My webcomic Twisted Mirrors has finally come to an end. www.twistedmirrorscomic.com if you'd like to see the final product. There are hits and there are misses, but it's done!
...but that doesn't mean that this is the end!
There's going to be a sequel. It will be set an indeterminate amount of time into the future and feature an entirely different cast of characters. I don't intend to even mention the characters from the first comic in it, so if you're looking for direct connections, you may be disappointed. (The point of open-ended endings is to allow you the readers to decide what happens, if I start dictating things to you then that's rendered moot.)
I learned a lot from the mistakes I made with the first comic and I hope to correct at least some of them. As far as the story goes, it's going to be a much more traditional story structure. The non-traditional structure of the first comic wasn't really intentional, so I don't want to even attempt it again. Having the story set more solidly will allow me to focus in on the characters a bit more, which is what I really enjoy writing anyway.
The sequel will be darker, especially in the beginning. I don't mean superficially dark in the way that some stories are. It won't be any more violent or "gritty" than the first one (arguably less so, since the first comic had a room full of gore) it will just be in the tone. And I said, this is mostly in the first couple of chapters, but I just wanted to point that out.
There'll be a couple of other changes too in the way pages are made as well, but I don't think they'll look too different. They'll still be the same pen-and-ink black-and-white style.
I think that's everything I wanted to explain. The only other thing to discuss is when the comic will start. Since I was working on the last comic with a substantial buffer, I've actually already taken a month off and have started work on the sequel, so this won't be a situation of a webcomic going on hiatus and never coming back. There will be a hiatus however, I'm just not sure how long. So what do you guys think? At the very least I'd like to build my buffer back up to where it was. There's part of me that wants to wait a little longer to get some of the first few pages done in order to post several at the same time so it can start with a bit of substance...but then it'd take a long time and I'm not sure I'm that patient. So what would you guys prefer? Start as soon as it's ready? Or wait a bit and post a bunch of the intro together?
Either way, there will be at least SOME hiatus. This page will continue to update every Monday, but for a while it will be with concept art for the sequel. If you don't want to stick around for that, I completely understand. You can watch either my Deviantart page or the facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Twisted…). I will be posting announcements on both when the comic proper will resume.
Let me know what you guys think!
And thank you all again for reading! This has been a blast to make. I've met some amazing people through this project and I've had so much fun doing it! That's why I can't quit! See you for whatever comes next!
So I think I've finally decided on a subtitle for the Twisted Mirrors sequel. It's probably going to be "Twisted Mirrors: Rift".
I didn't want to use more than one word because I worried the title might get too long and unwieldy otherwise. "Rift" probably isn't the precisely accurate title for what I was thinking of, but it's a lot punchier/catchier than the other words I considered. (And it probably goes without saying, but the rift in question is not a fissure or portal, it refers to character relationships, because I am not terribly interesting. )
I'm trying some things for a logo currently, as I was never really satisfied with either of Twisted Mirrors' logos. I really like the one I made for Conscripted, but that method wouldn't really work for this project. Either way, I'm trying some things and looking at examples/suggestions online so hopefully I'll put something good together and maybe learn something new in the process.
I've also finally gotten around to naming the majority of the characters. I'm entirely too lazy to go back and put all their names on the design images, but the least I can do is tell you that this guy's name is Rasque:
Gonna start the scripts for that soon and I have to admit, I'm kinda excited.
I'm trying to decide what I want to do with FFC. It's also starting to draw to a close, and I'm still trying to decide what's going to happen with it. On one hand, I do have an idea in mind for a sequel story - much like with Twisted Mirrors. On the other hand, this sequel idea is not as well formed and...well...it's Firefly Cross.
FFC was always something I did just kinda for fun and don't get me wrong I do enjoy creating it, but I never put a lot of thought into it and that's become tiring in more recent years. I keep running up against road blocks that I don't know how to get past because I haven't thought them through, and then I have to just push my way through the block and more often than not end up with something I'm not that pleased with. TM and Conscripted in contrast I plan out a lot more carefully a lot farther in advance, so I don't tend to have those roadblocks as often, thus working on them is a lot more enjoyable and I'm a lot prouder of the results.
While I think the sequel I have in mind would be somewhat fun, I'm not sure it's a good enough idea to put all the work into. Because of all this, I'm considering just flat-out ending FFC once it reaches its conclusion. That would free up a lot of time and potentially allow me to produce Conscripted on a much more consistent basis. I also thought about continuing FFC as a prose story, but I don't think it'd work as well. This universe really needs to be visual, but I'm not sure it's good enough to warrant all the effort such things require.
...oh well, I'm still thinking it over. I've got time and FFC is very important to me...but I admit I'm leaning closer to "end it" as time goes on... :/
Speaking of prose stories, I'm almost done with my random dude-with-metal-arm story I've been working on!
Then I'll get to re-write the whole thing to make it actually legible!
...that doesn't mean anything really, I don't think I'll ever post that story, it's just something I'm kinda happy about.
This past weekend, my sister and I went out to a small lake near where she works because she'd seen that there were a lot of stops there. It had a lovely walking trail around the water lined with shops and restaurants and things for the kids like a merry-go-round and a neat set of statues that were inscribed with a game. It wasn't exactly a local secret, but I never would've gone there were it not for the game, and were it not for the game I probably wouldn't have even noticed the art installations as I walked by or paid attention to the statues. It was crowded and almost everyone else was playing Pokemon Go as well. It was such a fun feeling! All different types of people, old to young, all had common ground in this goofy phone app.
