Saturday, 22 April 2017

Not Teaching: Week 42

After all the effort for the character bible, I got silence. Well, a couple of likes on Facebook. Until I tweeted at people. That still feels like a weird thing to do. I didn’t get back to Camp NaNo edits until Thursday, and even though I had the chance, I didn’t lower the bar from 60 hours. No chance I’ll make it, but I feel like I need to fail. That takes the pressure off for the future.
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Other than the massive Math-Tans work, I did some serial catchups. Tumblr's less of a thing now. T&T is running in the background, seems like someone read to Part 14 yesterday though, whacky. And my parents brought up memorabilia with their visit.

*
Item counts run Sunday (April 16) to Saturday (April 22).

Step Count: About 55,000. 19 stars.
Tuesday was low this week. Stars do still streak.

School Email Count: 61 New (3 sent)
It’s official, I have 6 Math for the 2017-18 school year.


Writing/Art Related Items:
 -Drew references for rest of trig, couple extras
 -Coloured all entries for Character Bible
 -Tidied up office area and filed all artwork
 -Wrote up a math locations summary and made new map

Camp NaNoWriMo: (10 hr previous)
 -“Algebra Girl” edits up to Entry 24 (9 hr)

Non-Writing Items:
 -Assembled cabinet desk and end table with Anne-Lise
 -Got most of presentation together for COMA @ UOttawa
 -Birthday dinner with relatives Saturday

POSSIBLE NEXT ITEMS:
 -Math presentation Tuesday
 -Medical appointment Wednesday
 -School festival outing Thursday
 -Birthday outing
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about AFEMO Conference (from Oct)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Local Dairy Queen was closed yesterday, open today. Guess it’s spring.
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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Not Teaching: Week 41

Lots of work on the math serial, not so much on what I actually slated for the Camp NaNoWriMo thing. Or on staying caught up with other serials. I definitely run with something once I grab it. Also, stubbornness.
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*
Item counts run Sunday (April 9) to Saturday (April 15).

Step Count: About 53,500. 22 stars.
Low Sunday, led to late walk Friday to keep pace.

School Email Count: 55 New (2 sent)
We’re into Easter now.



Writing/Art Related Items:
 -12 hrs to pull together an all characters Math-Tans bible
 -Drew references for all conics, other functions, began trig
 -Started work into next Any ~Qs Series
 -RRL T&T edits for 38, 39 and Post-Book-1 post.

Camp NaNoWriMo:
 -“Algebra Girl” edits up to Entry 12 (9 hr)

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Yoga Monday
 -Math meeting & Minutes Monday
 -Winter tires off Thursday
 -Swept out deck, garage; raked yard

POSSIBLE NEXT ITEMS:
 -Medical appointment Wednesday
 -Get presentation together for COMA @ UOttawa
 -Dinner with relatives Saturday
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about AFEMO Conference (from Oct)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Doctor Who is back. Really not much to say this week.
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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Not Teaching: Week 40

As promised, I actually tidied the desk a little. Been keeping up with serials and comments for the most part this week, though not quite to the point where I feel I can cross it off the “Next Items” list. Ktee came into existence, which is more a reference for me than anything else. Meanwhile, outside, I can actually see my lawn; I think I’ll stop chipping away at the ice fields now.
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*
Item counts run Sunday (April 2) to Saturday (April 8).

Step Count: About 56,100. 20 stars.
High Monday, low Thursday. Stars keep streaking.

School Email Count: 54 New (2 sent)
Surprisingly uneventful.

Five week desk-view time.

Writing/Art Related Items:
 -Produced Monday’s comic (draw, ink, colour)
 -Drew future characters for April T&T posts
 -Wrote out T&T Commentary 27, queued April posts
 -Drew references for all polynomial characters
 -Drew and inked comic #300 for Monday

Camp NaNoWriMo:
 -Pulled “Algebra Girl” into separate files for edits (1 hr)

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Yoga Monday
 -Dinner with friends Monday
 -By-election voting Monday (research)
 -Airbag replacement appointment Tuesday
 -Brunch with friends Saturday

POSSIBLE NEXT ITEMS:
 -Math meeting & Minutes Monday
 -Get presentation together for COMA @ UOttawa
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about AFEMO Conference (from Oct)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Kind of a dull week, maybe I was due.
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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Not Teaching: Week 39

I signed up for “Camp NaNoWriMo” this past week. Because I’m crazy. After all, I only just got through all the guest stuff for April Fools; Anne-Lise herself has remarked on how I still seem to be as busy now as when I teach. What is this concept, “relaxing”?

