Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It's done! And with two days in the quarter to spare.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Slight Addition to what Chris said---

One thing I find interesting going through the project in hindsight is how the narrative progresses right alongside Chris and my's developing Comic Life/Photoshop prowess. Our first pages are both relatively low-key, panel and picture-wise; by the end, we're both doing picture-within-picture and exotic photoshopping with five or six different elements in play. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Darren and Chris's Post

Apologies for the belated post. Our project, as we anticipated, was very time consuming. As I write this, Darren is finishing our 48th page. Our process began several weeks ago with a core plot outline. This outline had all of the major plot points, for which we anticipated two pages per point, so roughly 35 pages total. We worked together on the opening and then split up the rest according to flow and what we felt comfortable with. Even though a lot of our work was done solo, we met quite frequently to exchange images, jokes, and try to deal with tying our various story strands together. We stuck to the story pretty well, and I credit our early plot outline as one of the major successes of the project.

Among the challenges then was trying to adapt our differing styles with a cohesive narrative. We not only had to have our pages appear to have been written by the same author, but we were telling the story of two characters in a variety of situations. We were dealing with reality as a concept, never an easy thing to depict. We were able to find some great shots in google images to allow us to have our fictional character enter the real world and our "real" character in George Lucas enter Davin's fake world. As we explore in the project, such lines blur.

Narrative continuity kind of dove tails with our stylistic differences and collaboration problems. Using "found art" like photos meant we had to use photoshop extensively in order to have the figures fit with our narrative. Photoshopping a single cell could take anywhere from ten minutes to three hours. Trying to prioritize our time was a challenge in that respect. Yet, even when we did our best to get the pictures to do what we wanted, we still had to have the transitions between cells, between pages, and between stories mesh well.

Thus, there were several cells that seemed jumbled or incongruois with the flow, and we had to make it work. While our project is 48 pages, to us that comes with the modifier "only." It could, and deserves to be, much longer. Not only do we feel we could have explored the possibilities of the story more, but we also felt that we could have paced the story better.

All in all, we consider this a successful project. Hell, we had a lot of fun with it and learned something in the process. A lot of that learning had to do with saving your work properly. Oh well.

-Darren, Chris (and Davin)

I guess I should write about my process...

Ok. Well, here's the thing. I originally thought that I was going to use three different media, and that they would all be about equally weighted in the project and the presentation. Three different perspectives on the same succint, funny little story. But after having done the whole project, it turns out that the main focus is really the graphic novel. I like having Troy's voice track, I think it definitely adds to the story being able to hear it in his voice. But I won't even have time to play that part in the presentation, and it's pretty much the same perspective as the graphic novel, although I did try to present the comic from my perspective with the back and forth between myself and Troy in the morning at Notre Dame. As for the text messages...I am pretty sure dlog is trying to kill me. They just don't work, no matter what I try. For one thing, I don't want to type everything out, because that's just not how text messages are sent or recieved. When one sends a text message, one has to press buttons multiple times to get the letters he or she wants. That would be impossible to present in dlog. When one receives a text, the text just appears, you don't see it being written out on your phone. I wanted to use dlog to copy and paste in each text message, with the time and date it was sent according to the receiver's phone, and then have each one appear as if somebody was actually receiving these text messages. This works gloriously until the text messages reach the bottom of the page, at which point dlog refuses to scroll down as the messages appear, but rather allows the messages to appear below the point of visibility. That does not help me. Furthermore, no matter how I save it, dlog refuses to make my entry loadable. I can't find it except in my own window. I see Rebecca's project and Allan's project. But not mine. I also can't load their projects as it is taking a year and Rebecca's still hasn't loaded. This situation, as you may imagine, is extremely frustrating. If anybody is more familiar with dlog and wants to enlighten me, please please do so.

The other main problem with the text messages is that they only provide the skeleton of a story. In order to make them as realistic as possible, I really only present texts that could have or actually did go back and forth between people in the story, and therefore no really explicit story line is sent out. That's ok though--I think that after reading the graphic novel, there is no need to spell out the story again. The texts just serve as a sort of evidence almost, a set of data that tells a story spine. Well, they would serve that purpose...if they were visible to the public.

As it turned out, creating a graphic novel was simply too time consuming to finish in conjuction with two other outstanding works. For that reason, I am pretty satisfied with what came out of my ComicLife endeavor and not too impressed with the rest. It's fine, but the comic is really the heart of the project. It was exciting to see it in hard copy, it looks really different. I'm bringing three hard copies tonight to float around during my presentation.

That is all.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Good Karmen

This is late, but the important thing, really, is that I got it done. My New Media project pretty much ended up in the form I imagined about a week ago -- narrative text accompanied by, but in no way dependent upon, photo illustrations. It satisfies me for the moment even if it seems to have little to do with "new media." The package "Karmen and the Night" feels graphically complete even if it's a throwback to publishing forms of decades ago, more common to magazines than the Internet. (The narrative itself, as a piece of fiction, may have other issues, but I'm leaving those aside right now to address the process of completing the project.)

I began a few weeks ago by coming up with a narrative germ that surprised me in the way it arose from several disparate filaments coiling in my head without my awareness. Having what I thought to be the heart -- or at least the beginning -- of a story, I thought I'd tell it in the graphic novel format, converting photos into "comic book" images through Comic Life. The content of the photographs would have to conform to the narrative, but I believed I could do it. And why not? Most students in the class seemed to be playing with the idea of text wedded to visual imagery where each carrries its share of the narrative in its own way. Someone gave me tips about how to use Comic Life, so it seemed possible.

