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October 2005 Archives

October 1, 2005

Past Future New York

The last complete The Lives of X!Gloop story has started on the website. This one was drawn in 1992, and set in the year 2004. Strange how 2004 seemed a distant enough future at the time.
Of course, the future as I envisaged it, a world in which New York City had car-free Sundays, a female mud-wrestler turned President of the US and the Olympics cleaned up by genetically manipulated Belgians, is wildly inaccurate even if President Bush has now been making noises to Americans about not using their cars unecessarily. That's not a problem; the problem is that compared to the future we actually got, it's pretty tame. Not nearly absurd enough. Next time I do a near-future story, I will have to make it more over-the-top.

Queesting?

This review of The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod mentions one Dutch word listed in the book:

QUEESTING Dutch

Allowing a lover access to one's bed, under the covers, for a chit-chat.

I for one have never heard this word in my life. Will check a dictionary when I go home. The German words in the review sound dodgy to me as well.

Update: Looks like the word existed in Dutch but the custom it referred to is now disused. See Item no.33 on this page.

(Also: Oooh! Emblems! I did a course on emblems once, as an aspiring cartoonist with an interest in historical subjects should. Emblems, with their specific set of rules for combining text and images, were a related art form to the modern comic. Interestingly, Jean-Marc van Tol, who I also mentioned a few days ago, studied medieval literature. The most striking feature, apart from the birdies with penises, of Fokke & Sukke is the consistent use of a motto above each cartoon, which has to be taken in with the graphic and the dialogue. Coincidence, or a surreptitious influence of emblematic literature?)

October 3, 2005

Technical Difficulties vs. Predator

Bleargh. The Comicgenesis update system is kaput again; go to The mirror site or Modern Tales for your Monday fix.

And somebody send me some new B-Movie clichés to title these "Technical Difficulties" posts with, because I've run out.

New Kate Bush album: Aerial

I never thought I'd live to see this day: New Kate Bush single online (short, Flash-based excerpt only, not enough to gauge the quality by; sounds kind of Peter Gabriel-esque). Concrete release dates and a title for the album:

Aerial
UK release: November 7.
US release: November 8.
Tracklisting at Screaming CD/DVD reveals it's a double.

I am shaking like a leaf. Via, Via. More.

October 4, 2005

Housekeeping, or is that blogkeeping

This weekend, I'll try to upgrade the blog software to Movable Type 3.2, un-b0rk the comments section and maybe even switch to a higher account level so I can invite more co-bloggers. I may fail (and break stuff in the process), but I will take some time to try. Comments are very much in demand, to the point where people have removed links to Waffle on their own sites out of frustration with the lack of comment functionality.

I may also switch to dynamic templates for the blog, which would be a big, big change indeed.
I hear that the new default templates for Movable Type 3.2 are very different (again) from the existing ones, and more complicated (again!). Because so much about the existing installation is broken, I am leaning towards backing up everything I got and doing a full install. Will it be worth the bother to work with the new templates or will I be better off using the old ones?

There are a few people with Movable Type blogs reading Waffle, if you could advise me, please email me. I promise that if my plans succeed, it will be the last time you'll have to email me for comments and advice; there will be shiny new comments!

By the way, there are even more overhauls planned in all the locations where I publish Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. I can guarantee that these overhauls will be disruptive over a period of several days. Please bear with me - I promise I will report as best I can, with B-movie title clichés.

iTunes NL still rubbish, Film at 11

I mentioned before that I was unimpressed with the Dutch iTunes store. However, they had the new Kate Bush single available, so this was clearly the time to give them another chance.
They're still rubbish! They've got people coming in to download a long-anticipated Kate Bush album, but they couldn't be bothered to make some other rarities available for those same people to download. No "Experiment IV", no 1986 version of "Wuthering Heights", two tracks that are only available on the compilation The Whole Story. No "December Will Be Magic Again". I was ripe to buy all three tracks.
There are a couple of artists and bands that I bang on about endlessly on this blog. Richard Thompson, Deep Purple, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull. They have a handful of albums by the former three, and nothing at all by the latter. These aren't obscure acts! And yes, there is material out there by all three that I don't have and would like to buy on an individual track basis. Makes you wonder if they want my money at all. Mind you, they do have Thompson's Grizzly Man soundtrack. Tempting...
But compared to the American store? Not good enough. Not nearly.

Richard Thompson - Front Parlour Ballads

Speaking of banging on about my favourite performers, I've still got several albums in the review pool. Sometimes, a bit of a delay in reviewing a record is a good thing: when I first heard Richard Thompson's Front Parlour Ballads, I didn't like it that much, at least compared to other Richard Thompson albums. I initially felt that the changes on the surface – Thompson's continuing stripping down of his sound since 1996's You? Me? Us? were beginning to mask a lack of real development in Thompson's songwriting. There's a lot on Front Parlour Ballads that I'd already heard on previous records. Also, unlike his last studio album, The Old Kit Bag, which highlighted the growth in Thompson's vocal abilities, the new one, with its rough and ready production approach, revealed his limitations.

