Twitter Holiday

I don’t think I’ve the average twitter user. I follow around 3000 people, which is a preposterous number. Over time I’ve accumulated people based on whether they’re comic industry professionals, people that make me laugh or, more lately, politicos and journalists.

Part of me wants to go through and cull it back to something like 100 people, but I’ve no idea how to go about that without it turning into a dusterfluck. (and one time I unfollowed someone they noticed and asked me why and, like a coward I ignored the question – here’s why: just because. You were first. I’m sorry.)

Occasionally, in a fit of “why the hell am I allowing this to get to me” I delete my twitter app, and it helps. I’d still use twitter – I can just go to the website, and look at it in there. But, it introduces a little bit of friction in to the process, so instead of holding up my phone and flicking in to twitter while I wait on something, I see that it’s too much hassle to go to the website and do something else instead.

It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly helped.

Yesterday I took myself off twitter before I got annoyed with it.

I can’t honestly say I missed anything. Yes. I cheated a bit, checking twitter every so often, and even looked at my brand new personal – just for friends & locked from the outside world – twitter.

When I worked in computers and was trying to get a comic career off the ground, it was very easy for me to keep these two worlds separate: work was work and comics was everything else. They didn’t mix. I didn’t acknowledged the existence of one thing in the other’s sphere. They were two perfect, distinct circles in the Venn diagram of my life.

But then I left my day job and it became all about comics, and I think I miss having that place I can have that’s just me. I did a bit of acting the past couple of years and that was great, and I tried to keep comics away from that, but it’s hard, because… well, that’s who I am.

Anyway, what I’m saying is… I’m having another twitter holiday today. I make no promises beyond today. App is still deleted off my phone, though I will still check it, but I’m determined to wean myself off it, much in the way I eventually cut facebook out of my life.

I’ve really come round to thinking that social media, as much good as it can do (and it did me a great deal of good over time) has become too all encompassing, a victim of its own success. At its worst it’s a perfectly honed tool made to bully or simply a machine to make you insecure about your place in the world, but at it’s absolute best it’s like an industry party that never ends, but good lord, even that would exhaust you.

Anyway, in the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, twitter, sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

 

Friday Fixup:As-For-Stuff

Is… is As-for your name? PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

I’ve banged on before about the importance of real names for comic creators, so I will say nothing.

Ok, As-for sent me a double page spread, and then a follow up double page spread. Here’s both.

 

So I’m going to talk about these for a bit.

The first double page spread here is interesting, As-for told me it’s deliberately disorientating, and it is. But I’m not sure what it’s trying for. It feels like the opening sequence of Watchmen, where Dave Gibbon’s drills down into the Smiley faced badge from a height, it disorientated, but it also let you know where you where. It was easy to read. A different angle to look at stuff. I think there’s a few problems here we need to think about – how am I supposed to read this? Is it a linear narrative? is it a non linear collection of vignettes? (What Scott McCloud would call Aspect-to-Aspect or Non-Sequiturs). The first column of panels feels like we should be reading that as one tall read, but that throws you off where to go next.

I have one talent; my reading comprehension is pretty low, so things like this confuse me.

The advice I’ve given for years about story telling is pretty rock solid, I think: ask someone you know/trust (ideally a partner, someone who is on hand most of the time) what they think is going on in a page. Don’t ask them if it’s any good (if they love you of course they’ll say yes). Ask them to explain the narrative, this is entirely non-judgemental, don’t help of prod them just let them look at it without dialogue and see what they’re seeing. It helps if they don’t usually read comics either, then they won’t try and read it properly.

I’d really recommend you do that, that would show exactly where you’re doing wrong here.

