2/27/06 (Page 35) - I meant four days late. Obviously. If you read between the lines. (Oh, bother. Bad Thorin! Bad!)
Meet Amber's family. I don't know who most of them are yet myself, either. :) I had to pick four new previously unused fonts, though! And fonts that are actually readable in small type aren't an infinite resource, so I'll probably be making use of them again.
This page was the first for which I tried something slightly new: I colored the page at a size roughly twice as big as the final image's size in each dimension, and then shrank it and added the lettering. I hoped to get better detail this way, and I actually think it worked. At least, the coloring was fairly easy this time. I think I'll do it this way again.
Since red foxes are non-monogamous and the males go roving, I figured their families would be matrilineal. So, the kits all bear the name Curran. Males, however, do not take their mates' names--thus, the shelter on page 13 (in barely readable lettering) bears the legend "CURRAN - ROWLEY".
Note that the family crest hanging from the banner is based on the actual Curran family crest from Ireland. ;-)
2/23/06 - Clem's gonna be a day late this time. Four consecutive night shifts at Target spells Doom Week. :}
2/16/06 (SOH 2) - While trying to think of material for Seven of Hearts, it occurred to me that I have a wealth of it--my dreams! I therefore present to you a kind of amalgam of one of my recurring dream themes: the Hotel Dream.
Most of the scenes and commentaries I've put in here have been part of one of my dreams at some point. The others are interesting memories from reality, the sort of things I could imagine dreaming of (and maybe I have!)
One thing disappointed me, though--these Seven of Hearts things are supposed to be easier than Fabulous Clem. This one wasn't! I was a little less picky about the details, but it was so big and complex that it took teh same amount of time to make.
Plus, the text isn't perfectly readable throughout. Oh, well. You live and learn. My next SoH should be nice and simple. ;)
THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY: What does it mean to dream about a hotel, or another endlessly explorable building? What's the most mysterious cranny, structoral feature, unmarked door, etc., you ever found while exploring a building? Why does an elevator stop when it gets to the top of the building?
2/12/06 (Page 34) - Here's Clem at last, three days late. I have no excuse at all. My only explanation is that I grew so used to not stressing over this comic that I just...well, didn't.
What is that airbrushing in the grass? Is it flowering reeds, or othe flowers? Miscellaneous vegetation? Mud or moss? The mysteries of night travel in material form? You decide.
I think I'm getting much better at detailing my foxes, in pencil, ink, and pixels alike. Alas, how many details are lost when I compress the image to 750 pixels in width! As always, the lazy search for better conversion and coloration methods continues.2/2/06 (SOH 1) - Well, readers, I warned you! Last week, there was no update because I was busy entertaining people from the world of cyberspace--in particular, a couple of my fellow wizards from the Endless Round MUCK, a textual roleplay world based on The Lion King, one of whom has been staying with me this last week and a half, with the other dropping by occasionally. I was busy enough between work and funtimes that Fabulous Clem completely slipped my mind last Thursday. This week, I have something different for you.
As I have previously expounded, drawing a weekly full-page, full color comic has proven to be just a little more than I can comfortably handle. It didn't seem reasonable to cut down to one update every two weeks, though, because one has to admit that's kind of lame. So I'm trying something new.
The plan is to have Fabulous Clem on alternate weeks, and on the off weeks to draw some kind of idea-based strip that stands alone. I won't worry about art quality for these strips (and yes, I do worry about art quality for Clem, believe it or not), which will probably make them easier to make. I'm not sure just what they'll be about, but I'm expecting them to be emotionally charged and somewhat wondrous. For reasons I may explain later, I'm calling this off-week series "Seven Of Hearts."
In the future, I intend to have two separate tracks of archives, as well as other things specific to Seven Of Hearts. For now, I'll just mix this first one right in with the Clems. It's a practice comic I drew while I was developing the idea for Fabulous Clem. I hope it's not too hard to follow.
THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY: Is it ever right to thank your parents for giving you the genes you have? If you could be born into a new life as any creature, what would you choose? Would you take your descendants' desires into account?
I hope my few lovely readers enjoy Seven Of Hearts. Please let me know if you have comments on this solution.
