Sunday, December 19, 2010

Secret Santa strip (4 of 4)


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The conclusion. Thanks to Darwin for allowing me to post these pages, and for sending people in the direction of my comics. And thanks to Drunk Duck and all those who organized the Secret Santa webcomic exchange for 2010.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Secret Santa strip (3 of 4)


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The secret Santa project was a lot of fun ... I'm looking forward to seeing what I get out of this process.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Secret Santa strip (2 of 4)


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The brooding (half) vampire.

It's difficult to get Playmobil to brood ... they have smiles fixed as firmly as any campaign politician or beauty pageant contestant ... so I had to play with angles a bit.

All up it took 85 photos to make the 4 pages. There's always a few out of focus, but I experiment with odd angles and ranges just to see what I get. Sometimes, if the lighting is right, you can get a little bit of brooding from a plastic figure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Secret Santa strip (1 of 4)


Click on the image to make it bigger.

The webcomics community Drunk Duck has an annual secret Santa project, and I took part in this years one. I was assigned an webcomic creator's work to do something xmasassy with, and got an interesting vampire story, Only Half (the other story option by the same author/artist would have been too difficult with Playmobil). I think I was just meant to draw a single panel, but I went a little overboard and set a story within the timeline and universe of the comic.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the four page results over the next few days.

BTW: Over at the Character Development blog you'll find the end of episode 18 today, and the start of episode 19 tomorrow ...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Too much Pork for just one Fork

A number of the Wikileaks embassy cables have shown that the U.S. is deeply worried about the high levels of corruption in other countries. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Kenya, Russia, and many, many more.

The main theme is that corruption at the top destabilizes a country, undermines democracy (or what passes for it) and makes it difficult to justify funding such regimes.

Imagine a country where a senior government minister could channel funds directly to the company his daughter worked at? Or skim enough money so a major roadway in his home town could be upgraded and named after him? Or use 17 million U.S. dollars of government money on an airport that has no planes or employees?

Unfortunately this isn't corruption ... it's Pork. The person in question is U.S. Senator, Hal Rodgers, a Republican from Kentucky, who is just the latest senator to have the tag of the "King of Pork"; 'pork' being the completely legal method of attaching earkmarks to bills to benefit your home state, and in Rodger's case particularly his home town, which some have dubbed 'Mr Rogers Neighborhood' due to his funneling of $246 million of pork in recent years.

Rodgers has just been named the new head of the uber-power House Appropriations Committee. That's the one that controls the purse strings of the U.S. Government. The King of Pork is in change of government spending. Unbelievable. But don't worry, folks ... he's promised to stamp out pork. We can believe him, right?

Why isn't this corruption? Because it's spelt differently (to use an old joke).

This is the same kind of practice that is complained about in a number of the leaked cables. Giving money to relatives. Using money for personal aggrandizement. Buildings projects that are unwanted and unnecessary. After all, these are the kinds of things that undermine a democracy and a government. Well, only if someone cares.

Maybe that's the problem. The citizens of the U.S. don't consider pork to be corruption. They just shrug their shoulders and move on. In other countries people might actually get angry enough to topple a government over such 'pork'. Maybe Americans have just eaten too much actual pork to worry about the political kind ... and sit by listlessly as their politicians line their own nests with taxpayer's money. What's on the other channel?

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/house-gop-appoints-prince-pork-hal-rogers-chair/story?id=12343673

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dark Bay news

Status Update: I'm taking photos for episode 23 of Character Development at the moment, and writing episode 34.

At the same time I'm writing some Dark Bay episodes. The rural NZ police drama illustrated with Playmobil toys has been on hiatus for a while now, but is never far from my thoughts.

So in the New Year, after the silly season, I'll start posting daily pages of Dark Bay as well as daily pages of Character Development, although I'll cheat a bit and start Dark Bay from the beginning again, and miss out one day a week as the episodes are 6 pages each, unlike CD's 7 pages.

The aim is to have written 20 episodes of it and have the page layouts for them done before I start posting, so there's over 100 pages of cushion ... then I'll feel no pressure to keep up the pace. Currently I'm writing episodes 12 and 13, and have strong ideas for the next few after that, as well as an overall story arc to work towards.

