Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dwarf Lover Director's Cut: The Beginning

The first episode of Dwarf Lover.

The Beginning

A title which points to the fact that I had no idea where I was going with this thing. I knew I wanted it to be complex. I wanted it to be epic in scale. So epic that I had no actual plans for finishing it. And seeing as how it took 10 years to actually get to the end of the 2nd Chapter of, probably, 13 Chapters, it doesn't look too good for the finishing thing.

But I did take a six year long hiatus where I worked on other projects. But at the beginning of this year, I really felt like revisiting the comic. I felt like, at least, getting these poor losers out of the Tomb of Horrors. And that'll be happening in less than a month. So, yay?

Back to The Beginning. The comic first appeared on my (our: Me and two long-time friends from high school) website, No Apologies! Press. No Apologies! was a chaotic jumble of anything that came to our minds. It was a nice place for a writer who cared more about the initial ideas of a project than the long term project itself. A place for lazy people with lots of creativity. It was wonderful!

Dwarf Lover began as a blog by our fictional friend, Chris Davenport. Yes, yes. He is fictional. Sorry to spoil the illusion for any Chris Davenport groupies. Except his image wasn't fictional and I think I should apologize to the real life person Chris was. His name may have been Cyrus. Or Cyril. Or something like that. He may have gone to Santa Cruz University. I used to have a link to his school webpage but that has been lost in time and multiple computer changes. His image got a little bit of fame over the years. He appeared on Mulletsgalore in its heyday. He appeared on How Fresh is This Guy. He also appeared in a Maxim Guide to the Web pull-out I still own (so proud!) featuring the How Fresh site and that page I just linked to.

Chris Davenport was partly based on Doom Bunny from No Apologies! Press. Partly, because it might be mostly in my head! But I seem to remember Doom Bunny playing Dwarves (or Dwarfs?) an awful lot because they little tanks. Perhaps that was our friend Roy I'm remembering too. Anyway, Dwarf Lover and the man who needed to defend Dwarfs at all cost, was born.

I'm not sure where the Dwarf Lover blog became a comic. Maybe I thought it would be easy to do. "Oh, I just scan a few pictures and it'll take no time at all!"

Even for the simple style of the comic in its early days, that was completely wrong. Just photoshopping the scans into useable pictures is tedious. Everything about the process is tedious. But I love seeing the scenes come together. And I still have a lot of story to tell.

So, about The Beginning. Probably not a lot to tell. I thought I would make it sort of Noirific. That didn't really keep but I revisit the Dwarf Narration every now and again. And make a point later on to show that Kohk is actually keeping a journal of his travels.

The initial scene is comprised of characters scanned from the 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook. I think. This must have been back in 2000 or 2001 when I started. The window is from Dave Sim's Cerebus, as is the mug and the table. The table I colored myself in Photoshop! Amazing! The characters that aren't from the Players Handbook are from the Monster Manual, same edition.

The story basically retells what was going on in Chris Davenport's Blog at the time. He and deranged elf fan, Larry Pressfield (Upright from NA!P), had begun a war of words between the two clans. I decided that was spiraling out of control and a summit of some kind was needed. A summit that was being role-played.

Looking back on this comic, I like the set-up. The collage art is actually pretty decent for just getting started. I think I'd had some practice with some other NA!P features by then. And my favorite line still calls for a shirt or mug or mousepad: "Go fist a dryad!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Attribution, Sprite Comics and Collage

I often wonder while making Dwarf Lover whether or not I should be making mention of every place I take a picture or every artist I can find that created the pieces I'm using. I imagine at some point I'll go through the comics one by one and try to remember all of the sources. Sort of like a director's cut except over here instead of over there with the comic.

And since I'm on the topic of using other art to create a comic, I thought I'd define Dwarf Lover as I see it. It often gets called a Sprite Comic which is both a neutral general term to describe a comic that doesn't use original art (usually a sprite comic because it uses the graphics from a video game) and in a derogatory sense because, well, the comic doesn't use original art.

Dwarf Lover, as you may have noticed, does not use original art. Well, not true. It generally doesn't use original art. My art is peppered through the comic where needed but this comic, The Journal of Kohk Korunch, is completely my work. Except for the initial hand.

But Dwarf Lover is also not a Sprite Comic. It's more of a collage. It takes images of every kind from many sources. The web, comics, gaming manuals, video games, movies. And the majority of the scenes and characters have been painstakingly reworked. All of the major characters have been pulled apart, torn limb from limb, and rebuilt so that I can move their parts around and put them in whatever poses I choose. Most of the backgrounds need to be turned into a blank and each individual set piece pulled out so that I can manipulate it to my will.

It takes a lot of work to put together an action scene in Dwarf Lover.

In the beginning, I wrote a lot of 'talking heads' episodes because it seemed easier. It was also boring. So I began writing the comic without thinking about the effort each page would take in Photoshop. I found I liked this best of all. Sometimes I wouldn't notice how difficult a page would be to shop until I started the actual work. But often, I'll write a page and just shake my head, thinking, "How in the world am I going to put THAT together?" And then I do it.

But since it still isn't my original art, it will always be looked down upon by the jerkier nerds on the internet. If people can look past that aspect and realize what I'm doing is art in and of itself (yes, art can have dick jokes), they might be pleasantly surprised at the story taking place on this obscure little place on the web.