Frequently Unasked Questions(No way am I abbreviating that!)
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: Folk musician Arlo Guthrie once compared songwriting to fishing. "It's like you're sitting there," he said, "and songs are going by! And if you've got a guitar, you can catch 'em!"
It's kind of like that, except that I don't play the guitar.
Seriously, gags come from all sorts of things. True, a number of things come from my less-than-idyllic time in the white-collar world. Other gags come from the characters themselves, and how I think they would react to given situations. Still others come from the simple act of living in this crazy world.
Q: Are the characters based on real people?
A: No. The characters are all the products of my overactive imagination. True, one or two (who have not appeared yet) were strongly influenced by a select group of real people. But short answer: No. There's no one-to-one correlation between any character and any real person.
Q: What kind of a Web comic is this? Where's the video game references? Aren't all Web comics supposed to be about video games?
A: Surprisingly, no. Although there are some good ones with video game references, those are not necessary to the making of a decent Web comic.
Besides, who has time to play video games? If I spent all my time playing games, there wouldn't be any Way of the Dodo! You wouldn't want that, would you?
Q: Do you really want me to answer that?
Q: What's up with (insert name of character/plot device here)?
A: This comic strip festered in my mind for a long time before I put it on the Web. So I've got a handful of long-term ideas that I want to build up to. Thus, I include a fair amount of foreshadowing in the comic. (Besides, I like foreshadowing.) Things such as
the book Zoe is carrying, or the mysterious origins that Oswald mentioned during his interview, will become clear in time.
Don't worry, though. This isn't going to be one of those comics that are impossible to follow. I fully intend to make sure you are reminded of relevant plot points before (or during) any story that involves them!
As this thing grows, I'll probably put up a story or reference guide of some sort. Or I'll just bring it to a sudden screeching halt without resolving anything, and leave everyone in suspense!
Q: How do you draw the comic?
A: To draw the strip, I use a vector-graphics program called Corel Presentations, which came with my old computer.EDIT: See below. Each of the characters is made up of a collection of geometrics, Bezier curves, etc. That way I can reposition body parts to create new poses as needed. I've got an ever-growing library full of drawings of the characters in various poses. So yes, there's a fair amount of cut-and-paste involved, but I try to make sure it doesn't LOOK like cut-and-paste.
When I'm done with the strip (a process that can take upwards of three hours), I save it as a GIF at 1555 x 681 pixels. I open that in Paint Shop Pro, then do the following:
1. Increase the color depth to 24-bit
2. Apply a Soften filter
3. Reduce the image to 50% of its original size
4. Apply a Sharpen filter
5. Reduce the image back to 256 colors
EDIT: I've switched graphics programs -- I'm now doing the vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator. I must say that I'm far more pleased with the results I'm getting. I was frequently dissatisfied with the look of the old Presentations strips.
A: After a certain amount of trial and error, that was the best way that I found to create decent-looking GIFs from Presentations drawings.
Q: What about the HTML?
A: What about the HTML?
Q: Wiseguy. Do you write the HTML yourself or use a WYSIWYG editor or what?
A: I do all the HTML coding in good old WordPad, which has at the very least forced me to finally learn some HTML!
The updating of the site is handled by Comic Genesis' scripts. It's all automated, as any of the thousands of Genesis-ers (Genesissies?) out there can tell you. All I have to do is upload the files and make sure that banner ad thing is on all the pages so that CG can make their money!
Q: Do you ever do last-minute rewrites?
A: Oh yeah.
I've been known to rewrite strips at the last minute. I've ruined some strips by revising them to death. Other strips have turned out light-years better than the original idea. Sometimes one comic turns into two or three. (Though I've yet to have two comics combine into one!)
Q: Can I use the Way of the Dodo characters in my own stories and art?
A: Short answer: No.
Longer answer: I'm flattered, but there's a reason I've plastered this thing with copyright notices. I'm told that some artists have been burned by having their copyrights diluted. (Look at what happened to poor Calvin! I'd really like to avoid seeing Oswald peeing on truck logos!)
So no fan fiction, please. And no, I'm probably not interested in doing crossovers with other Web comics. Yeah, right, like anyone's going to ask! ::)
I don't like to sound like I'm discouraging creativity. But if you have that creative fire, creating your own characters is sure to be more interesting than "borrowing" mine. It may be a little more work, but in the end I think that you'll find it's more rewarding to create something that is truly your own.
(I'd be open to tasteful fan art, provided that it's either posted only on my site, or is accompanied by a link to my site.)
Q: Can I use artwork from Way of the Dodo for my LiveJournal, my forum avatars, my Website?
A: For putting the artwork on your site, see the question about fan art/fiction.
As for using it in your LiveJournal, etc., I'm a complete troglodyte when it comes to such things. My understanding is that you'd have to download the image, then upload it to your own server, rather than just hotlink directly to the image on my site. Comic Genesis doesn't allow hotlinking.
But if you really really really want to use it, I only ask that you point people to my site if they ask where you got it from!
Q: Your CAREER went the way of the dodo, didn't it? Isn't that why you've created this comic strip?
A: Not as such. I created the comic that evolved into Way of the Dodo long before my career tanked. It's only been more recently that I've put the comic online. That turned out to be the only way to force myself to sit down and write and draw it on a regular basis!
And incidentally, my IT career did not really go the way of the dodo. It went the way of the salmon -- that is, it spent its final three years swimming upstream, only to get ****ed and die in the end!
Q: So you've given up on Information Technology?
A: Not entirely. True, I have been out of the field for a while now. And my last employer pretty much sucked the joy out of computers for me.
I would be willing to consider IT work if the opportunity presented itself. But I'm not turning over every rock in a frantic search for that.
At this point, I see the future as being more likely to hold a cartooning/writing career than an extension of my IT career.
Q: Dude, what's up with that ****? Other Web comics say **** all the ****ing time! **** it, get with the ****in' program, ****!
A: Please, not in front of the kids!
Seriously, I made a decision when I started this thing to keep it PG rated. So much of what passes for "humor" now seems to consist largely of childish put-downs written by people who think they're being hip because they make every third word ****!
Even with a PG rating, I suspect that I could get away with stronger language than I'm using. I'm not a prude, but I generally err on the side of caution. So usually even mild profanity gets written out.
Q: I'm thinking about starting a Web comic. Any advice?
A: Glad you asked:
1) You can't throw a brick online without hitting three or four Web comics about groups of college students who play anime and watch video games. Or do I have that backwards? Let's see -- yes, it should be, " . . . about groups of anime-playing, video-game-watching college students!"
(Note to self: Insert sound clip of rimshot here so any hypersensitive Web cartoonists out there know I'm JOKING!)
Seriously, draw something that is uniquely YOU, not a slavish imitation of what's already out there.
2) Get to know your characters well. Know how they're going to behave in any given situation. Know how their personalities are going to bounce off of each other. (Here I'll have to admit that even though I know my characters fairly well, they are still able to surprise me sometimes!)
3) I mean it. Draw what you like, not what someone else says you should draw. Remember that scene in Dead Poets' Society, where the professor takes his class out into the courtyard and tells them to walk around? Find your own gait.
4) Write more than you draw. Personally, I try to have at least 3-4 weeks of written material ahead of what I'm drawing.
5) My own opinion is that you should settle on an update schedule that you know you're going to be able to keep up with, and then try your best to keep up with it. Some comics update six or seven days a week, some update two or three days a week, and some update on the fifth Thursday of every month with an "R" in it.
Q: Troglodyte?! WTF is a troglodyte?!
A: What am I, a dictionary? Look it up yourself!