Still, I’m hoping the NaNo stuff gets me editing November’s effort. It’s the sort of thing I should probably send to “Ink & Insights” before the end of May. I also may be doing a serial guest post for someone in May, and I’ll need to write that. And I’ve got the idea for a new column entitled "BIAS: Becoming Informed About Statistics". So much writing.
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Except I need to get my comic to #300 first, and do a new character page, and find out more about “Top WebComics”. Also, gotta tidy my desk for a new photo. OH! And today’s a first - three posts on this blog on the same day. I try to NEVER post twice in a day, since it’s often so sporadic anyway, but it only makes sense for April 1st. (I cued up both “Behind the Scenes” posts for the same time. The first one cued did post “first”.) So yeah, I’m constantly going at 88mph. Isn’t that normal for everyone?

*
Item counts run Sunday (March 26) to Saturday (April 1).

Step Count: About 59,600. 23 stars.
After more than a double day (Monday walk to yoga and pub, 11 stars), I had a lesser day. Still on a stars streak though.

School Email Count: 79 New (3 sent)
Apparently the District Review of our school is finally going ahead next week. Only took years.


Writing/Art Related Items:
 -Drew and inked comic for Monday
 -Finished reading research for April Fools comic
 -Created entire April Fool Guest comic
 -Finished “Behind the Scenes” post for Serial
 -Wrote “Behind the Scenes” post for comic
 -Finished all of “Anime North 2016” recap
 -Read and posted WFG April Fool 2017 master list
 -Signed up for 60 hrs of Camp NaNoWriMo
 -Started re-edits on T&T, Book 2

Non-Writing Items for the past week:
 -Yoga Monday
 -Dinner with friends Monday

POSSIBLE NEXT ITEMS:
 -By-election voting Monday (research)
 -Airbag replacement appointment Tuesday
 -Post recap about CanCon 2016 (from Sept)
 -Post recap about AFEMO Conference (from Oct)
 -Catch up with web serials I’ve enjoyed
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the paper clutter from school
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -Do another Parody Math Video
 -French Citizenship project
 -Actually market some of my creative stuff
 -Binging Anime (Magical Index)
 -Binging Anime (Steins Gate)
 -Binging Anime (RWBY borrowed from Scott)
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

Ended up back at HMV again. Couple cheap CDs. Also, key files are backed up!
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Guessed Drawing 2017

Since 2015, I’ve done written ‘April Fools’ guest updates for other serial authors. (Jim Zoetewey with “Legion of Nothing”, J.A. Waters with “SyncPoint”, and this year, Unice5656 with “Fantasia”.) This year, 2017, I extended that to guesting for a comic. Why? To stretch myself.

I’d dropped by a few #WebComicChat last year, going so far as to monitor the group on Facebook. Then I got wrapped back up in my serials. But on March 5th, Sarah Driffill proposed an April Fools exchange, where you make a page for the person who comments above you, signup deadline March 20th. At the time, I didn’t want to commit until my calendar was effectively “clear”, but I made a note to check back the weekend of the 18th.

On the 18th, I was pretty confident in my ability to get through my serial reading and update within a week, so I looked for the thread. And someone had just signed up earlier that day. So I took it to be a sign, and signed up myself - which meant I was writing for Rulo Potamo’s “M9 Girls!”. And since I’ve blogged about the creative process for my guest serials, why not do the same for the drawing?


"I Hope You Dance", Lee Ann Womack

As always, there are spoilers below for my entry, and to a lesser extent, “M9 Girls!” itself, because I go in depth as to how I approached the final product. Go read it first, if you haven’t yet.


BACKLOGS


My initial feeling was that a webcomic would read faster than a serial (fewer words) but take longer to produce the guest update (I draw slower than I write). I checked in initially to get a sense of “M9 Girls!” after the sign up, then resumed my serial work. I returned to it on Friday the 24th, opening a file for storing information.

The first thing I (belatedly) realized was that it was Mexican in origin, with an English version, which is awesome, though alas I don’t speak Spanish. The second thing was that it really was right up my alley, more of a science/magical girls fusion than the latter. The third thing I spotted was that they’d done a number of prior crossovers - including one with Cesium Comics! I read that one. Small world.


I jotted down key information about the four protagonists, peeked at supplemental sites (TV Tropes), then finally started into the archive. My first thought, after the first arc (Tangents) was that there was a friend character (Golden) who might be useable. (She was in the Cesium Comics crossover too.) Maybe she gets a random power which super deforms the universe and I try to draw in that style? (Avoids trying to mimic a certain style.)

