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February 2006 Archives

February 3, 2006

New site feature: Random comic (plus bleg)

I've added a fun new feature to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website: a "Random Comic" button. No longer will you have to labour under the tyrannical constraints of linear narrative. For now, I've put it on the home page only, but as it's really a simple link, I can demonstrate it here as well: Jump to a random ROCR comic [Update: bad link corrected. Is my face red.].
"Random Comic" links work better on gag-a-day comics than on story-driven comics, but they're still pretty addictive time-wasters on story-driven comics that have them, and really if you want to check out a comic that you're new to, a random episode is at least as representative as any of the other choices you've got such as the previous comic or the first (both popular choices when people read mine for the first time).
The feature is driven by Oh No Robot. The transcription project has now progressed to the point where I can use the work to improve the website. At the time of writing, 440 episodes have been transcribed out of just under 1200. Once I get past the 50% mark, I'll put an Oh No Robot search box or link on the home page as well.
I could use some help with the transcriptions, by the way. I think I've gone about it the wrong way: I usually transcribe the latest comic within an hour of publication, and I've already done most of the comics at the front of the archive, so the episodes that people are most likely to visit don't have a "Transcribe this comic" button on them, so readers don't notice that I'm asking for this. If you want to help transcribe please pick some that Oh No Robot itself suggest for transcription, or start with some of the stories that I haven't done a lot of work on myself yet, such as Guðrún or The Corby Clan. Thanks, please?

Lo Hartog van Banda dead at 89.

The Man Who Wrote Everything, Lo Hartog van Banda died on February the second at age 89. Apart from being a prolific comics writer working mainly for the Marten Toonder studios, Banda wrote many children's series for television, including my favorite when I was five years old, De Bereboot.. He also wrote the classic childrens's series Ti Ta Tovenaar, another series I watched when I was little.
Googling for Banda now, I realise that he really did write everything I used to watch or read. When I was a bit older than that I used to borrow the black and white Blook and De Argonautjes (with art by a very young Dick Matena) books, and the colour Arad & Maya books (drawn by Jan Steeman at the time his style was transforming itself) from the library again and again.
And of course he was a ghost writer on several of the properties that came out under Toonder's name. He contributed to Tom Puss & Mr. Bumble, Panda, Kappie (a comic whose concepts he would later re-use on Bereboot) and Koning Hollewijn. Banda resigned from the Toonder studios and rejoined them several times.

Banda's work was very much of its place and time. Jeroen tells me he watched the old Bereboot episodes when they were repeated a few years ago and was shocked by the racial stereotyping in it, which toddlers of the 1970s were blithely exposed to. Only few of his works reached audiences outside of the Netherlands, particularly his three Lucky Luke scripts of the 1980s and '90s, the first of which sold enough to make him a millionnaire. Many readers in the Netherlands consider him the only Lucky Luke writer who even came close to the quality of Goscinny's work.

Banda was still working as of a few years ago, but had recently been plagued by poor health.

February 4, 2006

Daily Press Briefing from US State Department 02/03

So far, the online coverage of the controversy over the Jyllandsposten cartoons depicting Mohammed has checked out with what I heard and read in the real news, so I haven't felt any need to put my 2 cents in. However, the past few days I've been reading contradictory quotes from the US State Department's response to the controversy. Especially within Europe, quite a few writers have been appalled at what they see as State cowtowing to the Muslim mobs, but other sources cite State's principled stance in favour of freedom of the press.
So I decided to look for the fullest version of the statement I could find. State.gov's own site, at the time of writing, is useless, and so is Google, but a Technorati search showed a lenghty quote at cartoonist Colleen Doran's blog:


QUESTION: Yes? Can you say anything about a U.S. response or a U.S. reaction to this uproar in Europe over the Prophet Muhammad pictures? Do you have any reaction to it? Are you concerned that the violence is going to spread and make everything just —

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen any — first of all, this is matter of fact. I haven't seen it. I have seen a lot of protests. I've seen a great deal of distress expressed by Muslims across the globe. The Muslims around the world have expressed the fact that they are outraged and that they take great offense at the images that were printed in the Danish newspaper, as well as in other newspapers around the world.

