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May 2005 Archives

May 1, 2005

Back from Clickburg

It was hot. Full report later. Tired now, feet killing me. Check out organiser René van Densen's The Grim Dot Com for contributions I and several others made to his comic to allow it to update only a few hours late.

May 2, 2005

Technically, you'd only need one

OK, so this is being publicized all over the continuum, but I would like to point out that the pitch for a student-organised time traveler convention at MIT opens with a quote from Modern Tales' own, our very own Dorothy Gambrell (but from her non-MT comic Cat and Girl):


Technically, you would only need one time travel er convention.

And that shows comics' power to set the agenda for thinkers and scientists. Is that cool or what?

Clickburg report

Well, it's a day later, and I've recovered a bit from the convention, which was fun but hard work for me. I won't do a full report because after reading other people's reports on the Clickburg forum I can no longer be arsed, but I do want to say a few things in no particular order (just like I did at my presentation).

Continue reading "Clickburg report" »

May 3, 2005

WCCA 2005

The nominations round for the 2005 Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards are about to start on May 8. You may remember that last year, I was a bit down on the whole thing, but this year, after the Clickie nomination, I've got a bit more of a taste for it again. I've come to accept that awards, like sausage and government policy, are things that you don't want to look at while they're being made; but at the same time, the end result is sometimes worthwhile. In other words, I wouldn't mind winning one of those.
The WCCAs are a peer award, meaning that to nominate or vote for someone you have to be a webcartoonist or webcomics writer yourself. So, if you're a webcartoonist, and you like Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, or Dangerous and Fluffy or Capn or Courtly manners or any of the other comics made by the five people posting on Waffle, do us a favour: register for the award and nominate us for any category you see fit in the first round. You may well qualify for one or more awards yourself!
I have registered. Don't worry, I won't nominate my own work. But I will shill for my own work this year.

Simon L. Green - Nightingale's Lament

Nightingale's Lament by Simon L. Green is a cracking good read for on the train, no more, no less. I liked the combination of noir atmosphere, supernatural horrors and the urban setting, and found the story of the singer whose voice made members of her audience suicidal gripping enough, but I also thought I'd read some of the jokes before, and didn't find the characters all that interesting. I'd buy another one from the same series if it was in the shop at a time when I needed to go on another long train trip.

But the real reason I'm mentioning this book is to prod Einar into finally writing that rave review of another Simon L. Green book he promised.

May 4, 2005

What I learned today

Qtorrent reguires PyQT requires qscintilla requires sip requires python-devel requires python. If your existing python version is too low, the dependency chain will break and you will not be able to download "Dalek". This will lead to unholy swearing and general unhappiness, especially after earlier attempts using Gnutella also failed*).
There are solutions for this problem, but they don't work.**)
As for the official bittorrent client, the instructions for it refer to a setup file that does not appear to be included in the package. How did this system become so popular, again?

Continue reading "What I learned today" »

May 5, 2005

What I learned today (2)

  1. Azureus is a bittorrent client that works on my home system. It does not, thankfully, appear to use Python anywhere.
  2. The first thing it prompts you for in the configuration is where to put the torrent, not the downloaded file as I thought. Use the default directory offered for that.
  3. The directory it prompts you for after starting a torrent is the place where it will put your downloaded file. Do not use the default directory offered for that.
  4. Contrary to this user's expectation, the XVid codec for linux will compile without plunging the hapless user into Library Trouble, and will even allow itself to be installed. The instructions for what to do next are gobbledygook, but I've managed to try a few things involving the Totem media player before my computer hung.
  5. If your computer hangs, you may have trouble finding the downloaded file.
  6. It is very easy to waste time on this crap, but I still don't understand how, given all the hurdles involved, file sharing has become so popular. As far as I can tell, it is a huge hassle of the sort that no sane, non-obsessed person should have any patience for.
  7. I have no idea how to tell any of the media players on my system how to use the XVid libraries (that's the part of the XVid instructions that were gobbledygook). I tried adding a symlink to the library to the Totem plugins folder, but that didn't do a thing. I also feel that I need better media software than Kaffeine, Totem and (gak) Real Player, but the last time I tried to install any, I ran into Library Hell. Answers on a postcard to reinder@despammed.com.
  8. Ditto with the DivX codec, or indeed, come to think of it, anything other codec I've tried to get to work since 2003.