By the time I got into the fifth arc (Allegiances) I realized that Golden was less a “Naru” (from Sailor Moon) type of character, and more a “Green Ranger” (from Power Rangers) type of character. So I rejected the initial idea. Around the same time, I stumbled into the first crossover with “Groovy, Kinda”, stated as possibly canon (in some timeline) when Rulo mentioned that Anahi “cannot read Stephanie’s robotic emotions”. (I read all the comments when I go through backlogs for this sort of thing.)

In the crossover, there was some question of Clau making a dimension portal. I got to thinking, if she can dimensional portal (or at least be blamed for it), maybe a time portal? (As my inner voice goes noooo, not more time travel, you overdo that!) I decided to detour and look at other crossovers for more thoughts. There were two done “serial style”, with “Ruby Nation” and “Princess Chroma”. The latter involved Any’s time bubble being shifted to the past. So maybe Any makes the portal? Leading to Clau talking temporal movies with herself, Pato claiming it’s a hologram generator? (I can’t escape time travel.)

Back to the on-site archive. The other thing I’d realized by then about “M9 Girls!” is it’s had a few different artists. So I felt a little less pressure, given how my regular style is pretty different. In fact, there were previous April Fools posts, and at one point a sequence of guest artists. By the end of arc six (Revelations) I was considering a three panel spread, all of them looking at a time portal. As I caught up completely, I realized things had shifted a bit dark, and I should probably go for broke - maximize silliness.


BRAINSTORMING


I’d gotten through all that researching by about mid-day Sunday. I emailed Rulo to update him on when he’d expect something (I figured Wednesday), and my very first random attempt was the following, tracking all characters in each panel:
PANEL 1: KARLA: What is that? ; ANY2: A time portal I created! ; CLAU *thinks*: Phew, not my fault. (Any motions for stop; Pato deadpan)
PANEL 2: ANY2: I bring a message from your past. ; ANY: My PAST? That’s nonsense. ; KARLA: It must be a dimensional rift. (eyes Clau) ; CLAU *thinks*: Ack! My fault? (Pato deadpan)
PANEL 3: ANY2 (turning): Oops, my bad. Simon, I thought we fixed this? ; CLAU *thinks*: Phew, not my fault. ; PATO: Girls, this is obviously a gag. (Any rolls eyes; Karla confused)

Keeping the characters mostly in a row would mean not having to worry about legs, or possibly even hands, which meant a bit less worry about relative heights and, well, hands. (I suck at hands.) I grabbed onto particular elements of their hairstyles to help for differentiation, which is probably no surprise given how hairstyles are central to my math characters.

It was about this time on Sunday when I noticed a message from Charlie Wise, from “Groovy, Kinda”. He was messaging me on FB about the writing for my comic. (I’d been so caught up in M9 that I’d forgotten someone would be writing for me.) We ended up chatting a bit about comic history and the like that evening, leaving me feeling even more at ease overall.


First sketches
Here’s what my first sketches looked like on that Sunday, along with an extremely rough thumbnail drawing. After a bit of thought, I decided to pull Karla out into her own, separated first panel, to shake things up a bit. Also, it meant I could have 4 background colours to match the 4 girls. Why use Karla? Well, she started my dialogue, plus she’s my favourite.

(Sidebar: I know, for me that’s weird, right? A time girl who wears blue isn’t my favourite? Maybe it’s that, unlike my Carrie, Any is also an empath and a bit of a romantic... and I’m not sure I’d want Any in my mind. Plus Karla’s so nice to everyone, even Golden; she’s a bit like Laurie, but less innocent? I don’t know. Whatever, could be the pink. ANYway.)

On Monday, I got back into my written serial swap, with final proofreading and sending things off. That afternoon I did some new sketches of the M9 Girls, going beyond heads and playing with the eyes. I also worked out the dimensions I would probably need. I roughed everything out on a single sheet of paper, like usual - I’m all hand-drawn. Then I decided, no, screw it, I’m not as familiar with this group of characters, I need more space to play around with. Instead of 1 page = 1 comic, as usual, I was going to do 1 page = 1 panel.

On Tuesday, I drew the panel order (Any2, Any, Clau, Karla, Pato) and set up borders in an online template file. I scanned the art in to check size reduction. As I started tossing in word bubbles, I realized something - Karla’s and Clau’s bubbles were going to have to criss-cross in the middle panel. Not good. My thumbnail process has been getting progressively lazier this year, and here was the result.

Well, I could swap the order of the two of them. In the first panels (already drawn by that point), the bodies were separated enough that a cut/paste was easy enough.

