"The Fallen One" Artwork

At a friend's behest, I downloaded and tried out Clip Studio for comics and character drawings. I finally got around to playing with it, and I'm pleased. The lines turn out well, and there's some good textures to be had. I don't think it will completely replace Photoshop, but I think I can do some good work with it.The other day I was playing around with some character designs for that comic I'm slowly working on (you know, the one with Sartris in it). For my first foray into the software, it didn't turn out too bad.

The Fallen One, atom8bit

Frankly, I think this software will work for me. I'm digging the line quality a lot, and the charcoal and pencil textures are great. I haven't discovered a lot of things Clip Studio can do yet, so let's see how this goes.

Damn It, Monkey! Reflections

The first webcomic I posted (that I took seriously -- none of that stuff on my first few sites) was Damn It, Monkey!. Back when this site was under apathyzeal.com, and only humor related items (none of this gaming stuff), I used it as a platform for launching Damn It, Monkey.
Monkey, from Damn It Monkey!Damn It, Monkey! was initially inspired from some late night session in my basement between a friend and I working on some bizarre contraption or something - joking as we built a fake TV set with a monkey puppet and on what that could eventually be. (Note we did all this knowing neither of us had any access to a camera). We never really got around to doing anything with it, but 5 or so years later, I started drawing again, heavily, as something amorphous-- as in, I don't remember and couldn't tell you precisely what-- had rekindled my love affair with cartoons. As I tooled with and reworked the initial ideas from several years before, I came up with a great idea for a satire of sitcoms. You know, in comic format, because that makes sense.

Monkey was a parody of ALF, who instead of crash landing into a garage, crash lands into a basement. He's super intelligent, but accident prone, and all of his inventions blow up. The father is a clear parody of conservative TV dads such as Red Foreman, Ward Cleaver, Jim Anderson... eh, you get the idea, and Rob the son, is your basic idiot. Stacy went through a couple of changes, from a depressed goth girl to an outright sociopath who nearly murdered others on a few occasions. She was actually my favorite character to write for, as the conflict between her and Rob was good, and frankly, I like dark humor. Mom herself went through several changes, too. Initially a flapper (the absurdity tickled me) and then an alcoholic, and then a regular, and then a general exasperated TV Mom in its initial run, and when I rebooted it on its own domain, a not-so-secret alcoholic again. Mostly done because I thought the initial character, while workable as a straight-man type, just wasn't very interesting and a weak link in the comics.

My biggest lament with Damn It, Monkey was rebooting it to begin with. I should have never, ever done that. The pacing was all off for a page-an-update serial, the serial format just didn't work for its style of humor and the story was too weak to carry it (the comic was never about story), and I really couldn't keep up with the schedule of regular updates (a flaw very common with every project I've ever done.) The character of Mom was the only real improvement. Squirt too - initially a simple youngster parody, and a vague, untouched parody of adopted children in sitcoms, I was able to touch on his character a little more in the reboot.

On apathyzeal, I'd post updates to the comic every six weeks or so, as entire episodes (you know, because it was a sitcom!) and update with 30-40 pages at once, with a complete story arc. Like sitcoms, every. single. episode. would have a very special guest star; some real (Abraham Lincoln, Kim Jong Il), some cartoons(Homer Simpson, Mario), and some real cartoons (Michael Jackson). Of course, the plot somewhat centered around these characters, and allowed me to either toy with some very solid characters such as Homer Simpson and the bots from MST3k, or allowed me to just have some general fun, especially when Lincoln was involved. I like this too, because it was another vehice for satire, and the guest star could either poke fun at the real counterpart, or be an outright homage. Or, both. Or, in the case of Mystery, Inc. - simply convenient to the plot to include them in general. It also allowed me to make some very cartoony pictures of some of them, as the cartoons I did draw a little bit more in my style intentionally (think when Jay Sherman visited the Simpsons.)

This format worked much better for Damn it, Monkey! for several reasons. One, pacing. The humor just worked much, much better I feel - it allowed for 30 some pages of whimsy, no need for filler if I couldn't keep up, and the pacing was usually spot on. It also allowed me to keep a running joke going and know exactly when it should end; the end of the episode. It was also just useful for not having to carry things over from one page to the next when the story did end. I hope sitcom writers know just how good they have it to have things happily reset after 30 minutes.

As a note, I'd also occasionally sneak a few visual tributes to some cartoonists in some episodes, too. Slight references to the golden age of cartoons can be seen (notably Clampett and Jones), but also modern ones such a Jhonen Vasquez showed up, too.

