77. Webcomic Wonders

Welcome back to “Asteroid Stu and the Mind-Duel.” When we last left our heroes, Edzl the Nebboid and wonderdog, Norbert the Wiener, they had been abducted by the nefarious Captain Krool of the upside-down head and his bodiless bunch of henchmen, the No-Bodies. Krool has been extorting the dangerous, xenophobic aliens, the Rhombulans, by threatening to export a video showing Earthlings eating canned spaghetti, something the Rhombulans (and perhaps other races, who knows?) would find utterly disgusting. Krool evidently expects the Rhombulans to pay him not to broadcast the video recording. Imagine Krool’s surprise when his thugs scan Edzl and Norbert only to discover they are not humans! Now you are up-to-date. Feel free to check out the last five postings to savor all the previous comic pages.

If you are one of the rare and exalted fortunate few who have been following the thrilling adventures of Edzl and Norbert, you will no doubt note something has changed. Pin a medal on me, because I’ve learned how to display the comic in a much more convenient and elegant slide-show format! It took all of a 5-minute chat with WordPress tech support.

Sometimes I’m quite blind to the resources available to me.

What opened my eyes was a webcomic by Matteo Farinella. Dr. Farinella may well be the only professional cartoonist in existence who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience. (Maybe not; after all, it’s a big multiverse!) I’ve been following his blog for some time and recently, he provided a link to a 4-part work he did for ERC (European Research Council) Comics called “The Over Exciting Brain Zoo.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been doing some research on webcomics. I read How To Make Webcomics, by Scott Kurtz, Dave Keller, Kris Straub, and Brad Guigar, and got a copy of Guigar’s sequel, The Webcomics Handbook. Plus I’ve looked at some well-known webcomics from the past, like Kate Beaton’s Hark a Vagrant!

From my research, I got the erroneous idea that there’s a special WP plug-in needed to make a webcomic that had this slide show capability, along with other features. To get the plug-in, you had to upgrade to the much more expensive “Business” plan in WP. So I’d kind of given up on a more sophisticated presentation, and just kept plopping scanned copies of my comic pages on this site.

Seeing Farinella’s comics changed things for me. His seems a perfect approach to webcomics that opens up the traditional hard-copy format in a way that Scott McCloud, author of Reinventing Comics (and other famous books on the art of comics), advocates. Farinella’s “Brain Zoo” comic sometimes loads panels, one-by-one, in the same viewing area. Sometimes the speech balloons in the same picture will change content, and to add to the fun, there’s a few modest touches of animation. I love it! His comic also has color, which is always a plus for me.

So even though it seemed beyond my reach or abilities, I wanted to figure out how he did it. Typically for me, I thought there must be some program, app, widget, or high-tech know-how involved and I was flailing about, trying to scope the dope.

I talked briefly to the visiting daughter of a long-time neighbor, Marie Thresher, illustrator, animator, and designer. Without even seeing Farinella’s comic, she had some insights that got me thinking. The next morning I woke up realizing that I could do something very like the method Farinella used. Thank you, Marie! I needed a slide-show function and that lead to the 5-minute WP support chat. I still don’t know much about animation. I hope to learn more. In the meantime, there’s a lot I can do.

I had the basic tools all in front of me, all I had to do was “pause and reflect” to see how to use them!

Speaking of which, Pause and Reflect Comics: The Webcomic is now in the works. I’ve currently got 3 slide-show sections in draft form waiting to be fine-tuned.

In about 4 more postings, “Asteroid Stu and the Mind-Duel” will be completed and I hope to start posting the new webcomic. As I’ve previously mentioned, P&R will be a hodge-podge of different things. Poems; non-linear, post-modern comics; demons; devas; hungry ghosts; and more. I plan some “Do-It-Yourself Dharma” pages to focus (with a light, “comic” touch) on Buddhist basics. Through it all will be episodes featuring Edzl (a slimmer and more confident version) and a meandering sci-fi story that will be largely improvised. Chimera Spoor will be my mad comic scientist’s laboratory, where I try to fit all the pieces together and shoot some lightning through the whole mess to bring it to life.

Please stay tuned!

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