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May 24, 2004

Open ROCR forum thread 1: Maghreid's outburst

Now that The Rite of Serfdom is finally lumbering towards a dénouement, I'd like to solicit input from you, the readers to help me wrap it up as neatly as possible. To start with, remember this outburst from Maghreid?

Maghreid on patriotism

In this forum thread, reader gwalla writes:

Bad time for a rant! Sheesh. As a politician, she should know better than to badmouth the goals of her allies.

Yup, and she's chosen the wrong moment for it too. But I was wondering if any of you regular readers were on to the game Maghreid has so far been playing (which, incidentally, she will have lost as a result of this moment of honesty - even though she echos my own feelings on the subject almost exactly). I know what she's up to but I wonder how much work I need to do to make it clear before the story ends.

So: what variant of the political game do you think she has been playing? Post it in the forum thread, which is open to unregistered guests!

May 29, 2004

ROCR Open thread no. 2: How am I doing?

How do you feel the story and art in Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan are coming along? What needs fixing? What should I stay the course with?

July 1, 2004

Anachronism, money and kicking it John A-style

In the forum, the recent use of a vaguely John Allison-like style has sparked some discussion! The topic has already drifted to, of all things, the economics of the comic's fictional universe:

From BCWolf:


gwalla wrote:
the "bag of loot" with the modern Euro symbol on it.

Actually, that temporal inconsistency bothered me -- we're set in the Dark Ages, that symbol won't be a glint in anyone's eye for a millenia yet. Granted, you're writing for a modern audience, but still... it's as jarring as having them whip out a cell phone and ordering a DVD.

Read my answer, and the ensuing discussion in the thread.

July 4, 2004

Vectorating!

Vector panel based on Friday's comic
I don't think this is actually good enough to post as a finished work of art, or indeed as a stand-alone illustration at all, but I could use some advice from experienced vector artists here.
The drawing is a more elaborate version of the second panel from last Friday's ROCR comic, and was done in a vector drawing program I'm experimenting with: Microsoft Expression(*). After using it in the comic, I've changed the strokes so they looked more lively and organic, changed the outline colors and added shading and texture to parts of the image. At that point I started to get stuck a bit. The shading method I've used, creating translucent duplicates of paths and adding gradients to these, plus creating individual shadow shapes, is hideously time-consuming. Is there a better way to create shading? The textures included by default are not very subtle, but creating my own in a bitmap program looks like a lot of work, and I didn't get the tileability right when I tried to create a skin tone. How do other artists create these textures?

I'm also unsure whether I use the right tools (within the program) for the right things. I used the B-spline tool to create Kangra's torso, but maybe it would have been easier to draw it freehand and then manipulate it?

Here are some source files if you want to take a closer look and play with the image yourselves:
Expression file (500 KB) || Expression color palette (if needed)
|| Exported Illustrator 9 file (100 KB)

Continue reading "Vectorating!" »

July 5, 2004

Autotrace update

unvectorised Kel portrait cast-kel.png

I've got autotrace installed and am running delineate now. I'd like to thank Aric Campling of Hosers. To be honest, though, I eventually located a precompiled version of autotrace on SuSE's ftp servers and took the way of least resistance from there.

I've been playing with delineate and inkscape both at home and at the studio. I've got some really interesting effects out of vectorisation, especially when vectorising large, complex images, and I'm learning what the programs can and cannot do. The image on the left is a portrait of Kel from the Cast page. The one on the right is a vectorised version, re-exported to PNG with only minor changes from the SVG file. The SVG file is here. It's only 12 paths, unlike the monstrosities I created at the studio. See if you can read, manipulate and validate it!

July 6, 2004

Things you didn't need to know about Jake

After today's appearance of Tamlin in Dangerous and Fluffy, Reinder decided to convince me to put the rest of the RoCR cast into it - and quickly. Whilst I have no objection - a cameo for the Green Knight is already forming in my head - I wasn't sure I could fit the whole cast in very quickly. The following conversation then ensued:

Reinder:
Barmaids, vagabonds, street artists, and that funny little man shagging sheep in the background.

Me
...Which one would be the sheep shagger?

Reinder
I suspect Jake.

So, now we know...

Whee! I'm an impressionist!

Putting complex images through the vectoriser (Autotrace) and back can result in some weeeeeiird effects. Here's a panel from tomorrow's (Wednesday's) ROCR comic:

Bizarre stained-glass impressionism effect
And no, I'm not afraid of spoiling anything here. The effect is even cooler at the size this image was originally exported at:

Close-up!

And this one looks cute too:

It's Kangra and Kel!

I'll have to use this style somewhere. I'll have to remember to feed the vectoriser images without word balloons and text (which I'll have to add later) though.

July 8, 2004

CRFH influence

Kel talking Traces of Maritza Campos of College Roomies From Hell in this detail from Friday's ROCR comic. People, especially artists, outside the webcomics world are often baffled by the success of CRFH, because they can't get over the technical faults in the artwork. But Maritza's art is actually highly skilled in those areas where it counts, such as effectively conmmunicating facial expressions. In my sketchbook, I've often spotted the influence of her way of drawing faces, and it's worming its way into the finished art as well.

July 9, 2004

Open thread: Ask away!

Previous attempts at doing an open thread kind of thing here haven't worked all that well, but now that the blog is included in the Modern Tales pages, and the "Rite of Serfdom" story is slowly inching towards its end, it may be a good idea to try again. What I'd like to hear from you is your questions. If you're confused about something in the current ultra-long and convoluted storyline, if you were wondering about this loose end or that, or have a question about the world in which the story is set, ask away! The most challenging, silly or embarrassing questions will be turned into one-page comics to run after "The Rite of Serfdom"! It's even quite likely that the one-pagers will answer them!

July 11, 2004

Fade-outs, from Monday's comic

Fade-out
From Monday's comic. The fade-outs and fade-ins are inspired by Dave Sim's use of the same device in the Cerebus comics, especially in Guys and Latter Days. Full color should make the device even more effective than it is in the meticulously hand-made Cerebus, but I'll let you be the judge of that.

The fade-ins were made with Layer Masks. I hadn't really used layer masks since late 2000 when I was still working with The GIMP for everything except the lettering, but I found the layer mask implementation in Paint Shop Pro 8 easy enough to use.

July 13, 2004

Yep, Still there.

Tamlin, long missing from RoCR (for shame!) continues his Dangerous and Fluffy cameo in this week's comic. The background cameo concludes next week. HEre's a smidgen of that script:

"drink"

...I didn't say it was a useful smidgen.

July 16, 2004

Friday's update

Several people wrote in to say that they didn't think the fade-outs were working. I think I agree, so this will be the last page with fade-ins and fade-outs for now.

I think they *ought to* work, though, so I'll revisit the idea at a later date.

July 20, 2004

Bring your own cigars and brandy

I'm having a friendly chat with René van Densen of The Grim DotCom. If you can speak Dutch, read it, and throw peanuts at us from the sideline.

July 21, 2004

reinder declares Grimborgsman permanent character (or else)

Pushed by the many spontanious fans of his character design for Grimborgsman, Reinder will soon announce that Grimborgsman will become a permanent, recurring character, or the popular Dutch cartoonist will be given a wedgie.

When Timmeryn was not asked for comment, he did not say, but probably would have, "Reinder best not make a character like that only appear for one sequence. If he does, I can see no alternative but to call in the Mafia."

Faced with these comments, Reinder replied, "Oh, bugger."

Speculation on whether this implies Grimborgsman having a romantic comedy plot featuring the Green Knight remains in debate.

July 27, 2004

Avatars!

Over the past couple of months I've made a few avatars which I thought I'd share with you. I haven't done them up in any systematic way; I've simply used whatever I thought would be nice for use on a forum or on MSN.

Sheep, 100*100Oog, 100*100isolde.pngjakeavatar.png


Ottar.png Kel talking


jodoqueavatar-92.pngkangraavatar.pngkelavatar-92-2.pngtamlinavatar.pngjakeavatar-92.png

These are all my original work (one of them is from next Monday's comic). You have my permission to use them. Please don't hotlink to the server they're on now, though; save them to your local machine (for MSN and other messaging clients) or to a webserver of your own (for forum use).


August 14, 2004

ROCR forum roundup

In the Reinder Dijkhuis Forum recently:

September 8, 2004

What to do for collegiate readers?

I can tell from the site statistics for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan that the school year has started again: they're up after a long slump.
With free comics, the expected behaviour of readers in schools and colleges coming back after a long absense is for them to trawl the archives. But with subscription comics, this is not such an easy option. Of course, what I'd like all of those returning readers to do is subscribe, but let's be realistic: most Modern Tales subscribers are out of college and in the workforce. It's not technically impossible for most students to do the legwork and fork up the money to subscribe, but I can't blame them for choosing to spend their pennies on something else.
Maybe Modern Tales should have "back to school/college" events allowing student readers to catch up more easily or cheaply. I know that MT is working on day passes-those could fulfill the same functions. Perhaps a Salon style arrangement could be implemented in which people can get a peek into the archives in exchange for sitting through a long ad.
But none of these ideas could be implemented in time for people coming back to school and wanting to catch up with ROCR *now*.
I'll think of something. I may make a visual summary of the past weeks that will at least inform readers of what they missed. Something like that, yeah.

September 13, 2004

Inna Forum

Geir Strøm provides a translation for Tamlin's Ghostly Apparition's runic dialogue.
Tangent takes the campaign to save Clan of the Cats to the ROCR forum.

September 14, 2004

Details, details

previewFriday's page has

  • a larger canvas than usual;

  • detailed backgrounds;

  • an unfamilliar setting and characters, requiring, nay demanding adaptations to the color scheme especially for them.

It's taken me twice as long as many recent pages already, and it's still not finished. It's fun to work on though. I want to do more real drawing in ROCR in the future. It's so much more satisfying.

September 17, 2004

Details, details (follow-up)

I'm in the middle of yet another work-intensive page right now (Monday's! When will I ever get a buffer done again?), but I thought I oughtta take some time out to credit two sources for the detail work on today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic.
I always have to do a lot of research for scenes set in the Sinn Fae environment, the abandoned human enclave colonised by faerie radicals. I look for architecture, wood carvings, knotworks to serve as body art on the extras, and other little odds and ends as well. Most of the time, the sources are public domain, but this time, I swiped quite brazenly from living artists, so they deserve credit.

Continue reading "Details, details (follow-up)" »

September 19, 2004

Yarr, special Talk Like A Pirate comic!

pirate.pngYarr, ye salty dogs! In honour of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, there's a special version of the latest Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic at ROCR.net, and only there (semi-permanent URL until I clean the archives out again: http://www.rocr.net/d/20040919.html).
Stephen Dann keeps a clearinghouse of pirate themed comics for the day.

I used an English to Pirate translator to get a basic text for the comic, but refined its output quite a bit.

Other pirate links, courtesy of Boing Boing:

pirate info
pirate bath 1
pirates and pivateers
capn crimson
which pirate are you?
spooneye! the card game
pirate bath 2
pirates of the bahamas
pirate flags
pirates of penzance
pirate supplies
yar! pirate zen 2003
and for a limited time...
david byrne's pirates (this will disappear on 09.20.04)

September 28, 2004

Musings

Well, the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for Wednesday, September 29 did get done in time after all, thanks to me getting second wind with my scriptwriting for Floor and my dogged determination. It's not my best, visually, but my philosophy has always been that the most important thing is to keep the story going.
I sometimes get frustrated about having to do pages full of talking heads when I'm capable of drawing much more. Visually, the entire trial sequence is not among my best. However:
-The court sequence has other, redeeming qualities. I think the dialogue and characterisation, and the revelations about the back story, are at least keeping it interesting for the readers even if the visuals occasionally let it down.
- Even a talking heads sequence can teach me new tricks that I can apply later to make similar sequence more interesting. Talking heads can be visually appealing if you put a bit more thought into composition. For example, one of my studio-mates is in favor of isocephaly - the idea that between two panels, you keep the heads at more or less the same height. This makes for a quieter, less crowded looking, more readable layout - but only if everything else varies between these two panels. I have applied the idea in many sequences in this story, and it does help anchor the flow of a page if there are many changes in "camera" angle and zoom. In sequences with talking heads, though, using it makes it dull, and now I'm learning to avoid it in those sequences after having used it for so long. Expect the next part of the trial sequence to be more 'baroque' composition-wise.

I do think I can draw much better than I have been doing lately, and I have proved it to myself with a drawing that you will see cropping up in places later. The Grimborg sequence, which will follow the Trial, will have much more emphasis on the art. And for future storylines, my intention is to change the format so that I can spend more time planning and drawing the comic, and less time coloring and tweaking it. Coloring, lettering and final tweaks are the big time sinks, and freeing up that time will help the art a lot.

September 29, 2004

Mary Sue Test

Via Spike, here's a test to see if a character in original fiction is a Mary Sue. I've given it the once over but haven't got around to actually doing the test on Kel, Jodoque and the likes. I think many of them will score higher on Mary-Sue-ism than Spike's characters, but hopefully not that high. I make an effort to spread it over many characters.

Update: I have now done the test for the core characters *):

Continue reading "Mary Sue Test" »

October 2, 2004

Quick work/schedule update

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for Monday is uploaded and ready to go. However, I am still at risk from running late during next week, because I'll have to draw Floor as well.
I have filler material ready, should it be needed (thanks Timmerryn), and of course I can always run some sketchbook stuff if needs must. But like last week, I will try to get it all done in time anyway. My working habits have become a bit more disciplined in the last week, and if I can keep myself away from distractions by playing 70-minute CDs on my headphones, I have a good chance at getting everything done in time.

October 7, 2004

The color purple...

... is a hard color to create harmonious combinations with. Bleagh.
Purple faerie in dark red backdrop

October 16, 2004

Archival storyline restored!

Modern Tales finally allows authors to set sequences from their subscription archives as free samples without having to nag management about it. I can set free up to 10 % of my existing archives, and have just done so. The 2001 Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline "Dolphins and Dragons" (note to those unfamiliar with the series: the title was intended as a send-up of gooy new age-inspired fantasy stories. In this one, dolphins are nasty, predatory creatures appearing in the lead character's nightmares. Dragons are sort of manageable, if handled with care, though.) is now available as a free sample at Modern Tales (use the back button to go back from each chapter to the sample page), and as a page-by-page archive at the ole' Keenspace site (I may need to do some integrity-checking for that one).

I'm happy to have that story back in free publication. It's a fun story from when my webcomics had just started to grow in length and complexity, but it's still concise enough to be read in one sitting, without a crib sheet. I've been meaning to free it up for almost a year (but didn't want to nag the already over-worked Modern Tales management). The reason why I chose this one over other stories, though, is that it is the story that contains the infamous Framed!!! Matrix crossover, which was part of the even more infamous Framed!!! Great Escape mega-crossover. As I wrote earlier, that project has degenerated into a big mess as a result of websites disappearing or moving, and files getting lost. Within the Matrix sub-project, it didn't help that I and No Stereotypes creator Glych moved our archives to Modern Tales and put them behind a subscription wall. Glych's contributions are still missing, but at least mine are back, making that sequence almost understandable.

I hope that readers will still enjoy this story despite the missing Glych comics from the crossover. It's one of my faves, with scary dolphins hunting a school of Kels, pregnant Kel kicking ass and taking names, Jodoque putting his talents to productive use and the Leafy Green Dragon. Oh, and hard salty meat.

Continue reading "Archival storyline restored!" »

October 19, 2004

Art within art

bodypainted faerie, detail of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comicOne of the things I enjoy most about drawing my comics is drawing art-within-art, and the pages that end up looking best are the ones that have lots of it in them. It's something I don't have enough time for, but I should make time for it.
From a Sinn Fae banner
(Top right and above: details from the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for Wednesday, October 20, 2004: Sinn Fae logo variant, partial Sheila-na-Gig painted on Sinn Fae activist, "Kangra is innocent" banner)

October 21, 2004

Okay, what am I doing wrong here?

Found this in my referrers: a listing that includes Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan.




Comic: Updates:Style:Rating:Readers:Comments:Forum:
Rogues of Clwyd RhanSporadicUnknownPG-1300NoneAbout

My update schedule is Monday/Wednesday/Friday. It's mentioned at the top of the page. I'm pretty reliable - one missed update every few months, so I'm not up there with Gav Bleuel, but it's a pretty good track record.
My forum is also mentioned near the top of the page. Should I make the link red and blinking? Should I make it automatically pop up a warning with ghastly midi sounds playing a specially composed "go to the forum, my dear friend" tune? Should I make it a column filling image link, left uncompressed so that readers notice it when it finally loads?
I can understand casual readers not noticing these things, really. I know that web readers are lazy, selfish and impatient and that it is right that they should be so and that there's nothing you can do to change that. When I'm surfing the web, I am lazy, selfish and impatient, and I like it that way. It's good to be the king.
But when you make a listing for a comic, you put a bit of work into it. You find out the update schedule, you find out the forum, you look for the about page. I do.

Ah well. A polite note to the webmaster should do the trick.

Update: The mail form on the site turns out to work only with registered members, and when I pressed the back button, it ate my polite note. They'll just have to find it out from this blog entry then.

Double episode on Friday!

Kel Testifies
Yes! I've made it! Friday's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episode will be a double. 14 panels in total. And I'll have time on Friday and over the weekend to make Monday's episode as well!

What struck me as I was putting the finishing touches to this installment was how much less cute Kel has become recently. It's not intentional; she just flows out of my pen that way. But I do think it's the right way for her to look. Working at the tempo that I've done recently means that I rely less on technique and more on what feels right at the time. I don't think the anatomy is up to the standard that I'm capable of, but the change in how I draw Kel in this sequence does reflect my changed attitude to the character - an awareness that she's not 20 anymore, and is feeling a bit put upon right now.

Or maybe it's just a subconscious attempt to lower the Mary Sue quotient.

October 22, 2004

Hey, how about another double next week?

This week's Sunday Cycling is canceled because Sidsel will be in Utrecht, so I have an extra day to work (I'll go on a short cycling trip on my own but won't spend a whole day in the saddle). This is a good thing, because Kangra's testimony, which I'm scripting now, will be a bit longer than Kel's. This sequence will fill in some gaps in Kangra's motivation for what she was doing early in the storyline, and it will also take us back to the Stone of Contention storyline, which I first put online 10 years ago and which I'll republish after the WebComicsNation launch. Drawing it will involve some interesting challenges. I'll need to design a war memorial, come up with some credible new characters (for bit parts - don't worry about me adding anyone major. However, this may be an opportunity to test the new, Movable Type-enabled system for adding cast pages) and revisit some old ones from Contention. I'm appalled at how badly drawn the second half of Contention is - it's actually worse than 1992's The Green Knight's Belt which at least was drawn with a lot of care. Re-drawing the bits that will appear in Kangra's testimony will highlight the difference between today's style and that of 1994-6. I'll need to come up with a slightly child-like style in which to render Kangra's flashbacks though. Something to fit her guileless personality.
I'll also have some tasty footnotes about the various tribes that appeared in Contention and the medals that the Resistance gave out at the time. It'll be fun, but it will go on for several pages, and now that I'm caught up I'd like to speed things up a little.
If I can get Wednesday's update in the can by Sunday night, a double update on Friday should be feasible.

October 27, 2004

Kangra Flashback style, and no double episode on Friday

Time has run out for me to decide whether to run a double ROCR episode on Friday. I've decided not to. I've made some progress, but those Kangra flashbacks are turning out to be more time-consuming than expected. Today I had a setback when I realised that the pages I'd colored were scanned at the wrong resolution. A quick test scaling one of them down to the final size revealed that the line quality would suffer visibly, so I had to re-scan and re-color.
More importantly, though, I have spent several days working well into the night, and even that gets old after a while. So instead, I'll use the progress I made to increase the buffer so I will have time to work on other stuff next week... and have a life.
Look at me, making excuses for not giving you more art than the scheduled 3 pages a week! To think that other cartoonists regularly miss updates. But well, I'd all but promised something extra.
serfdom298-detail.png
Meanwhile, shrewd readers have picked up on the fact that the flashback style I've chosen for Kangra is based on that great, great comic El Goonish Shive.. I picked that one because it has a cute, friendly style that can still be used for serious story content. When I wrote that I was looking for a slightly childlike style, I was thinking of a children's book or kids' comic style, rather than something that looked like it was by a child. Kangra is a naif but she is not mentally retarded. Dan Shive's style seemed to fit the bill with its soft shapes and big eyes.
Dan Shive's style is actually harder to imitate than it looks. The problem is that a lot of it is generic, and that he's a young guy who is still learning. Shive is a talented and meticulous artist but there is a difference between the way he draws things that he's studied a lot and things that he doesn't have a clear idea how to draw. In a mature artist, that would be considered that artist's style; those artists can then be copied by impersonating their distinctive faults as well as their distinctive strong points. With Shive, it wouldn't be fair to do that, and the imitation would date as soon as Shive overcame those faults - which I'm sure he will.
serfdom300.png
In the end, I did the best I could with the most prominent signifiers of Shive's style: the eyes and faces, his limited palette (when he uses color at all) and his careful, regular line (the hardest part for me to follow). Oh, and his use of the Comic Sans font and rounded-corner rectangular word balloons. For all that many people loathe Comic Sans, I hadn't even noticed that that was what Shive was using!

Continue reading "Kangra Flashback style, and no double episode on Friday" »

November 4, 2004

Writeup at Sequential Tart! Woo!

In Rebecca Salek's article The Joy of Webcomics, Tart Margaret devotes a long paragraph (out of an extensive enumeration of webcomics she reads) to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan:


Other webcomics which are definitely worth checking out are Reinder Dijkhuis's Rogues of Clywd-Rhan at Modern Tales, an often amusing fantasy adventure series whose half-faery, half-human heroine, Kel, is currently on trial for, among other things, having managed to develop the ability to use magic without ever having completed the allegedly required ritual. The defense and prosecuting attorneys are gnomes in British-style powdered wigs, her principal accuser is the ambitious evil faery who actually committed most of the crimes Kel is charged with, and one of the witnesses was the decapitated (but still sentient) head of that manipulative — and apparently indestructible — magic-user, the Green Knight, more famously encountered by Sir Gawain in Arthurian legend. Since the local government is controlled by gnomes and faeries, the human-looking half-breed Kel has not received the most even-handed legal treatment. In fact, certain key witnesses had to be rounded up not by the authorities, but by her own friends and relatives, including her eccentric estranged mother, who is a high-ranking faery official, and various of her allies and rivals in the Fae Liberation Front.

