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March 2005 Archives

March 1, 2005

Political quickies

Worth reading:
Blood and Treasure: Brand Orange about the men behind the curtains of the Ukraine's Orange Revolution:

OK, so what do we think of freedom as a brand management strategy? The obvious answer is: who cares, so long as it works. I think it’s a bit more complicated than that for a couple of reasons.

And Brad deLong: Cats vs. Dogs, State vs. Treasury, Diplomats vs. Economists on why the economist's approach to international trade, as a way to align long-term interests is more important and, in the long run, more beneficial, than the diplomat's approach, which is to use trade relations as carrots and sticks:


...in the long run we all have an enormous mutual common interest in peace, tolerance, and prosperity. And we have virtually no interest in most of what governments choose to fight about. Who cares today whether the signs in Strasbourg say "Strasbourg" or "Strassburg"? Who today is willing to fight and die to make Vancouver part of the United States of America? Who cares today whether the eighteenth century saw members of the Bourbon or the Habsburg dynasty seated on the throne of Spain?

This has very powerful implications. For one thing, it means that next to nobody in the foreign relations community is thinking about a set of issues that is one of the key sets of geostrategic issues for America today. What set? Let me back up a century and a half.

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Do not adjust your set

Update: They're getting really fast at fixing things. The websites are back. However, it's showing yesterday's comic and the manual update is unavailable, so the recommendation below, to go to one of the alternate locations still stands.

All of Keenspace, which hosts the ROCR.net domain is down with technical problems that can only be fixed at the hardware level. Administrator Kisai has posted a notice. The forums are working, presumably because they're on a different machine as everyone who hosts a large PHPBB forum eventually learns to do.
For your regular Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan reading, go to the mirror site, or, better yet, to the Modern Tales archive.

Continue reading "We are experiencing technical difficulties. Do not adjust your set" »

Comics Curmudgeon.

My pal Danny pointed me to The Comics Curmudgeon which I hadn't seen yet ("unlike nearly every other link he sends me," he sneered sarcastically). Josh reads comics so we don't have to, and what he reads is the crap that's in the paper. A few random comments:

Continue reading "Comics Curmudgeon." »

Hokay. Banned books!

In response to Reinder's list of banned books he's read, here's mine, with commentary. Italics are partially read, bold is completely read.

#1 The Bible - To be honest, I really doubt this is true. Banned *where* exactly?
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Good book. People just get upset because Mark Twain - horror of horrors - portrays Huckleberry's overcoming of prejudice realistically for his time period.
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes With books written in foreign languages, a good translator is key to your enjoyment. I didn't have one.
#4 The Koran I've only read a little of it, but I should read more - it's on my to read list.
#5 Arabian Nights I've read all the ones I could find, but, well, the complete version is something like 30 volumes....
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - People don't like this one because it shows boys being, well, naughty and disrespectful of elders. People want their children to read sanitised pap, it seems.
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift I can probably see why this one gets banned. Brobdinagian whores with lesions Gulliver could climb into on their breasts? Urination to put out a fire in Lilliput? It's a strange, scatological novel. Still shouldn't be banned, though.
by the way, after reading Gulliver's Travels the first time when i was 8 or so, I bought a copy for my own, with a tie in to some movie of it on a cover. They had edited out all the scatological biits. Damn secret censorship.
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer - I've read most of this. I remember how red faced I got when I had to deliver a report on the Reeve's tale in front of the entire class, explaining how the Reeve was one-upping all the sex and comic mishaps of the Miller...
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Why on earth would they ban this marvellous book?
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman Read this as a child. Remember little.
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Read this as a child, remember little.
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank Anne Frank was a wonderful girl, and her death ccan only be described as tragic in every sense. Why would anyone ban this?
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens Charles Dickens is a good author, but damned hard to actually read.
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Have read most of it, but my mother had a habit of cleaning my room for me as a child, boxing all the books around my bed and putting them somewhere in the basement. So books I was reading occassionally vanished without a trace.
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker It's probably shameful of me that I liked the old man in Whitby, the exxperiences with Cockneysin London, and the Scottish captain rather better than some of the main plot points.
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding About half way through, but I have been rather ill this past year.
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Read about nine chapters of it, absolutely loathed it, and made do with Cliff's notes.
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin I've read most of this, but I've never actually sat down and read cover to cover. I should.
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell orwell was a good author, but he was rather caught up int he McCarthy era to some extent.
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell My mother gave this to me on tape when I was 8, thinking it was the Orson Wells broadcast of War of the Worlds. Trusting my mother, I put it on after I went to bed.

