have any characters yet. We don’t even have a title. You guessed it: We want your input!

So if you’re interested, here’s the deal. Go over to the forums discussion area for this idea and start talking about what sort of characters we want, and what name we can call this comic. We are not going to do anything as organised as voting. We’ll just let you discuss the possibilities for a while, maybe come to some sort of consensus on a few ideas or options, and then we’ll pick the ones we like best and use those.

Here are our ideas so far (you should stick to these unless you have a good argument and can convince us otherwise):

  • The comic will have no specific genre. The same characters might actually exist across multiple genres. So in one comic Fred and Sue are office workers; in the next strip they are space explorers in the far future. As long as each strip has a gag, it will work. Have a look at Arthur, King of Time and Space for how this can work. Of course if everyone wants to make office worker gags, that’s fine too.
  • We want maybe half a dozen regular characters to start with.
  • Each regular character should initially be specified quite vaguely. Example: Fred is a cynical office worker. (What we don’t want: Fred is a hotshot programmer with a grudge against Microsoft, he used to work as a pizza delivery boy until he met Sue and the two started dating, she convinced him to finish college, he got into roleplaying games and likes to ride to work on a unicycle, he wears T-shirts with anti-DRM logos and is always playing loud rock music on his iPod.) Characters will develop little personality quirks over time as people write them into strips, so we don’t want to build any in at the beginning. Also, the characters should not be funny in themselves. The funny should come from the situations that the strip writers put them in. If we make a character funny through personality traits, it limits the situations that writers can put them in.
  • Characters will however need physical traits or distinctive dress so they can be identified across multiple different art styles. Each character should be visually distinctive enough that you will be able to recognise them every time someone different draws/paints/renders/photographs them.
  • When the strip itself begins, writers will create strips using the shared characters. You can use any art style you like – drawing, 3D rendering, stick figures, photography – as long as the characters are recognisable.
  • * Basic common sense restrictions apply to make the result suitable for a PG audience. No nudity, swearing, etc. Our word is final on what we won’t publish on our site.
  • All submissions to this project will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence. If you submit a strip to us, you agree to it being released under this licence. Your name will of course be attached as the author credit (unless you prefer to be anonymous). We will not claim authorship of your work, nor will we make any profit from it.
  • Once we launch, you send us completed strips. This means you have to do the art and the dialogue. Or you could collaborate with someone if you can draw but can’t write jokes, or vice versa. But we’re not going to moderate the collaborations. You could use the forums to find a collaborator.

We think that’s it for now. We’ll put up a separate information page and FAQ soon. But for now, tell us your character ideas on the forums!