Below the cut, I'll mention some specifics and go through some of my reader mail:

Continue reading "What I learned today (2)" »

Dalek

There. I've watched it (studio machine, in case you were wondering. But I still want to get my home media setup in order in case I miss an episode again). Meanwhile the entire Whovian blogosphere has already moved on from "Best \/\/40O 3\/Ah" to "Look! Shiny new Fear Forecast on the Beeb!" But it was good. It really was. Spoilers below the cut.

Continue reading "Dalek" »

May 6, 2005

What's worse than a sore loser?

Why, a sore winner:

The rest of you probably now have a sane Member of Parliament. I have George Galloway. Your MP probably hasn't told Saddam Hussein what a jolly decent bloke he is. Mine has. Your MP probably thanked the returning officer for all his hard work. My MP told him he was corrupt. Your MP probably believes passionately in the welfare of his constituents. Mine has an international agenda and a suspicious tan.

Charming chap, this George Galloway. (Via Pete Ashton who is mostly optimistic about the meaning of yesterday's UK election results)

What I learned today (3)

The GIMP is really appallingly stupid.
Imagine you have an SVG file that you want to import. Its original size is something like 580 pixels wide, but that doesn't matter: the good thing about vector graphics is that you can scale them losslessly. So in the Import dialogue, you enter the new resolution (600 DPI) and the new dimensions (280 mm wide - this is for print), and you click OK. So, do you get a file that's 280 mm wide at 600 DPI? Nooooo, what you actually get is a file that is about 990 pixels wide. At 600 DPI, that's about 1 1/2 inch, which is considerably closer to 40 mm than to 280.
Mystified, you close the file, and try again. This time, the outrageously, appallingly stupid file importer has caught on to the fact that you want to import at 600 DPI, but has merely guessed that you want the canvas dimensions to stay the same and has calculated that that means you want the file to be about 3800 pixels wide. You set "280 mm" again, check the dimensions in pixels, and this time they look all right, so you import.
With the next few files you import, things go exactly as in your second attempt, but the system you're working on being Windows, you are forced to reboot before completing all your file imports.
After rebooting and opening GIMP again, the scenario of your first attempt happens again, but this time, before hitting "OK" you enter "280 mm" and then check the pixel size a few more times. Each time, the unbelievable, amazingly stupid GIMP returns the wrong dimensions, until you decide to hit "OK" and close the resulting window in a cargo cult attempt to trigger the scenario of your second attempt. That works, as cargo cult magic often does in the world of computing.

Of course, I could tell you stories about Photoshop 6.0, which while being considerably less stupid than GIMP, has the even greater drawback of hating my guts. One day, I'll build a Photoshop 6.0 out of twigs and leaves to appease it. Or I'll wipe it with a magnet. Whichever is more satisfying.

Continue reading "What I learned today (3)" »

This month's free archive stuff

In the previous entry, I mentioned that I was going to have some pages in Vera Groningen's "Verhip een Stripmuseum" exhibit, version 2. The six pages I'll be posting there are the first six pages of the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Clerical Underground. The low-budget exhibit opens on Tuesday, and to mark the occasion I've made the story free in the Modern Tales archives.

BTW: while looking at it I note that there's still a lingering issue from the crash in that no line breaks have been added between the pages yet. I'll prod the Powers That Be to fix it for the whole of the archives, but because Clerical Underground is only seven pages long, I'll fix that chapter by hand.

By the way, the other free chapter in the Modern Tales archives is the much more substantial Dolphins and Dragons which is in colour.

May 7, 2005

Post-election roundup-ette

Two memorable postmortems of the UK election at the new group blog The Sharpener. First, Phil on the state of the parties after May 5:


Obviously the Tories are the worst losers. If I were a Conservative voter, I'd be really worried about the state of the party. For as long as I can remember, it's been a good rule of thumb that when Labour were in trouble, the Tories would be the first to benefit, and vice versa. ... Michael Howard and Lynton Crosby ... they mobilised a core 'Right' vote, representing around 30% of the population, and absolutely nobody else.
...
In this election we've seen New Labour's triumphal achievement: reducing the Conservatives to their current state. It may even be irreversible: all they need to lock themselves into the downward spiral is to appoint yet another leader who plays well with the grass roots... New Labour isn't in a much better state; it's had very few other triumphs.
... Nothing to say about the BNP, except that they're not going to go away (unassisted). And nothing at all to say about UKIP or Veritas, except perhaps "ha ha ha".