Go read the whole article - I'll study it extensively for recommendations, even though I already know many of the comics the Tarties read.

November 8, 2004

Scientific cock-up in Monday's ROCR

I'd spent so much time researching the fascinating details of humours theory for Rásdondr's testimony in Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan that I managed to mangle the more important issue of which species of giant cat is the biggest. I'll post a corrected version of today's comics this evening - and (bleagh) correct the next installment, which I had just finished, as well. Of course, the biggest factual mistake ever in my comics took place on the day I slept in after yesterday's cycling, and on the day the Talk About Comics forums were offline in those places where the new DNS hadn't propagated yet, so if anyone mentioned it there I haven't seen it. Thanks to reader Mithandir for pointing out the cock-up!

There. Done.

November 15, 2004

Rásdondr!

serfdom307-excerpt.pngJudging from the responses in the forum and on IRC, the good Professor Rásdondr and the stories he's tellin' as part of his testimony are quite popular! Myself, I'm in two minds about him. He's fun to write, his stories come out funny, but writing him makes me feel a bit hypocritical: I've repeatedly decried the use of the Mad Scientist meme on this blog, and while Rásdondr doesn't in fact Meddle With Things Man Was Not Meant To Know (indeed I imagine him as being a well-respected authority in his field and initially wrote in some more stuff about him working in such important areas as the Heron Improvement and Breeding Program, before scrapping it due to space considerations), he's clearly daft as a broom in his own unique way. I apologise; mad scientist characters are just too much fun to write!
So now one reader in the forum is asking for more of him, and for a look at his half-elven assistants. The bad news here is that it's all I can do to keep this monstrosity of a story from eating me alive already, and the only way I can allow any deviations from the general outline is if I have panels to fill on a page before an obvious cliffhanger or punchline.
Not only that but I am now actively looking for things to cut from the existing archives. I am also looking for things to insert (a good overview of the city between the first two chapters would improve the story's sense of location tremendously) and things to tweak (bits of dialogue that are misspelled, badly lettered word balloons, visual continuity details that need to be fixed, drawings that are just plain ugly), but I now think that the existing material can do with some tightening. I'm specifically thinking of the scenes in the jail involving Spig, Bonfire and Clydesdale - those are moderately funny but were primarily added to interrupt the Jodoque/Green Knight sequences, in the hope that that would improve the pacing and build suspense in serialisation. Right now, I don't think they were succesful at that.
Of course, one or two moderately important things happened during those scenes, and it remains to be seen whether the story as a whole can do without those.

November 16, 2004

Something to learn from

Eric Burns of the fantastic Websnark posts a long and devastating critique of the recent storylines in General Protection Fault which raises some concerns that I also have about my own comic, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Pinpointing the start of what he sees as GPF's decline, he writes of the storylines "The Flood" (which I read at the time) and "Surreptitious Machinations" (which I'm afraid I still haven't read):

Continue reading "Something to learn from" »

November 29, 2004

Rásdondr's testimony temporarily free

As part of my ad campaign on Clan of the Cats, and also partly as a favour to readers who have been away for the thanksgiving weekend, I've made the last few comics free. You can catch up with Rásdondr's testimony starting here.
I wouldn't mind seeing some screenshots of Clan of the Cats pages with the ad on them! I'll probably make them myself, but hey, if you could send me some, please do. I'd be most obliged.

December 4, 2004

Monday comic!

Contrary to my blog entry of last Wednesday, there will be a new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan page on Monday. I've been able to smooth out the deadline difficulties with Hello You! and to do the actual work on the Monday page, so that one is ready to go. That's a good thing because this bout of 'flu came in the middle of a promotional campaign, and I am not looking forward to having to explain to new readers that the comic has been temporarily interrupted and here are some guest comics in stead.

Of course, that situation is still very likely to arise. I'm still sick, and I will have to catch up on the other work sooner rather than later. So I will still need guest art, just not as urgently as originally anticipated.

December 6, 2004

Rescheduling

The update for Monday didn't appear on the Modern Tales front page because I had entered the wrong date in the control panel. When alerted to this, I changed the date to one in the year 2020, then didn't check that because my brain is barely functional enough to direct my laborious breathing. Then my internet connection blanked out, and I decided to bo back to bed. So it wasn't until well past noon that someone called me out of my fevered half-slumber to tell me that it was still broken.
I have now fixed it again, but because the comic has already been off the front page for most of the day, I have rescheduled it for tomorrow. If you must see it on Monday, come to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan home page where, thank the stars, it updated normally.

I am a magnet for disaster. Every time I try to promote my comic, or take part in a cross-over event that should direct readers to my website, servers crash, the Internet gets eaten by a virus or images spontaneously corrupt or combust. This time, the first time in three years I'd actually spent money on promotion, it's my body and mind that seize up at the critical moment. My next money making scheme will be to have other artists hosting on servers that my comics are on pay me not to do any promotion — that should benefit my health as well.

December 8, 2004

ROCR schedule for the rest of the month

Bizarrely, despite having relapsed into fever again and having my thoughts interrupted every five seconds by urgent demands from my autonomous nervous system that I sneeze, cough, sweat or zonk out immediately, I have managed to get ahead with work on Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Working only 5 hours a day on average, I've been nearly as productive as during the marathon work sessions of the past few months, with one exception: I've not been able to produce script work for Floor. I just can't do that until I'm fully fit - I find it a lot harder to do than anything about ROCR.
I will need to catch up, and catch up quickly, as soon as I'm really better. So here is my plan for the rest of the month:
ROCR will have two more regular updates in December, on Friday the 10th and Monday the 13th. These are in the can. On Wednesday the 15th, I will run a wallpaper filler based on the ad graphic used in the Clan of the Cats campaign. My search referrals are dominated by searches for wallpapers and while I prefer lighter designs myself, the Grimborg graphic will work well enough, especially with the new readers coming in from COTC.
Starting Friday the 17th, I will start running the guest comics that cartoonists have pledged, for as long as it takes until they run out. When they do, ROCR will go on hiatus until January 3, 2005. That's right, I'm sending the comic on vacation. I won't be on vacation myself (apart from a few days around Christmas spent in England with my brother, his family and my parents), but I need to take time off from the schedule to cover for the consequences of this damned illness, and Christmas is the time to do it, because the number of readers drops precipitously anyway.

December 16, 2004

I wonder...

... if the kind folks at Keenspot are throwing these ads on Quick Keen in for free with the ad impressions I bought on Clan of the Cats (if so, thanks!), or if there's some other reason the ads are showing up there now. I should ask Keenspot Gav, when I'm a bit more awake than I am now.

ROCR Grimborg ad on Quickkeen

December 17, 2004

Changes to the website

Today, for the first time in 2 years, "Previous comic" and "first comic" buttons appeared on the front page of the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website. In part, this is just a convenience allowing new readers to page through the guest fortnight comics and the chapter that I left up for the benefit of incoming readers from the Clan of the Cats campaign.
But it reflects a more structural change in how ROCR is going to be published in the next year. A few months ago, Joey Manley changed the terms for Modern Tales family cartoonists to allow them to make free up to 10% of their total archives, and giving them the tools to do so. Soon enough, many cartoonists started freeing up the latest chapter of their comics, making it easier for non-subscribing readers to catch up as well as giving new readers a larger sample. I was against this at first, because I thought it diluted and complicated the "last one free, subscribe for the rest" model, but since starting the COTC campaign, I've come to realise that it is possible to bring in many new readers and hook them with such a reasonably-sized sample, and that should benefit me in the long run. It will add a little bit to my workload, because I will have to maintain and prune the archives more actively, but it will improve the comic's accessibility out of proportion to that.
When I return from my break in January, "Rásdondr" will be removed from the free archives, and "Grimborg" will become the free chapter (a few episodes of "Grimborg" are available now, but this is very much unofficial).
This introduces one other change to how ROCR is made: what with the 70 pages of Dolphins and Dragons being already free, I am very close to the 10% norm, and I will have to script chapters from beginning to end before publication, to ensure that they don't exceed my margin, which is about 20 pages. So you'll get more tightly-scripted comics as a result of this change. That's a good thing, trust me.

December 20, 2004

Search terms

Sometimes it's just fun to look at your search referrals and click on the link to see what you get. I found that this Google search lead someone to this weblog. I repeated the search and was surprised to find that the top result was actually from a web page dedicated to transformations and were-ism in comics, listing among others The Wotch and El Goonish Shive.
I shouldn't have been too surprised. Interest in transformations is not nearly as specialised as it would seem at first glance. It's a natural offshoot of interest in furries, were-beasts and transgenderism, all of which appear copiously in the two comics mentioned. I could easily add a few well-known comics that the makers of that list missed out on.
In fact, I would hope that anyone finding the blog through a websearch for transformation-related comics would go on to take a look at Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. The comic has a leading character who shapeshifts; more importantly, the current chapter (link will expire when the chapter moves to the paid archives) of the ongoing, epic storyline is all about transformations. The whole idea of the Grimborg is that it's a place a person comes out of as something other than what they went in as. More literally, there will be some interesting transformations when regular updates resume in the new year, including one that, for people who have been following the story the past two years, will put a bit of a sting in the tail. I'd laugh maniacally if I didn't have a bit of a problem with my throat right now.
So if you came here looking for "Anne Onymous transformation", ROCR is the place to go even though Anne Onymous isn't in it.
(By the way, I'm not just saying this to shill for my comic. It ties in to what I just posted in Promotion, part 1. Watch this space.)

December 30, 2004

ROCR website update

I've made some more changes to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website and the ROCR archives at Modern Tales:
I have un-freed "Rásdondr's testimony" and folded it back into the chapter Trial, day 2" where, artistically speaking, it belonged. I have made the current chapter, Grimborg officially free. Later today, I will delete "Rásdondr's testimony" from the ROCR.net archives as well.
I have updated the ROCR.net front page to reflect these changes, re-written the ultra-short summary and put a prominent "Latest chapter" link above the fold. Let's hope I'll be able to discipline myself into changing that one as needed.
Finally, I have updated the About page to reflect the progression of the storyline up to the latest chapter, and link to the start of that latest chapter. That's another thing I'm going to have to do regularly.
The website has been doing very well indeed these past few weeks! Even though the number of visitors to the latest updates dropped somewhat over Christmas, more people have been finding their way to the free archives, and the total number of pageviews over the month of December will get very close to the magic number, 50,000. This is good. To stay in business after 2005, I will have to do a number of things, and rapidly expanding the readership, both paying and non-paying, is one of the most important of them. Let's aim for 100,000 as the new magic number! The prominent visual links to the "latest chapter" and "featured storyline" should help with this.

December 31, 2004

Campbellization

I might as well announce it now: After The Rite of Serfdom finishes, I will make some drastic changes to the way Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will be produced. I will follow that 2+-year storyline up with 12 shorter ones, hopefully very close to one month each. I'm writing these now, trying to get as many as possible scripted fully before February.
My intention is to Campbellize the comic for a while: that means that like T Campbell of Fans, I will (try to) get a roster of artists to draw some of those 12 stories for me, based on who I think would be best suited to what story. Of course, there is no guarantee that the artists will want to work with me, especially considering that I have very little money to offer to professional ones. We'll cross that bridge when we find it, I'm sure.
To facilitate the change, I've got an editor! Geir Strøm will help me beat the scripts into shape in record time. We're already working on the first few.

Comment in the Reinder Dijkhuis forum

January 9, 2005

Tentacles and transgendering in the forum.

Let's hope that the latest burst of forum activity won't be as short-lived as the last one. I like it when readers get involved in the comic by discussing it. Especially when it allows me to drop ominous hints about the future.
Thread about Kel's tentacled alternate shape.
Thread about Windows keyboard layouts (as a result of a quote-closing mistake I made) and transgendering, with one reader trying to push the discussion back towards tentacles.

January 10, 2005

Call for nitpicks!

I just posted this in the Reinder Dijkhuis forum:

I'm approaching the end of The Rite of Serfdom at last. There will be about a dozen more pages after the ones I'm drawing now, in which I hope to tie up as many loose ends as possible. But I know I won't be able to catch them all, which is why I want to follow it up with a series of short epilogues. Initially, I wanted to make this a guest-run thing in which other cartoonists could come up with their own answers to readers' nitpicks, unanswered questions and dangling plot lines, but I used up my guest comic karma in December. So here's what I'll do instead: if you have a question about the 330-ish pages of The Rite of Serfdom, or if you've spotted a mistake or inconsistency that needs resolving, post it here. I will answer it in a single comic page except if it's a big enough issue to become the starting point for a new story :) Anything will go: I will have Professor Rįsdondr on call to answer questions about the biology of the various species in the Gnomian Republic, and other characters will answer questions on the story's events themselves, the Contention Wars, the Republic's history and the personal backstories of the many minor characters that appeared in the story. [...] Also, while this won't be a guest event per se, people who want to turn their quibbles into a comic themselves will be very welcome to do so indeed!

If there's any response to this at all, I'll have trouble keeping track of it unless I concentrate all responses in one place, so comments to this blog post will be closed. Post any queries in the forum — you can do so without registering.

January 17, 2005

Eek!

Eek! I don't know what's wrong with today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan update. It looks like it was uploaded as ASCII instead of binary - a problem that most ftp clients now automatically avoid. I may not be able to fix it from home, because I don't have the files here. If not, I'll fix it after breakfast.

January 21, 2005

"Porcus in sterco"

My big fear was that people would read the line "Felix velut porcus in sterco" in today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic and yell at me for getting the Latin wrong. Now, though, it looks more likely that most readers simply skim over it because they don't understand it. Not even well enough to make a guess at it, I mean.
Answers below the cut.

Continue reading ""Porcus in sterco"" »

January 28, 2005

Another day, another nasty, unpleasant, unwelcome surprise

Sigh... I got out of bed this morning, checked the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan front page and found the comic's image file missing. I have no idea what went wrong this time, and I'm getting a bit worn down by having to solve a critical problem to one of my web sites each morning before breakfast.
The comic's back in the update queue, and will hopefully look normal in 15 minutes or so.

Another step on the way to World Domination

The ROCR mirror site now runs on Movable Type. I will change the design around a bit, fix broken images and integrate Waffle into the site, but functionally, it already does what I had in mind (apart from scheduled updates, which I will configure later.
The immediate beneficial effect is that there is now an RSS feed for the comic which should include the full comic, allowing you to read it through Bloglines and such. Adding the appropriate links at the appropriate places is another item on the to-do list.

Continue reading "Another step on the way to World Domination" »

February 6, 2005

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan to update daily this week!

Cocoricooo!Next week, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will update 5 times to make up for lost time during last week's computer troubles. Last week, I posted filler art, but continued working on the comics so that I could catch up as soon as I was able to.
This means that there will be extra updates on Tuesday and Thursday. If you don't have a Modern Tales subscription, be sure to check the website on those days.
Also, a new chapter will start on Monday, the final one of the long Rite of Serfdom storyline. That means that on Tuesday, the previous 19-page chapter, Grimborg, will stop being free to non-subscribers, and the new chapter, called Home, will become the new free chapter. That's one more day to catch up with the events of the night before the new chapter!

Continue reading "Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan to update daily this week!" »

February 12, 2005

ROCR site down.

I missed this, because it happened at the same time as web access at home breaking down for some reason, but ROCR.net is down. If you want to read the latest beard-a-rific comic page, go to the nifty new mirror site or read the comic at Modern Tales.
Actually, go to the mirror site anyway, and check out the design. How does it all look to you? I'm very close to switching the design on the main site over to a simplified version of this one, and the next step after that will be to more the domain name over to xepher.net. I have so much more control over things at Xepher, and can build a much better website using the tools I get there.

February 16, 2005

Final call for nitpicks!

There are only a few days left before the end of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline The Rite of Serfdom. A while ago, I asked readers to post their nitpicks about the story on the Message Board, so that I could devote a series of special episodes to resolving them. People have responded, but too many of the nitpicks were submitted through other channels like email or MSN. If you have posted nitpicks that way, please repost them in the message board. Otherwise I may forget or lose them. I will try not to, but the best way to get your nitpicks answered is to post them in the message board, allowing me to simply print out the thread on Friday and start working on the ones that I can answer in a comic.
The thread is still open for new nitpicks as well.

February 18, 2005

Replanting my Euro-comics roots

Today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic concludes the Rite of Serfdom storyline! And of course, there's only one way a story like this one can end: with a banquet!
I wanted to get back to my Euro-comics roots, so I put in some references to other classic comics from the European continent. See if you can find them.

Continue reading "Replanting my Euro-comics roots" »

February 21, 2005

Brush-head and her kilt

brushhead1.png Reader Martin Diehl responded to Monday's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic, writing:


As I looked at nitpik1 ... I saw a surprising visual
bonus, a utilikilt! LOL. It's all in the details!

Utilikilts

Continue reading "Brush-head and her kilt" »

March 1, 2005

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Do not adjust your set

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

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

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

March 5, 2005

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

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

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


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

March 7, 2005

Slow update on main site

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

Continue reading "Slow update on main site" »

March 9, 2005

Advertisin'

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

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

Continue reading "Advertisin'" »

March 10, 2005

More on site tech problems

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

March 11, 2005

My primary sexual display frill is too orange

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

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

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

March 15, 2005

The continuing story of renewed hosting problems at Keenspace

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

April 11, 2005

Clickies!

Nominated for the Clickies in the Epic catagorie Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has been shortlisted for a Clickie in the "Epic" category. There are four other nominees in that category, including Jeroen "cmkaapjes" Jager's Shadow, making that part of the shortlist a bit of a coup for the vast and evil Modern Tales empire.

Continue reading "Clickies!" »

April 16, 2005

Godspeed, No Stereotypes!

No Stereotypes (no link because I haven't got one handy right now for reasons mentioned below) is leaving Modern Tales. This was supposed to be a bit of a secret, but the crash of late March ate the NS archives and forced creator Amber "glych" Greenlee's hand. She has now admitted her intentions on the forum.
No Stereotypes joined Modern Tales about six months after Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan did, with a restart of the main storyline. And now it's gone already. Kind of makes me wonder if Modern Tales is delivering the goods, really.

Continue reading "Godspeed, No Stereotypes!" »

April 19, 2005

While I'm sitting at home feeling miserable...

...I'm going to make some long-delayed changes to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website, harmonising it with my other site. I may break things in the process, but better to do that now, while the site isn't updating anyway, than when it's active and getting lots of visitors.
Update: While I was doing the work, I was getting lots of visitors anyway. Welcome, those of you coming in from Fokke & Sukke. Sorry about the mess earlier today, although to be honest it's always a bit messy wherever I spend a lot of time.
Most of the work is now done. That's no guarantee that there aren't some things badly broken. I still haven't decided what to do about the Openadnetwork ads in the archives. I think it's time for them to go, but they do serve as placeholders for paying ads at a later stage.

April 22, 2005

Sketchy comics next week

You'd think that what with the recent ending of a major storyline, the workload resulting from my preparations for Clickburg, (both on my own behalf and that of the Comics Museum in Groningen who want an update to the exhibit), my illness, energy spent planning for the future and the bottom falling out of my motivation to update on time rigorously right now, I'd be happy to let both Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and Courtly Manners slide for a week or two. But you'd be wrong. Seeing a hundred new readers a day come in via Fokke & Sukke has made me itch to put something new on the site regularly, even if it's just a little filler. Just so that they know that it isn't dead or dying, that it is in fact supposed to update regularly (and will, again, after Clickburg).
So I've decided to do a little improvised ROCR-derived comic in pencils. Freed from the restrictions of ink, quality paper, canon and high expectations, I'll try to keep drawing times to about an hour a page, and just make it up as I go along for a week or so. The first one's already done, and it looks like it's gonna be fun. See you on Monday with new comics!

PS. They won't actually be sketchy. Tightly penciled is a better term. Except they're not actually - oh, just read them starting Monday, OK?

April 28, 2005

A quick reminder about the filler comics

20050425.png
I'm getting some concerned responses in the mail because of the recent switch to penciled filler comics. Just to clarify:
1. I'm mostly cured from my last cold. While these affect me harder than they do most people, they're not the main reason I'm posting work I can do quickly.
2. The main reason is that my time is taken up by non-comics work - preparation for Clickburg. I normally need two solid blocks of at least 4 hours to do the inked and coloured comics, and I haven't got blocks like that right now. Yes, I'm slow. I'm trying to get faster, but if it involves drawing animals like in the Courtly Manners Unicorn Race and doing so at a decent standard, I'm not going to be fast no matter what I do.
3. I wouldn't be posting comics at all right now if it wasn't for the 100 or so readers coming in each day from Fokke & Sukke. I wasn't really motivated to do the regular update thing but when you get that kind of influx, the least you can do is have some updating content up there so they don't think it's a stalled website.

I still need far longer for the penciled things than you'd think. This is partly because the technique I'm using is a bit unfamiliar to me still. But at least I can do them in one smallish block of time instead of two large ones. And I will get better at producing decent art this way. Eventually.

May 6, 2005

This month's free archive stuff

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

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

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

May 9, 2005

Coal Shovel of Omega

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

May 11, 2005

Courtly Manners resumes on Friday

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

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

May 29, 2005

Resurrection of the Planet of Technical Difficulties

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

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

June 5, 2005

This month's free items

This month's freebie from the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archive at Modern Tales is The Weakest Lunkhead from 2001. It references The Weakest Link just like next week's Who episode (confirmed in the trailer that was broadcast yesterday).
Speaking of Who, the Filler storyline in which he made an appearance still hasn't been cleaned off the ROCR site, but I may do so any moment now. Take a look before it disappears behind the subscription wall.

June 10, 2005

A webdesign problem...

