News Archive for: Dec 30, 2000 to Sep 25, 2000
I know it's an entirely superficial thing, but what do you think of Kate's new hair-style? If you are so inclined, pop on over to the forum and let me know how much you like it, hate it, or just don't care.
In other news- please send me more comics for the Zwol: No Contest because, although the holiday season is pretty busy for everyone, you should be spending your free time in service to me. I mean it.
Kate & Selby are stuck in a time-delay, so they won't be doing anything seasonal for the holidays (unlike myself), but if they were living in real-time, I'm confident that they'd wish you a sweet and peaceful day.
Just in time for the most wonderful time of the year, Randy Oest has updated the SubAtomic Cafe, so go check it out!
In other news, I'm safely arrived in the home of the brave and the land of the free (that means the USA, for those who weren't sure). Today's mission? Start and finish my Christmas shopping. Tell me what you'd like and I'll see what I can do...
Depending on what time you read this, there's a very good chance that I'm on a big jet plane somewhere high over the Atlantic. I don't generally take a vacation during the summer; Instead, I do so in the winter. You see, living in southern California, it's a nice change to get back home to northern New York and actually experience a good old-fashioned snowy-white Christmas. Of course, this year and last, experiencing the NY winter hasn't been as completely novel, as I've been leaving behind the cold, grey, wet English winter for the colder, often grey, and also-likely-to-be-wet NY winter. But it's not just the weather that I travel for, since I get to see friends and family that I now only visit once a year. And Buffalo-style chicken wings. Mustn't forget those. Finding a decent chicken wing in LA is about as difficult as finding a decent taco in London (which is to say- very difficult). This comic thingy? It'll behave as usual- 6 comics next week, whether you want 'em or not!
For those who may not be aware, a few of us are talking about comics in a meta/literary/artsy kind of way in our Reinventing Comics Forum and we're always willing to hear new thoughts and ideas. This started as a spin-off of the Zot! Online forum, but it's taking on a life of its own now and a certain Mr. McCloud has even let us know that he reads the discussions from time to time. So what are you waiting for? Join in and help us map the future of comics!
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud! Then go here and submit some quotes. Zwol's quote queue is full up to the first of 2001, but after that I've got nothin'. Remember- only the highest-quality quotes will be accepted, so if it's some funny thing your cousin Frank said that made milk come out of your nose, I don't want to hear it. If it ain't pretentious, it ain't Zwol.
Kevin Pease creates the always excellent Absurd Notions comic, and he's just made a new addition to his site: a Periodic Table of Comics. This is such a cool thing that if you haven't seen it, you must check it out. As always, Kevin separates the wheat from the chaff, pointing you only to the best online comics. (Is Zwol on the list? Yeah- he calls it "one to watch," which makes me so happy that I'm going to use on the press release someday when there is a press release.)
As long as I'm on the topic of links from other websites, I'd like to point out this list of comic links, which describes Zwol as "kind of meta/literary/artsy with a realistic art style." (By which, I assume he means "Wonderfulness ensues.")
Update: Russ wrote me and wanted to point out that he didn't mean "meta/literary/artsy" in a bad way, but in a good way. Now, I had worked that out, but I'm still using that as an excuse to drop a link to his comic: Ko Fight Club.
As the end of the year approaches, I am finding myself busier and busier and busier. It's almost more than I can manage to even type up this little notice. I had something that I wanted to say, but it's totally gone from my head now, and I'll probably remember it at some time when I'm farthest from a computer and won't be able to type it up. Luckily, due to my work-ahead paranoia/ethic, Zwol won't be affected by this and will continue to appear every weekday as usual. I've already noted several other online comics skipping days and even whole weeks recently (which is pretty bad in the case of those that only "publish" once a week), but I'm hoping to set a good example. Either that, or guilt everyone else into turning out some regular work. How can we enjoy comics if nobody's making them? It's hard work- believe me, I know- but in the end, it's worth it.