...it was nice to have something that brought so much joy in the face of so much bad news these days...
Speaking of escapism, I've been reading a couple of book series in the past year that I wanted to mention because I really enjoyed them. It should be noted, that due to my personal tastes, they're both fantasy, so take that as you will...
The first is the Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron. It's all about a roguish wizard thief. I'm not sure I need to go further than that. It was honestly a lot of fun, though, Right up my alley. The really interesting idea in the world building is how magic works. (Turn away now if you don't want the spoiler, but as it's shown in the opening few pages, I'm not sure it counts.) In the world of these books, everything has a spirit. Everything. Wizards are the few people who can actually hear when the spirits speak. Some wizards form pacts with individual spirits - a power for service type thing. Others force the spirits to do their bidding. Eli? He sweet-talks them. Seriously, he compliments them, and does favors for them, and then asks super nicely. He's actually a pretty talented thief, but that he can get through a locked door simply by asking? That is hilarious. Obviously there's a bit more to the story/world than that, but I don't want to give too much away. But it's a fun series, I really enjoyed it.
The series is five books long, but is also available in two omnibuses, the first of which is what I linked above.
The second series was the Dragon Princess books by S. Andrew Swann. These books are very fun. They are also very weird. I have a high tolerance for weird myself, but I know it's not for everyone, so I thought I'd throw in that warning. Anyway, I picked up the first book of this series based on the promise of a princess turning into a dragon. Imagine my disappointment when I open the book up to discover it's written in first person (not a deal-breaker, but I'm not a fan) and that it's from the point of view of a dude. I almost shut the book and left it right then and there. It's a good thing I persevered though, because it turns out that Frank is a pretty great protagonist. He's well-developed, thoughtful, self-deprecating enough to be a character flaw but not enough to be annoying, and mature about many of these odd situations. He's not overly good - like Eli Monpress he's a thief, thus roguish - but he's really likable and easy to follow and root for. Now I LOVE well-developed characters. It's pretty much my favorite thing ever. So for this reason alone, the book is worth the price of admission for me, but it's got some great supporting characters and a pretty interesting story to go with it. It is a silly premise, but for such a silly premise you might be surprised at what you walk away with. ...also silly is fun and I like it.
This series is probably finished at three books. It has a pretty satisfying conclusion, but the author left the door open to continue and if we were to get some more stories with these characters, well I wouldn't complain.
After reading these, I found another book by S. Andrew Swann and having enjoyed Dragon Princess, I decided to give it a try: The Moreau Quartet Vol 1. I can't say too much about this one yet as I'm only a few chapters in so far. I will say it's not grabbing me like Dragon Princess did, but that's likely due to the content rather than the quality of the books. Dragon Princess is a character driven-fantasy and The Moreau books seem to be five-minutes-into-the-future noir, and though I do like noir, I simply happen to like character-driven fantasy better. But as I said, I'm not far in yet and thus don't feel too qualified to judge. Instead I'll point to the real reason I brought it up: the cover. I mean look at it! It's like pure 90's cheese! This cover is amazing, every time I pick up the book I can't help but laugh a bit. I mean, yes, the main character is a tiger man, but we're told he dresses in button down shirts and trench coats. And yes he does carry weapons, but this looks more like a space barbarian setup than a noir thriller. It doesn't much put me in mind of the character I'm reading in the book is what I'm saying. Then you take that and paste it on top of a photo of a city and add in...are those flying saucers?! Man, I can't wait to find out if aliens show up in this! I'd imagine it did the job well enough at the time, but you know what the actual story puts me in mind of? The comic Elephantmen, which has a very similar setting, backstory, and style. (I'd like to point out that I don't think Elephantmen ripped this off at all, the conclusions are logical enough that I could believe they were arrived at independently...but I likewise wouldn't be surprised if this was an inspiration. Either way.) Even though the art is all using the wrong animals, this is much closer to the feel I get reading this book. Maybe if the publisher does a re-release of this sometime they should contact the Elephantmen artists...just sayin'.
Anyway, I was thinking that if I get the time, I might try my hand at doing my own version of a cover. Not in a "I can do it better" kind of way. My art is shit and I know it. Just as kind of an exercise, you know? See what comes out.
Lastly, I went and saw Ghostbusters this past weekend. Putting it all the way at the end of this ponderous post because I don't need a gang of internet idiots raging at me because I dared to go watch a movie. My verdict? It was fun! I really enjoyed it! It was funny, the characters were likable, the story made sense, and the ghosts were cool. I did have some problems with it - there were a couple of gross-out jokes and those are never my fav, and I wasn't fond of any of the scenes between Erin and Kevin...but if we can tolerate skeevy Venkman, then we can tolerate skeevy Gilbert too. But yeah, I had fun. I can't do a full recommendation just because it's a comedy and humor is highly subjective, but I liked it. I'd say it's not quite as good as the first movie, but is much better than Ghostbusters 2. Take that how you will.
...what the heck do I call it?
I'm keeping the "Twisted Mirrors" part of the title - believe it or not, it still totally fits - but I keep going back and forth between just calling it "Twisted Mirrors 2" or "Twisted Mirrors: subtitle-to-be-named".