Second, Jim Bliss on the election's most prominent personality:

Incidentally, there was some criticism of our Jeremy during the run up to the election. But I fear the undeniably insightful Justin may have missed the point a little with Mr. Paxman. You see, our political culture has reached a kind of saturation point with regards to evasiveness. It is technically no longer possible to extract any interesting information from an elected representative. Even the most skillful of interviewer is powerless against an adult stubbornly pretending to be a 4-year-old in a sulk.

Paxman understands this. And he realises that when politicians refuse to answer simple questions, they look like total morons to the rest of us. So he has shifted role. His interviews are no longer about extracting information from politicians. And to judge them on those grounds is to misunderstand the great political theatre being played out. Paxman's role is now that of The Everyman (and woman). It is he, and not those he interviews, who truly represents us. He sits there and openly sneers at those who most need and merit it. He, as do we, sees through the charade, and he embodies our derision as we watch these bumbling buffoons who refuse to talk straight with those they are supposed to represent.

Paxman is not there to interview. He is there to convey our contempt.

And he's the only reason I stayed up as late as I did. Watching him sigh and roll his eyes every time a Labour MP used the phrase "an historic third term" was hilarious. And the unconcealed glee that glinted in his eye each time a tory claimed the government is the most unpopular in recent history ("Yes, but if this result tells us anything, it's that your party is even less popular than the most unpopular government in recent history! You really are a complete shambles, aren't you?")


By the way, I agree with Jim: Appalling though Michael Howard may be, he's shown real class in the manner of his leaving. Good riddance, but kudos to him for taking responsibility and acting decisively rather than hanging on to his position of power.

The Long Game

Well, it had Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead fame), and it had zombies. Apart from that, this was a very average Doctor Who episode. There was tension, there was humor, there were bodily functions (yes, it does rather look like Russell T. Davies is obsessed with them. Check "vomiting" off the list) and there was a coded political message about media manipulation and deception. It was, on the whole, fun, and it looked like the lead characters were having fun. But compared to the previous ep it wasn't special. Not as ... taut. Decently written though, with all the different characters' actions well-managed, tracked and motivated. With the temporary companion added for just this episode, we're seeing Rose as the experienced one, and she has clearly grown a lot. I enjoyed the Doctor's impatience with the new kid, and with the less-than-curious Journalist. The giant alien failed to be scary though, for all its teeth and caged-animal movement.

Next week's episode will feature the Grandfather Paradox. In "The Long Game" it was narrowly averted, but we will see it, and it will cause the Doctor to refer to humans as apes.
Also, nearly credible rumour has it that we haven't actually seen the last of the homicidal dustbins yet. But that's for later in the season..

Dalekanium TARDIS?

I was going to keep this bit of speculation to myself for a while, but Behind the Sofa Again is dropping dark hints:

I notice on the BBC website they've updated the data we have for episode 12.

Now do I give a spoiler, or hint cryptically and infuriate everyone by not linking? Hmmmmmm... well, for readers of this blog it shouldn't be too difficult to work it out. The writing's on the wall for this one... or should that be the TARDIS? (Yeah, that's opaque enough to keep them going for a while, I fancy.)

I have no idea which BBC Doctor Who page Thomas is referring to, but there is something odd about the TARDIS. I'm not familiar with the older designs but I've seen pictures, and even compared to the "steampunk" design of the TV movie, it looks fundamentally different to me. And in the light of last week's episode where the point is made that the Doctor would "make a good Dalek"...

Well, doesn't the design look a bit Dalek-y? It's dome-shaped, with a rounded console with a stack of rounded-edged discs on top, and has a similar bronzy gleam. The roundels look a bit like the knobs on the Dalek carapace, and there's an organic being inside in the form of the Doctor himself.

Fascinating. Perhaps the TARDIS was rebuilt out of scavenged Dalek materials after the Time War in which the Daleks and the Timelords were both all but completely exterminated. And this could have its effects later in the series.

May 8, 2005

Again with the tech blegging

Getting closer to a solution for playing media files on the home computer, but not quite there. Ignore this if tech talk bores you.

Continue reading "Again with the tech blegging" »

May 9, 2005

Coal Shovel of Omega

ottarfiller11-detail.jpg
In the new Doctor Who series, it is revealed that the Doctor is the last of his race, and that his home planet Gallifrey has been destroyed. This would mean that the Eye of Harmony, the TARDIS's power source, has also been destroyed, leading to fan speculation about how the TARDIS is now powered.
In today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episode, I provide the fans with an answer. Good old-fashioned coal. It never lets you down does it?