Since then, though, I'm glad to say that the album has grown on me a lot. The faults are still there, but the songwriting and the guitar playing, on repeated listening, are great as always. In fact, the album reminds me a lot of Thompson's very first solo album Henry the Human Fly, one of my favourite Thompson albums, reissued last year. Ballads has the same kind of lyrical storytelling, the same kind of character vignettes painted in broad strokes. Ballads is more sophisticated and less alcohol-fueled than Henry and has a greater musical range despite being recorded with little in the way of acccompaniment apart from Thompson's guitar.

"Miss Patsy" with its jaunty 3/4 rhythm, could easily have been a track from Henry, as could the youth gang fun of "Mutton Street" and the wonderfully sinister closing song "When We Were Boys At School" – about a boy who was bullied and ridiculed at school and is now a sinister, unseen presence in the corridors of power. I didn't know Thompson went to school with Tom Riddle!

Since Henry, Thompson has developed a much greater insight into human relationships, and that reveals itself in "Should I Betray" in which the viewpoint character agonises over breaking his female friend's already very brittle illusions concerning her husband. Another favorite of mine is the opening track, "Let it Blow", a gleeful tale of a cad (and possibly also a bounder) who has made one last catch. That one has some percussion and some lovely melodic electric guitar overdubbed on the basic track, making it almost a band performance. A few more tracks like that and the record would have been more balanced and accessible. As it is, it's really very good; it just takes a few listens to get into.

October 5, 2005

The Double is finished!

The last episode of The Double has appeared on the site today. Read the whole story from the beginning, if you like.
The next series on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site will be The Eye of the Underworld, written by Geir and drawn by me. Many of you will have seen this story before, as it's been online on one of my old websites since 1997. I've cleaned it up a bit though, and it's still a fair bet that the people who haven't seen it outnumber those who have...

October 6, 2005

The Eye of the Underworld has started

The Eye of the Underworld has started. This, the second story in the Chronicles of the Witch Queen series, has been published online elsewhere, but for this rerun it has been remastered.

The Eye of the Underworld was conceived in a meeting between myself and writer Geir Strøm in Ranheim, Norway in 1996. Specifically, it was conceived in a meeting I would later remember nothing of. In Eye, the alchemist Ioannes is sent on a mission to the Arab subcontinent to retrieve a magical artefact from the possession of the Caliph. But for all his ability as a necromancer and maker of humunculi, Ioannes is no James Bond. And when a young, sensibly-dressed thief starts interfering with his work, he's in trouble.

The Eye of the Underworld will update on weekdays, running for one month.

Louis Clichy- A Quoi Sert L'Amour

Cute animated music video for "A Quoi Sert L'Amour" by Edith Piaf and Theo Sarape, animated by one Louis Clichy. I like.

Oh, THAT Rubinstein

I was annoyed a few days ago to hear on the radio that yet another "theory" about the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays had raised its ugly head. Those things are like weeds, or bad pennies, or a particularly sticky kind of dog excrement that you can't quite completely scrape off your shoe. I did some casual googling but couldn't find anything relevant because I hadn't remembered the names of the authors, but Brian Weatherson at Crooked Timber was more dilligent. Actually, his post is far more cautious than I would have been; the comments, however, more than make up for it:
#1 from Jason Bridges:

It is perhaps worth mentioning that there is a long history of books purporting to establish that someone other than Shakespeare wrote his plays; that many of these books (like James and Rubinstein's) get favorable press, have approving prefaces written by well-known Shakespearean actors or directors, and marshal circumstantial evidence in a seemingly compelling way; that all of these books (so far) have proven to ignore evidence that decisively contradicts their theses, and that most Shakespeare scholars regard this genre in the way most evolutionary biologists regard intelligent design.

#9 from Brian:

Tracing back Steve's links, I see that Prof Rubinstein harbours some familiar doubts about evolution. Given that the Prof is disposed to recycle nonsense from outside his area of expertise, one suspects his scholarly objectivity.

And before anyone gets going about bad ad hominem arguments, I should note that in all of these cases there are many many things one could say on all sides of a given question, and non-experts have to defer to some extent to experts in picking out what is most salient. That means having some confidence that the person putting forward the view is acting in good faith. And I'm not particularly disposed to offer such charity to people who recycle the creationist playbook. So I now suspect there's some fairly obvious reason why the Neville theory can't be true, and that the authors of this book are rather declining to tell us what it might be. Given all the publicity there may well be an expert appearing in the press sooner or later to tell us what it is.

I followed that link in Brian's comment, and yes, it's that Rubinstein. The "Professor" who made a laughing stock of himself by recycling all the Creationist talking points while claiming to have an enquiring mind? Here's The Panda's Thumb's fisking of that bit o'rubbish.

