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I’m taking it on faith that most readers will be smart enough to understand that Alex either speaks just before, or just after she necks her drink. Since my comic requires a fairly intense level of devotion, it does tend to have a better sort of reader, so my worry is minimal. It’s not the best way to do the page really, but sometimes you need to fudge things for time & space. I’m also relying on your concept of object permanence to do the lifting as far as knowing Jess & Jo are off camera. Also not a very good way to make a comic. When making anything there’s usually the version that exists in your head, & the version you can actually make. I’ve learned to accept that those visions are often very different. It’s not the kind of thing you can do when you’re building a roller coaster, or suspension bridge, but, luckily for everyone, my job is not quite so vital or dangerous when I fail to hit my mark.

When I first started making his comic there was a real boom in thinking about what the best ways to make comics were. The discussions were generally going on in groups of people who were, objectively, terrible at making comics. As the years have rolled on some of those people failed, some improved, others succeeded in spite of never getting better, or even trying very hard in the first place. Primarily because, in my considered opinion, life is not fair, & skills are not evenly distributed.

That’s all as may be, but I think back on those times whenever I cut a corner for time. Obviously I think about those times a lot. I remember being talked down to by people who eventually couldn’t hack it & gave up. Which allows me a brief moment of joy as I revel in their failure. Not for too long, just for a brief, extremely petty, moment. For I, like most artists, am a machine that runs on validation & vindictiveness. XD


I too recall the heyday of web comics. Least I Could Do was the worst, that I saw, at being jerkwads to other creators, especially since their comic was never more than “okay”. I used to try out new comics all the time but so many creators didn’t really do a great job and didn’t listen to criticism. Mostly it did boil down to them NOT considering the perspective of the reader–we were supposed to be entertained by stories moving at a snail’s pace, WITH constant empty pages (like those who love to do both an opening page to a chapter and a closing one, despite chapters only lasting about 10-15 pages), or who expected us to remember characters we saw one time literally hundreds of pages ago (so, years ago, if we’re regular readers). I quit bothering with one, despite the fantastic artwork, because she basically spent all of her time drawing commissions and wouldn’t reliably update her already slow and padded comic that only consisted of half-pages (she said it was the only way to pay the bills, which I get, but I’ve seen people keep up a webcomic while working a full time job more reliably). Or one gaming comic which just stopped making comics about, you know, gaming. I just quit another one because he just threw us in a new setting (that was sort of under the umbrella of the old setting) with no explanation of what the rules are; even after a year or two, every other page is trying to explain to us the physics of where we are, so I’m endlessly confused. One of my favorites decided to sideline most of the established cast and just focus endlessly on lesbians and trans characters; I’m totally cool with them, some of them were really good characters, but that was ALL we got anymore, more and more lesbians talking about being lesbians and all the other characters from years of updates just vanished.

Sorry for ranting, I never really had a good place to vent about that. Point is, you’re doing a great job Jackie, I still follow after quite a long time. I like your characters, and your pacing, and if there is any possible confusion, you explain it, or even edit the comic slightly to make it more clear, instead of whine that we plebeians don’t understand your art. Your people seem like people and not cartoon characters; that’s actually hard to do.

I am not good at drawing, though I can do inanimate objdcts decently. They are, more or less, mathematical geometry.
I do seem to be able to write, but long-form work pretty well requires me to do heavy revision of the beginning once I have written the end. So writing a serial is a bit scary. Though serializing something after I have a complete draft isn’t so bad.

I have fantasized about making a webcomic.
Is there any hope in this?

I’ve never made more than a half-finished page or two, but “just go for it” and “just finish something” always resonated with me. Maybe try to write a comic equivalent of a one act or a short story? I’m sure you would learn a lot!

If I learned anything from TV, movies, stage performances it is this. The audience needs to know who is talking. Unless it’s one guy on screen playing with a cinnamon bun while someone of camera makes the noises of agony for the cinnamon bun.

To be frank, if you’re not good at drawing, and don’t care that much about drawing, and like to write but take a long time to do so, you should just be a writer. Write short stories, or erotica, or books, or write for an indie game company (seriously, video games need better writers). Or team up with an artist to make a webcomic (see Least I Could Do and Penny Arcade for successful examples).

I used to read a load of webcomics; off the top of my head, the list included Least I Could Do, Something Positive, General Protection Fault, Goblins, Megatokyo, Looking For Group, 8-Bit Theatre, Kid Radd, XKCD, Captain SNES, and one about a gaming company.

Manhwa, too, like DICE, The Gamer, and all the standard manga like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach.

Some of them finished, but most dragged on so long and got so damn boring and tedious that I just unsubscribed from their feeds (Looking at you, Megatokyo).

Megatokyo isn’t boring. It just updates so slowly I come to it once a year and binge-read about twelve episodes. I’m likely to die before the current plot arc finishes.

Time is weird in comics. Jackie, if you don’t have it already, I would encourage you to buy the book [i]Understanding Comics[/i] by Scott McCloud. I think you would enjoy it, especially the discussion of how time works and the discussion of object permanence. (In my honest opinion, you are already creating comics at the level of “master” so I’m definitely not saying you need help understanding comics.)

I also loved his discussion of the tradeoffs between a lower and higher level of detail; even if you had unlimited time you still might choose a bit lower level of detail, because it lets your readers fill in some of the details and see themselves better in the characters. (For the book, Scott McCloud drew himself talking to you on the pages, and he chose to use a simple and cartoony avatar for himself. To make a point, for just one panel he drew himself with a high level of representational accuracy and the contrast was jarring!)

I was not as impressed by [i]Reinventing Comics[/i] and I guess I never read [i]Making Comics[/i], so I don’t recommend you spend your own money on them; but that original one is a home run and I really do recommend it.