A storyline. A real storyline that lasts for more than 5 days and doesn't involve mystery guest celebrities or magical happenings in the kitchen (though early next year things do take a turn for the weird). At this point, each week of Zwol is another milestone. Last week I was comfortable enough with the comic to do a series of one-off gag-type strips, but by the end of this week, we'll see a slight shift in tone. For the better, I think.
In other news, on Saturday I drew what is, to date, my favorite Zwol comic. The only problem is that the comics that I'm working on are largely caught up in some serious continuity, but this new one has nothing at all to do with that, and I don't know how, where, or when to present it. It was just such a wonderful idea that I had to draw it before I forgot how it would work. You will see it some day, because work I like this much I must show off, but when? When? When? I'll work it out...
Get thee hence, one and all, to the SubAtomic Cafe, which is now a Zwol-affiliated site (or maybe Zwol is a SubAtomic Cafe-affiliated site?). There you will be able to find online comics and you are encouraged to submit your own creations. This isn't like KeenSpot/Space, which are mainly concerned with ongoing daily comic strips, but will rather be a home to comics of all kinds, of many formats and genres, of stories both short and long, but always told in the marvelous comic format of words and pictures. Go to the archive and read the beginning of Randy Oest's short story, "Strange Contents". (Hint: if you click on the big thing that says "Zwol," you will find yourself back here, so click on the Cafe's Archive button.)
I'm working on a Zwol-related story that will be exclusive to the SubAtomic Cafe at some point in the future (meaning: when I finish it), but don't let that stop you from checking in on the Cafe each Friday to see what may pop up there.
I will be reformatting my Webcomic Links page just as soon as I decide how best to present this information, but in the meantime, here's a few links I'd like to share:
Just for kicks, I added three more images into the Digital Art Gallery. They're not 'new' in the sense of actually being recently-created images, but if you haven't seen them, then they're new to you, so take a look!
Thursday's comic features probably the worst drawing of Kate that I've done. I hate it more every time I look at it. This is one of those things that I would go back and fix if I had more time to fix things like this, but the daily deadline is a harsh master. Someday, however, I may do some retroactive editing and this is one of those things that will be taken care of. Then I'll find a way to make Wednesday's comic funny (which is the same joke as Tuesday's, but half as subtle).
Enough time had passed that I wanted to post a new essay, and I finally figured out what to write it about. It's about as long as the previous one (about 780 words), so should be a pretty easy read.
You know how it is. Thanks to those who wrote me after my plea for feedback last week. Now: go forth and spread the Word of Zwol far and wide. I know it's tempting to keep the wonderfulness to yourself and continue to be one of the Elite, but (trust me on this) it's more fun to be Elite when you can show off to others.
My how the time does fly. Yesterday marked the close of the first month of Zwol on the web and in celebration I... didn't do anything at all. Didn't even notice, in fact, as I'm enmeshed in the strips that will run in the time following Zwol's six-month anniversary. Milestones upon milestones. If you'd like to let me know what you think of Zwol so far, please drop an email to email@example.com and I'll do a little happy dance.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you who are British, Canadian, Autrailian, Austrian, German, Dutch, Martian, as well as people of all other nationalities who don't care what's going on in the United States today. Hi there. Zwol loves you.
(You Americans? Zwol loves you too, but only if you set aside some turkey for us.)
Yes, again. See, that's how deja vu works... Anyway-
You may think you've seen Tuesday's comic before if you've visited the Preview Gallery. If you haven't (or to refresh your memory), take a peek at the comic before I added the words and shading to it and compare to the finished version.
AND you may wish to visit Absurd Notions today to catch a glimpse of a comic that I drew for Kevin Pease. Since he's showing old comics he did during his college years, I thought it might be fun to draw a comic of his characters experiencing a little of the same nostalgia.
As we can see by today's comic, the setting for Zwol is London, England (not to be confused with London, Canada). I'm especially proud of this week's comics, and it was at this point that I felt sure- once and for all- that Zwol had hit its stride in terms of quality artwork and writing.
