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 Post subject: My guest comic journal
PostPosted: May 1st, 2012 04:26:22 am 
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Hey, so I just got added to a webcomic authors' Facebook group with like four hundred people in it, and pretty much the first thing I did when I joined was immediately ask if anyone wanted some guest comics.

A lot of people want guest comics.

I used to get a huge percentage of my steady traffic from other webcomics, and guest comics are a really good way to make that happen. Pretty much all the comics I did guest comics for back then are now defunct, so I want to get some new ones out there.

Disclaimer: I'm going to be doing a lot of guest comics in the near future, and some of them will be for comics that aren't very good, or that I don't really like. I'm just saying yes to anyone who asks, and taking it as a personal challenge to make them all good. No-one must know which comics I consider good, and which I think are bad. Remember my Shredded Moose guest comic? That was the best Shredded Moose comic ever made.

Here is my personal Guest Comic Code:

  • All guest comics must be close enough in spirit to the original comic that they could plausibly be considered canonical, though they may vary from the original comic's format as necessary.*
  • All guest comics must attempt to be as good as, or better than the source material. There should always be some attempt to improve on the original.
  • Guest comics must never be insulting to the original, and must never attempt to "teach" the original author a lesson.

*Comics that are especially heavy on continuity may require some divergence from the usual tone in order to work as a one-page installment.

That said, I have no problem with doing completely different art than the comic I'm guest-comicking, and I actually like using them to experiment with different styles.

I will journal my guest comic goings-on here, for the heck of it.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012 05:03:00 am 
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Changeling

I had looked at Changeling a few times before I did this strip (A friend of mine writes it), but I never really understood what it was about until I archive-binged it for this guest comic.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on in Changeling. In particular, I didn't realize that the Jeff Seibert character was actually getting killed, and I actually confused him in the first story with another character, so that I actually thought it was someone else who got killed in that one. Jeff doesn't get a whole lot of character development past the first story, and I'm still not completely sure if his personality is the same between universes. Also frustrating was the fact that there are no recurring characters thus far aside from Jeff, which meant that I'd have to make up my own character. I'm not sure if my character (I call him Harvey) fits visually. Everyone else in the story so far has been young and thin, and has cool hair. I initially envisioned him as basically being Danny DeVito, so if you read his lines in Danny DeVito's voice, you'll get a pretty authentic experience.

At any rate, I feel like the story really fits, and with some additional elements (I had some ideas, but cut them), could have been strong enough to support an entire storyline. Perhaps if it had been presented in an expanded format it would have been less talky. Or maybe it would have just been too padded.

For the art, I drew everything but the faces without even consulting Changeling's regular art at all. Later, I added in all the faces based faces from the official comics. I don't know if they really fit together. I feel like it probably would have been better if I hadn't matched the face-drawing style to the regular art. I tried doing that a little, but I couldn't make the character recognizable, and if there's one thing I want to avoid in Changeling, it's confusing readers with character design.

I had to use some stronger language than usual to get this script to work. I could not remove the word "damn." I attempted several rewrites, but it just wouldn't work.

Here is the finished product:
http://changelingcomic.com/c-g-p-01/

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012 05:26:23 am 
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Cereals for Lunch

Cereals for Lunch is one of those comics where the author presents a sort of fictionalized version of his own mundane life, where milestone comics involve events like getting a job. The strip is mostly arc-based, with a few one-offs.

The main difficulty I had in making a guest installment of this comic was that the arcs are long, and the archive is only about a hundred pages. It's still a very young-seeming comic. I feel like there have only really been a few substantial arcs (Protagonist gets a job, protagonist gets in a fight with his girlfriend, protagonist's internet goes out, so he goes outside, protagonist's friend meets a girl at an Occupy protest). It's only enough story material to constitute the first two episodes or so of a sitcom, and in the first two episodes or so of a sitcom, it's very rare that characters stand out as anything more than broad archetypes. Likewise, the characters in Cereals for Lunch haven't had much time to make an impression. The impression they have made is that they're basically a group of more-or-less ordinary friends, which is probably essential to the slice-of-life genre, but they don't exactly write themselves in a guest installment.