Unfortunately, a serial was just the wrong format for the comic when I rebooted it. Running gags could go on forever or die young, and each page really has to end on both a note that was intended to be funny, but wraps up the page, for the moment. I retooled the characters a bit, too, and while mostly for the better in some respects, Mandy and Rob's relationship turned unintentionally into Billy and Mandy. I never watched the show too intently, and I never intended on this, but I definitely recognize those similarities. Frankly, if I ever re-re-booted it, I'd go back to something much closer to my original ideas. Not that I'm saying I would, but I'm saying I have thought about doing so a slight amount, and I stress slight. A serial works much better for what I'm doing with Ratboy - allowing for character development and a progression of a single linear story. Much, much better. And frankly, I need to keep going on that before I can think of working with Damn It, Monkey again, anyways.

Sartris Character Design

As promised, I present a new character: Sartris.

So, as you can see, I did lean heavily on the Meridian Knights style. Minus the eyes, I did go for a bit more traditional cartoon eyes as I did with Ratboy. At least; traditional in my sense if you look back at other comics and illustrations I've done in the past.

I intentionally kept the clothing quite simple. Since this is a comic, it's something I'll need to draw over and over and over and over, so I didn't want something with chains and elaborate runes and whatever. This sort of thing when converted to a sprite works far better.

I've also noticed with Sartris gingers seem to run in my main characters. While this was a bit of an afterthought in Moxie (it was simply about the color scheme with her), and really I don't remember why this was so with Jeane, this was quite deliberate with Sartris and I intend it to be part of his personality. On that note, the hood is also relevant and part of his how he will carry himself as well.

The short sword is just a short sword; unlike Moxie the sword in this image is just a sword, but so far, a sword will play a part in the story of this comic. And on the comic, you can expect a serial, along the lines that Ratboy or Scott Pilgrim are, though I am not sure how humorous they will be. I have a short idea of the outline so far, and that's it. This comic has a lot to work out before I begin!

Character Comparison: Jeane Starre Vs. Moxie

A long, long time ago, in a state somewhat far away, I was working on and developing one of my first comics, Axis. It was way too ambitious for, uh, anyone... the whole idea of the comic was that it involved the history of an ancient order of warriors and another faction of hermetic mages that upheld a way of life and drove advancements in technology, their downfall, and how this related to modern times and a distant, apocalyptic future, and focused mainly on one family and its members in the past, present and future. I only ever really outlined it, the characters were "cool" but not developed, and it kind of always seemed it would have been a better RPG than comic.
I did toy a lot with Jeane Starre, the main character of the comic. Here is a couple images of her, drawn over 1,000 years ago (as in the late 90s):

Jeane StarreJeane Starre

Moxie, Meridian KnightsJeane herself went through many changes as the years went by, and I drew her. A LOT. For many years... and there's clearly some influence on Jeane in Moxie. And by some, again, I mean a LOT. Moxie herself has gone through little redesign - just the initial character sketch, which is far more in style like Jeane, rather than the more cartoony, large headed version now.

This actually wasn't a hugely conscious thing with Jeane and Moxie when I was originally designing the latter; it had been years, many years since I had really drawn Jeane. Really, with Meridian Knights, I knew I wanted a female protagonist, a fair balance of gender with in the game itself, but that's about it. (In fact, gender is basically an afterthought after that -- there are even two "gender-indeterminate" characters.) Perhaps something in my mind just wanted a red-head wearing green. Could be the red beard I sport. Who knows?

I treated the initial concepts of Meridian Knights like an onion - starting with a general concept, adding characters, then adding more specific gameplay, story and refining things. One conscious thing is that Moxie's sword and Jeane's sword are very similar, even in story - an ancient sword used by a great hero who slew a giant dragon single handedly with it. The red hair was an intentional character trait with Moxie, too, though less so with Jeane. Moxie is impatient, rushes into action, etc. Jeane was sullen and introverted, and thinking back, the red hair didn't fit her much. Then again, it was over 20 years ago when I first drew her (excuse me while I let that one sink in...) and I didn't pay nearly as much to details like that as I did now.

As an aside, if you're wondering about Axis... don't. It wasn't all that interesting. And what little was, has been reused or will be reused in future works (there is a few things of note that would have happened in Axis that will happen in the upcoming Sartris comic should I ever get off my ass and do something with that.)

MST3k: Season 11, Episode 1 (Spoiler Free Review)

Preface: Doing this without spoilers was difficult. Pretty difficult. I hope you're happy.
Just watched the advanced screening of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Experiment 1101. I'm happy. Very happy. You should go watch it.
Honestly, this is succinct enough of a review that you should just blindly take my word and go watch it Friday when it comes out on Netflix. But, allow me to elaborate, you know, without spoiling a thing (I hope.)

The opening of the show covers just about everything you're going to need. Including character introduction, and some brief explanation of changes that are quickly swept under the rug. Even though 20 years has clearly passed, even in continuity, the show also picks up immediately where it left off.