Yes, that really was supposed to be Tom Cruise. Don't laugh- I'd like to see you do better! OK, so it was probably a mistake to try to draw a well-known and instantly-recognizable person without any photo reference, but I've learned my lesson- I swear I have! (Yeah, right...)
It seems like I've been waiting my whole life to use the phrase "detritus from the faerie realm" in a public forum. (See how I worked it in on Monday's comic.)
The fallout of last week's "mysterious possessed TV" escapade and a special celebrity guest star! Can you contain your excitement? (Please try.)
I've moved the preview comics and related images that were posted to Zwol prior to Oct. 23rd to their own archive, which is separate from the regular Zwol comic archive. So now, if you click on the First button, you go to the first actual Zwol comic rather than all the way back to the beginning of the preview images. The preview images are still available to view via the Archive, but this just means that they no longer appear in the normal comic strip continuity (for what that's worth). Also (not to confuse you too much), these comics are entirely different from those in the Preview Gallery.
You know- Last night I thought I'd fall asleep (here in England) then wake up the next day and find out how the Presidential election turned out back home in the USA, but no, it hasn't turned out that way. What is going on with you people? It's well into the afternoon for me now, and the latest from CNN is that we'll have to wait until tomorrow at the earliest for the Florida recount results. I swear- I leave the country for a few months and the whole place turns to a bloody shambles. Crikey.
I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you who're currently reading Zwol fairly regularly. Even though we're a small group at the moment, it does my heart good to see that the number of people reading each day is holding steady and even growing a bit. I'll be trying various things to get more readers ("Zwol: World Domination Ensues?"), but you know what? For now I'm just happy that you're here. And sometime in the future we'll look back on this and laugh and remember how (comparatively) humble I was.
Looking at Friday's comic again for the first time in several weeks, I'm reminded how much I actually do like this one. It's a little thoughtful and ever-so-slightly sophisticated and drawn just about the right way for presentation on the web. Sure, it breaks the fourth wall again, but it was for the better in the long run, as the characters were telling me quite plainly that they were capable of so much more. Whereas I wrote the first panel, the characters took over for the remainder of the strip- which is a weird thing to happen to a writer.
Now wasn't that better than week one? A little more settled-down in style and with some more carefully drawn artwork, yes? Selby may not have been 100% pleased, but by the time I finished drawing this week, I thought I had pretty well nailed down the substance and character of the comic. I was not entirely correct, as you will see.
New comics. I have less to say about these than last week's, but they don't really require too much commentary. Just read them and enjoy the fact that they're not self-referential comics about the fact that they're comics.
Friday's comic is an example of an inside joke so far inside that only about 5 people will get it. If I'm lucky, that is. In all likelyhood, only 1 person will think it's even remotely humorous- and I'm counting myself in that number. This is another mistake I don't plan to make again with Zwol.
I do encourage you to visit Waiting for Bob, which is a fine example of how a good an online comic can be.
Next week: A semi-storyline!
When you get behind, you don't usually do your best work. It is often a sign that a comic artist/writer has fallen behind deadline when either: A) the comic doesn't appear on time or B) they resort to the joke you see in Wednesday's comic. With Zwol I wanted to overcome both of those problems by: A) working very far in advance and B) using this joke now, so I wouldn't be tempted to use it later. Know what? It's still not funny.
The Wonderfulness is now ensuing; Can you feel it? Well, stick with me, kid, we'll get there eventually. For some reason I thought there should be a some introductory comics, so that's what's on the plate right now. Though this is the first Zwol comic, I've left the preview strips in the archive for your perusal. In about a week I'll move them to their own special archive.
Well, that exhausts my preview strips, and I've said that I'm going to start Zwol on Oct. 23rd, so I guess there's no choice now. Let's get to it. Be back here on Monday and find out how I've been wasting the last several months of my life.
