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December 2005 Archives

December 1, 2005

Sketchbook Bonanza

I don't do convalescence well. I find myself looking for things to do and end up doing the sort of work that I would otherwise have put off. It's not that I concentrate better when a virus has taken the edge off me; I just don't find the distractions as compelling as I would when I'm healthy. Here's what I've been doing:

I've been working on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archive listing page with Mithandir. This involved restructuring the database entries for some of the chapters and changing the tagging code for that page. The work isn't quite finished – Mithandir says he'll look at the tagging code and fix the final oddities tonight – but it's good enough to link to it on the other content pages, so I've done that as well.

Cover to the latest sketchbook
I have liberated a bunch of sketches from The Book of All Things, the sketchbook feature I used to have on Modern Tales. This used to be available to subscribers only, but has been unavailable to anyone since the Modern Tales crash in March. Most of the material will now go to the Sketchbook section of my own Gallery, where it arguably belonged anyway. I've added a large number of storyboards, panel layouts and sketches to the Rite of Serfdom Sketchbook subsection. I initially thought this would take about an hour, but there was much more material there than I remembered. The Rite of Serfdom Sketchbook now contains 52 items, and there's more on my hard drive.
T.S.Sullivant Wallpaper stuff
I've also created a subsection for a series of sketches I did for a wallpaper in imitation of early newspaper cartoonist T.S. Sullivant a while ago. The finished wallpaper is now free and can be found in the Artworks section.

A third batch of sketches in the Book of All Things consisted of storyboards for Courtly Manners 2: The Unicorn Race. Those will now be re-run in the Odds and Ends section of the Chronicles of the Witch Queen website, over the weekend and beyond. I'm thinking of making Odds and Ends a permanent feature to run on the site whether there is other new content there or not. I'm not sure if I have enough material, but I expect something will show up.
Today and tomorrow, by the way, Odds and Ends features Adventure a Daniel Østvold solo comic from 1998 in which Countess Alcydia and a Wolfman pass into the real world to harrass Geir and Anne-Kristin. Nice stuff!

Update: One more set of drawings liberated from the Book of All Things: A small selection of Life Drawings. I have more, but I'll need to find them before I can add them.

Chapter-based archive pages

And one more thing that I've been able to work on from the sickbed in which I lay, consumptive and delirious, yet unable to stop providing website features for you: Full-chapter pages. You can now read the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives the way you read archives on Modern Tales. I'm not going to link you to the very first chapter, because that will be deleted in a few weeks to be replaced by "The Green Knight's Belt", but go to what is currently the second chapter, Night of the Dragon, to see how it works. It's ideal if you want to catch up quickly and/or think 1000+ pages of archives are a bit intimidating.
There's something strange about the issue of single-page versus chapter-based archives. When The Double and other comics, readers complained about the lack of single-page archives. The strange thing is that both groups of complainants stated the same reason for wanting the type of archiving that wasn't available: they were on dialup and didn't like waiting. I don't know what to make of that.
Anyway, when I set up the new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website, I went with single-page archives as the default way to present the comics. But I personally like chapter archives and I'm glad I can at least offer them as an option. Now to find a way to seamlessly integrate them into the website's overall design...

December 2, 2005

Livejournal feed for Chronicles of the Witch Queen

From the Department of Putting Things Inside Other Things:

I've set up a livejournal feed for Chronicles of the Witch Queen. It's at http://www.livejournal.com/users/witchqueenchron/. As of the time of writing, it hasn't updated yet, so I don't know exactly what the feed will look like. I expect, though, that it will put the large COTWQ comic images above the livejournal cut. If that doesn't scare you, you can subscribe and have all Chronicles of the Witch Queen comics show up in your Livejournal friends list.

Because I had to get a paid Livejournal subscription to be able to create the feed, I'll probably make some more use of Livejournal's feed-creating abilities by adding feeds for this blog and Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan.

Update: The feed has now updated, dropping a dozen or so entries into my Livejournal friends page. Interesting...
I have found out that the scheduled Movable Type updates for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, which are what supports the RSS feed for that comic, haven't updated since late October. I'm looking into fixing that. Of course, I'll eventually want the RSS feeds to come out of WillowCMS as well, and may have to wait to create a Livejournal syndicated account for the comic until that is done, but I do want to have the MT-based feed functional again.

Because she has no Latin and less Greek

We have our first recorded instance of Rowling denialism. I'm sure future scholars will debate fiercely whether the Duchess of York or Kate Bush wrote the Harry Potter novels (actually, it would fit Kate Bush rather well, what with her 12-year absense and a history of writing about the supernatural. Unless people start arguing that Kate's discovery at age 15 by one of the biggest rock stars in the world, who conveniently happened to share a mutual acquaintance with her brother, is "too good to be true" and that Kate's songs were really written by Vashti Bunyan during her 35-year absense. Then again, that tale of Vashti's pilgrimage to Scotland, being a descendent of religious writer John Bunyan, dropping out of the public eye for a lifetime after the flop of her first album, having that album slowly gain recognition until the Observer lists it in the top 100 British albums ever and the album fetches £ 900 at eBay auctions, and then being rediscovered at age 60 by the hottest young stars in indie music? Suuuuuuuure, that's likely).