I don't really think there's anything wrong with numbered sequels like that, but I'm hesitant to do it in this instance just because a numbered sequel sounds a lot more like a direct sequel, and since this will be so far removed from anything in the original story (the world will be the same - the characters, time period, and story will not) it feels a little misleading to go that route. It's the problem Halloween III had.
On the other hand if I go with a subtitle then I actually have to think of one and I am total crap at coming up with titles...the only thing I've been able to come up with so far is WAY too on the nose, and it's annoyingly sticking in my brain every time I try to brainstorm this. Numbered titles are just easier.
...so what do you guys think? Would a numbered title be too boring/off-putting or would it be straight to the point? Would a subtitle be distracting nonsense or would it be a way to flavor a unique story? I'm split on it, but if I'm going to do a subtitle, I need to decide soon so that I can wrack my brains to come up with one before it starts posting. Even though I'm planning a brief hiatus following TM's end, this new one will be coming up quick.
Now, I need to put on my TM2 playlist and get back to actually naming the characters.
Get lost and never come back.
What a long, worthless, and miserable year you've been. I started out the year depressed and I ended it up feeling so terrible that a day I only break down crying once is charitably considered "good".
You've been so awful and ruined so much that I don't know if it could even be fixed in 2016, so hey, thanks for destroying next year too.
Regardless, I look forwarding to being rid of you forever. Once you're gone, I'm going to do my level best to never think of you again. You did nothing for me. There was never a moment in the entirety of your year that I was happy. You even tried to take the one thing that I still loved from me, but you didn't succeed and now you'll be gone.
I won't miss you. Once midnight hits I won't even think of you.
- Listening to: Feel Good Inc
Sum up: Life is tough, but not in any interesting, meaningful or special kind of way. I'm just being kind of a whiner and I need to get over it...also I have a lot less free time now and that's making things difficult. That's all.
Comics are still going strong though! No breaks in sight despite everything. It's a small victory, but it pleases me. Can't get much accomplished aside from them at the moment, since what little free time I have is devoted strictly to comicking. So that's why you aren't seeing much other work from me at the moment. I just have no time to give to it.
I have another minor victory, though. I've been keeping up with DA somehow. With just two months to go I only have three notifications. I might make it the full year this time! I'm weirdly proud of myself!
I have managed to some writing, though, since that's a lot less time consuming and more portable than drawing is. I'm still not a very good writer, but who cares! Nobody's going to read it anyway! (I don't mean that in a self-deprecating way, either. No one's going to read it because I'm not going to post it anywhere. )
Would you guys believe I actually sat down to write a romance with this story? I did! No kidding! Since everyone else on the planet is all about the romances I decided I'd see what the fuss was all about and give it a go myself! After all, with that many people liking something, it seems pretty clear that I'm the one with the wrong opinion, you know? Anyway, I sat down with EVERY INTENTION of writing a romance...and 40 thousand words later, there's still not a hint of it anywhere in the story. I'm gonna go ahead and guess that I just can't do it, and that's okay because every other person on the planet can, so I don't think it's really a niche that needs filling.
I think the problem ended up being partially the way I decided to tell the story and part of it ended up being the female lead's character. She's too hostile. And I don't mean that in a bad way, I actually really love her character and it fits with her back story - it'd be wrong for her to not be hostile - but I as the author just can't see her developing any romantic feelings at this point, and if I can't see I can't write it. Another writer could probably make it work as they'd be able to see the romance I'm missing, but for me it just ends up being another character piece.
...which I'm okay with, I like those. It just ain't a romance.
Anyway, it doesn't mean anything, I just thought it was kinda funny and wanted to share. I'm worried the story itself has gotten kinda boring though, so I guess we'll have to wait and see if I can punch it up on subsequent drafts.
- Listening to: Feel Good Inc
So those who know me know I LOVE adventure games. If you were to ask me about my favorites, I’d list of a variety of LucasArts games: Monkey Island, Sam and Max, Grim Fandango, ect. You’ve even seen me do fanart of some of these.
…but LucasArts was something I came to later in life, I actually grew up on Sierra’s adventure games. Once I discovered LucasArts, I jumped ship there and never really looked back. LucasArts didn’t have the same frustrating issues as Sierra games such as punishing the player for exploring and putting the game into unwinnable states fairly easily. I liked adventure games because they were some of the earliest games to feature story and characters instead of just gameplay, but the Sierra games for the most part made it a lot harder to enjoy. Still, my childhood was all Space Quest and Conquest of Camelot and even some of the King’s Quest games (1, 2, and 7 if you can believe it. ) so despite the issues the games had, I always look on those franchises fondly. Especially since King’s Quest in particular was the series that started it all – I may never have gotten some of my favorite games without them.
So when it was announced that there was going to be a reboot/relaunch of King’s Quest by the Odd Gentlemen under Activision’s newly revamped Sierra banner, I was pretty excited! Some other recent rehashes of old games – particularly those owned by Atari – made me a bit nervous, but I have nostalgia for this property and the screenshots looked really lovely, so I was pretty amped to give it a shot.
…well, much later than anticipated due to some real life issues, I finally got my hands on the first chapter and played it. What did I think of it? Well, I played through the entirety of the first chapter yesterday and it took me seven hours. So I sat and played King’s Quest for 7 hours and when it was done, I asked when the next one released. I think you can imagine what my attitude towards it might be.