So my primary thing on the first page was just trying to help the storytelling (I actually like the art, it’s crisp, and clean and fun, it’s obviously a little round spy cam looking around a space ship, though I’m unsure what the closing lens has to do with it, this version cleans up the reading order…

asfor1

Ok, on to this second double page spread, and I really like a lot of the art here, lots of great small figures, fun to look at, but … I really can’t make head nor tail of what’s supposed to be happening. My guess is young dude walking along, gets in to fight, but I’m not entirely sure how the top sequence is supposed to be read? I think you’ve some really solid ambitions in storytelling but they’re not quiet within grasp yet – I can see some Frank Quitely sensibilities in the work, but Frank (aka Vincent) knows how much information we need to see to helps us get from one panel to the next, no matter where they are. You also really need to include some backgrounds, I LOVE – LOVE the use of white space, esp where some of the characters are leaning on things that we don’t see, BUT – we need to see some of these things somewhere. Are we behind a warehouse? In space? In the crushing void of the neverwhere? You really want to establish your backgrounds fairly frequently, at an absolute minimum once per page is a good rule (and even then that’s for a solid background with lots of information about where / when we are) after that you need to drop little hints about the background (fight in a library? have some books flinging about behind our protagonists, fight at a dockyard? some gulls flying away as our bad guy punches the good guy)

asfor3asfor2

In the images above I’ve tried to reconcile how I think the page should be read vs how it’s being read. The path in green is the order I think As-for is thinking the story will be read, in the path in red is how I think a typical reader will see that page. The edited image I’ve tried putting the panels back in the order I think you’d read them.

Story telling is key here (I’m in two minds though, I really like As-for’s clean art style, but I think it’s a little too far and they’ve got to figure out how much information is too little information… as a storytelling your job is conveying information about the story, too much and it’s a waste and can slow a reader down but too little and it’s hard to know exactly what you’re looking at)

Hope that’s interesting or helpful!

 

NEWSLETTER!

 

swampthing-headshot

Look, I tried this before and only managed a few issues, but I’m not one for giving up (well, ok I am one for giving up, but then I forget how hard it is and so  I try again)

If you’re interested in signing up for my newsletter you can do so here: https://tinyletter.com/pjholden

It’ll be a monthly round up of things I’ve been doing comic wise, and things I will be doing comic wise.

That’s it. Not much more than that.

Of necessity the first will be probably bigger than the rest and I’m setting a regular monthly schedule to get these out so it’s a habit.

Come join me (I mean you’ve signed up to everyone else’s newsletters, why not sign up to mine?)

https://tinyletter.com/pjholden

The newsletter will also have some exclusive stuff that you can ONLY see on the newsletter – art that I’m working on right now, for example. JOIN UP, newsletter goes out tomorrow!

 

Nuke the site from orbit…

It’s the only way to be sure.

I pulled the trigger on deleting my tweets. (I used tweetdelete.net)

Why? I don’t think there’s anything contentious in there, but over 12 years and 60 thousand tweets the odds are that I can’t tell you exactly what was in my mind on every single tweet.

Twitter and social media in general has become a cacophony. It’s like being in a quiet room filled with people you can hear the hubbub of genial conversations rise in volume, as people start whispering to the people close to them, then get louder so they can be more clear to those people then suddenly every one is shouting nonsensically and a fight has broken out.

We’re at the rising volume stage.

I don’t think there’s any value for me being on twitter any more in the way I have been. I’ve secured work from it, that’s true – I’ve managed to do some cool, extraordinary things and hang out with people I’d never have met if not for twitter.

But.

But I find myself looking for stuff to be angry and frustrated about. I mean, that’s not what I tell myself. I tell myself I’m keeping informed. But that’s what it amounts to. Every morning, a 2 minutes hate. Except it’s never just two minutes. It’s most of the day.

I’m also not entirely convinced that human beings can manage social media at the scale it is.

We’re just a bunch of stone-age tribes managing with digital-age technology.

Right now, my mind is on deleting twitter and taking a step back, photos and when books are coming out and blogging and maybe looking for an alternative. Somewhere where the network is smaller and more focused, but I dunno, it may well be that horse has bolted.

Weekend Visit

From the book 712 More writing Prompts, this prompt was “Write a thank you note for a weekend visit where everything went wrong“.

