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March 2004 Archives

March 1, 2004

Lines join in faint discord as the Stormwatch brews

Currently listening to: Stormwatch and A by Jethro Tull. These are the remastered editions. Both bear the logo of hate but I bought them anyway, because they are still very attractive to me as a long-standing Tullie overall.
Buyer Beware though: both albums had tracking errors on my Diskman. The DVD player can cope with them fine.

Stormwatch is the last of a trio of folky-sounding albums, but it's much darker than its predecessors. Ian Anderson played much of the bass guitarhimself and I love his angular approach to the instrument. It doesn't sound like any other bassist I know. All the other instrumental playing is excellent. However, the record is let down by the songwriting, which doesn't have the fluency of Tull's best efforts.

A, which I already had an original release CD of, is a much more interesting album musically. The arrival of three new musicians gave the group more of an edge, and the sound was unmistakably fresh and new. The apocalyptic tone of "Protect and Survive" and "Fylingdale Flyer" fit the mood of the time very well, and these songs still stand today. Unlike Stormwatch, A has no bonus tracks, but instead has a bonus DVD containing the long-unavailable "Slipstream" video.
What's annoying about all concert recordings from Tull is Anderson's tendency to a) tinker with the recording in the studio, re-doing much of the vocals, and b) in the case of videos, the misguided urge to make them "more than just a concert registration", which leads to the interpolation of staged video fragments, recordings from other sources and the use of cheesy effects. Living With The Past was marred by this, but the problem, if anything, was worse with Slipstream, where the concert footage is rudely interrupted by a music video set to "Sweet Dream" off the Bursting Out album, and another one of the then-current band performing a cheesy mime act to "Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young To Die", recorded five years earlier by a different line-up of the group. On the up side, the concert footage itself is excellent, and one other video, for "Fylingdale Flyer" is actually moderately interesting. The package as a whole is more than satisfying.

Webpage for the Groningen Comics Museum

While doing a project for the comics museum in Groningen, I've been somewhat embarrassed by the lack of a website for people involved to link to. Now, at least, there is a web page about the project by Libema, who are sponsoring and developing the venue.

Evil plots discovered while you wait

We all know how much fun you can have with Lego. The other day I picked up a catalogue and frankly was shocked by the way they managed to remove the fun factor with neigh surgical precision. They now have a thing called Lego explore, for kids aged 2+. This is no Lego! These aren't building blocks, it's all prefab crap! They just added useless pegs to give parents the impression it's still Lego, it's become a design statement if anything...
And there are some very disturbing products they are coming up with. Take for instance this heavy truck. In the first place, what's with this Bob the builder-crap? In this day and age where nature conservation is the first thing our kids should learn, the most popular toys are of a guy who's best friend are a bulldozer and a cement mixer?! And if you look at the Lego heavy truck, take a closer look at the driver. That's one creepy mother! Unshaven, mean eyebrows, shades, evil smile! He's not there to save the squirrel from extinction, that's clear. Just look at the tires on that machine of his, not to mention the enormous exhaustpipe! Maybe the scandinavians are sick of their heating bills in winter and have created an evil plot to speed up world heating. Yeah, that's got to be it...

Those are real men's foreskins, those are!

cmkaapjes' recent post about lego reminded me of The Brick Testament, by the Reverend Brendan Powell Smith. It's the Bible in Legos, and it rocks.

Trip to Amsterdam

I took today off from my busy drawing schedule to go to Amsterdam for a meeting. I went to Lambiek's new warehouse to talk to the warm bodies of Stripster's editor Henk and the site's technician Aart, as well as Margreet and Bas, who run Comiclopedia. Both these sites will be extensively featured in a project I'm working on for the Comics Museum I mentioned earlier. My project is a digital exhibit about webcomics, and Stripster will be included as an example of the Dutch approach to putting comics online, which is mainly to build group sites. Comiclopedia will supply a lot of the biographical information about the featured artists, and will hopefully get a lot of new biographical info in return for its participation.
All that stuff has to be integrated and scripted, so despite it being a six-hour round trip by train (plus lots of walking) for a short meeting it was useful for me to show them what my plans were and ask them what they needed to make it work. Plus it was nice to see Amsterdam again... I keep telling myself I don't like Amsterdam much, but that is mainly a result of the mood I'm in when I arrive. This afternoon, it was quite a good place to be in.

After the meeting was concluded and some scurrilous gossip exchanged, I had some time to go shopping! First I browsed Lambiek's own warehouse in the Utrechtsedwarsstraat, then I went to the actual shop that is located near its original location in de Kerkstraat (which it had to leave and which Lambiek's owner is now selling). I was going to go to the Concerto music store in the Utrechtsestraat, quite near the warehouse, but it turned out the walk to the shop was a bit longer than I thought so I didn't go back for the happy vinyl-browsing I'd promised myself. At any rate I managed to spend quite a bit of money at Lambiek, and I felt some grumpy, tired, Amsterdam-hating vibes coming on, so I walked towards the train station, stopping only at the American Bookstore in de Kalverstraat, where I found and bought a Glen Cook novel for the first time in many years, and in Fame records store. Because you know, the day wouldn't be complete some record shopping.
One interesting thing about the American Bookstore was that it had quite a nice selection of manga. If I knew the first thing about what is and isn't good manga I'd have bought some there.Unfortunately Fame had gone downhill a bit since I last shopped there; the rock section was nowhere to be found, everything was overpriced despite there being a 'sale' going on, and the basement was full of generic movie DVDs.

