Point of Contact

Warren Ellis has got me thinking about Point of Contact again

Warren Ellis » SPACEGIRL And Why Your Funny Webcomics Bore Me.

Wouldn’t this be a demented, lovely, quixotic thing? If a bunch of people said fuck all you people who do nothing but newspaper comedy strips on the web, we’re going to do newspaper dramatic strips and do crazy stuff.

I didn’t do an adventure strip, but I did try to do an adventure serial with US comic size pages. Point of Contact fell victim to my usual lack of time/discipline and an uncertainty about where the story was really going. I came in with a plan for hundred plus page tale, but began to lose my way quite quickly.

I still want to do some graphic storytelling, and maybe I’ll make Mr. Ellis’ day by having it be a newspaper strip (or blogstrip, sized more appropriately for screens and the three column layout I prefer). I certainly have a bunch of half ideas ready to throw at one another. Whilst unpacking I’ve been stopped by Timularo and Akira and want to do something crazy and apocalyptic.

Possibly with ninja. And zombies.

Let me see how soon I can clear space for the drawing board.

Lost Contact

It’s fairly obvious by now, but Point of Contact has stalled. I hit a few weeks when I didn’t have the time to get a page done. Then those weeks became a month and on it went. It’s a shame, because I did some pages I was really proud of on the story. (I did some other pages which just make me wince, but we won’t mention those.)

Hopefully the story will return, but when it does I’ll have to back track a few pages. The action had shifted to Afghanistan, and that just wasn’t working. Add the fact that the situation in Afghanistan is pretty fluid and, at the rate I was drawing pages, events were likely to overtake the story before I’d even finished an issue’s worth of art. I shall go away and, should Point of Contact return, come back with a better first outing for the kids in their power suits.

I still want to do some sequential art storytelling, but future projects will have to be handled differently. It’s unlikely, next time I draw any comics, that I’ll publish any stuff here until after I’ve finished drawing it. I’d like to do some shorter tales, and possibly something similar to the old style newspaper strips. I’m thinking of dividing the comic pages into three horizontally and treating each of those tiers as a day’s strip, with occasional full page spreads to break up the rhythm. However, I only have some very rough ideas of what sort of stories to do. Keep coming back to find out where I end up going with this one.

Point of Contact- No great threat

No great threat

I’m sure the language used to describe the hostiles would be much more colourful, but I’m trying to keep this the equivalent of a 12A. So occasional swearing, some violence, but not too graphic, and some talk about sex but no on page nudity. I have some ideas for a 15 equivalent tale, and some more adult stuff, but that’s for another day.

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Point of Contact- A bloody big container 1

After a month long lay off, Point of Contact returns with a change of location. With luck and a little bit of effort I should be back on a weekly footing. The next two days will be dedicated to drawing pages, which should get me two or three weeks ahead again.

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Yes, I know these things are supposed to be weekly not fortnightly.

What has passed

There have been a few things in the last week and a half which have distracted me or taken me away from work. With the exception of a friend’s birthday celebrations none of them have been good. So productivity has been poor.

I managed to get a page of Point of Contact done for last week, but not for this. With stuff that’s coming up I don’t think there’ll be a new page for several weeks. The next page introduces some important characters and sets up part 1’s big finish, so I want to make a better job of it than I feel capable of at the moment.

One thing I did manage was getting a book onto Amazon’s Kindle platform. Post and Publish collects three novellas and four short stories for the ebook reader (and many i-devices too). No sales yet, but it’s a little more length in my long tail. I’ve just uploaded Ruby Red, with luck it should be live by the weekend.

The bike business is steady, after a particularly good week a fortnight ago. I haven’t got rid of any of the bikes I was working on, but others have left the building and given me a little more space. I’m also now the proud owner of a bike trailer, which should make carting stuff around easier.

What shall come

I may have lost any momentum I had earlier in the year. It’ll come back to me, but I’m going to take a week or three to deal with some stuff I think. Projects will be rebooted/finished as soon as possible and there’ll probably be some campaigning and political stuff to liven things up. I can’t give any definite plans for the next week or so.

Longer term I think there may be a market on the Kindle for shorter works sold cheaply- 10,000 to 40,000 word novellas, possibly as parts of a series- so I’ll kick off some ideas along those lines.

