Wednesday, July 27, 2022

My Nerdy Fandoms (or Totally Not a TARDIS)

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a nerd. Or, something like that.

I do know that one of my earliest memories of the movies was going to Star Wars in '78 when it was re-released in theaters. I was amazed by what I was seeing on the screen. The spaceships, the lasers, the aliens, it was all so fantastic. From that point on I was hooked. I became a card-carrying sci-fi/fantasy nerd.

Shortly after I was introduced to the wonders of that galaxy far, far away, another strongly similar concept appeared on our television screens, in the form of Battlestar Galactica. I was 5 going on 6 when it premiered, so I wasn't exactly critical of what was being portrayed, or ow it was being received. I saw more spaceships, more lasers, and more aliens. Of course, by the time Galactica 1980 rolled around, 8-year old me was starting to have a more discerning eye, and I had an idea it wasn't what the original series was. But, I digress.

A couple years later, strictly by a chance turn of the channel to our local PBS station one Saturday afternoon, I found myself watching a quirky British sci-fi show staring a man with a mop of curly brown hair and an impossibly long scarf. At the end of the story, he popped off with his assistant, Sarah Jane, in a blue police box. And thus, my obsession with Doctor Who began. It would be a few more years before I was able to see the seasons (and Doctors) that came before Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor. And while I've liked various aspects of all of the Doctors that have come before and after, Baker's Doctor remains "my Doctor".

Upon entering junior high school, I really expanded my interest in all things sci-fi and fantasy, not only because I truly loved it all, but more so that it was an escape from what was happening at school. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I got into reading sci-fi and fantasy, from The Lord of the Rings to the variety of AD&D novels to novelizations of various Doctor Who stories. 

While I had been a low-key fan of Star Trek (I didn't view it as favorably as Star Wars at the time), that all changed when Star Trek: The Next Generation graced airwaves. The stories were good (arguably better after the first season), the visual effects were better than anything that was on television at the time, and the characters were interesting. And though at the time it was probably an unpopular opinion, I was a fan of Wesley Crusher. As someone with an active imagination, I saw some of myself in him, and seeing him succeed on-screen gave me hope. While I will always love Star Wars just a bit more, I'm a full-on Trekkie.

All of this to say, don't be afraid to do what you need to do to be comfortable in your skin. You're the only person that you need to impress, no matter what everyone else thinks. Call it a lesson learned.

Strip 79 - Original lettering

Starting with this comic, I began lettering with a much thinner pen. While it mostly looked great in the paper, age did not serve it well, and the lettering has become hard to make out, as you can see in the original strip above. And, unfortunately, in some cases it didn't even make it through the paste-up process, so young archivist me tried to rescue the lettering with a ballpoint pen. Spoiler alert: it didn't go well.

So, from this point on, I've made the decision to re-letter each strip using a typeset font. This will both make the text legible, and keep things looking more consistent going forward.

Strip 79/166 - Totally not a TARDIS!

Last week, I talked about imitation. This strip, and many going forward, take place in a time machine. Made out of a cardboard box. That is larger on the inside. Yes, this can be attributed to not only Doctor Who, but also Calvin and Hobbes. As I said, if I would have been syndicated, I would have gotten a stern talking to from my editor.

Strip 80/166 - Poof, there it is!

I got better at onomatopoeia as the strip went on. I suppose I could have come up with a more complex sound design for the time machine disappearing and reappearing, a la the TARDIS, but *poof* seemed to serve it well.

Strip 81/166 - Puns, puns, puns, puns...

I find it interesting that, even though they are in the "frig" (yeah, yeah, I know) ostensibly with the doors closed,  the light appears to be on. It's fortunate, but and good to know that the milk will always be able to see where it's going.

Strip 82/166 - Oh, it's you again

Furble's nemesis returns once again. Like a bad penny, he seems to show up just when things are going well. Every hero needs a foil, and our admiral first the bill. But, how will he handle things this time around?

Tune in next week and find out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Sincerest Form (or A Behind-the-Scene's Look)

Once upon a time, someone said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That someone was Oscar Wilde. The full phrase, for those that don't know, is "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness". It definitely gives a slightly different spin to the maxim.

If there was something of which I, as a budding comics artist, was guilty, it was imitation. As I've said previously, I based the characters' initial use of thought balloons on the fact that Jim Davis had Garfield (and all of the vocal animals in his strip) speak in thought balloons. And while I did develop my own style of story telling as the strip went on, it wasn't the last time I would imitate a famous work.

I think that I had a hard time, as a young artist, telling the difference between being inspired by something, and the wholesale copying of an idea. Fortunately, I never had to worry about intellectual property issues, since no one outside of the readership of a few hundred people actually knew that Furble existed at the time. Had I been syndicated, I certainly would have run afoul of legal action, or at the very least a stern talking to from my editor.

This will become quite clear next week, especially if you are a fan of Calvin and Hobbes (as I was and still am).

So, while I am very proud of my accomplishment over the course of just over three years, it didn't come without the help of others' greatness.

Strip 77/166 - Attack of the meat cleaver!

Although it's not obvious, the punchline for this strip is definitely inspired by Garfield. Davis was known to occasionally end the strip with a character (usually Garfield) using such exclamations after particularly stressful incidents. This is pretty much the only time that it happens in the strip, so it's hard to assign it as a character trait of FC. Just a brief imitation.

Strip 78/166 - Snarky FC is the best FC

I really do like snarky FC. This is a legitimate character trait that comes up often. Snark is fun, as long as it isn't over-done. I don't think I was guilty of that, at least.

The next group of strips represents a major shift in many respects, not only for the comic strip, but for how I was cleaning them up to publish in the blog. So I thought it would be fun to give a "beyond-the-scenes" look at how I am remastering Furble.

Here's a link to the YouTube video if you can't view the embedded video above -

See you all next week for significant changes to the strip going forward.