A thought that occurred to me upon watching "Dalek" for the second time

If I had just downloaded the entire Internet, I'd want to exterminate the human race as well.

May 10, 2005

Hey, I got cited! But, er...

So I was reading Backword Dave's rather interesting piece Dalek, all too Dalek on the latest two episodes of Doctor Who, "Dalek" and "The Long Game" and suddenly I read this:

Continue reading "Hey, I got cited! But, er..." »

Oh, Doctor, what shall we do?

I have seen one episode of the new Who, and I liked it very much. It's coming on tv here very soon, so I can see the rest. :)

As previously mentioned, the new Who is great because the monsters are actually scary, the music is actually atmospheric and the women are like real people.

I find it hard to believe that women in the 60s or whenever the old Whos I've been seeing on the ABC were made.. (checks.. oh, good heavens, they're up to the 70s??) ..were really like that. But I also find it hard to believe that every single female who has been on the series to date is just a bad actor.

I even have trouble figuring out what it *is* about them that's so wrong. It's like they're sooky and wimpy, but that's not quite it, because then they'd be squealing for rescue at every frightening situation they got themselves in..

I saw a Tom Baker episode the other day with Romana, who's a female Time Lord, and she knows what she's about, she's no fool. But she seemed to have the "quality" too. The only moment I can maybe point to was when she got thrown into a dungeon, she was sort of marched along the corridor and told what they wanted her to do, and she said no, so they marched her in with the Prince and it turned out she was meant to be his nurse coz he was dying from being locked up. But the whole time, she just sort of let herself get choofed over here, and marched into there, and didn't put up any sort of struggle, or look viciously thwarted by the fact they were holding weapons (I think they were) or *anything*!

No fire, maybe that's it. No... *something*. Surely women weren't really like that?

Evolution vs. Norse mythology

For Odin!

This is one of the most hilarious takes on the subject I've seen.

May 11, 2005

Courtly Manners resumes on Friday

Now that the Penciled Filler series is over (Start of this Doctor-cameoing, scuttling crab-mocking, timeline-fiddling story), Courtly Manners will resume on Friday after a break that lasted almost a month! Sorry about that. To recapitulate on the story, go back to the beginning.
I originally intended to run Courtly Manners itself as a filler series for the main Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic, which I needed a break from. I figured that with 9 episodes in the can, it would be easy to maintain a buffer. Clearly, I was wrong, and even now, I'm finding the story very difficult to draw. I don't really know why, but I do.
From Friday on, Courtly Manners will run on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule instead of the weekday schedule I thought I would be able to run the story on. Even after that change, I may find it hard to keep up. We'll see.

The Filler comics were a lot of fun to do by the way. In the end, by giving myself a license to draw like crap, I ended up drawing rather well, in a rough and lively way. Having the Doctor and Rose in the storyline was also fun, even though most of the time I didn't quite get the faces right.
There is of course, only a short window of opportunity for parodying the New Doctor. Next season, he'll be replaced - he'll be the Old Doctor, and any parody of Chris Ecclestone's Doctor will be old hat. Better to get a rough and crude version out early. It worked for Viz as well!

May 12, 2005

Quixotic is his enterprise and hopeless his adventure is / Who seeks for jocularites that haven't yet been said / The world has joked incessantly for over fifty centuries / And every joke that's possible has long ago been made.

...You know, now that Neal Horsley has admitted on the Alan Colmes Radio Show that he committed bestiality and tried to get his girlfriends to have abortions before he became an anti-abortionist campaigner, satire is dead. The real world has gone beyond it.

(via Digby's Blog)

This tech-request is actually comics-related

I'm trying to download Lamppix with a view to maybe using it on Saturday to host my comics archive on a laptop at Saturday's Small-Press festival. I'm sure there'll be many hurdles before I get it to work, but the biggest hurdle is that at the present rate, the download would take until some time in June. If any of my techie readers happen to have a copy on file, could they stick it on a server that actually serves the file? Or maybe on Bittorrent - that would help other people out as well. Thanks!
Update: Got it now, thanks again to reader Squiddharta, and with special mention of Martin Diehl who went through the ordeal of downloading a copy from the official location. I managed to create a functional Lamppix CD, but unfortunately it didn't work on the ancient laptop I had at my disposal. As soon as I've got some money coming in, I should get me a laptop of my own to use at conventions.
That's life: I've now got a bit of experience with LiveCD-based distributions, and it's always a matter of luck whether they will work on the machines you'll want to use them on. They can only exist at all through educated guesses on the part of the distribution-makers as to what machines they'll be run on, and an eight-year-old Toshiba laptop clearly wasn't considered in the making of those guesses.

