< Piro >
Thursday - May 17, 2001
This should be a fairly long rant today, so bear with me. ^_^
First off, as many of you have noticed, new shirt designs are available over at the Megatokyo store. Many of you requested the I.A.C. design, and i think that it came out pretty sweet. Sometimes simple is good. I have also put together two different j00 d34d f00 designs - mainly because i couldn't decide which one I liked better. It's also a sort of 'poll' to see who is more popular, Largo or Piro. So far largo is winning. figures. :)
I've also taken care of another shirt request. As you know, all the 'ph33r the cute ones' shirts say 'b4k4^2' on the front, except for the babydoll shirt, which has the BakaQuake image rather than 'b4k4^2' (to me, Babydoll designs shouldn't have anything on the back). Well, now a babydoll shirt that says simply 'b4k4^2' is available. you can find it here, with the piro version of the j00 d34d f00 design.
I'd like to thank everyone who has purchased MT goods over the past few months. As we've said before, largo and I aren't in this for the money - well, maybe largo is ("b33r money, g00d..." - to quote him) - we initially provided MT swag to stop people from bothering us. Frankly, I'm flattered that people like to wear MT stuff. :) I'm almost afraid to draw stuff on the shirts anymore - it usually leads to a flood of emails requesting 'make that shirt!' ^^;; Product placement is a common practice in today's media society. I would like to say, for the record, that I *really* don't plan these things. The '3V1L L33T' shirt was quite literally just a random sketch on largo's shirt on a bad art day. The popularity of this design continues to astound me. Go figure.
We've put the money we've been making on shirt stuff to good use. My trip to Anime Central, our trip to E3 this week, the new server (which is an amazing little box), and the ability for me to go into Michigan Book and Supply and treat myself to new art stuffs from time to time, etc. :) The other thing it does is help assure that MT will not only continue, but grow into areas that Largo and I couldn't do on our own. We do have evil plans, oh, so evil...
I feel kinda bad about last week and this week. I'm not one to take a break from things, i'm pretty happy working on stuff all the time. But between two trips, my schedule at work, and the fact that largo and I started bickering about things - a break was needed. The first thing the break did was give me the chance to work overtime at work to make up for the stuff i should have been doing last friday -_- (if you think my 'break' involves sitting around, watching anime and playing games, i'm afraid that's not the way it's been working :P) Freedom for a few weeks from the rigid schedule of the comic, however, has really helped me refresh my creative batteries - i've been doing a lot of freesketching, random drawings, sketching around into things that aren't MT related. This is *very* good for my creativity.
I think i know what was bothering me... i had lost some of my creative flair. It's nice to have it back. Duffin around at Anime Central, sketching things at random, finally reading the last volume of Nausicaa, watching the Replacement Killers on TV (i love that movie - don't ask me why... it has a really acute 'feel' to it. i know, there is no plot :P) And I've even learned a few things this week. Lee Martin, bless his soul, sent me the magic formula for cleanly masking out lines in photoshop so i can paint 'behind' them without the 'white artifacts' that i usually have to fight when making color images (take a close look at my 'experiment' in the screenshot above to see what i mean). Dude, you made my *year*. I've been trying to figure out that trick for ages. (yes, i know, i know. I'm sure anyone who knows anything about photoshop already knows this trick.) One of the things about art is that there are a lot of things I don't know - i have a lot to learn, i really do. Well, the side benefit learning this is that you will be seeing a LOT more colored work from me in the next few months. ^_^ I used to spend hours cleaning up the white junk around lines...
Lessee... I'm covering a lot of ground today, so bear with me. ^_^
My rant on monday was a pretty honest and un-edited reaction to my astonishment at our reception at Anime Central. In fact, it was going to be a simple, two line 'new comic should go up tuesday, thanks for your patience!' but, as usual, i blabbered on. :) Now that I've had some time to reflect, I have a better idea how i feel about the whole thing. :)
I'm pretty low-key about my work, as most of you know. I don't toot my own horn, I don't praise what i do. In fact, i tend to err on the side of self criticism. Don't confuse 'self criticism' with 'self depreciation'. Self depreciation is a passive aggressive technique people use to spur positive feedback from others. My comments about myself and my work aren't aimed at encouraging praise from people, it's really just a personality quirk. Above and beyond anything else, i always want to be *real* about what i do. We live in a world where things are overhyped and oversold. The whole dot.com fiasco is a excellent example of taking something really good and screwing it up by not being 'real' about it's potential. So, instead of it growing naturally and normally into something great, a lot of people got hurt because they were sold a bill of goods by people trying to milk it for all its worth. The whole dot com thing is a big joke now, and it shouldn't be. I don't ever want to be a 'joke'.