Film director Nina Grünfeld simply thinks the rags-to-riches story of JK Rowling is too good to be true.

Writing in a commentary in Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten's cultural pages this week, she questioned whether it's really possible for Rowling to have been the sole creative force behind what's become an international book and movie empire.

Grünfeld recounted the stories told about Rowling, where it's claimed the aspiring author was a poor, single mother with a hungry child to feed, who got the idea for Harry Potter while she sat on a delayed train between Manchester and London. With no money for paper or an office, Rowling reportedly started scribbling out the story of Harry Potter on paper napkins picked up in Edinburgh's cafés

Grünfeld called it a "fantastic" story, that "gives hope" not least to single mothers around the world as well as mothers with unrealized dreams and strong purchasing power.

"But can a person be so productive and commercially successful in a media industry where nothing is left to coincidence?" wondered Grünfeld. "Is it possible that a person can write six thick books that are translated into 55 languages and sell more than 250 million copies in less than 10 years? Is it probable that the stories then get filmed and commercially exploited to the degree seen here, without any well-thought-out strategy or highly professional players behind them?"

And then came Grünfeld's provocative question: "Is it possible that JK Rowling exists?" Her own answer: "Well, who do they think they're kidding? Not me!"

Grünfeld then went on to float what she willingly concedes may be a conspiracy theory, that the books instead have been produced by hack writers like those at the syndicate that produced the "Nancy Drew" mystery series for young readers. The author printed on all the books, "Carolyn Keene," never really existed, Grünfeld notes, adding that she thinks Rowling is a product of "a gigantic concern with the names Bloomsbury Publishing plc and Warner Bros" in the concern's ranks.

Yes, it is possible after all to outdo Shakespeare denialists for sheer pointless, headache-inducing obnoxiousness.

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan Livejournal feed

There is now a Livejournal feed for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Not all the problems with the scheduled updates are resolved, but at least it's available at clwydrhan.

Interesting how those feeds show up. Like the witchqueenchron feed, it dumped its entire contents into my Livejournal Friends page, but in the opposite order, so the oldest episodes ended on top. That'll all resolve itself with regular updates, I'm sure.

Both feeds expire in 14 dates, that's how Livejournal handles those things.

December 3, 2005

Problem with donations fixed

Eagle-eyed reader Doc spotted an anomaly with the donation button: Paypal was adding a six percent sales tax to the donations. I dimly recall setting it to do that two years ago when the Small Press Swapmeet opened up: I had the notion that I'd soon be selling print comics and original art again, which carry that rate in the Netherlands. That never happened at any reasonable scale, and in fact I'd have to go into the records to check if the rates were properly recorded at all in the first place. So once this was brought to my attention, I went into the hell that is Paypal's internal interface (the circles of which being the ones you go round and round in looking for a way to do what you want) and canceled the sales tax.

It strikes me that when you want to donate, say, $ 50 to someone, if the charge on the final donation form says $53, that would be a reason to backtrack, ask yourself what is going on and maybe bail out of the process. Trust is a rare commodity in the world of internet-based payments, and what there is of it is brittle, so any discrepancy would make a donor think twice. If you've been wanting to donate in the past month but found yourself wondering what the deal was with that extra six percent claiming to be Dutch sales tax, my apologies. From now on, your donation will be the amount that you intended to donate. And thanks to Doc for bringing this to my attention.

Read more about the Fundraiser for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan.

Carl "Olduvai George" Buell interviewed

Fun interview with paleontological illustrator Carl Buell aka Olduvai George, in which he discusses Australopitecine boozing, the blending of science, imagination and guesswork in creating illustrations based on incomplete fossil material ( Since you can't rely on photographs, you need more than a passing knowledge of comparative anatomy. And learn to draw feet.), keeping up to date (If the American Museum can change an entire T-rex mount to reflect new, more accurate ideas of posture, I can (and will) change something when new information presents itself. That's how science works. Actually, Ambulocetus is an example of new fossil finds changing images.), Intelligent Design (I grew up with Bible literalists. When I asked questions about things that didn't make sense to me I was told I needed more faith, that I thought too much.) and American politics (I remember a couple of elections back reading the Republican platform for the 1948 Dewey Presidential campaign. Much of it seemed to the left of where the Democrats now are. So I guess I'm mostly a 1948 Republican.).

He also mentions that his job is "a 3rd graders dream job. I'm still amazed that I can draw or paint an animal and occasionally somebody actually sends me a check for it.".