As I left Fame, I was momentarily disoriented. This is normal for me, because I'm spatially disadvantaged, but it was extra embarrassing because I was at Dam Square, which is just about the most familiar location in the Netherlands and I'd been there several times before!

I'll blog some of the books I've bought after I've blogged the ones I've been reading.

You're pretty good looking for a girl

Whitestripes.net, the semi-official fan site for the White Stripes, has a bunch of Peel Sessions by the popular beat combo. Plus a Saturday Night Live skit which is not very well-written but the way Drew Barrymore as Meg whispers "meesh meesh meesh" at the guy who plays Jack cracks me up.

I'm a reluctant White Stripes fan... cmkaapjes had to practically cram their music down my throat, but once I got to know it better I learned to love the writing, and the duo's manic energy even at slow tempos.

March 3, 2004

Museum progress

Today I've been to the Comics Museum to pick up a computer to set up the digital exhibit on. Work on the Museum is now definitely progressing.

I caught a glimpse of the pillars in which the computers will be mounted! The artwork is looking really good; it should, for the work involved in the production of the files drove me nuts. I've taken some pictures which I'll upload and post as soon as I've located the cable that came with my camera.

I should learn to relax a little

Mars Gremmen posts a sketched comic on his weblog that Hello You have turned down. That sucks for him, and the story in question is every bit as great as the ones that have made it into the magazine so far.

However, I take great comfort in knowing that he is still submitting scripts for issue 8 (the April issue) of the magazine, whereas I'm all done with my work for issue 9. The moral of this is that I have even more slack in my deadlines than I thought I had.

Still, if I was as good as him, I'd probably have the confidence to just be late too.

March 4, 2004

Home system upgrade!

I'm posting this from my newly-upgraded PC! Pentium 4, two Gb memory and lots of complicated specifications in the motherboard so it must be good. I haven't put the new system through its paces yet, but will undoubtedly find some way or other to slow it down.
Because I run linux (SuSE 9.0), configuration is not entirely without problems. I've got the ethernet card (onboard) working after a few tries, but the sound (also onboard) is still giving me trouble. I had managed to get it to work by using the config tools as root, clearing out all the previous installations and failed attempts, re-doing the auto-probe and then double-checking in XMMS, first as root, then as my regular username. That worked like a charm, but after a re-start (as part of my latest attempt to get the ethernet card to work) the sound card and XMMS are once again not talking to one another. Can any of you linuxy types among the readership help me out with this?

March 5, 2004

Pictures of an exhibition (1)

Here are some pictures I took of the workstation columns for the comics museum:

The columns, still in their wrapping.

A partially-unwrapped half-column, with artwork by Adrian Ramos.

Another one with art by Jesse Hamm.
The printed area on each column is 120 centimeters tall!
The black and white art will look a lot tighter than the color art because I could vectorise it and enlarge the vectorized version. There's a bit of a trade-off though; up close, it no longer looks like the artist's original linework. On the other hand, the color art, which was simply scaled in Photoshop, looks pixelated up close. From normal viewing distances, both look fine - quite impressive, in fact.

March 7, 2004

Config problems mostly solved

Update to my post on the configuration problems with my new machine: I have sound. I had some problems with the sound quality in XMMS, but that is probably just a case of XMMS not liking some sound cards. When I play the same music files in Kafeine, all is well (although Kafeine's interface is not so nice for managing sound files).
I have tried to configure a cheap scanner I got from my aunt, but no luck with that just yet. It should work, it's in the compatibility lists as a fully supported scanner, but somehow it doesn't.

Taking stock

This blog is one week old and I still haven't abandoned it! I must be on to something here.
It says in my tagline that I will blog about politics among other things. I haven' t done so yet, but I will do so as soon as I get good and angry about something. In the mean time, i recommend Harry's Place as my favorite political blog.
Moveable Type has been a breeze to work with. It's easy to set up and the ability to make special templates has made it easy to put a simplified version of the blog on my main site, rocr.net. I'm still working on a php template to integrate directly with the Xepher mirror. And maybe a Javascript template for integration with other sites. Problem is that I don't like working with Javascript much and have already forgotten most of what little I know about PHP.

I've invited three co-bloggers; they will keep me on the ball when work is swamping me or when I just can't be bothered. So far I haven't really needed them though.

I don't know how many people read the blog, but it could be a fair number by now. Do give me a shout-out in the comments!

March 8, 2004

Plans for the future

Despite being as swamped with work as I've ever been, I want to, indeed have to, look at the future a bit - and at the past.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of my first webcomic. Back in November of 1994, I first put a Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story online, in Dutch and with terrible scan quality. Since October I've been working intermittently to translate the comic into English and make those old, crudely-drawn episodes presentable for the web. Back then, I had no idea what I was doing; now, I have at least a vague idea. "The Stone of Contention" will run either exclusively on Modern Tales while a contemporary ROCR story is running as well, or it will run on ROCR.net and Modern Tales while the regular ROCR takes a hiatus. I haven't decided yet. See a preview.

