Today we take a break from MST3K. Seems even I have to take a break from that amazing show from time to time. So what are you looking at up there? Well that was a short lived Web Comic I wrote, and was drawn by my high school art class friend Dwayne Bruce. (Dwayne has his own blog which is linked on the right.) How short lived was the comic? Five strips are all it made it too. Why was it short lived? Well that might be a little more complex, but I'm not tackling that here. These comics originally appeared on their own Facebook group with hope to move it to its own dedicated site before its untimely death.
So why am I posting these again here? Well because of something I had wanted to do when these strips would have found their way to their own site, and that is to give a writers commentary on the strip and let you into my mind a little bit and let you know where the idea came from, and maybe let you have a better understanding of what went into it. I had also hoped to talk Dwayne into doing the same from an artist point of view, but never got the chance to bring the idea up to him.
O.K., so we start at the start. "Simon Says 001: Hello my name is…" Although the numbers and titles where never suppose to appear on the actual strips. This isn't actually the first strip I wrote. That honor belongs to a strip called "This is No Cartoon." This strip started like an 80's cartoon where we just jumped feat first in with no introduction to the characters. Unfortunately, that strip never saw the light of day and may be forever lost to the void. After I wrote that and one or two others, I thought I needed to introduce the strip in some way, much like Garfield did back in 1978.
I had to do something simple and quick here, and the joke isn't one of my best. I'll admit to that. It does help in a minor way establish character. We know our main man up there is Simon (We were latter learn his full name is Simon Lamont.) and that his girlfriend/Wife's, we don't know which at this point, name is Liz. (Later to be known as Elizabeth Silvas) We also find out that Liz isn't a typical 50's woman and ain't doing crap for this guy. Thing is we also know that Simon knew what the answer would be and just did this to goad her on. And so we see a small snippet of how their relationship might work.
This strip along 4 others and 3 characters(This cast would have grown to include seven characters in the end.) that would dominate theses early strips where all made in one day. One of my earliest critiques, apart from "That's not funny", was that the strip lacked character development. Well this is true. It kinda has to at the start. Go to any of the most well known Web Comic and hit that little button that says "First" and then just read. You'll see how it goes. The truth of the matter is that you are trying to tell a mini-story that is also a joke in 3-6 panels. You can't also cram Hamlet in there too. In order for there to be character development, you have to let the characters develop. And this takes time, and more then five strips. Honestly, this comic is still a pet project of mine. I've written almost 180 strips now, (even though the hope of ever seeing them drawn at this point is slim) and there is plenty of character devolpment by now. Lots of drama and lots of conflict, but that's only cause I've had 180 strips to build that up in. See you have to understand the beast that is a strip comic. If I did all that up front, no one would have read it. The joke is what gets people to come back. And once you get them coming back every week, then you can lay on the heavy stuff.
Anyway, that critique lead me to write a seven part arc called "When Simon Met Liz", you also never got to see this, which I regretted doing it at the time. The reason being is that I told of their beginnings, and once you tell that there comes a point where you have to someday tell their end. Do I let them get married and live happily ever after, or do they break up? That was the road I set myself on as soon as I wrote those, and I didn't want to think about that. I wanted them to just be, no beginning and no end. I don't regret it as much now, because it allowed me to add stress to their relationship later, and pull them in this direction and that, but at the time I really hated doing it.
Well I talked enough for now, and I have four more to go through. So be sure to check back next time for strip 002: "Progress is making things smaller." which is the first full appearance of both Liz and T-Bear and...PANTIES!