Continue reading "This tech-request is actually comics-related" »

May 15, 2005

Small-Press convention, Groningen, May 14, 2005

I'm a bit jealous of Jeroen right now. At the Small-Press Convention in Groningen on Saturday, he sold out of his new mini De Ballade van Kittepoes in just a few hours. Visitors, most of them female, were falling over one another to buy the book, which was priced at € 3 for a stapled A5 minicomic with a color cover and six pages of black and white art inside. Amazing.
Mind you, it is all very pretty, cute and stylized. Jeroen has created a cat character who works as a silhouette, creating an impression of cuddlyness while preserving a sense of a feline in motion. The design is very strong throughout, and the book as a whole is simply desirable to a lot of people. I need to create something as desirable as that, sometime.

Smash successes aside, I had a good time at the convention, hosted at Vera. I sold some books myself, but kept a better balance between holding down the fort and getting in touch with other cartoonists and comics people: journalist Joost Pollman, Stripster main man Henk Schouten, Tommy A, the Saiso girls, Liz Groenveld (who possesses blackmail material), Maaike Hartjes and many others. Mostly I reconnected with people I knew from the last time I did the convention thing with any regularity.
Had an interesting conversation with reader Michiel Prior who asked if I was feeling better now. That puzzled me a bit - while I've definitely had problems getting back into gear with comic production recently, they're basically the sort of thing one gets after completing a long and draining project. Now that I've given myself some time off, I'm actually feeling fine (apart from maybe feeling another cold coming up - we'll see in the morning) even if I'm still in a bit of a dry spell and finding it hard to get the work done. Professional satisfaction and personal happiness are different things after all.

What I didn't do was talk to the unfamiliar artists there. There were a couple of people there doing interesting stuff and in retrospect I should have taken the opportunity to get to know them better. Ah well, there's always a next time.

What else was there? The Lamelos crew had all dressed up as pirates, but they were upstaged by Hank and Lily from Canada who wandered the room in their stage costumes. Hank was a cowboy with a metal mask; Lily a deer-creature with antlers, carrying (somewhat disturbingly) a rucksack with a saw in it. They're multimedial, putting out comics and CDs, as well as performing live, which they would do in the evening.

Continue reading "Small-Press convention, Groningen, May 14, 2005" »

May 16, 2005

Pentecostal readership dip

Interesting: visitor numbers for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan dipped deeply over the weekend. Really deeply. Slashed in half, or thereabouts. I originally attributed the dip to the Pentecost/Whitsun holiday, but it's too deep for that.

Continue reading "Pentecostal readership dip" »

Convention schedule addition - short bus to Dordrecht!

I'm very likely to be at the Stripfestijn Dordrecht on June 5. Not as a table-holder though, but as a gate-crasher. The provisional plan is that six of us (Aimee of the Verhip een Strip organisation, me, and four others) will load into Aimee's van and check out the event. But I'm sure I'll take some merchandise and hopefully a laptop to show Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on. I didn't quite get that done at the Small Press convention because the laptop I had borrowed off my friend Kim turned out not to be able to run the software, but we'll try again between now and June 5.

May 17, 2005

Cor blimey, this ain't 'alf useful!

This list of British slang phrases is so extensive that it managed to put me right on a few things (see "Bomb", II, for example, which I thought meant the same in Britspeak as in American parlance). There are a few items where I think the writer is explaining terms that are actually in use in some parts of the US though.

From Genesis to Revelation, with Daleks

There's a small but vocal contingent of people who absolutely hate the new Doctor Who. I am not talking about those who write that "Aliens of Londen" was a bit naff or that last Saturday's "Father's Day" was a bit too close to soap opera for them. Those are legitimate complaints to have even if I don't agree with them. I am talking about a group of fans of the old series who condemn the new series as a whole for Russell T. David's writing, Christopher Eccleston's interpretation of the title character or for the show's efforts to appeal to eight-year-old children. If you're, say, a Doctor Who fan living in, say the US or some other benighted hellhole where nobody can be bothered to broadcast the series, and you want to know if it's worth the effort in getting to see it by legit or illicit means, do not listen to these people. They are comparing the new series with something that exists only in their minds, and as a result, nothing they say makes any sense.