I think Brian's second comment gets it right; given what we know about one of the authors, to wit that he's shown himself to be a bit of an idiot when writing in one field outside his area of expertise, there's no reason to consider him on the merits when he's writing in another field (literary scholarship) that is also outside his area of expertise.
However, there's a definite injustice in that this "professor" will undoubtedly make a good deal of money by co-writing a (probably) mendacious and (definitely) ill-thought-out piece of crap that annoys sensible people and actively subtracts from the sum total of human knowledge. At least The Shakespeare Conspiracy still spun a good yarn. This one is just another tiresome variant of "some weak-chinned aristocrat must have written Shakespeare's work because no commoner could be smart enough".

Read all the comments, Pharyngula: A historian disgraces himself, Stromata Blog: A New Shakespeare? and The Times Literary Supplement: Why Not Shakespeare? (scroll). And be glad Einar didn't get to blog about this one first; he's given to hyperbole about human stupidity when faced with IDiocy like that perpetrated by the likes of Rubinstein.

October 8, 2005

Blogkeeping delayed

Sorry to those of you who were eager to finally see comments here again; I'm behind in my work, so the blogkeeping I promised the other day will have to be postponed. The one response I got to my earlier message, from Pete Ashton (thanks, mate), urged me to put aside a decent chunk of time, which I won't be able to do until that damned page is finished.

Next weekend, I hope.

The Duck and the Canary in English

It Hit Home has a few cartoons from the recent English-language Fokke & Sukke collection. I saw that in the shops and flicked through it. In translation, not all gags are golden, but the ones reproduced on the blog are pretty good.

It Hit Home also has the latest Kate Bush publicity pics in a long blog post about her career. Clearly a blogger of impeccable taste!

October 9, 2005

From Reinder's house of half-baked ideas...

While cycling through our lovely province, Sidsel and I often point at noteworthy buildings going "That's a charming little abode! Wouldn't it be nice to have a studio in there?" The properties we select for this are invariably old gentlemen farmers' houses – castle-sized Saxon barns with sizeable living quarters for the farmer and family and posh façades to impress the labourers with. There's a semi-serious dream of ours, to have a rustically-located workplace for a group of artists, behind this running gag. Sidsel in fact has a serious opening for a suitable property that her parents are willing to back her up on if she wants to buy it. That place, described by Sidsel as a castle, is for sale at a price that you could, at best, buy a broom cupboard for in Amsterdam*); what makes it hard for her to decide about this is that it's back home in Denmark.
Cycling through De Marne today, we saw another promising place that we took a more than usually serious look at. This 19th-century bar, located opposite the church in Hornhuizen, has a lot of space and a good deal of daylight coming through the windows. It could house a studio on the second floor and the bar area could be converted to a gallery.

We've noticed on our trips that a lot of artists do this. Hornhuizen, a small village, already has several galleries. It's not hard to figure out why: the De Marne area is economically disadvantaged so the real estate goes for a much lower price than similar properties elsewhere would. In addition, the area is really, really nice. The rural landscape is wide open - flat without being featureless. Scattered around it are villages that have mostly kept their rural style, with most of the buildings being more than a century old and decaying romantically. The sea is nearby; a short bike trip from anywhere within De Marne will take you to the sea dike where you can enjoy the view of the tidal marshes and be free from the noise of cars. In the silence there, you can hear the sheep (the sea dikes' dominant species) chew and flocks of oystercatchers twitter from near the horizon. No wonder the area's a magnet for artists and for slightly eccentric businesses that wouldn't stand a chance anywhere else.
But there'd also be downsides to living and working there. After a year or so, the relative lack of nightlife and the distance from the city would stop being so appealing. Many of those eccentric businesses and galleries fail or hang on by the skins of their owners' teeth. Country life may seem nice for a few weeks, but it isn't for everyone.

So while cycling away from that interesting little alehouse, I thought it might be better for that place to keep some of its old functionality and become a hotel or a retreat for artists – a place where they could spend a few weeks getting away from it all, recharge their creative batteries and take in some new influences, while continuing to work.

I'm gonna spend some time thinking about that. It just might work.

*) You will have to bring your own broom.

No updates on Thursday and Friday

The unexpectedly hard time I had completing the fourth Gang of 4 comic for Hello You! has lead to me getting behind on some other things, particularly my preparation for the next Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story. The Stone of Contention ends on Wednesday. Most of the work on the next series, The Green Knight's Belt, is done, but a few crucial things are not, including the "cover art", blurb and various behind-the-scenes things to do with the organisation of the website.
I was not looking forward to scrambling to finish those things in time before Thursday, and as far as the behind-the-scenes things are concerned, it was by no means certain that I could. Still, I hate to delay updates.
The whole debate raging in my head was rendered moot tonight after my return from the day's cycling trip (by the way, if you're now wondering why I went cycling when I had so much to do for the next week, my answer is that it's very important for me to have the edge taken off me by strenuous physical exertion. You don't want to be around me when I miss it. I don't want to be around me when I miss it). My throat started seizing up, then my ears started hurting. I am coming down with something and it's likely to keep me at home for a few days, possibly all week and all of next week if it's full-blown 'flu. In fact, it was a bit of a race against time to configure the updates for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before my brain functions shut down. So I even if I was eager to do the behind-the-scenes work, I'm not going to be in any state to do it for a while.