So look for a Dark Bay daily page blog sometime in the New Year ... say February sometime.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A few good men?

The outcry against the current Wikileaks document dump seems to me to be a similar line of reasoning as Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men. Apparently we can't handle the truth. We need people acting on our behalf outside the rules we are expected to follow ourselves. These people should have no public oversight or scrutiny of their actions. Secretly we want it that way ... because we can't handle the truth.

The diplomats and politicians want to give us easy to digest black and white versions of the world. There are good guys (France, for example) and bad guys (France, for example if we go back a couple of years). The leaders of the Free World are all nice guys and girls. They are competent, honest, hard-working. We can rest easy at night, and sleep soundly in out beds. Because if we knew the truth ...

The world is full of grey. The leaders of the so-called free world are often corrupt, vain, stupid, inappropriate, paranoid, etc. Toppling Saddam didn't create a wonderful secular democracy overnight ... and has allowed Iran to gain more regional influence than some of its neighbours would like. Pakistan has some serious problems, which include the possibility of nuclear terrorism. China and North Korea sometimes don't get along. The U.S. bullies and bribes other countries into doing stuff they don't want to do. The U.S. sometimes does negotiate with terrorists.

The thing is ... none of these are revelations. Unless you are the kind of person who takes press releases from the White House at face value. And that is the crux of the matter. Too many journalists and commentators have been asleep at their desks doing just that .. letting the obvious lies, half-truths, and diplomatic double-speak get reported uncritically. Or worse, actually helping to formulate and disseminate those lies.

It is not the job of politicians and their PR-people to tell us the truth. It is supposed to be the job of journalists to ferret out that truth and expose the grayness of the world. Not only are most journalists not doing that, many are actually attacking Wikileaks for making that job possible. Even now the mainstream media (particularly television) spends more time reporting the spin coming from the White House about the leaks than the contents of the leaks themselves. It's as if the majority of them have no idea how to analyze and write about evidence, so they resort to regurgitating the press releases from officials ... once again reporting on auto-pilot.

The lesson here is that not only can we handle the truth, but that many of us already knew the truth. It turns out that the cynics among us were pretty much on the money. Who would have guessed? It's the majority of the media who seem to have no idea what to do with the truth.

Let's hope a few more people have now had the wool pulled away from their eyes, and that maybe a few more journalists start to question the official line on a regular basis.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Feeling funky

The end of another episode (the 15th) over at http://itscharacterdevelopment.blogspot.com/
A new one stats tomorrow.

Meanwhile I've been writing further CD episodes (finished the layout for the 34th) as well as writing something new (a revenge fantasy story that's a little different).

Now if I could just get out of this dark funk ...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sigh

Some days it's hard to keep working on something when you have no idea how it is being received.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pointless milestone

Over at the Character Development blog you can find the one hundredth page posted. Woo hoo! etc.

And yes, technically there are less than 100 pages, since every 7th page is a title page that (generally) repeats apart from the title words.

But "woo hoo" none-the-less.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Words of equal value?

More Character Development pages over at the other blog.

I posted a link on Facebook today, but I'll post the rant about it here.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908//vp/40246873#40246873
The media no longer seems to have any ability to differentiate between sources. If somebody, anybody, says something it can be used as 'news', no matter how disprovable, how idiotic, or how ill-imformed the statement is.

An example of this is contained in the link about. I witnessed another example recently when a UK reporting of a gun shoot in East London was focused around the quote "getting a gun here is as easy as buying candy from the corner shop".

This quote was used by the in-studio presenter before the clip. Then restated by the on-the-scene reporter, then restated in voice-over yet again before finally being said on camera by the source. The source was a wannabe hip-hop dude who looked like a stoned extra in an Ali G sketch.

There was no evidence for the statement. No research was done. The source was unreliable. The quote really made no sense. Yet it had been chosen by the 'news' as the focus for the report on a fatal shooting. Why? It was sensational. It was good TV. That and it fitted in with an editor's own views/fears on the subject.

It was everything that is wrong with the current media.