Starting next week, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will feature graphics that are 800 pixels wide. Adapting the current website layout, sidebars and all, to that is doable, but leads to a problem with the archives, in which there are comic graphics that are 650 pixels wide, 550 pixels wide, 480 pixels wide...widening the content area to fit 800-pixel graphics will leave big ugly gaps on those archive pages.
This is solvable in many ways. I may return to liquid layout, get rid of the sidebar (putting most of the links contained therein into the area below the comic), or find a way to hide the whitespace in the archives. I may even publish larger versions of the oldest comics although I'd recommend against holding your breath waiting for that to happen.
I have a hard time imagining a liquid layout that doesn't annoy people while moving between pages in the archives. I think I have a basic design that will retain two-column layout, but I may run into difficulties. I'll spend Saturday and maybe Monday trying things out - the site may look a bit funny although most of my testing will take place in a specially-built Movable Type site. The new layout has to go live on Wednesday, so I'm well overdue working on it.
I know that there are people out there with strong opinions, so if you fancy commenting on important webdesign issues or giving advice, feel free to post on the forum or email me at reinder@despammed.com.

Continue reading "A webdesign problem..." »

June 14, 2005

Republication of "The Stone of Contention" press release

The following press release just went on Comixpedia. Feel free to copy and spread around:

Webcomics history returns - The Stone of Contention comes back online after 10 years.

The next storyline in the long-running webcomic Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is a piece of webcomics history: the early story "The Stone of Contention"was one of the first story-based comics to be published online. Lost to online readers for many years, it is now coming back in a remastered, retranslated, relettered version.

Continue reading "Republication of "The Stone of Contention" press release" »

June 24, 2005

Stone of Contention - Whatcha think?

Hopefully by now readers of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan have adjusted to the changes in format (large, horizontal, black and white images) and the change of style (much, much scribblier than recent work). I've opened a Forum thread for responses to the new story. Do you think running early work is a good idea? Do you like the different tone - do you perhaps even prefer it to the recent, more ponderous stories? Should all the gaps in the archives be bridged? Let me know!

Island of the Monkey Pirate Robot Ninja Technical Difficulties

Looks like all of Keenspace is timing out again and has done for a few hours. Use Modern Tales or the mirror site instead if you want to read Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan.
Update: Never mind. It's back up already.

July 5, 2005

Tangents reviews Ancient ROCR

Robert A. Howard at Tangents reviews the ongoing archival Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline "The Stone of Contention":


Reinder shows his skills as both a storyteller and someone who can tell a humorous story here. The thing is, this story is a decade old. I don't know how much Reinder did (I think he had the old scans still on disk, but he might have rescanned the old artwork itself which shows he takes far better care of his older works than I did mine *grin* And he had to translate them into English while making it funny...) to get them up to this level of quality, but I have to say this is absolutely superb work.

I can answer that: I keep everything I draw. Recent attempts at eliminating clutter in my living room have got me motivated to throw away some scraps of paper with crappy doodles on them, but even that was done with extreme reluctance. I hoard my own art.

"Contention", though, wasn't scanned from the originals, which are very large and are in a cupboard in my bedroom, hidden by several dozen kilos worth of other originals in the same drawer. The comics pages you see now were scanned from the print version's master book, back in 2003, before I got the A3 scanner. I have re-drawn many of the word balloons on the computer - it's easy to see which were and which weren't redone. The pages were re-lettered late in 2003, when I did just over half the work needed. All pages are scanned but they're only lettered up to page 26. Prior to putting the comics in the various update queues, I looked over them again and made some more corrections. The drawings themselves are not altered apart from a few very small digital corrections, making lines clearer by closing gaps in them. I expect to have to redraw one or two panels in the final section of the story, when my art became very sloppy and unfocused, but that's just about it.

I have vague plans for re-running more archival work later on, which is why I recently asked for comments on the forum. Those plans may involve some more work to bring the material up to scratch, but still a lot less than actually working on new material. Right now, I'm enjoying my long break and the freedom to work on my other projects, so I think I'll be digging into the archives for a little while longer.

July 15, 2005

If you read the write-up in MYX...

If you came to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan through the write-up in the July issue of (the dead-tree comics magazine) MYX, you may want to read the about Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan page.

Perhaps surprisingly, there are no real errors in the one-paragraph write-up - that's certainly a better job than I've learned to expect from the press. Presumably this is because René van Densen had a hand in writing it. What wasn't mentioned in the column, though, was that the comic has recently switched to what is essentially a re-run. I am now running material from 1994 in a re-vamped, re-jiggered form. So the paragraph is accurate when it talks of the changes in style since then, but what you see is the material the style has changed from. Also, the thumbnail image used isn't technically from Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan but from Courtly Manners 2: The Unicorn Race which was running on the ROCR site at the time when the write-up was presumably submitted. I don't think I'll ever run Courtly Manners stories on the ROCR sites again because it only creates confusion and sticking a big "Courtly Manners" title on top of each installment doesn't cure it.

Both Courtly Manners and Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan are available on a subscription basis through Modern Tales; however, I'm often a bit sloppy about removing recent episodes from my own websites so you may be able to explore the most recently-published material a bit more. The last episode is always free though.

I have a poorly-maintained full listing of all the work by me that's published online. Recent additions include The Lives of X!Gloop, an odd work I started when I was eighteen, and The Chronicles of the Witch Queen, a long-running collaboration between myself and a Norwegian writer/artist team, which will eventually incorporate both Courtly Manners stories as free reads for everyone. I also have a gallery of stuff on DeviantArt.

Update: there were some bizarre errors in the first version of this post. Must have been the result of the day I spent cycling in the sun on Thursday. Sorry about that.

July 18, 2005

Support ROCR! (shameless bleg)

If you have an account at Onlinecomics.net and like my comics, please take some time to add the two comics I've got listed there to your favorites.
Onlinecomics listing for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan
Onlinecomics listing for The Lives of X!Gloop
If you're a webcomics creator whose stuff I like, and you don't see your comic listed in my favorites, drop me a line and I'll rectify the situation.

I had an email from a reader the other day urging me to join one of those topsite lists. I might do so in the future, when the time is right, but for now, I don't really like them. If you want to show your appreciation, marking any of my comics as a favorite in Onlinecomics.net is your best option for the time being. Thanks.

July 19, 2005

Carnage in the Valley of the Technical Difficulties

According to The Belfry Webcomics Tracker, the webcomics host Keenspace has been down for several hours. Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, whose main site is hosted on Keenspace, can be had at Modern Tales, as always.

I don't know the cause of the outage, and the Keen Forums are not yielding much information yet (they're up but there is no news about the outage), but it seems unrelated to the Keenspace name change, as the server that all of Keen is located on is not responding, and doesn't carry the Keenspace domain name.
Fixed.

July 28, 2005

Technical Difficulties Part XIII: Payback time

I don't know what it is but the KeenspaceComicGenesis server has been performing the way it did in 2002. Today, while I was away, it's been out for most of the day, meaning that all comics by Waffle-ites hosted on that server are unavailable.
Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is available on rocr.xepher.net and on Modern Tales. If this goes on, I'll move the ROCR.net domain name over to Xepher - that's part of my plans for intermediate future anyway. Apologies for the inconvenience.

August 9, 2005

Ottar/Norla fanart

Fan art by Yonaka Yamako showing Ottar and Norla from the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story The Stone of Contention. I love it when Yonaka works in a cartoony style and idiom.

Norla will soon reappear, or should that be "pre-appear", in the ongoing archival storyline, by the way. We'll all find out what those flashback sequences were all about.

Slave to the Claws of Technical Difficulties

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan didn't update on its main site today - something to do with the updater, which services 10,000 other webcomic sites, being stuck. Nothing to do with the artist - the comic updated on time at the mirror site. Updates are scheduled until the 29th, and exist on file until way past that date, so if it doesn't update on your preferred location, it is almost certainly a technical problem; look at one of the alternate sites.

I just thought I'd mention it...

August 16, 2005

Curves, dammit!


Sketch for a new cover page for The Green Man's Belt.
When I looked at the old art for The Green Man's Belt, I noticed something that had bugged me before but was noticably more clear in this very old storyline than it is in my present material or even in such venerable works as The Stone of Contention: The line art lacked curves.
Considering the nature of the comic, then as now a humorous series with big-footed, big-nosed characters and a fair amount of shapely women showing cleavage, it's really astounding. I was drawing in a curvy style without using more than the faintest curves!
It's not so bad now but I still think a lot of my art could become stronger if I paid more attention to actually making curves bendy, so for this piece I am doing my best to exaggerate curves even in places where this could cause problems such as line tangents and anatomical faults. When used with discipline, it will help prevent such problems, but for now, I'm just trying to ram the importance of curves into my own thick skull.

August 19, 2005

New drawing, and my plans for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

This new colour drawing is a frontispiece for the next Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline. Like with the current one, I'll start it off with a cover drawing, then an introduction with some background info and a dedication, then the real story, plunging ahead at breakneck speed. The title of the story? The Green Knight's Belt. The titles of the stories after that? Alchemists, The Death Warrant, The New Sheriff, King's Drama. Why do I know all these titles in advance? Easy: they've all been in my files and in small-press print for a decade or more. Yes, I'll follow up the archival storyline I've been running since June with another bunch of archival storylines.

If you're an ROCR reader as opposed to someone who just drops by every once in a while to read ramblings about Doctor Who and all the other stuff my co-bloggers and I go on about, I suspect that this might not be the sort of announcement you'd be waiting for. To be honest, I have mixed feelings myself.

Continue reading "New drawing, and my plans for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan" »

August 25, 2005

I ain't dead, but I do have new art!


I'm about halfway through the process of adapting "The Green Knight's Belt" from 1991-92 for the Web. It's a lot more work, proportionally, than re-adapting " The Stone of Contention" especially because I relied on puns more at the time. Puns, especially my old groaners from a decade and a half ago, are the bane of my existence right now.

Nevertheless, I am getting further ahead. I now have material on file to make a continuous buffer extending well into November. This is good, because it means that I can take another look at this cover image, tentatively scheduled for October 13. I think this one is OK, but OK isn't good enough. This one will eventually move to the very beginning of the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives and will therefore be one of the first bits in the series that many people will see.

I don't know what's making me dissatisfied about it, but I think it lacks an edge. Therefore, just this once, I'm inviting all my readers to critique it, either in my local gallery or on DeviantArt. Help me improve! Even if you can't draw yourself, you'll probably know what you like and what might make this illustration better.

Between now and October, I will find the time to improve on this even if it means drawing and coloring it all over again. This is a good thing. Too often in the past few years, I've only had time to post a piece and then move on to the next. It's one of the things I've grown to dislike about webcartooning. All the good advice I got from my studio mates that I didn't have the time or the mental wossname to take. For the next few months, I won't have that problem.

August 30, 2005

I'm doing something right...

I just sold a subscription to Modern Tales on the strength of my forum avatar! That's... unusual to say the least, but now that I think about it, it's not so strange. People like avatars and will spend quite a bit of time making nice ones, as anyone using Livejournal knows. I've made new versions of the Brushhead graphic for people to use if they want. The one on the right is a 150x150 version which may be too large for most applications, but here's the original 80x80 version and a 100x100 version, suitable for Livejournal (I'd like credit if you use it there).

September 8, 2005

Dr. Technical Difficulties' Cabinet of Horrors.

Comicgenesis' auto-updater is stuck again, so people reading Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on the website hosted there should go to the mirror site or Modern Tales instead. Especially if they want to take part in guessing which references are hidden in the dialogue and panels. There's more than what's already been guessed, but Dutch readers have the advantage here, I'm afraid...
I don't know when the updater will be back. Update: the site has updated but may well be late again tomorrow.
Update #2: What I learned today: The OSX text editor I used to edit today's HTML snippet will save the snippet as a full HTML 4.0 page, and entity-fy any tags that are typed into the editing space. It will wrap the resulting code in paragraph tags with class attributes that I don't get to see while they're being added. This is not what I want out of it.

September 12, 2005

Pathetic but true: I wrote a Wiki piece on my own work

So the Comixpedia Webcomic Wiki has been going for almost ten days. Initially I was just going to sit it out - I was planning to wait until somebody else would put up something about Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and then put up corrections for those errors that only I was in any real position to correct. ROCR was not on the initial big list (which was mostly imported from Wikipedia), but that didn't bother me so much. After all, ROCR doesn't have the level of mass popularity where you'd expect it to be listed in a major webcomics encyclopedia immediately. If it had it in itself to get that level of mass popularity, it would have bloody well got it by 2001. No, make that 1994 - when it was a small-press comic and making its first steps on the web.

So I gave it some time. Even though the rules of the Webcomic Wiki allow it (unlike those of Wikipedia), writing an encyclopedia entry on your own work is a bit tacky, so I didn't want to do that.

But today, I saw that the list had grown to include what seemed to me like some pretty obscure webcomics (not naming names - this is not about envy). So I decided it was time I started looking after myself a little better, swallowed my pride, and wrote the entry. It's very basic - just an overview of the series' history, main cast, influences, that sort of thing. It does include something that is very important to me: the dates of the initial online publication. 1994-1996. I would really like to see that early entry into webcomics acknowledged some time. Doing it myself somehow isn't as satisfying.

Writing for that Wiki is interesting. I'll try and dig into my archives and look for some material on the very earliest webcomics, some of which are now gone and unacknowledged as well (Afterlife of Bob, anyone?)

September 19, 2005

Cover art in progress, continued

Man, this cover art is giving me trouble:


the chop, again
Second version of the planned cover art for the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "The Green Knight's Belt". I'm not sure this one is better overall... there was so much space wasted in the drawing that I had to crop it severely, to the point where it's no longer even a horizontal drawing as it was intended to be.

Continue reading "Cover art in progress, continued" »

September 23, 2005

Coverarting

chop, chop, again
Cover art for The Green Knight's Belt, nearly finished.

This is the third version, and I'm getting closer. I need to clean it up (working on it until 1:30 AM took its toll on my ability to spot faults) and some more shading is needed, but for the most part, this is it. I'll add lettering and maybe a little extra along the sides before publishing it to the main Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website.

I spend nearly as much time on Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan as I did when I was still creating new pages and struggling to meet my deadlines. For a while, all the time went into getting ahead with translating and editing the old pages; lately I've been spending it on practising my drawing and colouring. In addition to the three versions of the Green Knight's Belt cover I did a simple thing called Mute Rage and a more involved piece called In the Bath House. That last one didn't turn out the way I had hoped, but that doesn't matter right now; what mattered was having something to practise Photoshop CS 2 on. I want to master as much of that program as possible before my free trial ends. I haven't even done any lettering in it, let alone used the vector shape tools. Also, I have to avoid getting out of practise. I noticed that it took me a long time to draw the latest Gang of Four comic, and that told me I was losing routine. Too much time spent fixing up the old stuff on the computer, and not enough at the drawing board.
Both drawings are based on sequences from the old Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan books, by the way. You'll find them on the main site some day.
While I'm overloading you with stuff I've posted on DeviantArt lately, look at this Trial page I did for the Webcomics Hurricane Relief Telethon. I'd thumbnailed out this script that I thought would be suitable, and decided to draw the first one, as quickly as I could, to get an estimate of how long it would take me to finish the story. This page was done in just over 2.45 hours from ruling up the panels to having it posted on DA. The first panel fell way short of what I had in mind for it, but even with that compromise, it was clear to me that I would not have been able to finish the story in time without cutting into my other work. And there were some more demanding pages ahead. So I nixed the idea and scrambled to do something else. The good news here is that a script that had been in my notebooks for a while is now much further ahead, and can probably be drawn properly at an average speed of five hours a page. I'll get this time management down to an art eventually!

September 29, 2005

Timelines

Many years ago, I sent Geir a message including a timeline of the world of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan from the earliest time period refered to in the story (Conquest of something or other by Blodwynpiggi the Dentedheaded) to what was then the near future of that world. I have long since lost my copy of that message (Er... it may still be on my home computer if I composed it on that machine, but I'll be damned if I can find it anywhere) and in any case the timeline has become vastly more complicated since then.
A recent post on Websnark rekindled my interest in sorting out a definitive timeline for the comic. It'd be useful for a number of things - finding story opportunities, figuring out what year the story is currently set in, how long the King has been sick, how old some characters are, etc...
The software Eric Burns recommends, Bee Docs' Timeline may be as good as he says it is, and may be worth the $50. However, the terms under which the trial version is offered do not allow me to test it under real-world conditions. I accept time-limited trials (but time my downloads of such trial versions so that I can get a decent amount of actual productivity out of them before I decide whether or not to pony up) but not ones that won't allow me to do anything useful while trying. Setting up a timeline with up to ten events doesn't qualify as anything useful.
So I have to look for alternatives. Maybe there are some good Unix timeline programs out there that have been ported to Mac OSX (I very much want to keep this information on the iBook)? Maybe something I already have installed has good timeline functionality?
Or maybe someone out there has some server space I could set up a Wiki on? I don't know enough about Wikis yet to know whether they support timeline projects well, but I do know that I have readers who can figure out, based on textual evidence, what grades Ron Weasley got on his O.W.L.s and it would be great if I could harness that power somehow.
If you've got tips or can otherwise help out, please contact me through the forum or via email to reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com. Thanks!

September 30, 2005

Timelines, continued

Click to see the full timeline
Co-blogger and reader Adam Cuerden has started sending me his estimates of the timeline of the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan series, based on the episodes already online and the Green Knight's Belt storyline which I sent him a translated version of. I broke down and downloaded a copy of Bee Doc's Timeline and entered some of the dates into the crippled trial version, just to see what it could do for me. I added some outlying dates to get a feel of how complex this thing could become, starting with a date referenced in King's Drama (scheduled to go online in 2006) and ending with Fay juggling flaming torches as seen in a "from the future" panel in The Corby Tribe. I like what I see and may well decide to pay for the full version after all. The idea of tinkering with timelines has me in its grip.
See the full timeline so far in a new window. All dates are approximate, but we will try to narrow them down further.

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.

October 9, 2005

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

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 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.

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" »

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 22, 2005

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.

November 1, 2005

About those blocked-off strips?

The problem with the archive pages being blocked happened again today. Sorry about that. I can guarantee that it will happen again in the future unless the underlying problem is fixed. Technical explanation follows:
The access rights in the databease have a number of settings. Each new episode is set up to get the access rights from the chapters unless I set the episode to have different rights associated with them. I could make the problem go away by manually changing the access rights to each future episode to "public". However, that would leave the underlying problem with the rights system unsolved. It would mean that I'd have to go on setting the rights manually for ever. I don't like that, and Mithandir who programmed the Content Management system won't like it either. To allow Mithandir to see the problem, I have to leave up some future installments that (according to my tests) will show the problem. When I'm not around to change the settings manually just in time for the next page to go live, the archived version of the page will be blocked.
The weekend is the best time for us both to work on the problem. Since this week's pages weren't fixed over the weekend, I've set them all to "public" manually and we'll wait for the next weekend to see if we can track it down by then.

November 4, 2005

Update delay yesterday

Ooops, silly me. Yesterday's comic was set to update on the wrong day so apparently you got no new comic yesterday and two today. Don't forget to read Yesterday's comic to catch up with today's.

November 12, 2005

Website work in progress

It's becoming a bit hard to keep track of things, so this entry is mostly for my own benefit: I'm working on four additions to the website in WillowCMS:
1. A new Cast section. This would be the fourth version of the Cast section. All images on the index come from the database entries for the individual pages, so the index will build itself.
2. A Guest Comics section. The old guest fourtnights and any other guest material that already exists will be kept rigorously separate from the main archive. Future guest comics will run as new chapters in the main archive hierarchy but will be moved to the guest comics section when the normal run resumes. Not that I'm planning to have a new guest event in the near future; they're a bit high-maintenance for my tastes. They demand new bling on a regular basis otherwise they get all catty and threaten to withhold sex.
3. An Archive Listing page. This is the most urgent, because there's already a big ol' button on each page pointing to "Archive" that doesn't work.
4. Full-chapter pages for fast browsing. Example

For all four additions, the status is that they're unfinished and that they need me to improve my understanding of WillowCMS (or at least get good documentation to copy/paste from), completely revamp the HTML code, have Mithandir fix the latest bugs in WillowCMS and/or do a lot of fixing in the database before they're ready for prime time. I only mention them now to show that WillowCMS can indeed do them, and to help me remember to work on them.

Continue reading "Website work in progress" »

November 21, 2005

Another day, another permission error

Sigh... once again, there was a problem with the permissions for an archived ROCR page. I'd have sworn it was all right earlier this morning, but that must have been before the update rolled over as I was up pretty early by my own standards.

It is now fixed - the underlying problem has been fixed for a week, but there are still some updates left that have the incorrect permissions. Mithandir offered to run a script to reset those, but I declined, fearing that that would have unintended consequences elsewhere. Maybe that was a bad decision. Instead, I just correct those stragglers whenever I find them or someone tells me about them. And that is a real problem. Excuse me while I whine, beg, whimper, wheedle, get down on bended knees and otherwise act in an indignified manner below the cut:

Continue reading "Another day, another permission error" »

Work in progress

Pencils for a new ROCR comic

On a more positive note, here's something I've been working on: the first page of the sponsored Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic. We're not even near the fundraising target for November, but that's probably my own fault as I haven't been keeping you up to date on the project.

The 20-installment comic is 90% written and storyboarded. The way it looks now is that I will draw the whole thing in December, leaving no time to colour it before its scheduled run in January, 2006. However, judging from this snapshot of the penciled art for the first installment, taken last Wednesday, it looks like it will look pretty good in black and white. This half-page (it will be half a vertical page in print, anyway) is already mostly inked and it looks like I'll be able to draw one of those each day. If I can keep up that level of quality, I'll be very pleased.

Remember, your donations buy me time to work on the project, and there is something in it for you as well! Go to the fundraiser page for details.