One series that will probably not run on ROCR.net is a collaborative series I'm planning with Geir Strøm and Daniel Østvold. This is a collection of stories that the three of us have been involved in since 1995, several of which I have published as minicomics. It's called "Chronicles of the Witch Queen" and will also not run on Modern Tales but instead on a new Webcomicsnation.com site. It will probably be subscription-based unless we change our minds. We will start by reissuing the early stories (which will allow us to build a buffer of no less than six months!) , followed by new material including a sequel to Courtly Manners. Of this sequel, seven pages are drawn.

Here's a preview, and Modern Tales subscribers can look at some sketches in the Book of all Things.

March 9, 2004

Comics in the exhibit (1)

One advantage of setting up a webcomics exhibit is that it's a good reason to finally read the archives of famous webcomics that you know you should be reading anyway. One disadvantage is that you get to slog through huge webcomics archives in a short period of time.

This week, I'll be listing some of the comics in the exhibit. I want to start off with two that distinguished themselves by having a "best of" page in which I could easily find their most-loved work:
Boxjam's Doodle and Sluggy Freelance. Both are well-known (or should be) but deserve extra mention anyway for this good practice.

Comics in the exhibit (2)

Another comic that follows the "best practice" of having a Best Of archive and therefore deserves an early mention is Hans Bjordahl's pioneering Where the Buffalo Roam. On the internet before there was a web, WTBR doesn't quite have the polish of many modern-day webcomisc and takes little or no advantage of the formal possibilities offered by online publication. It's simply a humorous strip, probably made with newspaper syndication in mind. And Columbus was just a schlub who got lost...

Comics for the exhibit (3)

Another one that tried to make my work easier (although I ended up making my own selection from mostly the earlier ones) is Dr. Fun by David Farley. A very early, Far Side-inspired cartoon series that may well have been the first Webcomic, and is still going.

March 10, 2004

Sketchbook update

In addition to the ones that I've been posting along with the day's ROCR comics, there are some new sketches for some earlier ROCR installments in the Book of All Things. Some more will appear in the next few days.

Comics in the exhibit (4)

Two creators who went above and beyond the call of duty: Maritza Campos of College Roomies from Hell!!!, and Adrian Ramos of Count Your Sheep.
Maritza made available color versions of her comics, which are not currently in her online archive. They may be back there some day, but until then, the museum has a nice rarity on its hard drives.
Adrian went one further and (at my request) had 20 comics translated into Dutch so that Dutch-speaking children could read them. There are very few comics online that are appealing to young readers and Count Your Sheep, while not being strictly a kids' comic, is among the very best of them.


My studio-mate Marjolein has the coolest ringtone on her cellphone. It goes "Brrriiinngg". Like an old bakelite rotary-dial phone. This is what cellphones would sound like if they were made in the German Democratic Republic, and it's what they should sound like.

March 11, 2004

Comics in the exhibit (5)

Bruno is one of those comics that you know you should read, but whose archives are a bit intimidating. I've finally done it, and feel humbled. Christopher Baldwin does realism extremely well, to the point where I start to wonder what I'm doing writing a fantasy comic. Then in the ghost story and the dream sequence he also proves that he can do fantasy better than almost anyone.
There is no other comic remotely like Bruno, to the best of my knowledge. A shoo-in for the exhibit.

Studio-mate Jeroen was impressed by the art when he saw me rooting through the Vast and Intimidating Archive and later asked me for the URL.

Comic: Desperately Seeking

Almost immediately after finishing Pin Drop, I started work on a second volume of wordless comics. I drew several stories but because I started on a very busy job that year, the project fell by the wayside. Later, there was the launch of rocr.net in 2000 and all the other, newer comics work I was doing.

I wrote and drew this story, Desperately Seeking in 1998 but never published or indeed finished the last panel until now.

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Terrorist attack in Madrid

My knowledge of the background to today's terrorist attack in Madrid (presumably by ETA despite denials from their official spokesbastards) can best be summed up as "bugger all" but I'm finding that close reading of recent postings and comments at A Fistful of Euros is helping me cure this ignorance. Go there.

March 12, 2004

Reinder orders you to like this!

(Or: Comics for the exhibit, part the sixth)

Yet another comic with intimidatingly large archives, Narbonic. I still haven't finished reading but recommend the Smart Gerbils storyline as a good (i.e. side-splittingly funny) starting point. This is what I've chosen for the exhibit.

You need a Modern Tales subscription to read this great story. I order you to want one!

New name for the blog?

Weblogs.com informs me that the name "Waffle" is already taken. So I need a new one for this blog. Any suggestions?

March 13, 2004

I'm reeling in the music and I've only had a few...

Currently playing obsessively: Lionheart by Kate Bush. I'm a huge fan of her eighties output, but coming back home from the pub late last night, I put this, her second album from 1978, on and it brought back all sorts of memories. It's a lot less MOR than I remembered as well, with the orchestration and synths on "Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake" giving us a taste of the eerieness she'd later perfect for tracks like "And Dream of Sheep" on Hounds of Love.