Of course, there'll be other stuff for you to read. The Eye of the Underworld will go on updating all week, regular as clockwork. The Lives of X!Gloop has just ended for the time being, but it's there if you want to catch up with my juvenalia (scanning more pages from the unfinished stories was one project I would have postponed anyway even if I hadn't got sick).

By the way, that line Ioannes uses in Friday's The Eye of The Underworld, "I am a pacifist! I have a bad back" also appeared, with minor variations, in Friday's Alice. I never realised it at the time, but I've come to wonder if that line isn't a quotation from something I should have read or watched, but haven't...

October 11, 2005

Flu update

I'm not feeling too bad, but I'm quarantaining myself anyway. For a while I was a little puzzled that the disease seemed to be stuck at the "sore throat" stage, but I now seem to be moving beyond that to the stage where all the interesting stuff happens - interesting if you like mucus. Sucks, but at least it's progressing.

I've actually been able to do some of those behind-the-scenes things I mentioned from home. More on that later.

Wanna go on a bughunt?

I need one or two people to help me test a new comics archiving system developed for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. I spent the past few days at home doing this sort of thing myself, going through over a thousand entries to see if they were correctly uploaded and configured, but there's always a chance that I'll miss some or that other people will discover bugs in the system itself.
As I speak, there are about three dozen missing image files, which I will fill in as soon as I can release myself from self-imposed quarantaine and go to the studio where most of the entries are stored. By the time that is done, it'll be time for someone else to go over it and check my work. If you're a regular Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan reader and wouldn't mind spending an afternoon or so re-reading the archives, email me.

Update (October 17): What with the New storyline launching tomorrow I could no longer delay the announcement that the archives were moved. Although I haven't fixed the problems that were reported yet, I will look into any problem people spot

October 12, 2005

Flu update 2

If what I've got is flu at all, it's the slowest-progressing I've ever had. Day 3 and I've just about got a bit of a dry cough going. It may be a completely unrelated thing. I'd see a doctor except the waiting room would be filled with people who really do have influenza, so if I didn't have it already I'd come back with it.
For a moment, I thought it was the ibuprofen slowing down the disease's progress. Much as I like having only mild symptoms, I don't want this to drag on, so I stopped taking it. My symptoms are still unusually mild; even my head is clear enough to work at the home computer, which I did.
My attempt at quarantaining myself (as an exercise in preparedness in case of an Avian Flu pandemic) was defeated this morning by my 84-year-old neighbour who rang my doorbell and hugged me when she found I was all right. Very sweet of her – I just hope she doesn't catch her death for her troubles.
Unless my symptoms change significantly, I'm going to spend a few hours at the studio today. I'll bring disinfectant tissues just in case.

October 13, 2005

End of Contention

... and that's that, again. The Stone of Contention is done, for the second time. I hope you enjoyed the old work. From the response I got, it looks like you did; what I've been hearing from people was that they didn't mind it was old, that it was new to them.
This is good news, because I've become really keen on completing the archival series. The next storyline to be run is the very first one The Green Knight's Belt from 1991-1992. Most of that is in the bag; I've been delayed from putting the finishing touches on by my recent bout of thankfully mild flu and by work on changes to the way Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will be presented on the Web. I've dropped a few hints here and there, some of them about as subtle as anvils, but haven't got around to writing a proper announcement/press release for the changes yet. Blame that flu. More on that over the weekend. I hope. There's quite a bit left to do yet, much more than I anticipated.

Asterix...

I have had the privilege to see some pages from the new Asterix album on a private forum. You won't have to look all that hard to get a sample, anyway. It's very hard, considering Asterix's importance to European comics and even to the European publishing industry, to keep that stuff a secret. But I've got a good eyeful of it.

How can I put this? Yes, it is true that attaching Goscinny's mortal remains to a generator right now would solve the world's energy problem in no time. It's as far removed from his original vision for the series as it could possibly get.

In fact, it's so far removed from Goscinny's original vision that I'm actually getting more interested in the book than I've been for a long, long time. Either Uderzo's gone nuts, or he's just made the most daring move in his long career. We'll see in 10 hours, when the shops open tomorrow.

October 15, 2005

In America, everything is porn now

Warren Ellis writes that:

Tucked deep inside a massive bill designed to track sex offenders and prevent children from being victimized by sex crimes is language that could put many Hollywood movies in the same category as hard-core, X-rated films.