Come to think of it, he is a pretty lucky bastard. I grew up with ZdeƱek Burian's paleontological illustrations, and those made me want to be a paleontologist for several years as a kid. I would trade with Buell in an instant. Not that he's quite as good to my eyes as Burian, but he's pretty darned good, judging from the samples in the interview. He lacks Burian's grandeur and painterly touch, but he is more polished and probably more current as he is working with contemporary information.

Olduvai George has a blog to check out, too. (Via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

December 5, 2005

Christmas at Blocksberg

First page of Christmas at Blocksberg. Click to see full-size
Christmas time is upon us, so over at Chronicles of the Witch Queen, we're running a seasonal story. In the dark days of December, witches ride out on a Wild Hunt! But then they like to follow that up with a cozy evening around the Christmas tree unwrapping presents. One year, though, Santa goes missing. Will Queen Elspeth find a replacement in time? And just what is Countess Alcydia up to? Read all about it in Christmas at Blocksberg! Art by Daniel Østvold; writing by Geir Strøm.

There is a livejournal feed for Chronicles of the Witch Queen. To read the comics in Livejournal, add witchqueenchron to your friends list.

If you have a website you want to liven up with a seasonal comic, you can use our Tooncast: cut and paste <script language="javascript" src="http://www.webcomicsnation.com/tooncast.php?series=blocksberg"></script>into your website

Continue reading "Christmas at Blocksberg" »

December 6, 2005

Once more with the Happy Holidays theme

Good post by Publius that articulates some thoughts I was forming about politically correct holiday greetings. Read-worthy.

St. Nick in New York City

Tonight is St. Nicholas Eve.

Tonight we leave out our shoes, in hopes that St. Nicholas will leave a chocolate or other small gift. Tonight St. Nicholas rides his white horse, giving presents.

St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is the patron saint of New York City. (That's why, in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Santa Claus arrives last in the train. It's a patron's celebration.)

[...]

St. Nicholas is a saint in the Catholic and the Orthodox churches, and is honored among Protestants. When the Twin Towers fell, they fell on St. Nicholas' Orthodox church, which held some of his relics. Those relics were never found, and are now mixed with those of other New Yorkers from that attack.

[...]

We should not speak here of Black Peter, who accompanies St. Nicholas on his rounds. Black Peter beats bad children with his cane. You were wondering what candy canes were all about, eh?

But we have all been good. We have put out our shoes.

I had no idea that St. Nicholas' Eve was celebrated in its original form anywhere outside of the Dutch-speaking part of the world. You learn something new everyday. Thanks, Jim at Making Light.


Addendum: Next year, we should use Krampus in the Chronicles of the Witch Queen Christmas special.

Errr....

It looks like trackbacks on Waffle have suddenly, spontaneously become un-borked. Straaaaange. Seems to have happened in mid-November for no good reason at all.

December 7, 2005

Thieves!

As I am increasingly busy in the field of webdesign (this is Jeroen writing) I thougt to see what Macromedia Dreamweaver costs these days, it being one of the leading webdesign tools around. I've worked with an early version of it (3.0 if I recall) and I had quite liked it.
On the macromedia website Dreamweaver is said to cost $ 399. Not cheap, but as software goes, not ridiculously expensive I guess. I proceed to the online store. Please select country. Ok, sure, I live in the Netherlands.
Now, to my astonishment, the product, Dreamweaver 8.0, no longer costs 399 dollars, but 479 EURO's (ex vat).
Woah!
I convert dollars into euro's and lo and behold, 399 dollars makes for 340.27 euro's. Isn't that odd? I'm supposed to pay 139 euro's (163 USD) extra for living in the Netherlands?
They have got to be kidding! Daylight robbery I say!

December 9, 2005

I might as well have emptied the ink jar over the fresh paper first...

Stealing the Belt. Click for full view
The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story I finished almost a year ago, The Rite of Serfdom, was very long and very uneven. The reason was that I worked with only a very rough outline and improvised large chunks of the script. That's actually OK when I'm making a short story, and it's even doable in a longer story if I'm well ahead of the published episodes, but once I started getting behind, the quality of both the art and the script started to vary. Nevertheless, it has some of my best art in the church, Inside Ottar and Grimborg sequences.

One of my aims with each new story is to avoid the mistakes of the previous one, so Headsmen is both short and tightly scripted. One of my other aims is for each page of the story to be better than the best work I've done so far. As a result, the creative process is... intense. Pages that are already inked may still change their appearance completely. In the one above, I tried to create the impression of pitch darkness (inside a tent in the forest at night) without actually making it all black... and without using tones other than black and white.

It'd be easy to do in colour, but colour isn't feasible if I want to have the project finished in time. Besides, I'm a bit fed up with colouring webcomics at the computer.
It would be fairly easy with cross-hatching or old-fashioned screen tones. But If I used those, I'd make it harder to colour the comic at a later date. Or I'd have to create multiple versions which in my experience is the sort of thinking that leads to raving madness in no time. So, time to expand my skills and take advice from my studio-mates.
The page above? Is now 65% covered in ink and still readable. It's looking rather good, in fact.