Unfortunately my copy is an old, cheap, much-battered vinyl edition and sounds like it was recorded by a campfire. Needs cleaning up or replacement.

Changes to RSS feeds

On the advise of Bugpowder's Pete Ashton, really a key figure in the UK comics scene, I've made some changes to the RSS feeds for this blog. If you use RSS, and want to suggest more changes or just tell me it is broken now or just plain sucks, do drop me a line in the comments.

Webcomics crossovers

Nifty idea: a database in which you can look up crossovers between webcomics. May be helpful for following the big mess that the FRAMED!!! Great Escape has become...

March 14, 2004

Comics in the exhibit (7)

More artists who went above and beyond the call of duty for the Comics Museum's digital exhibit:

Jesse Hamm of Happygoth
Charley Parker ofArgon Zark
Donna Barr of Stinz
Cayetano Garza, Jr. of Whimville
T. Campbell and the Waltrip brothers of Fans and Rip & Teri
Jeroen Jager of Capn
Scott McCloud

All these artists (and Adrian Ramos who I have mentioned several times before) have contributed hi-res art for the display columns
at very short notice, with little information from me about what was needed (because I was still figuring it out).

Interview with Joost Pollman

Dagblad van het Noorden has an interview with Joost Pollman, curator of the Comics Museum.

Quick summary by yours truly:

  • No precise date has been picked for the opening, but it will be in April
  • Joost is kept awake at night by all the stuff that still needs to be done (I know how that feels)
  • Attractions will include a "Moving Theatre" introducing comics to the masses, a "studio" demonstrating the modus operandi of several famous cartoonists, a coloring room where (presumably young) visitors can try their hands at working on a comic, and the webcomics room.
  • Joost is not a great comics lover, but an experienced exhibit organiser. Even his brother Peter Pontiac was hardly represented in his book collection.
  • Joost also discusses some of the constraints in which he has to work. The museum has no collection of its own and will not be able to do research. Also, a lot of work on the museum's charter content was already done, and the museum's focus was pre-destined to be on popular works from the Netherlands: Franka, Jan, Jans en de Kinderen and Heer Bommel among others.
  • Despite these constraints, Joost has a wish list of comics he wishes to exhibit. The range is pretty wide: he is working on an exhibit on Archie, Man of Steel but also supports the inclusion of young Dutch artists.
  • He says the museum will be aimed at a wider audience, not just hardcore fans.

sunday thoughts on msn

I need more emoticons on msn. I need a smiley that sticks it's tongue out not in fun, but in a genuine childish nasty way. I need an emoticon that flips the bird. I need a smiley with a cigarette. I need a smiley that looks demeaning. I need a smiley with drooping eyelids. I need a smiley that nudges and winks.
Am I alone?

March 15, 2004

Skirting Danger

Webcomic Skirting Danger has moved from Graphic Smash to Keenspot. The new website has a nice design, and I just love the way Meredith Gran courts Keenspot's key demographic in its very first episode as a Keenspot comic. Betcha she won't deliver any of what she promises on Wednesday!

Bah! Bah and thrice Bah

These great music blogs: I Hate Music, Popular and The Naked Maja are all too sexy for an RSS feed, and won't be added to my blogroll for that reason. I can blogroll manually *or* depend on Bloglines to automate the process, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna do both, and Bloglines is my method of choice for now.

Too bad really. I Hate Music is a hilarious expose of all that you already knew was awful about even the music you like; Popular is a wonderful project to review every UK number one since the dawn of time, or the 1950s, whichever came first; The Naked Maja is an in-depth look into one writer's tastes in pop music. I recommend all of them.

DAFTSOD on Graphic Smash!

Yay! I'm happy to announce that my pet project with Adam Cuerden is going to be featured on GraphicSmash! Dangerous and Fluffy: the Sheep of Doom. Quite astonishing if you consider the fact that we only got together march 1st. Since then plans for a joint venture rapidly evolved and due to fortunate timing, we're turning pro. Pretty weird considering my webcomics Cap'n and Belle never got that much attention.
Happy Camper :)

Oh! Thank you Reinder, for introducing us :)

March 16, 2004

Spanish election analysis at Harry's place.

If you are one of those who think the victory by the Spanish Socialist Party in last Sunday's elections is some sort of capitulation to the terrorists, read these two posts at Harry's Place for a much needed antidote, and follow the links from there.

It hardly needs to be pointed out how offensive and patronising such views are, coming just days after over ten million Spaniards took to the streets in those moving silent protests against terrorist attacks which killed 200 of their compatriots.
Best of the blogs on Spain
So, yes, 11-M influenced the vote, but not because we are overcome by fear, or because we think that we can avert further attacks, but because we will only put up with so much lying and manipulation, and especially not when it is the dead and their families that are being heartlessly and shamelessly manipulated. (quoted from another blog cited in that article)
I've set these links to open in a new window and disallowed comments for this post here because there is much better and more well-informed discussion going on in those other blogs already than the subject could ever generate here.

March 17, 2004

Tree Test (archival comic)

This comic was made for the Bries Anthology Wind, published in 1999. I think it was later re-published online in the now defunct Webzine Cartoozine, in color, but I can't find the files.