1/19/06 (Page 33) - Well, I have gotten quicker over the weeks. It's just not enough, though, and I'm tired of being nervous and sleepless every Thursday. Don't be surprised if something easier to create shows up here next week, and Clem starts being done on alternate weeks. :/
One good little detail--I am more satisfied now with how I'm touching up the foxes. That is, their eyes, and Clem's cream-colored throat and belly. I think they're kind of attractive now, instead of just a pain. This is valuable to me because one thing I will never do is to give these characters cute huge cartoony eyes. It would be so easy to make them all twice as appealing to the reader by blowing up the eyes, but I have my principles. :-) Not that I have anything against cartoons that use such techniques...it's simply that I choose not to.
1/13/06 (Page 32) - One day late this time. I blame Friday the 13th. ;)
Another gradient this week, and this time neither of the base colors was white! Baby steps, you know.
If you don't remember the floor and wall from the reception hall being striped diagonally in wild colors, it's not just you. Those stripes are atmospheric.
(If you noticed the receptionist's chair has changed shape, however, kudos to you--if I had fans, you'd be just the sort of fan I'd want! Naturally, she got a new chair from one of the offices when someone stole her round-backed one.)
1/5/06 (Page 31) - Okay, so I was lying. I got a new scanner, and that's my excuse for missing a week. It works, though, that's the good news!
I'm really having more trouble making this lousy weekly schedule than I'd like. I don't want to only have something every two weeks, though, because I used to read a couple comics like that and it's really disappointing when it doesn't turn out to be something great. So I'm thinking maybe I could alternate Fabulous Clem with something else, some stick figure theatery thing that'll eventually become unexpectedly and hugely popular and define the rest of my life.
In the meantime, here's page 31. This is one of those times when I just gave up on connecting the speech balloons together, because they're all over the place. They read from right to left along the bottom, because that's the direction the characters are walking! Is that dumb? Is it hard to figure out? I don't know!
12/29/05 - Guess what? I got a scanner of my own for Christmas, which, if it works, will streamline the process and make Clem more reliable. For now, however, it has the opposite effect--since I haven't set it up yet, what with holiday this and snifflynose that, I don't have a page for you today. Sorry--but I do have it drawn and inked, and it'll surely be ready sometime...um...this year!
12/22/05 (Page 30) - Today's strip is a milestone for three reasons. First, there's that cute little zero at the end of the page number that proclaims it to be a multiple of ten, and thus superior to other pages with inferior numbers. Yay for page 30!
Second, it marks my first use of a gradient in Fabulous Clem. You wouldn't think it would have taken this long for to get around to using one, since I've used gradients in other contexts, but the program I'm using just doesn't do them. I finally have a version of Photoshop that I'll try and use to do the whole digital process in future. For now, it just brings you this one simple but attractive visual effect.
Third, this is the page that finally reveals the premise of the strip. I never dreamed it would take so many pages to get there, but I'm pretty happy with the lead-up. Now I just need to stick with this for another three years or so and I'll be done with a story arc. ;)
12/15/05 (Page 29) - For the first time in what feels like ages, I have a strip done BEFORE the day it's scheduled to go up. That doesn't mean I didn't feel rushed and nervous, and it doesn't mean I'm not pissed at the program I'm using, but it's something.
This is the fourth page that contains digital elements--i.e. program windows with text. I kind of like them. On the whole they're a little more work to create, but I expect I'll be reusing the Softwood Instant Messenger window, which makes it worthwhile in the long run.
12/8/05 (Page 28) - Here I am, back again! November is over, and with it National Novel Writing Month. For those who are curious, I did not "win" at NaNoWriMo this year--I only managed 21,000 words. But I did come up with a nifty novel idea that I intend to finish and revise eventually. So I didn't lose in spirit.
Fabulous Clem is back, but it's still proving difficult for me to find the time for it. I hope to start using Photoshop or some other program that allows me to save time by combining several steps of the process for me. That may make me more eager to work on the strip, thus saving even more time!
In this strip, the identity of the original narrator is revealed. Anyone who bet on him being a kangaroo can now collect at 100:1 odds...
Note the use of mild Gaussian blur in the middle center and upper right, but not over the rest of the picture. I'm toying with the idea of using selective blur to distinguish between levels of reality.
