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That time I tried making a webcomic…

Back in 2004 I tried an experiment. I tried making a webcomic on my then blog, Fizzle and Pop.

Knowing how I work, and how I tend to get easily sidetracked or bogged down in details if I’m working on a personal project, my goal was to take some of the pressure off myself by not caring how they turned out; just make them and whatever happened, happened.

I even named it “Half-Assed Comics” as a clear indicator that I wasn’t aiming to do the best work I could.

It was a great idea, but it didn’t work. As it went along I got more and more invested in them until I was creatively paralyzed.

The other day I was going through my past work, reminiscing as us old people like to do, and I ran across them. I still like five of the eight that I made. That got me thinking that I should consider trying again. If I had just stuck with it back then I’d have 14 years of… something. Instead of the nothing I have now. That’s annoying.

My advice to you, if you’re young – or even middle aged – is to do SOMETHING. It doesn’t get any easier to begin something new as you get older. You tend to calcify.

I’m hoping it’s not too late for me to follow my own advice, but there’s no telling; with a pandemic happening and non-existent governmental help if you aren’t among the wealthy class. Sigh.

Okay, enough of that. If I am going to try to revive my half-assed comic project, I figure it would be a good idea to go through each one and talk about the things I like, and the things I don’t like. Get it straight in my head before jumping into v2.

Starting with #1…

The first comic is something I made up about feeding nuts to a squirrel while I was on 'shrooms.

What a start.

First, I’d like to say that most of the fonts I used in these were from If you’ve never checked them out, you should. They have reasonably priced fonts, as well as over 150 fonts you can use for free if you are working on an independent comic, or for a non-profit project. Back in 2004 there weren’t as many options available, and a couple that I used then are no longer available now, including the font that I used for the body monolog text, “Mouth Breather BB”.

At the time I felt that font worked well with the “I don’t really care about this” vibe I was after, but now I think I would use a different font that’s more readable. To that end, I bought Blambot’s Spinner Rack font. I could have gone with a number of free options, but I wanted to do two things. First, commit some money to this project so it won’t be as easy for me to walk away this time. Second, show Blambot some support for the fantastic fonts they’ve made available.

Now to talk about the comic itself. It sucks. It’s meh. The one interesting thing going for it is that after seeing it some family and friends were concerned I’d done ‘shrooms at some point (I haven’t). It’s a good thing I didn’t follow through with the joke about hiring a prostitute.

BUT! It was a start. And sucking right out the gate should have helped take off some of the pressure (it didn’t).

On to the blue. I went with blue to bring to mind (my mind at least) drafting and non-photo blue pencils. Which was also an attempt to tie in to the “not taking this seriously” feel I wanted.

For v2 I’m going with an 85% black. Not so black it’s stark with the white, but also not blue making it annoying to have to read. Win-win.

Finally, at the time I made this comic I had just bought a large Wacom tablet. So I was learning my way around that in addition to making these comics. That tablet is long gone. The comics I’ll be making in the future will be on my iPad Pro, possibly in Procreate and/or Affinity Designer. I’ll need to see if i can get the fonts I need loaded onto my iPad; if not, I’ll do finally assembly on my computer. But I’d like it if I could do it all on the iPad if possible so I’m not stuck at my desk.

On to #2…

My second comic, and I'm already doing a two-parter. This is part 1 of the Rubberband Wars I had with a coworker who is now my brother-in-law.

Derek would end up becoming my brother-in-law after I married his sister 6.5-ish years later.

It didn’t take long for me to switch from trying to be funny to just telling stories from my life. It’s what I’d been doing for years before on my blog, so it was easier to fall back into that than trying to make up new stuff. The trick – as always – was coming up with stories that would be interesting.

This comic arc (hah!) is the first one I liked, and still like. It was also the beginning of my downfall, again only the second comic in, because I started stressing about quality instead of getting them out.

For v2, I’m going to do my best to stick to not caring about perfection. It takes too long.

