This is going to be at least somewhat off the blog's primary topic, so feel free to skip it if you either don't give a crap about comics, or only come here to hear game dev tips or how my games are coming along.
I'm only doing this one because I'm struggling to nail down moss as part of my game assets. So far, it's either too simplistic and doesn't look good, or too detailed and clashes with the rest of the game's esthetic... and doesn't look good... so I need an excuse to procrastinate a little. Usually the best way to figure out what's wrong with a project is to do something else and come back to it later. I'm procrastinating with the hope of coming up with a game I can use as inspiration. I lack an off-the-top-of-my-head list of 16bit, 2D pixel games that use moss in the design somewhere. (Already, taking a break is doing the trick perfectly. I've already come up with Jurassic Park and Sonic Spinball as potential candidates in the time it took just to write this paragraph.)
On to the point.
I think I'd like to do a comic series. This isn't something new for me: the desire to draw comics. It started when I was really young. I can't remember my age at the time, but it was young enough to still own a bigwheel, because I remember very vaguely that around that time I had mine stolen. Whoever stole the bigwheel from kid-me, you are a prick and I hope you have cancer now.
Anyway, a short time after that had been stolen, I remember I encountered my very first comic book. I can't say whether I was aware of them before that point, because I was a kid and of course I didn't pay attention to a damn thing... but this comic had such an impact on my life, I can still recall that moment to this day. I can't remember who showed it to me... it was another kid, much older than myself, but I can remember the series it belonged to, right down to which issue it was.
It was the Archie Adventure Series, Super Sonic vs Hyper Knuckles special. I might even go as far as to say it was a defining moment in my life. If I can remember the title some two decades later, even though I haven't seen the person who had showed it to me, and I haven't read it since then, it had to have some significance.
But yeah, anyway, the point of that tangent was to back up the claim that this is something I've always wanted to do since I was a small child. Maybe never as much as wanting to be a game developer, so this isn't something I'd drop developing games for, but it's one of those things, you know? Like trying out skydiving, or trying sushi.
And it's not like I haven't tried it, either. As a small boy, I took a sketchpad and turned it into a comic. It was called Sonic's Adventure (This was before the Sega Saturn even existed, let alone the Dreamcast, so it had nothing to do with the game Sonic Adventure.) The comic was crap. I think I recall Eggman, or Robotnik as he was called back then, had been defeated in the first one by Knuckles turning into a really ugly woman and it scaring him off.
...I was a kid, what do you expect? It lasted about 4 comics, I think, or 5, with the last one involving a vampire that just straight up ate Tails whole. All of them were destroyed because younger siblings. But the series' more funny moments spawned something I called Sonic's Funnies. It was meant to be spinoff of my Sonic Adventure comic but all comedy, like a blooper reel. But I couldn't call it Sonic's Bloopers, because even as a kid I understood that bloopers were accidental mistakes. So instead of Sonic's Bloopers, it was funny stuff, or stuff I thought was hilarious, but since it was more of a compilation of skits based off the main series, rather than an actual story, so I called it "Funnies" instead.
Sonic's Funnies lasted 4 comics before all of them were destroyed.... because younger siblings.... (Nothing's sacred.) Years later, I revived the series. And I think it went up to 26 before I graduated high school and sorta stopped doing it. I actually still have every single one of them, because I did my absolute best to keep them out of my siblings' hands. My brother, not much younger than me, would take them to school (we had different classes, because I was older), and despite being drawn specifically to look like a toddler had made them (I kept my old style when drawing them, because of the flexibility it gave me) they were actually quite popular among our friends, enough that the series became nicknamed "The Funnies" within our inner circle, and so much so that it inspired a littler kid on the bus ride home (public transport... stopped by the middle school, then the high school), and another of our friends to do their own Sonic's Funnies.
The kid didn't know what he was doing, and didn't get humor. His comic was just stick figures, and his comedy was literally just "Don't shoot me! Oh no, you did shoot me!" Probably based on the only page he heard my brother read aloud on one ride: "No refunds on Tuesdays!" "But it's Wednesday." "<Stupified expression reaction shot>"
Actually, the original Sonic's Funnies eventually adopted one of the characters from our friend's spinoff, and from there, other friends attempted to get their own characters in the series, so it's not as if people didn't love it.
