< Piro >
Monday - June 17, 2002
I think it was about two years ago this month that Largo started bugging me about doing a webcomic.
When I think about it, it really is kinda weird that Rodney and I ever started a project like this together. We have such *completely* different takes on things. Yet from these differences came the inspiration that helped define just who 'Piro' and 'Largo' are. Much of the psychology, physics, philosophy and spirituality of the Megatokyo universe has been developed in an effort to find ways to make these two completely different worlds work together. I'm still working on it.
Back when we started MT, Largo was a huge fan of webcomics but I never really read them. I was too busy hiding in my own little world doing a sketch or two a month, fiddling with little ideas, working on 'envelope' (which was never going to be seen by more than a half dozen people as part of a Japanese Doujinshi CDrom for Winter Comike). I was working on 'Warmth', but it wasn't moving along very quickly. Largo used to pester me endlessly saying that i *really* should be doing a webcomic. For months I dismissed the idea entirely - after all, i wasn't interested in doing things that Penny Arcade, PVP Online, Sluggy Freelance and others do so much better than i could. It wasn't my genre.
Finally, after mulling it over, i realized that maybe largo was right - a webcomic might actually be a good medium to do what i wanted to do - if i could get away with doing things a *little* differently. I decided to try a few strips, and see how it went. Megatokyo was born.
It was based on a domain name that Largo owned, our nicknames, our personalities, and vague pieces of storylines that simply put two guys in Japan with no way of getting home. There were some similarities to the 'Warmth' story (which is about a young American guy who runs off to Japan to escape his problems) but megatokyo was supposed to be more lighthearted and fun - and far more flexible. I couldn't pull off Warmth at the time, but Megatokyo i could grow with. It's growth and future had more to do with our real life growth in abilities, not some set-in-stone plan.
These days even I can't maintain much denial about the audience that faithfully reads Megatokyo and how much it's grown over the past two years. Bandwidth bills do not lie. The comic has grown, changed, fallen down, got back up, dusted itself off, fell flat on its face, stood, run, walked, fell asleep, zombieshuffled, sprinted, died, slit its wrists, bandaged up it's legs, floated ghostlike meandering through abandoned hallways and danced in sunny fields of flowers. I have two boxes of drawings, each stack 4 or 5 inches high - all 8.5x11 sheets of paper. I've gone thru several tubes of 0.5 mm HB lead and tens of those little Pentel erasers. I've learned to like cold coffee.
Many of you have watched Megatokyo grow and change over the past two years, but i think that even newer readers can see the changes that happened over time, both in the comic and the rants that accompany them. Rants are an imperfect medium for recording things, but the do work for taking snapshots of what is going on at the time. Megatokyo behind the scenes has changed almost as much as the comic. We've never been afraid to change if we felt that it made it better. A year ago i used to have to battle with people whenever i produced a strip that didn't have a joke or punchline to it. Now people accept them and even seem to enjoy those, because they are an important part of how MT works. Dead Piro Art days are a convenient way of taking a break. Shirt Guy Dom strips are proof that evil exists in the world.
Do you remember this Naze Nani Megatokyo strip? The one where we we're given a glimpse of what Megatokyo would look like if either Largo or myself were out of the picture (because of a tossed brick or two)? - my version of Megatokyo would be rather shoujo-ish and dating-sim-ish, while Largo's version would involve lots of big guns and people running in terror. It was a fun strip, and it described the differences between the two characters very well. But how accurately does it describe what would happen if in real life if Largo or myself was less involved in the production of the strip?
The answer is that it did change, but not quite so drastically.
When Megatokyo started, it was Rodney who wrote the initial scripts, and from those I did the drawings and put together the strips. This worked great for a while - we collaborated on strips, each of us getting our two cents in, producing some damn funny strips along the way. Rodney's 'does any one speak l33t' strip is still regarded by many people to be their personal favorites - I personally didn't even realize it was an 'Airplane' joke until months later (I'm a little slow sometimes). I had problems with SOME of the things Rod wanted to do (a bloodbath in the streets of tokyo where Zombies went on bloody killing spree was not something i was willing to do) and he used to get on my case for all the 'lame shoujo crap' i always kept sneaking in. The balance we struck made Megatokyo what it is today.
My problem is that i actually have more faith in my ability to write than my ability to draw (think about it, when's the last time i slammed the story?). As i got more and more into doing Megatokyo, i started to push the strip further and further into the realm of storytelling and farther away from the one-joke-setup strips that Rodney was so fond of.
We collaborated on overall ideas and worked together to fuse a real mishmash of crazy stuff: Great Teacher Largo, Zombie Hunting, Rent-a-Zilla, Junpei the l33t Ninja, Boo... It all was absorbed and became part of the overall story, which i was in charge of keeping in order. Over time, however, I started doing more and more of the comic on my own, and Largo found himself doing other things, since i usually had a handle on where things were going.
A few months ago i decided that i wanted to pursue Megatokyo as a solo project. I talked to Rod about it, and we came to an agreement that since this was where things were going that it would be the best thing for Megatokyo if I officially took over and ran solo with it. We reached an agreement last month, and this point forward, i'm officially handling Megatokyo on my own.
These kinds of things happen when creative people work together - partnerships often suffer violent and nasty break-ups - egos clash, feelings get hurt, and the very work the partnership produces is often used as weapons against each other. That, of course, hasn't happened here - Rod and i are still good friends, and he'll always remain an important part of what got Megatokyo to where it is now. This split is a result of how Megatokyo grew and evolved, not because we started to dislike each other. There's a big difference.
The main thing this does for Largo is it gives him the freedom to move onto other things and not have to deal with any looming responsibilities of the grudge work required to keep MT alive. I'm enough of a masochist that i don't mind taking it all on myself.
How will this effect the comic? Not much at all. In fact, the change really happened months ago. The last comic rodney wrote in its entirety is the "Wack a Troll" strip (damn funny strip too). Has some of the gamer-based humor disappeared over time? yes, unfortunately it has - that's my fault. To that extent perhaps that Naze Nani strip was right. Will comic-Largo still act like largo? yes. Even though Rod and I are quite different, we have a little of each other's personalities in us - i can pull of largo pretty well, because there's a little bit of that nutcase in my head too. Rod has some piro qualities as well - he's a lot more sensitive and caring a person than you might believe, given the nature of his comic character.
Will he still be involved with Megatokyo at all? As much as he feels like, really - in much the same way Dom, Ed, Asmodeus, Ukyo and all of my other friends help in their spare time - free to help, but not obligated.
I'm actually grateful to Largo for working with me on the split, and encouraging me to make sure that Megatokyo keeps growing and only gets better. The ability of a webcomic like Megatokyo to support two people is a long way off - but there is a small chance that someday it will be able to support me, enabling me to spend all of my time doing the kinds of things i like to do - the kinds of things that result in stuff like this silly comic.
Oh, and Rodney is still the same Largo he was before MT ever started. I'm grateful to him for all the help and inspiration he has been over the past year and a half, and of course I wish him lotsa luck on any other projects he might pursue. Both Largo and myself will keep you up to date about other things he might be up to. After all, we need to know what he's doing so we know when to head for the bomb shelters...
As for me, I just gotta watch out for falling bricks. :)