11/3/05 - Well, I eat my words. A few days into November, I now do see the point in taking a break from Clem. I'm sorry, folks. I have a way of giving myself a lot of unscheduled time and then filling it all with projects. I'm not going to be able to produce the comic this month, not while trying to write a NanNoWriMo novel, finish a couple of stories, open a MUCK, attempt to begin a tutoring hobby/career, transfer my cell phone service, and work thirty hours a week.
The good news is that I'm getting help from a friend. I may soon start using a better graphics program and a more fficient process from creating Fabulous Clem, which will mean less need to do this in the future. In addition, I'll finish the strip I'm currently working on and, at mininum, post that sometime during the month. I wish I had a sketchbook to draw on, but since I haven't, I'll try to fill the gap in some other way. Dialogue, if nothing else.
Never thought I'd have to pull this so early in a run. Hope I can come back strong.
10/30/05 - I finally have the completed strip up. I wish I could say I'm going to get this schedule under control, but it's probably just going to get harder. The reason? November is National Novel Writing Month, and I'm taking a stab at it. (This'll be my third year.) I'll be attempting to write a short novel during the month of November on top of everything else on my plate. At this point, I don't see any point in taking a break from Clem, but I may end up procrastinating like this every single week. Alas, it'll be good for me.
Just so no one worries unduly--the panels in this strip and the last one which feature death and destruction are not really happening--they're being imagined by Clem, because he was asked to imagine them. He's not having a really good time.
10/27/05 (Page 27) - This week, I have even less done, and I know tonight is going to be an extremely hard night at work, and I really need my sleep. Therefore, I'm just putting up what I have rihgt now (3:40 P.M.), and I'll fix it up tomorrow morning. If anyone is checking for updates expecting them to be there when I actually say they should be there, I'm very sorry. More comments when the page is complete.
10/20/05 (Page 26) - It's a race against time!! I'm actually writing this update 48 minutes before midnight, and I have yet to color and letter the strip. Do I have any chance of updating before midnight?? Time will tell!!!
Well, I got up the page three minutes before midnight...with no lettering. I don't know if that counts for anything.
It's all lettered now, but what you don't see is how long I struggled with formatting and conversion to keep the lettering from being distorted and the solid fields from being bleary.
This is my second use of a different font color than black for character speech. The first was in page 16. I think I'll generally only use odd colors for speech in rare occasions, and never with sppech balloons. But then, rules are meant to be broken.
10/13/05 (Page 25) - Time goes on with no change--I'm still making my updates, but just barely. I'm forced to record my TV shows and I can't go out on Thursday nights so long as I procrastinate. And I'm usually scheduled to work Thursday night, so it's a frantic day followed by a fatiguing night. Why do I do this to myself?
This strip contains a lot of text, as will next week's. This is going to be fairly common in Fabulous Clem. Sometimes you just want to go into depth, and the traditional comic strip format isn't best for that. Fortunately, when you're doing it for fun, you can do what you want, and that means I can mix a bit of the theatrical artform into this strip in the form of dialogue.
Fabulous Clem wouldn't work in any purely textual medium, which is, after all, why I had to learn to draw and make digital art, and why I need to keep learning these things. But I don't believe it would work as a straight comic either.
10/6/05 (Page 24) - Despite the fact that things seem to be stable for me, this week wasn't any better than last. I put off the strip until the last minute. I'm not going to be able to start going to the coffeehouse open-mic night I've enjoyed in the past if this keeps up--plus which, I'm sure to miss an update eventually. Not that it really matters much at this point, since I probably have about 25 readers, and only a handful of regular ones. But I need to get my act together if I'm going to be doing this for a while.
My best friend has created a message board for himself, and just for kicks he put in a topic for Fabulous Clem. I'll put in a link to it when it's ready, and whee, I'll have a forum. But will it be an ominously empty forum? Or will I be pleasantly surprised by the presence of actual readers?
I apologize for my complete inability to draw Gilbert Tate consistently. I'm still struggling with drawing humans, you know. ;)
9/29/05 (Page 23) - I'm just barely making it this time. I have to leave for work in less than half an hour. This was nerve-wracking and I'm going to ache all night and I really really need to mend my ways, one way or another. I have every reason to think I should be able to draw a page of this strip each week, and that it should take less than seven or eight hours of my time. Something needs to be done. Arrgh.
