650- High School Drama III
Finally, the drama (such as it is) continues. The lead-in to this one, I now realize, is a bit abrupt. In the last panel of the second one, Mascotti is yelling at the one girl for not being assertive enough, then here, suddenly, he's yelling about the outfits. If you look back on the second one, Tatanya asked about the outfits, calling them 'stupid'. Before LJW1 could explain their significance, she was dismissed, and this is why the mascot creature is talking about them. I had this thought out, but I guess my notes were too disorganized. There are a lot of areas where the panel layout could have been much better, particularly where dialogue is involved. The problem with that is that I always underestimate how much space words will take up. With my art style, though, I kind of depend on having plenty of space for illustrations, so there's no simple solutions. Anyway, I like this one pretty well.
651- High School Drama IV
This one is a bit sub-par, mainly because I haven't had any time to work on it during which I was not exhausted, hung-over, sick, or something. Nothing complicated is going on, so it doesn't matter that much, but the dialogue arrangement isn't very good... there's too much of it in the bottom half, I should have had four panels on the top, and three on the bottom. Oh well, live and learn.
652- High School Drama V
I focused on composition much more on this one than I usually do. Also, I've been trying to move away from the previous system by which I drew out the art in great detail in the penciling phase, and simply traced over that with the inks. The upshot of this development is that it will take less time in the future to draw the strips, but the art will suffer in the meantime. The kicking panel was hard to do, I had to redraw it several times. Also, there were a lot of blocking issues, some of which were not adequately resolved... Anyway, only one more high school drama strip to go!
653- High School Drama VI
The art here is crappy, even after cleaning up more than a little. Part of this is because I was having a lot of trouble with the quill, and couldn't control the linewidth well for the more fine lines, and part is because I was rushing. I don't think it's that funny, either... As usual, I can't wrap a storyline up well.
654- Quest For Food
More of the daily trials of employment in the Forest of Peril. The disgusting creature in panel five is, indeed the same creature from the smooshing strip. I suppose they could have prepared Madescargot, but Beireia's not much of a chef, tall hats notwithstanding. The ending falls back on Arby's-bashing, an activity I have no excuse for participating in. I don't think I've ever eaten there, so I can't say it's gross, and I didn't particularly care about their stupid oven mitt, either. It is a randomly-assigned vendetta.
655- Ultra-Secure Housecat Stockpile
Finally, a single-size strip. I had to think a long time to come up with one, I've been doing double-sizes for so long, it's hard to think of short gags. Anyway, I like it well enough, even though it's just random.
656- The Magic Axe
It should come as no surprise that this one is just an excuse to draw loads of violence and try out new panel layout and sound effect techniques. They aren't integrated well, but I think it adds a lot to the impact. I may have over-used the radial gradient shading, though. I found myself wanting to add it to almost every panel, so I had to excercise a lot of restraint. One of the reasons this one was delayed was the blood splatter effect. I thought I could do it in the computer, but the appropriate tools turned out to be quite inadequate, forcing me to return to traditional media. I walked to CVS and bought a cheap toothbrush, and what you see is the result.
657- Fierceburgers
This one may or may not have follow-up strips involving the mysterious General. Originally, I was going to instead use the Colonel, who would ride atop a genetically modified chicken, and Chappy would utter the phrase "Tonight I dine on Colonel soup!", parodying the oft-used ninja turtles line. This would have been the first threat of cannibalism in Irritability, although sentient creatures have been eaten before, I believe. Uhh, I really wish I had spent more time on backgrounds here, maybe I'll go back and touch it up later. The action is decent, but all in all, this strip was rushed, and shows it. The script's not very funny, either, now that I look at it.
658- Enne's Apprentice
I was considering breaking this one into two single-size strips, but in the end it works better as a whole. The first Enne-centric comic, she finally gets some characterization. It's too bad the dialogue isn't better. I needed a couple of dramatic-type monologues, and I'm no good at that. I put backgrounds in, there's a change of pace. I think the fourth and fifth panels are the only really funny ones, though...
659- The Rival Returns
There needs to be a panel between the third and fourth ones, the space is not distributed well among the panels at all... there should be more backgrounds, better art, especially with regards to facial expressions. I could go on. Anyway, this is the start of another long storyline. Long in irritability terms, at least. I'm beginning to really like the Adrianna character. Tatanya has been the one with the most potential for a while now, and I think Adrianna's presence will really add to that.