It's not about making sense

I was once again convinced of this statement when I saw Cory McAbee's movie "the American Astronaut" today. It was such a Cap'n-esque experience. It was not about the story, which was downright silly. It was an ode to film, to images. The lighting, the shots, the acting... The movie spoke of such a love of film. There was song and dance, comradery, a heroic male lead, a great soundtrack. I got really, really pissed off when people in a row behind me jabbered during the movie, laughed in all the wrong places... I had a feeling they had absolutely no idea that this was the work of an artist, this was a movie made with love (and absolutely no budget!) It's a sci-fi movie where there are hardly any special-effects. There was even a scene where you could see the microphone so obviously that it had to be deliberate. I wanted to stand up and shout: "shut your effin' faces! this is a work of art!" (I think this also had to do with the fact it reminded me so much of what I try to do with my webcomic Cap'n.) I didn't ofcourse, and was baffled at the end of the movie when they talked to eachother of what a great movie it was...
Anyway, go see it, rent it, whatever, if you don't feel the need for things to make sense, just be as a creator thinks they should be...

Keenspot revenues, new comics

Via Carson Fire:

Keenspot has announced its revenues for 2003. Money quotes (quite literally):

"Our 2003 gross of $188,475 is an 81.2% jump over 2002's $103,976 in revenues," said Chris Crosby, Keenspot Co-CEO "These numbers certainly aren't spectacular in comparison to major traditional print publishers, but they show that webcomics are a thriving, growing industry that could be a major force in the future of entertainment."

Chris is right about it not being spectacular in comparison to major traditional print publishers. Indeed it's worrying that after 4 years, the company still isn't making a living for absolutely anyone involved. Nevertheless, with 4 years of learning everything the hard way under their belts, the Keen people now have something to build upon. The latest batch of promotions is proof of that. Skirting Danger which I blogged about earlier, got 17,000 visitors and 208,000 pageviews on its first day at Keenspot. Sore Thumbs also posted very high visitor numbers on its premiere day. (Their Extreme Tracker says 21,534.) Those are numbers that I'm sure many a Modern Tales cartoonist would murder for.

Keenspot knows its target audience, raises the quality bar for new comics a little bit with every new wave of acquisitions, and uses the popularity of the comics already present to drive the marketing machinery for new comics. Unless the web advertising market tanks again (always a real possibility) they could well double their takings again. And that means even more cartoonists get a Four! Figure! Check! every quarter.

March 18, 2004

More Sketches.

Thumbnail For Modern Tales subscribers only, I've got some more sketches up in the Book of All Things. These show my layouts for pages from October/November, 2003, when my approach to layout changed a little bit.

There'll be some more sketches later this week. I hope that eventually I'll be able to have what I originally had in mind for the Book of All Things, which was a more or less complete overview of the preliminary work for the Rite of Serfdom storyline, without interruptions.

(I'm afraid the link goes to a whole archive chapter rather than only the new sketches. You will see some sketches you've seen before. Can't be helped, because this is the only way the archives can retain some consistency.)

Symbol for webcomics?

A request came in from the Comics Museum's graphic designer. She needs a symbol representing webcomics for a placard in the museum. Since she asked two days ago, I've been unable to think of any. Does such a thing exist or will I have to use some of my copious spare time and brainpower to create one?

Update: I thought I had found what I was looking for in Scott McCloud's symbol for Digital Comics (See Page 200 of Reinventing Comics) but the graphics people need something with more of a human touch in it. Hmmmm.

Comics for the Exhibit (8)

One of the great things about doing this exhibit is that I get to rediscover and re-appraise.

While looking for Holeboy a pioneering webcomic that other webcomics histories have so far neglected to mention, I was delighted to find that not only was it still online, but that the artist's other, regular strip, CultuRe Trap had returned in a new format. CultuRe Trap was what made me discover Christian Cosas's work in the early 1990s, that strange time when people complained about a webcomics glut because there were dozens of them to choose from. I even interviewed him for a magazine I was editing at the time.
True to form, Christian has only produced a few new comics, but it's still fun to see how the characters and style have evolved. And it's interesting for me to see how he's done his entire site in Moveable Type.
Christian should probably have been mentioned among those who went "above and beyond" in my earlier museum-related blog entries, because I asked him to submit material from Holeboy for the columns, but forgot to tell him two weeks later that I'd got enough material from other contributors. At the time, he was still looking for his original files from way back when. So to compensate for this unintentional snub, go and take a look at Holeboy, one of the first webcomics to explore the possibilities of the screen.

When someone suggested I include Ozy and Millie as part of the "Kids" section of the exhibit, my initial reaction was "nah". I'd read it a bit before, and didn't think it was all that hot, and something in one of artist D.C. Simpson's opinion pieces just rubbed me up the wrong way. I don't remember what it was he said, or even on which subject, but I did remember thinking he was a bit of a closed-minded stick-in-the-mud for saying it. I try to avoid people like that. So imagine my surprise when I went to give it another look, to find that not only was it a lot, really a lot, better than I remembered (I must have had a bad day when I read it the first time), but also that in his newer opinion pieces he showed a much greater maturity of opinion than I remembered from back then. I am now reading those pieces in reverse-chronological order, so I'll eventually rediscover that old article. I'll probably find that I was a bit of a closed-minded stick-in-the-mud for reacting like that in the first place.