The news media is (in general) divided into commentators, who can have opinions, and presenters and journalists, who are not allowed to have opinions. There may be good reasons for this, especially given the trend to pretty boys and girls as presenters and journalists who quite possibly have no opinions worth listening to "Is my hair okay?").

News presenters are no longer allowed to voice their own views, that would be opinion and editorial which is bad. If you are a news reporter, as opposed to a commentator, you MUST let others give the opinions. You MUST be balanced, even if that balance means letting someone state something that is incorrect, wrong, or stupid.

But just because news presenters can't tell us what they are thinking (lest the gods of fair and balanced journalism strike them down) that doesn't stop them from getting as many quotes as they want and selecting one that fits their now hidden agenda.

Any source will do. A doctor or a homeopath? It doesn't matter. A police spokesperson or a random stoned guy on the street? They are of the same value to the media,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Virtually sweaty

There's a new page available at the Character Development blog.

One of the oddest little online games I'm addicted to is a Football 'roleplaying' game. The RP elements are minimal, but you do get to guide the development of your character in terms of their stats. You also get to play the games in real-time, on a virtual pitch, with other players.

I have two characters. They started out in New Zealand, but were soon snapped up by East European sides. So twice a week now I get to conference call on Skype with the players for a Romanian virtual soccer team.

There's a lot of chat in ... well, I'm guessing Romanian ... that I don't understand, but we communicate well enough to organize an effective off-side trap.

The other day my wife sneezed nearby and several accented voices said "Bless You".

My wee daughter was watching me play once and loudly announced that "This game is boring!" Peels of laughter from Romainia, Brazil and Scotland could be heard (It is a international squad).

The world really is getting t be a smaller place.

Now excuse me, I have to virtually run my arse off defending one side of a virtual football pitch.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Update

Another page of Character Development is up (click here).

Had a good writing day, despite the madness going on around me, and polished off episodes 29 and 30. Started writing 31 as well, but I wasn't happy with it and will scrap it and start again.

Meanwhile there's a couple of stories fighting to come out of my head, and I'll have to give in to them soon or they'll tunnel out of my skull.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New episode over at other blog

There's a new episode starting today at the Character Development blog.

I'll post the link to the new daily page from this blog, but no longer the image. (Yes, I'm forcing you to another blog if you want to read the comic, entirely for rankings considerations. I'm a horrible person.)

Instead I'll post random thoughts, rants, and some other comic pages when I get the time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Character Development THIRTEEN (7 of 7)


Click on the image to see a bigger version.

Always read the fine print.

A new episode starts tomorrow, but only on the Character Development blog (http://goo.gl/YACg). I'd rather you were reading it there so the visitor stats help the various ranking sites it's linked to.

However this blog will still have updates, and a new episode of Dark Bay starting soon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Character Development THIRTEEN (5 of 7)


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It's the little things you miss when you're away from home. Like drunken debauchery at your favourite sleazy watering-hole.

Once this episode finishes I'll stop posting the daily pages of CD on this site, and direct you over to http://itscharacterdevelopment.blogspot.com for them. That way I can start putting some other things up on this blog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Character Development THIRTEEN (2 of 7)


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A bar in a dungeon. Not the most original of concepts, I'll admit ... but I do have an origin for it on the next page.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Character Development THIRTEEN (1 of 7)


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Drinking games ... it's amazing how often alcohol features in roleplaying. Buying a round to gain information from the locals. Plying someone with wine to loosen their purse strings. But it doesn't always work out for the best ...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Character Development TWELVE (7 of 7)


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Reading (and hence writing) are often overlooked skills, in the comics world as well as the roleplaying.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Character Development TWELVE (5 of 7)


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I was trying to get some 'emotion' into the faces of the Playmobil by using angles. Since they have fixed expressions it's a little difficult to 'read' their feelings.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Character Development TWELVE (4 of 7)


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Can't think of anything to say today. Maybe it's because I shaved my beard off for Movember?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Character Development TWELVE (3 of 7)


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Epic photo-shoot yesterday saw us complete episodes 17 and 18. Jelly-fueled mayhem. That's Jelly in the English sense of the word ... Jello if you're from North America.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Character Development TWELVE (2 of 7)


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We are currently stalled on the photo-shoot for episode 17. Writing and life has got in the way of what is one of the trickiest shoots so far. But at least I have a 5 week cushion of completed episodes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Character Development TWELVE (1 of 7)


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This episode was inspired by an old campaign where we had all made up characters and the first thing we were asked to do was ride to help some besieged town. However, only one of us had any skills in riding.