With that first panel, I’d also realized that Karla was going to have to look LEFT... off the sheet, to be consistent with the second panel. (I tried her looking right, it looked wrong.) And I couldn’t reverse everybody, Pato needed the last laugh in Panel 4. The direction was sub-optimal (the human eye tends to follow, drifting off page), so I decided I really didn’t want Any2 turning her head in the last panel the same way (to address Simon or anyone else “behind her”). So, I switched it to address Clau directly, which let me portray a silly Clau-freakout instead.

I snipped up the first panel, finally drew the last one, and then re-drew the middle one.  Clau was a bit too tall, so I made like she was jumping backwards. The now “unused” second panel was handy for relative locations in drawing the rest there - in fact, you can see it below, in this interim trial version. (I often scan in to adjust word balloons this way before inking.) I had also looked up the inverted question mark, and upon learning that in comics it could denote unspoken uncertainty when paired, I gave it to Karla.


Interim pencil sketching



THE ENTRY


Each panel had taken between 30 to 60 minutes to draw (not much longer than average, really - the larger space may have helped). On Tuesday night I added a bit more detail (like lines on Karla’s outfit), inked over the pencils, erased them, and rescanned everything (as you do). In theory, the hard part was done.

On Wednesday, it was time to deal with colouring by computer. (One of these days, I might learn shading, but for now my style remains solid fill.) I started by whiting out the text bubbles and eyes/mouths, because the pages are always greyscale after scanning. Then I flattened, like normal. (I did keep the text floating, in case Rulo wanted a Spanish version.)

Eye colours, I already had from my story, as well as a portal effect (from the box function days). Skin tone... I felt like it should be darker than my usual “default white”, but not “brown skin” like Sine, so I played around a bit until I got something I liked. (I made them all the same, I didn’t want to differentiate the girls to that extent.) For the hair colours and costumes, I’d saved a couple of “M9 Girls!” files for references, thus went back to them, and eyedropper grabbed what I thought was a “nice enough pixel” to use for the whole hair/outfit.

The gauzy parts of Clau’s and Pato’s outfits had me play with opacity a bit. The backgrounds were easy enough (pink, blue, white, purple), though I went for something of an “off white/yellow” in the middle one, since the regular background and text bubbles were already white. I wondered about including my usual little copyright, and finally settled for having the date in the corner. I then flatted a jpg version, and pasted over crossbar I’s. That whole process? About three hours. Longer than usual, but I have this bad tendency to zoom in and fix errant pixels.

At that point, I set everything aside for a couple more hours, to write this. Wondering if it would trigger an “oh shoot, I was going to...” moment. (I swear, one of these days, I’ll stop forgetting to draw coefficient watches on my own characters.) But nope. And unlike serial writing, where I keep messing with the wording, that’s not really possible here. I fixed a curious text spacing issue, lamented the curve of Karla’s face in panel one that would have to be good enough, and... done.


Almost. Charlie had sent me my comic earlier that morning (it’s AWESOME and AMAZING), prompting me to ask him if he had a title in mind. So after a bit of thought, I pre-emptively sent Rulo “Time Out”, as a possible title. And that’s how it all came together, by 1pm on Wednesday the 29th.


CONCLUSION


I definitely stretched myself, having never drawn a strip for anyone else. I count myself lucky to have ended up with Rulo, as my own comic happens to be primarily female characters with particular hairstyles, and the artists for “M9 Girls!” have varied art styles that didn’t intimidate me too much. It was also a really fun read. And on the other side, Charlie Wise even asked about adding me to his links (prompting me to make some of my own updates on my site). I’m hoping to maintain my ties with the FB group here, I need to stop dropping off the map.

Insecurities and doubts? Not to the same extent as the writing, curiously enough. Possibly because of how I fancy myself a writer more than an artist, so I have less at stake... if people hate it, I bury my head back in the sand and move on (possibly putting the comic on another hiatus to focus on writing). It’s almost scarier to think this might be wildly successful, meaning I’ll need to work harder at it. ;) Time will tell. If I hear from more than two people, that’ll be a step up from the last few years.

Thanks for reading about my comic drawing process! Comment below if anything interesting jumped out at you (I try to reply to all comments), and/or find me on the internet here:


-Any ~Qs, the webcomic about personified math functions, currently dealing with a derivative virus. It also had an April Fool post today. Updates Mondays, or whenever I feel like it.

-Time & Tied, the serial where a teenage girl has a time travel destiny that affects both her and her friends. On RoyalRoadL, it’s posting daily, finishing end of August (if I keep up with edits). On my site, it’s posting weekly, finishing end of May.

Guessed Writing 2017

On April 1st, 2015, I wrote an ‘April Fools’ update for Jim Zoetewey at “Legion of Nothing”. Then I blogged about the creative process. On April 1st, 2016, I wrote an ‘April Fools’ update for J.A. Waters at “SyncPoint”. Again, I blogged about the process. Well, here we are again.