Cory Doctorow on E-books, copyright

Cory Doctorow shares his thoughts on E-books in a long, rambling text that deserves to be read in its entirety.

My next-door neighbours in the news

Of course, it was inevitable that the book made by the girls in the studio next door to mine would offend some bigot. King & King, a modern fairytale about a prince who isn't attracted to princesses contains nothing that a six-year-old can't understand, but there is always someone waiting to get offended at those yucky dirty homosexuals.

March 20, 2004

Princess Juliana and the media

Princess Juliana of the Netherlands has died, so the country is becoming an island for the rest of the weekend. I agree that the death of a former monarch deserves a lot of media attention, and I'm actually somewhat interested in it, but the media here are covering nothing else! As if the world economy, the war on terror, the democratic process in the USA and all other important issues are taking a breather out of respect for a member of a small country's royal family member who has been retired from active duty for a generation.

Still, it's not entirely wasted on me. She did lead an interesting life, after all.

March 21, 2004

Stop linking to rocr.reinderdijkhuis.com

I have decided to phase out reinderdijkhuis.com as anything other than an experimental location. It has proven to be too much of a bother to keep track of the four different locations in which the comic appears, and of those four, the supposedly more reliable Keenprime host, the only one I pay for[*], has been the biggest headache. So I'm removing all links to it from my real home page, www.rocr.net, and rebuilding the cast section on xepher.net, a free host that has a much better track record. There may still be some broken links on the front page and inside the cast section, but at least when I fix those, they will stand a decent chance of staying fixed.

So, if you are linking to reinderdijkhuis.com, please change those links to rocr.xepher.net, rocr.net or to the ROCR space at Modern Tales. These will also be your backup addresses if one of the others fails.

[*]To their credit, the Keenprime people have been very good about not charging for the months in which one way or another it wasn't working. However, I didn't get a Keenprime account to deal with regular interruptions for free.

March 22, 2004

Meanwhile, in another world

In Chasing the Sunset, Feiht has now returned from her little escapade into the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan universe. See if you regular ROCR readers can tell anything different about her...

My next door neighbours (2)

I just dropped by at Linda de Haan's studio, to ask if she'd read the cnn.com coverage of her and Stern Nijland's first book, which I discussed a few days ago. Turns out she had, and more. She handed me a pile of printouts from news websites, and listed a number of Dutch media outlets that had interviewed her today.
While we were talking she got two more phone calls, and tomorrow she'll have a local TV camera crew over.

Sales of King & King are brisk, as are the pre-sales for the sequel. Once again, the censorious impulse has defeated itself.

Harry's place on the Yassim assassination

I wonder why I bother with putting politics in this blog at all... Gene at Harry's Place voices my thoughts on Israel's assassination of Sheikh Yassim exactly, even using the same words I'd have used if I'd blogged it myself.

March 23, 2004

Software on vinyl, for that extra warmth

I've been wondering lately if this had ever been done: putting computer data on vinyl. It has, and it was used for the same sort of things that DVD extras are used for now.

(Via Pete Ashton's Organic Link Farm)

No ROCR comic on Wednesday

I will skip Wednesday's update because I'm too swamped with absolutely everything else. Friday's may be delayed, but it will appear.

I will make this past quarter's many missed updates up to you after my other commitments are fulfilled and I've caught up on a month's worth of sleep.

March 24, 2004

About values and mores

You need to read Dutch to appreciate the fine work of Gudolf Bamboom, former approval singer and inventor of brunch prayers. But he's got his finger on the pulse of the times, oh yeah baby.

The end of Cerebus, as read by a drooling fanboy

Andrew Rilstone's ongoing coverage of his love/hate relationship with Cerebus has got very little attention from the comics blogosphere, possibly because he is not part of that blogosphere. Too bad for them, because he is easily the most accomplished critic of Dave Sim's seminal work. The lengthy and detailed commentary on the last issue is just fascinating, to the point where it makes me regret not having snapped up the final issue. (Is that available for download somewhere? I promise to buy it if I see it...)

In his preamble to the critique of issue 300, he also asks this question:

Question: Moore has not been vilified for Promethea to anything like the extent that Sim has been vilified for 'Chasing YHWH'. Is there a prejudice which says that Tarot cards and worshipping snakes is 'New Age' and therefore good; but studying the Torah and fasting is 'religious' and therefore bad? Both (in the forms that they take for Sim and Moore) seem pretty barking to be.

This is worth an answer. For a long time I for one have been willing to let Alan Moore off the hook, arguing that his barking mad beardie-weirdie-ness is merely a postmodern retreat into subjective reality. Nowadays, I would leave out the "merely", note that subjective reality isn't reality at all (and that such a retreat is more damaging than it seems), and observe that there is probably a direct line between Moore's theology in "Dialogue: From Hell" and Sim's later loonie-tunes theologising about a divinity that is neither Light nor Void but instead - whatever it is that Sim thinks is the nature of God. In that light, Sim's preface to the reprint of "Dialogue: From Hell" in Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman can be seen as a sort of theological father-killing.