December 11, 2005

Cover art

Kel surrounded by headsmen and brandishing the Belt

I have rearranged the Gallery somewhat so that the Headsmen sketches are now in one nested album. While doing that, I discovered that the URLs of existing images were changed as a result, so some older blog entries referring to the Headsmen sketches may have broken links. I'll try to clean up after myself but some items may remain broken. Next project, I'll just start out by making a new sub-album for sketches I want to show.

The sketch above is for the cover art for Headsmen. Comment in the Gallery itself if you have critical suggestions. I know that it's early days, that the sketch itself is very rough and that you haven't seen the actual story it's for, but my cover art is still very much a weak spot and I often don't see what makes a good cover, and how bad covers can improve. Right now, I like this one but who knows what I may be overlooking?
Update: Version 2.
more hooded figures

December 12, 2005

Oh No Robot added to ROCR

In my continuing bid to stay abreast of every technological fadmake my archives as accessible as they could possibly be, I've added Oh No, Robot to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan web pages. Oh No Robot allows readers to transcribe webcomics, making them more searchable. I'll hold off on adding the search box to the front page until some more comics have been transcribed; the buttons to allow you (and myself) to do that are on each of the individual archive pages.
A few comments:
Although I know the makers of Oh No, Robot are working on ways to make their system work with Webcomicsnation-style archives, the service is definitely biased in favor of one-episode-a-page archiving, so using this will discourage cartoonists from using other archiving approaches.
Also, I could only associate myself with one comic. I was going to just dip my toe in by testing the system on Christmas at Blocksberg but apart from that archiving bias, it also would associate me with that comic, and that comic only. I'll leave the decision to Robotize Blocksberg and other Chronicles of the Witch Queen comics to Geir and Daniel.
Also annoying, especially in the light of that one-author-one-comic approach, is that the Search Engine lists Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan as "Reinder Dijkhuis" and there's no obvious way for me to change that. This is clunky to say the least.
On the plus side, if anyone has a transcription for the entire archives lying around on their hard drive, I hear they can contact the Robot team to have it imported. Anyone? ANYONE?

December 13, 2005

The final word on the "War on Christmas" from an American perspective

A good, carpet-F-bombing rant from Fuckchristmas.org:

Can we back up just a couple steps here? At what point did a basic understanding of the separation of church and state become a fucking war on religion? And how did we get to the point where you can call an organization set up to defend our civil liberties "Terrorists" on national television and no one fires your ass? Enough. Fuck all of you lying little shitheads who wish the world was out to get you so you could play the poor oppressed victims. Wake up assholes — you're the cowboys, not the fucking Indians.

"But we want to display our Christmas tree on city property!" You can, go right ahead. "They're stopping us from praying in school!" They're not, so fuck off. "We're not allowed to say 'Merry Christmas' anymore!" Are you fucking kidding me? Knock yourself out. Say it at work, scream it in your high school lunch room, hell, tattoo it on your fucking forehead for all we care. Guess who's gonna be there defending your right to do every one of those things? The fucking ACLU. One of these days you bastards are going to drive those fuckers out of business, and then you'll see some actual attacks on your religious liberties. I thought conservatives were supposed to be all proud and independent? When did they turn into a bunch of fucking crybabies?

[snipped bit including an interesting link to a Christian website summarising the known scholarship on the birth of Christ and its celebration, or rather, the lack thereof, in early Christian history]

But you boys at FOX still freak out every year about how everyone's out to get your special trees. This is really the most important thing you have to talk about? Whether Target says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas? Here's a brainstorm: there's a fucking war on. Our soldiers are out there dying while you guys do your 14th live feed of the day from WalMart to show us what good little consumers we are. What Would Jesus Do? He'd jump over that newsdesk and kick your ass for that shit. Are you sure you want to hang your journalism credentials on a story about what some guy calls a tree?

Well we've fucking had it. You want to play bullshit games and scream about how God's fucking judgment is gonna come raining down on us if we don't start watching our vocabulary? Go right the fuck ahead. But let me clue you in on something: fire and brimstone ain't no deterrent for us. We're not going to hell, assholes, we're fucking in hell. We live with you.

That cheered both me and Jeroen up after a difficult Monday and Tuesday morning... (Via)

December 14, 2005

Christmas at Blocksberg now listed at onlinecomics.net

Onlinecomics listing for Christmas at Blocksberg. If you like the comic that is now being Tooncast at the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan site and have an Onlinecomics account, please do us a favour and make it a favourite so that more people will discover it.

As always, if you're a cartoonist with a comic listed there, and you happen to know that I like your work, you can alert me if your comic isn't among my favourites. I don't do reciprocal links or reciprocal fave-ing as such, but I want to be thorough about supporting comics I like in all possible ways. I'm sure the same goes for Geir.