November 28, 2005

More on the sponsored comic

The ADSL at the studio has been down all weekend. This has its downsides: if it goes on I'll have trouble watching my websites and getting materials out to the world on time, and I can't quickly look up something I need a visual reference for. But it did mean I could spend two afternoons working undistracted. I'm actually half hoping it will take the building's Internet people a little longer to get things back online. Every day that I can spend working on my latest project before the busy busy month of December is a win.
What I'm working on is the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Headsmen, which should fit neatly inbetween The Green Knight's Belt and the as yet-un-web-published 1992 story Alchemists. I want to run that in January, 2006.
It's not guaranteed that I will, though. Headsmen is the story referred to on the Fund Drive page. After a promising start, the fund drive has unfortunately fizzled and is falling well short of its goal for November.
What will I do if the targets aren't met for two months running? The targets represent the amount by which I've been coming up short financially this year (not counting some large purchases I've made which came out of savings). To prevent coming up short next year, I'm considering getting a part-time job that will still allow me time to work on my paid cartooning contracts, but will leave less time for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Each update of the story that I'm working on now takes me a day to do from tearing a new sheet of paper out of the block to getting the finished update online, and that time needs to come in solid blocks if I'm to get anything done. I can't work in "stolen moments" as I've heard it called lately. So even a part time job will cut deeply into my ability to keep a regular update schedule.
If the donation campaign fails, I will probably finish the Headsmen story, but I will do so in my own sweet time, interrupting the update schedule even though I have other archival stories ready to go. The work on the website itself is still unfinished and just adding more material while expecting to insert another story into another gap later will only serve to make the archives more confusing than they already are. So I'll update things in the correct order, the one that will allow me to gradually fill the existing gaps without creating new ones, or not at all.

I would of course prefer to just work on ROCR. This last weekend was a good one, with just me, iTunes and a well-developed script. But after 5 1/2 years putting the series online including 2 1/2 years at Modern Tales, there comes a time when that becomes hard to do. I don't create this comic for the money but there has to be money coming in if I'm to be able to go on creating it. So if you want that daily ROCR fix to continue, please donate! The fund drive page has some more info about goodies for larger donors.

I'd show you another page-in-progress to help convince you further that I'm working on a level of quality that's worth paying for, but, er, the pages are on the studio PC. No internetty.











November 29, 2005

You bring me so much joy, and then you bring me - more joy

I had forgotten how much joy I used to get out of drawing that silly series I started nearly 15 years ago. These past days I've been on a roll. Work on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "Headsmen" is progressing slowly, but smoothly. I'm enjoying it immensely.
Kel and Barnardus
The new story brings back an old villain from the early days of the series: Barnardus Pothelmus, the annoyingly succesful bandit who used to make off with Tamlin's gang's loot on a regular basis. He's going to have a lot of screen time together with Kel, so I drew this as a rough guide to their relative heights.

Barnardus revealed
Barnardus' first appearance in the story, with members of his gang. All of them have been slightly redesigned to make them a little more striking and to fit my current drawing style. The lady with the fan on a stick now has a name: Rose Potter, after the lead character in a particularly awful Harry Potter fanfic Adam demolished in Livejournal recently. The guy in the animal hides and the barbarian swordswoman don't have names yet, but I'm working on them. I am seriously considering writing more stories involving the rivalry between Barnardus' and Tamlin's gangs.

Second update, with backgrounds and black areas penciled in
This one shows why the work is going slowly. In addition to working on larger sheets of paper (An A3 sheet for half a page, just like in the old days), I am working more systematically, so I put in backgrounds on pages that are already partly inked and even test-spot black areas in pencil. This is a lot of work, but very satisfying when it's done.

Buy me time to spend on this story! Read all about the sponsor program, or just donate whatever you'd like to.










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

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.

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 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.

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.

January 9, 2006

Colour? How did that happen?

Headsmen, page 1a

The Green Knight's Belt has ended and, as promised, the follow-up is a new story that I've been working on since the end of November. Headsmen has started today. I hope people like it - it's very unlike a typical webcomic in that I've really worked hard to give it some production value.
One thing I've been telling people I wouldn't be able to do is release it in colour. For a while I considered asking a volunteer colorist, DFG, to color the story for me, but I decided against it because I couldn't offer her a decent deadline.

Then I got some Photoshop tips that helped me cut the time to colour a page in half - tips that will also come in handy when I'm working for print. And suddenly, adding colours — simple ones at least — changed from something that I'd have to set aside large blocks of time for into something I could do in stolen moments. So I decided to put in the effort and add flood fill colors to the high-res files. I may even be able to print the comic in colour when the time comes. Each comic now takes less than an hour to colour, unless there's a new setting or character that I've got to pick a colour scheme for.

I expect to be able to simplify my workflow further in the future. Right now I letter in a different program than I colour in, but between Headsmen and the next new story I'll start doing that in Photoshop as well.

Meanwhile, enjoy Headsmen! It's set just days after the events in The Green Knight's Belt, with Kel taking a different role from the one we've seen so far. In the stories from the 1990s, we saw Kel as a surly, put-upon character, but considering what we learned about her background in stories like The Rite of Serfdom, she must have initially considered being with the Gang as a step up from working for the Green Knight. Also, she can't have had much of a notion how the human world worked in those initial weeks in the forests near Dungil Fens. This story, then, is intended as a bridging chapter between The Green Knight's Belt and the stories that follow it.

January 24, 2006

Transcription difficulties.

I am transcribing Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episodes from early 2004 for the Oh No Robot comics transcription database. It turns out that these particular comics with their interlocking panel layouts and multiple conversation threads are very difficult to transcribe properly. Conventional divisions between panels in ONR are rendered simply by two carriage returns in the transcription. But on many of the comics from late 2004 to early 2004, these divisions broke down or were ignored by the dialogue. Here's a transcription for the comic page for February 2, 2004:

[[Ottar's flashback. Ottar and Abúi are running along a tree branch. Abúi is holding a book in her arms - the Wythllewe Boke.]]

[[Arthur's flashback. Arthur is talking to the older raven.]]
Arthur: We need more numbers!

Elder Raven: More numbers?
Arthur: Yeah. If we had a number meaning "Many-and-one", we could count to Many-and-one. Maybe even beyond!

[[Jake's flashback. Jake is drinking ale with Tamlin.]]
Tamlin: Whoa there buddy! You're going fast tonight.
Jake: It's that tree, Tamlin. It gives me the willies.

[[Arthur's flashback. The Elder Raven's dialogue is half-hidden. The ravens are positioned on a tree branch so it looks like they're on the same branch as Ottar and Abúi in their flashback, and Arthur appears to be looking down at Norla in her flashback.]]
Elder raven: Fledg There's no/left for/teach you, save this: never let on that you're smart/than a mon-
[[Ottar's flashback. Ottar and Abúi are reading the book.]]
[[Norla's flasback. Norla is reading a book. P'Séaigg is talking to her.]]
P'Séaigg: Are you ever going to tear yourself away from those books?
[[The flashbacks are interrupted by Atra's cackling loudly in the present time.]]
Atra: Haaa-ha ha ha!


And that's not nearly the most complex layout in the sequence.

On the one hand, I could use some help. But I can see why readers aren't exactly lining up to help with the transcription and I can't blame them. There are many opportunities to go wrong with these. The placement of the final word balloon in the flashback is particularly awkward although it does read correctly - or rather, it doesn't matter much if it isn't read fully until after the interruption is taken in; the visual interpretation of the sequence works. In the transcription, a judgment call has to be made to place it unambiguously before the interruption.

I have asked the ONR people for more ways to indicate panel and word balloon flow. I'm not sure if they'll be able to invent any that will work with some of the things I've done in that particular sequence of comics. Which in a way is gratifying.

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?

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 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 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.

March 1, 2006

The Death Warrant has started


Alchemists has ended, and the project to bring the pre-web Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories online continues with The Death Warrant from 1993.
In The Death Warrant, Tamlin and his gang intercept the King's Death Warrant for their most dangerous competitor, Barnardus Pothelmus. When the courier who was carrying the documents escapes them, they are faced with a dilemma: should they deliver it themselves and risk capture, or miss the opportunity to get rid of their enemy? What they don't know is that the hanging, if it happens, will be the scene of a plot against the King.

The Death Warrant is black and white, and after 13 years, its faults are painfully clear to me. It's crudely drawn and often nonsensical. But on the other hand, it's fast-paced and joyful. There are a lot of laughs in it, with many fun characters and puns that can kill cattle at a hundred paces.

I've made some changes to the archives: Headsmen and Alchemists have been moved to the beginning of the archives where, chronologically speaking, they belong. If you've missed the final few episodes of Alchemists, they're here: Episode for Monday; Episode for Tuesday. This means that the filler story from almost a year ago has returned to the position of "last story before the current one". That thing keeps coming back like weeds!

March 2, 2006

[Einar] Poor Jodoque....

In a shocking revelation, Reinder today provided us proof of an affair between Tamlin and Kel! We see them here, in a romantic hot tub together, with no sign of Jodoque in sight. Fans of the Tamlin/Jake, Jodoque/Kel, and Green Knight/Tamlin pairings have already begun to respond.

"What?! That's preposterous! How dare he misuse his characters so! We'll show him! We intend to be even stupider than some of those fellers in the Harry Potter Fandom! " said a Miss Andir.

"I'm alright with it, but then, the picture just supports my Tamlin/Beer pairing, doesn't it?" said Yair Roon.

"Bah! Should be Jake in there with Tamlin! But dwarves never get any love. No wonder we turn to sheep," said another, an I. Narr.

"You only like sheep because they're as woolly as you dwarves," responded Miss Andir.

The meeting then degenerated, and five fans are undergoing treatment at the Royal Gnomian Infirmary to remove the sticks from their arses.

March 4, 2006

Viking-era women's costume

I've been working on a minor restyling for the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan characters, especially Krakatoa. What she needs for the story is a look that highlights her sexual aggressiveness. The problem with that is that so far she has mainly been shown wearing Viking-style costumes, which, while quite charming, don't exactly scream "sex" at a modern reader. So I hit my reference books to see how much variation was actually possible in that style of dress.

Well, it turns out that the more you know, the less certain you get. There aren't actually a lot of Viking-era textiles that have been preserved, so most reconstructions used today are based on matching the available evidence in the form of brooches, pins and scraps of textile sticking to them with illuminated manuscripts which may not be all that accurate.

Via the DeviantArt group Historic Costume I at least found An article on Female Viking Clothing that at least summarises what we know and gives some concrete instructions on how to assemble the costume.

March 22, 2006

In progress: colouring for Alchemists

I'm colouring the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Alchemists for inclusion in the forthcoming print edition of Headsmen. I like the results so far. Once it's done, I'll replace the black and white versions on the ROCR website with the colour ones, but until then, you can preview the coloured versions on my DeviantArt gallery.

Alchemists 1a Alchemists 1b Alchemists 2a Alchemists 2bAlchemists 3a Alchemists 3b

Colouring those old pages is a lot harder than colouring new ones, but the look of the finished work is strikingly similar to that of Headsmen.

March 29, 2006

ROCR website redesign

So I've redesigned the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website.
ffwebsite.png
It's really more of a re-skinning than a full redesign, to be honest: the design is still based on my old Movable Type templates, and even within those limitations, the changes mostly affect the area above the fold. Still, it took me quite a bit of time, simply because I haven't been doing this as my day job since 2001. Also, I had to create some custom artwork especially for the project and do endless cross-browser testing for every piddling change.

What I've done:

Well obviously I've created a large header banner and got rid of that awkwardly-positioned by-line that had been on the top of each page since October. For better or for worse, the byline is now integrated in the header graphic although it can also be found in the tags in the HTML headers. The header graphic is now served from within WillowCMS so I can change it for the entire site with just one change to the 'home' node.
I moved the button bar back into the sidebar again. It never aligned right and pushed the comic to the button. The header area is now a lot smaller vertically. From a code order point of view, moving those buttons to the end of the HTML source is less than ideal, but it does look a whole lot better, without the awkward positioning tricks involved in so-called "One True Layout" templates. Eventually I hope to return to this problem and recode the templates so they have both correct source code order and a pleasing visual appearance, but I don't consider this an urgent problem.
I've changed the body background colour to a dark green, to fit the theme of the banner. This won't be all that noticeable to people reading the comic at 1024*768 pixels, but the green becomes a bit dominant at larger screen sizes. New colour schemes always take some getting used to, so we'll see how everyone likes it in a few weeks.

I have cleaned up a lot of cruft from the CSS file. There was a lot of Movable Type-generated stuff in there that I no longer use. I've also cut some of the front page HTML to compensate for the larger file size of the header graphic.

ONR search box - this is not a real widget!I've added one new feature to the website: a search box. The fellow in the icon is the mascot of Oh No Robot engine, which is where the search gets delegated to. I can't believe ONR didn't have a miniature version of their mascot available, but I had to make the 32x32 version myself.

ONR transcribe button, not a real widget
Oh No Robot also turned out to be the biggest source of problems with the rollout of the new design. The "Transcribe this" buttons in the archive don't fit in their borders if left as part of the nav-links bar. I'll need to think about where else to put them. In the meantime, there are two ways readers can get rid of those unsightly things: you can transcribe the comics the buttons occur on, or if you have Firefox with the appropriate extentions, you can right-click and ad-block them. I'd prefer the first option, because right now the search box covers fewer than half of the published episodes, but the other option would not be any skin off my back.

top left in firefoxI normally prefer to stick to fairly standards-compliant HTML and CSS if only because workarounds always make my head hurt, but I did use one Mozilla-only CSS feature that doesn't do a lot of harm in other browsers but makes the design a little less clinical in Firefox: I sprinkled block-level elements with the -moz-corner-radius attribute to get rounded corners. There are other ways to get rounded corners but they tend to be javascript-heavy and complicated and I can't be bothered with them. These are an easy way to reward readers for not using Internet Explorer, without depriving them of my stuff entirely.

I expect I'll have to do some clean-up and fixing over the next few weeks, and I'm sure I'll find out what some of the downsides to the new design, for example the fact that it is a lot more bandwidth-intensive, mean in practice. But for now, I'm rather pleased with how it's turned out, and glad that it will be easier to adapt in the future.

March 31, 2006

Preorder Headsmen Mini now

Headsmen minicomic cover art

After many years, I'm finally getting Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan into print again. But this time, it will be in English, and in full colour!

I'm very ambitious with this one. The plan is to include the recent story Headsmen and the 1990s story Alchemists, both of them in colour, in A5 format. If the test prints I made are anything to go by, it will look really good, as vibrant as the colours on the web version, but much, much sharper.

There's only one problem. Setting a price gets a bit complicated. Just like in the old days, the price per copy goes down the more copies one prints, but the curve is a whole lot steeper, to the point where adding just one or two more copies to the run can make a big difference.

To set a price, I need to have some idea of how many people would want a copy. So instead of offering it for sale right here and now, I would like to ask you to sign up by sending me an email. Other methods for contacting me will also work, as long as I can get your name on the list. You won't have to commit yourself to buying a copy just yet - just inform me that you might want one.

April 30, 2006

Whew!

I have finished work on the old Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline The Death Warrant. Of course, it's more than likely that some error should raise its head, but the fact that all images are uploaded and scheduled signifies some sort of closure for me. Barring any miscalculations coming to light over the next few weeks, the story will end on June 16.
And good riddance. I'm getting a bit fed up with publishing old work. I do want to get it over with, so I will run at least one and quite possibly two short stories from 1994: the definitely-scheduled one is The New Sheriff and the possibly, maybe, planned one is called Beards. Once I've published that one, I'll consider the bottom of the barrel duly scraped; there is more in the vaults, but you won't see it.
That does of course leave one long, old story hanging. The fourth long story, Koningsdrama, will not be published online in its current form. I have begun work on rewriting it and will redraw it in its entirety, just to bring what I feel is a weak story in its original form up to scratch. It's proceeding well, but it will be hard work.
The 10 updates of Sheriff will bring us to June 30. July 1 is the sixth anniversary of the continuous online publication of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan in English. A good time for a change. Starting July 1, I will stop publishing the comic on a fixed schedule. The new version of story no. 4, to be entitled King Groy, will be updated whenever I see fit to do so. If the result of that is that the comic appears to update 5 times a week, then that is good, but if entire weeks are missed, then that will just be the way it is.
The new version will be in colour, and it will be a step ahead of the last batch of new work I put online in January. I'm giving up regularity to ensure quality, something I've been far too reluctant to do in the past few years, and it shows in the uneven quality of the work especially after 2002. The fear that audiences would forget about me if I didn't update at least three times a week has been a strong motivator, but by now I've realised that that's not how it works. Readers do have longer memories, and for those that don't, there are notification services and RSS feeds. So in 2006, regular updates no longer look like the optimal strategy that they used to be in 2001. And I for one simply don't want to play that game anymore.

May 4, 2006

More on the "King Groy" rewrite

I'm now getting into the meat and the guts of the rewrite of the final unpublished Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story. The rewrite involves the following:

  • Figure out the major and minor internal plot points (the external plot points are very simple to do: The political status quo is resolved, Duke Henry and Duchess Guðrún know and trust the Rogues, and Jodoque has met Kel and joined the gang). I now want to go back in time to slap the 1996 version of me around for allowing all the interesting plot points to happen off-stage.
  • Get rid of pointless goings-on to make more space for the interesting events to happen on-stage. This is easy; there are about six pages in the middle that can be scrapped entirely - that's over two weeks worth of updates at the current schedule, not that I intend to stick to that schedule.
  • Replace most of the actual mechanism for the resolution of the story, reducing complexity and reliance on magic. This may involve killing several of my darlings from the story, including, for those of you who have read it, the Object-Oriented Magic bit and the transformations.
  • Add stronger motivation for the villains' actions, and add suspense by putting more at stake for the Rogues.
  • Write some extra scenes in which we actually get to see Jodoque as a jester. Because he's been doing bugger-all of that since joining the gang, and yet the readers are to believe that he is a jester. This Will Not Do.

It's going pretty fast now, but writing actual scenes will take a couple more days. Once I get to that, I expect it will be very easy.

May 9, 2006

"King Groy" rewrite update

I have now killed more babies than King Herod. Just about all my pet set pieces from the original are gone, crushed under the heels of plot and characterisation. This is, on the whole, a good thing, and new set piece scenes will grow organically out of the plot and the characters.
Adam Cuerden, of this blog and the webcomic Dangerous and Fluffy is now well-established as the guy who gets to proofread every word of script even in its rawest versions. Since he is currently demolishing the execrable Hogwarts Exposed Harry Potter fanfic on the fan community The HMS STFU (and has already dealt with the far worse Rose Potter series), he knows how to deal with leg-gnawingly awful stuff and should be able to handle the worst that I can throw at him.
I have progressed to the bit where the Rogues are in the dungeon - a variant of that sequence was in the original but just about every detail has been changed including the specific groupings of who has and hasn't been jailed. I have tried to give all sequences more of a sense of location as I've been trying to do since 2002 with the web-era storylines. In doing so, I have cannibalised the abbey setting from the unpublished story Beards which I no longer have any intention of putting online.
I've hit upon the first bit where some offline research was necessary. Rather than recycle my old ideas about inns, I've been trying to find some information on what medieval inns were actually like. Google and Wikipedia were unhelpful, so I went to the library and scanned the history section for social histories of travel and hospitality. I found little, but there was one book with a good chapter on inns in the Early Modern Era which I can sort of extrapolate from. The writer made the point that inns should not look third-worldish - that while the appearance of backwardness creeps in quickly in manufacturing once one goes back beyond the Industrial Revolution (and by the way, I know quite a few people who would disagree with that), the service industry in historical times would be similar to that in our own time. This basically means that while there may be lower standards of food, hygiene and service, or not, depending on the exact time and location, there would be the recognition that food, hygiene and service distinguish good inns from bad ones. No comical "everyone sleeps in the same bed and swills dinner from a trough" then. Suits me quite well, actually.

May 13, 2006

Downtime overnight

I just read on the Xepher forums that PHP/MySQL on the server had been down for several hours while I was sleeping. This means that in all likelihood, the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic wasn't working, although it may actually have reverted temporarily to the Movable Type-based version, which builds an index.html file. Apologies for the downtime, if you noticed any.

Update: It looks like the changes to the database settings have caused the titles and possibly all the typed text within episodes to be presented as ASCII characters instead of the Unicode encoding they need to be. I've alerted Xepher to this.
Now's as good a time as any to link to an article Pete Ashton linked to a while ago: The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!). If you're a software developer, learn this. If you're the customer of a software developer, have someone carve this into a baseball or cricket bat, the better to bludgeon your developer with if they get it wrong. Please.

May 14, 2006

Another "King Groy" update

A slight change from my original plan: I'm now going to stagger the writing work a bit. I will develop the first half or so of the story into a drawable script with page and panel divisions, so I have something to draw while working on the second half. This allows me to take some cues from where the art takes me, and makes scheduling the work easier. I expect to start drawing it in June. "King Groy" will be about as long as Guðrún was. That story didn't have a typed script at all, so I expect I'll be able to keep things organised and making sense throughout the project.
In the latest revisions, the material I kept from the original version from 1997 has been cut and shrunk and filled out again with new material. I'm looking for economy of action, something which was very lacking in the original.
Adam is settling into his role as script editor very well. He gets to see everything I write and often when I'm stuck with something I'll just blather at him in IRC. If he comes up with an suggestion I consider it; if not, I'll often think of something myself. He has a preference for low farce that I don't always want to indulge, but he is good at picking out bits that don't work, and he's especially good at pointing at unnecessary exposition.
Adam's influence opens one rather wriggly can of worms. For the original version, Geir Strøm performed a similar function. I didn't involve him as early in the process as I did with Adam (if I had, the story would have ended up being better and I would not have had to do this rewrite at all), but I did ask him for help when I'd written myself into a corner. The good suggestions he provided me with then earned him a co-writing credit for Koningsdrama, but it looks like all his contributions will be gone in King Groy. So Geir pulls the short straw. And here I am still not working on getting the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site running again. Nevertheless, I still want to acknowledge his work on the original. I'm not quite sure how to do that but I'll think of something.

Continue reading "Another "King Groy" update" »

May 31, 2006

Missing ROCR episode restored

While working on the Guðrún remasters today, I discovered that an episode was missing from the existing archive. It must have been missing for a long time, because it wasn't on the Modern Tales archives either - this means it was probably lost in the move to Modern Tales in 2002. Fortunately, I found it on my hard drive so I could restore it to its proper place in the current archives. It's the comic for December 12, 2000, and the chapter it's part of runs just a bit more smoothly with it included.