Our response is to say that while we certainly don't agree with, support, or in some cases, we condemn the views that are aired in public that are published in media organizations around the world, we, at the same time, defend the right of those individuals to express their views. For us, freedom of expression is at the core of our democracy and it is something that we have shed blood and treasure around the world to defend and we will continue to do so. That said, there are other aspects to democracy, our democracy — democracies around the world — and that is to promote understanding, to promote respect for minority rights, to try to appreciate the differences that may exist among us.

We believe, for example in our country, that people from different religious backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, national backgrounds add to our strength as a country. And it is important to recognize and appreciate those differences. And it is also important to protect the rights of individuals and the media to express a point of view concerning various subjects. So while we share the offense that Muslims have taken at these images, we at the same time vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view. We may — like I said, we may not agree with those points of view, we may condemn those points of view but we respect and emphasize the importance that those individuals have the right to express those points of view.

For example — and on the particular cartoon that was published — I know the Prime Minister of Denmark has talked about his, I know that the newspaper that originally printed it has apologized, so they have addressed this particular issue. So we would urge all parties to exercise the maximum degree of understanding, the maximum degree of tolerance when they talk about this issue. And we would urge dialogue, not violence. And that also those that might take offense at these images that have been published, when they see similar views or images that could be perceived as anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic, that they speak out with equal vigor against those images.

QUESTION: That the Muslims speak out with equal vigor when they see — that's what you're asking?

MR. MCCORMACK: We would — we believe that it is an important principle that peoples around the world encourage dialogue, not violence; dialogue, not misunderstanding and that when you see an image that is offensive to another particular group, to speak out against that. Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images or any other religious belief. We have to remember and respect the deeply held beliefs of those who have different beliefs from us. But it is important that we also support the rights of individuals to express their freely held views.

QUESTION: So basically you're just hoping that it doesn't — I'm sorry I misspoke when I said there was violence, I meant uproar. Your bottom line is that both sides have the right to do exactly as they're doing and you just hope it doesn't get worse?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I —

QUESTION: You just hope it doesn't escalate.

MR. MCCORMACK: I gave a pretty long answer, so —

QUESTION: You did. I'm trying to sum it up for you. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Sure.

QUESTION: A couple of years ago, I think it was a couple of years ago when, I think it was the Syrians and the Lebanese were introducing this documentary about the Jews — or it was the Egyptians — this Administration spoke out very strongly about that and called it offensive, said it was —

MR. MCCORMACK: I just said that the images were offensive; we found them offensive.

QUESTION: Well, no you said that you understand that the Muslims found them offensive, but —

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm saying now, we find them offensive. And we certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive.

Yes.

QUESTION: One word is puzzling me in this, Sean, and that's the use of the word "unacceptable" and "not acceptable," exactly what that implies. I mean, it's not quite obvious that you find the images offensive. When you say "unacceptable," it applies some sort of action against the people who perpetrate those images.

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I think I made it very clear that our defense of freedom of expression and the ability of individuals and media organizations to engage in free expression is forthright and it is strong, you know. This is — our First Amendment rights, the freedom of expression, are some of the most strongly held and dearly held views that we have here in America. And certainly nothing that I said, I would hope, would imply any diminution of that support.

QUESTION: It's just the one word "unacceptable," I'm just wondering if that implied any action, you know. But it doesn't you say?

MR. MCCORMACK: No.


I'd say that this is a typically measured, politicianly response that includes plenty of language emphasizing that yes, people do have the right to say and print insulting cartoons. So at least there's no need to claim that the Americans are weaseling out on the issue.