I had nightmares for weeks.
#29 Candide by Voltaire - Must read this
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Wonderful book!
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce I like, but do not love James Joyce.
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - Grapes of Wrath was painful enough for me, thanks. just because it's controversial doesn't mean the author can actually write.
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway Didn't much care for Hemmingway, though. Felt his overly simplitstic writting style was talking down to me.
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal - Never heard of it.
#36 Das Kapital by Karl Marx - Should read this.
#37 Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire - Never heard of this.
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - People ban this? Why? The drugs?
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence Mmm. Read a little of it. Wasn't drawn in. Read some of D.H.Lawrence's Short stories recently and kind of liked them (I'm not convinced he's a good writer, but he has incredible charisma that makes you read anyway.), so I might give him another shot.
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley I liked it a lot, too!
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser - Dunno it.
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 The Jungle by Upton Sinclair - And hated it
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque - I'm told this is just people in torment dying one after another, but beautifully written.
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx - Should read this.
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding - Eh. Doesn't really inspire me with the desire to read it.
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys - I really *should* read this, though. I have read a couple interesting extracts.
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway Still don't like Hemmingway.
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Should read
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak - Should read
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey Well, saw it on stage, actually. IT was good, but...
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus Been reading this in my spare time at Uni. However, I've been ill this year
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller I've read a few pages of this. I found them whilst on a temp job I had for a day a few years ago at a landfill, and read them, as I read almost anything, given the chance. Took me ages to find what they were from.
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger Read some of this, but it was the year of my parent's divorce and I was a bit unsettled. I liked it, though.
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe - Should read this
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck - Gyah! More Steinbeck! Are they confusing "banned" with "Unreadable"?
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - I can't say I really liked it, though. Weird book.
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Now this, I loved. But it was a selection in an Anthology, and i haven't yet read it in full. Well! I'll soon fix that *heads over to amazon.co.uk*
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais - Must read this too *adds to his amazon order*
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence Odd book. Force of author's personality carries it and makes it wonderful, kind of like Herodotus.
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck - GYAH!
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl And a good book too.
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - I've read other Vonnegut, though. Sure I'll read this eventually.
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder I don't *think* I've read this in full...
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner - ooh! I've heard this as a radio play *adds to amazon order*
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - My German friend tells me that, having read it, his class insisted on a "Werther's Dead" party.
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Emile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - Gloomy, strange, surreal book - and a godawful movie.

I must admit I haven't heard of a lot of the late-in-the-list entries. Odd.

March 2, 2005

Now this, I say this is unseasonable

These past few weeks, I've enjoyed hearing people complain about the weather. The second half of February saw occasional nighttime frost and bits of snow, which was not at all unseasonal and not that hard to deal with. We've been spoiled this past decade. Being able to sunbathe and swim outdoors in mid-to-late April, that was abnormal.
Today, however, Groningen is under a thick blanket of snow, and at least one night of arctic frost (-15C) has been forecast. Buses aren't riding, schools have closed, traffic has ground to a halt. Going to the baker's today to get bread was an expedition, not just because I had to trudge through the snow myself, but because my favorite baker was himself late at the shop and I had to go to another one.

Continue reading "Now this, I say this is unseasonable" »

I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore

The news today as on Dutch national television (paraphrased):
Some light snowfall has caused minor problems in and around Amsterdam. Morning traffic jams were just slightly longer than usual.

In other news: Heavy snowfall is the cause of major disruption of public life in the north of Holland. Schools are closed and police recommend people stay home. This much snow hasn't fallen since 1979.

I've had it with the arrogance of the Dutch media. If it hasn't affected the "Randstad," it's hardly worth mentioning. High time to set our plan in effect: The state of Great Frysia, Groningen capital. As the major natural resource of Holland, gas, is located in Groningen, we'll have a nice starting capital. It has been calculated that if the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drente had separated from the rest of Holland, it would've been as wealthy as Quwait. In stead of the poorest part of Holland, which it is now.