Who knows what other errors lurk undiscovered in those vast archives? One shudders to think.

June 6, 2006

A familiar face, plus albatrosses, continued.

There's a familiar face, to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan readers at least, in today's Chasing the Sunset. Some of the readers are already taking notice...

In other news: two albatrosses removed, one to go. The transcription project is now for all practical purposes finished with only some mopping up left to do. It'll need keeping up to date but this is a process that can be largely automated. And I just posted all the updates for the Guðrún remasters. Unless I've made some bad mistakes, I won't have to think about it until the serialisation ends on October 30. Of course, it's very likely that I've miscounted something or did something else wrong that will require me to go back to work on the project, but those problems, while annoying, aren't as much of a mental burden as the constant nagging feeling that I ought to be finishing this up. Even the update reminders I'll be posting here during the first week are all scheduled to appear automagically.

So the rest of the day will be devoted to creative therapy. I need to get some drawing practice in, so I'll be doodling whatever takes my fancy, plus sketching out some locations for King Groy and taking a life drawing class in the evening. Good.

June 19, 2006

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "The New Sheriff"

A "new" Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline started today: The New Sheriff from 1994. It'll be the last of the 1990s storylines that I will publish on the site. In fact, in my opinion it pretty much represents the final scrape at the bottom of the barrel; there is more unpublished stuff but I think I might just burn it, and this one only just about made the cut, mostly because it introduces the Sheriff as a character. He will play a major part in the revised "King Groy" story and in the short story "Feral" that I've got planned.

Right now, I'm not sure which of those two I'll run first, by the way. For the past few months, it's been my intention to run "King's Drama" first, because that would immediately close the gap that exists in the archives. But the writing on a crucial early scene has proven to be difficult, and it may soon become harder for me to work on a project of that size, because I just might have a 32-hour job soon. "Feral", in any case, is already largely scripted; the script already exists in at least two revisions. And it's a much more manageable story of about 20 pages.

Neither story will run immediately after "The New Sheriff", anyway. I will first rerun some material that has been published here and there on the web, and maybe some of the guest comics that I never fully transfered off the Keenspace server when I switched to using Xepher.net and WillowCMS. Those things together should tide me over through the summer without missing any updates.

July 1, 2006

Sixth anniversary!

There's an extra Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan update today, to celebrate the sixth anniversary of continuous online publication. My old Gallery still has the 2002 second anniversary artwork, but the ones from 2001 and 2003 were lost in the server move.

July 6, 2006

Site outage

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan was down for a few hours this morning. The server admin says this was the result of the gallery software being hacked. The hackers didn't do any lasting damage, but did tie up all the resources for the subdomain.

Since I find Gallery a pain in the arse to run and maintain anyway, I have disabled it and removed the link to it on the front page. I have left its database intact in the hope of importing the contents into WillowCMS some time, but until then, the material in there is gone. All the arty action now takes place on my DeviantArt site anyway.

Some link cleanup may be needed. We'll see.

July 8, 2006

Feral (A post by Adam)

Today Reinder and I threshed out the next RoCR plot, Feral, from my memories of the last revision (now lost), and, during the discussion that ensued, well... it was one of those wonderful productive periods in which everything suddenly comes together. All of a sudden this script, which I had thought was a little thin but very well executed, started gaining depth, themes, and then suddenly, minor subplots bloomed. Exciting new plots burst forth from them, and locked in perfectly with the rest of the script. What were odd coincendences before suddenly began resonating, and they were right and they were how the plot should be. Characters revealed hidden depths as we explored why they'd be motivated to do various things. It was one of those vastly productive days that make being a script editor so immensely rewarding, and all was good.

...In short, the next RoCR storyline may be a while off yet, but it will be well worth the delay.

-Adam

Addendum by Reinder: Yes, it was that good. If I smoked, I'd have needed a cigarette after that. And it won't be that long before I get around to drawing it.

July 9, 2006

Extra updates: Mike Wytrykus' Keenquest contributions

Mike Wytrykus of the webcomic Grimstone has kindly given me permission to repost his old Keenquest contributions on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website. I've inserted them into last week's archives, so they now follow my first Keenquest page. Read Mike's first, second, third and fourth pages.

It just might be possible to resurrect the whole event. If you were a Keenquest contributor and would like to see your work reposted on a fairly well-visited webcomic site, please contact me.

ROCR reviewed at Clickburg

René van Densen reviews Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan at the Clickburg forums. The review, in Dutch, is pretty favorable - not quite glowing and definitely not uncritical, but I for one got a positive vibe out of it. Positive things highlighted include the world-building, the "subtle, intelligent humour" and the formal play found in the many stylistic and narrative approaches over the years. Critical notes are struck concerning the pacing and the tendency to nitpick, and as with many other reviews, the frequent nudity in the stories is given a brief, neutral mention. Oh, and I need a better tagline for the site.

My pioneering role in webcomics is also brought up - I tend to downplay that these days because it makes me feel like one of those old-timers in the Lucky Luke comics, but in this case, the review mentions that I'm still keeping an eye on new developments, which neatly balances that aspect out.

July 18, 2006

The New Sheriff at Modern Tales

I have added The New Sheriff to the ROCR archives at Modern Tales. I now feel confident enough to tackle the two longer stories that still need to be added; I expect to be able to do each of them in an hour or so.

Some presentation aspects are still being worked on. The archive pages will look better in a day or two.

Keenquest/Even in Arcadia won't be added to the Modern Tales archives — too much hassle with permissions from the various creators involved.

Green Knight's Belt at Modern Tales

OK, I've speeded up my schedule for bringing the ROCR archives at Modern Tales up to date, and uploaded The Green Knight's Belt today. Two reasons:

1. Much to my own surprise, Modern Tales is still a big deal to me. It's a prominent comics site that I'm proud of being a part of.

2. I need to be well-mirrored as a hedge against hackers, script kiddies or the website going down for no good reason at all. ROCR.net is under almost constant attack. So is Modern Tales, but the odds of them both buckling under at the same time are small.
(Today, by the way, there's a likely attack in progress focusing on the reinderdijkhuis.com domain, which points to rocr.net. The symptom is a very large number of pageviews from one IP, over a period that's far too short for any human reader to read as many pages as are being requested. It may be innocuous, a new web crawler sucking up pages, or someone speed-downloading the site for offline reading, but I'm watching it with suspicion. Only damage so far is that it buggers up my statistics, but the behaviour shown could be merely reconnaissance for a real hack. Yes, I'm paranoid. I have reasons.)

The data entry on Modern Tales is easy, but tedious, so I won't do The Death Warrant before tonight. I'm gonna spend the afternoon switched off in the sweltering heat.

The Death Warrant on Modern Tales

The Death Warrant is now uploaded to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives on Modern Tales. Took almost exactly an hour to do, because the database is fast and the control panel has great usability if you don't have to add text to an episode. The main ROCR archive still looks better though.

August 16, 2006

SQL crash

The SQL server at Xepher.net, which hosts my comics, appears to have just crashed. I'll inform the admin of the problem; there's not much else I can do about it. Meanwhile, this link will take you to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan's static index page: http://www.rocr.net/index.html.

September 5, 2006

"Devil"

Aaaand we've launched another new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story. Devil could well be the year's earliest Halloween story - I needed a short filler storyline for this week, this is what came out, and I will not be able to schedule it closer to Halloween, because that wasn't what the story was for.

I haven't done a lot of two-pagers in my life. I prepared for this one by reading the first Gilles de Geus book, "De Spaanse Furie". Re-reading the two-pagers in that collection after many years made me realise that they were really very simple stories, and that's how this one turned out as well. Good. I've not been feeling well, so as a reader I appreciate the benefits of being able to turn my brain off for a while, more than I used to. Not that making this story didn't involve a great amount of mental effort, you'll understand.

"Devil" is set in the Gang's early days, some time after Headsmen. In a way, ROCR is now two comics - it's both the very traditional humorous adventure comic it started out as, and the more complex, epic comic the storylines of the past five or six years grew into. I like doing the big epics, but I also love revisiting the simpler world of the comic's early days.

September 11, 2006

Feral, schedule change, and Lazy Grind

The update schedule for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has changed from weekdays to Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
I am taking part in the Lazy Grind version 2.0.
Feral starts today.

Those three events are, of course, strongly connected to one another. I'm reducing the number of updates because Feral has, so far, been very time-consuming to write and draw. Even where the finished work looks really simple, a lot of time and effort has gone into planning the drawing and exploring alternative angles and different ways of drawing the scene. I have joined the Grind to help and motivate me to keep up with that easier schedule, because even three a week will be difficult for me to keep up with.

At the time of writing this, I am good for another two weeks of buffered comics, and will be able to draw another two at least in the time available to me. I have been spared the ignominy of being the first to drop out, thanks to Colin Burke, who had to drop out on the first day for some reason, without posting an update. Update: Colster had misread the rules and managed to post a comic after he found out he still had some time. He's not out.

The first version of the Grind lasted more than a year, so if I'm to win this one, I'll have my work cut out for me. I've tried to motivate myself further by trash-talking on the Grind's tag board, but there hasn't been much response, because my competitors are just too damned nice.

October 30, 2006

Guðrún ends today, for the second time

The remastered edition of Guðrún ends over on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site today.

As far as I know, it's still very rare for any webcomic to be remastered, though reruns with commentary have occurred in a few places. Guðrún was the story with which I finally got serious about publishing Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan online six years ago. But that doesn't mean I immediately got it all right;the digital cleaning, lettering and resizing were done very clumsily and no high-res masters were kept from which I could re-do the work. So I eventually bit the bullet and re-scanned the whole thing from the original art. The new version looks a lot better, even though, in many ways, it's "rawer" - there is less tinkering with the analog art than there was the first time around, simply because it's no longer needed to make tiny scans presentable or preserve bandwidth.

I'll still need to replace the image files on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan site. To do that, I'll go back to the master files, cut the pages in half and upload those half-pages at a width of 800 pixels instead of the 600(-ish; getting a consistent width was one thing I did wrong at the time) pixels wide images the site has now, so that the originally-intended presentation is left intact and any pages containing comments can be preserved. That's a bit of a chore, but I'll get around to it eventually.

Potentially the best thing about the project: I now have lettered master files that are suitable for print, if anyone's interested...

Out of the grind, plus call for guest list, items probably related

I am dropping out of the Lazy Grind. Starting on Tuesday, October 31, ROCR.net will run guest comics, starting with the ones that were posted to the old Comicgenesis site in 2001 and never posted on the new site.

Why drop out? And why now, with a day*) to spare before the next deadline?

Simple: while I love drawing new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan pages, it's not sustainable for me to do so at the current schedule. When I came back to active production, I didn't count on the new pages taking me twice as long to draw as I used to need. And that's not counting the research I've been doing in preparation, or the many rewrites. I can't do it, and I'm dropping out of this marathon before I start puking and zigzagging all over the track.

I've started scheduling guest comics immediately, to make it impossible for me to change my mind. The guest comics will be posted daily, including weekends, and continue for about a month (I haven't made a full count yet). I'll try to re-buffer Feral while the guest comics run, but I'll have a lot on my plate in November, so I probably won't have enough buffer to resume at the old schedule. Thanks to the advanced archiving features in WillowCMS, though, I will be able to shuffle the guest comics around so people reading the story a year from now won't have their reading interrupted by a month-long run of guest comics.

I would like to finish off the guest month with some new guest comics, by the way. If you are an artist or writer, I invite you to submit guest art or comics by first contacting me at reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com so I can give you a deadline (count on having at least until November 25), and then sending in a comic when it's due. Easy, eh? I'm pretty open-minded about what I will allow on my website and have been mercilessly mocked in guest comics by other cartoonists before, as you will see as the re-runs progress, but I do reserve the right to refuse material that's hateful, too violent, obscene or simply appallingly bad. Not that I've used that right in the past few guest events. I've got one new guest comic penciled in already and two cartoonists who have contributed before have been making noises about sending in new ones.

Finally, I won't be disappearing while the guest comics run. I will be around to work on at least one fun project related to ROCR that should be easier to draw than Feral has been, and I'll also post sidecomics from time to time.

*)Actually, more than two days, as the Lazy Grind's rules allow you to post up to the end of the day of update itself. However, I don't want to do that - the comic has to be done and posted in the morning of the update day.

November 16, 2006

Kel Cameo in PSI, and stuff I like

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan character Kel appears in A Pessimistic Sense of Inadequacy today, as a sunbather who gets hassled by a park ranger. It's always fun to get cameo'ed!

Other stuff I've noticed lately: What Birds Know has been criticised for its slow pacing, and I think the web interface, pretty though it is, distracts from what readers want, which is to just read the comics, but it does have lovely full-colour art and a wonderful sense of suspence and mystery, especially when the birdies of the title finally go nuts. The art reminds me somewhat of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting, which reminds me that I ought to order the collection that Fantagraphics put out of that comic. Read What Birds Know in one sitting over a nice cup of tea or maybe two.
Minus has whimsy, magic, cuteness and lovely colours. While some of the plots seem a bit obvious, they work, proving that a good story doesn't have to have surprise endings or gags.

Finally, Ryan Adams seems to think he's Willie Nelson on the CD studio-mate Josje brought in. Good, though.

November 19, 2006

Project Wonderful ads now live on ROCR.net

Webcartoonists, bloggers and other people who might like to plug something for free or very cheap: look at the area around the navigation bar on all ROCR.net comic pages. I have a row of ad buttons that you can bid on through the new ad service Project Wonderful. At the time of writing, I have threetwo spots still empty, which means that they go for the low, low price of $0. Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has a good track record when it comes to getting people to click on links posted on the front page, and this particular block of links appears on hundreds of pages, close to a part of each page that readers actively look for. I think they're going to be very effective.

I picked Project Wonderful because they've got an innovative formula for selling ads. You bid on them based on a price per day, and if you're the highest bidder, your ad gets shown until it expires or is outbid. You only pay for the time your ad is actually shown, so if you bid a dollar (feel free to do so), and your ad is outbid after 12 hours, you only pay half a dollar. The going rate is shown on the website along with the ads, which makes things transparent not just for potential advertisers, but also for the readers, who get a clearer picture of how much, or how little, a webcomic is bringing in. Over time, this may adjust some reader attitudes towards cartoonists who don't have spotless update records...

Over the past two weeks, I've used Project Wonderful as an advertiser myself, and I've had quite a few people coming in from some of the ads I posted. I found the interface easy to work with (though I do think the website sends too much mail!) and had a lot of fun picking sites that I might advertise on. It has the immediacy of playing in a scratch card lottery. I'm not sure the service is ideal for big, time-sensitive campaigns because getting outbid would disrupt such campaigns. I suppose, though, that if the campaign is important enough, advertisers can prevent that by increasing their maximum bids.

However, for cheap, small-scale, permanent promotions, it's very, very good. Put a button on a smallish site for next to nothing, get some visitors in from there, do it again on another smallish site, and over time, it adds up.

Project Wonderful is another brainchild of Ryan North, of Dinosaur Comics, Oh No Robot and RSSPECT. Ryan is a true innovator within the webcomics field, and if he goes on like this, one day every last one of us will be his bitch. I won't mind, personally.

December 6, 2006

Unfinished business

I'm finally creating and posting the 800-pixel, half-page versions of the remastered Guðrún. These image files are taken from the same source as the 700-pixels-wide full-page version over on Chronicles of the Witch Queen, but are still taking quite a bit of time to prepare, because at the greater width, the lettering turns out uncomfortably large. So I'm looking again at each page and shrinking the lettering by up to 10%. This latest version is the first in which most of the lettering fits comfortably in the word balloons (because webcomics, bless them, are just Too Damned Small). It still comes out large-ish, but I'm sure I won't feel that way in another 5 years.
I'm posting the new versions as soon as I get them done, so for the next few days, possibly weeks, there will be a moment in the archive where the scan quality and comic size drop abruptly. Right now, everything up to page 30B, originally posted on August 29, 2000, is posted. That's almost half of the story.

This little improvement to the website was made possible by my current computer-less situation at home. To get online, I have to go to the studio, so I dawdle less in the morning and arrive earlier. Because the morning isn't my most creative period, I spend it working on this. Each installment takes about 15 minutes on additional cleanup, lettering changes and preparation for posting, but having one of my favourite Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories not look like crap is worth it.

December 11, 2006

New bonus feature: The Bare-Pit

There's a new bonus feature below the comic: The Bare-Pit will be tooncast on Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan for the duration of its current storyline, Enchanted. Enchanted is a sequel to the guest storyline I did for The Bare-Pit, Incognito (also here), in which the faerie Abúi ends up in the nudist resort that is The Bare-Pit's regular setting. In Enchanted, Sven Allestedes is trying to help her go back to her own world, but, as a result of interference by Tash, Sven, Tash and Abúi end up in a country full of naked gnomes, elves, etc. Not that different from Abúi's world, then, but it just isn't home. Noodtoonist has done a great job getting his version of Abúi right, and his storyline, which is about to take a turn for the weird, has been very enjoyable so far, as always.

Some fan art by me has also been posted on the Bare-Pit site.

While on the subject of guest and fan art: Saturday's guest comic by Jeroen and Adam linked back to an earlier guest comic by those two, which didn't exist because I'd forgotten to upload it. I've fixed that now, meaning that a total of 8 ROCR updates were posted last week.

December 24, 2006

Up next: Rocket Bandits

Between Christmas shopping, kittens, work on Gang of Four kicking me in the ass despite all my attempts to keep it simple, another spirited but doomed attempt at mucking out the Augian stable that is my apartment, the need to get a few days off from work and the need to have some semblence of a a life, I have not got any further with work on Feral than I was two weeks ago. So I will continue the reruns of White House in Orbit into January, following up Orbital Germans with Rocket Bandits starting January 1.

This repost doesn't completely get me off the hook work-wise: as the WHIO stories accumulate, it will become more necessary to turn rocr.net/reinderdijkhuis.com into a true multi-comic website rather than one that is dominated by one extremely long series. There's also the need for some more tidying up of the website itself (as you may have noticed, the bonus tooncast of The Bare-Pit has been quietly canceled, simply because it overloaded an already rather bloated front page. It's still on my page of other people's tooncasts though). And when we get to the third series, Engel-im-Flucht, I will have to start re-lettering and possibly re-colouring the story as well. There's a bit of a discussion on the forum about the newspaper texture that I used in the original publication of several WHIO stories; I want to get rid of it, but if enough people want it, I'l add it again, hopefully in a more subtle way than before.

Here's what I need to do to make the site a true multi-comic site:
* Each comic needs to have its own home page, archive listing and chain of linked archived comics pages. This part is actually easy.
* All of the home pages, archive listings and archived comics pages should be visually distinct from those of other comics, without having to add too many extra templates. Consistent use of variables within the templates is the key here, and while it will take some busywork, it shouldn't be that hard.
* The last page posted should be on the site's front page, no matter which comic it is from. This is going to take some more delving into WillowCMS internals, and what's more, it's going to require me to remember stuff I learn for a change. It should be doable; blogs, after all, do this all the time. One difference with blogs, though, is that the navigation buttons should link to comics within the series that the last comic comes from.
* All series archives should be linked on the front page.
* Despite the above, the front page should not be more cluttered than the one I have now. This means something should go. In fact, if it's anything like tidying up my apartment, a lot should go.

The final point is likely to be the hard bit....

January 4, 2007

So... how about Feral?

I've just inked the backgrounds to the 8th, 9th and 10th pages of Feral since I took the storyline on hiatus in mid-October. I don't expect to have much time for the storyline next week, but I intend to make time.
So far, though, the going's been tough. I'm low on energy, arriving at the studio every day in a half-asleep state that I never quite seem to come out of. The bit of computery stuff I started the day with filled the hours when my energy was the lowest, and having a bit of a success with data recovery lifted my mood, but once I sat down to do some inking it was hard to keep my eyes open. Whether it's sleep deprivation (unlikely, as sleeping in doesn't make the problem go away), seasonal affective disorder or some undiagnosed medical condition that's causing this sleepiness, it's definitely slowing me down and it seems to be here to stay.

The work on Feral is of acceptible quality, but not nearly as good as I want it to become. It's unlikely that I will be able to resume publishing it immediately after Rocket Bandits ends, so expect another White House in Orbit story after that. I want to get back to running my regular comic, and am willing to increase my workload for January a bit in order to get to that point, but right now I just don't have the energy. Sorry.

January 16, 2007

Odds and ends...

I have 22 updates of the White House in Orbit storyline Engel In Die Flucht remastered and lettered. I thought I had 21, but it turned out the stack of original art that I scanned a month or so ago wasn't complete, so when lettering the pages I found one more. I had to remaster that one from the original scan, but I don't think this will be noticeable. Engel will take WHIO into late February, but after that, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will be back with new material. It won't be the Feral storyline just yet, though. It will be something else entirely.

On an entirely unrelated note, something has started... Indeed, an Oh Dear may be in order.

Also, I've updated my webcomic links list on ROCR.net and removed the Snap code. It was a neat idea, but after a few weeks I began to find it annoying because it interfered with normal link behaviour.

I've little else to say right now. I'm getting up early and working hard, especially with my steadily increasing teaching load. Talk to you later!

January 24, 2007

One more, then

All right, one more White House in Orbit rerun before we return to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Engel-in-der-Flucht will run for 22 consecutive days, ending on February 14. After that, we'll have a few small fillers before starting on a new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story. Feral will stay on hiatus for a little longer, for reasons that will become clear soon enough. Creatively, work on it is going well, but it's with this new story that I've finally been able and incentivised to pick up the pace. The new story will start on February 19 and run on a very tight schedule.

In Engel-in-der-Flucht, Jane is settling down into her new life as a Seriously Secret Service agent, but a bureaucratic requirement blocks her path to a career in the service. While she's resolving that, Agent X8.5 disappears while on a mission in Orbital Germany. It's up to Jane to go on a suicide mission to retrieve him! Engel-in-der-Flucht is an exciting retro-futuristic spy story full of song, dance, grisly torture and herring paté.