Update: On the other hand, the Bush administration's love of freedom of expression doesn't extend to that of American scientists trying to get some science done. Andrew Revkin reports that NASA scientists get harrassed by presidentially-appointed commissars telling them what they can and can't say (hat tip Eric Millikin )

Review roundup-ette

I've had some nice things said about my webcomics lately. Here's an overview:

On Webcomicsnation's new "Peer Reviews" feature, Pat Jones wrote:

Enter the "hive mind" with me now....
When's the last time you've seen an alchemist's rump? Never? In The Eye of the Underworld, writing by Geir Strom and art by Reinder Dijkhuis, you'll see an alchemist's rump and much more. This completed fantasy adventure tale highlights Reinder's black and white line art and Geir's gift for comic farce. Reinder drew The Eye of the Underworld in a very different style than his solo masterwork, The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. The Eye of the Underworld is a powerful amulet, stolen by Caliph Iznobezzer from the Witch Queen. She orders the renowned alchemist Ioannis to retrieve it. Along the way, Ioannis teams up with Farah, the Caliph's beautiful daughter, who dresses like a ninja and proves to be his equal, in every way. The Eye of the Underworld makes a great introduction to the prolific universe created by the "hive mind" of Reinder Dijkhuis (Netherlands), Geir Strom (Norway), and Daniel Ostvold (Norway). Their collected works overlap and enhance one another. You can fall in love with their characters and read their adventures for days, immersed in magical fantasy.

By design, "Peer Review" articles are puff pieces, but someone has to take the trouble to write them, and Pat was very complimentary when he emailed me a draft of the review.
Over on Livejournal, Will Howitt wrote:
...I got sucked into Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan this week, and read the whole archives from start to finish. Reinder Dijkhuis has been drawing this for many years, and there must still be lots of material that's not on the web site, but it's a uniquely engaging and intriguing saga, for those who are into such things ... check it out.

And finally, Galith wrote:
One of my guilty pleasures is online comics, and I've recently discovered a new one that I think many people on my friends list would enjoy: The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan.

The art style is similar to Asterix the Gaul and the writing is light hearted fantasy. Serious things do happen, and they are taken seriously when they do, but the world always seems bright, hopeful, and very multi-dimensional. Both magic and magical creatures are present in the world without being overwhelming, and all the magical sentient races seem to possess really interesting backstories and unique customs. As does the witch culture. As does Christianity.

I also really like how the comic handles nudity. It is really nice to read a comic with well-drawn nudes and near nudes (both male and female) where none if it is "fan service"; it's just the way things are. Characters spend large amounts of time not wearing clothes, and it isn't weird or sexualized, it's just the way things are. If you go to a witch sabbat and the weather is nice enough then you walk around "sky clad". If you're a fairy you don't tend to wear clothing. If you step outside of the time stream and your clothes don't go with you. If you're in a bath or getting into or out of bed you tend to be naked. It's just the way life happens.

The comic starts off a bit blah, I wasn't that moved by the first few story archs (although I did find some of them were quite funny), but the quality steadily improves as the series progressed. I found the last major story arch to be just as engaging and humorous as a Disk World Book. If you've got the time I recommend you check it out (and tell me what you think).


Which did make me think "I do have a lot of perfectly good reasons for my characters to lose my clothes, don't I?" but I know that's not what he really means, and besides, the comparisons to Asterix and Discworld are quite flattering anyway. Thanks Pat, Will, Galith!

February 6, 2006

If only they knew when to stop.

Fafblog on the Mohammed cartoons:

"What if it's not really a picture of Mohammed," says me, "just a picture of a picture of Mohammed?"
"Metablasphemy!" says Giblets. "It is sacrilegious and pretentious!"

Don't read the rest, the above was the best bit.

[Rahball] Note to Pantheon fans

Are there any of you out there?
Well, there's a note coming on Pantheon to the effect that I want to give you some new updating content on that website, but I can't make it Pantheon. However, it will still be about gods and demons.

Then there's a link to my Livejournal, where I enumerate all the Pantheon-related things I *would* like to create for you, and ask for your comments.

Read up. :)

My opinion!

Because Pete is puzzled over the lack of a response from the likes of me to the Mohammed cartoons: What he said.

Whoa, Patrick Nielsen Hayden is right, this does save a lot of work. And makes for a good game of Outrage Bingo.

