Friday, October 14, 2016


Right, so: first up, the next episode of Surreal Situations is up, which means I've successfully kept up with my web comic's M/W/F schedule for an entire week. Go, me!

I've been reviewing my initial impressions of the process, and I'd like to share some thoughts here. (I'm basically reserving the other blog for the comic itself; I don't want to clutter it up/distract from it with discussions of how it gets built.) So, if this sort of thing interests you...

1. Despite my best efforts to keep this simple, it's taking a surprising amount of my time. The Great Conference Adventure was done on the fly, with nothing more than an action figure, an iPad, and whatever I had to hand. Any text/narrative was either typed into the iPod, which was set in the picture; or added when I posted the images on Facebook. For Surreal Situations, though, I'm aiming for something more like a "real" comic: I want the characters to look reasonably natural in their settings, even if a lot of the setup is structured more like a stage play (i.e. with some characters interacting on a stage in front of a flat backdrop).

This means either not using a backdrop (the first episode), finding images and converting them to the right feel (second episode), or taking pictures myself and converting them for feel (today's episode). I'm not real comfortable with using other people's images, even if I'm converting them and adding elements in a way that I think constitutes Fair Use, so I'm probably not going to do any more of that. Unfortunately, that limits what I have available.

The original plan was to use some playsets for the settings, and there will almost certainly be some of that. Unfortunately... A) I started off in the Zombie Apocalypse setting, and there are remarkably few playsets available for that; B) even if such things were readily available, I'm doing this on a pretty small budget; C) and more to the point, I don't have a place where I could store a bunch of playsets and set them up to take pictures. And that's assuming that the boys wouldn't immediately raid such a setup for things to play with, which... ha! Not very likely.

I've thought of some possibilities, but a lot of them involve time and attention: garage sales, secondhand toy stores, leftover aquarium decorations, and things like that. That's all doable, but none of those options are much help when I start thinking, "Aha! For this next scene, I really need some sort of farmhouse with a porch and a kitchen!" (And, again, there's the question of where in the hell I'm supposed to put such things when I'm not using them.)

Some things could be built out of cardboard (which is actually something of a family tradition), but that runs into the question of time and effort as well as storage. This is supposed to be a side project, not a day job.

For now, I'm probably going to stick with just the figures and the backdrops. That means figuring out what I need, and then looking for places where I can take the sort of pictures I can use to fill those needs. Still, sometime this weekend I really ought to hit a couple of toy stores and/or hobby shops. A handful of appropriately-sized props would go a long way towards making this easier. I would, at this moment, willingly maim someone in exchange for a colorful plastic model of a campfire, for example. Instead, I'll probably have to build something using small rocks and twigs.

2. This isn't going to be a zombie comic, though it will almost certainly continue to have zombies in it. I have waaaaaaay too many other interesting figures to play around with. I started with the zombies because that's kind of where my brain goes, and because it gave me something familiar to build from.

3. That's why I changed to this figure for the main character, instead of using the one who followed me around the conference. I wanted a guy who would look a little battered and out of place in any setting he visited. It seems to be working so far.

There's probably more to say, but those are my thoughts at the end of Week One. Any questions? Put 'em in the comments, and I'll answer 'em there.


  1. Perhaps you should try hunting up some images with a Creative Commons license. Make sure "no derivative" isn't one of the conditions on it and remember to credit the original artist. If you want to restrict what others can do with your web comic, you might want to slap a license of your own on it, and avoid Share Alike licensed images.

    1. Good thoughts. Thanks! I did slap a boilerplate copyright notice on it, but I may need to do more.


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