This year I got Unice5656’s story Fantasia. I swear, I really luck out with these things, because the main characters are always ones that I can mentally synch up with. More or less. Kudos to Alexander Hollins and/or his randomizing generator.


"I Hope You Dance", Lee Ann Womack

As always, there are spoilers below for my “Fantasia” story entry, and to a lesser extent, Unice’s entire story itself, because I go in depth into how I approached the final product. So go and read it first, if you haven’t yet.


BACKLOGS


I had a little over 50 entries to read, each around 3,000 words. I figured this would take me about a week. Yes, I’m kind of a slow reader, because I need processing time (but also recognize I wanted to be taking notes too). Still, that gave me flex time (the assignment was given at the start of March), so I got a few other things dealt with first (including a guest post at Time2TimeTravel and a special for my webcomic on March 14) before starting to read in earnest on Wednesday, March 15th.

Full disclosure: The “being inside a fantasy game” style of story isn’t one I’m really familiar with. But I have seen some related anime (where you tend to be trapped inside), and I play D&D, so I’m not completely adrift. In some sense, it’s better without the history, I don’t have any preconceptions. (Also, I’m not into Pokemon, but I have watched Linkara’s “Let’s Plays” for Omicron.)

Like the last couple years, I was aiming to not be immediately recognized as a different writer (more a gradual “wait..."), while simultaneously offering a window into the given universe (main characters, rules, etc) for the benefit of anyone who was only reading “April Fool” entries. I started by noting every character and NPC name that came up, and copied over most of the early stats, though my rigour with that faded as it faded in the narrative. I also read every comment, to get a sense of the audience.

I’d emailed briefly with Unice in advance, and she seemed fine with me commenting as I go (obvious in retrospect, from her Author Notes). Luckily, I’d signed into RRL some months ago, so I didn’t have to make an account (a reason I hadn’t done this in 2016).

So as I read, I’d occasionally point out small inconsistencies or spelling items along with story commentary. Unice was nice enough to give me “Fantasia Proofreader” levels, and by the time I was caught up (a week later, as predicted), I’d “earned the title Fantasia Editor”. Which (along with being fun) I suppose helps give me credibility?


BRAINSTORMING


My first major thought occurred before any of the main characters (outside of Fey) were introduced, namely that Fey meet the (or “an”) in-game Arwyn. My second major thought came before Chapter 20, namely that there’s some emergency back in town. And maybe Fey could suggest killing herself (or suggest it to someone else) as a way of getting there sooner (it being a respawn point). Of course, that death shouldn’t happen - probably because of Leandriel’s flight power, if I put him nearby - but I thought it might be a sufficiently outside-the-box “Fey-like” idea (if it could be painless).

Shortly after that, I had this whole vague scene idea form, where Fey was back in the infinity dungeon taking out revenge on the level 22 rays, and Arwyn went to fetch her, because some elves were upset with Tallen, what with him not being an elf. Maybe trying to run him out of town? Though maybe not that, because that’s vaguely racial, which could be controversial. A wood argument? Some reason to need to get back fast. And as I’m playing around with this in my head - Fey left town.

So, never mind. True, that idea could always be adapted to a new setting, but I wanted to explore more options too, particularly after the time skip of Chapter 27. The next idea? In Chapter 31, commenter “readerdreamer5625” wondered if a ‘Bard’ character could be created (and have the Feypets eat his flute). Unice responded that she might make a bard, but he would more likely play the violin. Hmm, I’ve played a bard in D&D.

New thought: Create a gay bard, who might hit on Blade, confusing everyone. His violin bow could double as a magic wand, and maybe he fires off magical girl attacks. I can put him in the same party as my initial “Arwyn”. Shortly thereafter, Requiem turned up, and Sirena went “bard”, and so, yeah... another idea I set aside. Except for the notion that "Arwyn" might be travelling with a group.

In Chapter 38 comments, someone remarked on the weird mushroom guy, Unice responding “That weird mushroom guy probably won't show up again. Just imagine him making weird drugs that cause Magic's status effects.” So I could totally use him; maybe he’s farming mushrooms near NewTown, and Fey is implicated from when Magic was there? That’s nice, it makes for a link to Leandriel. Things started to coalesce.

Then the Drain Spore mushrooms came up a second time (as Magic evolved to a new form), and there was the random remark in-game of “fitting themselves into the ecosystem” (by KevinO), and I decided I had my plot. Then Fey returned to the Moonwood. So the final piece snapped into place in my head - I’d form Arwyn’s party based on previous people Fey had encountered there. (It's not me being too lazy to make new characters, really. It's kinda trickier because personalities exist.)