From Lauwers sea to Dollard, from Schleswig-Holstein to the tidal marsh,
there grows and flourishes a wonderous land around a wonderous city.
A crown jewel with an edge of gold
is Groningen, City and Ommeland

Snow, then and now

Because the snowfall today reminded me of 1979, I asked my parents to send me some pictures taken then. They also sent me some recent ones that they made to show their email friends what it was like. The old pictures were in bad shape - I've done a minimal amount of contrast enhancement to make them readable.

Continue reading "Snow, then and now" »

March 3, 2005

No comic on Friday due to injury

Folks, I've taken a bit of a spill on my bike, and I've hurt my wrist. It's my left wrist, so my drawing hand is fine, but I can't do the computer work properly, and I would rather not hurt myself more trying to finish the next Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episode with this unexpected handicap. Also going to the studio with a damaged bike and reduced steering ability in the worst frost in years doesn't appeal to me much.
I expect it will be all right in a day or so. In fact, it wasn't immediately painful so I suspect it's my body's own cleanup work that's generating the pain, not the injury itself. I have now belatedly packed the wrist in ...er... snow from the back yard and will spend the evening holed up with a shiny Richard Thompson DVD I bought a few days ago. ROCR will be back on Monday.

March 4, 2005

Wrist and comic update

The wrist is feeling better. I have considered seeing my doctor but as there's no visible swelling or bruising, and I can sort of use it again already, I don't feel like bothering him. However, now that the pain in the wrist is subsiding, I'm noticing more how sore other parts of my body are, most noticeably the area of one rib. Also, my wallet hurts from the repairs to the Koga Myiata. The repairs have made the Koga a very happy bike indeed, so it's not a waste of money.

I have been able to do some drawing work, despite being sore and a bit uncoordinated. Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will update 5 times next week and the week after that.

Continue reading "Wrist and comic update" »

March 5, 2005

Handbasketweaving.

For some things there are no words.

The state of Virginia has passed an act that not only bans gay marriage, but bans any "partnership contract or other arrangements that purport to provide the benefits of marriage." - In other words, rights of attorney, child custody arrangements, even wills.

What can one say to this?

Continue reading "Handbasketweaving." »

No, no, no! It says "Professional Webcomics" in the Modern Tales' tagline!

Dude, where's my eyefork? This just won't do! This panel, which I drew for Tuesday's comic and proceeded to color and letter despite being well aware of its shortcomings, offends the eye in so many ways that I can't in good conscience put it on a site that claims to put out professional webcomics. From the broken perspective, the countless "tangents" (points where lines from different elements in the compositon touch and interfere with one another), the chaos of the colors, the size inconsistency between the figures and the overall lack of focus in the composition, this is an object lesson in how not to draw. I can put up with some faults in a drawing, because I'm frankly not a terribly skilled artist, and so I will tolerate the faults in the other panels, but I will not stand for this.

You may wonder why I put this image on the blog then. Simple: if I let myself draw like this, and nearly sink as low as to publish this crap as part of the comic, I deserve to be chewed out in public for it, and as I'm my own boss, there's no one else to do it. So this is really my boss (me) telling his wayward, lazy, incompetent employee (me) that if the comic goes live on Tuesday with this lousy panel in it, the employee will be fired.


Continue reading "No, no, no! It says "Professional Webcomics" in the Modern Tales' tagline!" »

March 7, 2005

Slow update on main site

The update system at Keenspace, which hosts the ROCR main page is still in intermittent trouble. The comic for today should arrive eventually - it's in the update queue - but the update queue is very long. I'd put in a temporary fix but the ftp service is also unreliable right now, and frankly, what with there being a fully functional mirror site and Modern Tales I can't be bothered.

Continue reading "Slow update on main site" »

March 8, 2005

Well-wishes to Jamie

Jamie Robertson of Clan of the Cats has come down with a blood clot in his leg, which, to put it mildly, can't be fun. On his website, he claims he'll be out of commission for a few days, and his comic will take a break until next Monday. Hang in there, Jamie, and may you recover quickly!

Clan of the Cats has grown in leaps and bounds, art-wise, since Jamie was laid off from his old job. If you have a bit of time to spare for comics-reading, give this urban horror/fantasy a try.

Cerberus!

I made a soft toy of Cerberus today. :)


And the other day I updated The Pantheon!