9/22/05 (Page 22) - I managed to complete a page on time this week, but only just. Actually having a deadline this week starkly revealed just how long it takes me to make this strip. And that's far too long. I've got to find a way to make it faster, and while I'm doing that, how about better, hey?
The quest for non-sucky lettering continues. A friend told me that illegibility is still the strip's greatest weakness. In this page, I gave myself plenty of extra speech in the speech balloons, so no more crowding. I then had to cut away the extra room by redrawing the balloons digitally. I wonder--maybe I should draw all my speech balloons on the computer. It just might be easier that way, and the line would be consistent...
How about I try it for page 23?
9/15/05 (Page 21) - Well, this is crunch time. My job exhausts me, plus I've been scheduled for 40 hours a week when I asked for only 30. I've been getting practically nothing done outside of work, and that means that my buffer is gone: this is the last Fabulous Clem I have done to date.
I don't intend to miss a day so early in my comic's run, so that means I've got to show the same qualities as Clem and use a bit of ingenuity. I'd actually like to get my buffer up to ten again, what it was when I started the strip. I don't know if that will ever be possible.
Normally, I use lots of bright colors. This strip is kind of bleached in that regard. I meant to show the desolation of the route our protagonist has been led on, but the other advantage of this page's bleak color scheme is that it makes the one splash of color really stand out. What is that glyph on the wall? What does it symbolize? I actually have an answer, but I won't be telling anytime soon.
9/8/05 (Page 20) - Blech. This page is worse than I remembered it. The passage of time is particularly clunky. Gotta work out some tricks.
Why, indeed, is Clem not going in the front? Because he clicked on the -Info- link from page 18 and got directions, which, among other things, told him to enter by the side door.
I've started a new, tiring job and my buffer is down to one page. Time to get crazy.
9/1/05 (Page 19) - I tried something ambitious with the panel format here: the interstitial panel, or panel between the panels. I think it works well. It's true that Glynis's approach is not as graceful as it would be in a more professional comic, but it would surely be even more jarring without the orangish nature scene to break up the panels.
I'm of two minds as to how much I like this page. On the one hand, I messed up the quality of the lines themselves, so the characters look ratty and ill-defined. On the other hand, I love what I did with color here.
On a side note, I relettered this page three or four times. I just could not find a good font for Glynis that looks vaguely Gaelic while being readable in a small size. I wonder if there's a better way to handle fonts.
8/25/05 (Page 18) - I don't like the look of this page much. I made some kind of mistake in converting file formats; I haven't reproduced it. Anyway, it was even worse than it is, with the solid fields all blurry and full of grays. Fixing it leaves the colors decent, but now the foxes are crude. I definitely have to avoid repeating this mistake. Maybe I'll eventually go back and recolor the whole thing.
I've added a link to the OzFoxes FoxWeb, just because it seemed like the thing to do. It's a fine site of fox-related information, artwork, and links overseen by Robert and Margaret Carspecken, the creators of Faux Pas. With luck, they'll add this page to their BackLynx page, a wealth of friendly and mostly fox-themed sites.
That link and the button from thewebcomiclist.com are in the Archive column now, where there was plenty of space. I've also upgraded the Webcomic List button so that it now shows Fabulous Clem's ranking relative to all their comics. Given that it's so new and unknown and that my skills have yet to coalesce, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's above average: around #1800 out of over 4000 comics.
8/18/05 (Page 17) - A bit of symbolism going on in this one. We established in the last page that deep purple is the color of sleep. Thus, the kits are just waking up to hear their parents arguing. The explosive image near the top is up for interpretation, though I have my own...
Also of note is the fact that the speech balloons do not have a specified order. They're divided into four snatches of conversation that don't have to be remembered in any particular order. It's enough just that they're heard.
In addition to the current page, this week I've gone back and made some changes to previous pages. Primarily, I relettered all of the male fox's dialogue, since I decided this week to change his font from Times New Roman to MS Serif. It's still probably not an ideal choice, but it looks less pedestrian. So, the dialogue is slightly different, and I've touched up some other little problems on the relevant pages that I couldn't bear to leave be.
8/11/05 (Page 16) - Aside from some small coloration issues, I'm really proud of this page. It's imaginative, it uses a bold arrangement, and it develops three new characters. (The fox kits couldn't properly be considered characters until this point.) The reader is simply asked to accept that while these younglings can't talk yet (which is why they don't get speech balloons), they are able to understand--in their own fashion.
About a week ago, I had a much-needed surge of productivity with regard to this comic. I drew and inked pages 18 and 19 in between Neopets games. ;) I've now largely lost interest in Neopets, and sadly, I'm having trouble focusing on Fabulous Clem as well. The main reason is that I'm looking for work, which distracts me from projects like this. I should be working soon, at which point I'll make building up my buffer a priority.
8/4/05 (Page 15) - I like the way this page turned out. The pastel colors really did their job of signifying the storybook nicely. As for the story itself...it's pretty passable, right? You might believe it was a real children's book. It was hard fitting the whole thing into two pages.
I'm coming to really like onlinecomics.net. As I mentioned previously, I've registered with their free service. The other day, I got an e-mail saying that comic creators could now associate their comics with:
Fabulous Clem's genres are Fantasy and Furry, its style is Full Color, and its formats are Full Page and Serialized. I tried entering some combinations of these and was delighted to see how close to the top of the list it was, presumably because it's relatively new. The next step is for me to upload a 3-page preview. I don't know which pages I should use, though.
I found that the new classifications really are useful! I took a look at some of the other comics listed in the same groups, and I like them. I'm going to go back to onlinecomics.net if I ever run short of webcomics to read.
7/28/05 (Page 14) - Unusual color scheme means Storybook! And those purple objects? They're random slabs of rock, and they aren't found in the real world. As for the goldfinches, there are American goldfinches and European goldfinches, and these are European goldfinches. ;-) Yes, I do occasionally do research for this strip.
7/21/05 (Page 13) - Something I wonder if I'm doing right: the ever-changing ground color. I found that it's more interesting when I vary the color of the ground from panel to panel. However, does that justify a big change from sepia to grass green as in the last two panels? Maybe it's too distracting. It looked right to me, though.
I made a small improvement to the file structure just now--I added a zero to the .html files for the first nine pages, so that they're now listed in numerical order. It's a change that won't benefit anyone but me, but I think it's worth noting these little steps.
7/14/05 (Page 12) - This page makes me grin. The computer in the middle of the woods...so silly, yet it feels so right. I'm also really happy with the way the foxes look in the fourth panel.
I haven't done any work on Fabulous Clem in a while now. I'm beginning to get a little nervous. I started with a huge buffer in order to give myself time to find a rhythm, but I haven't been able to find it yet. Well, once I have a job again, I expect things like building up my webcomic's buffer will resume their status as priorities. Just gotta do one page a week--how hard can that be, once I know what I'm doing?
7/7/05 (Page 11) - And here we have the page that my early reader lamented was decked with three styles of art--the hand-drawn panels, the computer interface and generated background (which I guess he considered two parts of the same mold), and the line-drawn four-pointed stars. Originally, I considered the first panel here and the last of the previous page to have been done in a somewhat simplified, stylized vein, but now I see little to distinguish them from my normal art. It is an unfortunate affliction to have drawing skills so unrefined that they cannot easily be caricatured. ;)
But in just a few pages, you will see my next attempt at slightly stylized art, which I consider rather more pleasant.
In other news, I have registered Fabulous Clem with onlinecomics.net, a successful list which should eventually garner at least a little traffic. A link to that site has been placed at the bottom of [the main FC] page.
6/30/05 (Page 10) - And if you didn't think things were weird before...
Actually, believe it or not, this is where things begin to stabilize. If you've found this comic difficult to get into so far because the scene keeps jumping all over the place, I totally understand. I now wonder whether maybe I should have given it a little more of a conceptual framework to begin with. My concept was to open Fabulous Clem with a montage of different scenes, like a sweeping panoramic shot might open a movie. However, I don't think I quite pulled it off, so what you get in the first ten pages is (hopefully) interesting, but a bit jumbled.
Worry no more. From this page on, the strip follows a consistent storyline.
6/23/05 (Page 9) - I like it when an author takes the time to throw in a bit of poetry, thus changing the pace of a work for both himself and the reader. I just read Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, which is replete with not only poetry, but platitudes, illustrative lists, morals, lectures, and all manner of delightful tangents. If I had not already created this page before reading it, I might have been moved to after doing so.
