We’re Back, Again?

Life. Yeah. I hate this part of the year because the days are still so short and things go so fast that it’s like you’re driving in a car with no brakes. Things just move, things happen but you hardly remember it because the days are gone. Just the other day I was cursing myself because I had to make the menu entry for February so I could blog “tomorrow” and I hadn’t gotten around to it… 20 something days later (all happening in the blink of an eye), I’m back typing and doing the updates I should have done all those calendar days ago.

So we’re back.

First new issue going up on April 1, 2012. I have five months of stories planned with a reserve of 12 months if I really can’t come up with anything. They’re new stories and we’re keeping the name this time (Amazing Incredible will be in “Season Two”) and yes, there will be an explanation for why things have changed in the storyline.

So why HAVE things changed?

The biggest reason is that the modeling program I use (Reallusion’s iClone 5) upgraded the character models and the new heads and bodies are rigged (structured) in a way to make motion and facial animations work better. Every character needed to be converted to the new facial and body structures. I couldn’t just throw the old heads on new bodies, I had to do total conversions.

As part of the conversions I had to say goodbye to a lot of the generic models I used for a lot of my main characters. Johnnie, Timmy and Bozzie are a lot different now (as will “the King” if we use him again). Their faces were all slightly modified stock characters from different versions of the program over the years and they just could not be converted. So that alone has thrown me for a loop. It’s like having brand new actors playing the roles of your favorite characters. Sure, they have the same names and they’re reading the same lines, but they’re not the same PERSON you got attached to.

New Timmy, for example, is a totally different person. Old Timmy was easy to turn into a generic computer virgin who had no clue about life because he looked the part. New Timmy is different. New Timmy will take a while to be able to write him because he just feels different and I’ll have to tailor the part to him. New Bozzie is another dramatic change. He’s a big guy now. Larger than life. Still old and heavy, but not the obese computer nerd old Bozzie was. Old Johnnie’s “puffy Elvis face” is now a “puffy Curt Russell playing Elvis face.” As my main characters, it’s going to be strange working with them because the changes go to the cores of the characters. I can no longer throw them into old stories and expect them to fit as I could with say, the Intern or Patricia. I have to change my internal “voices” for them at least slightly to reflect who they are now.

So with the main characters changed, everything else soon followed. I hated how I used to light each scene. It was hard to get “good” lighting of each character from all the angles I used. Some of the problems were from set design, some from the fact that the generic lighting just didn’t work for everything I needed. So I gave myself a crash course in set design and lighting (as I bored you all with on my facebook group the past few months) and everything is brand new. Lighting schemes that make everyone look good and brand new sets with pre-set camera angles for the best lighting was the result of a work on my part. I’ve scrapped nearly everything we’ve “known” about the series to make it look better and all of that work brought me to the next decision…

The problem with comics and the web is the fact that 90% of us are using computers with monitors (or tablets) in “landscape” mode with the horizontal “width” being quite larger than the vertical “height.” Comics don’t translate well to computer screens because they’re done in a “portrait” mode with the vertical “height” being far bigger than the horizontal “width.” On a tablet or a phone you can get them to look good by turning the things on their sides if need be or by using comixology’s panel by panel feature (jumping from one dramatic panel to another), but for the rest of us, if you’re reading a comic on a computer screen, it’s either going to be cramped so everything fits on the screen at a loss of detail, or too big for the screen so you have to make everything scroll just to read a page.

Obviously, making everyone turn their computer screens sideways to read my comics wasn’t going to work so I went with an idea that the great Lee-Ann Barnaby and I talked about last year: change the format for my audience. As you can see from my test page, the format I came up with is one with a wide screen aspect ratio (2:1 if you need it) and a single “panel” on display at a time. I’m breaking each “comic” into 3 parts with about 36 panels to scroll through per part. The format works well on computers, tablets and phones so far (though the plug in is a bit wonky on windows phone 7), and while it’s quite a bit more work on my part (converting over 100 individual jpgs instead of 23), with a new font choice and size, you can read it without scrolling on most devices. I know that by going to this format I’ve essentially given up the idea of one day publishing these things as real comics that I can hold in my hands, but really, that idea died a long time ago. I just wasn’t ready to give up the ghost.

The new schedule will be the first of every month will be something new. Most of the time, that’ll be all three parts of the new issue but you know, life and my talent are random, so we’ll see where it goes.

I can’t promise that this time will be different. I can only do this time and I thank you all for continuing to support my insanity. It’s been a long time with most of you in my life and I really do thank you for everything. I’m trying. I’m on the right path. So let’s get this thing started (again).

Jim