The provision added to the Children’s Safety Act of 2005 would require any film, TV show or digital image that contains a sex scene to come under the same government filing requirements that adult films must meet.

...

Under the provision inserted into the Children’s Safety Act, the definition of sexual activity is expanded to include simulated sex acts like those that appear in many movies and TV shows.

The provision, written by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., could have ramifications beyond simply requiring someone to ensure that the names and ages of actors who partake in pretend lovemaking as compliance with Section 2257 in effect defines a movie or TV show as a pornographic work under federal law. Industry sources say the provision was included in the bill at the behest of the Justice Department.

Industry officials contend that the way the provision is written, a sex scene could trigger the provision even if the actors were clothed. While the language is designed to capture “lascivious exhibition of the genitals,” other legal decisions have said that “lascivious exhibition” could occur when the genitals are covered.

The bill, with the Section 2257 provision included, already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and is waiting consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Industry executives worry that the provision, which is retroactive to 1995, will have a chilling effect on filmmakers. Faced with the choice of filing a 2257 certificate or editing out a scene, a filmmaker might decide it’s not worth getting entangled with the federal government and let the scene fall to the cutting-room floor, the executives said…

There is, of course, no reason to suppose that the bill does what it says on the tin. As the Reuters report mentions:

"Guys who are making [child pornography] don't care about reporting requirements," one source said. "When they're caught, they're looking at 30 years in prison. There's no indication they're going to fill out the paperwork."

(via Eric M, who also points out that digital images = webcomics).

I'll just add the blindingly obvious observation that this nonsense was proposed by a Republican, has passed a Republican-dominated House, will easily pass a Republican-dominated Senate and will be upheld by a Supreme Court that the Republican president is now stacking with his Republican cronies. The only hope that the entertainment industry has is that it will turn out to be as big an administrative nightmare for the government as it will be for them.

October 16, 2005

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan leaves Modern Tales, launches new storyline "The Green Knight's Belt"

I'm posting this press release everywhere:

After three years at the subscription-based portal Modern Tales, the fantasy webcomic Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is making its archives free to all readers again at a new location. The move coincides with the launch of the next storyline, The Green Knight's Belt, on Monday, October 17.

The Green Knight's Belt is actually the first Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story, written and drawn almost 15 years ago for print. Fragments of it have been shown on the web in the past few years, but this new serialisation will be the first time the story has been published online in full, with everything re-scanned, re-translated and cleaned up. Over the next year or so, creator Reinder Dijkhuis intends to complete the web publication of the early works.

In The Green Knight's Belt, the original gang of four Rogues hear of the magical powers of the legendary Green Knight's Belt. They brave guards, dragons, puns and other horrors to get to it.

The new archives are hosted at http://rocr.xepher.net. Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan updates on weekdays.

Pass it on. Comment.

October 17, 2005

Monday morning surprise

Well well well... launching my new archives and storyline on a Monday opened me up wide to another case of Monday Morning Surprise. There is nothing about webcartooning that I hate and dread more than the Monday Morning Surprise. It's invariably very unpleasant, it invariably needs fixing an hour ago and is often very hard to fix. It invariably fills me with thoughts of packing it in and moving to Tahiti to paint nude women (on nude women). This morning, I got two. The wrong episode was on the front page, and even more embarrassingly after a press release in which I mentioned freeing up the archives, the "Previous episode" from the first page was locked.
I had wisely set a later rollover time for the update (8 o'clock instead of six) but unfortunately couldn't drag myself out of bed until 9 (I'm still sick). Once spotted, the problems were fixed in less than a minute though, which is unusual and gives me hope.

Continue reading "Monday morning surprise" »

Ey-Oh Captain Jack!

Woo hoo! BBC to screen 'Dr Who for adults' as new spin-off show

The BBC has commissioned the Doctor Who scriptwriter Russell T Davies to make an adult post-watershed spin-off of its most famous sci-fi show.

The new programme will be called Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who) and will follow a crack team investigating alien activities and crime in modern-day Britain.

It will feature in its starring role John Barrowman, who played Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and who will play the same character in Torchwood.

Like the latest version of Doctor Who, which the BBC successfully relaunched this year, Torchwood will be based in Cardiff. Davies, who has just begun writing Torchwood, said the new programme would be aimed at adult audiences and would "have its own, unique identity". He said: "Torchwood will be a dark, clever, wild, sexy, British crime/sci-fi paranoid thriller cop show with a sense of humour - the X Files meets This Life," the latter a reference to the groundbreaking Nineties BBC drama about a group of young lawyers in Bristol.

"Things I Did As A Kid But Aren't Sure Why"

If Dave Ronan keeps on making comics like Things I Did As A Kid But Aren't Sure Why, I'm going to have no choice but to blogroll him. It'll all end in tears, I tell ya!