It's amazing what 'essential' skills you can neglect when creating a character.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Character Development ELEVEN (6 of 7)



I had issues with this photoshoot. First, finding (in)appropriate things to come out of the Mage's backpack, then making sure I had enough shots and angles for each stage of the unpacking. Sometimes I make things difficult for myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Character Development ELEVEN (4 of 7)


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You'll have to suspend disbelief and pretend that all the Playmobil have backpacks. And like any roleplaying backpack, they are Tardis-like in terms of interior dimensions.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Character Development ELEVEN (3 of 7)


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If you have a player who has memorized the monster bestiaries it can be hard to surprise a party. On the other hand, if they can't quite remember the obscure details ...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Character Development ELEVEN (2 of 7)


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Believe it is not, the monster in this episode is a large glass chilli ornament. It's an odd object that hangs around our kitchen for no reason I can think of. We stuck some eyes on it and ...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Hobbit Affair

I'm going to be naive here and suggest that the whole Hobbit debacle isn't as complicated and sinister as many people are suggesting Here's my timeline of events;

* National Government introduces god-awful employment law.
* Jackson and Warners announce Hobbit movie to be filmed in NZ.
* NZ actors and film workers form long queue which is mistaken for protest action.
* Actor's Equity ask to negotiate collective contract with Warners.
* Jackson and Warners decline to negotiate collective contract on the grounds that it is probably (no one is sure) illegal under NZ law. Instead offer deal that includes profit sharing for all. NZ Government wonders if Hobbit profit sharing could replace superannuation scheme.
* Actor's Equity decides to use Hobbit as leverage against god-awful NZ employment law.
* Actor's Equity places blacklist on Hobbit.
* Warners freaks out. Like most U.S. corporates they despise unions, and in particular militant ones. By default they attempt to break the union.
* Jackson surprised by fuss. Can't understand what he has done wrong. Wonders if his Golden Boy status has been revoked while he wasn't looking.
* Jackson tries to go and talk to Actor's Equity at Wellington meeting. Is refused entry.
* Actor's Equity decries Jackson for not meeting with them.
* Both sides say things they will later regret.
* Warner's gets jumpy when international stars support boycott of Hobbit. Are afraid of Gandalf's staff. Suggests filming elsewhere ... perhaps a non-union country?
* Hearing the Hobbit is up for grabs other countries offer Warners lucrative tax breaks. Warners likes lucrative tax breaks idea. Wonders why it can't get them in NZ?
* Both sides entrench.
* Warners decide the risk of filming in NZ is too great. Suggest Ireland has nice countryside and co-operative union, and they don't mind paying three times the wages they would have to in NZ if they get big tax break and security. The Harry Potter sets are available as well. Bonus.
* Jackson would prefer to make Hobbit in NZ, but wonders if a few pints of Guinness might get rid of the bad taste in his mouth.
* NZ Unions fail to realize how much Americans despise labour (labor) unrest, and still believe they are in a position of strength. Stick to hard line.
* NZ Government scrambles to find juicy treat to wave at Warners ... contemplates wrapping Gerry Brownlee up in bacon and dangling him on a rope as cat toy for corporate tigers, but Brownlee eats bacon faster than it can be applied.
* Hobbit production moves to Ireland. 2000 plus NZ actors, technicians, etc are left without work.
* Unions blames Warners, Jackson, the government, the Illuminati, NASCAR, and the alignment of the stars for losing the Hobbit.
* Everybody else blames the Unions.
* NZ Actors get great "Pink Book" deal. The 27 NZ actors still employed feel much better about life.
* Hobbits and leprechauns unite and go on strike for better working conditions for all creatures under five foot tall.

Character Development TEN (7 of 7)


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Apart from being a little too shiny, I think the chocolate yogurt dairy food worked well as a fecal substitute.