January 30, 2007

Slow page loads in the morning on rocr.net/ resulting from Project Wonderful ads

Lately, ROCR.net has been loading slowly in the mornings (if you are reading this in my time zone, which is Central European Time). I'm afraid the source of the problem is the Project Wonderful ads, especially the new leaderboard ad on the archive pages.

If it was anything else, I'd remove it from the page in a heartbeat. But those ads are the best revenue source the comic has ever had, even if I do spend more on advertising through PW than I earn through it. The downtime, which can go up to two hours, is a big problem, though, so I'm watching the matter closely. I may end up doing what some other comics do and quarantine the ads in their own pages loaded through iframes. The fixed size of those iframes would then allow the browser to get on with loading the rest of the page. The problem with that sort of stopgap measures, though, is that they have a tendency to end up being permanent, which I'm not willing to put up with just yet.

The problem mostly affects the Opera browser, which is slow to give up on javascript that fails to load.If you use Opera, switching off javascript helps, and doesn't prevent the ads from loading when Project Wonderful is down. Or you can read the comic in Firefox; I want rocr.net to work in all browsers and wouldn't dream of presenting a browser switch as a solution, but the option is open to you if you want it.

February 8, 2007

Before someone else brings it up: ROCR on Wikipedia

I just found out that the Wikipedia entry for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is finally in the crosshairs of the deletionists. The fact that it took them so long is probably proof that my comic really isn't all that notable.

My advice to anyone who might want to get involved is "Don't waste your time." There's quite a bit of evidence that getting involved with webcomics on Wikipedia is pointless and leads to frustration and drama. Instead, anyone who feels like writing some documentation on ROCR is invited to help improve the entry on the comic on comixpedia.org instead. Thanks.

[Update]Or... if you want to do something really useful to help this humble webcomic out, why not put in a few transcriptions for Oh No Robot?. It's easy, the only person who can delete your work is me (and I would rather not), and it's a lot more useful than Wikipedia in increasing both the findability and the quality of my website.

February 17, 2007

Transitions

This weekend, we'll see some changes around the ROCR.net website, webcomic and blog. Some of these will be disruptive.
Most important of all: New Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story starting on Monday! I'll be running Invasion in stead of the storyline I interrupted in October, Feral, because Invasion is part of a multi-comic event that's set to a fixed schedule, and much as I'd like to give you two Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories simultaneously, I can't. Indeed it's so far been a mad scramble to get the pages for Invasion ready in time while also doing my work for Hello You! and teaching.

To help me keep the story to a fixed schedule and at an acceptable level of quality, I've called for the help of three people: Drooling Fan Girl, Mravac Kid and Calvin Bexfield. DFG and Mravac will be taking turns colouring the comics on a per-sequence basis, so DFG will do the introductory chapter set in the Gnomian Republic, while Mravac will colour the next few scenes, set, er, elsewhere. Starting on page 11, Calvin Bexfield will be applying his considerable drafting skills to the backgrounds, drawing castles, towns and longhouses like you've never seen them in this comic before.

There'll be some cleanup on the archives. First thing on Sunday morning, I'll be moving all the White House in Orbit chapters to their own subsection of the website, which will be here-abouts. It's been fun showing these three stories and the guest comics; we'll be returning to the remaining stories later in the year. If you come to the site on Monday, the last few episodes may appear to have vanished, but they're still there, and I'll put up a separate post pointing latecomers to them. I'll also merge several of the incidental, one-drawing ROCR chapters into a new chapter, and put those, and the guest comics, in a separate section with the crossover comics, so the archives will seem a lot shorter.

As for the blog, you'll have noticed that I've added a few new writers and attempted to upgrade the software. I haven't quite got to my ultimate goal of having functional comments again; so far, the comment form sends people using it to the Xepher.net front page, which wouldn't be so bad by itself, but it also fails to send their comments to my database. I'll be working on it. As part of working on it, I will probably have to reset the blog's templates to their defaults, because I can't remember for the life of me which part of the comments code I've taken out over the years. While I'm doing that, the archives, entries and indices may look a bit funny. Can't be helped.

Getting this far has been difficult enough, by the way, because after two years, A Six Apart still haven't fixed the resource consumption problems that made the comments functionality so vulnerable in the first place (as some of you may remember, I made a mistake upgrading the antispam plugins, and within minutes, a spam attack took down not just the Movable Type installation but the entire host). Xepher and I have spent several hours getting the resource use down to manageable (note how I don't say "acceptible", because the resource consumption is still insane) levels, which was time we would probably both have preferred to spend otherwise.

Soon enough, we will have comments back and we will be seeing more posts from the new posters, who so far include studio-mate Jelena, ROCR colourist DFG and new ROCR background artist Calvin Bexfield. I'll be inviting some more people as well. I'm also planning to add some functionality like Gravatars that will make the blog part of the site a little niftier and a more inviting place than it has been recently.

February 20, 2007

New Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "Invasion"

The new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story, Invasion, began yesterday, both on the ROCR.net site and on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen website. The COTWQ version has slightly smaller images but is otherwise identical to the ROCR.net version - however, it has a working RSS feed and you can tooncast the comic from it. It also has a cast section in progress which will be separate from the giant Cast section at ROCR.net.

The colour work in the opening chapter is done by Drooling Fan Girl, fresh-faced new blog poster and previously a recurring guest colourist. As the chapter progresses, you'll find she's outdone herself this time. Someone should give her a paid colouring job! She doesn't want me to say that, though. The action of the first chapter is set far away from Clwyd-Rhan, in a forest on the farthest edges of the Gnomian Republic, where humans do not go. We will see humans in the second chapter though, as well as some very strange creatures indeed...The second chapter will have colour by Mravac Kid and backgrounds by my studio-mate and even fresher-faced blog poster Calvin Bexfield. We'll introduce them properly later.

The publication of Invasion happens while that other story, Feral, is still on hiatus. We'll be, er, co-ordinating with some other webcomics later on, and as a result, Invasion has to be run on a fixed schedule. Feral isn't abandoned, though; there are 10 new installments on my hard drive, which will only have to be cleaned up, coloured, lettered and prepared for web publication.

I'd say more, but I'd spoil things.

February 28, 2007

Crossover Wars

Anicrossover.gif
I guess now would be a good time to mention that there's a series of webcomics Crossover Wars going on involving several dozen webcomics, including Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. The hub site has been live for a couple of weeks and has a very thorough overview of everything that's been going on so far. Core comics are CameoComic and Evil Overlords United, both of which were created especially for the event.

After the FRAMED!!! Great Escape, I told myself and others that it had been great fun and let's not do it again. But I got myself suckered into doing another big mega-crossover. And it's fun. And hair-raising. Again. Once it's over, I'll never do it again.

March 2, 2007

No more weekend updates for now.

Sorry folks, I'm cancelling the weekend updates for this weekend and at least the next few. I spent a lot of time working on my comic for Hello You! and don't have enough time and energy left to do the weekend updates properly.

The Crossover Wars run on a fixed schedule of five updates per week anyway, and the weekend updates wouldn't be anything but fillers. Nevertheless, I don't want to cobble just any old rubbish together for the weekends - after all, these updates would stay on the front page for a full day and in the archives until I got around to cleaning them out. Hundreds if not thousands of people would see them. So "any old rubbish" just isn't acceptable.

Five a week is still pretty good, and I'm sure there will be weekend updates again soon enough, especially once I get to sit around with Calvin to discuss what to do with his production sketches. And keeping up with a New Years' resolution for two months probably isn't that bad. So see you on Monday!

March 12, 2007

Download Headsmen now!

Modern Tales is now offering downloadable comic books in Comic Book Reader format. I've put their press release below the cut.

One of the downloadables is Headsmen (note: 23 Megabytes), a comic-book in progress containing the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories Headsmen and Devil. The book serves as a preview of what the Headsmen comic book will look like when it's done and I've raised the funds to print it. This version stands on its own, though. It's got large, full-colour pages that look great in a Comic Book Reader program (see the ROCR downloadables page for more info on Comic Book Reader software). Download it and tell me what you think.

Joey Manley's full press release:

Continue reading "Download Headsmen now!" »

March 14, 2007

The things you do...

Being in a Crossover means you get to draw things you wouldn't normally. Like computer interfaces if you're doing a medieval-based fantasy comic:
SMOG2MAC interface

To be precise, this is the SMOG2MAC interface - SMOG for "Semi-Mystical Otherworldly Gates", MAC for "BSD on a high-quality PC with an Intel Chip, formerly BSD on a PowerPC, formerly a once innovative but aging GUI on a PowerPC.". This SMOG2MAC program is a hacked/pirated version running in a virtual machine in a more conventional laptop PC, though, which is why the Apple logo has a worm in it.
The comic universes SMOG2MAC is streaming video from can just about be recognised at this stage of the drawing.

March 26, 2007

Feeling the strain...

Two weeks ago, Adam told me he thought the recent work on Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan was "gorgeous -- just for once nothing is rushed". I thanked him for that but had to admit that I didn't think the next few weeks would be quite as good. And two weeks on, I do think the pressure of keeping up is showing in all aspects of the work.

Normally, this would be my cue to say, "hold on, I can do better if I give myself more time", but as I'm in the thick of a crossover, I can't do that. The work has to stay on schedule even if I'm exhausted and also have taxes, Gang of Four and several other urgent matters to deal with (several of which involve a mad scramble to get paperwork done so that money from my client starts flowing into my bank account. I'm not doing well on that score). And while these pages won't go down as the best in the archives, the heroic work done by DFG, Calvin Bexfield and Mravac Kid saves them from being the worst. Though I did draw the line at letting the computer interface lettering on the version of today's comic that originally went up this morning stay unfixed.

Blogging will be light until I have some more time and energy again.

March 30, 2007

This may seem like begging, but sometimes you need to point out that they have the option...

The mirror site for the Invasion crossover storyline has two features that the main location doesn't have:

One, as pointed out earlier, is the Cast Section for Invasion only, with the characters from the storyline listed in order of appearance. Much easier to find any of the characters in there than in the main ROCR cast section.

The other is the Fan Art Section. I've not been having a great week, and one thing that always cheers me up is seeing my characters drawn by other people. So if you're feeling inspired, even if you're not a particularly skilled artist (but also if you are! Because there are a lot of people out there who can draw my characters at least as well as me), why not have a go at drawing or painting or photomanipulating one of the characters from Invasion? The "submit" button merely opens an email window, so I might as well make it easy for you and mention that you can send art to reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com. (I just noticed that it was set up to send mail to an address I haven't used in over a year, so far all I know, people have been trying to send me fan art through my WCN site for months.... but probably not.) I'd especially like to hear from people involved in the Crossover Wars as several of them are or will be drawing my characters anyway.

April 3, 2007

Crossover delays

Co-bloggers Jeroen and Adam helped me out with today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic in which Jake visits the world of Dangerous and Fluffy. That wasn't intended as a full guest comic; it just so happened that I had already asked Adam to script it and then fell behind as a result of illness and overwork, so we thought we'd ask Jeroen to draw it. And he came through! Otherwise I'd have had to delay it, and that would have been a bad thing to do in the middle of a crossover.

In the end, ROCR may well be the only comic in this crossover thread that isn't delayed, though. Pimpette was already out for the count; new updates are finally being published, but it's still well behind. And yesterday's outage at webcomics host ComicGenesis means that some others haven't been able to upload their contributions yet. Caitlin Woods of CameoComic mentioned in her journal that she was going to reschedule her work on the comic if she wasn't going to be able to upload it anyway, and that sort of thing is hard to go back on even if the webhost does come back up all of a sudden. Since the problem was caused by ComicGenesis's own DNS server breaking, it may not, in fact, be up for everyone. I can see the sites just fine, but I don't know if Caitlin can.

So, today's ride may be a bit rough and I may even decide to delay tomorrow's comic in order to re-synchronise things with the folks I'm collaborating with. Apologies for the inconvenience, can't do anything about it guvnah, it'll be right as rain in a day or two.

April 4, 2007

Comicgenesis troubles and Crossover Wars, continued

I wouldn't normally write about this, because normally, service interruptions at webcomics host Comicgenesis don't affect me directly. I still have a website (two, actually) there, but it hasn't been my main webhost for a long time, and I can take or leave a new update there being on time.

However, now that the updater problems have gone into their second day, they're making this massive multi-artist crossover event I'm in a bit confusing. I mean more confusing than it would be if everything was still running smoothly. So, a few practical things:

1. All comics are being collected at the Crossover Wars hub, including the ones linked from my archives that aren't currently updating. CameoComic for April 3. CameoComic for April 4. This is done manually, so there's still a delay, but the material is finding its way online through people's Photobuckets and alternate hosting solutions. (I would particularly invite cartoonists to get a free account on Webcomicsnation because setting up a series there is easy, and the cross-promotion works, but there are plenty of other good, free solutions. BTW, I would definitely classify Comicgenesis as both free and good, these days, even taking into account this annoying glitch.)

2. I am keeping the links in my archives as they were originally planned, unless someone pipes up from Comicgenesis and says that the problems will persist for the long term. If that happens, I will start linking to people's permanent, alternative solutions. Otherwise, I'll have the devil of a time reversing all the changes once the problem is solved. In the past, I've found that crossovers are high-maintenance things to have in an archive, and I don't want to give myself more of a maintenance load than is strictly necessary.

3. Pimpette still has long-term problems getting back on track, so I'll hold off on linking to any more of Norla and Ottar's adventures in that webcomic until things are normal again.

Things happen. Points to reader Alun Clewe, creator of the webcomic Soup, for predicting that something like this would happen, but more points go to L.P. Hogan, organiser of the event, for taking precautions.

So, what's the problem? Well, as far as I can tell, it started with hardware failure in the box that handles their Domain Name Service. They had two servers for that, but both broke at roughly the same time. Yet another case of redundancy not working. As it happened, they were working on one of those boxes when the other broke, so they could fix that relatively quickly. But ever since, the updater has run very slowly. The updater is a script that creates static HTML pages at the time set by the account holder - a new front page, a new archive page, refreshed pages that link to the new archive page, and any other stuff that the account holder may have queued up to be generated - for all accounts. And there are thousands of accounts. The current script has been revamped since I had ROCR.net on Comicgenesis, and is presumably a lot more powerful, robust and intelligent than it was then, but it's still the most vulnerable in case of something breaking, and when it gets behind on running through its queued updates, it can take it forever to catch up, especially when some other part of the system is still broken. So Caitlin and Ti-Phil and all the others involved are now having to wait for that to finish. They're producing their comics all right, but the site automation isn't taking them. Latest reports I've read on the forums said the queues were only getting longer, which is something I've seen before. In the past, that's been the harbinger of an even more catastrophic problem. While I don't think this will be the case this time, it may be a good idea for CG cartoonists to back up their archived material.

April 12, 2007

Slight delay in Friday's ROCR

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for Friday, April 13, will be appearing on the site a couple of hours late. This delay allows me to take another look at the colouring and lettering while also keeping today's comic, and keep the links to the crossover with Life and Death on the front page a little longer. Life and Death has finally updated, with an extra-long comic featuring Kel and Atra, and I've been able to find the permalink for Thursday's L&D comic, so I'll be putting that into the right places right after posting this.

April 18, 2007

The Team takes a couple of days off

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan team is taking Friday and Monday off to enjoy a long weekend of recharge, relaxation and recuperation.
What that means is that I take tomorrow and Friday off before getting back into scripting the next part of the story over the weekend, DFG and Calvin will not be nagged by me for contributions until Monday or possibly later, Mravac will not notice that anything has changed as he hasn't had to endure any nagging from me in weeks, and you will see fillers on the ROCR website on Friday and Monday, and possibly on Tuesday as well. I'm not sure, at this point, about Tuesday. The fillers will have new art in them, by Calvin and others.

There's no more crossing over scheduled for me until the middle of May. Before that I want to do a section that involves my own characters only, fighting off the Nightmare Invasion back in Clwyd-Rhan. I'll end the story with a longish section that's currently being plotted out for me by Geir, involving Duchess Alcydia and the Witch Queen. In all, I'll add another 20 updates to this one, making it 60-odd to 70 updates in total. An average length for a Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story.

The Crossover Wars have been very hard work for me (not to mention the other Team members), but I got a lot out of it. Most noteworthy is the fact that I got to post 47 new ROCR updates in a row, which may not seem like a lot in the context of the giant archives, but is actually the longest streak of new updates in two years. And, like I said, I'll add some 20 more, assuring that the site gets more new ROCR content added than it got in all of 2006.

Also, I got a significantly greater readership out of it. I'm now hovering around the 1300 unique visitors per day line, which is over 300 more than I got at the start of Invasion two months ago. There are almost certainly some prior readers giving this storyline a miss because they don't like crossovers, but they're definitely in the minority. Of today's readers, only 140 have come directly through a link from a site associated with the crossover, so the rest of the difference between two months ago and now must be made up of people who have been sticking around since the start of the storyline. Welcome to the comic, and thanks for reading!

Finally, I got to do some collaborative cartooning. To be able to do the work, I've had to assemble a team of people helping out with backgrounds and colouring (though there have been days when I've had to do either or both of these jobs myself - unless and until I can pay people to assist me, I can't count on them being available all the time), and working with Calvin Bexfield, Drooling Fan Girl and Mravac Kid has been both a joy and a learning experience. In addition to that, work on ROCR has been done by Stephen Crowley (one guest comic scripted by me), Adam Cuerden, Jeroen Jager (guest comic in which Adam and Jeroen did most of the work) and, Geir Strøm. Finally, I've enjoyed working with the artists and writers on the other side of the crossovers: Hogan, Caitlin Woods, Ti-Phil, Jonathan Oliver, Inemesit Imoh, Gothia and Stephen Southworth (who hasn't technically crossed over with ROCR yet, but he's let me work on his scripts for the sequence he's doing now) and all the others who have been putting in their two cents.

Having said that, the downside was that even with all that help, it still took a lot of time and effort, and in past two weeks, I've been skimping on the art quality quite a bit. I'm overdue for a break. So enjoy the background articles I'll be posting as filler, and see you on Tuesday or Wednesday!

April 23, 2007

Slower update schedule for a while, with more fillers and side-comics

Just a few days ago, I thought "hmmm... if my readership goes on riding so high, it would be almost a crime to cut down on updates" and even said in a few public places that if I passed 1500, I'd compensate for the fillers, and progressively increase the update schedule if I passed other readership thresholds.

Well, when my readership didn't pass 1500 that day, I was actually a bit relieved. And... I'm eating crow, right now. I've thought about it, and there are so many other things I have to tend to this week, and I want to increase the quality of the art a bit from its low points of the last two weeks, and if I go on working like I did over the past two months (as well as being a complete slave-driver to the kind people who have been assisting me), I'm going to drive myself over a cliff, health-wise and financially. It would be much better to allow myself some recovery time so I don't work on my pages while tired. In short, I'm going to cut down the schedule of real updates to three a week for the next two weeks, after which there is more crossover stuff planned again. Increasing the schedule over and above five a week is out of the question under any circumstances, except people giving me lots of money.

This week, new comics will appear on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Next week, it'll be a more conventional Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, with fillers inbetween.

I will add more fillers like the ones I posted Friday and today, though. Giving cast and worldbuilding pages on the front page guarantees that they will be read, proofread and commented on, and that in turn guarantees that by the time they are moved to their final place in the Cast and World sections, they'll be worth reading, correct and exhaustive. Everybody wins!

Also, I'll dig up and post the final unremastered Pin Drop comics and get started on re-re-re-mastering Tips for Lazy Buggers from the old site on users.bart.nl/~samizdat, which will soon be shut down. My pledge to post 365 updates in 2007 still stands, even though we're a dozen or so behind right now.

May 6, 2007

Another slight schedule change for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

This week, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will update 4 times. Monday's update will be a filler-ish thing: a montage of panels from another comic that recapitulates what has happened in that other comic over the past month. Tuesday's update will be a proper ROCR comic, continuing from the events in that other comic. The other regular updates will be on Wednesday and Friday.

There may be a filler on Thursday, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Usually, the same time constraints that prevent me from making five comics a week also prevent me from creating fillers. This week's material has been pretty intensive to create, too.

Also, Krakatoa cast page for Invasion is up.

May 9, 2007

Lolskwirrel!

Reader Doc commented to this comic saying "Lolskwirrel!", so I took that ball and ran with it. Here are some Lolskwurl ads:
Lolskwurl!

I'm in ur cosmos stealin ur realiteez

Preti Kolrz I has invented antigravity
The first three will go live tonight as Project Wonderful ads. I need to ask Starline Hodge permission to use the last one, because the character Menjou belongs to her. As the actual art is all mine, I can post it here, but I draw the line at slapping it across potentially hundreds of websites without her approval.

Does anyone want base images to make their own Lolskwirrel ads?

May 16, 2007

Slight delay in today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

Today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will appear a couple of hours later than usual, in an attempt to synch it up with Sharing a Universe, with which it is crossing over and which usually updates at around 10-ish, CET. Do not be alarmed.

While I'm discussing the scheduling, apologies for the unannounced missed Tuesday and Thursday updates. There'll be an update tomorrow, and I'll have some extra, non-story updates this weekend to make up. BTW, I still intend to make up fully for deviating from my plan to update 365 times this year.

May 19, 2007

Grimborg Wallpaper

Click to see the Grimborg wallpaper
Over the next few weekends I'll be bringing back some of the desktop wallpapers I've done since 2002-ish. Given enough time and good enough ideas, I may even make some new ones.

There was a wallpaper page on the old Comicgenesis site, but the images linked from there either had become unavailable as a result of the latest server reshuffle in the Modern Tales family of sites (they were hosted on Webcomicsnation's ftp server, which no longer exists) or they're about to become unavailable (the older images are hosted at the old users.bart.nl/~samizdat site, which will probably close down once my bart.nl subscription ends). Rather than just create a copy of that old wallpaper page on the current site, I've decided to give each image a day on the front page, where they're more likely to be noticed and maybe even commented on. That should help me with the production of new wallpapers and new formats for the old ones - if people ask for versions that fit on a giant screen like the high-end ones at the Apple store, I'll create them. There will also a discreet Paypal link under each wallpaper, in the hope of subsidising the comic a little more.