Let’s get the negative out of the way first. The tank controls are annoying. I think it’s meant to be a throwback to the earlier King’s Quest games which controlled very similarly, but I’m not sure it works great in a modern 3D environment. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment, I got used to it pretty quick (I suffered it with Grim Fandango, I can tolerate it here) but this might be a game to just plug in a controller – I didn’t try it myself, but it might be easier.
Second annoying thing were the glitches. If you load the game in at too high a resolution (which for me was the actual resolution of my screen…hmph) then some game-breaking glitches can occur. Several times in the prologue I had Graham pirouetting in place and not responding to any controls. Even after lowering the resolution, his cape would still sling around pretty madly and I would occasionally get really creepy close-ups of his face for a frame or two which made me feel like I was in some creepypasta. Once I had fixed the resolution though this didn’t ruin my enjoyment either. Mostly the small cape glitches just made me laugh a bit.
The third annoying thing is something that’s probably pretty unique to me and wouldn’t be an issue for most players. This game fairly heavily features player choice mechanics and I honestly just don’t like player choice stuff. As I said before, story and character are the things I play for and I feel like player choice dilutes that as the story has to account for all choices. I’m much more interested in what the character would choose than what I would choose. My choices aren’t interesting to me and I don’t like the angst I feel of wondering if I picked something wrong and will get a “bad” ending as a result.
…but that’s just me. It seems most people are pretty high on the choice bandwagon, so I don’t think it’s really an issue.
But those are my only complaints, and despite how wordy I got, if you look at them, there really isn’t much there! Now on to what I liked!
The first thing I’m going to say is that this actually feels very much like a LucasArts game and I mean that in the best way possible! Now don’t worry, King’s Quest fans, there are plenty of ridiculous deaths still in the game, but it employs the death mechanic from King’s Quest 7 where you get the death scene but are then put right back in the same moment to try it again. It’s really the best of both worlds, getting some fun death scenes but not losing that “I know this is probably the wrong choice, but I’m going to try it anyway and see what happens” adventurous spirit that you should really have in a game like this. In other words, it doesn’t punish the player for exploring. In universe this is justified as the game is a story elder King Graham is telling his granddaughter, so death scenes are just moments where he tells the story wrong or explains what he obviously didn’t do because it would have been a ridiculous choice.
Likewise, it doesn’t seem like you can put the game into an unwinniable state. Older Sierra games were notorious for these, where you had to pick up some random macguffin that didn’t seem important to the game or else you could never win and you couldn’t go back to retrieve it. LucasArts games were always structured so that you could always get the items you needed and there was always some semblance of logic behind them, and that seems to be the tack this new King’s Quest game is following. So, when you find yourself stuck you don’t have to sit and wonder if you’re missing something you needed. You have the answer, you just need to find it.
I feel like these mechanics exist at least partially because of the player choice system. The game autosaves to make sure you stick to your choices, negating the old Sierra mantra of “save early, save often”. If it stuck to old Sierra shenanigans, most games would be saved in unwinnable states pretty quickly. But whatever the reason, I like it!
The art in this game is actually really lovely with extensively detailed backgrounds for you to travel through. They do make you travel through them quite a lot, sometimes traveling much father than you’d need just for one item, but everything looks so nice, I can’t really get too upset about it and it adds to a feeling of scale for the game. There are moments the camera pulls back and just lets you enjoy the grandeur of the environments around you. The cel-shaded look of the characters is actually really nice as well and while I don’t think it worked for every character, for the most part I really loved the character designs in the game.
Moving on to the writing, it also made me think of LucasArts, Monkey Island in particular. I commented as I was playing it that teenaged Graham reminded me a lot of Guybrush Threepwood, (but again- in a good way, not like the mess that was Space Quest 6 where the characterization of Roger felt like they were trying to ape a character like Guybrush without realizing why he works so well) and another friend joined later on and made basically the same comment! So it wasn’t just me who saw it. He is his own character though. The writing and story-telling are mostly light and comedic, with characters riffing on one another pretty readily. That doesn’t mean it can’t go serious when it needs to, though, and there was one sad scene that made me care more about Graham and his character than all of the previous King’s Quest games combined! The characters are all colorful and distinct and I found all of them enjoyable (I want to say “likable” but some of them weren’t meant to be liked, they were just as entertaining though). Honestly, I hope we see many of these characters come back in later chapters. The good writing is aided by the impressive voice cast (which is only rivaled by the cast for King’s Quest 6) featuring Chistopher Lloyd, Wallace Shaun, Kath Soucie, Zelda Williams, Tom Kenny and Kevin Michael Richardson, just to name a few!
I wasn’t wearing my headphones while playing, so the music wasn’t as apparent as it could have been, but what I heard was really well done!
For long-time King’s Quest fans, there are already plenty of shoutouts. The prologue to the game has you playing through an adventure from King’s Quest 1. There are plenty of nods to the lore in the story parts. Tapestries on the walls of the castle depict some familiar moments. There are also plenty of recognizable music cues, including one that I really didn’t expect but was perfectly used!
Don’t let that scare you away if you’re new to the franchise, however, you don’t need to know anything about King’s Quest to follow the game, it tells you everything you need to know. This first chapter in particular takes place before Graham even becomes a knight. As King’s Quest 1 opens with Graham already a favored knight of King Edward, it’s depicting events that are new to everyone. It’s very new player friendly while still being full of nods for the fans.