On to #2.5…

Me, trying to be funny again. This time with deformity humor. Ha ha.

So, technically I made 9 comics, not 8. But I don’t normally include this one. I don’t like it. I only made it because at that time I felt like I needed to get SOMETHING up, and hadn’t had time to do part 2 of the Rubber Band Wars.

On to #3…

The finale of the Rubberband War, where my brother-in-law learns the folly of sighting down one's arm.

I actually completed a two-part story. That’s impressive for me, really. You’ll see why later.

Adding this reminded me of another problem that I didn’t consider at the time. Working on comics that don’t have a fixed height mean that if I ever want to collect them in a book – eventually – it will be difficult or impossible. V2 will need to be more structured. Plus, having limitations forces creativity. I won’t be able to ramble on, and on, and on… and on. If I want to go beyond the bounds, then I will need to plan break points and continuations.

This isn’t the longest one I have either…

On to #4…

"Things to do in Colorado Springs When You Are Dead." An illustration of a workplace conversation about what we hope from the afterlife.

I used to tell my co-worker, Derek, that he was the spawn of Satan. It passed the time. Then I married his sister, which I guess makes me the spawn-in-law of Satan.

On to #5…

"Why Does Bobby Smack Billy" Part 1 of a multi-part series (psst... nope). A look at possible causes of violence in children. Meh.

I had big plans for this, but they never happened. Now I no longer remember what I was going to talk about. This was me overreaching, big time.

Also, boobs. My intention going in was that I wouldn’t censor my language or my drawings. I would keep things to a soft-‘R’ rating. I expect to do the same if I move forward with the revival.

On to #6…

"Zombies: Why Do I Love Them So?"

All about why I like zombies.

I really like this one. But it is a WALL of words.

As for my love of zombies and zombie films, it’s still there for the most part. I recently watched Train to Busan and loved it.

Also, you need to remember that in 2004 they weren’t as played out as they are in 2020. Even so, much like their subject matter, they manage to lumber along. There’s just something about them.

I also adjusted them to a darker blue to help with readability. I still think 85% black will be better overall.

On to #7 (almost done!)…

"When Bugs Fly"

Singing about one of the many times I almost died, to the tune of Prince's song, "When Doves Cry".

This might be my favorite – I know it’s my wife’s favorite – and it also shows why I’m not a song writer. Yes, this happened. My bug didn’t have a back seat, which is where the battery was kept, and battery acid went all over the inside of the car as I rolled. I breathed a fair amount in. It was a 3/4 roll, and I was left hanging. The driver side door got crimped in, so I had to crawl out the window. Surprisingly none of the glass broke. I’m not even sure how that happened. A couple of people stopped on the highway and rushed over to help me out. We pushed the car back on its wheels, and it actually started. I drove it the rest of the way to work. I was a temp worker with no health coverage, so I just sucked it up. When I called my girlfriend (now ex; not specifically related to this) and told her about it, the first thing she asked was if the car was okay. Sigh.

Finally #8…

"This is the end, my only friend, the end..."

It was a comic about how I couldn't come up with an idea for the comic.

A comic about how I was out of ideas. Yeah. Horrible sign.

I started this project on March 1, 2004 and by April 6, 2004 I was done. It was clear to me that I could never be a daily comic artist.

That tells me that, going forward, I need to have a realizable goal and adjust from there.

  • I’m going to start with one per month as the target. If I can do more than that, great. If I don’t even get one done, then I’ll reassess the situation.
  • I’ll try to keep things loose and not stress about mistakes or “quality” and avoid falling into the perfection trap.
  • It will be a mix between actual life events and made up stories. It won’t always be clear which is which, and that’s how I want it to be.
  • The size will be standardized; I have to determine what size will work best.
  • Keep the content to a soft-‘R’ rating.
  • Easier to read fonts
  • 85% black instead of blue.
  • My goal is to have a new one up some time in November, if not sooner.