Greetings Comic Genesis!
I think this post fits best in this forum. I am not so much looking for critiques on a current body of work, but more guidance for transforming my fleshed-out concept into a complete webcomic. The (working) title is Sticky Situation
I'm looking for critiques on the overall concept, trying to feel out if this is the sort of thing people would read. I though that the comic pitching
section would be better for my quandary, but the rules seem to imply that forum is for finished
comics only. If there is a better place for this post on this forum (or indeed, some other forum out there on the internets) I would greatly appreciate some direction. Also, please forgive the image-heavy post. You guys seem to be especially sensitive to dial-up users on here. The images have a reasonable amount of resolution so that you can read them, but due to the B&W the file size is pretty small. All the images in this post shouldn't even add up to 1 Mb.
Before we get started with my [surely very] long introduction, here's some scans of the earliest sketching around that would form a primordial ooze from which my more developed concept would crawl. The idea is to get you interested with some visuals before I bury you in a mountain of text. These where done nearly three years ago now:
Now, given this you might assume two things. One of them is correct.
1: There is cannabis present, this must be a stoner comic
2: The artist is using lined paper, clearly he is a moron
Option number two is the closest to the truth. Granted it can't really be because I am not (I repeat: NOT
) an artist. I use the lined paper because it helps me keep things in proportion. It also doubles as a discouragement for me to ever try and base anything on this roughs for real. The pain in the ass of editing them out will prevent me from ever getting lazy and using these in a final production.
Option one would seem to be the case, but its just reflective of my feelings at the time. I hate stoner comics, not that there are many of them. They are contrived, childish and cast marijuana and it's effects in a stereotypical light (raging comical munchies, forgetting EVERYTHING, acting retarded, being unable to speak or express anything accurately). In order to give you guys a good feel for what this comic is supposed to be about you need a little history:
As my name suggests, I was once a hooligan not long ago. For the past 6 years I have done nothing but deceive everyone around me, faking many things so that I may live the most self-serving lifestyle possible. I smoked, ate, and grew a ton of pot. I created many schemes so that this life-style could continue as long as possible. While I was busy screwing the people in my life that mattered, I made many eclectic acquaintances. Fascinating people and and crazy, thrilling events filled my life just because I enjoyed the use of a harmless plant which is arbitrarily very illegal.
I've cleaned up, and none of that stuff is a part of me any longer. I cashed it all in so that I could commit to my [fucking amazing
] girlfriend whom I wish to start a legitimate life with. Unfortunately I've found it difficult to 'turn off' the mad, scheming, pot-smoking part of my brain. It still wants to get into trouble. So, as a sort of therapy, I re-visited those old sketches. I had done them when some bad luck caused a scheme of mine to fail. I was broke, and had no choice but to move back in with my parents. There, in the basement, withdrawing from heavy cannabis use and hating the world I came up with those sketches.
Three years later I was reflecting on the madness in my life that had sprung from a simple love of a simple plant. I happened upon a Theme
It wasn't the pot that made my life crazy, it was the arbitrary social stigma against it. I had met many people who where already a bit odd, but transformed into wacky, almost cartoon-like characters because of the legal status of their substance of choice. These people would be quite normal otherwise.
After talking to some people, a friend of mine likened it to the gay community of the 60's-70's. Gays at the time (and still now sadly, though not as much) had a radically disproportionate amount of drug-use (serious drugs) and STDs involved in their culture. Why was this? Human nature
If society looks at what you do and says "that's wrong" then what is your response as a homosexual? Naturally, its something along the lines of "if this is wrong I don't wanna be right!!"
This attitude is what generated those statistics. Persecuting people for the way they are isn't going to change them, its just gonna make them go "well fuck you
then!". If society scorns them for their love then why should they conform to society at all??? Short answer: they didn't. If society has already scorned you then what's to keep you from doing coke? Getting into amphetamines? Spreading STDs? Nothing!
I think this logic can be applied to pot smokers. Many of them have nutty lives on an arbitrary basis. Society hates them for doing something that is safe and natural, so why on earth would they feel they should conform at all?
I think this social property is enough to drive an interesting web-comic. It is not supposed to be about pot-smokers exclusively, but all people who engage in activity that is mostly safe, but society deems "wrong". Now we're not talking meth-cookers here. Those people would be fucked up
weather society was cool with them or not. We're talking homosexuals, pot-smokers, free-thinkers, and the generally unconventional.
These odd, though otherwise sensible people, get caught up in all kinds of crazy shit. I would know, I was one of them.
So I want to tell their story. I've taken the most interesting people like this that I've met on my own mis-adventures and blended them into a small group of dynamic fictional characters. I've generated a good hundred pages of script and story concepts. Its become solid enough to form into three story arcs. I'll start with the middle one (chronologically), then go to the first once the reader is sufficiently curious about the history that lead up to the first story. Then the whole thing thickens up nicely for the third run. But I didn't stop there.