Never suffered from it in a big way. Always knew that time moves onward and before you know it you're on the stage, in front of the audience, then as swift as can be, it's all over and you're at the diner with friends and a plate of french fries with melted cheese and gravy. Still...
In the theatre, you don't put on a show without rehearsing, but that's almost exactly what I'm doing with Zwol. See, next week you'll be exposed to the very first comics that I drew for Zwol, when I really had no idea what I was doing and only vague notions of where I thought I was headed. This is the actor's nightmare- stumbling onto the stage without having read the script and being expected to perform. I justified this approach by thinking that it would be good to let everyone see how a comic strip develops. I still think that idea has merit, but now that it comes time to put that into practice, well... I'm going to be happier when December rolls around and the first few weeks of Zwol are a distant memory.
Today we see the last of the re-run preview images at Zwol. From this point onward it's all new stuff. As mentioned previously, two never-before posted preview images round out the week and then on Monday- wonderfulness. In theory, anyway.
That's right- only 5 more of these "preview" comics and then the wonderfulness will ensue. From Monday to Wednesday there are three re-run comics from my testing period, followed by a previously unposted image on Thursday and on Friday? A brand-spanking new picture that I drew just this past Saturday!
Most of the preview comics that I'm posting have appeared at Zwol during my testing period, but for the few of you who've been coming by regularly and have actually seen all of these before, I'm pleased to offer, today and tomorrow, a pair of never-before posted images!
As an aside, today is the first time that Zwol's comic arrived late. The page is supposed to update at midnight, U.S. Eastern Standard Time, but it can only do that if I've actually uploaded the comics beforehand! How I missed this, I can't say, but I've fixed it now- and barely 5 hours late. Hopefully for the last time.
I added some pages for Zwol preview comics. These are unshaded and unlettered comics that will appear at Zwol various times in the future- between next month and next year.
I really think that Zwol gets better as it goes along so, when Oct. 23 rolls around, you can compare those very first strips with these preview images and see how much better things will get.
Comics about the creation of a comic. More symbolic than literal, actually. (Yes, the bespectacled artist that you see is me.)
That's right- if you're a regular visitor (and I know who you are), then you'll notice that I've reset Zwol back to ground zero. Very few quotes, news items, and almost NO comics. All part of the big Wonderfulness Countdown! Have faith- all will be revealed.
Ug. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. The news and quotes are now fully served by a database rather than the .txt file system I had been using. It works as good as the old system now, and I'll add searching as soon as I get to it. Again- ug! My brain hurts now...
But 90% of this is all behind the scenes. I'm transferring the news and quote items into a database! (oooh! aaaah!) I'm darn proud of myself for this. It means that the work I do to keep the site up to date will be even less than before- and I'd managed to get it down pretty low. At this writing, I haven't converted the archive over yet, but should be able to soon.
One of the benefits is that I can make multiple news posts per day- whereas with the previous system I was restricted to one. I've become fascinated with weblogs recently, and this new system is actually a lot like that. But I don't expect to update it THAT often.
Changed the index page slightly by moving the quote down to the bottom and adding the Affiliates section to the right side; removed some pages from the menu bar to prevent it from becoming too cluttered.
The last week of September 2000 means that this is the last of the preview strip weeks here at Zwol. Next week I'm going to be resetting Zwol back to a pristine state, rerunning the preview strips (one per day, not all spread out like I have been doing), and generally attempting to drum up an audience for the Oct. 23rd Grand Opening!
I haven't decided if I'm going to make this an official part of the site yet, but you can check out the prototype Zwol Shop. Yes, it functions and you can actually buy this stuff now, should you have that burning desire.
Also, two of my favorite web comic strips are having a cross-over storyline this week: The story starts today in Waiting for Bob and continues tomorrow in User Friendly, then will probably bounce back and forth all week. (Update: the WfB crew claim wires were crossed, so there doesn't appear to be a UF half to this story at the moment. Maybe in the future?)