Addendum: It's also listed at The Webcomic List.

Ooh!

I'll have to give Aquamacs a spin as soon as I'm on the iBook again. Not everyone likes emacs - a lot of linux geeks loathe it with a passion - but I do. It's flexible, full-featured and on one occasion was the thing that enabled me to rescue a botched linux install. It was the one editor that was a) definitely installed, and b) functional when the Windowing system was broken. If the incident happened again today I would use pico, but I've got good memories of emacs as a bail-out tool.

Quite a few Unixy, open-source apps that are adapted for the Mac are improved in the process - Adium is a much better program overall than Gaim for messaging, for instance. So I'm hopeful that Aquamacs will turn out to be the editor I've been looking for - I've found the easily available free OSX text editors to be a bit ornery to work with for some reason.

From the screenshots, it looks like Aquamacs looks more like a traditional OSX program, which is a good thing. But I'm happy to say it still looks excentric enough for Mac zealots who see it for the first time to go "What the fuck is this?"

December 15, 2005

Symbolia

Cartoon Symbolia has names for all those stink lines, drop shapes, wavy sunray-representing lines and other graphic symbols found in comics, with funny comics to demonstrate them. There's even a story woven into his depictions of plewds, briffits, vulgarats and fumix. Very nice.

December 17, 2005

Sidecomics: Santa's Revenge, Herman

I have started adding sidecomics to the new website and CMS. The first to appear is a collaboration between me and Geir from 2000 called Santa's Revenge. Yes, we're staying with a Christmas theme. Don't worry, it'll all be over in a week.

Santa's Revenge looks at the darker side of Santa Claus. Traditionally, Santa doesn't just reward nice children; he gives naughty ones their comeuppance too.

The second sidecomic I've added is Herman, from 1996, which was previously published on my Keenprime acount. That finally disappeared when I moved the Reinderdijkhuis.com domain over to Xepher.net, and I'm glad I've now been able to bring it back using the magic of WillowCMS. It's my first autobiographical story showing a hair-raising event I was a witness to.

Both comics are set up as series in the CMS database and presented using a chapter template. For short stories such as these, that's probably more appropriate. However, should I feel the need, I can also set up templates to present them as single-episode webpages, and manipulate their presentation through the CMS. We'll see.

December 18, 2005

Shout-out to Mithandir!

Mithandir's a great guy. Not only has he told me I don't have to pay for his work on WillowCMS because it's taken him so long (it's been worth the wait, and well worth what we had agreed as payment, even with the delays), he also bought me an ad on The Webcomic List for Christmas. I'm not good at the gift-exchanging thing; I fret and worry about the gifts and generally avoid it even if it means I don't get gifts myself. This, though, was a spontaneous and unexpected gift without strings attached, simply because he thought I "needed a boost". That's more meaningful than just doing it as an obligation. So this is where I thank him for everything and invite all you reading this to check out his work (writing and colouring) on Chasing the Sunset, a humorous fantasy comic primarily aimed at young readers but fun enough for adults. It's been on my favourites list for a long time.

For the ad, Mithandir used one of the ads I'd made for Joey Manley's Open Ad Network, which has now taken a back seat to other parts of his Webcomics Nation project. He scaled it up to fit the ad space on The Webcomic List, and had the ad link not to my front page but to the beginning of The Rite of Serfdom. That way, readers got their first taste of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan with work in colour.

People sometimes ask me about colour. I like colour, I like colouring and I have some ideas of how I could make a coloured ROCR story look better than the last one. What's stopping me from colouring the next new work is time - my own and that of people who might want to colour it. If I want the next story to run on time and have good line art, I can't colour it and I can't send it to my regular volunteers on a short deadline. So it's black and white for the time being, probably through 2006. Sorry! But in the longer run, I will want to return to coloured work, and I agree with Mithandir that it's smart to give my coloured comics more exposure.

Duckbirdie

There is now an English-language website for the popular Dutch cartoon Fokke & Sukke: Duck and Birdie. I wonder why they didn't go with the original names for the characters - they're every bit as suggestive in Dutch as in English. (On the page explaining the name change, whoever wrote that copy is being unduly coy about both the names and the "little feathered tails". Come on! We've seen what happens to those "tails" when the birds get excited.)

I'm not sure if the comic will work as well in English as it does in Dutch. When I saw the English-language Fokke & Sukke book, I didn't think it did, to be honest. But then I'm familiar with the gags already and they have long lost the element of surprise.
What I do like is the clean, uncluttered website, especially in comparison to the original Dutch version, which, by the way, is one of the longest-running webcomics. The authors started putting comics online in the late 1990s when one of them was traveling and needed a way to stay in touch with the comics as published. Over time, the site went through the normal life cycle, accumulating clutter as it evolved. I'm sure that the new site will also have ads on it eventually, but it starts out looking prettier than the old site ever did.