Continue reading "From Genesis to Revelation, with Daleks" »

Pete Ashton on Andy Konky Kru

Pete Ashton has a long overview of Andy Konky Kru's massive body of creative and scholarly work. Read it if you want to feel inspired to accomplish something, even if it's something that seems a bit eccentric to many.

The repeated meme and the unrepeated one

Sam has a pretty good idea what the "Bad Wolf" references in the new Who refer to, but when I read this:

Continue reading "The repeated meme and the unrepeated one" »

Progressive Layout

Memo to self: read this tomorrow, when I'm awake. It may just help me fix a time bomb under my websites: the fact that the width of my comics varies between 400 and 650 pixels, and will become much wider than that when the Stone of Contention reruns start.

May 18, 2005

I owe Geir an apology

I've been able to get today's Courtly Manners done and uploaded in mid-afternoon, which shows that I'm making them slightly faster than I strictly need to, but not fast enough to have time to build a buffer. I suppose I could, but only if I was willing to work late on a regular basis, which for now I am not. Much better to allow myself to relax and let the quality climb back up again.
And in relation to that problem, I have to apologise to Geir for not involving him in changes to the script for Monday's episode, today's, and any episodes that will follow right to the end. I haven't deviated from the substance of Geir's script, yet, but I've eliminated a lot of voice-over stuff, slowed the pacing, split the action into far more panels than was originally indicated and also made the rhino veer to the left instead of the right, because the racers were going clockwise and the Queen's box is inbetween the seats. It was the only way I could go on doing the comic at all, really. The script in its original form was great fun to draw at the start, but as the race progressed, I realised that I couldn't figure out how to draw the action as described. There was too much stuff going on, and the angles, movement and division of the space were too far removed from the way I "see" a comic in my head. So both the quality of the work and my motivation for tackling the next page dropped precipitously in the 9 or so pages I drew after the story started running on the websites. The only way out for me has been to redo the script, making it my own. Monday's page, at least, was better than last Friday's, and I think today's is better than Monday's.

Continue reading "I owe Geir an apology" »

Question for usability buffs

How much common sense can a designer expect from the user?

Just a minute ago, studio-mate [censored] asked me if I had a calculator around. I said "yes, on the computer". My studio-mate said, "So do I, but it doesn't have a divider". I pointed out the "divide by" button, the one with the slash on it, and asked "what kind of a calculator would it be if it couldn't divide?"

Now it's likely that my studiomate had overlooked the button. That happens, and it doesn't mean that my studio-mate is stupid. But that question "What kind of [app] would it be if it didn't do [y]?" is one that my studio-mate might have asked [my studio-mate's gender in the possessive pronoun]self.

This situation used to happen a lot with The Gimp. Newcomers would come rushing to support forums, torn-out clumps of hair still in their clenched fists, asking "Why doesn't it do straight lines?" and GIMP gurus would patronisingly tell them of the magic key to the left of the Z (on a QWERTY keyboard). There is of course no reason to assume it's obvious that holding down the shift key while using one of the paint tools will result in a straight line. But what should be obvious to users that no one, not even in the world of Open Source software, will be daft enough to release an image creation tool that can't do straight lines.

Or shouldn't it?

The warm embrace of a Grismoon

I have X!Gloop on my mind.

Out of context, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'm not sure if it will make any sense once I've provided some context, but let's try.


The Grismoon, in which a deserted muck planet filled with booking agencies becomes the scene of a drama spanning many lifetimes


(click on image for full page. Opens in a new window)

I made the first page of The Grismoon, the first ever story featuring my character X!Gloop, one Tuesday evening in October of 1989. I had just read The Airtight Garage and decided to start doing a weird, incoherent, improvised comic as well. Just about anything that crossed my mind went into the comic. I wanted a weird monster? Weird monster it was! I had a book beside me in which the phrase "Exp?Zworp" was used, so the lead character got the name X!Gloop. There was a music programme on the radio in which a musician discussed booking agencies, so mention of booking agencies was worked into the dialogue. And I'd just started my English Language and Literature studies and was introduced to a wide range of analyses of both grammar and the internal workings of literary forms, so those were introduced as well. For all that's fantastic about the first page, it's a perfect picture of the time it was made.