October 18, 2005

Alcydia and Christmas at Blocksberg.

I've been working on the two sequels to The Double. Five pages of the Christmas special Christmas at Blocksberg are now lettered and ready to go. They weren't exactly easy to do, but I still got a week's worth of material finished in less than a single working day.

A few weeks ago, I got a CD in the mail from Daniel, with his scans for Alcydia, the long-awaited serial that he and Geir have been working on as a parallel story to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Guðrún. Here's a glimpse at Daniel's rendition of the Rogues:
The Baron and Company meet Tamlin, Ragna and Jake

October 20, 2005

Stuff to do

So far, the launch of the new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives has gone very well indeed. WillowCMS's built-in log analyser reported almost 7000 pageviews on Wednesday. These came from a smallish pool of unique visitors, but as most regulars still use the ROCR.net domain, that's not a big problem.

There is still a lot to do about the site. Because of the new story launch, I couldn't delay the move any more than I already had, unless I wanted to interrupt publication of the comic, which I wasn't prepared to do. That did mean that the archives went live with several things yet unfinished. I still have to add:
1. New RSS feeds;
2. "About" and other existing additional pages managed through WillowCMS
3. A Table Of Contents.
4. Switching the ROCR.net domain to point to rocr.xepher.net.
...not necessarily in that order. However, I won't be doing all these things immediately because I'm appallingly behind on my other work and have an out-of-town appointment over the weekend. Sorry.

PS: There's one more thing on the list, which is repairing the Four-Way Crossover which has been broken since first Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and then No Stereotypes moved to Modern Tales. The archiving system of Modern Tales was incompatible with the needs of the crossover. Also, Glych's original version of No Stereotypes got lost in the transition. We're now in a situation where we can fill in the gaps again, so hopefully, the crossover will start making sense again.

For a highly specialised meaning of the word "sense". But still.

That item has been on my to-do list for so long it's got mould growing on it.

October 21, 2005

The Skunk Defense

Today in Fight Cast or Evade, author Matt Trepal finally makes good on a promise! Back when I submitted this guest art to him, which was, er... three or four years ago, he mentioned that he'd got plans to have the character Portia save herself from a tight spot in the same way as I had shown in the guest comic. Well, it's taken a while, but he's finally got there.

That guest comic was fun to do, by the way. Look, furry versions of the Rogues:
fceguest-300.png
Click for full page at DeviantArt

October 22, 2005

Onlinecomics listings for Geir and Reinder's comics

From the department of agitation, propaganda and destabilisation:

White House in Orbit, The Double and The Eye of the Underworld now have listings at Onlinecomics.net. If you are a member of onlinecomics.net and like any or all of these comics, please add them to your favorites. This doesn't just help these comics rise through the ranks and gain readers, it also helps people with similar tastes as you find comics they might like.

Onlinecomics.net listing for White House in Orbit
Onlinecomics.net listing for The Double
Onlinecomics.net listing for Eye of the Underworld

By the way, in the past few years, I've resisted adding Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan to webcomics topsite listings like Topwebcomics.com, for a number of reasons. They tend to demand a lot of screen real estate on the website, and many of the best ones have long-entrenched comics in their lists' highest reaches, making it very difficult for a comic that doesn't have mega-appeal to get that high. If you don't get that high, the lists are usually not worth the bother as promotional tools in the first place. In short, I think they're too much work for too little return. However, I do know that some readers out there like them, and see them as a good way to help a comic they like gain readership. So I'm willing to at least consider suggestions. If you know a topsite listing that might work for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, let me know.

Lost and found

Now that I've freed up the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives, little pieces of ROCR history keep turning up! I have added the two-part mini-storyline Archery to the archives in the spot immediately following Guðrún. Another, earlier page has been parked on DeviantArt until I figure out where it fits best. Both were originally available only as bonuses for readers voting for ROCR on topsite lists back in the day.

October 26, 2005

Oops!

Sorry about the missing image on the homepage on the new Xepher-based website earlier today. I only discovered the problem now while working on the template for that page.
Apologies also for the use of the old contact address on that front page. That really has to be reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com as the Despammed address has not been reliable enough to use for some time. I'll change it forthwith.

Update Sigh... Apologies also for the inaccessibility of the episodes for Monday and Tuesday. They are fixed now. Technical explanation: The access rights setting for individual comics should be inherited from the setting for the chapter they're in, but apparently isn't. Or isn't consistently. Or it is, but my understanding of how the system works is completely off the mark. Just this once I don't think it's the latter but I could be wrong.

Note that all of the above are Priority 1 problems, which means that if someone discovers them, they have the right to scream at me to drop whatever else I am doing, no matter how urgent, and deal with those problems. Email should work from now on, and if you happen to have my phone number or IM, you can try your luck with those. Please do - errors like this are annoying and make me angry, but the faster I can fix them, the better.