A new episode starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Character Development TEN (6 of 7)


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Food and Playmobil go together like ... we'll, they don't really go together. But it's still fun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Character Development TEN (5 of 7)


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Chocolate dairy product, ahoy!

It's just as well Playmobil are plastic and easy to wipe clean.

The oddest thing about this photo-shoot ... we bought a six-pack of Calci-Yum Chocolate Dairy Food to use for the special effects. Two of the six pots did not contain Chocolate yogurt. Instead they contain some white goop that tasted revolting (my wife described it as "sweet mucus"). I'm guessing the automated machine failed to put the chocolate stuff into the pots. A more savvy consumer would have returned the revolting substance to the supermarket for a refund.

So while I can recommend Calci-Yum Chocolate Dairy Food as a great substance to stand in for sewer crap, I cannot endorse it as a food product.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Character Development TEN (page 4 of 7)


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The Ranger's abilities with creature identification feature in several upcoming episodes. The Ranger is usually the quiet one. Perhaps that's because of the bad tastes in her mouth?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Character Development TEN (3 of 7)


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Managed to finish the pics and layout for episode sixteen yesterday. Now we need to make up a large amount of jelly for episode seventeen.

Meanwhile I'm trying to balance writing more episodes of this with my need to write other stories as well.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Character Development TEN (2 of 7)


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Everything poops. So in a populous dungeon where does it all go? Adventurers go in seeking piles of gold, but surely they're more likely to find piles of dung?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Character Development TEN (page 1 of 7)


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The start of the tenth episode.

I'm currently snapping pics for the sixteenth adventure, and writing the last pages of the twenties before embarking on fresh episodes to take it all through to the thirty-ninth part. So no sign of running out of pages for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Character Development NINE (7 of 7)


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He's dead, Jim.

A new episode starts tomorrow. And it features chocolate pudding as a special effect.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Character Development NINE (6 of 7)


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It's good to see someone keeping the faith in the old fashioned manner. Wouldn't Sunday's be much more interesting with the occasional sacrifice? Think of it as Survivor Church -- the most real of reality shows.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Character Development NINE (5 of 7)



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Yes, Dennis. What DO you mean?

Just finished taking the photos for episode 14. You won't believe how easy the photos for episode 15 are ;-)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Character Development NINE (3 of 7)


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I'm racing along with the photos ... currently snapping episode 14. So I'll switch back to Dark Bay at some point and set up a blog for that strip as well.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Character Development NINE (2 of 7)



Blutac is a very useful substance when making these comics. In this case it was the easiest way to get the two Playmobil to kiss. But it's also been used to hold things to the walls, in hands, and keep the character's feet firmly planted on the ground when needed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Character Development NINE (1 of 7)


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Ah, anchovies.

My favourite pizza to make at the moment is a potato and anchovy pizza. It sounds weird, but is really tasty. You slice the potato really thin and lay the slices out on the pizza base (we use a store bought Turkish flat bread, but any base will do) so they just overlap and cover the base. Some rosemary and black pepper over the top, a trickle of good olive oil, and a few anchovies laid out on top. Finally some shavings of Parmesan cheese and it's ready to go into the oven.

The saltiness of the anchovies and the crispy potatoes really work together.

As an added bonus it is highly unlikely anyone else will want a piece.

Mmmmmm.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Character Development EIGHT (5 of 7)



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Currently franticly writing of future episodes ... finished 23 and 26, need to work on 24 and 25.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Character Development EIGHT (1 of 7)



The start of the 8th episode, and a new addition to the title page. Meet the Dead Guy.

Remember, there's archives of this strip and others at www.virtuallycomics.com

I'm currently taking photos for episode 13, and writing episode 23.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Character Development SEVEN (7 of 7)



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Duh duh duh dunn.

A new episode starts tomorrow, at www.itscharacterdevelopment.blogspot.com

This blog will continue to post pages, but will also have other material as well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Character Development SEVEN (5 of 7)



Finished up the photos for episode ten last night. It features thick chocolate yogurt as a special effects substance. We had messy, tasty fun.

Also spent part of yesterday setting up a separate blog for this strip
http://itscharacterdevelopment.blogspot.com so it could be submitted to webcomics sites.