December 19, 2005

Didn't Listen To The Album Watch 1: Daniel Paquette, Fab Magazine, Toronto, Canada

I don't trust music journalists. At all. I believe they ask lazy questions in interviews, don't understand music much at all, prefer quote-mining press releases for things they can spin according to their prejudices instead of actually listening to music or indeed reading up on their subjects properly, and would much rather write about themselves than about those stinky musicians they are paid to write about (by the way: I freaking hate Gonzo journalism except possibly in the hands of an expert practitioner. Genius always gets a free pass; the rest of us have to Do Things Properly).
I especially don't trust professional music reviewers to listen to records, go to concerts or know what they're talking about, and every once in a while I get confirmation of this distrust. There's the story of the Uriah Heep concert that got canceled way back in the 1970s and that still got a bad review from some drunkard who couldn't be arsed to give the venue a phone call to see if it was on. More recently, but long enough ago for me not to remember the particulars, there was a letter in the Nieuwsblad van het Noorden from a hardcore band who had played in a venue in Groningen. They didn't complain about getting panned, but they did complain about the reviewer failing to notice that their entire set had consisted of Cliff Richard covers. The reason should be obvious: the reviewer wasn't at the gig at all.
And today, the Homeground forum gives us another one. A Professional Music Critic, a Mr. Daniel Paquette from Fab Magazine in Toronto, dismissed the new Kate Bush album Aerial as "beyond hideous" saying


After a 12 year wait from this legendary heavy pot smoker, we get Kate singing the words 'washing machine' for three minutes non-stop.

Of course, we get nothing of the kind. What we get is one song in which the words 'washing machine' occur as part of a chorus. If Mr. Paquette had listened to the album, or read the lyric book, he'd have known that. Instead, he just copied the scribblings of other Professional Music Journalists, distorting them further in the process. The rumours that Kate would have 'A song about a washing machine' on the record (it isn't, to anyone with ears), had been circulating before release and were ideal fodder for someone whose idea of journalistic professionalism is to copy rumour uncritically. Such a low standard of workmanship is beyond hideous.

I've been meaning to do a series on this issue, by they way. It's nearly impossible to open a music magazine without finding similar cluelessness (regardless of whether the review is positive or not or whether I like the artist or not) and it always irritates the hell out of me. However, unlike Professional Music Journalists, I don't get paid to write these things, so don't hold your breath.

Sidecomic: Nightmares

Since people seemed to like Santa's Revenge, I've re-scanned the other episode in the Little Cottage in the Woods series, Nightmares. This was actually the first episode, written by Geir in 1999 or thereabouts and drawn by me in August of that year. It already existed on the old Comicgenesis site, but the version there was too small to be properly readable, and I no longer had the master files. The only way to create a larger version was to scan it again from the A3 papers.

There are some more scripts in this series awaiting art from me. If only I had more hours in the day...

December 20, 2005

Sidecomic: When We Had Tails

When We Had Tails is one of my most-reprinted comics. It was written by Geir Strøm in early 1998, drawn by me soon after that, and has been printed in fanzines from Canada to Italy and (I think) one of the former Yugoslav republics. It's been on my old website at Bart.nl for years, but I want to move all my comics off there into the new site. I've taken the opportunity to rescan and re-compress it, so you get larger images in the new version.

Rescanning the images took longer than expected, because I'm looking at the work through a new TFT monitor. The old one at the studio has finally given up the ghost and we had to rush out to replace it. This new screen should be the best our limited budget can buy, but right now, the greys are coming out a bit blue here. I've already fixed many of the hardware settings but I can't quite get rid of a blueish tint to the whole thing. We'll see in the morning. I'm glad I don't have any color work lined up until the end of the week, anyway.

December 22, 2005

Sidecomic: Tree Test

Tree Test is another wordless comic. It's been lost for a while; it was made for the Bries anthology Wind from 1999 or thereabouts. A colour version exists, done by Gerard Stroomer of the now defunct online anthology Cartoozine. I remember having that on a website somewhere but I can't find it anymore. This is probably one more reason why consolidating everything in my new site is a good idea. If anyone has a copy, please email me.

Wind was a theme book about wind, and while it was tempting to do fart jokes, I went with a more serious story about trees bending in the wind. One tree isn't playing along, but there are consequences.

COTWQ: The home stretch

We're in the final few days for Christmas at Blocksberg, which will finish on Christmas day. So far, we've seen the disappearance of three different Santas and their imminent elimination by an infernal machine called the Nickswhiskersnipper.

I've taken out an ad for the comic on The Webcomic List in the hope of getting the comic into the Webcomicsnation Top 25 for the final few days. Originally, my plan was for the Tooncast on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan home page to take care of that, but it doesn't look like the pageviews from that are getting counted. It's still a good way to give a short-running story some more exposure though. As for the ad, the Webcomicsnation system doesn't allow me to track it, but a real change in the visitor numbers will be easily visible. If I decide the ad works well enough, I will have some more made for the future series.