THE ENTRY


I caught up with the reading the morning of Thursday, March 23rd (as Chapter 53 was published). I only started writing my entry that evening, and I finished it about a day later. Yes, I write way faster than I read, largely because a lot of the writing is already done in my head.

Looking back over my notes, Eli and Terra had been stand-out Player Characters, and Stelli made for a handy hook into Arwyn meeting Fey. (With Eli as a warrior and Terra as a mage, it even made sense to make Arwyn an archer.) Based on the end of Chapter 53, I figured an initial login scene meeting Arwyn, then a scene setting up the mushroom problem, a scene with Leandriel and Magic somehow, then the wrap-up. I had the luxury of up to 3,000 words to play with, so didn’t need to worry about pacing that very specifically.


Fey’s “speaking in increasing sentences” thing came randomly from how Fey’s initial answers as I wrote were 1-2-3 words in length. Having Terra be offline helped demonstrate the world building for new readers, while also explaining why she’d end up with Eli, who had been at a much lower level. The parenthesis narrator was another way to let me tip off new readers who might not otherwise know world details (while perhaps punning randomly).

Even as I wrote, I wasn’t sure how Fey would solve the mushroom problem. Turn the mushrooms into something else? Transplant them elsewhere? I decided to actually have MushroomGuy watching, so she could simply tell him to leave the poor shrooms alone. It meant the entry was a little on the short side (no special effects needed), but I didn’t want to pad for the sake of padding.

So yeah, that all took 24 hours, off and on. With the entry finished on Friday evening, I hammered out the first draft of this post, then set everything aside for the whole weekend. Because I was also doing a Guest Comic this year, and needed to put a significant dent in my work on that.

I gave my writing another scan Sunday night before bed, then on Monday morning, I went back to read the “Side Stories” (which I’d deliberately avoided until then). I wanted to get myself back into the “Fantasia” headspace with something fresh. (I wondered whether to make to make an extra “side story” reference to those, but decided against it.) I roughed out an “Author Note” at this point, did final random sentence changes over and over and over and -- okay, just send the thing. (I’d already received my own Guest Entry the previous night, from Michael Fitzgerald. Check him out at “Existential Terror and Breakfast”! He does a comic there too.)


CONCLUSION


When I first sent my entry off, I thought “this is great, totally fits the genre”. Within a day, my opinion had shifted 180 degrees to “everyone will know it’s fake and also hate me for portraying the main character that way”. (I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that much whiplash before.) After a bit more back and forth with Unice in email, I’ve reached a mental middle ground, something like “it’s an amusing diversion that will be chuckled at, then forgotten”.

As to long term effects? Well, the last two years I’ve done this swap, it’s created a “view spike”... followed by a trailing off to business as usual. (I think I picked up one or two readers via Jim’s audience, less sure about J.A.) So on the one hand, I’m not anticipating much - but on the other hand, I *am* posting T&T archives to RRL. Will that make a difference? I currently have 6 followers there. Maybe that will double, to 12? I suppose if it does, this can be earmarked a... I was going to say success, but let’s go with satisfaction.

Thanks for reading about my writing process! Comment below if anything interesting jumped out at you (I try to reply to all comments), and/or find me on the internet here:


-Time & Tied on Royal Road Legends (or my original website), where a teenage girl has a time travel destiny that affects both her and her friends. On RRL, it’s posting daily, finishing end of August (if I keep up with edits). On my site, it’s posting weekly, finishing end of May.

-Any ~Qs, the webcomic about personified math functions, currently dealing with a derivative virus. It also had an April Fool post today. Updates Mondays, or whenever I feel like it.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Anime North 2016: II

This is a continuation of “Anime North 2016”, the 20th Anime North, now with more talk of art. Click here if you missed part one.


SATURDAY’S END


I left the kinks panel early (see, you should’ve read part one!) to have time to glance in the Manga Library before meeting my wife at the anime “Fresh From Japan” by 3pm. I forget what I checked out. The closest I have to a clue is a cryptic note about how 3/11 is the Japanese 9/11, because March 11, 2011 was the date of the big earthquake and tsunami (phones went down, ‘net was up). Guess the manga wasn’t that memorable.

Reaching “Fresh”, they had already played some “Fairy Tail Zero” (a prequel to ‘Fairy Tail’) and “Divine Gate”. I saw an episode of “Assassination Classroom” which, ehhh, not for me, but watchable. Then “Dimension W”. Okay, THAT was interesting. (Checking in the here and now of 2017, apparently picked up by Funimation.)