Aaaaand.. Reinder's guest comic, from the previous update, is now visible. Keenspace was so distressed by the files being called jpegs when they were really pngs, it did a Bugblatter Beast Of Traal and refused to look at them, so they wouldn't be able to attack it.

Next story to be Courtly Manners 2

A change of plan from what I've been telling people: my next webcomics projects after The Rite of Serfdom will be the second issue of Courtly Manners, written by Geir Strøm. My previously existing plans, to do a series of shortish storylines focusing on various aspects of the vast and sprawling Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan universe will go ahead a little bit later. Arguably, Courtly Manners #2 fits it well enough, considering that it features Kel, Krakatoa, Guðrun and the characters from Geir's Chronicles of the Witch Queen who have appeared in ROCR before.

Continue reading "Next story to be Courtly Manners 2" »

March 9, 2005

The Book of Jhereg

On the recommendation of quite a few people including Limyaael, I ordered Jhereg, the first omnibus edition of Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series. It was a good read; I can't say it made me go "whoa!" just yet but the three novels in the volume, Jhereg, Yendi and Teckla are original, well-thought-out and very entertaining. All my favorite moments were in the third book, which had little tidbits like this (in a sequence where the hero, Vlad Taltos, consults an oracle):

When he'd looked at me long enough to be impressive, her said, "If you try to expand your business, a mighty organization will fall."
Well, la-dee-da. I leaned over the table and slapped him.
Why didn't the ancient Greeks think of that?

Continue reading "The Book of Jhereg" »

Advertisin'

I've had a lot of fun doing the ads for the Open Ad Network, which is now being tested on a select number of sites. I produced some new traditional banner ads like these:
Generic banner showing the cast
(Generic banner showing the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan cast)
The Dragon is In banner
(Banner made specifically to push the Dolphins and Dragons storyline).

In the OAN setup, banners get more exposure because there are more slots on the pages to put them on. However, they get very low clickthrough because they're an old format that people have trained themselves not to be distracted by. So I use them primarily to spread the brand - character likenesses and the comic's name.

Continue reading "Advertisin'" »

The Agonizer and its potential uses

I read this interesting discussion on a new weapon the US military is funding the develepment of on Obsidian Wings. It is designed to incapacitate the enemy by causing him excruciating pain. I made a mental note to write a post saying that I was undecided yet on the issue, that on the one hand such a weapon would probably be better than a lethal weapon; but on the other hand such a weapon would be used in situations where otherwise a lethal weapon would not be used, it could be put to use torturing prisoners, and that I didn't exactly trust the current US administration to use it responsibly. You know, a reeeeeaaasonable post urging you to read the OW piece including its comments and make up your own mind on this.

Then I was reminded of the scum who toyed with the lives of cancer sufferers in the name of Christianity, and I thought, screw it, I want one of those babies so I can shove it in the face of Stephen Green and all those other lowlifes at Christian Voice. I'm sure I'll like his face more when it's contorted in a rictus of exquisite agony.

So, the Agonizer. My tentative position is that I'm for it, and I want one. Travis was always the second coolest guy in Blake's Seven, anyway, and he had one (no one is as cool as Kerr Avon, so I'll settle for being as cool as Travis).

Could be useful: Firefoxopera

Via Operawatch, here's a site devoted to making Firefox look, function and behave like Opera. So if I ever encounter some infuriating behaviour in Firefox, I'll go here and see if I can make it act more rationally. First thing I'm going to look for is a way to move those damned tabs to the bottom where they belong.
(Update: found!)

March 10, 2005

More on site tech problems

There is a recurring problem with files not showing up at update time on rocr.net. I think the problem actually occurs when they are transferred to the ftp server. Unlike at my other locations, I have to be very careful to check that the files that end up on the Keenspace server have the same file size as the ones that are on the local disk. If not, I must re-upload them.
That is, I think that is the problem. If I find that an image hasn't shown up when I check in the morning, I don't check to see if the file has been truncated; I download it from a location where it does work, and re-upload it to Keenspace. It's a drag, and it shouldn't have to be like that, but that's all the time I can afford to spend on it. But I'll take some time to report the problem to the admins. Soon. Any day now. Gotta rush to a dental appointment first.