But those are just off the cuff remarks. To consider Andy's question, and that of the balance between an artist's crackpot ideas and the genius of that artist's work in any more thorough way, I'd have to catch up with Cerebus and read Alan Moore's work and pronouncements more extensively. This will take time, but I think I will do it anyway.

[Update: I have now started reading Latter Days. It's much better than I'd expected - even the bad, nonsensical bits are still pretty readable.... right up to the point where the little grey bastard starts commenting on the Torah. I will probably have to revise some of what I've written above in the light of what is said in that section, and the notes in the back of the book, because it's turning out a bit different from what I'd inferred from the commentary on Sim's ideas on the Internet.]

[Update no.2: Despite using the Freud-derived term "father-killing" above as a convenient shorthand for "distancing yourself from those who have influenced you in order to better ignore this influence", which is how I've always seen it used in situations where the influenced dissed the influencer, I don't have a very high opinion of Freud. Not that mentioning this would stop Sim from lumping me in with the Feminist-Marxist-Atheist-Psychologist-Hypochondriac Axis of Not-Sim...]

A slightly longer break from ROCR

I felt like crap for much of the day. After handing in work for Hello You yesterday, my body is now collecting a long-term loan with compound interest. I was half asleep while trying to do design/development work for the digital exhibit, and decided to give up on trying to get ROCR done in the evening. I won't be able to finish it tomorrow because I need to do more museum work first, so that means I'm postponing until Monday.

If the museum work is done by then, I may be able to devote a few days to ROCR exclusively - so I will try to catch up in the first week of April, unless Hello You asks me to do stuff for the summer special, in which case I'll take a few more days off from ROCR. In other words it could go either way next week.

The one thing I can guarantee is that there will be an update on Monday, and I'll try to make it a nice one.

March 26, 2004

I'm head of the class, I'm popular...

A nice start to the working day: my comic Floor is currently leading in the popularity poll of Hello You! the magazine it's published in. Strangely, Mars Gremmen's excellent The Girl Is Mine is a distant third...

Makes me feel good, though. I'm always very insecure about my work so it's quite a boost to know it's appreciated.

March 27, 2004

An Elf's Life is a hard life...

When I started this blog 4 weeks ago, I made a point of not wanting to bang on about the sort of things that I usually bang on about. That's why there's only one post about Jethro Tull so far, and none about Deep Purple . It's also why you haven's seen me telling you to drop by at Elf Life and go through the archives until now. But there's gotta be a first time, and it's now.

Y'see, the artist, Carson Fire, has finally started a set sale of his original art, which I've been telling him to do for some time. "Good for him," I hear you say, and "Rah!" and "Arr!" because a lot of my friends have been saying "Arr!" in my presence lately. But the way he's going about this, and the reason he's going about it this way, both make me uncomfortable.

Continue reading "An Elf's Life is a hard life..." »

Eeeeeeeviiiiig piiiint!

After going to two nearly-identical concerts by Kaizers Orchestra on two different tours six months apart, I was a bit concerned that their second album, Evig Pint would also be a repeat of their first. Instead, we get a record that, while still resting heavily on the mid-tempo, 2-beat tunes with punky energy and gipsy gangster-themed lyrics in Norwegian, is a lot more mature. Compared to the first album, it's darker, but without losing its humorous touches. The tunes are still instantly hummable, even if you don't know the language, and there is a bit more adventure in the instrumentation (not that the first album was lacking in that). Highly recommended.

March 28, 2004

The Panda's Thumb added to blogroll

Thanks to Pete's Organic Linkfarm, I have found The Panda's Thumb, a blog that serves as a line of defence against the anti-scientific nonsense spouted by creationists. It reminds me of the classic Australian No Answers in Genesis site but being a blog it's updated much more frequently. Added to the blogroll in the new "science" category.

FTP client for linux?

I do most of my heavy-duty ftp work in the studio, in Windows. Today, I had to upload the comics from home though, and once again I noticed how much more slowly I work with the command line ftp client than I do with WinFTP LE. I've worked with command line ftp since 1992, but I'm still more productive if I can use a graphical client.
Problem is, I've never found a linux client that is

  1. easy to install (I'm willing to compile from source but don't want to have to do a lot of troubleshooting if a compile fails);
  2. stable; and
  3. as intuitive to use as WinFTP LE (which I don't think has been updated since 2001, and whose usability was stripped down compared to the commercial version even then. I don't think that's too much to ask

KBear, an ftp client that works on KDE, meets the third requirement, but fails the first two in my experience. Filerunner, suggested to me by a computer geek friend, failed the third by a very large margin. What alternatives do I have?

March 29, 2004

One advantage of reading Cerebus again...

... is that I get this itch to play Dave Sim and work on non-standard layouts! Here's the art for Friday's ROCR episode:
Character art

I have not drawn in the backgrounds, because while drawing it, it struck me that someone else might want to play Gerhard and draw the backgrounds in. And you can! If you are interested, fetch the high-res scan, and go nuts!

I'll probably do my own version unless someone sends a version back to me really quickly, but it would be interesting to see how different people approach the background. The only thing you need to know is that it's set inside the Gnomian Parliament, and that Maghreid and Feiht are at a table in the background of panel 1.
In the future, I might want to work with a background artist to ease my workload, but for now, this is just for the challenge and the fun of it, OK?