Expona by Ruuari
(Second commission)
Verging on 4pm, went back to the Convention Centre, I think to pick up my artwork (of note, one was going to be mailed/posted to me, first time for that option). I liked the Alijda so much (see prior post) I commissioned the artist a second time. Also bought stuff (pretty sure it was at this point, not earlier?). Some dealer was selling wall scrolls for cheap, and I found a bunch of “Nanoha” ones, so yoink on those five (young Nanoha, young Fate, swimsuit Nanoha, two StrikerS Nanoha). Also bought regular outfit Nanoha and Fate figmas from the same guy as last year's purchase. Then food/dinner at 5:30pm (hopefully before the rush?).

After food, I’m pretty sure I dropped items off back at the hotel (can’t be certain, but 22,420 steps on the day implies the trip). Spun back by artists shortly before Dealer’s closed at 8pm to get second commission (see above). Saw a pretty amazing cosplay of Fate Testarossa on the way out, and got pictures. Alas, the 8pm panel on “Anime vs Science” was FULL. So I wandered by the video rooms. Saw at least an episode of “Witchblade” (interesting but big on action, not looking it up now), and some of “Waiting in the Summer” (same director as “Ano Hana”, just spent more time looking at that one). 

A little before 10pm I went to “Fannish Music 101”, which was right after the Kari Maaren and Kraken concerts, so I got to say “hi” (and bought the CD of Kari that I didn’t have yet, the one with “Being Watson”). The filk panel was headed by Peggy Lalonde and Sally Hedford, the term defined as “the folk music of people who like speculative fiction and fantasy”.

Having been to variations on this panel through the years, I didn’t take many notes. There was talk of how communities these days are more online, posting music, not knowing about physical gatherings. Also “symphony orchestras are cover bands for the 1800s” and FAWM (February Album Writing Month). At 11pm things shifted to “Open Mic”. What the heck, I had my laptop, I performed “Polar Plot” which got some laughs, and a number of other people sang as well.

I left around midnight, checking the video rooms again en route. One room was doing a Marathon AMV Special, spent some time there. Another was showing “Library Wars” an anime which, well, at least warranted me making a note. Then there was the “Cream Lemon” retrospective, good for a bit of a laugh. I’m not sure exactly when I left, but (much like Friday) I was back in my hotel room for 1:30am (and it’s not a short walk).


SUNDAY


As often happens when I’m in the area, I met up with my parents for breakfast. Got back to the Convention after 10am. I remember having an interest in the “Precure Movie” but either the room was full or something else was going on, because I ended up in “Sugar Buzz Theater” instead. (Same difference?)

They were playing “Minky Momo in Tabidachi no Eki” (an OAV sequel with Momo) about people meeting on a bridge, which was okay I guess. Then a “Viva Happy” short (Hatsune Miku), a promo(?) for some anime where microphones become light sabres (and that search has led me to "AKB0048", an anime where idols fight because they are outlawed, now you must watch the OP/EDs because that’s somehow a thing), and then “Sugar*Soldier”. Also, “Jewel Pet” (with Laura in France?).

Around 11:30am there was a “Comic Artist Roundtable”, so a bit after the start I went to where I thought that was (Plaza C), but it turned out to be “Voice Acting, Behind the Scenes”? Neither volunteer seemed to know what the room change was about. I listened briefly to the “Voice Acting” thing, because they were talking about voice libraries.

Actors need to do “grunts and groans” every time that’s in the script, but things that may be trying on the voice (eg. evil laughs) are done once, and archived. Particularly useful if it becomes a character quirk. Then they had some volunteers to demonstrate “short” (half sec), “medium” and “long” laughs. I headed back out.

I went back over to the Dealer’s Area, and had a look at the “Shojo Anime Poster Exhibition”, which included a handout identifying the various “Heroine Typology”. It breaks down the common traits for everything from Magical Girls to Gun Bunnies to Harem Girls to Female Bishonen (including examples). Also, my second commission from Shirochya was ready. 


Sine by Tannistha
(Mailed out, arrived in June)
Also, I ended up back in the Dealer’s City. Do I really need a transformed Fate figma? I bought so much stuff yesterday. But it’s marked down below $100, and would be a nice counterpoint to the Nanoha I have. As I’m debating, the guy notices my interest and takes another $10 off. Sale. >.<

At 1pm, I was aiming for “Railgun S, Season 2”; I own Season 1 and have read the manga for this part of the story, and wanted to see if it was worth a purchase. Turned out to be English dub, but that was fine... and it impressed me enough that I bought the first part from HMV during their “going out of business sale” last week.