The easiest thing for me to compare this game to is TellTale’s Tales from Monkey Island which was released a few years back. Like this game, it picked up an old adventure game franchise and made a new entry to it in an episodic format. I actually really loved Tales, I thought TellTale did a wonderful job with it and was disappointed that they didn’t continue. This new King’s Quest entry compares very favorably to that game. I think it’s pretty equal in the writing and storytelling aspects and is much better in terms of the art and world building.
If you’re a fan of adventure games, or just want to check one out that won’t punish you too harshly or get too frustrating, I definitely recommend picking this up. While I can only speak for chapter one so far, it was a lot of fun to play through and I’m personally really excited for chapter 2, where it looks like we’ll begin to get into Graham’s reign and get a few more great nods to the old continuity.
- Listening to: Imagine Dragons
- Watching: Paw Dugan
- Playing: King's Quest
As threatened, I did go through and redo the first five chapters for the print edition of volume 1 and once that was done I went ahead and uploaded these new versions of the pages to the website. If you read Twisted Mirrors through from the beginning now, it will be with the updated pages not the original ones. That said, the changes that were made to the early chapters honestly aren't that drastic. Though there are some significant differences in the text, it was mostly done to make things clearer and to flow more smoothly, the meaning has remained more or less the same. Likewise on the art, though the scanner and editing for the pages was different, the line art used was still the same, so it still looks more or less like the original versions.
HOWEVER! if you're not fond of change and want to read the pages as they were originally posted online, not to worry, they have been preserved and I've archived them on a different page. You can access them any time from a link in the notes on the first page of the comic, and that page is located here. (Or you can read the comic on DrunkDuck, as I haven't bothered to update them there yet.)
That said, there are still some differences between the online and print editions. Mostly it's typos or small editing errors that got caught and fixed for print, but are still present online. In Vol 3, I did go through and fix one of the continuity errors on this post. (Ravik's design is wrong in the third page, so I edited that to correct it for print.) Also, something kind of funny I found while I was working on Volume 1, for everyone who got one of the original, low-quality printings of that book, it's actually missing a page. It's not an important page (It was this one I think) so it didn't really disrupt the flow of reading the story, but that page has been restored in the lulu version of the books.
Overall, I really like the quality of the lulu books as compared to the original Comixpress ones. There's some slight pixelation, though you can't really see it unless you look close and I don't like that I couldn't get white pages (why isn't that default for all sizes?) and had to settle for cream, but the print looks good and the paper quality is much better. What I'm not terribly happy about is the price. These books are literally set as low as lulu would allow me to set them. If it were up to me, I wouldn't put any of them above $10 and I don't think I'd set Vol 1 over $8, but certain costs need to be covered and lulu takes its share, so this is where we're stuck.
If you'd like to get them cheaper, however, and you're going to be in the Baltimore area in late September, I will have a table at Baltimore Comic-Con (provided everything works out okay) and will be selling the books for a much lower price - you will be able to get all three for $20. I'll have other things there as well, such as buttons and prints (some more of which I'll be uploading soon, probably next week!).
Thanks for all your support!
- Listening to: Imagine Dragons
- Watching: Game Grumps
- Playing: Hearthstone
- Listening to: Halestorm
- Watching: RoosterTeeth
- Playing: Fantasy Life
I feel like I'll be okay on normal expenses, at least for a little while, but it does leave the problem of the TM books and my table at BCC. For those unaware, I did get a table at this year's Baltimore Comicon coming up in September, that's already paid for...what's NOT paid for is all the merchandise to go on said table. I'm going to need to buy prints and hard copies of volumes 1 and 2 of TM and I don't really feel like dipping into my normal revenue is a good idea right now. So I'd like to set up a seller's account on Ebay and offload some of my crap to cover those expenses. Does anyone know the ins and outs of getting that setup or have any advice for me to get into it? (I know "google", but last time I tried that the results were a little confusing for a newbie looking into it, so I thought it might click a little better explained to me by another person...things might be easier now than last I looked too, it's been a few years.)
Thanks for any help you can give.
If you'd like to commission me....well, I have a bit more time on my hands now so all the relevant information is here.
Thanks for your help!
- Listening to: Halestorm
- Watching: RoosterTeeth
- Playing: Fantasy Life
See, when I first started Twisted Mirrors, it was a side project and I never thought it'd be posted anywhere except online. I literally started it just because I wanted something other than FFC to draw. It was posting every other week instead of weekly when I started it too because I was worrying about overwhelming myself. It's kind of funny to think how much it's become the main thing, while FFC has slid more into the role of "pet project". That said, though, it meant I didn't really pay much attention to the quality of the pages at the start. They were web-only, what did it matter?
...well...anyone who's seen the version printed through comixpress knows what it mattered. The already poor-quality drawings are made so much worse by the web-level resolution.
I've been intending to fix this for a while now so that I can get a good quality version printed - for myself mainly. The main reason it's taken so long is because I never saved the high-rez scans, so doing these pages in a higher resolution means literally re-scanning and redoing all the text on almost 150 pages. I started this project a while back, so more than half the pages have already been scanned. Now that I've started working on it in earnest it doesn't seem nearly as daunting as it might have. (I just tell myself every time I finish a page - "that's one less I have to do now!" Seems to be working.)
