Chris sent me a script idea on September 20th and, yes, it's taken me this long to get to is. Partially because there was a bit of backstory I wanted to establish beforehand but mostly because it really just takes that long (sometimes).
(SIDENOTE: yes, I'm happy to take your comic strip ideas. I don't promise I'll use them, but who knows!)
So Chris sent me a script. I liked it, I told him so, and immediately re-wrote it. He approved of the new material and all was good. Right up to the point where I actually started working on the strip.
See, with as much circulation as the last strip got, some of the most obvious jokes still seemed to go straight over people's heads. My comic was obscure -- and I don't mean just hard-to-find. This is bothersome because, to me, everything seems to be fairly on-the-nose. And the joke I'm referring to in the last comic was exceptionally straight-forward, and yet it seemed like too many people needed it explained to them.
Is it just a quality of audience issue? Or is my writing not as tight as it should be?
Probably a little bit of both, but ... mostly the writing.
So instead of producing Chris's comic as written and rewritten, I started re-writing some more, cutting the material down to its core.
I think the problem with the last strip (and most of my comic in general) is that I'm trying to fit too much into each episode. The joke that seemed to go straight over everyone's heads, in spite of how simple it was? It was crammed into the first panel of comic -- promptly followed by five other panels that had nothing to do with the first gag. In other words, that first joke/panel should have been a strip all its own.
This is what I'm trying to do, moving forward: keep things simple. Don't cram so much into each strip. Spread the joy around a little. So Chris's pitch (an "ok" 6-panel affair) is turning into four 3-panel installments, giving each joke and sentiment the respect they deserve.
Too many people are complaining that they don't "get" my writing, so I'm trying to make it simpler. There will be three more installments of Chris and VHS tape.
This was a whirlwind of a comic, inspired by the opening lines of a blog Tripp wrote a few days ago, titled 'Letting Theology Go'. He posted it on the 19th and posted the comic at about 2am on the 23rd. Crazy. Here's why:
- Every panel is individually drawn and painted. No substantial copying and pasting here.
- Aside from my wedding poster (which admittedly is in a completely different style) I had never drawn Tripp, so I needed to work out his design and outfit.
- Usually I sketch with a blue pencil and then ink on top of that. This time I sketched it all out with the final black ink and whittled the sketches down. This was a mistake.
- Having embraced the fact that my comic generally takes place with front-facing characters against solid-color backgrounds (simple much???) I decided to start adding some basic shading to the color comics. This is the first, regular example.
- Tripp's beard is two-toned.
- The script has been re-written three or four times, with the final edits happening at about 1am last night, before the comic was posted.
Aside from that, I love how this worked out to basically be two separate 3-panel strips. The gag in the first one ("God bless you. I'M A THEOLOGIAN!!!") still makes me giggle, and makes a perfect Seminal Works are for Pornstars counter-point theologians taking themselves a bit too seriously.
Is it offensive? I dunno and I don't care. Theology comes and goes but bro-love is forever.
Check out last year's Christmas greeting from me and Tripp: