Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Always An Angle

While there is a danger of overwhelming the dear reader with the sheer volume of my posts, another Prophets comic is presented below, one that starts the descent into lowest common denominator territory.  This was the second comic that was canon in the vast collection of fourteen comics.  Prophets of Mercury truly was the Fawlty Towers of webcomics.  Or The Office of webcomics, if you found Prophets of Mercury funny.

Original alt text: I prefer the angle gamma of the unitarity triangle. (If you get that, you know more physics than is healthy)
There's not really much to say about this one. To a limited extent it sets out the quasi-religious bent of the Prophets cult, but there isn't a lot of interest to panels one and two, either visually or textually.  However, the final panel essentially has two punchlines, both of which are pretty decent, and the look and feel is a decent approximation of a cheesy washing powder advert or similar, so to my mind this comic ends up as a reasonably successful effort.  I'm not a huge fan of the alt text, but I'm sure there were particle physicists in our intended demographic who might have got a kick out of it.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Deleted Scenes

In lieu of new material, I will carry on picking over the bones of the Prophets of Mercury corpse.  The comic below is the second one ever drawn, but was never finished or published for reasons that might be obvious.

In Dreams
In the end I didn't finish plans to alter the right-hand side of the second panel to be like that of a thought bubble, but otherwise the comic is largely as designed. The major problem is that almost everyone shown the comic the first time didn't get it, and considering the character has only appeared in one comic so far isn't a surprise. He's supposed to be innocently bad-hearted, and so the comic is supposed to be his nightmare. It's not an amazing idea for a comic, but is completely undermined by the cack-handed execution.

The first panel is supposed to be an homage to The Sound of Music:

Most people who saw panel one instead thought he was on a beach with the sea in the background, so to say that panel didn't come off is an understatement.  In mitigation, the original source picture I used had a lot less green grass visible and many more flowers, although mysteriously, or perhaps conveniently, I can't seem to find that picture now.  When drawing that panel I already regretted the standard dimensions chosen for the comic, as there was not nearly enough height to do anything interesting.

Continuing the Julie Andrews theme, panel two was intended to be a loose reference to Mary Poppins, specifically a part during the song 'A Spoonful of Sugar' when a songbird flies to Mary Poppins who is at the window, but the panel is ugly, and without merit unless you notice the obtuse reference.  The window frame, wall and the character all also seem to be wrestling for the same physical space, which is a classic mistake of the amateur 'artist'.

Panel three manages to hit the heady heights of being all right.  A nice bobble on the hood might provide mild amusement, and clever use of a dark blue filter over most of the colours to give a natural night-time look.  Indications of motion might have been an idea to suggest he had just woken suddenly, as from a nightmare, but given that the comic was abandoned anyway such things do not matter.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Prophets of Mercury

Once upon a time there was a young man who embarked on a journey to the Land of Web-Comics, with another chap who was the Samwise to his Frodo, or the Frodo to his Samwise, depending on who is telling the story.  Riches and internet fame beckoned.  The comic was called Prophets of Mercury, but for one reason or another only fourteen comics were ever published.  Now that the original website is defunct, it seems a shame not to give the comics a home, and so I'm going to publish a few here, along with a brief discussion about what I thought did or didn't work.  It's pure naval-gazing, of course, but that's what blogs are for...

Comic #1 is below, although I've completely forgotten the title of it.

"The first rule of web comics is that you do not talk about web comics"
The major plus point is that it isn't completely horrible, which is a positive result for a first comic that doesn't start in medias res.  It sets out the stall for the comic, namely geeky references and the main two characters, and could perhaps provoke a smile, although most likely because of the middle rather than final panel.  It comes dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall, and it's my understanding that breaking the fourth wall in the first strip is frowned upon in web-comic circles.

From an artistic viewpoint it's a bit of a mixed bag.  It was drawn a long time before any other comics, which is why the style still needs to settle down, and there are some terrible lines in there.  The font is a bit wonky too, mainly because the kinks in the procedure to get a comic from paper to computer to the finished product were still being worked out.  Unfortunately, for the first comic I inked in the text and speech bubbles, and then finished colouring the comic with my scruffy handwriting in place.  For later comics, I left the bubbles and text until finishing the comic on the computer, but in this case you can still see some of the old text.  I also think the colouring adds a lot to the comic, especially for the Banzai-style background in panel two and the computer screen glow in panel three.

Below are the original sketches as well as the comic with my handwriting in place:
Original sketches
Handwritten text