I Think I’ve Found My Second Passion

Day Three Hundred Twenty-One:  Webcomics 2.0

My first passion is photography. It’s something I’ve done all my life. (I think anything done continuously from about the age of five or six is all my life) I love coming up with an idea to shoot. Composing the frame is an artform. I love the emotional effect photography can produce in others. There’s one other hobby that’s been a constant for nearly all of my life — creating comics.

Cover to a Comic I Drew Nearly 15 years ago
Cover to a Comic I Drew Nearly 15 years ago

I’ve always loved telling stories — I won two county awards for books I wrote in elementary school. But making comics was a lot more fun. I think part of that came from the fact that I enjoy drawing and part of it came from the fact that comics were huge in our life. We read the Sunday funnies every week and spent nearly all of our allowance on Marvel titles. Comics are also great because you don’t have to describe everything, you just draw it. At any rate, I was creating comics for quite a few years.

The comics featured my brothers and I as well as various fictional characters that were important to us at the time — Nintendo, Loony Tunes, Disney, etc. I would draw them at home after school and I’d even draw them in the family van when we would go on vacation. I’d be equipped with my pencils and tons of paper and while w had daylight I would draw and show my brothers each completed page as I finished it. After the trip, I would hole-punch it and store it in a binder.

Characters for another comic I drew nearly 15 years ago
Characters for another comic I drew nearly 15 years ago

Back in those days there weren’t too many people to share the comic with, so I would share it with my brothers and cousins. This led to tons of inside jokes including causing things to happen to the characters if I happened to be having an argument with a brother or in exchange for a favor.

In middle school I fell in love with anime, but, try as I might, I couldn’t draw as well in the manga style as I could in my own weird little style. So I gave up comics for a while and starting working on fanfiction in this new thing I’d discovered called The Internet. (Actually, back then most people called it The Information Superhighway!)

In high school I eventually came upon the talented Lawrence Kwan. He had his own web comic on Keenspace and introduced me to the concept of a web comic. (Unfortunately, a server crash lost his comic and he lost the will to continue it — a shame because it was pretty darn funny and I was curious where the story would go) I started drafting up a story for him to draw for me, but things fell apart with the rigors of school and AP classes and such.

In college I discovered other web comics I really enjoyed like Megatokyo and Sinfest. After trying my hand at computer animation for a few years, I decided to make a web comic. I knew I didn’t have the patience for drawing and inking in photoshop and I couldn’t draw well with a mouse, so I decided to use Blender, the program I’d been using for computer animation.

I looked around at the types of comics I liked and decided to try a joke-a-day strip. I knew I couldn’t do it alone because I wasn’t the best at writing punchlines, so I roped Dan into helping me out. I decided to go back to my roots and base the comic on my brothers and I, this time adding Dan’s good friend Min.

We floundered about here and there as we worked on the gag strips. We had a few successful strips that have consistently drawn readers in from Google such as our L4D strips and Dwarf Fortress strips. A hardware crash left me unable to create new strips and the comic was in limbo for nearly a year.

When the time came to renew the domain name for the comic, I had to decide whether or not to pay another $10 or so dollars for a site that was dormant and wasn’t really bringing in that much ad revenue. (Which I use to try and defray the server costs) After thinking about it for a month, I decided to re-launch the comic as a story-based strip because that’s what I’d always enjoyed most about creating comics. I pinged Dan to see if he was still interested and he joined back on. So now we needed to set the story in motion so we’d have somewhere to work towards.

In the meantime, I let people coming to the site know that new work was coming and that I was really excited about it. Dan and I got so excited about the story that we got about 10 strips outlined before I had even rendered the first strip of the second season. I was reinvigorated when our first strip got such a positive response from our friends who read the comic. So I continued working on the story.

In our current setup, Dan and I go over what we want to happen over the course of one season. After that, I generate the general storyline and present my ideas to Dan one strip at a time. Usually I have a rough draft of what I think should happen. Then Dan comes in and really refines it a lot. I don’t think the comic would be as good without his editing. He also frequently suggests another direction to go down and sometimes we bounce ideas back and forth like a frenetic game of Pong and end up with ideas for the next four or five strips. “I’m Not Mad” is truly a collaborative work.

I came up with the idea for the most recent storyline almost from the beginning of the comic’s re-launch. We got the final outline written two or three months ago. I couldn’t wait to finally reach the punchline of the most recent comic. That’s the funny thing about creating a comic that releases on a set schedule. The only way to do it without killing yourself the night before is to have everything setup months in advance. Also, it’s the best way to make sure you get to point B without too many tangents. So I’m in as much anticipation for the next strip to come as the readers are because a joke might take months to set up.

The payoff was worth it with Min’s comment on that latest strip. It energized me so much that I knew “I’m Not Mad”, or INM as Dan and I refer to it, would become a first-class hobby for me. Dan and I still have tons of ideas for Season 2 that we haven’t even begun to set up. And we’ve come up with so many while working on our current ideas that we may even end up pushing some stuff back into Season 3.

I’m really excited about the comic, as you can tell, so come and read through Season 2. Season 1 is OK, but it’s quite different from the way things are going now.

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