Hard to believe, but what people think of me and my work is very important. The problem that I see with people who are enamored of their own talent is that no matter how hard they try, they always have an air of superiority to them. To me, being able to draw what i want to draw has nothing to do with 'i can do this and you cant', it has more to do with 'i have this idea i want to express, and i want to share it with people'. It is VERY gratifying to me when people react to a drawing or a comic the way i want them to. So to me, it's not about how good a drawing is, it's about how effectively it communicates and evokes emotive response. Thats why i've been putting my art on the net for all these years. That's why i've been struggling and working so hard to improve my technical skills. I suppose I have a lot to say, and I'm amazed that people want to listen.
I suppose that's what was so shocking to me about my surprise as to the sheer number of people who tried to squeeze in to see Dom and I at the Megatokyo Panel on saturday. Sure, there are plenty of people who will cruise by a comic and read it at work, but how many people are going to take the time to actually visit us? I was amazed. For the first time I got a sense of the fact that I really was getting thru to people. It's not an experience i ever thought i'd feel, and i don't think it's one many people experience. Art is a personal thing, you put up a very large chunk of yourself with everything you make public. The more people that see it, the more open you are to criticism, attacks, ridicule (i think this is why a lot of people avoid art after the 3rd grade, but that's another discussion). But the reward for this exposure is that praise and respect, if you do manage to receive it, hits a lot closer to home. It's a far more personal experience than simply speaking in front of a large group of people. I do that all the time. This was just plain... hard to describe.
A long time ago I talked about the concept of 'emotional commitment' to anime shows and series. There are reasons we get attached to characters and stories. As much as people might like to say it's 'just entertainment', in reality it's far more than that. People need good entertainment. They connect with it, identify with it, commiserate with it and draw inspiration from it. Usually in small, comfortable ways that make you feel good, and sometimes it can help you just get thru a bad day. Often, it does even more than that. Growing up can be a struggle, and life is always complicated. Having something we can turn to that we feel is part of our own helps us deal with hard times. Entertainment inspires people to not only be creative, but sometimes just to jog along with everyday life. People who provide entertaimnent sometimes just love doing it. It makes you feel good to make someone 'feel' ... good, happy, touched, enraged, sad - whatever range of emotion you want to communicate.
Everyone who came to that panel, as well as many of you who are reading this, have in some small way become emotionally attached to the work largo and I do here with Megatokyo (otherwise why would you read such a long and pointless rant ^_^). I don't really know why, but for some reason you all have found something about Megatokyo that is worthy of attaching yourselves to. ^_^ To me, this represents an real responsibility, and one I'm happy enough to deal with. In much the same way that largo and I are very 'exposed' to public, you as a reader are exposed to the future course of our works. Anyone who's watched Evangelion knows that this can be a bumpy ride. :)
Largo and I often joke about the fact that the success we've had with Megatokyo says an awful lot about the failure of the entertainment industry in the US. The fact that two hacks like us can reach so many people in the face of so much talent and money spent to reach you... I think it has a lot to do with trust and respect.
I think that people respect us - and that, to me, is one of the most valuable things someone can give you. I don't think that people really respect the entertainment industry. For the most part, its because they have a tendency to not respect thier audience. They continually betray the faith of the public every single day in so many ways it's abhorrent to me. I watched a thing the other day on how the top 5 media companies in the US literally milk the young population for everything they can. Young people trust them, and when all is said and done, all young people get is a little older and huge credit card debts. And some people wonder why young people are so cynical and full of rage. If your emotions were in the hands of people who were only interested in making as much money off of you as possible, wouldnt you feel pissy too?