Jonah Ray makes for an excellent host. He's an interesting mix of Mike and Joel. Very competent and less humble, like Mike, but technically very adept, like Joel. All with a fresh, young, nerdy face. They go full in on the nerd card, too, with the new season, something I kind of felt was clearly acknowledged in past seasons (particularly when Trace was on board), but never quite as directly addressed. I also liked Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as the mads, but I feel that I can't say much without spoilers. So I'll beat around the bush and just say that how they handled it was good, very good. Especially in the opening, and how they addressed the "TV's Son of TV's Frank" thing (something I initially drew reservation with.)

Hampton Yount's Crow (and I said this during the kickstarter) -- is spot on, if not a bit more manic than the previous incarnations. Baron Vaughn's Servo is good, albeit a far departure from Kevin Murphy's. It's far, far more like J. Elvis's Servo, with a slick, radio DJ like quality to it, almost. Baron is making it is own, though, clearly, and I like that. And this more manic Crow is really perfect for Hampton, after seeing the panel at San Diego Comic Con. And not to forget Gypsy - it's almost jarring that a woman is voicing her now. I'm glad, mind you, and that should have been a long time ago, but after 11 seasons (and let's face it, Gypsy's other two voices were really similar) it takes some getting used to. Although more polished, though, Gypsy is still the confident robot she was as the series progressed in its earlier years. I'm really excited to see how all three of them develop their characters.

And for one simple note, the entire cast works extremely well together. I remember Joel saying at some point in the kickstarter this was very important to him. It paid off.

All in all, fans are very well rewarded for waiting 20 years for another episode of MST3k. Series coming back from the grave don't always go well, especially after years of someone else taking over (Looking at you, Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon). So frankly, a lot of MSTie's concerns about the show were, well... valid. But everything (except one minor detail, but remember, it's just a show. Relax!) ties up extremely nicely. There will definitely be a period of adjustment, but if that's my only real complaint? Total win, if you ask me. I don't think there's any way to avoid such a thing.

Also, for pure vanities, sake, I took a screencap of my name as it rolled by during the credits. Glad my name comes so early alphabetically!

Well - one last thing. I guess I can gripe that Hampton and Baron kind of have one of my dream jobs, but I'll let that go as they're doing great.

A New Comic

Been working on some ideas again.It's been frankly nice having some inspiration to speak of.

First of all, I've had some ideas for a new comic. The style is going to be a slight departure from from my previous two webcomics, and actually will hold a style similar to Meridian Knights does. It's not hugely far off, but distinct nonetheless.

This idea is very, very much in its infancy, but at least solid enough I can tell you some vague things about it. Besides, I wanted to let everyone know I am indeed up to something. Whatever that may be. I'm still working on the overall structure, story arch, themes, and such. Technology Vs. Fantasy is a running theme, as is friendship. Moral grey areas will be a major component of the story. I'm drawing some inspiration from Star Wars and from Dragon Quest. At least so far.

Oh, and the name of the main character I guess: Sartris. Still, I don't have any good character sketches yet, and besides, I usually am not comfortable really showing those. I should not have done so with Moxie last year, as her design (and style) changed significantly enough.

My biggest problem with it all is finishing projects. Speaking of Ratboy Is Dead, I do plan on returning to that fairly soon. I'd like to, at very least, begin writing on it again, and get some more pages up. The story of those three little turds needs told, too, damn it.

Drinking With Crow

In lieu of a real update, and since we finally got a release date on the new season of MST3k (April 14st!) I present to you some older fanart I did:

atom8bit / apathyzeal Drinking with Crow MST3k
Drinking With Crow

Admit it, you wanted to do this for a long time.
As an aside, I'm proud to admit I dumped a fair amount of money into that kickstarter. I'm extremely happy with how the new season looks so far (though always wondered why they still made no mention of Dr. Erhardt, as there is a fair amount of rebootishness to the new season.). The new cast and crew looks great, and the next two months can't go by fast enough for me.

See the original on my DeviantArt page.

Moxie - Character Design

I finally finished the "final" character design for Moxie. I tried to find a better balance between traditional cartoon and anime (as in, adding a lot of more traditional cartoon parts), and while part of me still feels there's too much anime in this, I'm pleased with it and how it turned out. There's a good deal of personality (I tried for a kind and naive face, ideally I found that) and I worked in as much as I could to compliment how I've fleshed out her story (which I'm not sharing so nuts to you right now on that.) I also added a lot of details, such as the patches, and turned the cape into a hood. Now I just need to think of a name for the game!

Ratboy Just Won't Die

Then why is the comic called Ratboy Is Dead? Actually, there's a good reason for that, and I'm not telling.
So, I don't have the best record of keeping on track with webcomics. But part of me really wants to finish Ratboy at least, and I have... a long, long way to go on that. The story is much more in depth than my first attempt at a web comic, and I'm trying. How I'm trying.

Really, my focus has been elsewhere - both rightly and wrongly. Things like a career (good focus), school (good again) and running large gaming groups (regrettable choice of time, admittedly, but more on that another time) let time slip far away from me. Also, I'm lazy. Being lazy doesn't help.

But again, I'm trying. I just promise basically nothing. As usual.