Of course, like all the other non-comic content that has been posted since the start of Invasion, the wallpapers will be moved out of the story archives eventually.

This first wallpaper is from 2005 and is based on the end of the Rite of Serfdom storyline. It was coloured for me by Jamie Robertson of Clan of the Cats and used in an advertising campaign. I should get back to him and ask him if he still has the ad graphics, which I've since lost.

May 20, 2007

Sullivant wallpaper

Retro wallpaper showing cast from The Rite of Serfdom

The second wallpaper I'm bringing back is one that was inspired by the work of T.S. Sullivant, an early 20th-Century cartoonist who combined the draughtsmanship of Victorian-era illustrators with a lively, innovative style, especially in his later years. Sullivant was one of the first cartoonists to distort the proportions of the characters he drew, giving them freakishly large heads. This is commonplace now but must have seemed revolutionary back in 1920. I particularly like his Biblical cartoons and his cartoons featuring animals. His animal caricature still looks fresh after almost a century. Every few years or so, I get the urge to replicate that look, and this the result of one of those urges.

When this wallpaper was first published, Adam commented that he thought the faces looked kind of mean and evil. I guess they do if you're not used to the way Sullivant drew expression. I did my best to imitate that and other aspects of the great man's style, even though this attempt was doomed to failure. I'm not fit to lick the boots of the guy who licks his boots. But it was fun to do, and on its own, this is actually one of the better wallpapers I've done. For one, it actually keeps to the background instead of crowding out the desktop icons as most of my wallpapers do.

I originally published this as an extra for donors and Modern Tales subscribers. It... didn't take off. Perhaps I didn't have the reader base. Perhaps not enough people even got to know about it; this is why this time around, it's getting a full day on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan front page instead of being tucked away in the archive right away. Of course, it will be moved into a new Downloads section of the site very soon.

Or perhaps it was the worst possible timing. If I remember correctly, it was posted just weeks before the Modern Tales server crash, which rendered the images inaccessible for weeks on end and, over time, rendered the whole issue of whether I could incentivize people to subscribe completely and utterly moot.

This time around, there's a discreet donation link at the bottom of the posted page, but it's not compulsory to donate in order to download and use the wallpapers. If you donate, money will be used to subsidise, well, me, while I produce more comics and hopefully more downloadable art.

May 21, 2007

Fan art by Rich Morris

Update: Rocr.net now has a fan art section of its own. It will fill up a little more with old material as I find and prepare it.

Rich Morris of Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic sent this fan art:
Glon and Kel
and a fine one it is too.

By the way, I drew his characters Gren and Bob as fan art for YAFGC a month ago and had my characters pay a visit to their universe in the comic for March, 28, 2007.

This new fan art brings up a slight categorisation problem. I've been putting new art sent in by readers in the fan art section for Invasion over on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site, because all the recent ones had been specific to that storyline anyway. This one isn't. There are several other lost fan arts that used to be collected in my Gallery installation - maybe I should re-add a fan art section to ROCR.net. Until I do, though, fan arts will be shown in the blog.

May 27, 2007

Two more wallpapers, fundraiser update, art for sale

Two more wallpapers went up this weekend:
Do you know the way to the Office of Rites
Do You Know the Way to the Office of Rites?; and
Witches' Sabbath
Witches' Sabbath.
This time around, I won't repeat what's in the blurbs. I'll also be moving the materials to the new Downloads section first thing tomorrow morning. The reason for that is that I was showing the site to some visitors to the studio today, and I found that the wallpapers did interfere with the flow of the site too much. They need their day in the sun, but no more than that.

Like before, the wallpapers are free to use, but if you like them and use them, please consider donating to my fundraiser to help me cover expenses in June. The fundraiser is going pretty well, but we're only just past the halfway point of what I need to cover rent and council taxes. Donating gives you access to bonus material, and for every $ 80 donated during the fundraiser, I'll add one update to the schedule for June.

Also, I'm working on selling some art online. Today, I got one piece listed on the Webcomicsnation Swapmeet; you can buy the original art for the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for March 5, 2007 for $ 75 including shipping. There will be an A4 colour print of the finished page included.

Tomorrow, I'll set up a large number of Swapmeet listings for original line art, starting with all the pages that Calvin Bexfield did backgrounds on. Those are, on the whole, a lot better than my solo pages, which just goes to show how much he adds to the art. I'll try to set up as many as I can in an hour or so. I have to say, though, that I find Webcomicsnation's Swapmeet interface clunky and restrictive. You can't set up horizontal thumbnails, you can't upload larger previews, and you can't even use HTML in the description to link to the page as it appeared on the website. On the other hand, it's been around for a few years now, and it works. And the service came with my free WCN account. I will look into getting my pages listed on Comicspace's art market - it's a subscription-only service, but I guess I can scrape together the funds now to get a one-month trial subscription. It looks like it'll be a more convenient, efficient way to list original art - especially if it allows me to use alternate images for original galleries (i.e. a user looking at, say, this Headsmen page can click on "buy this page" and see the original artwork on the purchase page), But even if it doesn't allow that, setting up a separate gallery of "raw" line art is likely to be easier in Comicspace than WCN. I'll see about it.

June 2, 2007

Dragon wallpaper.

Dragon Wallpaper
The final wallpaper in the series is the very first I did, way back in 2002. Contrary to what I said earlier, this one, instead of the Sabbath wallpaper, may have been the first one I coloured using Paint Shop Pro in the studio. I can't really remember, to be honest.

In any case, it's not really the best one out there; I'm mostly including it for completeness sake, and because a lot of people like dragons.

I may do some new wallpapers as donor incentives. People have been telling me they work rather well, actually.

June 3, 2007

Fundraiser wrapup and schedule change

The fundraiser brought in $ 465.
Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan update schedule to change to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Thumbnail for the page for June 4, 2007
It's June now, and while I'm not quite out of the woods financially yet, the sky hasn't fallen either, so I'm going to call it a day as far as emergency fundraising is concerned. The readers of ROCR raised $ 465 in donations, and the sale of an original page by me and Calvin brought in another $ 75. Thanks to everyone who donated!
The reason I'm not counting the art sale towards the donation total is that there are costs involved which I haven't quite got the full picture yet, and obviously I have to share the profits with Calvin Bexfield, whose background art made that page so stunning. So I'm not sure how much will be left at the end of the day.
The donations ended up paying my taxes, but not my rent. No worries, though, I'll be able to make the payment some time this month through overdrafts and money coming in from clients.

The fundraiser also paid for five extra updates in June. To accommodate those into a workable schedule, I'm changing the update schedule to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday - the same update schedule as Candi, which does quite well with that. Having a break in the middle of the week should allow me to pace the production of new pages so the work doesn't get too rushed, with DFG doing the colouring in the first half of every week, and Mravac in the second half, subject to availability in both cases. I'll have one Wednesday update in the final week of the month, though.

The fundraiser will remain open for a little while, though I'll stop pushing it like I've done. There's still the opportunity for any reader to bring the total up to $480 and wreck my scheduling plans by making me have to add in another extra update!

June 4, 2007

All my original art is for sale, even if not explicitly listed.

Page for Friday, June 1, as scanned
Reader and occasional contributor Geir asked me to keep the original art for the Hitlerific ROCR update for June 1, 2007 in reserve for him so he could buy it after his next salary came in, so I guess that's another sale.

I hadn't really expected to sell that one, because I wasn't personally happy with how it turned out. Then again, I rarely am. That should teach me not to second-guess the market. I am now convinced that there is a market, at least. Also, the cost of mailing them out in cardboard tubes is a lot less than I thought it would be.

So I now think that rather than listing a handful of pages at the Webcomicsnation Swapmeet, I should offer all existing pages for sale, and let people know about it. The first part is easy; all original art still in my possession is for sale. There.

The second part is going to be harder. Ideally, every archived update should have a link to a page offering the original art for that update for sale, entered into the database with the update, and with a price, an automatically generated Paypal button (or more, to allow for multiple shipping and sales tax options) and some basic info about its availability (in case an item is already sold, or in too poor condition to sell, or doesn't exist as a single piece of original art at all). Even if that level of automation is achievable by, for example, integrating WillowCMS with OS Commerce, I'm not looking forward to the data entry work (though good default values for the archived work would help). But it would give readers an easy way to chose their favourite page, and given that there are more than a thousand ROCR originals out there, it could be well worth it.

Still, that's going to take time and research, so much as I'd like to have automated listings available soon, they won't be. In the mean time, if you're interested in buying an original page, any page, drop me a line.

July 3, 2007

On anniversary arts, stupid mistakes, and my failures at getting people to kick my ass.

Two things:

1. Yesterday's anniversary art has been moved to its own section on the archives all the way down the list. Or you can look at the submissions by following the link to my own drawing of Jodoque as an avenging angel and going on from there. I want to thank all the artists involved for responding to me at short notice and drawing art for me. There are few things I find more encouraging.

2. There are few things I find more discouraging than realising that a prominent front page link, like the one to my drawing of Jodoque as an avenging angel has been broken for almost a day and no one has said anything. I used to have a link for emailing me about broken bits on the front page, but nobody used it except spammers, so I took it down. I still have a generic contact link on the front page in the right column, but nobody uses that either - people seem to prefer to try to contact me with email addresses that have been dead for over two years (nevermind how often I've mentioned it being dead during that period), or using a comment to an archive entry that's unrelated to the part of the site that has been broken.

Well, the email link is now back. I'd have it flash and blink and make adorable "click me" noises, but I doubt it would help. If anything's broken? Email reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com and I'll drop whatever I'm doing to fix it. I'll even turn off the gas when I'm cooking dinner. Honestly. And I will be grateful to you for kicking my ass. Emailing any other address, or putting your complaint in a comment where I won't find it until hours later and then go "huh, whatshetalkingabout" at it, will probably just trigger another public sulk like this one.

Uhm, apologies for the inconvenience. Yeah, I make mistakes. I'm a bit thick, really.

July 4, 2007

Caffeine addiction and schedule wobbliness

I was going to keep this to myself, but since it affects both comic production and my general online behaviour, I ought to give you all a heads-up. Don't worry, it's nothing bad.

I'm trying to kick my caffeine habit again. Unlike the last time, a few years ago, I'm not going cold turkey. But I am restricting my caffeine intake to the period before noon. So far, the effect on my mood and intellectual/creative performance hasn't been nearly as bad as it was the last time, but I did get a moderately nasty withdrawal headache yesterday, which the morning's coffee intake didn't manage to dispell, and I did spend the day being muddle-headed and in a foul mood. It also showed in the quality and timeliness of the work I did on today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan update and in the many mistakes I made posting text to the comic and blog sections yesterday.

On the plus side, I've had two great nights' sleep. Coffee had been fucking up my sleep rhythm so badly that for the past two decades I haven't had much of an idea what my real sleep rhythm actually was. And I'm a lot better today. Still not optimal, but almost as good as I've been with regular doses throughout the day (which admittedly wasn't very). In another week or so, I expect to be feeling great.

Nevertheless, I'm doing this at a time when I'm already having trouble keeping up the pace of the comic. There may or may not be an update tomorrow. There will be four regular comic updates this week; I just don't know what days they will appear on. After this week, unless people suddenly start donating money again, I'll be back to three comics a week, which will be a relief.

July 5, 2007

No new comics until Monday

Sorry all — I'm taking a break from updating regularly until Monday, July 9. It's the only way I can stop chasing my own tail, get the production organised again (which it hasn't been since the week both colourists dropped off with computer problems) and get a decent quality of work out of my hands. Let alone do a whole bunch of non-comic things that I've been delaying for too long.

I'll try to catch up with the schedule next week, though. I was going to drop back to three a week starting that week, but once the organisation is back on track, I might be able to do four for a little longer to make up for lost time. We'll see.

July 8, 2007

The state of the assembly line

My very first job was in a powdered milk factory, filling cans on a conveyor belt. One day, the conveyor belt, which was one of three different but connected machines, broke, and the entire assembly line stopped. No one in the entire room worked until the conveyor belt, which was reputed to have been bought from a factory in the German Democratic Republic, was repaired. In the second room, the forklift guys continued working, but it was clear that they too would have to stop if the problem lasted long enough.

The assembly line for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is running again, but like the one at that factory, it's running at half speed while some persistent problems are being worked on. Calvin is available for a few hours a week to do backgrounds. DFG is available to colour, but her Internet connection is still shaky. Mravac's PC is still out of commission, and while he's making do with Paint Shop Pro 5 on an old machine, he can't do colour work on large comics pages that way. And there's my rather urgent need to spend less time on the comic and more time on finding work that actually pays the bills.

The update schedule will be back to Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a few more weeks while I sloooooowly buffer up again. I'd like to do more; we're very close to the end of the story, and I've got some nice stuff written for that. But three is what's doable so three is what you'll get.

July 21, 2007

Feral to resume on Sunday, July 29, on Modern Tales.

The storyline I interrupted last year, Feral will finally resume publication on Sunday, July 29, 2007. It will run as a weekly comic updating on Sunday, on the Modern Tales ROCR archives.

I've been sitting on new Feral material for a long time, and used the fundraiser I did in late May to preview some pages in varying stages of completion, just to make the point that the story wasn't abandoned. The plan then was to resume work on it after Invasion was finished. However, Invasion has turned out to be one of those stories that overrun hideously, and while it is approaching the end, it has been ten pages away from the end for two whole chapters now. Also, there's a strong likelihood of a major continuity change at the end of that story, one which would take the edge off Feral if people didn't get to read that story first. The corners I paint myself into...

Anyway, I've thought about it for a while, and the recent server hiccups on ROCR.net made me realise that I have more than one website to put regularly-updating stuff on, so here's how things will proceed:
- I will publish Feral once a week on Modern Tales;
- I will mirror the already-published episodes of Feral on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen website, on days when Invasion doesn't update, in the hope of gaining some new readers for the series through Webcomicsnation's internal cross-promotion features. This rerun of the story will update three times a week, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, until caught up. It will not show up on the COTWQ front page, though; Invasion is going to keep that spot.
- I may or may not decide to interrupt Invasion at some later point and switch back to running Feral on the ROCR.net front page. I'm leaning towards letting Invasion run its course through the expected continuity change, if only because interrupting a storyline just once was enough of a wrench for me not to want to do it again. I'm still undecided on this point, though.

Feral was, at the time I interrupted it, a very popular storyline and I know quite a few readers are looking forward to it. One update a week should be easily doable. I hope you won't mind bookmarking the ROCR on Modern Tales pages, and that you'll enjoy the new episodes of Feral!

July 28, 2007

"Tamlin! NO!"

We interrupted Feral back in November, 2006, with this cliffhanger:
Last time on Feral.jpg
It's not exactly the threatened end of the Universe, but it did get some long-term readers all excited. And on Sunday, July 29, it's finally time for that cliffhanger to be resolved! From then on, Feral will update every Sunday on Modern Tales.

... the plotline about the woman living alone in the woods who was accused of being a werewolf will also be focused on again. Eventually.

August 4, 2007

Taking some time off from Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

I'm taking the rest of the month of August off from Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Three reasons:

  1. While the quality of the last month's updates was all right, I was finding it harder and harder to make them even at the reduced schedule. I wasn't having as much fun with it and I was getting more than a bit fed up with the work. I need to recharge those batteries.
  2. Statistics for the website show that it's getting hit hard by the summer doldrums. If I'm going to take a break, it might as well be now.
  3. Most importantly, I can no longer afford to go on spending so much time on the comic. My hunt for paying work is finally picking up steam but I really need to work full-time on it until I'm employed and earning a wage. A good one, as I've been sliding into debt over the past few months. I'm working on it, but the compulsion to create comics has been a big distraction. Time out is necessary.

Of course, if, as is the plan, I'm employed by the end of the three-week period, it's quite possible that I'll need more time off as I settle into my new schedule, and in any case I will have less time to write and draw. So further reductions in the schedule are very likely.

Over the next three weeks, starting on Tuesday, August 7, I'll be running the White House in Orbit story "Marauders of Mars" from 2001, on a daily schedule, on this website. The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "Feral" will continue to update on the Modern Tales mirror on a weekly schedule as planned, until I run out of material. If I end up staying away for longer than three weeks, I've got one or two plans lined up that will at least keep the ROCR flame burning through my leave of absense; one of these plans is already in operation and I've noticed that some people have spotted it.

If, on the other hand, my jobhunt fails, I'll probably have at least some new material ready at the end of the three-week period. I can't guarantee how much it'll be, but there'll be some.

August 15, 2007

Quick updates on comics and stuff

I've got good news and bad news on Feral. The good news is that I've moved on from simply finishing up the pages I had lying around and am now writing and drawing new pages. The bad news is that in doing so, I discovered that I'd buggered up the scene planning, and the only way to fix it is to run the new pages starting next week instead of early in October as I'd planned to. DFG and I are on the case, and if all goes well, you shouldn't notice a thing. The pages that are already uploaded will be bumped by the number of extra weeks this insertion will take. If I can't get my stuff together before Saturday, there may be delays, though.

It's a good thing I'd already decided to take a bit of a gamble on me getting that translation job, and spend some time getting ahead with the comics.

I've also drawn one page for Invasion, which I'll probably run on the Webcomicsnation mirror when it comes back from DFG and I've done the additional computer work. I feel a lot more relaxed about scheduling updates on the various mirror/specialty sites than on the main site, which should update as predictably as possible.

Speaking of mirrors, the Drunk Duck rerun project is now well under way. On that new mirror, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will update daily starting from the very beginning. It's a way for me to experiment with another comics management and social networking system while also introducing the comic to a new community. The underlying idea is that there is no such thing as a single webcomics community, but instead, a bunch of scattered communities and collectives that are mostly unaware of one another's existence.
So far, I'm impressed with Drunk Duck's system. I spent far less time on settting up several hundred comics than I was expecting to, because Drunk Duck has good batch upload functionality. It only took a few hours to set up updates until the end of May, 2008. I also like the social networking and recommendation features, and the Trophy system. Giving people virtual trophies for activities ranging from the trivial (signing up, filling out a profile) to the fiendishly difficult (getting into the Top 5) or embarrassingly geeky (posting 2500 forum posts) is, of course, a very silly thing to do, but it does work to motivate people to take part in the social networking and community activities. I can't imagine, say, Webcomicsnation adopting it because it doesn't fit that site's serious-about-comics image, but as a simple idea that works, it's quite brilliant.

August 28, 2007

Employment!

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that starting on Monday, I will be working full-time at Globaltextware, a software localisation company in Groningen. What this means is that I'll be resolving my financial problems, and, even better, I will be resolving them doing intellectually stimulating work, within my degree, in a work environment that I've tested thoroughly over the past week, and with no commute whatsoever. It's the best job offer I could possibly get.

The bad news is the same news. The job is full-time, so there will be very, very little time left for cartooning. If I want to go on running on a regular basis as well, and maybe seeing some of my friends some time - you know, this thing people call having a life - I will have a few weekday evenings when I'm not too tired, plus the weekends except when I'm taking part in a running event. I'll be very lucky to produce one update a week.

I'm at peace with that, mostly, though it makes for a wrenching and scary change in my life. I've got some plans for dealing with that, though, which will allow me to keep my connection to the webcomics world, or at least those part of it that I still like, alive. Here's what I think I'll be doing.

White House in Orbit: I will extend the moratorium on posting new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan material on my main site, rocr.net by another three weeks. During that time, I will post two more White House in Orbit stories: "In Space, No One Can Hear You Groan", and "Target: The Emperor", from 2001 and 2003, respectively. These will run daily, taking us into the end of September, which will be my trial period at the new job.

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan: The "Invasion" storyline will be moved to the crossovers section of the archives and left unfinished for the time being. Occasional updates may show up on the Webcomicsnation mirror, but don't hold your breath. "Feral" will continue to be published on Modern Tales at a rate of one update a week - except this week and the next when there'll be two updates. When I start posting ROCR updates on the main site again, what I post will be the new "Feral" pages, which will appear on the main site at a rate of three a week until caught up with the Modern Tales publication. Confused? Yeah, me too. I can just about keep up with the different schedules. Meanwhile, the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan re-run on the webcomics site Drunk Duck will continue at its old pace of one update a day, with material queued up until the end of May, 2008.

Lives of X!Gloop: Two years ago, I posted some of my earliest comics, a surreal series called The Lives of X!Gloop on my site. These are now being rerun on Drunk Duck as well, also at a pace of one update a day until I run out. I just might scan and process the unpublished pages from that series as well - that's the sort of job I can do when I'm knackered out from a day's work.

I'll post a summary of the above as a front page announcement tomorrow, so don't worry if you can't keep track of everything.

August 29, 2007

New storyline, hiatus extension, site housekeeping and future plans.

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan's hiatus has been extended until September 17. Instead of new ROCR updates, the site will continue its remastered rerun of White House in Orbit stories, starting with In Space, No One Can Hear You Groan.

Starting September 18, ROCR will return resuming the Feral storyline, updating three times a week. Invasion has been moved to the Crossovers section of the archives and may be away for a long time.

There is, by now, a good buffer of "Feral" updates, some of which have already been shown on Modern Tales. Nevertheless, due to my new full-time job, I am going to have to take things very slowly as far as comic updates are concerned. Putting "Invasion", which is set after the events in "Feral" anyway, aside for a while will allow me to harness the help of DFG and Calvin Bexfield, who both did excellent work assisting me on "Invasion".

I apologise for the switching around of schedules, the long hiatuses and the switching between storylines. It just sort of happened that way, especially after I put "Feral" on hiatus for a while, only to be roped into this multi-comic crossover event. Things will, I hope, be more or less normal by the end of the year.

September 24, 2007

Hey, I'm definitely an amateur now

I've just proven conclusively that my current schedule does not allow for last-minute fixes if there's an error in a new page on rocr.net or if I'm unhappy with the art.

I wanted to fix the rather bad second panel on today's ROCR comic. It hadn't bothered me that much when I ran it on Modern Tales or on the Webcomicsnation mirror, but when it ran on the ROCR.net front page, it became a bit of a sore point. Strange how that works. So, after work, it was off to the studio to fix that in the time before running.