660- Theft of the Ragnalith
Mostly dialogue here... I think it's arranged pretty well, but it's hard for me to tell if a particular effect has been conveyed successfully... since I already know the thing I'm trying to get across. I'm getting kind of frustrated with screentoning, though... Maybe I need to look more closely at how Josh Lesnick does it. I'd like to have them all in color, but that takes too long to do myself.
661- Sneaky Attack
Despite a serious background deficiency, the art in this one is decent. (after some photoshop retouching, at least) I spent a lot more time planning this one, but perhaps still not enough. It looks like time spent planning individual panel layouts is made up in time saved not having to erase panels and redo them from scratch during penciling, though. In the past I didn't really care about panel layouts or blocking much, so I didn't have to worry about it at all. I spend a LOT more time on each one of these than I used to... like 8 hours per, at least. Uh, anyway, this one doesn't move very fast, but it sets some stuff up for later.
662- Combat
This one was really hard to draw... Which shouldn't be any surprise since Tatanya and Adrianna are punching and flipping around for most of it. I like the effect of the panel arrangement in the lower half. Probably the hardest part was choosing what instants in the sequence to depict - in my sketches, I had drawn it out like frames in an animation, almost, but that would of course be too tedious. I feel like it could have been better, but it's alright as is. The impact would have been much better, it seems, if I had added in speed lines in some of those action panels, but I couldn't figure out how to do them; straight ones wouldn't do, especially for the over-the-shoulder toss. I didn't want to delay the comic further trying to figure that out, so I skipped it. It's always irritating when I don't have enough time to bring a strip to its full potential, but there's noone to blame but myself. and Arby's.
663- The Sneaky Bag
A rush job, obviously, this one is satisfactory nevertheless. The layout of the first three panels is awkward, though, and the art is bad in the fourth. A better shading effect would have been more effective there also.
664- Ragnalith Activate!
Easily the best-looking Irritability strip to date, I wish it was funnier. Kind of a waste to have all that art in an otherwise unremarkeable strip. Having done this, as an experiment, I would really really like to be able to do them all in color, but this one took such an ungodly long time to finish, there's no way I could make it standard. The 'demon' from the ragnalith looks suspiciously like a goblin, the way I draw them... I ought to play around with monster design more, I guess. Since a lot of the details I worked so hard on don't show up well in that size, I made a much larger file... click here to see it.
665- Chappy Meets The Space Frankenstein
This intermission from the ragnalith storyline was a comic that I had wanted to do for a long time. The idea of space monsters; as in old hollywood-style monsters, in space; has an obvious appeal, I think. A space frankenstein is obviously much stronger than a regular one. Those rockets in his feet can accelerate him up to escape velocity, so that should give you some idea of his power level. Specs for the space dracula and space mummy are not currently available.
Update! It turns out, the Space Mummy exists, and has prior to this comic. I had a nagging suspicion that I had seen the space monster thing before, and got the idea from that, but searches for "space frankenstein" and "space dracula" didn't turn up anything. I should have known!
666- Rotten Banana
Tatanya's demonic version appears, on the 666th strip. This a really crowded one; sixteen panels, which is almost three times as much as is standard for a double-sized strip. This storyline is dragging on a bit, so I wanted to pick up the pace. The layout works pretty well, though, except those three at the end. I don't think you can really tell that Enne is knocking aside the rotten banana beam, although hopefully it becomes clear in the last panel. The banana beam, if you'll notice, has developed spots, as bananas do when they go bad. The appearance panel turned out all right with the smoke. Not quite what I had intended, but it'll do. The baby and sacrificial altar and knife all vanish as quickly as they came once off-panel. I hope you'll forgive the lack of blocking continuity there, it should be expected by now. The panel where Adrianna is on the ground talking to herself took several tries. She kept coming out way too cheesecake-ey, which, I will admit, has been a problem throughout this story. I should have made her costume more conservative, especially since she's supposed to be kind of a more innocent counterpart to Tatanya. I wanted it to be basically what a normal girl would wear to kickboxing class or whatever, plus a few style elements, such as her trademark shirttails, and the Vedic-style sleeves and sash. Though, I guess she should have track pants or some such instead of jeans, then.