Update: One of these days I'm going to learn to cut and paste, or maybe to check that I've cut and pasted the money link correctly. This is like the second time in two days that I rendered a perfectly good blog post nonsensical by putting the wrong link in. What was originally the second link to Pete's post should have been, and is now, the link to this Crooked Timber post by Chris Bertram.
Crooked Timber!
Crooked Timber!
Crooked Timber!
Crooked Timber!

You'd think after two years I'd have got the hang of this blogging thing, but who am I kidding. I haven't got the hang of counting either after more than 30 years. I'm hopeless and should just club myself to death.

Quick and dirty music roundup.

Albums I've been listening to:
Sigur Rós, Takk.... Everyone and their dog put this in their end-of-year list for 2005, just as I was getting into that meandering, ethereal sound a bit. This one's good, but it's not that good, and certainly not the big progression from their previous records that people have said it was.
Bettye Lavette, I Have My Own Hell to Raise. Similar formula and approach to the comeback album Solomon Burke did for ANTI in 2003, Don't Give Up On Me. May actually be better. I love that croak she's got in her voice.
Vashti Bunyan, Lookaftering and Just Another Diamond Day (the latter on vinyl from Magic Buzz record store in Groningen). Two albums in 35 years, blah blah blah, lives up to the hype. Wouldn't want to have only records that sound like this in my record collection but Lookaftering in particular is an album to grow into slowly.
Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band, No Roses also on vinyl. A bit intimidating to get into. I'm not sure if I quite "get" the appeal of Shirley Collins's voice. She's highly thought of as a folk singer and has been for almost 50 years, so the fault is likely to be entirely at my end. It's not like I got Sandy Denny immediately either. There's some lovely shambolic backing from what wasn't really a band at the time, just a bunch of musicians hired as needed. Compared to that other seminal folk-rock album, Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief from the year before, this record has more of a punk feel underpinning Collins's traditional vocal style.
Planet Orange, Drip Drop Dripping. Good, as expected.
Ritchie Blackmore, Getaway. Double CD of session recordings from Blackmore, recorded between 1963 and 1982. About half of it is Joe Meek-produced singles of varying levels of cheesyness. Judging from it, Meek's reputation as an innovative producer is overrated and it's actually a relief to get to Disc II and its Derek Lawrence-produced sessions which put Blackmore at the center of attention more and have a more hard-edged sound. Blackmore himself is on cracking form in every last track on the 2 CDs, even those where he is coupled with such inept singers as Gunilla Thorne. The best bits for me as a Deep Purple fan though are the last dozen or so tracks in which he works alongside Ian Paice and Jon Lord, resulting in an instantly-recognisable, Purple-esque ensemble sound. When those three were in one room, the results just had to sound good.
Deep Purple, various live tracks found on iTunes. It looks like Purple's Australian fan-market record company has made a deal with iTunes allowing some of their output to be released on iTunes, albeit at a somewhat inflated price. So we get the Orchestral gig at the Rotterdam Ahoy from 2000, and an Australian gig from 2001. Cherrypicking from those albums, I got the two tracks from Rotterdam featuring special guest Ronnie James Dio singing his own material backed by Lord, Paice, Morse and Glover, and two Deep Purple nuggets from the 2001 concert, "No One Came" and "Mary Long". Unfortunately, the Dio tracks aren't nearly as impressive as I remember them being when I actually was in the audience at that very concert. The Australian performances aren't among the band's strongest either. Jon Lord in particular sounds as if he was counting down the nights to his retirement (which would take place soon after the Australian concerts). I hear that the current Deep Purple tour has them on much better form again, which sort of makes me wish I'd got tickets for their January gig.
OST, Walk the Line: For an actor, Joaquin Phoenix is a very good singer, getting vocal performances in that are very close to Johnny Cash's original feel without copying him exactly. The same can be said for Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, and the backing band is very strong. Listening to the whole album from beginning to end is a bit much, though, because it's all well-worn Cash material without major changes to the arrangements.
New London Consort and Philip Pickett, Songs of Angels. I haven't given this one a full hearing yet, but one thing stands out already: Compared to the only other Phill Pickett recording I have, Bones of All Men with Richard Thompson (review), the sound palette on this one is radically different. It's not so much that the rock rhythm section and acoustic guitar are missing; it's that on Bones all instruments including the renaissance ones were recorded as if they were rock instruments: up close and in your face. On Angels, everything has more of a concert hall sound, more distant and harder to distinguish, but also more alive and cohesive. There are some extended pieces on this record and I look forward to listening to it properly (I got this off iTunes so it went directly into the random playlist.)

