Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Zones, Signs, and the Fourth Wall

After two months into writing "Furble" it was time to branch the story out. Considering that timeframe encompassed a total of 8 strips, it made a lot of sense. Most "storylines" in non-serialized daily comics last 6 days, unless they also run into the Sunday strip (which is generally a full-color strip with more panes), so it was probably a good time to move onto a different story.

Since I did my submissions in groups of 4 (one month at a time) it's not uncommon for the strips to be thematically linked in groups of 4, however tenuous the link may be. There are definitely longer and shorter story arcs during the run, but this pattern will reappear.

This next group of 4 strips is actually a group of 3 and one unrelated strip. Because that's how life goes. Just when you think you've figured the patterns out, something comes to upset the basket.

Strip 9/166 - Close call!

There wasn't a Maple Street in Kiester. I'm honestly not even sure why I decided on that particular street name. It's a completely inconsequential bit of information, but one of those things that gives me pause. The creative process is such a mystery, and by my nature I need to analyze ever aspect of it and reconstruct it in my mind to fully understand it. Perhaps more thought should instead be directed at where the overly-long name "Do Not Cross Or You'll Get Squashed Zone" came from.

Strip 10/166 - Cutting down a perfectly good tree for a gag

I mean, really. What sign says "Tree Work Being Done"? Much less has it written out in sentence form. These are the things that I did not spend sufficient time thinking about when coming up with the comic. And, to top it off, another embarrassing spelling error.

To be honest. a lot of my spelling and grammar errors could have been prevented with a brief proof-read by my parents prior to committing to ink. Of course, that would require doing a draft in pencil, which I never did. Not being aware of all of the steps of creating a comic back in the day, it never occurred to me to draw and letter in pencil before making a final pass using indelible ink. While it would have increased the amount of time that it took to create my panels, they would have ultimately been cleaner. Now, if I had the tools I have today (iPads with Pencils and programs like Photoshop and Procreate) things might have transpired much differently.

Strip 11/166 - Well, that sign would have been nice to have earlier...

More signs! I think there was a song about that in the 70s

Strip 12/166 - Breaking the fourth wall (and the comic panel)

There it is. Possibly my most egregious spelling error, simply because it's so prominent and so obvious. I mean, even a cursory glance at the panel after creating it should have made it jump out at me like Furble jumping through the panel wall. Ugh.

Now we come to an entertainment concept that I absolutely adore: the Fourth Wall. You've likely heard the phrase "breaking the fourth wall" before, usually in relation to a television show, movie, or stage production. It often has to do with the actors addressing the audience directly, but can refer to any time entertainment acknowledges the fact that it is a production being witnessed by others that are not a part of that production. Bugs Bunny talked directly to the audience quite often. Zach Morris in Saved By The Bell would actually stop the entire show when he addressed the viewers. And, who can forget the meta-humor and breaks during the classic movie Wayne's World?

Comic strips are known to do this quite often. Garfield regularly speaks directly to the readers. The characters in Pearls Before Swine actually interact with the artist quite often. So, when Furble trips over a rock and launches himself into the next panel, thus making it obvious that he's in a comic strip, he puts himself in good company. Giving Furble a companion to converse with meant that I didn't have to rely on the trope to further the story during the strip, but it did get meta a fair amount. Meta can be fun, but unfortunately it doesn't always work. I was at a point where I thought it was "cool", though, so it didn't always have to work, in my mind at least.

I'll take "Things That Weren't Going To Get Me Syndicated" for $500, Alex.

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