Dear Aunt Mabel,

It was lovely to see you this weekend. Even though it was only for a fleeting second as you caught us right in the middle of a bank robbery.

It is unfortunate that, while we got away with the money, just as you arrived so did the police.

Hopefully see you again in 10-15 years.

712 More Things to Write About

My wife picked up a book, 712 More Things to Write About, probably after hearing me moan about not doing any writing – after spending a few months reading and doing the coach to 80k, she figured (rightly) this might be a good thing to kickstart some habits.

So, I’ll put them up here as I do them (then, at least, the blog gets filled).

So… #1 “Write Yesterday’s Horoscope”

CAPRICORN

You will encounter a wild new alien species who will wish to make first contact with humanity.

They will abduct you in the morning, perform experiements on you through lunch and by afternoon will have extracted all of human knowledge from within your brain which they will then use to judge humanities suitability to join the other star going species.

Unfortunately, they will find humanity wanting on many levels, but mostly to do with your specific failings as a person, and so, will erase your memory of the entire day leaving you feeling empty and wondering what the point of it all is.

Friday Fixup: Floating Rock Comics

Sorry, no idea of your name – your twitter alias is @floatrockcomics I know that much! (I think I’ve said before about putting your real name in as your twitter alias, so people can see you’re a real person and associate your name with your work, but I’ll not labour the point here!)

 

So, if you’ve been here before, you’ll know the drill, send me a page of unlettered inks and I’ll see if I can add some extra value in the storytelling.

Here’s a page, original to the left, my edits to the right, notes to follow!

I think this is a pretty nice page, but it suffers a little from what I think of as “the void”. There’s a lot of The Void in this. The Void is that location that really doesn’t have much of a background. Now, there IS background here, but it’s not deep enough – it doesn’t sell the location (it sells the stage we’re on, but not the bigger picture) so lots of the edits here are about dealing with that.

Panel 1: Largely left as is, just added some shadows behind the crowd this just pushes the readers focus more towards the middle of the panel where our main guys are. This feels like it should be bigger panel, mind you, the whole page has the feel of The Middle page in a bigger story, and that has its own physical shape, there are panel arrangements there that work that don’t work so well at the start or the end. If this is the scene setter panel, you might what to make it bigger, wider, pull the camera out a bit and get bits of the village in, for example. As is, I left it.

Panel 2:

The Void! We’re in the middle of a village, but where is the village? floating in n-space? Inside a giant castle? In a VR Landscape? I’ve put them surrounded by Mountains. Just that little bit extra, doesn’t require too much, but now we know the white void above their heads is sky. Also: How tall are these guys? It feels like the crowd are shorter – but maybe they’re not? So I dropped the foreground dudes entirely into silhouette and just gave them a little more height so they’re all about the same height.

Panel 3: Dropped the panel backgrounds. This takes the need to do a background entirely out of it, and pushes that cool foreground shouty vampire dude.

Panel 4: Not entirely clear if they’re suddenly floating or why they’re massively taller than everyone else, so I increased the height of the background silhouettes and added a little bit of mountain background, so the bg doesn’t feel empty.

Panel 5: Good shot, needs a tiny bit of background (feels like we’re looking up here so no need to show the crowd, we can get away with clouds and the tips of the mountains)

Panel 6: Moved everyone up a smidgen so they’re not literally resting their chin on the panel border (I counted three that are just hitting that bottom border) it’s a small thing, but these small things add up.

Panel 7: Just added some mountains and clouds, this helps add depth to the panel (which feels a little like a stage set, with no background behind it)

Panel 8: A reverse silhouette, gives the panel a bit of weight without being too distracting.

As ever with these things, YMMV, it’s a pretty nice page, and while it feels initially like there’s backgrounds it feels like it’s foreground+middleground but no actual background, no third plane which gives it that floating in the void feel. But take from this what you will, I will bear no malice if you think it’s all nonsense.