And with that, I think I'm caught up... It does get easier if I don't bother with the Amazon links; it's not as if these were used much anyway. My favorite records for 2005 were Aerial by Kate Bush, Here Come the Choppers by Loudon "Dad-of-Rufus" Wainwright III and Front Parlour Ballads by Richard Thompson, by the way. Aerial grew on me more quickly than I expected, so consider my review of it superceded.

February 7, 2006

Highway Star, Siberian-style.

Here's a bit o'Siberian classic rock for ya: The Deep Purple track Highway Star performed with chinese bamboo flute, shaman drums, Siberian Top-Shur and throat-singing, by Father Gorry. The ogg file is the full version; for some reason it saved as text with a .txt extention on my computer, but once I'd changed the extention I could play it. The production is a bit amateurish with some not quite smooth cuts in the track, but it's still fun to listen to. The page also has tributes to Metallica and Roger Waters.
(via the Highway Star blog, which also showcases a live cover version of Burn in shred-metal style by Mr. Big. Not my cuppa tea but the musicianship is impressive.)

February 8, 2006

Alchemists and what happens next

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Headsmen ended on Tuesday. I had a great time making it, and I consider it the best short ROCR story I've ever done. It helped rebuild my confidence that I can draw and write a bit, which had been fading in recent months.
It was, however, very exhausting and labour-intensive for me to create. So I've decided, subject to me suddenly and irrationally changing my mind, not to do any more short stories to insert between the older storylines to be run on the website in the near future. Instead, I'll just focus on projects that are already partly and wholly written: Feral, a ROCR story I wanted to use for the Hurricane Relief Webcomics Telethon but couldn't because it was too involved; Muscle, an adventure story featuring Tamlin written by Adam Cuerden; Yool, a Courtly Manners Christmas special, and Courtly Manners #3. All of these need revising, but none of these will be due any time soon, which suits me just fine.

In the meantime, I'll be publishing the remaining pre-web Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories. Alchemists from 1992 is first, followed by the much longer The Death Warrant. After that, some old short stories I still haven't published, then King's Drama. If all goes well, which it won't necessarily, that should keep me updating regularly until October or so.
I'm also playing with the thought of colouring some of the stories that are already online, because I've grown rather fond of colour, and some of the stories alternate between colour and black and white, which is distracting.
I'm also hoping to have time to do some spin-off stuff, develop some new comic concepts and stretch myself a little. But we'll see.

Meanwhile, Chronicles of the Witch Queen will remain on hold for a little longer. Geir is exhausted from the combination of work, commuting and raising a small child, and I'm not quite ready to resume my editing work. We'll do it in our own sweet time and aim to get the new material online in a few months; note the lack of a specific ETA.

February 9, 2006

Revamping The Corby Clan

Previously I wrote

I'm also playing with the thought of colouring some of the stories that are already online, because I've grown rather fond of colour, and some of the stories alternate between colour and black and white, which is distracting.

Well today I was a bit sick, but not sick enough to stay at home, so I dug up some high-res scans I had lying around and started colouring some of the pages of the The Corby Clan storyline in Photoshop. Artistically, it wasn't very challenging (if it was, I wouldn't have picked a semi-sick day to do it) but it was good practice at doing simple things quickly in Photoshop. While working on them, I realised that the pages as published were also a bit on the small side, so I gave the new versions a size upgrade to a width of 550 pixels with margins. I also dug out the first couple of pages that had already been published in colour and resized them. The revamped pages aren't yet on the website - they're awaiting your judgment at my DeviantArt gallery. Please take a look and tell me what you think. If people don't hate them, I'll put the entire storyline on the website in this revised form.

