Posted June 6, 2011 at 03:54 pm
I thought I'd like to put my rejected or quickie ideas into a rough little strip once in a while that only takes me a few minutes to make.

This one's in response to the last two comics.

Posted June 4, 2011 at 11:45 am
I want you to forgive me any time I go long times without writing a blog post. I only update it when I really feel like I have something to say, and forcing topics isn't conducive to sincere writing. If someone has a question, they can write me, and if I feel like my whole readership would benefit from the answer, I can make a post about it here.

That said, I will mention that I hope to release a book in a couple months (but don't hold me to that deadline.) It will be around 125 pages, back & white inside, and there will be two editions. The standard edition will just be the book itself, direct shipped from the printer to you. The special edition will be signed, it will include a sketch inside the book, and there will be a 4"x6" photo print of a bonus comic. The prices have yet to be determined.

Have a Whompy day!
Posted May 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm
So, everyone's pretty stoked about the end of the world coming today.  I didn't make a comic about it myself, but my friend Sal over at the Penny-Arcade forums made a guest comic, and it pleases me greatly.

Ronnie I made you a rapture-themed guest comic

Click to enlarge
(click image to enlarge)
Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm
This letter is to the Ronnie of 10 years ago, and everyone like him. Please don't feel discouraged or insulted by anything said below. In fact, I hope it encourages you to follow your dreams.

Many of you who read this are creators. Heck, most people have a desire to create something. We all have a story to tell, whether it's the one our own life or one we've come up with. Maybe it's a character you've had since you were a child, and you have always developed it bit by bit in your head. Maybe you had a dream once that would make a great story, and you've even fleshed it out a bit on pen and paper. If only you could find that talented artist out there who will take your idea and turn it into the next big thing. Maybe you have an idea for a book, but you just need a good writer. You're generous though. You are willing to promise that everything will be split 50/50 with the artistic half of your partnership. It's win win, right?

Unfortunately, there are a few things that make this a plan that rarely works. For starters, you have to consider that if someone is already a skilled artist, they have taken a lot of time in their life to become a creative person. And like you, they probably have ideas of their own that they'd like to make into a story, but they might not have the time or drive to put in that much effort. That means they have even less drive to do it for you on promises of possible recompense in the future.

Another thing is that it's difficult for a skilled artisan (be it graphic art, writing, or whatever) to not feel slighted. It takes hours a day for years upon years to become skilled at anything. To him, this idea man comes along, calls all the shots, and offers him 50% of pay for his 99% worth of effort. It's like telling a carpenter to build a barn. You'll buy the materials and when he's done building it, you'll split the sale 50/50 after the cost of materials. In the end, all you did was drive the truck and said 'build a barn'. It's not like he didn't know where to get the materials or that a barn might be profitable.

So, that was the portion of the post where I make you feel bad about being the idea man. But don't be discouraged! Hope is not lost. There are still paths you can take to make sure your potentially brilliant idea can see the light of day.

For starters, a promising field of artistic expression for people of all skill levels is writing. If you have a strong grasp of your native language, and read a lot of novels on your own, there is a good chance you will have the ability to write one of a passable quality after reading a couple of books on creative writing. There are many popular novels today that read at or below a 9th grade English level, so if you have a high school diploma, you're already ahead of the game. I'm reminded of Isaac Asimov who was obviously a prolific writer, but even reading his Robot/Empire series, you'd think "Well, he's not some kind of writing savant." However, if you've read even one of his Azazel stories, you'd realize that he's actually incredibly skilled in the art, but in his non-Azazel works, he's writing at a lower level that is more suited to storytelling, and less about artistic expression of the art form. And that's the point of art. It is to get your point across in the most efficient and effective manner. While it helps to be at a King Koontz Asimov Heinlein Crichton Wells, it's not necessary in order to be heralded as a magnificent story teller.

There is a trick to writing, however. You have to do it every day. If you expect to finish an entire novel, you have to write 3 pages every day. If you got into a groove today and wrote a whole 6 pages, you are not allowed to take tomorrow off. 3 pages, every single day. Not only will you get complete works out of it, but you will gradually improve and become a better writer. There are great forums on the internet for displaying your work and looking for critiques on becoming a better writer, so use your Google-fu to find them.