I want to give it a shot again. I've been wanting to give it a shot. The only issues are that I don't know if I'm talented enough (not that it would matter much, I mean OnePunch Man and all)....
"Quit being modest, you idiot! You're not fooling anyone but yourself!"
Yeah, alright, sheesh! Once I get past my insecurities, sometimes I remember that this drawing is something I once did. Though it's not fantastic, everything in it (aside from the background) was done from scratch by me. The problem, and another of the things holding me back... or, well, I guess I can't count not being talented enough among my problems if I'm being honest with myself, but the problem is that the image above took me a month and a half of working sun up to sun down, weekends included.
I've learned to speed it up a little since then... ok, ok, jeeze... a lot since then, and I've mastered Photoshop enough to be a professional... and I've improved so much since then...
Damn, you guys are so strict in the mental representation of you in my head. Won't even let me go down my typical self-destructive path of blind self-doubt and modesty...
(I sometimes give potential critics a voice in my head and use that as a way to refine my work by trying to imagine what criticism people will have. In this case it was trying to come up with the best drawing I've ever showed you guys, where I put real heart into it, and the above is what came to mind. I then realized no one would believe I'm not a talented artist, because I've gone on multiple occasions on this very blog, proving otherwise.)
So what are my real hangups, then? Well, once I manage to stop doubting myself, there's still the fact that I'm slow. Some poses I just cannot do without a visual aid, and some I can't do even with a visual aid. A 3D pose doll would help greatly, but there are none. (None that aren't stupidly expensive, anyway.)
I could make my own, but that takes a lot of time, too, and I'd have to make a new one for each body type. I do have software for creating 3D characters, but they're a pain to pose, and only cover humans. Anything that's not perfectly humanoid would still be a struggle for me.
Part 2: What Would I Do If I Did A Do?
I've decided I like multi-part post system. It's a great way to add a substantial checkpoint to my long posts that have separate but related topics without posting two blog posts in a day and expecting people to catch and read both. That way they're both in one post and if someone just doesn't have the time, they can reach a checkpoint like this, stop, do what they gotta do, and then come back if they want to finish it, or if they decide they don't care or aren't interested, they can stop at the checkpoint and call it good.
So, what would I do if I did do a comic?
I can already imagine people might be wondering about Sonic's Funnies, and I may eventually upload that, but for right now.... nah. The art style would be a point of major contention for some people. They'd think that's the best I'm able to do, and they may not like the style. Also, just because I find something funny doesn't mean others will. I've mentioned on here before, my style of humor tends to hinge on the random, like Action Bunnies, ASDFMovie, Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo, etc. Very much slapstick, very much rule-bending, very much Looney Toons type comedy, except... more raw. Not a lot of people share my childish brand of humor.
On top of that, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog would be outraged, because though the characters have the same names and same basic appearance, their personalities are nothing like canon. Sonic is the avatar of logic, interacting with a world that makes no sense, but he's kind of dumb, Knuckles is an idiot, even more so than canon, and Tails.... well everyone's kind of dumb, frankly.
Don't get me wrong, it's something I've thought about putting up at points in the past, but I'm still dragging my feet.
Get to the point!
Right, had to address Sonic's Funnies first, because I felt like I'd get people wondering...
So what would I do if I decided I'd do a did? (Maybe I should stop talking like Markiplier, now...) Well, seeing as Marvel and DC are absolutely rolling in their own poison, I've felt a strong urge to do a superhero comic. But I think I'd do more of a gritty one instead of a overly kid-friendly one. "What, Superman died? Oh don't worry, he'll be back.... again.... duh." Really can't help but think of College Humor's Realistic Superhero Funeral video on Youtube.
I know, I know. The gritty superhero thing has been done before... a lot. There's nothing original under the sun. It's all been done. I get that. But I hate Slice of Life. I won't do it. I just couldn't enjoy Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, Hey Arnold, etc. Don't get me wrong! ELR had some brilliant comedy, and Hey Arnold was undeniably one of the best cartoons ever made, but I just don't like Slice of Life. I actually developed my own catch-all saying for the genre. "Life is boring enough as it is. Why would I want to watch someone else's boring life when I could just as easily live my own boring life?"