And all this brings me to the main reason I made this post. Since I have to re-type the text for all the pages anyway, I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to fix some problems I had with the earlier stuff. For one, the font on the narration in the beginning is being changed to be more in line with the font I use for narration later in the comic. Much more drastically, I'm actually changing the text on some of the pages to fit in better with the story. For the most part it's staying how I always intended it to be and just worded poorly in the original version, but there's a couple of moments that I've just always found stupid and wanted the opportunity to change.
As bad as it is, the art will not technically change, though my editing skills are better than they were the first time around, so when a page needs editing (if I mess something up in the inking, I note it in the margins to fix it on the computer) it might look a little different, but it's all going to be based on the same inks as redrawing it would take too long and would stick out like a sore thumb in contrast to the older stuff (and I kinda like the fact that I can watch my art evolve as I read through it).
Now the new print version of the book is going to have these changes. There's no questioning that. I think it'll read a lot better to new readers this way, it'll help the world building make more sense and will make the overall story flow a lot better. However, I know people can have a really adverse reaction to this type of ret-con (Star Wars remastered, anyone?) so I wanted to put it to people - should these changes extend to the online version as well? Should I replace the old, original pages on the website with the new versions?
Personally, I'm leaning towards "yes", for all the reasons stated above, I think it just makes the story better, but I do understand the arguments against it. That's the original version that people who do enjoy the story followed, updates might just 'ruin' it. It should be noted that I don't plan to get rid of the old versions entirely. They're saved safely in my archives in their own folder. I believe pretty strongly in keeping all my old mistakes, since I can learn from them too, so this isn't just to purge out my failures. I'm thinking of new readers here!
What do you think? Anyone have any strong opinions on this one way or another? If people are really against it, I'll leave the online archives alone. (I don't expect a lot of thoughts on it either way since I don't have a lot of readers, I just want to avoid any potential backlash, haha!)
- Listening to: Imagine Dragons
- Watching: Mostly Walking
- Playing: Majora's Mask
Thus I've turned to Lulu to print book 3, but I've run into a pretty big problem. Namely, that the pages I made for the comic are sized really weirdly (in my defense, I had no expectation of ever printing it when I started). Comixpress allowed for completely customizable sizes, but Lulu has pretty strict page sizes. Makes sense, I kind of wonder if the customizable thing didn't bite Comixpress in the ass, and I'm sure I didn't help by taking advantage of it myself, but the lack of customization has caused a dilemma for preparing the new book. Namely that there's now about a half inch (or more) of additional blank space above and below each page. Stretching the pages to fit the space isn't an option, it's too far and it'd warp the images too much...now I could go to a larger size page, the 8x10 one is actually a lot closer to the correct dimensions, but I really don't like the way the pages look at that larger size. They weren't drawn larger, they aren't presented larger, so they don't look good when made bigger.
Because of all this, my current plan is to put some sort of design running along the top and bottom of each page - just so that it's not big, oppressive black bars distracting from the comic itself. The purpose of making this journal entry was to see if anyone else had good ideas of what that design could be. I was thinking of just making some swirling pattern like those you see all over the elf cities, maybe include some of the designs of the boetheri spirits, but I'm not entirely sure.
I don't want to sit and think about it for ages. I may have a table at Baltimore Comicon in September, so I'd like to try to have this done by then. So the shortcut to brainstorming it myself is just to see what sorts of things pop into your heads. Any suggestions are welcome! I may not follow them, but even if I don't they may give me a good idea! ...and if nothing comes to you, don't worry, I'll get to work with my original plan. I was just curious to see what came to you good folks out there!
- Listening to: Imagine Dragons
- Watching: Phelous
- Playing: Majora's Mask
- Listening to: Yellow Card
- Watching: VGA
- Playing: Grim Fandango
I apologize for being absent from DA at the end of 2014. If you're wondering where I was, well, my latest deviation should explain that. As per usual, I intend to clean out my DA at the start of the new year and do my level best to keep up with everything here going forward. Each year I manage to do it for a little longer, maybe this time I'll make it the full year, haha! The downside of this is that by the end of the year I let too many things crowd my inbox, and I end up having to just clear out everything to get a fresh start.
So, sorry about being absent, I'll try to be a bit more present going forward.
Now, what's happening for the coming year?
Well, I've finally gotten a new Wacom tablet! Whoo!
I plugged it in and was trying it out last night and this morning. It's going to take a bit of getting used to, but the possibilities it opens up are immense! My old tablet had such a small surface area that I would have to reorient my hand every other stroke. This new one has a large surface are and covers the whole screen! It's going to take some time to train myself out of wanting to reorient the pen every few seconds (I was working that way for a decade, after all) but once I do that's going to make everything so much easier! Also, this new tablet has pressure sensitivity, which my old one did not, and it's really throwing me off in the early goings, haha!
Because of my work schedule with the comics, I had to go ahead this morning and start the next page of FFC. I kind of hate to start with the new tablet in the middle of a scene like this, because I'm afraid the coloring is going to change somewhat drastically mid-scene and I don't want that...but I also don't want to put off hooking up my new tablet for a couple of months either, so we're going forward with it. I'm of two minds about what I discovered with the tablet this morning. On one hand, I don't think I'm going to be able to make it look like it used to even if I wanted to, the pressure sensitivity alone is making working in my old style very difficult (though I am going to at least attempt to keep some continuity for the time being since, as I said, we're in the middle of a scene). On the other hand, though? Damn, but the coloring I did yesterday is closer to the style I've always WANTED to color in than I've ever been before! The sensitive pen makes doing a more cell-shaded look SO much easier! I'm not one to blame my lack of artistic ability on my tools - I firmly believe that there were ways to achieve the look I wanted with my old tablet, or even just with a mouse if I trained myself properly - but good lord is it so much easier with this new tablet! I was able to accomplish in one night a style of coloring I haven't been able to approach in YEARS of trying!