March 11, 2005

My primary sexual display frill is too orange

20050310_.pngRogues of Clwyd-Rhan reader Bo Lindbergh mentions that the "Orange sexual display frill" gag referenced in yesterday's comic can be found here in the Acid Reflux archives. I tried searching those archives the other days but came up with nothing.

That Acid Reflux strip has gone down in history as a classic webcomics episode (the series as a whole ended before the story was finished). The song has been recorded, and MP3 files of it are still doing the rounds on the net in the right circles (I haven't been able to find one, but I did find published playlists that included it).

Interesting how that Tuque character could almost be a lutin, if all the artist had to go on was a description of a green creature with long limbs and large pointy teeth.

Good heavens!

The Pantheon has a new index page! Now you can almost see the comic when you first enter the site. :)

Twill be a bit of a shock to all of ye who grew used to the old format over the years..

And speaking of old formats, the pencil colouring is back. Oh, at last! I hear you cry. At least, I think you do. The scanner didn't like it very much, though, it turned all the palest bits into white and did odd things to the sky.

And Jeroen finally got into my brain and made me see the Comic Sans Invasion Of The Universe and I decided I wouldn't use it any more. So my new font is One Stroke Script LET.
I dunno where fonts come from, I think every time you install a new program it brings its fonts with it, because every time I open Word it has a new font in it I would swear wasn't there yesterday..

March 12, 2005

Something positive



R*K*Milholland from Something Positive is reading all keenspace comics to prove there are indeed good ones among them. Apparently he has reached "C" and found Cap'n interesting:

Cap'n by Jeroen... just has to be seen to be believed. And there's almost four years of archives and it's still going.

As the image shows, Cap'n stats went through the roof :D
I'm not sure how many people will keep reading, but man, the influence of the Big Guns!

March 15, 2005

The continuing story of renewed hosting problems at Keenspace

For a long time Keenspace, the company hosting ROCR.net was doing as well as could reasonably be expected from a free webhost. Lately they have been more troubled; there was another multi-hour crash on Sunday, and now the automatic updater is once again running very slowly.
At the time of writing, there has been a new update on both the mirror site and on Modern Tales for a few hours. Go there. Dig the oppressive, tomb-like silence. Bookmark it.

March 16, 2005

Well, I'll be buffered.

Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary has always had a sensible approach to the workload that comes with publishing a comic strip online. On several occasions, he said something along the lines of "You need to be three weeks ahead; anything less and you're living hand to mouth". I don't remember if he used the three weeks as a benchmark before or after he quit his managerial job at Novell. I'm sure the number won't stay the same for him throughout his hopefully long cartooning career, and I'm sure that they won't be the same for everyone, everywhere, ever. I can now conclude that for me, it's two weeks. I am now two weeks ahead where just a short time ago I was working on the comic for the next day, and it's a big relief. The fact that I effectively cheated to get this far ahead does not diminish the relief in anyway. I am off the conveyor belt, and good riddance. It's a significant next step towards coming up from under the pile of stuff-to-do that's been overwhelming me.

Continue reading "Well, I'll be buffered." »

March 17, 2005

The case for Blair?

The Waffler channels the Bull Moose and talks about himself in the third person.
The Waffler casts his gaze across the channel and wonders who the people who still support the Rose are.

Continue reading "The case for Blair?" »

What a difference colour can make

I spent much of last year exploring opportunities for re-use of old drawings (and I'm doing it again now for the purpose of creating banner ads) But Stephen Crowley of the naturist comic Loxie and Zoot has just proven himself a master at this. Compare and contrast:

Loxie and Zoot, October 25, 2004
Loxie and Zoot, March 15, 2005

It's amazing how much difference you can make by taking an old page and just adding different colours and new word balloons! It's lazy, but lazy in an interesting, instructive way. I hope he gets to put a few more remixed, revamped pages in there.

There's an emerging tradition in the webcomics world, started by Websnark, to reward outstanding performances with baked goodies. I don't have any biscuits right now, but for taking the lessons of the remix era to heart, Stephen gets a waffle. A vegan one, for him.

Mmm, tasty, tasty waffle.

Proud of Britain?

