Friday, May 25, 2012

Building Universes

One of the major elements of creating a good story, and thus a good comic, is creating the universe into which the characters live and the story plays out.  That said, it's not nearly as easy as it might look at first.  There are SO many elements, and time and circumstances can change the universe in unexpected ways.  Here, then, are some guidelines one should consider when building a universe.

1.)  Keep the rules consistent.  One of the things that throws a story, comic, or movie off is when they break the rules they established in the story early on.  The real universe has a set batch of rules (some of which we don't quite know yet) and it always follows them.  There is a reason we can predict when solar eclipses will happen, or when Mars will rise, or whatever.  If an eclipse happens when it shouldn't, there better be a damn good reason.  Same with created universes, which brings us to. . .

2.)  If the rules are violated, there better be a damn good reason.  Exceptions happen, and often are a key element to the story telling.  One story I started (never finished) started out laying out a rule that the character could predict a mundane event once per week, by having the character do it.  I was promptly criticized that having the character do it meant there was no point a longer story.  Had I continued the story and not moved to another project, the plan was for this rule to be broken repeatedly, thus leading to the next guideline. . .

3.)  The universe must serve the story.  A universe is meant to be a framework on which to hang a story, but if the story and the universe don't connect, then something must change.  In many ways, it's often better to change the universe rather than story, adapting the rules in such a way to allow the story to continue.  That said, the reverse can also happen. . .

4.)  The universe can create the story.  Honestly, I like creating universes more than building stories for them, but sometimes those rules seem to generate stories on their own.  It typically comes from answering a question another rule comes up.  For example, one of the stories I've been working on features a character who cannot be seen, heard or detected in anyway unless she interacts with the person first.  Okay, that's fine, so what happens if she wants to kill someone?  This led to a story point, and I actually explore the possibility as part of the backstory.  Thus the universe created part of the story, all because of the next guideline. . .

5.)  The universe must always be questioned.  Why are things the way they are?  What if this happens?  Constantly ask questions about the universe, explore possibilities and wonder, aloud if necessary, what if.  Why can't my character in the previous guideline be seen?  What conditions can she be seen?  What if she drives a car?  That last one is actually fun to think about, not that she ever does, but doesn't have an impact on the story at the moment.  Still, the point is the more rules that are establish, the better the story comes out because. . .

6.)  Rules don't necessarily restrict creativity, often, they power it.  Limiting the rules of the universe often forces a burst of creativity to get to a point in the story.  As long as the rules aren't violated, stories can be taken in many interesting directions, all without uprooting the universe to do it.  I truly believe that limitations and restrictions are much better for creativity than an open canvas.  Though at the same time, I prefer the limitations to be set by the creators rather than an outside force.  Thus why creating universes is fun.

These general rules should help in creating a universe and story.  One cannot exist without the other, after all, so these rules will help on both side of the fence.

Anyway, that's it for this week.  Memorial Day weekend is this week, and my job will require me to work, a lot.  I hope I don't die Monday, and I'll see you next Friday.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I got nothing

I hate these posts, but I don't have anything at the moment.  Oh, I have an idea for an article, but I don't have the time to finish it.  Hopefully next week.  Until then.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Touching Base #10

Well, time for another edition of Touching Base, which means I don't have any ideas for an article and haven't done any reviews.  Joy.

Alright, let's start with the bad stuff first.  Road Waffles hasn't updated in a while, which is kind of a pattern for Eight.  I'll give it a few more months before I start shuffling it off to the hiatus folder.  Nobody Scores! has the same issue, months without an update.  Kind of annoying as I enjoy both comics and want them to keep going.

Elsie Hooper has also been dead, and it's going in the dead bin.  No point wasting time with it any more.  Bunny has also not updated in a while, along with story comic White Noise, Angels 2200 and Contemplating Reiko.  No idea what's going on with any of these comics.  I fear the worst, especially for Angels 2200 which was originally put on hiatus due to personal problems.

The worst news however is Emergency Exit which is on a long term hold.  The artist has finally been given a diagnosis on what the problem is, and with will hopefully get better.  That said, NJ has decided to focus on ANOTHER project rather than EE for the time being.  Reading the explanation I have to agree that the direction of the comic needed some reworking, and a break might be for the best.  Not sure if the comic is coming back though, or if it does, when.  Could be a LONG while.

The Meek is still on hiatus, but that's not bad as the artist is getting PAID to do other work.  I'm fine with that.  Footloose is also on hiatus until summer, can't wait for that to restart.  Return to Eden creator Miru is having to hold off on the next project due to graduation issues.  Once it gets started, I'll let you know.

Blip has been updating sporadically, but it HAS updated.  Now if only they can fix that date timer.  And last but not least, City of Reality and the Wotch are both on a brief break, probably to build up buffers.  Can't wait to see both get going again.

So is there any good news?  Well yes, Punch n' Pie is back and updating again.  It's twice a week now with a "pin up" on Fridays.  Glad to see it back.  Weapon Brown's brief break was indeed brief an the Blockhead is back in action.  Gypsy! has also reappeared.  Whatever the issue was, it's been resolved and the comic is back to it's quirky nature.

And that's about it this week.  Not sure what I'm doing next week, as I'll be working again, it's seasonal and part time so it won't eat that much time.  Anyway, until next time kiddies.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Read These Dead Comics

With the end of Errant Story, I began thinking of all the other comics that have ended or died that deserve to be read despite that.  I'll leave Errant Story off this list for now, but that should be read too.  This list is presented in no specific order, but here are 10 comics you should read.  I should note these are all comics that ended themselves, not "death by hiatus" or something.  I'll do those comics some other time.

Parking Lot is Full - The first comic I read on the internet, and still one of my favorites.  I really should reread it myself some time.

Miracle of Science - I was recently asked by someone to recommend some comics, and this was on the list, and turned out to be the first one he read.  He loved it.  This comic is probably one of the best flat out sci-fi comics you will read, with interesting, well built characters, amazing environments, and a great story.  If you haven't read it by now, go do it!

Marsh Rocket - This is a pretty good comic, with a unique art style (mostly in coloring) that has some great action and moments.  Including hedge trimmers.

Minus - There something like 4 comics on Kiwi By Beat, but Minus was the first I read, and probably the most fun and interesting.  What if a little girl could actually make what she imagined happen?  That's this comic in a nutshell.

8-Bit Theater - The long joke is pretty obvious now, but how it gets there is one of the weirdest rides you'll find in the king of the sprite comics.  Lots of jokes, but it might get stale in large doses.

Bruno - Bruno is a weird comic, currently in reruns.  Don't expect the normal multiple panel structure, or any normal progression of stories.  Can be off putting.  If you read it, read up to the sequence with the circus people at least, then you'll know if you like the comic at all.

Leisuretown - I have yet to see another comic done like this, and there likely won't be.  It's weird, wild, and fun.  The highlight is the chapter Q.A. Confidential, so read that at least.

Terror Island - Okay, this is KIND of similar to Liesuretown, but not quite.  This is just a silly, fun comic and worth reading.

Shadowgirls - If you want to read a superhero comic crossed with Lovecraftian horror, go no further.  At least read through the first full book, as the second one will likely remain unfinished, and is unnecessary in the long run.

Demonology 101 - The original comic by Faith Erin Hicks is one of my favorite comics, and if you plan on reading any of her current works, from Friends with Boys to Superhero Girl, you should read it to understand where her writing has come from.

I really think these comics deserve to be read, so go read them already!

Until next time kiddies.