Another way to become a creator and not just remain an idea man is your old enemy, money. If you believe enough in your idea, you can work to save enough money to pay an artist (be it a writer, comic book creator, children's book artist, etc.) to create your work for you. While some might consider it a dirty thing to say, for a professional artist, art is just a job. Sure they might love it, but it's still a job, and when you do a job, you are paid for it more or less directly. There's nothing wrong with an artist expecting up-front payment. A lot of them have learned that promises don't pay the bills, and no matter how good an idea is, it can easily be crushed by the next round of CGI films, action movie sequels, dark superhero comics, and whatever Stephen King has decided to come out with this month.

Depending on the artist, you can find someone who isn't very expensive who may be looking to do something they love for a bit of chump change. A good forum for that is this one. If you believe in your idea and have it fleshed out enough that you're ready to give it to an artist who can run with it and turn it into a polished masterpiece, this can be the way to go. Heck, if there's a webcomic artist you especially like, drop them a line and a lot of times they'll be happy to make your very own strip for a price.

I hope I've offered my 18-year-old self and everyone like him a bit of insight into the world of creating and ideas. The above was some of the best advice I'd ever gotten from my study of creative writing and art books as a teen, and I wanted to pass it on to you. I wish you the very best in your future in creating masterpieces, or at the very least, appreciating the work that goes into every one.
Posted March 30, 2011 at 09:13 pm
[Warning: Long post]

The main reason I do "Whomp!" is to regularly exude a consistent welling of what can best be called an urge to make something. I can't put myself in other people's heads, but I sometimes wonder if everyone feels like a balloon filled with a desire to create that is ready to burst.

I would say that, in this respect, I'm pretty selfish. I want to create my own universe where I'm the boss. Everything is of my doing, and I can look on something and say "I did that without anyone else. It's mine; all mine." Then I want other people to look at it and go "That's amazing! What a universe. I want to live there!" But my selfishness wouldn't want me to live in someone else's universe. If my friends write or draw, it's really difficult for me to say nice things about it. Of course if it's bad, everyone has that problem, but if it's good, deep down I think "Why didn't I do that before you?" This doesn't mean I don't love the people who love me, that would be a jerk thing to do, and I don't think I'm a jerk. I will congratulate anyone, I will be honest about how great their stuff is, and tell them where they need to work, even if I'm not at their skill level.

It makes me feel pretty bad that I can't be genuinely pleased on any and all emotional levels, but I like to think we're all like that to some extent. If your friend won the lottery, you'd congratulate them (if you're not a jerk), but you'd wish it were you. I think for me, people who can draw better than me are the ones who are wealthier. Does that mean that I consider the real currency of the world to be creativity and skill? I like to think so. I've always disliked the idea of money, even though it's a very necessary thing in every part of the world, and by no means is it evil. (I have a theory that any society advanced enough won't have money, but maybe I'll go into that later.) So when someone is richer than me in proficiency of creativity, I'm going to be envious of their wealth.

So, back to the creativity balloon that is me. I said that I do "Whomp!" as a way to exude that smelly liquid that builds up in me. Although, I might not even call it an urge to "create" to begin with, but the urge to "make". When I was a kid, I'd find things that I could possibly draw from things like video game manuals, and paused cartoons. Anything that had a solid line that I could reproduce was fair game. Obviously it's not very creative to draw like this, but I always felt that was one of my shortcomings. As I learned to draw people more, I could never do much more than a 1/4 turn of the body in a pretty normal standing pose. I simply couldn't think of how else people would move. I still have this problem, and the only way I can avoid it is by actually making some sort of story that requires the characters to move. It's why "Whomp!" is more about expressions and movements than words. If every "Whomp!" could be a wordless comic, it would be.

That's not to say I don't love language, because I do. If I'm not drawing, I tend to be writing. I like to think up stories to write, though it doesn't happen as often as I'd like. I've written a full-length novel (twice, and probably going to rewrite again) and it was extremely satisfying. At every moment I got to feel the same things my characters did at every junction of the story. I sat down and wrote three pages a day. This was a great way to milk the urge-to-make out of my bloated body until I found something more fulfilling.