So I'd want to do something with a fictional twist, and superhero stuff is already something I've wanted to do for over a decade. Hell, there was a Create Your Own Superhero contest I almost entered ages ago. My mom discouraged me from entering because my super hero wasn't original enough. She was right, though... my hero was literally just Sabertooth from X-Men, minus the healing, and a hero instead of a villain. I was woefully unoriginal when I was younger...
But to quote one of the greatest mottos I've ever come across: "Don't try to be original, try to be good." Something I live by now. I'd never straight up plagiarize something, but I'm not going to try to do something never ever done before ever. It would be a colossal waste of my time.
I'm well aware that a gritty comic will alienate a huge portion of potential audience, but one thing I really hate is a hero whose moral compass lies somewhere between #FFFFFF and #F5F5F5. (For those of you who aren't familiar with color code, that's pure white and indistinguishably less white.) And I extra hate villains whose character boils down to the living essence of the element "Muahahaha", on the periodic table...
I totally didn't make that up. It's an element on the periodic table, so shut up...
Sadly, children, preteens, and the early post-pubescents can't comprehend more than #FFFFFF and #000000 morality. (Pure white, and total black). Hell, I couldn't either, until Dragon Ball Z came along and turned my understanding of story upside down. That shit blew my freakin mind. "What, the good guy can lose? The villain can win!?"
Dragon Ball Z is another one of those influences I had as a young kid that totally changed the way I think. I discovered Dragon Ball Z through a friend of mine when I was still back in grade school. He would talk about it all the time. Then one day I finally caught it on tv by chance, and started watching it. To say it left a mark on me is an understatement.
Violence, real violence. They weren't just comedically hitting each other with cartoonish sound effects, they were actually beating the ever-loving hell out of each other for no other purpose than to kill each other. And characters weren't completely fine again from one scene to the next. Their damage actually mattered. And then, episodes would end, but the story wasn't over. Things stung together, outcomes had weight. Dragon Ball Z single-handedly killed my interest in shows like the Flintsones, the Jetsons, Dexter's Lab, etc, where nothing mattered from one episode to the next. One example I use all the time is Dexter's Lab. There's one episode where Dexter and Mandark spend so much time arguing and fighting that the Earth is destroyed by meteors. The episode ends with them stuck in space, blaming each other. The very next episode, everything is back to normal again.
I love anti-heroes who have a grey morality, I love villains who are deep and complex, and I hate the candy-coated endings where nothing really matters because Superman can never really die even if he really dies.
Among my favorite heroes are actually villains. Vegeta, totally self-serving, arrogant, uncaring. Goes from trying to destroy Earth and gain immortality to protecting it. Shadow the Hedgehog, though poorly written, he's a do-it-his-own-way character who lives by his own rules. Venom, hell bent on killing Spiderman, makes a great unlikely hero. (Ok, honestly I don't know that much about Venom. I just know he's bad and sometimes saves the world. Despite my love of comics, I've read tragically few.)
I enjoy exploring the darker elements of good characters, and intricacies of villains too much to write for-kids crap.
Also, I've noticed that my best characters usually end up being ones with the best defined sexuality and sex life. I don't know why...
My two greatest characters are the ones I've put most thought into their sexual aspects, and are the ones that are the least restrained of all my characters when it comes to having sex. One's bisexual, and the other is strictly straight. They've both developed into really good characters. How I know it's specifically sex is because one of the two tries to be very Christian about sex, but eventually is broken of his purity. I like to have my characters develop naturally, and this one went places I really liked once I allowed him, within the story, to open up to being deviant.
The kinds of characters I enjoy writing, most kids under 17 won't be able to understand. So I'd either have to learn to boil characters down to black and white, or stick to a limited audience.
The Real Concerns
My biggest, real concerns with this is ability: Comics have a specific range of styles, none of which I've ever tried before. My style is plastic to my needs so I don't really have a style, but I don't think anything in the range I've tried thus far would work for a comic like this, so I'd have to develop a new style. Or rather, I'd have to add a new style to the style-toolbelt that is my own artistic talent.