Since the Clem Log was getting a bit long, I have cut it off at six entires. The older entries will be archived on a new page which can be accessed by the link at the bottom of the log.
I have also added page numbers to the entries, so that anyone reading them in the future knows which comments pertain to which strips.
6/16/05 (Page 8) - This week, I registered Fabulous Clem with www.thewebcomiclist.com. You'll find a button for it at the bottom of the page. It's a huge registry, and apparently not all that well maintained, so I don't expect much to come of it, but the profile did say it's had 17 views so far. I wonder how many of those were me trying to get the thing to work. Now I just need to figure out how the webcrawler works that's supposed to automatically report when the strip updates.
6/9/05 (Page 7) - Here we have a little experiment in some airbrushing, the first embellishment beyond simple flood fills and touch-ups I've used so far. An early reader said he thought it detracted from the primal style of art, and that I shouldn't try to make the coloration more sophisticated. I'm undecided, for now.
6/2/05 (Page 6) - Sorry this page wasn't up at midnight. I had to spend some time relettering it.
This page has a bit of history to it. I originally gave the rabbits even more dialogue than they have, only to find that it was nearly unreadable when hand-printed so small. So, I printed out the page, relettered it more sparsely, and scanned it in again, which resulted in loss of color. I should have just been lettering digitally the whole time. Fortunately, I had saved the original version, so when I redid it today, I was able to regain the lost color. Yay, lesson learned.
5/26/05 (Page 5) - So far, the only speaker we've seen is the narrator, who I decided at launch would be computer-lettered. The rest of the characters, however, have been hand-lettered. After a bit of vacillation, I've decided to use computer lettering throughout the strip. I think it will make it look much better, and I like the practice where each character in a graphic novel or comic speaks in a different typeface or balloon shape. I might as well adopt it. :-)
So, I'll have to put in a bit more work on the pages I've already got done, starting with next week's. It'll give me a chance to brush up the dialogue, though, which I'll view as an opportunity.
5/19/05 (Page 4) - All right--it's the title page! Given that this strip may be running quite a while, I think three pages of lead-up before getting to the title is reasonable. :)
Obviously, this page is where the title bar comes from. I liked that half, and I like the scenery on the right--but I totally flaked on depicting motion in the fox and rabbits. And of course, the fox's legs are too long. The sad thing is that I remember spending a long time trying to get this right. Well, practice makes not-lame.
I've been learning a bit about how to use thresholds to best advantage when coloring new pages. It's a little thrilling, but it'll be when I start using layers that I'll really feel proud.
Ultimate Paint is my program. I don't hate it as much as I did a few days ago. ;> I should, however, look into some of the helpful alternatives others have suggested.
5/12/05 (Page 3) - Okay, to be perfectly accurate, this update is the one that marks my first use of a template. I'd forgotten that my template includes a First button, and the first page doesn't need one. Gee, updating does have a lot of steps, doesn't it?
5/5/05 (Page 2) - A date noteworthy for its numerical uniformity alone, this is also the day I create a page from a template for the first time. It's a simple template, so it shouldn't pose any problems...but I must confess I'm still having issues with Dreamweaver, despite its proclaimed superiority. For example, I can't figure out how to make this table wider. What's the deal?
After updating, I had the obvious notion of making this log reverse-chronological. You'd think I would have thought of that before....
4/28/05 (Page 1) - Finally! Fabulous Clem is ready to launch! The first 11 pages were all up for a while a couple months ago, but I've decided to use them as a buffer to help me start off smoothly.
Is anyone actually reading at this point? If so, there's no time like the present to sign my guestbook or send me an e-mail. :D
4/27/05 - I've spent the last couple of days reorganizing my files and rewriting most of the text on the first 8 pages. I hope anyone who saw the original version of the early pages will forgive me for changing the narrator's dialogue from hand lettering to computer lettering. It had to be done. ;) For now, the rest of the lettering will continue to be hand-drawn.
1/18/05 - I'm getting ready to launch this webcomic, but I'm still figuring out how I want the page to look. That task, like most of the other projects I'm fiddling with this month, has been frustrating and educational.
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