On perhaps a related note to my earlier question on the case for Blair, Andrew Rilstone has been pondering what it means to be Proud of Britain, or at least to like being English, which is not the same. The ponderings were inspired by a pamphlet he got from the UK Labour party, which he put in Jarvis–I mean scare quotes. There's a website for the theme as well.
In the end, Andrew lists a few reasons to be proud of Britain:

Continue reading "Proud of Britain?" »

March 18, 2005

Nude backlash advertising

nude chick flick - dominant damsels
Let no one say I can't tell a good bandwagon to jump on when I see one.
Some of the cartoonists of the Modern Tales family of cartoonists are having great fun designing ads for their work to show on Talk About Comics (the blog and the forum). The gem shown on your right, an ad for the excellent serial Flick is the most succesful internet ad I've ever seen - its clickthrough is in the region of 10% and has been for two weeks. Readers are clicking on it like hyperactive monkeys. The lesson here isn't that skin sells, but that well-drawn skin in an interesting style sells if there aren't any other distracting elements in the graphic. There are other ads with nudity in there but none of them is getting people interested like this one.
As site owner Joey Manley predicted, the use of nude images in the advertising would eventually provoke a backlash, and people have indeed been complaining. Below are some ads made by the various cartoonists in response to the complaints (note large images below the cut):

Continue reading "Nude backlash advertising" »

March 20, 2005

Hardware trouble at home

My six-year-old CRT monitor has finally decided it doesn't want to switch on anymore. Right now, I'm using an even older monitor that still works, for a given definition of "work". It hurts my eyes to look at it, so I'll have to replace the monitor as soon as I can. I've been preparing for this for some time, so it's not a really major problem, and it certainly won't stop work on my comics.
Once again, though, I am turning to you to ask for advice. I've been looking into LCD monitors, but while I'd like to replace the space-hogging old monitor with something leaner, I'm not sure they're worth the price differential that still exists between LCD and even good CRT monitors. And I wonder if I won't run into a whole bunch of linux support problems (it seems SuSE 9.0 came with drivers for some flatscreens, but not many of them). So for someone who uses linux at home, doesn't care much about gaming, but does want to be able to create colour art on the machine should the mood strike him, what do you recommend? I have some money set aside for this, but not a huge amount.

I think monitors are more generic than most other pieces of computer hardware, and that an LCD monitor that isn't directly supported would probably work with a bit of tweaking, but I'm not so sure about that that I'm just going to plunk down Euro and (more importantly) spend time on the first monitor that catches my fancy. Information on the internets has been disappointingly rare (plus unfamiliar web sites are a pain to browse on the monitor I am using now).

By the way, that sound card I bought two months ago? It's still in the box. I haven't had a solid block of time to spare for it since then. I was hoping I'd be able to install it during those two weeks off, but they're already getting eaten at all ends.

Answers and recommendations to reinder@despammed.com or to the Forum.

Continue reading "Hardware trouble at home" »

March 21, 2005

Courtly Manners 2

Poof!
Courtly Manners #2 has started. In this sequel to the story of Kel and Krakatoa's introduction at the Witch Queen's court, we find our young witches again invited to the court, to the chagrin of one and the excietment of another. But how can this be? After last year's mishaps, how could the Queen invite them again, and personally this time? As it turns out, someone has a nefarious!!! purpose!!! in inviting the two!!!
Courtly Manners # 2 was written by Geir Strøm of White House in Orbit, Belle and The Eye of the Underworld, among many other things. It's always a pleasure for me to work with Geir, and I wish I could spare more time to draw his scripts. He's completed another Courtly Manners story and several others.
Like the first series, Courtly Manners #2 comes with epic poetry by Timmerryn (coming soon - expect a slight lag between each published episode of the series and the arrival of the epic poetry).

Swarb walks!

Following up on my post on Swarbrick Plays Swarbrick, I just found out that Swarb has finally had his lung transplant and has appeared on stage with Fairport Convention on March 12. He was able to walk and even sing along on the choruses of one song!
I couldn't look at those pictures with dry eyes. He may not look too great to people who don't know about him, but for a man who was bedridden before the transplant, it's a huge difference. Long may he continue, and may he return to active performance soon!