In the end, I wound up riffing off of the main character's man-child traits (not seen much since early strips), and essentially using a Tall Comics formula (character reads something on a website and reacts to it). I only used the main character. I felt like using the fewest possible characters was my best bet for writing them confidently.

I sent the guest comic to the strip's author, and he really liked it. I'm not sure when it will be posted, but I'll link it then.

Update: The Cereals for Lunch comic has been posted.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012 05:37:04 am 
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Adrastus

I can already tell that this one is going to be really difficult, because it's pretty much all story, no gags. I've finished reading the first chapter. Hopefully seeing some giant robots show up will be inspiring. I'd like to draw some giant robots.

-

OK, I've just finished reading the Adrastus archive, and I'm still not much more confident than I was when I started. The good news here is that the characters have been developed a lot more than the characters from the other comics I've guested for. The bad news is, you never see them doing anything that isn't plot-critical. That's not a mark against the comic, but it does mean that there's not a lot of real-estate left for the non-canonical. There are about ten pieces of guest work in the archive that confirm this (for the most part, they're basically just fanart of the characters, sometimes with a quip. Usually a sexy quip).

Additionally, I was kind of thinking since the onset of this that I was going to be able to do some giant-robot combat, since that seems to be the comic's premise, but the giant robot shows no signs of actually showing up for quite some time. The comic is pretty good about getting in action scenes anyway, through simulations, car chases, and human-on-human combat. Maybe I'll try something like that.

Update: The Adrastus comic has been posted.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012 13:36:24 pm 
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"I turn into a cockroach whenever I lie to women." I think the curse monkey is secretly Soncho Michez! :mick: :mick: :mick:

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2012 21:31:26 pm 
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I'll never tell! :wii:

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PostPosted: May 6th, 2012 14:34:59 pm 
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OK, last night I think I came up with a script and layout for this Adrastus comic. It requires making the strip's tone a bit sillier, but it fits in nicely as a possible "deleted scene" from earlier, plus I think I can fit in a cameo from TDJD's Messiah. Looking at some of the previous strips, I think the site might automatically stretch all comic images to fit the same size? So I think I'm going to have to make the dimensions exactly the same as the standard comics.
:jaded2:

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PostPosted: May 10th, 2012 05:41:36 am 
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Unwinder wrote:
:jaded2:


:jaded2:


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PostPosted: May 11th, 2012 11:51:58 am 
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The Adrastus comic is complete, and I feel like it might possibly be a disaster, but I'm sticking by it anyway. One of the characters in Adrastus seems ambiguously Native American (That is, he only really looks Native American in one picture where he's colored, and every other time he looks blond with great cheekbones). I gambled, and made his hair dark, and his skin obviously not white (I did it in color).

No word yet from the Adrastus lady, but I will link you when it goes up.

Next up: The Obscure Gentlemen. A comic that, on the plus side, gets way more traffic than any of these ones I've done so far, and that, on the minus side, appears to run guest comics every single week.

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PostPosted: May 11th, 2012 12:22:59 pm 
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OK, I should be getting a tiny amount of sleep instead of looking at webcomics, but I took a look at The Obscure Gentlemen, and it looks like it's going to be really easy.

Like, basically it's just about some dudes who talk about pop-culture.

I feel like I could just basically take a generic Tall Comics script and replace Unwinder with the most obnoxious guy in the comic, and I'd have something that would immediately work.

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PostPosted: May 12th, 2012 01:07:35 am 
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OK, the Adrastus guest comic has been received and liked. No idea when it's going up.

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PostPosted: May 17th, 2012 00:47:40 am 
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OK, The Obscure Gentlemen is definitely not something that I can just skin a Tall Comics script with. Mostly these guys talk about superhero movies and occasionally, superhero comics. I am, therefore, going to do a comic about that new Spider-Man movie.