Using my [very] rudimentary art skills I have started to generate story-boards. A huge amount of the work for an artist is figuring out how many panels are needed to match the scripts, 'camera' angles, basic layout, etc. Also I've found most artists are responsible for character design and such. The writer gives them personality, the artist gives them appearance. I've gone beyond the normal writer to completely flesh out my whole cast, from top to bottom. History, personality, appearance, the whole shebang. I've also matched my script and scene descriptions to a crude layout. All pages are a basic wide-screen 1:1 1/3 ratio setup. Individual frames sortof lay on top of eachother, with the readers starting with the 'top' one and working their way down. On most pages that means that the last frame is made up of whatever space was left over that isn't hidden 'underneath' the earlier frames. This allows that frame to be a bit bigger and less 'square' so that a strong background can be fit in to give the readers a sense of space and a mood for the whole page without having to re-draw the background over and over again in each frame, like so:
Roger (one of two main characters) gets interrupted by a horrible noise...
This allows a lot of leeway creatively and yet there is enough form to it so that there may be a uniform page size and all the things needed to be a webcomic/get published.
The script so far calls for about 80-85% dialogue-ey pages and 10-15% action-ey pages. Action is supposed to be like it is IRL, quick, intense and generally brutal. Occasionally it will call for a page like the above, very little-to-no dialogue but also no hard-core action. These are usually visual gags or meant to setup a cliffhanger for the next page.
And speaking of cliff-hangers, my plan for an update schedule is fairly unique. I plan to update on a saturday/sunday schedule. Because of the page layout and my conversation-heavy writing style I never managed to get single pages to be 'complete' enough to stand on their own. So I decided that pages would work in pairs, with one not really working without the other. This allows me to cover ground much better without having to worry about 'wrapping up' each and every page. This creates great opportunity for cliff-hanging at the end of the sunday page. The following double-whammy of two-day-in-a-row updates should keep readers happy after a hang. Here's a good example:
These two pages work together to set up a scene. A yet-un-introduced character yells the (slightly obvious) punch-line. Readers will have to wait till the next week to see who it is:
Its Leyla (not her real name, but what the main characters call her due to plot) letting herself into the house, as is her style.
And so it continues. Well, having presented all of this I think you guys have enough info to give me some feedback. Given that I will re-state my purpose here as well as ask some specific questions.I am NOT an artist, I am a writer who is decent enough with a pencil to sketch up advanced storyboards. Therefore I'm not really looking at advice on my art. I know it sucks already.
1: Is my approach here better or worse for attracting an illustrator? I have assumed that creating a storyboard, setting up the 'camera angles' and generally defining a solid layout will make my concept more attractive to artists because it should take a lot of load off of them. Has this assumption made me an ass? Is it too much? Would a really good artist feel that I was cramping his/her style? To clarify, I've created detailed descriptions on how characters and settings should look. That doesn't mean I want them to look ANYTHING like what I've drawn here. My bullshit quasai-manga style is just what is easy for me to sketch up at a reasonable pace.
2: I've written a considerable amount of script, have three complete story arcs and lots of ideas for more. I know that I can run with this concept. But
is this concept any good? My theme (social oppression making semi-normal people's lives really crazy) is close to my heart, so I'm looking at the whole thing through rose-tinted glasses. Am I the only one who finds it interesting? Would non-stoners/crazy people want to peer in on a semi-realistic portrayal of these sorts of alternative lifestyles? Keep in mind the script so far is totally devoid of idiotic Pineapple Express/Harold & Kumar go to White Castle/Etc. hi-jinks. I think it has its funny moments, but is devoid of cheap stoner gags. There are no cannabis/alternative-lifestyle comics similar to my concept out there at the moment. The closest thing to my proposed 'genre' is a light smattering of stoner comics, and I hate them all. Could this thing ever find its audience? Does it even have one?
3: Any foreseeable issues with my layout and delivery style? The back-to-back twice-a-week update schedule, as far as I know, is fairly unique. Is that because its a shit concept? Also, is the top-to-bottom 'layered' frame setup interesting or just confusing? The only thing I've seen similar is Dresden Codak, but he never conforms to a page size like I do (plus every page he puts out is unique to itself, and a fucking masterpiece!
4: Am I a dumbass for making this post in this forum? Am I just gonna get a bunch of straight-up artists staring back at me going "errr... seems fine to me dude. Needs prettier pictures." Is there anywhere out there on the internets I should be making this post instead? I've only come here because if I do ever get this bitch off the ground I want to use the services of Comic Genesis to publish on the web. I wanted to post in the Comic Pitching forum, but feared I would get yelled at as I am but a newb to this community with only a handful of shit drawings that vaguely resemble a comic.
Thanks you all for your time and interest, goodnight!