I gave it my best shot and had actually got as far as scanning and cleaning the new panel, but two minutes before I absolutely had to be out of there or I'd miss my training, I gave up, saved my Photoshop file and started turning off the lights. Two minutes AFTER I absolutely had to be out of there or I'd miss my training, Photoshop was still trying to save the file, and didn't seem to be doing too well at it. As I got more irritated at the slowness, I hit more buttons - CTRL-ALT-DELETE, then the soft reset switch at the front of the PC, and eventually the hard power control switch at the back of the PC. That stopped it, but that's not good for your hard drives, so I had to take my portable drive along to check if it was OK.

By the time I got home, I realised that a) I was irritated and hungry, and b) in my hurry and irritation, I had done something astoundingly stupid that could have lead to many hours of time wasted on fixing file systems - my portable drive was OK, and I expect the studio PC will be OK after a quick run of Scandisk, but that's not the point. It could have gone very very wrong.

So now I'm not at my training, more than a bit angry at myself, and basically finding my evening already knackered. Not a good way to balance my cartooning with my day job. Let's not do this again.

"Let's not do this again" will probably have consequences for the comic's schedule a couple of weeks down the line. Sorry, but that's how it is. I don't have time to rush things.


On the upside, this was really the first time I felt frustrated about not being able to get my cartooning done. At my last regular employer, I felt like that all the time. It was not a good feeling and feeling like that all the time was not a good way to balance work and life either.

October 27, 2007

Selling art to raise money for print editions

All original art from the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories Headsmen and Devil is now for sale through my Comicspace galleries. Moneys raised will go towards financing new print editions of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, which I should finally be able to get together in 2008.

When I was in my financial crisis earlier this year, sales of original art made a big difference. Now that that's over and I'm no longer living hand to mouth, it's time to get proactive. I want ROCR back in print and I want it to be done well, i.e. colour while available and decent print quality as well as good design, promotion and a good print run. To make this possible, I'm selling off as many originals as I can. This batch of 26 original pages and one drawing is just the start. Pages from Feral will soon follow, as well as more pages from Invasion. Some pages from the latter story are still available through the Webcomicsnation Swapmeet where you can see how they look in black and white. Also, more pages - everything I've ever published online, in fact - are available for sale on request. If there's a page or single drawing in the archives you want, just ask me about it and we'll make a deal!

For this new batch, I've switched from the Webcomicsnation Swapmeet to Comicspace because the latter site allows for much faster data entry and Paypal button generation, especially with already-existing galleries. Downsides include a lack of space to put detailed sales information in, so I can't offer alternate views of the black and white product, or mention that all pages shipped to buyers will include an A4 (297 x 210 mm) print of the finished page, so you also get it in colour.

October 29, 2007

This should help me bring the productivity back up

I haven't had much time to go to the studio, but with this:

Photoshop%20under%20wine2.png
Photoshop 7 running under Wine in (K)Ubuntu 7.10. Click to enlarge

...I should be able to do more of my work at home.

So far, I've only had one problem to solve: Photoshop needs the Microsoft core fonts, otherwise the Text tool doesn't work, even if you don't want to use any of those fonts with the Text tool (also, it doesn't know how to display its menus, but that's not all that serious). Once I'd figured out that that was the problem, it was trivially easy to solve (which I did with these two-year-old instructions). I've stress-tested PS with the Liquefy filter on a large image, and while it didn't like to have to do that, it completed the filter eventually, without crashing.
Also, Save For Web is a little bit quirky when you try to save as PNG (the entry field for entering the number of colours doesn't work too well) and scanning directly into Photoshop doesn't work, though there may be a way to make it. It's a luxury anyway, as I can scan through other applications.
And that's about it. PS 7 has Platinum status at Wine HQ which means that it's supposed to work almost exactly as well as it does under Windows, and as far as I can tell, this is justified. PS 7 is positively ancient, but in this case, that's an advantage. It's got all I need, anyway.

Of course, with my newly reinstalled linux system (and I'm really liking Ubuntu a little better every day), I'm also keeping an eye on GIMP. Version 2.4 has been released and looks very capable. Its interface is still scary but I'm used to it. I do wonder what happened to the internationalisation in it, as I can't find the Dutch-language UI files for it anywhere. It's about the only part of Ubuntu 7.10 that hasn't been properly internationalised. GIMP Internationalisation used to work on my SuSE system. Also, I found a Save for Web plugin for it but it refuses to compile and build.

My plan is to finish my current projects in PS one way or another, but try a new, small project in GIMP at some point, to get back into practice and see how well it's been developed over the past few years.

November 12, 2007

Server changes

Apologies for the problems you may have reaching rocr.net on Sunday. Xepher, my webhost, moved to a different machine that day, and while the change had been in the works for many months, no exact date was known to me. As it happened, there were a few glitches with PHP and Perl scripts on my website, so it took a few hours for everything to fall into place even if you did get the updated DNS info early.

It all seems to be working now, at least from my point of view. The new machine is supposed to be a good deal faster and more spacious than the old one, so we should be good for a few more years.

Good news and bad news about Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

Invasion will resume on November 21, on my Chronicles of the Witch Queen site, after a four-month hiatus.

Feral will go on hiatus again for a while. The front page at rocr.net will run substitute content.

The reason for these changes is that I'm still trying to find my way around how to combine cartooning with a full-time day job. For the past two months, I've been drawing Invasion pages at home during the working week, while working on Feral in my studio over the weekend. That way, pages and projects wouldn't get too badly mixed up or have to be transported too often, but the upshot of this is that I've done mostly digital work on Feral, with the buffer of pen-and-ink art running out, while a pile of pen-and-ink originals for Invasion slowly grew on my desk. I am now doing digital work on those, with help from Drooling Fan Girl who does the colour flats, and they will be finished just in time for a three-updates-a-week schedule starting on Wednesday, November 21 and continuing until that buffer also runs out.

Note how the links above all point to the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site? That's also an adaptation to the new situation. While the CMS on rocr.net is a lot more flexible than that on Webcomicsnation in many ways, it doesn't readily allow me to treat storylines as standalone graphic novels running more or less concurrently (it can, but I'd have to put in time to make new templates). So to keep the two storylines a little more separated for everyone, I'm focusing more on posting and promoting my comics over there. I have moved most of my Project Wonderful-based promotion over to the new storylines at COTWQ, which has the additional benefit of pushing Feral into the Webcomicsnation popularity charts (and occasionally some of the other stories as well). I'll knock that Templar, Arizona off the number one spot yet!

December 5, 2007

Invasion - apologies for the broken archives!

So I just found out that for the few weeks I've been herding readers to a site whose archive pages are badly broken.

Apologies, all. I'll explain the problem and why it will take hours to fix when I have a few minutes, and I'll fix it when I have a few hours. It's not hard to figure out what all the broken pages have in common. In the mean time, you can read a non-broken archive of Invasion on the main site.

Update: The problem's been fixed automatically, which I hadn't expected to be honest. If you don't mind, I won't go into the background of the problem after all.

December 12, 2007

Last new page of the year

Today's comic will be the last new page for 2007. We'll have some extra stuff on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website before Christmas, though: some fan art, some stuff I found on my hard drives that people haven't seen in years, and the White House in Orbit story "Orbital Christmas". And we'll be working on the website setup so it's not so confusing, and I've got a few things in my head that I want to start writing for another artist. So even if it gets a bit quiet in terms of new updates, I'll be keeping busy. I'll be back with regular updates in the new year!

I almost didn't get that last page done in time, because the studio PC gave up the ghost. Suddenly I had to use the Photoshop-under-Wine setup I discussed earlier in a real situation. Apart from the compromised Photoshop functionality, there are some performance issues. I'm still glad I got Photoshop set up here, because the performance issues were nothing compared to those I had with GIMP on my current system. It's odd how a five-year-old release of a program that isn't even supposed to run on linux beats one that was pretty much made for it in both features and performance. And by 'odd' I mean 'a bit of an embarrassment for the linux/GIMP/open source communities.

Even without the broken PC, this would have been the start of a break to rebuild my buffer, slowly. I just can't crank those pages out while holding down a demanding day job. I'm doing some smaller things right now, though - things I can do more quickly and that fit on my home scanner. More on those later.

December 14, 2007

Three things

1.
Feast Wallpapers
2.
CameoComic page 180, art by Reinder
3.
kel_by_Aggie-300wide.jpg

1: Someone asked, so I made some wallpapers based on Wednesday's page for Invasion, which was the last new comic I'll be putting on the site this year. For the first time, I've made some widescreen wallpapers as well.

2: Over at CameoComic, writer and all around good guy Hogan is still struggling to fill the many gaps that arose when the original artist dropped out, so I drew him another page, the 180th. Drawing these is a lot easier than drawing ROCR, so I'll probably draw him another one just to keep up the practice.

3: Gothia of both American Gothic and substitute duties on CameoComic drew me this lovely image of Kel in her realistic art style. It's simple, but quite lovely. She's done this before - she can blow most of us out of the water just by doodling on lined paper.

December 17, 2007

One more thing

CameoComic page 185
Another page for CameoComic, the 185th. I like doing these because they're simple so I can keep up my cartooning practice without committing to large full-colour page workloads. This one was done over the course of a day which I spent most of feeling half asleep and a bit sick, and probably took more time in terms of real work done on it than you can tell from the end result. It happens, and you have to know how you perform when you're not at your best

February 3, 2008

Feral originals now for sale through ComicSpace

This page could be yours!

All original drawings*) for Feral are now for sale through my ComicSpace Galleries. Prices are differentiated according to my own estimate of how good individual pages are, with the pages with backgrounds drawn by Calvin Bexfield being rated highest. Your opinion may differ, though, so do take a look at the whole gallery - your favourite page may just be available at a bargain price. You need a ComicSpace account to see and buy the pages, but registration is easy and I can assure you ComicSpace will respect your privacy. At the time of writing, several people have already registered just to buy pages from me, so you wouldn't be the first to do so.

Pages are drawn in pen and ink on Bristol board. All pages are marked up $10 on the base price for shipping outside the European Union, and $5 for shipping within the EU. All pages sold will be shipped with an A4 colour print showing the finished work.

Pages from Headsmen and Devil are also available, though the galleries for these show the finished work rather than the black and white line art. I'll get around to changing that eventually. Next week, I'll make pages from Invasion available.

And if a page you want has already been sold? I'm thinking of a fun solution for that situation as well. I'll announce that in a future bulletin, so keep your eyes peeled.

*) Except the ones that have already been sold, obviously.

February 5, 2008

More about the art sale, plus Expecting to Play

OK, I'm going to stop showing those line art scans for already-published comics on the front page. It's not doing the popularity of the site much good for me to keep showing you pages you've already seen, albeit in a different form. So, time to move on. I am, however, going to keep pushing the art sales and keeping you informed about them.

First, I want to nip one misunderstanding in the bud: the sale of my original work is not another sign that I'm quitting the comics for good. This time around, I've studiously avoided saying things like "your purchase of the art will help me get back on track" because right now, I can't make such promises. I honestly don't know when I'll be ready to get back to working on Feral or Invasion - only that I'm too busy having a life right now, and I'm not going to get back to having all my waking hours dominated by the need to keep those comics updated. So if you want to buy art, buy it because you like it, not because it subsidizes the comics.

Having said that.... it would be foolish of me not to mention that any money earned from the sales is money I won't have to make some other way, and that raising, say, $2000 from the art sales overall would free me for a month. So if you're swayed by that, do take a look and see if there's an original you'd like to have framed on your wall or collected into a portfolio collection.

That brings me to the second point. Contrary to what I wrote the other day, registration at ComicSpace may be a bit of a hurdle after all. Calvin definitely thought so. I would like to reassure everyone that registration is easy and does not result in spam, and will also allow you to add me as a friend within the ComicSpace system and mark my galleries as your favourites, raising the profile for future sales. If only I'd known a year ago, during the ComicSpace hype, that I'd be using the site this way, I'd have pushed it harder at the time.

I chose ComicSpace for its efficient uploading process and sales automation. If you know a site that allows me to upload whole batches of images, price the items they refer to and handle the sales process automatically, and doesn't hide images according to some arbitrary policy on so-called "mature" imagery, please let me know.I'll investigate it and offer an alternative sales channel if I like it enough.

Meanwhile, on the front page... tomorrow I'll start showing a solo Daniel Østvold comic, Expecting to Play as part of Odds and Ends. This comic has only a tangential relationship with the rest of Chronicles of the Witch Queen but is a lot of fun in a surreal, demented way.

February 7, 2008

Some new fan arts

Ragnarok by Aggie.

I'm very tired right now, but I wanted to quickly mention that Aggie/Gothia of American Gothic Daily has once again come up with some great fan art for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, based on the Feral storyline. What makes the drawings even more impressive is that she did them during her lunch break at work, without reference. You can find the drawings on her newsblog and on Feral's fan art pages, which now look nicely filled up.

She's doing this for a reason, which will also involve me drawing some of her characters. I haven't done that yet, because I'm not as fast as her, and because I can't draw on my lunch break - I've been looking for a quite place to go during that half hour of the day to draw, but haven't really found it yet. I hope I can get around to it this weekend - the awesomeness on display here should at last challenge me to get back to the drawing board even if it's only for a few hours.

February 22, 2008

Feral to return as a weekly comic on February 25

This is going to come out of left field, but... Feral will resume publication on Monday, February 25, as a weekly comic, on all the websites it is shown on. There'll be some other changes as well, but you'll see that when you see that.

I'd been delaying the post in which I explained that waiting for Feral or any of my other comics to return would be hazardous to people's health, with deadlines pushed back to July or even September, and excuses ranging from the pressure of my day job, to my need to spend my spare time doing other things, to me feeling the winter blues, to my new relationship (yeah, I was so looking forward to blaming the girlfriend. That would have been real classy of me). But I've been getting the itch to write and draw back, and for the past couple of day's I've been scratching it... though not necessarily doing what you'd expect.

OK. I'll stop teasing my long-suffering readership now. We'll be back real soon, and I think I should be able to maintain the pace at one a week for the time being. Mark your calendars, spread the word, get those Project Wonderful ads in while they're still cheap, and be here on the 25th!

February 25, 2008

Feral return and art swap

As you'll have seen by now, Feral has returned as promised, and the surprise I had in store was an art swap with Aggie of American Gothic, she of the recent fan arts and the many side comics relating to the Crossover Wars. For the next few weeks, Aggie will be drawing my scripts for Feral and I'll be drawing American Gothic. Both comics will update weekly - less than they used to, but more often than they have lately. We're both using the opportunity to overcome creative blockage, and having a lot of fun doing so.

I've also done some maintenance on the website. I'd heard some criticism of the site design from various corners, and while I haven't been able to address that criticism directly, I do think cleaning up the archive will have made things less confusing and reduced the need for lengthy explanations that the readers then skip over. I have updated the Fan art section on rocr.net and moved things that used to clutter up the archives out of them into their relevant subsections, in particular the Downloads section, which is now much more browsable. No visual redesign has happened yet, but it will in the near(ish) future.

April 17, 2008

Fan arts

Some new fan arts in the Fan Art section , by Eric Sage and Aggie! Kel in mid-transformation, Kel with turtle brooches, The Feral and her Hurdy-Gurdy.

Did you miss me? I don't think this blog will be much more than a newsblog for the comic from now on.

April 22, 2008

3 new Invasion pages on rocr.net

One Year Later, epilogue page 1 Skull necklace? Epilogue page 2 Shrinking the Fish prior to live animal testing, epilogue page 3
I got Aggie's next script to her late and it may be a while before she gets around to drawing it. To give you something to read while we're waiting, I've uploaded three new pages from the big crossover storyline Invasion, which I finally finished over Easter but hadn't posted on this website yet: One Year Later | Fay wants to make a skull necklace | The Fish Experiment. Enjoy!


May 9, 2008

Extra catch-up update plus coloured version of page for April 8

Colour version of Page 48 of Feral Aggie's been very busy (and very lovely, but that's a whole 'nother matter). Not only has she done a
Thursday update in colour to catch up with the one-a-week schedule, but she's also gone back and added watercolours to the update for April 8. That one, in which Krakatoa dreamed of running with a pack of wolves, was already one of the best pages in the sequence she's done, but it's even better now, so go have another look at it.

Of course, uploading it to the mirror site at Webcomicsnation accomplished nothing but the breaking of that particular archive page, because Webcomicsnation has been a bit crappy lately. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Meanwhile, I've also been busy with drawing Aggie's American Gothic, in a new style based on pencil greytones. I like using pencils this way a lot and I'll definitely be using that style more often in future projects. It's a little bit faster because I don't have to wait for ink to dry, but it's mostly more expressive than the tight ink lines I've been going for in the past decade or so. I've also done some work on Invasion and on a remaster project for some of the work published onsite in 2001.

Since I have a very large image in this post and have some space to fill next to it so I don't screw up the lay-out of the blog, let me mention that I'm unlikely ever to order anything from Amazon again, but that that's not Amazon's fault. The problem with ordering from Amazon is that their deliveries to the Netherlands are going to ship with TNT, which means that if you work full-time, you will either end up


1) going to the post office on a Saturday morning, if yours happens to be even open on a Saturday morning, to wait in a Soviet-style line to be told that yes, they were supposed to have your package but they can't find it in any of the three different locations within the space they keep packages in; or
2) finding a note saying they've delivered it to your neighbours at a number that doesn't exist. I think I know which address they do mean, and I have no idea who lives there and whether they can be trusted not to open the box. They're not my neighbours unless they live in the same block.

If ever there's one privatised service that needs to be renationalised, stat, it's the mail.

May 10, 2008

Concluding the art swap, and what happens next

Aggie has already announced it in her newsblog so it's time I did the same. The art swap we've been doing will end in June, and Aggie will return to drawing American Gothic Daily herself. However, she will continue drawing Feral for a little longer. The reasons for that are simple: Aggie is a faster artist than me, she wants to see me write the story towards the end and is willing to twist my arm into writing it, and I want to get back to that other ROCR storyline, Invasion, which I've now scripted to the end. So she'll continue to draw Feral while I write it and work on Invasion (and both of us hold down full-time jobs).

The response to the swap has been interesting. Initially, a lot of AGD fans didn't like my style, but as I evolved towards the pencilled greyscale style, the response became more favourable. That, or the critics abandoned the comic. Meanwhile, response to Aggie's work on ROCR was mostly favourable, but the one commenter who hated it, really hated it.
Today, I took Aggie's coloured wolfpack dream sequence and turned it into a tower ad by shrinking it to the required size, adding a border and a URL, and posted that on a few sites that I thought it would work on through Project Wonderful. It's doing extremely well there, and I think that reflects the appeal of Aggie's art and colouring at its very best. Colour isn't always possible with our schedules, but when she adds it, it works really, really well. Also, tower ads that are simply mini-comics have always done very well for me. I will make some more ads based on her art, and in the light of our plans to stick with her as an artist, she gets full credit on the Webcomicsnation mirror, where I can do that on a per-story basis.

June 26, 2008

Invasion original art for sale

Invasion, page 29
Original art for page 29 of Invasion.

It's taken me months, but I've finally put all originals from the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Invasion up for sale through my ComicSpace Galleries. So if you want an original from this popular series, you can now buy them there. Prices are somewhat negotiable - I've assigned a fixed price to all of them but you can email me if you want to haggle over any one page.

A few points:

1) The pages Calvin Bexfield worked on are more expensive because a) he's fab, and b) we're sharing the loot for these pages.
2) All pages are European A3 format, except for this one, the first to be made, which is A4.
3) I will give each page a final check before sending it out. I don't expect any issues with the state the pages are in, but if any turn up, I'll let you know and cancel the sale if you want.
4) All originals will ship with a colour print of the finished product.
5) Many originals from Feral are also still for sale.

There are 106 pages in the gallery, several of which got very good comments when they were published. The one you loved is almost certainly still there, so why not do some browsing and invest in the arts?

July 3, 2008

The state of the comics

Here's where the comics are at right now:

Feral: Chugging along nicely. Aggie's switched to larger format paper, and while the update frequency is now down to a shaky once a week, the results do look gorgeous. The fact that Aggie's drawing it is helping me focus on the writing as well. As in doing it, and doing it a bit more thoughtfully and effectively than I have been in the past.

Invasion: Going very slowly. It's literally been progressing at a rate of a few lines a day, or a few bits of Photoshop colouring a day. That's all I have time and energy for after work and going to the gym or the running club to blow off steam after work, which I'm afraid has become very necessary for me to maintain emotional stability. Day jobs suck.
Still, some progress is being made and I've been able to free up some more hours this week than I have in the weeks before. There are some pages of art on my desk and the whole thing is scripted all the way until the end.

I have a new collaboration with Aggie in the brainstorming stage. We now plan to aim at a younger audience - what I have in mind is a present-day science fiction adventure. It's gonna take time to develop, but when we do, it will be very thoroughly thought out.

Crossovers/Spin-offs: I also have a fun crossover planned with another webcartoonist. This will be a standalone story that will be kept separate from the ROCR archives. It's probably best to think of it as more of a spin-off. ROCR itself will never do crossovers again. Seriously. If I want to mix it up with someone else's characters, I will set up a separate series for the purpose.

Remasters: The Drunk Duck mirror has been running for almost a year now, at a rate of one update a day. Lately, it's featured remastered versions of The Faerie and the Earth-Pig at a larger image size of 560 pixels wide. While preparing those, I found two updates that had been missing from the regular archives: the comic for February 13, 2001 and the one for February 28, 2001. Both have been restored to the regular archives, at their remastered size. The entire story will eventually appear on the main site in remastered form.

That's all the news, really. Stuff is moving, but very slowly.

July 6, 2008

State of the comics, updated

1. There's an update for Feral scheduled for tomorrow, thanks to Aggie coming through quickly with new art.

2. The two updates for Invasion I mentioned earlier have been scanned and one of them has been sent to a new colourist.

3. I also have some new character art up on Odds and Ends for you to check out and hopefully discuss. I'll try to have something up every day, because I need the practice.

About Work: ROCR discussion

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Waffle in the Work: ROCR discussion category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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