I think your first panel is fine, by the way. As Scott McCloud said in his book, there is a long tradition in comics where you see an action scene yet people are talking, and you just have to fill in mentally that the talking must have happened before or after the split-second shown. I didn’t even think anything of it, I just accepted the dialog and the action shown.

I continue to enjoy this comic and I thank you for making one of my favorite comics. I have deeply enjoyed this storyline in particular; it’s totally original and engaging. And I care about your characters and what happens to them, [i]and[/i] I love your art. Just keep doing what you are doing and feel proud of your work; you deserve to feel proud.

Yeah, I didn’t think anything of the first panel (except that the mug looks pretty cool).

Yep, I just assume that Alex embodies so much awesomeness that she can do whatever the heck she wants. Talking while drinking? Check. Seeing clearly through her thick bangs? Check. Memorizing the history of the entire town and solving decades-old mysteries before next morning’s breakfast? Checkity check check. There’s never any doubt. She’s Alex!

Understanding Comics: strongly recommended, at least for those of us who enjoy philosophizing about these things.

Different strokes for different folks. I found Making Comics to be the real gold in that trilogy and have read it multiple times, even though I am not a comic artist.

I do visit the local indie comic convention (S.P.A.C.E. here in Columbus, OH. It would be fun to see Jackie pop up there sometime.) most years, and I always walk out thinking “I bet I could do that, too.” But I don’t really have any stories in me itching to get out. I stick with doing crafts and aimlessly doodling around with videogame creation tools.

Sorry, I thought standard BBS markup worked on this site. Please just pretend the stuff surrounded by [i] and [/i] is in italics.

I didn’t really think much of Alex seemingly drinking and talking at the same time. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it in some manga, and I’ve been known to basically do what you described myself. No big deal.

can confirm lack of worry bout alex drinking and talking. i took it as saying the first bubble, taking a big ol drank, then doing the second bubble after.

One of the biggest things that I appreciate with your comic is that not only do you still update constantly but the quality always feels consistent as well. I can always show up with confidence that I’m going to see another page of these characters that I have grown attached to. Even if you have to take a day off, I know that the comic will return.

There was a time in my life that I was reading a crap ton of webcomics and also constantly trying out new ones but I got really burnt out by the amount of times a comic would just stop out of no where and never get updated again. I understand that making webcomics can’t be easy but as a reader I really hate getting invested just to get hit with the webcomic version of a series being cancelled. Sometimes you don’t even get a message saying that the comic is cancelled, it just never updates again. These days I read 4 webcomics, thats it. Gave up on so many. Not always for the stated reason. Its rough cause if a webcomic feels like it never changes/grows then I get bored and drop it. Other times it changes way too drastically and now its suddenly not the comic I enjoyed anymore.

There’s nothing quite so satisfying as meeting that one peer who was so snobby when you were just starting out, and asking them how their failed life project is going. Then getting to respond that yours is still going strong, and you can just SEE the anger and embarrassment they’re barely holding back.

Schadenfreude is a beautiful thing.

I didn’t notice Alex’s nose and mouth through the glass at first, so it looked like she was a faceless character model straight out of something like Granstream Saga.

Seriously, though, you can’t run a business on accounts receivable. You need cash flow. Don’t start running tabs for people, man. Your business is already hanging on by a thread as it is.

Though, honestly, at the rate things are going? Ramon’s business needs to be bought out by Baskin-Robbins or something and he needs to wind up a millionaire, just to have his boundless faith rewarded. :D

Maybe Ramon has a side business. I had this idea he used to work for the Cartel before he found his shop. But then again, I’m not Jackie.

My only critique or observation of the BF experience, isn’t about the comic, but the author’s blog posts paired with. The author is plainly quite talented and dedicated, and committed rigourously to their schedule. Despite consistently delivering an entertaining well-made product, the author regularly gives voice to their worry over the style, quality, or legibility of the product, and listens to those who provide constructive feedback. While some may criticise this (it may read like the author fishing for compliments), the system works and the author is not a diva. If the author truly does worry about how their work is received (and there isn’t cause not to believe them), they deserve to feel better about themselves and their work. If they aren’t unhappy in life, the author shouldn’t change what they do. They have found a way to produce a consistent, entertaining, well-written and well-drawn product, and even the blog beneath the comic provides a more intimate understanding of the characters[1]. I wish I had the volition to accomplish in a month what the author does in a day.


[1] Use of the blog is done without it becoming required reading. Truly the authors use of the blog comes across as effectively as Terry Pratchett’s use of footnotes. Somehow they’re never required reading for the main text, and yet if one ignored the footnotes (or the blog) there is so much detail and colour that the reader would be poorer indeed.

I see it more as the author asking for constructive criticism and being eternally frustrated by getting only praise. Graciously, he accepts it.

As I don’t draw artistically myself, I don’t look at the comics I read with an eye towards critique. But if honest feedback is sought, it looks like the top and bottom of the mug aren’t parallel. The top is angled just a bit too much so it looks like the rest of the mug should be higher, *or* the rest of the mug is fine and the top should be tipped back a bit. But maybe the mug is supposed to be shaped that way, or maybe it’s just a close perspective thing and I am just not reading it right.

My criticism on this comic is not how is Alex drinking and speaking, but how is she holding the glass as her fingers seem to be 90 degrees from what you would expect. :o

I disagree, I just posed myself drinking from a mug with my right hand and it looked exactly as Jackie drew it. Are you sure you aren’t seeing the mug shape and interpreting that as her hand?

Agree. Dyfed is seeing the flutes on the near outside of the mug as Alex’s fingers. Her fingers are the fainter curved lines perpendicular to the top two flutes, seen through the mug.

I don’t see the problem with the first panel. I just read it as standard comic shorthand for “Alex drank up, made some remarks and moved on”

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