The main difficulty I'm going to have with this strip, I think, is that there are a lot of characters in this comic, and in terms of writing, they seem to be more-or-less interchangeable. There are apparently a bunch of guys who do this strip, and most of their comics are based on conversations that they have in real life, which is a perfectly respectable way to come up with ideas for comics (I do it all the time!), but isn't a very good way to generate a cast that an outsider can just jump into the shoes of, since most real people don't go around telling jokes that reinforce their most interesting personality traits all the time. (Most real people don't even go to the trouble of having a distinctive hairstyle, but The Obscure Gentlemen is kind enough to make the characters pretty distinct visually.)

My strip, thus, features the guy I think of as the main character, the guy whose hair I was most interested in drawing, and the guy who I interpret as the "sophisticated one" based entirely on the fact that he goes around in a cardigan and bowtie. I'm hoping that the subject matter will make it recognizable as an Obscure Gentlemen strip.

I know I'm not supposed to judge these comics that I'm doing guest work for, but I can't resist making one positive observation, and one negative observation:

Positive: This comic shows some of the most improvement in writing that I've ever seen. The older comics tended to retread a lot of old geek jokes (Bowser sure does kidnap Princess Peach a lot! Aquaman is sure useless! Edward Cullen isn't a very badass dracula!), but the recent strips have been a lot fresher, and better structured.

Negative: The character designs have gone through at least a half-dozen transformations since the strip's launch (often huge improvements!) but I do not like the latest incarnation, because most of the characters look really smug. I'm talking about Shadow and Chug levels of smugness. I'm drawing the characters to look really different from the current designs, and it's mostly because I want to de-smug them a few levels.

:shadow: :shadow: :shadow: :chug: :chug: :chug:

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PostPosted: May 17th, 2012 05:03:44 am 
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OK, I finished the The Obscure Gentlemen guest comic, and it went exactly the way I said in the previous post.

Up next: Company Man

http://companymancomic.com/

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PostPosted: June 11th, 2012 14:20:53 pm 
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Dear Unwinder,

That one about Spiderman made me have laughing! The one about making fun of craigslist ads that are dumb was pretty ok too.

Will you make me a guest comic? It should take about 5 minutes. Because it usually takes me about 4 minutes but you might need some extra time to get used to not being funny.

Sincerely,
Alden

(ps just have the cat say whatever you are thinking and then pad the next two panels with some other words that sound like they are related)

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PostPosted: June 11th, 2012 14:36:07 pm 
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Yeah, I will do that, but it won't take five minutes, because step one is to read the entire archive of whatever comic I'm doing a guest comic for.

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PostPosted: June 11th, 2012 15:46:53 pm 
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um, ok

good luck with that

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PostPosted: June 11th, 2012 15:57:56 pm 
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I don't mess around RE: guest comics!

:ps2:

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PostPosted: June 13th, 2012 16:36:19 pm 
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So, how would you say your guest comic experiment is affecting your traffic so far?

I, for one, am really liking the creative results.


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PostPosted: June 13th, 2012 20:14:57 pm 
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It's not dramatic, but it is steady! I need to get some more of these done.

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PostPosted: June 13th, 2012 20:15:30 pm 
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I do have some somewhat less obscure strips on my list, so maybe those ones will yield more traffic.

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PostPosted: June 17th, 2012 04:19:19 am 
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OK, I am finally hitting the Company Man archive, and oh man, I am pleasantly surprised! This one is pretty well written! I wasn't too confident that it would be good, because it's one of the most newspaper-comic looking webcomics I've ever seen.

Make no mistake, it is very newspaper-comicky both in visual style and tone, to the point where the guy actually requires that guest comics be three-panels in length, but I am getting quite a few real laughs out of this one. I'm not sure if I'll make it all the way through the archive (it's very long), but I do kind of want to, because there are quite a few good strips in here.

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PostPosted: June 18th, 2012 05:38:42 am 
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wow, is there an easy way to navigate this guy's comics?

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PostPosted: June 18th, 2012 05:50:21 am 
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You can just read it on Drunkduck.

http://www.drunkduck.com/COMPANY_MAN/

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