...now, if only I could figure out the drawing part, I'd be set.
So what does this mean for my art? ...honestly, I don't really know yet. FFC's going to be kind of up in the air while I figure it out and settle into a new coloring style that matches well enough, but is more compatible with this awesome new tool. (To be fair, it's not like this is the first time the coloring style on FFC has changed...and it likely won't be the last. That comic is nothing but one big experiment, haha!) I have a couple of silly pictures in mind that I might do just as excuses to experiment with the coloring outside of the deadlines that FFC demands, so I can take my time and get it just how I want it. So you might be seeing those in the not-too-distant future. I'd also like to experiment again with digital painting now that I have an up-to-date computer, up-to-date photoshop and up-to-date tablet. We'll have to see. I have some ideas, but nothing concrete for the moment.
Other things I have planned for the new year? Well, I'd like to get vol 3 of Twisted Mirrors finally together and printed. That's pretty much been on hold for a while now. I'm working on a project with (Which I HAVE started the writing for As soon as I get the first scene done, I'll send it your way!) I also still have the sketches for TM2 to work on and I'd very much like to get back into posting sketches to my Tumblr since I really think that was doing me the most good out of everything art-wise.
Whew! That's a lot on my plate, but man, I'm excited for it and itching to get into some of this stuff! Thanks for sticking with me and I'll see you all in 2015!
- Listening to: Gorillaz
- Reading: The Lies of Locke Lamore
- Playing: Disney Infinity
...well, it has a title and a teaser image anyway.
For those not already familiar with ReBoot, I think it'd be impossible for me to explain why I love that show so much and why I find this news so exciting. It was the first CG animated TV show - made in the early nineties...and it didn't age well.
To be honest, the low quality animation isn't that big of a problem to me. The genius of the show is that it's set inside a 90's computer...which makes the 90's CG entirely appropriate to the setting. It's so deliciously meta! It's actually the writing that I think has a few more problems, particularly in season one, with a lot of hokey and childish humor that only occasionally made me laugh due more to the way Bob's voice actor says the lines than the actual lines themselves. And there's several things about the setup that just don't make sense. (Why would winning a video game harm your computer? How did the characters in Mainframe deal with adventure games? Why are the 'net and the web referred to as if they're two different things?)
There's a lot about the show that's really great, though. The setting alone makes the stories inherently interesting, I mean it's a city inside your desktop computer. A system crash means the end of the world! The writing got consistently better all the way through season 3 (season 4 is...something...). The characters evolved and changed as the story went on (character development was virtually unheard of in cartoons of the time because showrunners wanted viewers to be able to jump in on any episode). Hexadecimal remains one of the greatest antagonists in cartoon history and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And the season three episode "Number 7" remains one of my favorite episodes of ANY series. Ever. And it's just an extended parody of "The Prisoner". (I would not recommend anyone jump to watch that one, though, as due to the aforementioned character development I'm not sure how much sense it'd make out of context.)
I love the show so much I actually have it on DVD and make it a point to rewatch it fairly regularly. The idea that we could have a new version of ReBoot with updated CG, better and more consistent writing (hopefully), and a better understanding of how computers function is just the best news to me. Like, find a way to make games dangerous WITHOUT them destroying entire parts of the city...because really, that never made any damn sense.
I'm still not convinced it's happening. I'm convinced that the makers WANT it to happen, but I don't know if it will.
...but if it does, I'll be first in line to watch it, and I'll be quick to let everyone know if you should watch it too. In the meantime the old show still exists, so if you have a high tolerance for corny dialogue and low quality CGI, it's all on youtube. Enter at your own risk, haha!
- Listening to: Blue October
- Reading: Dragon Princess
- Playing: Kid Icarus: Uprising
But I found something cool I'd like to mention. I'm sure people are getting sick of me talking about Gunnerkrigg court by this point (If you aren't reading it, you really should be ) but he's been doing something kinda cool and I wanted to point it out to people.
See, one of the neat things about Gunnerkrigg Court is how much attention to detail he puts into everything he does. Not only in the art but in the writing and world building as well. It's neat to see people analyze the comic's pages to try to piece it all together, but now we've got something straight from the horse's mouth. Tom Siddell has a Youtube page and he's currently going through the comic one chapter at a time and offering commentary on it - from his methods to his inspiration to what he was going for when he drew the scene. It's fascinating, informative and often funny in that sort of dry way that the comic itself is.
The videos don't have a ton of views yet, so I wanted to point them out. As a fan I find them very entertaining, and as a webcomic creator they show how much thought can really go into these silly things. So I just wanted to share the joy.
- Listening to: Barenaked Ladies
- Reading: Usagi Yojimbo
- Playing: Hyrule Warriors
So, in other words, support me if you want to, but don't break your bank to help mine. I know we all have our troubles and I'm not expecting much from this as I don't have that many watchers.
If you're interested in commissioning me, please read the rest of this post carefully, as I'm putting in a lot of information you might need to know.