Non-comics-related blogging will be light for a few more days. Sooo much on my plate right now. If just reading Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan isn't enough to satisfy you, read The Eye of the Underworld as well. It's good and has 14 pages in its archive now.

October 28, 2005

Fund drive time!

If patronage was good enough for Michaelangelo, it's good enough for me. Now that Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is a free comic again, I'm going to try the donation/sponsoring campaign thing again. Give money to keep Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan afloat! Get stuff in return! Here's what I just posted on the Fund drive page:

Why a donation drive

Over the past year, business hasn't been great for me. My own state of mind had a lot to do with that - I'd cut down on my activities, because I'd got a bit burned out. I'm better now, and I'll get by, but if I don't make up the shortfall in my income over this year, I'll need to get a job in the final months to get by. And that will mean I won't be getting back to producing new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stuff. I can't combine the two, and the last time I tried was a disastrous period for me.

Of course, I can get by for a long time without actually needing to make new work. I've got all the old stuff that I can publish. But I have this idea for a 20-episode story that would fit very neatly just after The Green Knight's Belt, which I very much want to make in November/December so it can go live in January when Belt ends. So I'm trying to raise money to stay off the labour market and go on with webcartooning for another few months.

But it's not all about getting something for nothing. I want to give back to people who donate. Donors over $50 will get a limited-edition print volume of the new story, the first time in five years that Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has appeared in print anywhere. I will make as many copies as I get donors over $50, plus five to give away on special occasions. They'll be signed and numbered, have a colour cover and documentary material about the creative process. Donors over $150 will get the original artwork of a page of their choice, plus the limited-edition book. Donors under $50 will get access to extra wallpapers, plus the ability to read Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan Modern Tales-style in multi-episode archival pages. Finally, everyone gets the story itself, right here on this website, updating regularly and looking the best I could possibly make it.

The target amount is US $750 a month. That's not all I need in any given month, but I can make the rest through my regular cartooning work for Hello You! and eventually through advertising on the new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website. The money will go towards living expenses, tools and materials, the cost of producing the physical goodies and the occasional bit of newly released music.

I've told a few people privately about this fundraiser and got a few pledges in already. You can donate using Paypal:

All of the above is still subject to tweaks. The version of the text on the funddrive page is the authoritative one. I've got one large donation informally pledged already, so the targets are reachable.

October 29, 2005

Domain changes

In the next few hours, I'll be moving the rocr.net domain over from comicgenesis.com to xepher.net. It's almost certain that things will break in the process, for which I apologise in advance. I'll be on standby this evening to fix the most egregious things, and by Monday, the new domain info should have propagated across the internets.

Deep Purple - Rapture of the Deep

The new Deep Purple album Rapture of the Deep isn't working for me. The musicians sound like they're having fun working on complex, interesting ideas, and there is some good songwriting on there. But the record keeps losing momentum because between great tracks like the title track and the set closer "Before Time Began" there are too many duff pieces that sound like 1980s FM rock written by numbers. Tracks like "Don't Let Go" and "Back to Back" just make me nod off.
Mind you, that title track is really very good - proof even that these guys still have classic material in them. Other reviewers have mentioned that it reminds them of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir", but a closer parallel is the work of the Canadian 1990s group The Tea Party. Another strong track, "Clearly Quite Absurd", makes the grade despite being in the despised Rock Ballad idiom. It has an interesting chord progression and takes an odd turn towards the end.
One other good thing about the new album are the tantalising glimpses we get of what Ian Gillan can do when he uses the lower end of his vocal range. More of that, please, and less of the screaming; that has long lost its relevance and become nothing more than a party trick. Generally, I like the conversational style of much of Gillan's present-day singing; it isn't quite rap but combines the flow of good rap with actual, if understated melody. It works well with Steve Morse's guitar playing, which is also, in a way, quite chatty.

What I think would have improved the record is a few more songs breaking away from the hard rock style. Those made the difference between, on the one hand, Purpendicular from 1996 and Bananas from 2003, two latterday Deep Purple albums I still play regularly, and on the other hand 1998's Abandon, which I don't. One or two tracks like the quirkier pieces on those albums to replace the uninspired rockers would have made the whole thing a lot more convincing.

October 31, 2005

Some tech notes on the server move

Some notes on my new hosting situation, so I have somewhere to point to in case one of these issues causes a problem in the near future. Probably only of interest to the technical-minded among the readership:

Continue reading "Some tech notes on the server move" »

Sunday Cycling: Noordpolderzijl

It was the warmest, sunniest October 30 ever, so Sidsel and I went for one more cycling trip. (This year, I ended up not writing about most of our trips, so to recap: no, we haven't stopped going even though both of us had fewer opportunities this year than in 2004). We'd read that Jeroen had gone to Noordpolderzijl and it looked nice in his pictures so we decided to go there as well.