Next time I hope to bury you under news of projects nearing completion, starting up and in planning.

Point of Contact- Stroking the robot

Stroking the robot isn’t meant to be a euphemism. Sally doesn’t try to take in stray puppies and lambs, but she did once want to adopt a rusty old tractor and restore it.

I’m not very happy with how Alice has come out in this page. And my own experiments with beard growing haven’t helped me make Dan’s any better.

Point of Contact- EVA notes

No new Point of Contact page this week. With the last two pages it’s been obvious that I didn’t put enough work into designing the aliens before I dropped them into the story. So before I introduced the next big element in the story I thought it would be best to sit down and work out what they look like. The Extra Vehicular Activity suits are going to be iuntroduced in the next page and see action over several following pages. The rough designs, and a bunch of notes, were put together over coffee and hot chocolate on Wednesday. Some of the key elements occured to me as I was drifting off to sleep on Tuesday night, but I was too tired to even think of making notes. Luckily the ideas were still there when I woke up.

Point of Contact- Best Value

That was a little more wordy than I’d originally planned. I’ve started using Manga Studio Debut 4 for the lettering and it’s obvious I have to find a way to make the balloons more interesting. I’ve also detoured slightly from the original thumbnailed page pacing, which makes this one a little stilted. A bunch of big action pages start soon. I should be able to get the pacing back on track with those.

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Point of Contact- they can always speak English

I cut it a little close with this page. Not last minute, but close. I had a three page buffer going on for a while, but life and distractions ate into it. I’ll see if I can get a couple of pages done in the next week and get ahead again.

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Point of Contact – Standing on India 1

I'm standing on India!

Originally this was going to be “I’m standing on Africa!” The day I thought of it I couldn’t get it out of my head and really wanted to stand up and proclaim it. Which isn’t a good thing when you’re sketching layouts in the pub.

For various reasons it has become standing on India. At first I was going to use NASA’s Blue Marble images as reference, and the copies I could find didn’t give me a good view of Africa. (Of course, when I went looking for images to demonstrate this dilemma, I found a view of Africa.) Then I realised that, based upon the timeline of the story, most of the continent would still be in the dark, even if it were midsummer. So I moved East a bit.

In the end I found a model of Earth for Bryce, which can now provide reference for all future shots looking down from space. Shading and the cloud layer were added in Photoshop Elements 8.

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Point of Contact- what a hangover

What has Sally seen? What is so beautiful? Find out next week.

You may notice that the panel sizes in this page are different from previous pages. This is because I crop the web comic pages to (or very close to) the edge of the art. Most of the previous pages have been full bleed, extending not just to, but beyond, the edge of the printed page at the size I plan to publish it. (More or less, I’m drawing Point of Contact to the dimensions suitable for a US comic, but I plan to publish it through Lulu, and their comic pages seem to have different dimensions again. This is something which has elicited much swearing from me and will no doubt elicit much more.) This page none of the art escaped the panels. There didn’t seem much point in reproducing the white space of the border.

You’ll also note a change in the lettering size and the use of bubbles. I think the text may still be too large, I shall be playing around with font sizes over the next few pages until I’m happy then going back and re-lettering all the previous pages for the print edition.

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Point of Contact- hard contact

This page has been through a number of changes from the original planned layout. Originally it and the next page were going to be a cut away to reactions in the White House to stuff dropping out of the sky. However that was going to mess with the flow of the two pages after that, spoiling what will be a big reveal in the printed version. So it became our heroes being tossed about as the spaceship hits. The hit was originally going to need art only in the top left and bottom right corners, with a fade from white to black and back again in between. Eventually I ended up with this page.

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Point of Contact- too close an encounter

A big, big spaceship bearing down on our heroes. How will they get out of this?

A continuity note- I was making a complete hash for drawing George’s stripey top, so I’m going to stop. I’ll remove the stripes in all the previous pages when I redo some of the art for the print version.

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Point of Contact, page 4

I’m not sure whether the ship swooping out of the pack, approaching and becoming increasingly ominous works. Every page involves learning a bit more, and then applying that to future pages. I’m going to try to get the production rate above one page a week, so that I have more of a buffer of finished pages. 3 of the next 4 pages are splashes, so that ought to help.

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