I also really like the idea of making games. But, I also hate people who say "I have an idea for a game." Unfortunately, that's what I'm saying here. I'll get into "ideas" in a later post. I have some experience with programming, so I've spent tons of time trying to make my own games a reality, but I always fail miserably. I always have a game that I'd love to see made, and whenever I find a game that even comes close to the one in my mind, I blow so many hours playing it that I end up jealous (there it is again!) that I didn't make it first. I've played around a lot with the Unity3D engine which is really great for indie developers, but there's a short-circuit in my brain that doesn't let me see logic systems properly. I can syntax like a beast, but when the logistics are involved, I really get turned upside-down. It's a great regret of mine, and I hope to some day have the resources or contacts to rectify my urge to create games.

For a while I did papercraft. I really admired the work of one guy whose stuff you can find here. I had already been trying to do it myself for a while when I was talking about it in my linkshell (Final Fantasy XI guild equivalent.) So one guy said "Oh yeah, I do papercraft." I was excited to find someone else who liked it, and I came to find out that it was the same guy whose work inspired me to begin with! Fancy that, our VERY small social guild on one of twenty different servers, each with thousands of people on them at any one time, and I meet the guy who inspired me to do the thing I like doing at the time I liked doing it. I knew he played FFXI, but that was still a one in a half-million chance meeting. So, he helped me a lot. He introduced me to the program Pepakura and taught me the proper ways to do things, and even set up models I wanted to do that I was having trouble making into proper pepakura models. (Pepakura, by the way, is an interesting insight into Japanese language [which, as I stated, language is something I greatly enjoy] Pepa = Paper, Kura = Craft. If you said it quickly with a Japanese accent, it would sound a lot like Paper Craft. There are many MANY English words like this in Japanese.) Papercraft was fun while I did it, and it's always great to make something three dimensional with your own hands. It wasn't creative at all, though, and maybe that's why it didn't hold my attention. It only satisfied that "urge to make", which is very superficial.

I have toyed more than once with animation. I've learned Flash, but it's difficult for me to make things look up to my standard of quality. I see many Flash animations that are made entirely in Flash, and they always urk me a bit. Something about the way the lines are drawn in that program always look unnatural to me. I understand vector and all that, but I feel like Flash doesn't handle vector freehand very well. So the one animation I did end up producing was an intro to an animated series I had intended to create and voice myself. I did most of the work in Photoshop and Easy Paint Tool SAI, and just imported it into Flash. It wasn't until it was time to record the voices that I realized my sound equipment is horrible. (I have the best microphone $5 can get me from Wal-Mart. Isn't that enough?!) I'll try again with some better equipment some day. That said, right now I have a desire to do a music video of Ronnie & Co., but I have to tackle Flash again, and I'm not looking forward to it.

I've done a lot of things to try and quell the urge to create or urge to make, whichever tickles me at the time. I've tried guitar, piano, synthesizing music using software, I've made my own levels in Counter-Strike and made new textures for my equipment and characters in Final Fantasy XI. I've played with the idea of comic books, usually drawing a few pages and realizing I'm not where I want to be artistically. Back in my younger days of the internet, I made a couple anime music videos back when the RealMedia format ruled the world. (Yes, a 17MB episode of fansubbed Dragonball Z looks terrible. It makes an even worse music video).

So, then I found webcomics. Webcomics are like The Sixth Sense.

Kid: "I see bad webcomics. They're posting on the internet like regular comics. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're bad."
Doc: "How often do you see them?"
Kid: "All the time. They're everywhere."

I try desperately to not be one of the bad ones, but I sometimes wonder if constantly worry and fret that I am one of the bad ones -- that I am the worst one. Regardless, I find "Whomp!" to be a very effective means of eliminating some of my creative juices. Not all of them! But enough so that I can sleep without worries of my body, bloated with urge, rolling off the bed and wedging me between the bedside table and the chest-of-drawers.
Posted March 12, 2011 at 09:49 am
Holy poop guys. I've gotten over 37,000 hits in like the last 9 hours. (You guys are awesome.) The website has been going down for that reason though, so I'm looking for a new service now to handle this. Sorry! We will continue to update three times a week come hail or high water.
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