Dangerous and Fluffy: The Sheep of Doom!

Well, it's 6 more hours before my first webcomic goes live, and I suppose I ought to take this chance to describe how it all came together.

The seeds for D.A. - No, mustn't use the acronym - Dangerous and Fluffy: The Sheep of Doom were sown many years ago - I can remember toying with the idea of a farmer superhero when I was nobbut eighteen or so, but it wasn't until about two years ago that I actually commited pen to paper, with a short dialogue between young Gregory Senthwaite and his parents, which is roughly equivelent to this coming update and the first page of the next update (it ends just before the "Clawed Death From Above" sequence on page 4), though various scribbled down notes set out the plot until just before the appearance of Bledlow (the cheerful, nautical-looking individual you may have seen in our promotional art). Everything after that point, with the exception of a single page that will come right at the end of Chapter 1, several months in the future, is new material.

For those of you who are interested in such things, the original title was Superfarmer, changed to the rather more interesting sounding Gregory Senthwaite and the Sheep of Doom before I closed my notes on it two years ago, and changed to the current title just before we started drawing.

About a year ago, I remember showing these little story notes to a friend, who asked me if it was going to become a comic. And I replied that there was no way it would become a comic, it was doomed to remain a story. I may have privately thought it would be nice to have it as a comic, but saw no real chance of it becoming one, and was resigned to having it as an amusing tale.

Fate has made me eat my words. It's crafty like that.

Late last year, I thought it might be fun to do a guest comic for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. I didn't have much talent, but thought if I carefully wrote the script, I could get away with only drawing people from the front. That... was hopeless. I ended up with a fun script that I was completely incapable of drawing. But Reinder came to the rescue and introduced me to Jeroen Jager. It was a fun project for both of us, and gret fun, but afterwards, we lost touch again.

It's probably only my Gilbert and Sullivan obsession that leads me to compare this to Gilbert and Sullivan meeting to do an odd little play called Thespis, which went largely unnoticed, then several years later being thrown together again to do Trial by Jury and begining the famous Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, so well loved even now... but I fear my internal scholar is showing. As you may have guessed, another event - me learning about the start of Cap'n, being greatly amused and quite shocked that he was mining the vein of subtle, bizarre, and perhaps just a teensy bit perverted humour that I often use, perhaps a bit more sparingly than in the first three comics of the Cap'n restart, but, well, those aliens that Thomas talks about in our first update and who have slept in my files for these many years are in that same style of humour through embarrassing revelations as Jeroen was using. I had to spread the word about this comic, and doing so caught Jeroen's attention, and lead to us agreeing to collaborate.

His character designs could have been drawn directly from my imagination. I was shocked - and delighted. We soon got the first two pages of our comic together, whilst wondering what to do with it noticed that Graphic Smash was about to finish up a comics selection period, sent the comics to T on the off chance....

And here we are!

-Adam Cuerden

Dangerous and Fluffy: The Sheep of Doom!

March 30, 2004

Bothered by "Copy-protected" (i.e. broken) CDs?

Everything you need to know about them can be found at UK Campaign for Digital Rights.

Comment spam

"Waffle" has had its first comment spam! Fortunately I do not allow links in comments, and I was online to delete it on sight, so no harm done.

If it goes on though, I will take more drastic measures. Like maybe propose a law that legalises the use of spammers in medical tests instead of animals.

"Let's see if this shampoo hurts when I squirt it into your eyes, little spammer! Oooh, it does, doesn't it? Just like the last time."

March 31, 2004

ROCR progress update

Yesterday evening I drew and colored a ROCR update in just under 4 hours, no thanks to the studio computer having some sort of epileptic seizure. Strange how that never happens with my home system...
I need another hour and a bit for lettering, scaling and spit and polish, but I think I may run it as Friday's update instead of the one I posted on the blog the other day. That way those of you who are taking the background challenge will have a bit more time (and so will I)... and yes, I know there are some people taking the challenge. I think the original order of the updates works better in the context of the full sequence, but that will be easy to fix in the Modern Tales archives.

Meanwhile, over at Elf Life, Carson has announced an end to negativity, and an end to the crisis he's been in. Pity, really, because I really had a few choice words to say to the spoiled know-nothings who couldn't be bothered to find out the whole story and wouldn't know empathy if it smacked them in the face and then felt their pain fine, upstanding, principled webcartoonists populating the not-really-PvP-forums-anymore forums, but well, I'll just keep them to myself.
One thing needs to be pointed out, though. In a response to my earlier blog entry about the situation (which I can't find because there's something wrong with Carson's blog archiving), Carson (mildly) criticises me and others for handwringing over his actions. While I'm sure Carson did not in any way mean to lump me in with those webcartoonists who called him names over the decision to pressurize people into buying art, I want to point out for the rest of the world that any handwringing I did was over the fact that he *had* to do this, not over him actually doing it. The fact that all he got out of five years' hard work *and* moderate success was the threat of another eviction. This threat now seems to have been evaded, thanks largely to Amber Panyko of the Dan and Mab, who deserves large amounts of good karma coming her way.

So that's it! No more negativity! I'm looking forward to seeing the art I bought, and to getting back to normal.

About March 2004

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in March 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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