Speed: I'm slow as hell when drawing.
Planning: Ironic coming from someone who has "writer" in the upper right of this very blog, but I'm not a very good writer. I tend to not have a story in mind while I work. It's kind of a problem of mine, where I just start writing, not really knowing where I'm going, and allow the story to be flexible and improvise as I go. That kind of thing comes through in Sonic's Funnies as well, and was also how I wrote Sonic's Adventure. It has the benefit of the story coming out feeling a little more natural because I can throw something in and it will flow perfectly from point to point, and it allows characters to come in or events to happen that were never there before.
Example: I was writing this book where a character was supposed to be the only one of his kind. But as I wrote, I got inspired to add another character similar to the first, and then another, and soon I decided that the character could no longer be the odd one out in a world full of normal people. Since this was all in writing, it was easy enough to go back and change a few key points. Hell, his race didn't even have a name until chapter 4-ish.
However, that wouldn't work in a comic. At least, not without retroactively changing the continuity like Marvel and DC always do by constantly rebooting their same stories and re-imagining the characters over and over.
Another huge problem with the complete improv style is more complex stories. I can't have there-all-along elements or major plot twists or important mcguffins without some measure of planning. I've also had a very hard time writing stories that have a longer, more complex run.
For example: A murder mystery. I'd never be able to write one in full improv. Or, let's take an episode of House as a model. A patient comes in at the hospital, the patient has complications, they have no idea what it is and have to solve it before their patient dies. They believe it's <issue X> because <A and B> symptoms. Treatment isn't working. Suddenly a new symptom arises that shows them they were very wrong, and it's worse than they imagined. They eventually figure it out in the nick of time and it's explained that symptoms A and B make is seem like issue X, but symptoms A and B, as well as the new symptom C means it's really issue Y.
That can't really be done without some planning ahead. "No, it wasn't as we suspected. The patient really has arthritis!" "But doctor, earlier the patient was vomiting blood..." "Arthritis!" "But the patient's skin is yellow..." "Yes, it's a rare form of super arthritis!"
And the last major issue is... In a world where the concept of superheroes and supervillains has been so overly done that you get villains like Polkadot Man, Calendar Man, and Ant Man, I'd have a back-breaking time developing heroes and villains that aren't clear Marvel or DC rip-offs.
And believe me, it takes a lot of thought.... as Static Shock was unfortunate enough to find out the hard way.
My best friend put it best regarding Static Shock: "Lame heroes need lame villains."
Static Shock is a super hero cartoon with some of the worst writing I've ever seen. The series' arch-nemesis character is Ebon, a villain made of shadow, with powers of darkness. Naturally, as you can imagine he's weak to bright light. What's the protagonist's power? Electricity.... which generates bright light. Brilliant....
That's as stupid as making the Human Torch the arch-nemesis of Aquaman, or putting Sir Kibble from Kirby up against Woodman from Megaman. Or putting the Wonder Twin, Zan, up against.... Spongebob or something.
At least Superman's weakness is hard to get a hold of. With Ebon, literally all you need is a bright LED flashlight. You wouldn't even have to be a superhero to beat him. Actually, the Wonder Twins are another great example of needing to be careful how you design your heroes. Any environment that's hostile to liquids would render Zan powerless. Maybe even dead. I watched a lot of their show, not sure if Zan was ever shown to be able to survive being boiled into vapor, or what would happen if he evaporated. I'm sure he'd be screwed if evaporation got him. He'd be rained back down from the clouds in little drops all over the land. It would be over for him.
Anyway, I think I've rambled enough and burned enough time. Not sure I'll end up going with superheroes in the end. I might try a Cowboys and Americans era comic, like Green Blood (someone needs to start correcting Columbus' idiot mistake. Can't go on calling them Indians hundreds of years later), or maybe cyberpunk instead. Or maybe a Bronze Age Game of Thrones type thing. That could potentially fail, though, because I don't know a lot about the Bronze Age. I know it's not too terribly different from the Iron Age, but there's still a big difference. Still could be interesting to do a Roman-style Game of Thrones....