Next up in January: Alcydia, the story of a kidnap and diplomatic incident in Iceland. Sound familiar? There may be some delays before we start running it as Geir and I are both still swamped and Daniel is spending December in France without internet access. I'll run some more Odds and Ends to fill in. When Alcydia finally starts running it'll keep us in regular updates until March, and one of the things Daniel is working on is a sequel that will see us through another month. And there are two other special projects coming up on the site...

1980 fake Deep Purple footage found!

The Highway Star has published some rare video and audio from the ill-fated, bogus "Deep Purple" reunion from 1980. The recording quality isn't great but it's an opportunity for those of us who weren't around at the time to hear what the fuss was about.
In 1980, 4 years after Deep Purple split up, a Deep Purple tour was announced, which turned out only to involve original Deep Purple singer Rod Evans, plus four unknown musicians. Evans had sung with Deep Purple on three albums, Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn and Deep Purple which were only moderately succesful at the time (although they are still on catalogue and are actually rather good). They had an American hit with the Joe South song "Hush" but were going nowhere commercially. Evans and bassist Nick Simper were fired from the group and Ian Gillan and Roger Glover brought in. That line-up went on to enjoy immediate Anglo-European and Japanese success, and re-conquered the US later. They wrote and recorded "Child in Time" "Smoke on the Water" and the other material that is now considered the classic Deep Purple repertoire. Rod Evans sang in a few bands in the US, then left the music business until coming back with a Deep Purple line-up that had no creative or personal continuity with the classic material. It was booed off the stage on a daily basis, and the group were sued by Deep Purple's original management, to the point where he was forced to quit music again and lost the rights to his royalties for the first three Deep Purple albums. Few recordings exist, indeed these are the first I've ever come across.

Evans' voice was pretty good as far as I can tell. The bassist sounded and moved a bit like Roger Glover. Otherwise, it's what you'd expect - a decent cover version of "Smoke on the Water". The audio file is a full-length recording of the song.

December 23, 2005

Sidecomic: The Grim Barrowman

Another wordless comic: The Grim Barrowman from 1998. Script by Barbara Stok. I shared a studio with Barbara for a while, but apart from this one, we never got around to any serious collaboration. Same story as with my present studio, really.

Barrowman is a slightly creepy tale of Death stalking his victims with a glassy stare and a wheelbarrow. I think it was based on a dream Barbara had. More noir-ish than I usually do although that's not saying much.

Update: This one highlighted some problems using the new monitor at the studio. There's a grey spot on page 2 that I couldn't see at all on the studio monitor but is conspicuous at home. It's the reverse of a problem with the old CRT I replaced at home that showed even quite light greys as black. I'll fix it in the morning.

December 24, 2005

Looks like the gmail honeymoon is over

I'm now getting oodles of spam to my gmail address. Most of it's in Chinese, and the amount that passes gmail's spam filters is greater right now than the amount that gets caught in them.

I hope this is temporary and that they upgrade their spam filtering in the next few days - or maybe someone should disconnect China from the Internet for a couple more years until it has a government that enables dissent and stifles organised crime instead of the other way around. If not, I may be forced to switch email addresses again. I need to have an email address that I can publish on the internet without subterfuge, and without being swamped with crap. Maybe despammed.com is working properly again?

Sidecomics: Desperately Seeking, The Wife in the Hole, A Trinket's Tale

Three more sidecomics added to the website today:
Desperately Seeking is one that long-time readers of the blog may already know. The story set in the American West, sort of, has been published on the blog when it was just getting started in early 2004. Back then, the blog had a narrow column for the content, and as I'd been putting out all the rescanned comics out at a width of 700 pixels, I went back to the high-res scans I made then and resized them to fit in with the others.

The Wife in the Hole is another one with a script by Geir Strøm. It's adapted from a Saami folktale and features the Devil. You know it's good when the Devil is in it.

A Trinket's Tale has never been shown online before. Drawn in April, 1998, A Trinket's Tale was intended as a parody of and response to a comic I read in the fantasy comics magazine Mythography in the late 1990s. That comic, which shall remain nameless but has since been republished online, was a mess of poorly thought out and hackneyed ideas, only redeemed somewhat by the slick execution. It was rubbish, the sort of work that gives fantasy a bad name.


I considered sending A Trinket's Tale to Mythography but I thought it wasn't too great itself - the parody didn't cut to the heart of the matter and, more damningly for the kind of magazine that Mythography was, the art was rough. Not exactly bad, but amateurish in the sense that it wasn't properly finished. 8 years on, though, I rather like the story, warts and all. I namechecked two of my colleagues at the time in the last-but one panel.

