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From the ashes
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What makes a great webcomic? Part II


One of the biggest self-imposed hurdles of every artist I've met has always been the idea of drawing from reality vs. what we think we already know. And just as reality is stranger than fiction, it's also often much more interesting. I think it really shows when an artist has taken the time to seek out good references, interesting poses, little props in the background that add to the atmosphere of the story. What makes Dr. McNinja fantastic (among many, many other things) is how Chris Hastings' art and story interact, with very subtly placed essential bits of information peppering EVERY PAGE. Truly, this comic is genius when it comes to setting up everything just so. Just so you can freak out when you see that thing from three stories ago that you totally forgot about become a major(ly ridiculous) story element.


My very favorite, saved for last. For me, the characters are everything, and they always have been.

As a kid, I fell in love with the idea of Dungeons and Dragons, and before I ever played a single session I had programmed my TI-80-whatever to randomly roll six numbers between 3 and 18 so I could spend all class, every class, rolling new characters with relationships, back stories, perspectives, and motivations. In every console or computer RPG I've ever played, I've been accused of having serious alt-ADD (alts are 'alternate' characters, for those of you who don't know), creating dozens of level-1 characters before I devote any amount of time to playing one of them seriously. This includes games where you can only possibly have one character, like Legend of Zelda: Pick Any One.

I really can't stress this enough:

I love characters.

I'd love to use a webcomic as a reference for fantastic characters (and I'd choose Meredith Gran's Octopus Pie, hands down), but for this one I just have to go back to animation (it's what brought me to comics!). Avatar: The Last Airbender is, in my humble opinion, one of the best American cartoons ever made, and it's the characters that made it so. No character was just a blanket "good" or "evil" presence, but had their own reasons for making their own decisions. I felt real empathy for Prince Zuko, the character who was pitched as the antagonistic hero-hunter at the beginning of the series, when we found out that his own father had violently cast the young prince out of his home for defying his superiors based on his own moral convictions. 

My goal, my dream is to accomplish what Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko did with that show, on that level or higher. Gaaaaah, Avatar! Characters! Geek stuff!

Thanks for listening to me ramble :)

October greys

Experiment number next in the grayscale shading department! I think this one is turning out rather well for how much time it takes to put it all together. Another change I've made is the font size; after taking a look at some comics that use computer fonts I realized my text is enormous! By making it smaller, I have freed up more space to 1.) draw more stuff and 2.) write more words! So exciting.

I have also begun work on a new facet of the writing! I noticed that my characters--while able to stand on their own, in my humble opinion--didn't necessarily know how to react to each other as individuals. In the same way I don't speak to my mother the way I speak to a professor, dude friend, or lady, I need Dan to react differently to Tim, Tracy, and Jeff, for example. 'Tis where my sights are set, friends, and this ship will not lower its anchor until we crash onto the coral reef of success! 

…or maybe a harbor, I guess