February 11, 2006

Hack attempt on server last night - tread carefully

Last night, there was a hacking attempt on Xepher.net, the server that hosts this blog and rocr.net. From the Xepher.net homepage:

Server was down for about 3 hours today, as an attack secretly added a small bit of javascript to most webpages here. The script would open a small/unseen iframe that loaded another site with many, many viruses and other malware. At most, this code was in place for 4 hours, and it only affects internet explorer on windows. I've since patched the software that had the hole in it, as well as run a script to remove the exploit code from all the infected pages. There should be no remaining damage. Still, as always, let me know if something's broken or funky.

The hole allowing hackers to put malicious scripts on index pages was in OpenSSL, which ironically is server-side security software, Xepher explains in his forums. People running Opera or Firefox were safe from the malicious scripts, hint hint.

February 14, 2006

Banner and music memeage

I've got a new 88 * 31 microbanner up in case you want to do exciting things! Like linking visually to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on your own website!
Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan
Feel free to deeplink; it's only a small file.


Since that's not enough to fill a post with, here's a music quiz. Random playlist, first 20 songs, first line or two of each (not counting spoken interjections, and I'll be skipping the Sigur Ros stuff because it doesn't come with lyric sheets. Also, I'll skip the instrumentals and any band or artist showing up twice). Guess! I'll update with the correct guesses and credit for them. It's a varied list and may be a bit more difficult than many other such quizzes, but quite a few of these tracks came from recent free CDs given away by record stores or coming with international music magazines so they shouldn't be completely unguessable. Others are from records mentioned on this very blog, so there's an opportunity for you to cheat.

Continue reading "Banner and music memeage" »

February 16, 2006

[cmkaapjes] Keep your cash in your pocket

The genre of biopics is not one that has given us many memorable titles, at least not many come to mind: Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, Bird seem to be happy exceptions. I always hope a picture will exceed my expectations, but in the case of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the line this sadly did not happen. Though Johnny Cash's life was interesting enough, the makers of the movie concentrated solely on the lovestory between him and June Carter. The result: a sappy run-of-the-mill love story with a great soundtrack.

Joaquin Phoenix tried hard to mimic Johnny Cash's voice and movements, and though he's not a great actor, succeeded well enough. The screenplay however, lacks in originality and nowhere in the story we get a clear picture of the man Johnny Cash. We only get clues in the form of the death of his brother and his relationship with his father. But American Christian morality is poured over it like a thick nauseating gravy, so that we're never sure about his true feelings. I suspect he hated the man that put him down like that, but honouring ones parents seems to be the prevailing sentiment. June Carter is portrayed as a prom-queen goody-two-shoes, and we get absolutely no idea why she puts up with the pill-popping rock star Cash.
The movie starts out promising with a glimpse of the famous Fulsom-prison show. Then we're treated to the obligatory flash-backs of his youth, the obligatory flash-backs of his early tours with the likes of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. This part of the movie is quite enjoyable though, mainly because of the many musical scenes. These scenes seem to be for name-dropping purposes mainly and do little to speed the story forward. The name dropping reaches its height with Cash's friend Waylon Jennings being featured in two scenes, without the audience once being told who this long-haired guitar-toting guy is, or what his relationship with Johnny is. Cash's friendship with Bob Dylan is also hinted at, but never plays a role anywhere.
When due to his addiction to amphetamines the touring comes to an end, so does whatever momentum the movie had. I was very glad my friend had brought a small bottle of scotch to the theatre. It was the only thing keeping me going through the long and tedious scenes of Reese Whitherspoon (who could do with an extra couple of pounds in my book) getting Cash to give up his addiction. After a grueling half hour of family-oriented scenes he beats his addiction and we get on with the show. Thankfully the soundtrack picks up here to guide us through the last romantic scenes.

I was very surprised to see that rottentomatoes gives it a fresh rating of 83%. Apart from it being about Johnny Cash, and thus having a good soundtrack, it really is a mediocre lovestory at best. No doubt it'll do great at the Oscars...