667- Enne's Disguise
So, I was congratulating myself for having planted the seeds for this plot element more than four months ago, in the Enne's Apprentice comic, when I realized that was only nine strips ago. Not so impressive. I had a really hard time with the dialogue, though it came out alright in the end, I think. At UT they offered a course in "rhetoric of superheros", I regret not taking that now. The toning and shading was a real pain in the ass here, also. I had kind of wanted Adrianna to have a personality like a real human might have, to contrast with all the other nutters in the strip. That's breaking down a bit here, I'll have to be more careful.
668- A Betrayal Most Foul
Let's see... Adrianna's head is too big in the first panel, the layout there is kind of bad in general. You can barely see Robot to tell he's shrugging, I had to write the word in there like a sound effect. I had wanted, in the fourth panel, to have the quickie-mart behind Tatanya to be in flames, so she set on fire because she's bad. I felt the demonic nature thing needed to be reinforced, since she acts the same as always toward the other characters, but I didn't want to dedicate any panels to it. Anyway, the reason I didn't is because I couldn't think of a way to do so in such a way that it was clear what was going on. There could be fire, or there could be a quickie-mart, but not both. I had planned on having more of those zooming emphasis lines, but the panels in question are all clustered together, and I thought that would make the comic as a whole look weird. Also, that's not very effective with so little whitespace, anyway. I quite like Adrianna in the fifth panel, and Gasoline Girl in the bottom of the sixth, by the way. She (GG) was supposed to be more in front of Xcilla, like blocking her from view, but I guess I botched the layout there. So, Xcilla's expression doesn't make as much sense, which is compounded by that turning out to make her look more angry than I had intended.
669- Demon Rasslin'
The first panel here might have been better placed at the end of 668, but it was too late by the time I thought of it. All the difficult compositions turned out well, the ones with Adrianna grappling with Tatanya, ...but a lot of the simpler ones, like Robot smashing the Ragnalith and Gasoline Girl doing pretty much anything, turned out fairly badly.
670- Faaaailure
The last Ragnalith comic, I skimped quite a bit on the compositions. I guess I should have made up for it with backgrounds... but I didn't. I probably should have broken panel four up into two separate ones, also - It always bugs me when a conversation has some kind of turning point within a panel, and you don't get to have the person's face reflect that. In this case, when Adrianna gives up and stops bugging Robot about smashing the Ragnalith, her expression would change. There's space for another panel, if I split that one vertically. Let's see... The ending is a little typical, but it works out well enough.
671- Polly the Snail Slayer
So, in the Ragnalith storyline, I had been "pushing the envelope", so to speak, as far as comic density goes. By which, I mean that I had been cramming more and more action and dialogue into the same amount of space. One could argue the pros and cons of that, but I think I definitely crossed a line here. Lots of stuff is cut off, although probably drawing stuff smaller would be an acceptable solution. There's not much else to say, except to point out that I really didn't plan out ahead of time what the madsnails' shells would look like, like, which way do they coil, how does the shell rest on the body. Oh, and the original ending had Polly slaughtering the madsnails, smashing their shells open with that rock, and the punchline would be her bragging about it, even though the snails aren't hard to kill at all. Liz got upset, though, and insisted that the snails come to no harm, on the grounds that they are cute. I found fault with her reasoning, particularly that last claim, but I have been wanting to tone down the animal violence, and there wasn't enough space to show the killing AND the bragging, so I gave in.
672- Everything worked out fine for the penguins in the end
So, I was playing the DS port of Mario 64, and one of the earlier levels has you searching for some penguin's baby, which looks identical to all these other baby penguins which are standing about. My frustration with this led me to make unfair generalizations about penguins as a race, and so I used Chappy as a proxy to express these vile sentiments. But, before he even has a chance to say his racist piece, he is preemtively accused of racism. So, he has to clear himself of these false charges, then give them truth. Also, there's the last-minute filler panel, which is kind of lame.
673- Emergency Meeting
I was going to do one where Chappy goes into a bakery and starts beating everyone up while making terrible bread puns. "Right in the breadbasket!" and so on. But, that would have been hard to draw, so I came up with a more dialogue-based one, which is this. I did try a few interesting things, art-wise, but mostly it was just talking heads. Robot in particular was in the exact same position, with pretty much exactly the same expression in almost every panel. It got so bad, by the end, I had to draw just the back of his head, to break up the repetition. Conveniently enought, that was also much easier to draw! There's a fair number of jokes in this one, I'm pretty happy with it.