Interestingly, it was exactly a year ago that we'd last been to Noordpolderzijl. The contrast between 2004 and 2005 was enormous: On October 30, 2004, the winter carrot harvest was going on in the Noordpolder, and the entire area was covered in muck. I remember the air being humid as well, but as I didn't take pictures or leave a record of conditions in the blog (bad blogger! No cookie!), I may be wrong. This year, the weather had been fine for a few days and while the area's main crop for 2005 was another root vegetable, sugar beets, the harvesting process didn't seem to have left as much of a mess. We also had more luck riding the north side of the sea dike, which is the nice side with the pretty view of the tidal marshes. The sheep were out in force again though. We had one slightly hairy moment when we passed a fence to a seqment of the dike where a group of horses were grazing: they were startled into a panic by us barging into their enclosure on our bikes, and started running around. Otherwise, the trip was uneventful; the only other problem was the stiff southwesterly wind on our way back. Note for next year: bring sunglasses. The low late October sun can be a bit of a nuisance.

Countdown to Aerial 1: The Kick Inside

The Kick Inside begins with a brief recording of whale song; once the actual music starts, it wastes no time. Piano, voice (ooooh, what a voice), half a verse before the band kicks in with a Pink Floyd-like tempo. "Moving" doesn't linger either: 3 packed minutes, then it's over. " The Saxophone Song" recorded three years before most of the rest of the album, lasts a little longer, almost four minutes, but still makes its point succinctly. Both tracks wear their influences on their sleeves – the shadow of David Gilmour, who discovered Kate and produced the early sessions, practically looms over the opening sequence – but are distinctly Kate, not just because of her piercing, love-it-or-hate-it soprano voice and piano-driven songwriting, but also because they already show her use of repetition and timing to build tension between sections of the songs.
But it gets even better with song number three, "Strange Phenomena". Where the first two songs stick closely to late 1970s, late-night soft-rock style, "Phenomena" takes the album in a more uncomfortable direction. It's the earliest song in which Kate uses the lower end of her vocal range, creating an eerie, witchy sound. Unlike on her later albums, the menace is relieved by an anthemic chorus. "Kite" then establishes her long-standing relationship with reggae music. Of course, in 1978, there was practically a law requiring each new album to have at least one reggae-oriented number on it, but Kate would return to reggae throughout the rest of her career. It's a catchy tune as well. A mood of Gothic romance dominates the next two tunes, "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" from the Gilmour sessions, and Kate's famous debut "Wuthering Heights". The two songs are two sides of the same coin, in a way: in one, the protagonist, let's call her Fictional!Kate in the tradition of contemporary fannish criticism, has a night-time, possibly imaginary visitor who seems haunted; in the second, Fictional!Kate is Kathy, the protagonist of Emily Bronte's novel, haunting her lover.
The mood shifts radically with "James and the Cold Gun" violent lyrics and Thin-Lizzy-style hard rock. It worked better on Kate's one tour than it does on the album, but it's another signpost – another idiom that Kate would later return to and develop more sophisticated variations on.
Sex and infatuation are the themes of the next three songs, "Feel It", "Oh, To Be In Love" and "L'Amour Looks Something Like You". On "Feel It", Kate allows herself to sing off-pitch in the descending lines of the chorus, as if losing control at the end of each line. It doesn't quite work for me, and this trio of tracks doesn't quite live up to the standards of the rest of the album; however, the record as a whole has such momentum that it can survive a three comparitively weak songs in a row. What they does show is that Kate was fearless even then, singing about after-party quickies and taking her voice places where nice, obedient, record-company-groomed girl singers don't go.
Reggae gets another outing in "Them Heavy People", another catchy, memorable tune if not the sort of thing to hit the listener in the gut like much of Kate's later work.
The album is closed with two songs refering to pregnancy, and again, they seem deliberately paired. In the up-beat "Room for the Life" the ability to bear children is treated as a source of feminine pride; in "The Kick Inside", Fictional!Kate is impregnated by her brother and kills herself. "Kick" is a much-overlooked track, probably because it comes at the end of a rollercoaster of an album. Listen carefully and it's gut-wrenching.
I have no memory of a world without Kate Bush's music. I suppose it must have been 1978 or 1980 when I first heard "Wuthering Heights", and my musical memories simply don't stretch back much further. I've pretty much always been a fan of her work, even when I only knew it as "that strange song with the high voice".

I was born too late to be aware of the musical landscape before Kate arrived on the scene. My interest in classic rock has made up for a lot, but I simply am not equipped to tell what, if anything, the impact of The Kick Inside must have been. I've been told that it affected one or two people.
Today, I tried to listen to it as if I heard it for the first time, giving it multiple spins in one day like I do with all records I review. I don't think I quite succeeded - I just know this album too well.

And you know what? It's damned good. One of three essential albums that Kate has made so far.

About October 2005

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

September 2005 is the previous archive.

November 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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