Continue reading "The warm embrace of a Grismoon" »

May 20, 2005

I'm not sure, but...

... I think Today's Courtly Manners page looks like a Reinder Dijkhuis comic. Not necessarily a great one, mind, but it's getting back on its feet.

What we should do

We should campaign for the breakup of Belgium. We should also stir up local trouble between the German Bundeslaender, in the hope that Bremen, Hamburg, Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen —our nearest neighbours— all become independent nations. A minor civil war may be a price worth paying; after all, the former Yugoslav Republics were all killing each other's citizens a decades ago, and now they love one another, they really do. This basically validates the aims of the event. They are good aims, and they work.
We should stop sending people of Surinamian or Antillian descent. Sorry to be so bluntly racist about it, but New Europe doesn't want to look at them, doesn't care about their musical heritage, and won't award them points. Instead, we should pick the teenaged daughter of a Yugoslavian refugee off the streets, dye her hair blond, stick her in front of a microphone, and let her warble in her ancestral language. English doesn't increase appeal like it used to. Actually, we may not have to dye her hair blonde — it seemed to me that the peroxide quota was down this year.
What we should stop do is pick contestants based on their singing abilities. First of all, sounding like Whitney Houston is clearly worse than singing out of tune. Secondly, we have a history of sending out singers who fail to hit that high note on the big day, in the same way that we have a history of missing penalty shots when the pressure is up. Better not to shoot for that high note at all; after all, there were quite a few contestants who couldn't sing at all, and they got through to the finals. As a strategy, impressing the viewers with your vocal qualities is doomed to fail.
We should probably try to get some decent songwriting into the event, but only if it's squarely aimed at the lowest common denominator. Danceable ethno-pop or tunes that sound like John "Jellybean" Benitez rejects from 1985 will do quite nicely; impassioned soul ballads will not. Alternatively, we should finally embrace the high camp of the event like everyone else.
Only if we do those things will the Netherlands have any chance of ever taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest finals again, let alone winning. So let's start fomenting unrest in Germany and Belgium today.

May 21, 2005

The Empty Child

I'm a bit busy now, but Livejournaler Loneraven has a pretty good lowdown on "The Empty Child".

It wasn't as scary as I expected (the Fear Factor panel had rated it as terrifying with the youngest of the four disengaging from the episode), but I did find it gripping enough. I did find some of the dialogue hard to follow - I didn't catch on to the first few Spock references and it's only through the Livejournal reviews that I know what they said about the alert colours in the opening sequence. Might be my ears though.

Oh, and I hated Captain Bumbandit at first sight. Not the character, but the "actor" playing him. Wouldn't know timing if it smacked him in the face. Bleagh.

Oh, and this week's "Bad Wolf" reference? I thought that was easy.

-- Oh my, sir, what a big nose you've got!
-- The better to stick it where it doesn't belong smell you with, my dear.

Oh, I didn't say anything about "Father's Day", did I? Read this instead. I liked it a lot.

May 24, 2005

Attack of the Mutant Zombie Technical Difficulties From Beyond the Crrrrrypt!!!

The computer at the studio went on another one of its strikes on Saturday. I waited until today to take it for repairs, because the last time this happened, the repair people found nothing - it worked when they tested it.
I have got an emergency scanner working now, and I should be able to deliver comics on time and even get ahead because without the whole Internet to distract me I can concentrate pretty well. Except for one thing: the Internet connection at home is also flaking out a lot lately, and this may lead to delays. Or it may not. But I thought I'd warn you anyway.

Blood-Spattered Blade of Technical Difficulties the Barbarian

Yes, I know ROCR.net is down, as apparently is all of Keen ToonWhateverspace, the server ROCR.net is on.

The devil does always crap on the big pile, doesn't he?

May 25, 2005

Sunday Cycling: Close Encounters of the Black-Tailed Godwit Kind

Last year's Sunday Cycling reports focused on the places we went to and the strange, winding trajectories we took to get to them. I think we've exhausted that angle by now; indeed most places look very familiar to us now. This year, I will focus instead on the things we saw along the way.
We spot a lot more now. Instead of looking through the landscape for landmarks to tell us where we are, we now look into it for things that are different from last time, for birds, animals, unusual scenes. At least, that's how it seems to me; I can't speak for Sidsel.

Continue reading "Sunday Cycling: Close Encounters of the Black-Tailed Godwit Kind" »

May 26, 2005

Well, this is more like it.