Largo and I talk about how we 'understand j00'. well, with that understanding comes one other thing - Respect. We understand, and we respect every one of you. Even the troublemakers i've had to ban from the forums ^_^ (hey, you had your warnings :P) Respect is a two way street. This mutual respect i think is one of the things that makes MT fun for me, and hopefully enjoyable to you. I know all the hard work is appreciated, and you know that largo and I work as hard as we can to pull it all together for you. And all of this is essentially happening in a non-comerce driven format. :) (er, ignore the megatsore banner at the top of this rant ^_^)
Back when we let Gamespy feature Megatokyo comics on their site, some people accused us of 'selling out'. The truth is, we never sold out - we just looked at it as a good opportunity to reach a larger audience. Basically, we are just average guys like everyone else. We never started this to create a product that we could sell. It's way too personal for that. That's why we've had the freedom to let it develop into this bizarre hybrid that is hard to put any kind of commercial value on. There is nothing between you (the reader) and us - not even an ISP charging us big bucks for bandwidth. I post stuff to the site like i always have. It's haphazard, its unprofessional, it's just like anyone else would. Sure, we have a unique situation that lets us get away with this... but it's not like we planned it this way ^_^
To me, accessability is important. I treat everyone the same as i always have. The problem i never anticipated was the problem of volume. Some people have suggested that i delegate my email to someone to review and pass on. it's a nice idea, but i'll never do it. If you email me, I *WILL* read it. I read everything. In fact, they help me get thru bitchy days at work sometimes ^_^. Same thing in person - If you come up to me i will talk with you. heck, thats what was so damn annoying at the panel. I wish i could have just sat there for another half hour and let people leaf thru the samples of Megatokyo art that I brought with me and shoot the breeze about stuff. Next time i'm at a public function, i'll try to arrange things better. i promise.
Thanks to everyone who emailed me who didn't make it into the panel room. I've responded to a few emails, gonna respond to more when i get back from e3. I have some fanart that Khymerion handed to me that i need to scan (I'm going to go thru my in box and link up some of the fan art i've received since MT started - i'll try to do this for the next few weeks). I saw some very imaginative 'adjustments' to some 'ph33r the cute ones' shirts in the audience ^_^, and a really sweet custom 'b4k4^2' shirt that someone made, just like the one piro wears in the comic (i swear that must have been a lot of work!) - and finally, i was blown away by the Kimiko cosplayer.
Do you guys have any idea how weird it is to see someone wearing an outfit that you sorta dreamed up while sitting on a couch sketching character ideas? I didn't catch her name, but she was wearing a pink version of the Idol outfit that Kimiko wears in this drawing. I believe she was working the Anime Pavilion booth, and gee, lookie here, there's pics of her very swell Kimiko gear on Fansview (be sure the check out the rest of Fansview for more Anime Central pics). ^_^ We talked a bit about the difficult physics of the digiko bells for earrings (she was wearing the bells in her hair) and she said she didn't have time to make the bow - but even so, it was an honor to see someone spend that much time to dress up as one of my characters. :)
Gee... maybe i can get Seraphim to cosplay next time... I'd love to see her cosplay as Makoto sometime. That'd be cute...^^;;
Uh... maybe not. ^^;;;; I have trouble getting her to wear cute pigtails. I tried out Yuki's hairstyle on Seraphim a while ago, and it was unbearably cute. :) I *wish* she'd wear them in public... :P
Oh! speaking of Seraphim, she managed to get into grad school last week. ^_^ It only took the grad school eight days to tell her she got in. tsk tsk, and she was worried about getting in. :P Omedetou, Seraphim!
Oh, and about the Acen Panel, Ed has a video of the entire thing - I'm looking into getting a copy and making perhaps a mp3 file of the comments and some screenshots. As much as i am nervous about pictures of myself around on the web, i feel i owe it to all the people who tried but couldn't get in to make this available to everyone. It's only fair. ^_^ Hopefully i'll be able to make something available next week. Oh, and if you have pictures of me and dom ... it's ok if you make them available for viewing. I appreciate the fact that people respected dom's request that you not spread pics of me all over the net, but... what the hell. I feel so bad about the overcrowding and missing talking to so many people that i'm giving everyone permission to post them. ^^;; In fact... i've got some pictures sitting on the Megatokyo webserver - three pics, to be exact, that are 4 years, 2 years and 4 months old in particular. I hope this makes up for missing seeing me there. The first one is of me in a Yakitori restaurant in japan Yes, those are Normal Rockwell paintings on the wall. The next is an old webcam pic of me and my evil evil evil kitten, Hime, and the last one is a more recent pic (you will note that Hime is a lot bigger now - tho no less evil) and yes, i am working on Megatokyo stuff in the pic - and the drafting table is long gone. ^_^ There. Please be kind. ^^;;
So, if you spot me at E3, feel free to stop me and say Hi. that's why i'm going, after all. I'll be walking around with my bookbag (same one piro has in the comic) and I've got a puchiko keychain hanging from it.
Largo is already there. He sounded like a man approaching Mecca when i talked to him a little while ago. I'm bringing my dartgun. I fully expect the overstimulation he will experience today will reduce him to a slavering zombie by the time i get there. One can hope.
See everyone on monday!