First thing's first - before you even consider this, there are some limitations on what I'll draw. "But Dragonsong," some hypothetical person somewhere might say, "if you want to get money, shouldn't you be willing to draw anything?" Probably yes, but there are some things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm also concerned with making sure you get your money's worth.
So I won't be drawing anything that's graphically violent (some violence is fine, just not gore) or graphically sexual. On the subject of the latter, I'm willing to give it a go drawing some PG romance scenes, but in complete honesty, it's not something I draw a lot and frankly I'm not that good at it. So while I'm willing to do it if that's what you want, I'm worried the results won't be worth it, so it might be best to steer clear of that too.
I think those are my only hangups, though if something more comes up, I'll add it to the post. Beyond that, fanart, fan characters and OC's are all on the table in pretty much any situation.
As for the pricing, that follows:
Sketch - $5 (each additional character +$5)
Inks - $15 (each additional character +$5)
Colors - $25 (each additional character +$5)
Shaded - $35 (each additional character +$10)
Full Illustration - $50 (each additional character +$10)
To see examples for what each of those amounts to, I used an old friend to make up an example sheet for it here.
I will require payment in advance, I'm afraid. (I was considering a few different options for payment, but they all ended up being too confusing, so we're just going simple.) I will be running more complicated pieces by you, though, to make sure it's what you want before it's finished.
Payment can be made via paypal. My email for that is email@example.com. If paypal doesn't work for you, message me, and we'll try to work it out.
Time may be a big factor in these. I have a fairly limited schedule between my job and two comics, so I may be fairly slow with them, particularly the more complicated they get. If I am running behind a reasonable time, though, I will keep you informed as to what's going on. I just wanted you aware that I probably won't be getting back to you with a picture the next day.
If there's anything else I forgot to add, let me know and I'll add it to the post. Please let me know if you're interested.
- Listening to: Linkin Park (it's true!)
- Playing: Super Smash Bros Melee
So, I thought I'd ask. Anyone have anything they'd like to see or think would make a good filler? A silly character interaction or some question about the world that hasn't been explored yet that I could sketch out quick?
I'm sure I can come up with something so don't feel like you HAVE to, but for the moment I'm stumped, so I thought I'd ask.
((Also? GRIM FANDANGO! Coolest announcement at Es3!))
- Listening to: Barenaked Ladies
- Playing: Mario and Luigi Dream Team
So, I learned the hard way yesterday that it's a really bad idea to look at one's own comic after binge-re-reading a bunch of Lackadaisy. Like seriously, don't do that. Bad idea.
I'm almost done playing through Kid Icarus: Uprising on the 3DS after putting it off for a long time due to hearing about its bad controls...and everyone I know IRL has had to endure me talking about it, always repeating the same thing, haha! The controls are bad - the way they want you to hold the DS is awkward, turning your character is a big ordeal, and after playing a level, my hands are all cramped and I have to stop...but I really like the game. I'm genuinely having fun with it! The game is not that hard, but it's not boring, either, there's always new and varied enemies to attack. I didn't like the voice acting at first, but they grew on me quick, which is good because there's near constant chatter between the heroes and villains throughout every level - I'm sure plenty of gamers found this annoying, but it's kind of charming to me, everybody just talks like they're out for drinks together having a minor debate, not using monsters to decide the fate of the world, it's hilarious! I think I have a higher tolerance for the bad things the game does than a lot of other people do (I don't play a lot of games, so I don't have a good of frame of reference for "good" controls like actual gamers do), so it's frustrating that I'm enjoying the heck out of this game, but can't really recommend it to anyone because the things it does wrong are pretty egregious.
...aren't you guys glad you don't know me IRL? You'd have gotten that paragraph ad nauseum.
If I've been slow to reply to messages the past couple weeks...it's just been a rough couple of weeks, that's all. Nothing major. Nothing dire. It'll all blow over and be fine, it's just the sort of situation where stuff piled up and I wasn't feeling up to being terribly social. So, sorry I've been slow, I'll get to the small backlog of stuff from my watchlist sometime in the next week.
Speaking of slow...so many projects...so little time. I have not forgotten DA, I should have some stuff to post here coming up soonish, including one I'm having a bit of fun with, but a lot of projects I've had in the pipe recently are long-term or are for other people and I don't want to post them here because reasons. So, still doing lots of stuff, just not post-worthy stuff. It happens, haha!
...you may see some new RvB art coming up here...new season started and I'm getting inspired...
- Listening to: Barenaked Ladies
- Watching: RvB
- Playing: Kid Icarus: Uprising
The good news is that it's just some maintenance that the site's host - siteground - is undergoing. They moved the site's IP and it's taking a little while for the changes to set in, so it should be back up tomorrow. (If it's not, THEN we'll have an issue.)
In the meantime, if you want to get to the comic, you can still read it over at Drunkduck. You can get to it here. (This is precisely the reason why I keep the comic at two sites. It comes in handy for situations like this. )
I'll update this post once I'm sure the comic's back up and running.
UPDATE: Looks like it's back up for the most part! If anyone still has trouble viewing it, it might be due to info still in your cache from the previous version. If it does stay a problem, though, let me know. In the meantime, the Drunkduck link above will allow you to at least read the page.
Thanks for sticking with me!
- Listening to: Barenaked Ladies
- Reading: Captain America: Winter Soldier
- Watching: Video Games Awesome