A Bear called, er, Jeremy

Another quick one from my childhood: Drawn's Jay Stephens reminisces on A Bear Called Jeremy. I recognised this guy at once... funny how all the media my brother and I consumed when we were little has stayed with me, when I can hardly remember anything I actually did myself.

Anyway. This fella was known to me as Beertje Colargol, het beertje dat kan zingen and seeing him again brought a little smile to my face. Maybe I should try writing and drawing for children's television, to brainwash a generation or two into loving my creations.

February 17, 2006

Orgasmatralalaika

Post about classic rock tracks in Northern Asian ethnic style just once and people will start pestering you with more of that. Danny alerted me to a cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron with Tuvan throat singing. One to download and keep.

February 26, 2006

Speed-coloring update

I've got a big list of recently-recoloured pages from 2001 up at my DeviantArt site. I must have driven my Watchers over there nuts with over a hundred updates in just two and a half weeks.

Like I wrote on February 9, I've been going through the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives for 2001 and cleaning up old episodes, looking especially for black and white pages in stories that also had colour pages. At the time, I'd started the project on a bit of a whim, because I was a bit ill and wanted something to do that was easy and free from pressure. The aims were two-fold: to make the archives for The Corby Clan, Dolphins and Dragons and Sauna Opera more consistent, and to become more comfortable with Photoshop.

Being comfortable working with something, of course, is very different from simply knowing how to do the work. It's an important difference: it's what keeps me going back to Paint Shop Pro even though that package's poor stability very nearly cancels out any productivity gains I make by being able to work the lettering tools, the vector drawing tools and the vector object organisation without having to slow down and think. I haven't done a whole lot of lettering as part of this coloring project, but I have been able to do a little bit, so I'm getting closer to that goal of being able to do the lettering and word balloons in Photoshop smoothly and efficiently.
Other things I've learned:
- I've memorised the most-used keyboard shortcuts to the point where I know them at least as well as in PSP;
- I've familiarised myself with how Photoshop handles input from the tablet. In other words, I've got a better 'feel' for drawing lines and shapes digitally. This 'feel' has eluded me for a long time while working with other programs.
- I've learned to use layer effects. They're a bit of a hidden feature inside the layer palette, but once you've found them they're easy enough to use.
- I've learned to use adjustment layers, particularly the Hue/Saturation/Brightness layer. I've colorised and decolorised pages with those. I'm not quite sure how to properly prevent parts of an image from being affected by the adjustment layer - simply cutting parts out of the adjustment layer mask doesn't quite work, and stacking the parts I want to exempt above the adjustment layer can become tedious if those parts themselves have pixels in multiple layers.
-I've learned to deal with PS's straight line tools, which at least in PS 7 are considerably more cumbersome than PSP's vector-based straight lines, but workable if you create new layers for them manually.

Of course, now that I've finished the colorings, I want to upload them to the ROCR site as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I can't do that just yet, because some of the functionality in WillowCMS isn't quite working for those sections of the archive that were imported as a batch, and tinkering with those parts of the archive could become a very tedious and error-prone process. So for now, that listing on DeviantArt is the place to go if you want to see the revamped images.

February 27, 2006

Bicycle repair question for readers in Groningen

Question for my readers in Groningen (I know there are quite a few):
Given that bicycle repair shop Herman van der Meulen in the Oosterhamrikkade have failed three times in a row to fix my brake permanently, that the guys at Vincent van Ellen in the Oude Ebbingestraat are a little too concerned with keeping their precious shop floor squeaky clean and that the skilled craftsmen at the Ferwerda complex of bicycle shops covering half the Steentilstraat would rather laugh at my lack of mechanical savvy than take my money for goods provided or services rendered, where should I go if I want to have my bicycle repaired? I'd prefer shops that are open on Monday morning or at other times when I might actually need them, but proven ability to fix things so that they stay fixed has a higher priority than that. Let me know.

About February 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in February 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2006 is the previous archive.

March 2006 is the next archive.

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