< Piro >
Thursday - April 17, 2003
quick note: if you are a UofM student who can't come to the Wizzywigs booksigning on Saturday because you have to leave before then, please email me and i'll see what we can do to perhaps meet up as a groop before you all leave. :)
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had a tentative book signing at Wizzywigs on April 19th, which would be this saturday - now that things have solidified, and my trip to Ireland was postponed, we moved the signing to NEXT weekend, on April 26th at 2:00pm or so. If you live in the Ann Arbor area or nearby, you probably know where Wizzywigs is (Downtown Ann Arbor next to the Michigan Theater). We'll actually have copies of MT book 1 availible (gasp!) but you don't need to buy one - just drop by if you are in the area and i'd be more than happy to draw somethin for you (i always have index cards handy).
Well, it always feels good to end a chapter.
It seems sort of anti climactic sometimes, finishing up a chapter. Most of the big events in a chapter have happened, and there is a lot of wrap up, and when you have as many threads and characters bouncing around as there are in Megatokyo, it's hard to stop this train (so to speak). My goal for Chapter 3 was 60 comics, i overshot it by 9. Not bad, really - Each MT chapter was supposed to be around 30 comics or so originally. Seems like a long time ago...
When I started Chapter 3, I really didn't feel like I had a firm grasp on where the story was going. During a good portion of the first half of the comic, there was a lot of wavering, and some of those extra nine pages are a result of having to stall a bit by extending the story here and there, or doing something more random while i worked out the hard bits.
After comic #10, i forced myself to sit down and map out the rest of chapter 3 comic by comic. I've pretty much stuck to that, with some minor (and major) re-writes here and there as the chapter progressed. The method I use for this is to write a fairly simple outline with a short description of what each comic needs to be. I leave lots of room for development, and it's not unusual for what is listed as one comic to take 3, and sometimes even 3 comics to be done as one.
As i've said so many times before, Megatokyo is an experiment, which is a nice way of saying that Megatokyo is like on the job training for me - when I started working on MT I had never done a sequential comic before, nor been able to write a long complicated story. I've learned a lot over the past three years, including what works and what doesn't work, and I'm always questioning what I'm doing in an effort to improve things.
Especially towards the end of chapter 3, I started to feel a lot better about the artwork. It's still not professional quality, but I think that things have been looking better, and trying to add more backgrounds helps. This, of course, just adds more time to each drawing - I think that for the rest of my life i'll never actually be ahead on anything... i'll just keep making things more complicated so they take longer :)
From a story perspective, I'm fairly satisfied with chapter 3. There are a lot of weak things about it, but there are some pretty decently handled strong points too. Some things that are considered weaknesses to the MT story have more to do with where the story is at than me not writing things properly. Writing is 80% setup and 20% execution. Most of it is about setting things up so that you set in motion the high points of the story. If you go directly to the high points, they don't mean as much because you need the setup and the background to really feel whats going on. Would Kimiko's smile have made any sense without the buildup in the chapter? Not really.
one problem with MT that developed over time, and it's my fault really, is the lack of punchline humor or amusing bits to each comic. There are a lot of comics in chapter 3 that don't follow my rule of 'wrapping up each comic with something funny when appropriate'. For the end of the chapter, it's just the way things settled out. There's nothing wrong with that, but in my own mind i need to get a better balance back. It's like i've said before, Life is funny - not always, but usually there is plenty to laugh about.
Part of the reason for this i think is two fold. First, since i am a story-biased writer and not a gag-writer, it's only natural that most of the structure for the layout for a chapter is based on making things happen. Comic descriptions hit salient story points, and humor is often alluded to or left to be developed at the time. When i was working with Largo, i tried harder to work his gag-based style of humor into the comic. Maybe i've just been stretching my creative freedom more by avoiding it, but that doesn't mean i shouldn't.
For chapter 4 and beyond, I'm thinking ahead this time to give the humor some development as well, rather than just doing it off the cuff. One thing I will never do, if i can help it, is forced humor. That's sort of why there has been less humor lately - if i can't do it well, i wont do it.
The setup for chapter 4 actually has far better opportunities for humor than Chapter 3 did. Some of this is just because this is where the story is going, but also because much of what i've setup is humorous in it's own right. There are some downright horribly mean and gut wrenching things in there, but it wouldn't be MT if i didn't do that. :)
And, of course, my mind has been wandering here and there. I am sort of stalled on Warmth right now - i don't know why, i just feel like i know where and what i want to do, but it won't come into focus. Maybe i haven't really built the skills i need to do it yet. I can probably squeak by on the art, but the writing end - i've never felt so woefully inadequate. So i guess Warmth is going to be for my writing skills like MT was for my art - practice. Writing is hard work. I have to sit down and map out Chapter 4 - which is what I will be doing for the next week.
When does chapter 4 start? probably the week after next. I figure about four non story style comics - we're due for them, honestly. Chapter breaks are a nice place to change gears and do something a little more fun. I have a bunch of things planned - Naze Nani, Seraphim Check, a few gameworld spoofs... heh, i am REALLY looking forward to the gameworld spoof. Somzing a wittle diffewent. :)
One of the more interesting little side things i'm working on is a Haibane Renmei doujinshi idea, which is where this sketch of Memai comes from. You ever have something that just sits at the back of your brain and keeps nudging you to work on? Well, with MT and Warmth i don't have the freedom to just pursue random ideas anymore (which is one of the bad things about your hobby becoming your job) but it doesn't mean i can't freesketch from time to time. :)