ON COMICS


I then went to a rehash of sorts from 2015 - Loomis Heads with Kent Burles. Except in 2015 I’d been considering turning personified math into a webcomic. In 2016 I was actually DOING it, and figured that would give a fresh perspective. I mentioned back in the 2015 recap then how the trick is to have a delicate touch; still the case. “Line quality is your first line of defence.”

Pencil types came up again. “H” (light) pencils promote bad drawing. “B” (soft) pencils make marks more easily - you can always press harder once you have something you like. DON’T use mechanical pencils, they produce a dead weight line. “Draw from the inside out” was said again (as if things are made of glass), start with simple shapes, not detail. “The more mistakes you make, the better you get - the more problems you can identify, and it frees you.”

From there, into the Andrew Loomis heads. (No oval heads!) Sphere with midline (brow line), vary the spacing to make less generic. Wherever the torso goes, the rest follows from that. Avoid schematic or Egyptian eyes; large pupils for friendly, small pupils for evil. Avoid the field of grass syndrome for hair; eyebrows are thicker at the end (bridge of nose), taper inwards. The further away you are, the more impressionistic; hair is a block, maybe hairs at end if thinning versus darker (heavier) brows.

From there, into hour two, “Comic Book Basics”. Before looking at the subject matter, people will look at your lines. Working roughly with a 9 by 6; printed page is SMALLER. Your first conception is your worst conception. Work as small as you comfortably can (thumbnail). Have an active mobile camera (not always same angle), shouting through goblet-vision, etc. May be transitional or splash pages.

A grid takes some decisions out of your hands. Good! Many decisions exist already. (Also, modified grid, like a six panel array but two of them combine.) Design from the dominant panel, ask yourself “what is the point of this page?”. It’s not about putting pretty pictures together, it’s about storytelling. Visual variety, visual rhythm, a moving journey. (Avoid the domino approach wasn’t written down here, but I’ll toss it in too.) Design the page first, the costume later. Again a mention of the different views, noting that the long shot is ‘Where’, the midrange is ‘Who’ and the close-up is the ‘Why’.

Kent then gave an exercise to try (like last year) but different scenario. Five panels: A magical character; on the battlements of a castle; looking out over a vast desert plain (flying item in distance); a dragon now almost on top of structure; gout of fire sent out. (So it wasn’t a person waking up surrounded by hooked figures, as in 2015.) I did a couple thumbnails, like last year, and stayed around to talk to him, like last year, though I waited until the end (due to last year), meaning it was closer to 4:30pm when I went to find Anne-Lise.

Final thoughts by Kent on my work: I have good ideas, but execution issues. Don’t do a “hanging L” (big panel cut in corner), better to add a strip underneath. Consider having your character central, but offset by structure (a taller rampart one side) rather than making your character less central. He’d shown gridlines at one point, so I tried it in a panel, and he noted they shouldn’t go past/above the horizon line choice. Then have your path (river, whatever) flow along the grid... leading the eye into the next panel (rather than into horizon). Track your vanishing point (where grid comes together), may give more horizon space. Consider Scott McCloud’s book “Making Comics” -- and if I’m back next year, remind him to pick a different 5-panel comic yet again. :)


Karl Z and Me (from Friday)
My wife mentioned to me that “One Week Friends” might be an anime for me to check out, and we swung by the 404s Anime Improv (all the way in the North Ballroom) for a quick look before 5pm. They were trying a new game at one point, “Objection!”. It’s a 2 min 30 sec scene, where one person is making an argument until they’re interrupted with “Objection!” and if the objection is valid, the interruptor gets to speak instead. The winner is the one speaking when time is up. So obviously interruptions are more frequent towards the end. (I only recall at one point the “Objection! I can’t read!” being followed up with the person saying the objector has a book.)

Then, yes, departing before 6pm for the long drive back, with the teaching happening on the next day.


FINAL THOUGHTS


I’ve only been to 20 of these "Anime North" conventions. LITERALLY half my life. I can quit any time I want to. I can! Actually, really, I can; it’s fun, and I still get something out of it (seeing old friends, tips for my hobbies, fingering the pulse of popular anime for the school club) but there isn’t a level of anticipation to it these days. Even if I did get more merchandise in 2016 than I think I did the prior couple years combined. >.<

I registered for AN2017 this past week (mental note: book hotel), but that’s partially due to the fact that it’s taking place on the same weekend as the 50th Anniversary of my middle school, which is in the area, so I can make it a two-for-one. There’s also the chance I’ll have to back out, depending on medical things outside my control. We’ll see!

I’m glad I went in 2016 though. And I’m glad you read this post! Hope you found something of use within the recap. Feel free to comment if you have your own thoughts.