March 23, 2005

Monitors, continued

Using the new monitor at home has been a bit of a shock. Everything has colours all of a sudden! Bright ones. This has made me realise that the monitor I work with at the studio is, not to put too fine a point on it, appalling. Not quite as bad as the old home monitor was, but bad enough to affect the quality of my output on the web. I couldn't tell black from gray on either the old home monitor or the studio monitor and it shows in recently scanned art where lettering is added in grey (56,56,56) instead of black, or banner graphics where a lightish gray block has been "corrected" with spots of black.
This will not do. The monitor advice thread is still open; if you are a cartoonist, illustrator or graphic designer and have recommendations for a new monitor, please post.
Of course, we will have to find a way to pay for a new monitor. I will have to make time for commissioned art and illustration jobs. That will take a while to prepare because I've just come out of two years of nearly-uninterrupted comics work taking its toll, and there's a lot to do before I can fill up my calendar again. But in the mean time, I will plug one of my revenue sources a bit harder. The Modern Tales house ads on ROCR.net don't pay directly but hopefully they'll entice some people to subscribe to one or more of the sites. If you like Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, Courtly Manners or any of my other comic strips, you will love the over 800 episodes archived on Modern Tales which also houses Jeroen's Shadow project. Meanwhile, Adam and Timmerryn's Dangerous and Fluffy can be enjoyed in all its farmery superhero goodness at Graphic Smash which has become my favourite comics site thanks to T Campbell's great hand at picking interesting artists who make exciting, unpretentious webcomics. Your subscription money pays for our tools! And put food in our babies' mouths, because all of us have lots of babies.

Courtly Manners now syndicated

The Department of Putting Things Inside Other Things has put the Courtly Manners on the old Reinder Dijkhuis homepage. People still visit that, and it still shows up in Google searches, so I might as well give them some updating content.
Thanks to the dilligent efforts of the Department of Putting Things Inside Other Things, you too can now put Courtly Manners on your webpage. Cut'n'paste this bit o'script:
<script language=javascript src=http://www.moderntales.com/tooncast.php?series=courtlymanners&affiliateID=xxx></script> making sure that no line breaks appear in the code.
The Department regrets that it could have done this earlier - it requires just one switch in the Modern Tales control panel settings. However, that switch is now set, so help yourself to a daily comic for the next few weeks.

March 25, 2005

Retro illustration



Through Drawn!:
Two great illustrators where mentionend on Drawn! recently. The first, Tadahiro Uesugi, is a Japanese master of illustration. He makes wonderful intuitive drawings, with great sense of texture and colour.
Pictures of his current exposition in Japan can be found here. His work has a retro feel to it, as well as the work of the second artist mentioned: Ronnie Del Carmen. He works at Pixar as a story artist, story supervisor, character designer, and illustrator. His illustrations also display a great feeling for colour, form and composition. Their work, especially Uesugi's, remind me a bit of that of the late great Dutch artist Fiep Westendorp. Unfortunately I can't seem to find a good gallery of her work, when I do, I'll update this.

Retro '50's, '60's and '70's style illustration really seems back with a bang, beautifully integrated in Pixars' "the Incredibles," especially if you know the Art of the Incredibles book.

March 26, 2005

Return of the son of continuing technical problems

Keenspace, webhost of the main Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan site, Capn, The Pantheon and sundry other works created by the people who write in this blog, is down for the count yet again. Apologies for the inconvenience if you're a reader of one of these comics.
Alternate location for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan/Courtly Manners
Alternate location for The Pantheon

In related news, and on a different website, I have redesigned the web pages for The Eye of the Underworld to be more consistent with the look of other sites. After only 7 years online, the story now has its own logo graphic! Other one-shots will also be redesigned and re-scanned.

The Doctor is back!



Just caught the new series of Dr. Who on the BBC. I've always loved the character of Dr. Who and his charming, but eccentric and weird ways. I mostly remember the series with Tom Barker and Peter Davison, so I guess that makes me biased. I either never really got into any of the others, or simply never got the chance to see them. I must say, I quite liked Christopher Eccleston: His manners seem to me a mix between Barker and Davison, with enough quirks of his own to make his mark.
I feared beforehand Dr. Who in this day and age would suffer from too good special effects, that the cardboard-y feel would be lost. The makers, willingly or not, did a splendid job, however, in creating that crappy '70's feel. And I do mean that in a positive way!
Some special effects were actually flashy high-tech, but those where generally filmed from such bad angles so it didn't disturb the feel too much. The acting by secondary characters was quite bad, and the dialogue in some scenes quite stupid. Also the way of story telling was as it should: the writers assume (correctly in my opinion) that todays audience knows how stories are told, and therefor can leave out all those nasty details that make a story plausible. Series like Dr. Who don't need that, they need interesting plot twists and witty dialogue, and I see enough of this in the new series that I'm looking forward to the next episode.
Link to the BBC Dr. Who site, where among other things, you can download the sound of the Tardis.