I've been pretty down on The GIMP lately, but on Tuesday I coloured three pages in it, and by the end of the process, I'd mended fences with it. Not literally; the GIMP doesn't have DIY-fu yet. But I've managed to make it do what I want at a decent speed.

Continue reading "Well, this is more like it." »

So when the Doc said he was looking for a specific blonde, and that he didn't have a craving...

was he lying?

I should listen to this, and probably so should you

Via Pete Ashton, the Bluegrass Preservation Society Radio Show sounds like the sort of thing I'd love. I'll listen to the podcasts when I have a wee bit o'time.

May 27, 2005

The Dutch Secretary of Education should read this...

... and then resign in shame.
Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant

Admissions of ignorance and mystification are vital to good science. It is therefore galling, to say the least, when enemies of science turn those constructive admissions around and abuse them for political advantage. Worse, it threatens the enterprise of science itself. This is exactly the effect that creationism or "intelligent design theory" (ID) is having, especially because its propagandists are slick, superficially plausible and, above all, well financed. ID, by the way, is not a new form of creationism. It simply is creationism disguised, for political reasons, under a new name.
The creationists' fondness for "gaps" in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don't know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don't understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don't go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don't work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don't squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God's gift to Kansas.

Maria van der Hoeven, you've been had. At least your stupidity has had the positive result that all the mainstream political factions in parliament except your own party, the Christian Bloody Stupid Democrats, are now looking to remove creationism from the curricula of schools that still teach it to their unlucky, indoctrinated students. Now for the love of God, hand in your notice and let someone who actually wants to promote education take over.

(Via Pete Ashton)

May 28, 2005

"I am very, very, cross!"

... I was in stitches before the credits had even started! And yes, those would have been terrible last words. There are a lot of funny lines in this one, although I thought the writer was overdoing it a bit towards the end of "The Doctor Dances". Nice build-ups of suspense with the army of gas mask people.

I enjoyed John Barrowman as Jack more than I did last week. Fan leya pointed out to me that he was least convincing when undercover as Captain Jack, which sort of makes sense. He's more fun as the dashing rogue type, and the actor has a better handle on that side of him. Leya got pretty close with her earlier speculation on what the matter was with the child and Nancy. Not quite accurate but pretty good.

I liked the under-use of the morphing effect. Couldn't care much for how this writer handles Rose although the rhythm of the dialogue makes her and the Doctor work overall. She does save the Doctor's skin (and her own and Jack's) again, by the way, which is good.

In all, fun with a nice balance of humorous and thrilling moments. I wouldn't say it's the best, but I had a good 45 minutes.

Actually, now that I think about the ending a little more... the Doctor gets pretty excited in the final 10 minutes, and in the process lays bare a rather deep mental scar. Interesting... I should watch it again and see how the whole two-parter holds up to repeated viewing.

For you Bad Wolf spotters out there, I missed it, but, uhm, it must be there. Because this series is the bomb, and it wouldn't be the bomb if the makers forgot to put a reference in.

Continue reading ""I am very, very, cross!"" »

May 29, 2005

Resurrection of the Planet of Technical Difficulties

A large part of the archives at ROCR.net is missing including the featured storyline. The admins are looking into it.

Ah well. The more reason to hurry up with my plans for moving to a new location. If the upload system at the Webcomicsnation site I'm beta-testing wasn't too cumbersome to upload 100 comics to easily, I'd put the featured stuff there.

May 30, 2005

Damn those South Koreans!

Not only are they about to patent the cure for Alzheimer's Disease before Old America will, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Party of James Dobson, but they'll also get the Ninth Doctor Who on the telly before the Americans. Pagishikinda!

And then there'll be a wave of South Korean teenage girls bleaching their hair and having their teeth enlarged. (Via)

Black-tailed Godwit redux

I got a few people asking me what a Godwit was in response to the latest cycling report. Here's a site about them, in Dutch: Grutto.nl. It's got some information about the decline of their population, and a diary from a farmer trying to do the right thing and adapting his mowing schedule and the placement of his animals to the nesting birds.

May 31, 2005

What I'm doing with my Webcomicsnation site

I might as well tell a little about my plans for the website in development at Webcomicsnation. I see a few people have gone over to look at it in the past few days, and they'll have noticed the Chronicles of the Witch Queen title graphic, and wondered what the hell that might be.

Continue reading "What I'm doing with my Webcomicsnation site" »

About May 2005

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

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