Archive for December, 2010

Quick notes for the 20th Anniversary year of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

December 24th, 2010 by Reinder

Next year, it will be twenty years since I started work on the first Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan page. I started some time in May, 1991, self-publishing the first collection in 1992. That means that the period between May 2011 and May 2012 is the comic's twentieth anniversary year. My priorities for that year are:

1. Keeping the remasters going on a daily basis, or as close as I can manage without going nuts, through The Rite of Serfdom (350-ish pages plus 20 pages of 'nitpicks', comics in which I answered questions from readers and papered over inconsistencies) and into Feral (well over 100 pages and counting). In addition, making sure that some of those remasters finally show up on the main site - the remasters are actually in their fifth year already. I started doing the first ones early in 2006, and only the redrawn items have made it to the main site.

2. Creating a new story especially commemorating the 20th Anniversary. This will be a series of vignettes taking the fictional world up to the year 1012. That's about all I'm willing to say about it, except that the frequency and launch date are yet to be determined. All I have right now is notes.

3. Finish Feral in time it to get caught up with the remasters. This will probably include redrawing some of it, as I'm already looking at work from 2008 and thinking "I can do better now" - in spite of my infrequent drawing since then.

4. Launch some other comics in addition to ROCR. These may be related, or they may not.

5. Prepare Invasion for remastering. This will probably include redrawing some of it, and adding pages so the crossover aspect can be downplayed.

This is ambitious, but after three years, I'm finally coming to a point in my life where I have more art time again. And I'm itching to work on the comics again, in any way that I can.

Not on the list of priorities for the 20th anniversary year, because I am already working it, is ridding the website of its connections to the Modern Tales/Comicspace family of websites. This is not out of any ill will towards said group of websites, but just to simplify my online presence a bit and have fewer sites to work on. The archives on Modern Tales are now in noticeably worse shape than on either the main website or the Drunk Duck mirror where the remasters are currently running. meanwhile Comicspace has moved from being a marginally useful site for me to sell my original art on to a marginally bothersome annoyance. It is now run on a platform (WordPress) that is not, in my opinion, suited to the site's purpose, and as a result it has become a way for me to get spammed through channels that weren't available to spammers when it was on its original platform. It is not going to get any better either: while I am not privy to inside information at Comicspace, and no longer even keep up with what, if anything, it publically announced, it's clear from reading Comicspace co-founder Joey Manley's writing online that his focus is now elsewhere: specifically, with helping webcomics that already have a large readership but no business model to become financially succesful. This is in contrast with the original conception of Comicspace, which was to be a high-quality social network/site hosting toolkit for all webcomics. This is a wise decision, one that Aggie and I think is the best someone in Joey's position can make; but as I do not have a high readership, I'm not in his target group - so, time for me to move on. The links to Modern Tales and Comicspace on the main page have already gone; soon, ROCR on Modern Tales will be shut down and the advertising slots hosted through Comicspace's advertising branch reclaimed for something else.

This leaves me with Chronicles of the Witch Queen. I haven't discussed this with my COTW partners Geir and Daniel, but I expect that I will remove most of the updates from the past year (essentially: an unmaintained mirror of the remasters of the Corby Tribe storyline, plus a spin-off comic that has also stalled), create a front page for the site that clearly indicates the site's archived status, and hand over the keys to Geir and Daniel. They are working on a new story, but when that is ready to go, my schedule will be so full that for me to offer to do publishing work for them won't actually be doing them any favours. Better that that be clear from the get-go so they can take care of their own interests more effectively. They're both on my Christmas list, but as far as comics are concerned, it is time for me to move on. There may be cameos in the 20th anniversary storyline but that will be that.

One more recovered comic in the archives, plus why I am doing this

December 3rd, 2010 by Reinder

The latest missing comic to be added to the archives was the one for September 3, 2002, missing for eight years. This was one that I did not like the look of at all when I found it, so I took some time to redraw it. This new version is a big improvement on the original.

I spend a lot of time on the Corby Tribe remasters, which are currently running over on the Drunk Duck ROCR rerun/mirror site, off the main ROCR website. I do post the rediscovered comics on the main site as soon as they're ready to go, but the ones that are merely remastered are all posted on the Drunk Duck site only, for now. In this case, remastering means the coloured files are reassembled, mistakes and blemishes are fixed, they are re-texted inside the word balloons if needed, and in the case of The Corby Tribe, I edit and format the captions, combine them with the images in a page layout program, post-process the finished work some more in Photoshop and post the final image on the Drunk Duck mirror. Eventually, the remasters will also be posted on the main site, but that may take a while. Not until they're done.

It takes a lot of time that I could spend, say, working on Feral. In fact, 15 months ago, spending all that time on the project drove me up the wall and I had to quit. Then in January, my fleet of redundant production computers crashed redundantly, a lot of the new master files were lost, and that seemed to be that. One more long-term commitment that I had to bail out of. But I could never really put it to bed entirely, and now I am more motivated to do this than I am to work on Feral. I am putting off working on Feral to work on a storyline I finished eight years ago, and feeling very strongly that that is the best way to spend my very limited art time.

The reasons for this are two-fold: reason one is that if I spend two hours on Feral, I have a partly finished page that I will then have to work on for two or three more two-hour sessions, if I'm lucky enough to have time for two-hour drawing sessions (the art time situation has improved somewhat, but I rarely get more than two hours, after a working day at my day job, a commute and my currently less-than equal share of the household chores). On the other hand, if I spend two hours on the old stuff, I end up with half a dozen remastered comics, plus possibly the rediscovery of a lost comic, which I may or may not redraw. If I redraw, the production slows down to the same rate as if I was working on Feral but overall, I end up having a lot more output per hour spent.
The second reason is that while Feral is merely unfinished, The Corby Tribe is broken. The format is inconsistent, episodes are missing, some images that it seemed like a good idea to host off-site in 2002, are now gone, and the quality of the art is very uneven. I can't fix all of these problems completely, but I can't leave the work as it is. What is being posted on Drunk Duck, and will eventually be brought back to the main site, is the best shot I've got at making the story look decent again.
Actually, there is a third reason. Working on this feels right. I can focus on it without any effort, I can motivate myself to go up to my new studio space and actually do it, and I have a sense of artistic purpose when working on the remasters that I don't have when I work on anything else. And because I occasionally redraw a comic, I can see that I have in fact improved a bit in those eight years. This is a huge confidence-booster.

I do have plans to finish Feral, work on the backlog of earlier commissions and even do a completely new story next year for the 20th anniversary of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. But this comes first. First, I fix what is broken.