The Doctor is in.

Here be spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Continue reading "The Doctor is in." »

March 27, 2005

Whoo-oo-oo!

Well, by rights I shouldn't have seen the new Doctor Who yet, coz it probably has to run in the UK before the ABC's allowed to get its mits on it..

But I have, because of Naughtiness. The Fuzzyball and I watched it the other night.

Continue reading "Whoo-oo-oo!" »

March 29, 2005

Work update

A week and a half into my "break", I got the following things done:

  • Did my tax returns, or at least the part of it that I absolutely had to. In practice, that meant bringing my books up to date, doing my VAT calculations and asking for an extention on the Income Tax return.
  • Remastered two chapters of the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline "Guðrún": Escaping Winter and Kel and Jodoque Live it Up. I used the new A3 scanner to make high-res scans of the A3 originals from 1998/1999 and make new letterings which I may also be able to use for print. The new finished files are a consistent size and slightly larger size, have greater greyscale depth and have larger, neater lettering. They should be easier to read and not so off-putting. I'll do the rest of the story when I have time - it was mostly the first few chapters that offended my eyes.
  • Drawn a tiny, tiny bit. Some art needed to be reconstructed for the remaster project, and I've finished one installment of Courtly Manners. That' s right. Just one, and it was already partly drawn over Christmas. The rest of the week will be spent drawing some more episodes.
  • Fought spam on the Talk About Comics forums. I won't link them here because it looks like threads linked from this blog are more likely to be targeted by spammers. I've had to close down the nitpick thread, even.
  • Made a lot of promotional graphics from the existing material
(boring discussion of ad effectiveness below the cut)

Continue reading "Work update" »

March 30, 2005

Bride of the second cousin of technical difficulties

[UPDATE: April 4, 2005: The control panel in which artists can edit their archives is back up, but doesn't appear to function properly. I can add chapters but not new installments. It may be a while yet before I can restore the archives fully.]


[UPDATE: March 31, 2005: The sites aren't back up, but Joey Manley has informed cartoonists that the data up to January 28, 2005 has been saved. It may be possible to get to the more recent data. If not, cartoonists will have to re-enter two months worth of data, which may take them a while.
Before then, it will take a few days before the sites come back up, and Moderntales.com will be last for technical reasons that I won't go into now. You will see old material on the front page, and miss new material in the archives, until they've been re-entered.
Having to re-enter stuff would suck, but it wouldn't be a great disaster.
Practical consequences for Courtly Manners: there are updates in the queue at the free sites until Friday. Between Friday and the day Moderntales.com gets back up and is back up to date, I won't add new updates to the queue. It's difficult enough to keep the three different locations where the comic is uploaded in synch without having to deal with major technical problems on the most important one (the one that pays me money). After that, re-runs are a distinct possibility. ]

What happened less than a week ago with Keenspace is now happening with Modern Tales, where my subscription-based webcomic archives are housed. This may have longer-term consequences if the database is damaged. In that case I will have to reconfigure Courtly Manners and re-program the re-mastered episodes of the "Guðrún" archives.
Until then, look for the most recent Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episodes (basically, anything I hadn't cleaned up yet) at ROCR.net and the latest Courtly Manners archives at the secret Courtly Manners site.
Normal service will be resumed ASAP.
Meanwhile, the Talk About Comics Forums are about to go registered-members-only, so that instead of a two-front war against spammers and DOSers we will only have to fight a single-front war against the DOSers. I prefered to have the forums as open as possible, but once again my ideals on this matter slammed into the brick wall of Reality. The Reality is that the trust-based Internet isn't working and that spammers, DOSers, trolls and hackers will destroy anything that isn't nailed down. Top Admin Joey Manley has decided that instead of deploying an army of unpaid volunteers to clean up after every dump taken on the forums, he will get rid of the pollution the simple and effective way. Doesn't cure my urge to go out and break some spammer fingers, but it will allow me to get on with productive work, so I won't object.

About March 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in March 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2005 is the previous archive.

April 2005 is the next archive.

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

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