Christmas at Blocksberg wraps up today

Christmas at Blocksberg wraps up today with an extra Saturday update. Of course, we get all the Christmas cozyness you could possibly manage to bear, with all the voices grumbling "Bah, Humbug" effectively silenced. There's a cameo by a popular Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan character as well, and I think it is that cameo that led to ... the work we ended up doing after Blocksberg.

But that won't come online for at least another week. I originally had the next comic planned for the week of January 2nd, but I feel I've been stretching myself a little too thin. Expect the launch of the next Chronicles of the Witch Queen serial in the week of the ninth, with a second one being launched the week of the sixteenth. Until then, we'll run some more Odds and Ends.

Read Christmas at Blocksberg from the beginning (16 pages)

December 26, 2005

It's worth a try...

Don't you think he looks tired?

He looks tired, doesn't he? Bags under his eyes, lined face and all

(Dontyouthinkhelookstired.com, anyone?)
(context)

Sidecomics: Crossroads + Epilogue

Crossroads and Epilogue were the closing stories of the Pin Drop minicomic I put out in 1998. They are technically two parts of a single story based on my own indecisiveness in the face of necessary career choices. The epilogue in particular adds to the pessimistic "Damned if I do, damned if I don't" feel to the story. Epilogue was printed on the back cover of the book, separated from the main storyline, and this separation has been maintained.

December 27, 2005

Not in the Gallery: Pin Drop ad

I was going to ad an image to the Gallery, to wit, an ad for thePin Drop book that I drew in 1998-ish, but Gallery has decided it doesn't like me anymore, and refuses to resize the image for preview purposes. Having refused to do that, it won't complete the upload process or display the image. The error message refers to a document called the Gallery FAQ which redirects to a Wiki for Gallery 2. The answers given may apply to Gallery 1.x but I won't bet the farm on it. I find the thought of upgrading to version 2 one that my delicate constitution cannot handle. Even minor upgrades to Gallery have, in the past, led to it being inaccessible for months, or to all the templates being wiped. And when I think of the surprises that have been sprung on me when I needed to upgrade Movable Type, I'd just as soon not bother.

So... either someone points me to a real FAQ to Gallery with real answers that consist of more than just diagnostics - which are useful unless they come with instructions as to how to fix things - or I forget about the whole deal. WillowCMS is quite capable of acting as a gallery application and is one of two systems I've used that haven't crapped out on me yet (the other is Webcomicsnation which, while it may have its faults, is certainly robust). It lacks so far the ability to rip images from a webpage but I'm sure if I ask Mithandir nicely he'll come up with it. Ditto with database import from Gallery so I won't have to bother re-submitting everything.

The art I meant to show, meanwhile, is up at my DeviantArt hub. I like it. No thumbnail, alas, because I always used to rely on Gallery to produce those.

Zita Space Girl

Joey Manley found this:
Zita Space Girl
Zita and Robot Randy

It's cute, funny and well-drawn. Me like. Me like lot. Me go "Squee!" and forget grammar. You read too. Now.

December 29, 2005

How to create a court

There isn't usually much point in highlighting any individual point in Limyaael's rants about writing fantasy; they're all good. Her latest, about writing royal courts, goes into my Livejournal memories and gets a mention in the blog because I want to be able to find it again when I get around to writing a Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story set at the court, as I've been meaning to do for years. I think I'm going to bookmark it as well, just to make sure.

December 31, 2005

[COTWQ] Delays

I've been very quiet here lately because I've been too busy even to complain about how busy I was. My work for Hello You! in particular has been unexpectedly difficult this month.

As a result, there'll be delays. Dunno about the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story following The Green Knight's Belt yet - that one may be delayed by a few days. What I do know is that the next Chronicles of the Witch Queen projects will have to be delayed by a month. The work involved (editing work by Daniel and Geir and remastering old work by myself) was easy to do while I wasn't drawing any new webcomics myself, but now that I'm back to doing new art, I can't fit it in anymore. So I'll wait until that ROCR story, Headsmen, is in the bag and I'm back to serialising old work at rocr.net, and then concentrate on preparing those Witch Queen serials again. I expect to be able to do the work starting the middle of January, so I'm reasonably sure serialisation in February is doable.

I've got New Years' resolutions, plans and targets for the next year, but I'll hold off on writing about them until tomorrow.

A little bit o'fun in the details

Like I mentioned earlier, the latest Gang of 4 comic I'm making for Hello You? had been giving me trouble. That isn't to say that there wasn't any fun to be had in drawing it. For example, I needed to populate the school environment it was set in with kids, and because the first panel had just about enough background space for some small ones, I created these two six-year-olds:

Whooo-ooo?
Now who do they remind you of?

On a related note, when Hello You! #4 landed in my mailbox last week, I was surprised to find that the top half of the comic hadn't been printed quite right. The line art wasn't correctly matched to the colouring. I don't know whose mistake this was - might well have been mine, might well have been theirs. This is how it should have looked.

About December 2005

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

November 2005 is the previous archive.

January 2006 is the next archive.

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

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