But there were other suggestions, too. Lauren handed me a liberating idea: Who says you have to use standard "comic book" images? To sequence the story within Comic Life, you can use photos rather than drawings or photo-to-drawing conversions. Tom then freed me altogether from any dependence on visuals two weeks ago when he suggested, indirectly, that I could put down all kinds of text to accompany photos -- as much text as I wanted for any one photo. These ideas were given to me at the same time that I had a collision with reality: It was becoming clear that I was writing a narrative that would demand a huge number of photos -- complete with actors in the right settings -- if I was to create a strong correlation between text and photo content. Very mundane considerations like time and talent reduced my choices still further: I had one actor/model and less than 45 minutes to work with her. If I was lucky, I'd get 3 or 4 photos out of the shoot to use with my story.

So in the end, I fell back on a not-very-new-media solution: The photos would be of a type that would only suggest elements of the story. They would create a mood rather than a strict correspondence with the story's content. It's a very old way of presenting fiction in print media. What makes it "new media" for me is that I created the visual look of the package in addition to its narrative content.

But there too I took the easiest route. In creating a page layout and publishing it on the Web, I was completely dependent on one of the techs in Meyer Library computer services (Ken). With his advice -- and again under time constraints -- I choose the simplest page layout possible, in Microsoft Word. Then, like many of the students in the class (and with Ken at my side), I put the page up on the Web through Google Pages. ... The layout is rough (I had problems transitioning from the Word layout to the Google-Pages html, but they're insignificant). ... I'll try tweaking the layout further after I publish this.

Technology and I are not on friendly terms, although we can function together. I know little regarding New Media applications and similar stuff. But struggling through this forced me to write a story and, however simple its look, to publish it.

Thanks to Tom and Adam and Ken and the other Meyer techs, and Jeremy Sabol and to Lauren, Allan and the other students.

Sam and John's post

Here's a link to the working copy:

Please don't take it seriously as a work of art... yet. The detritus of the editing process has not been removed, and we're only about half done assembling clips.

One of the frustrating things about this editing process is that we're pretty much undoing work somebody else did. For example, it turns out that in just about every zombie attack, the some editor spent a lot of time meticulously cutting in 1.2 second chunks between the zombies' hanging faces and the humans' terrified expressions. So, say that you want to focus on the zombies and ignore frightened victims. You have to make a lot of cuts. You'd like to feel like you're editing but deep down you know that you're just ending up with footage someone thought was so boring it had to be spliced up.

The relationship between the video and the audio is key to the piece -- but should it be abstract? literal? disorienting? some kind of supercharged version of all three? In answering that question, we're limited as much by the footage we have to work with as by our own creativity. This relationship should be much clearer in the finished version Tuesday.

Trying SO hard

It is called Aluminum City.

I will finish this damn thing before the quarter is over. Then maybe I can sleep again. Remember sleep? I don't. My eyes are bloodshot and my right thumb constantly twitches because it's not used to drawing so much (or really at all). My robots will be the death of me. My Shakespeare paper is mad at me coz I spend all my time with my comic instead of with it.

And I'm only slightly over halfway done.

But the pages are going quicker now. I've gotten the hang of Photoshop, which I had never used before, and I'm slowly but surely churning out the pages. This whole thing has been a very interesting lesson in visual art. I had to figure out spacing and paneling and timing. You never think about how difficult it is to place speech bubbles until you actually go to do it. The development of my comic skillz is very very apparent as you read through it. The first few pages are fairly atrocious-looking, but they improve as they go.

It's also been a lesson in frustration. I went over the memory limit allotted to Stanford students very quickly and had to get a thumb drive thing. I have to battle other folks in my dorm to use the one computer in the cluster with a scanner. Photoshop's new thing is popping up repeated windows that tell me there's a program error, which keep me from doing anything for a few minutes at a time. Photoshop can be a little bitch.

I wanted to do a comic this long because I didn't feel I would be able to tell a full story without this length. I wrote the story I wanted to write and that was the length that story turned out to be. But it was interesting how I had to tweak bits as I went in order to fit them into panels because of size/spacing. I had to let the perfectionism go and settle for mediocrity. And now that the end of the quarter is approaching, I'm thinking of condensing some pages, just to make it manageable. The good news is that many of the pages that are left will be quicker ones. Some pages only take like 45 minutes, as opposed to 3 hours. It's depressing to think that the 3 hours of effort I put into certain pages will be finished by the reader in less than a minute. I definitely have newfound respect for comic artists, and I will definitely be spending longer on each page from now on, absorbing all the details, because I know now just how much effort went into each one of those details. But I mostly have 45-minute ones left.

Oh God I am so tired.
So . . . not done yet, but also about 2/3 of the way there; I think the most annoying part of the whole process so far has been wrestling with Google Page Maker. (Damn you, Google!)

Anyways, here is where my story begins, and it gets through four acts; the fifth act will be going up tomorrow, and hopefully by Tuesday I'll also have wrestled dlog into submission.

What I wanted to do in this project was explore the interaction between texts, between writers and the things they read and how people can take what they've read and turn it into something new. I don't know if I've succeeded in getting that across, but I feel like in the process of writing things, and writing over things, and stealing lines and references from Shakespeare plays, I've learned a lot about it myself.

I also have iambic pentameter pretty much drilled into my brain, but that's another story.

Liar's Eve

Hey gangalang, enjoy the link.

If I had to compare my process to anything, it would be the lonely teen going through the school phone directory and calling every girl he knows to try and score a date to the big dance. But, you know, it's like too late and almost everyone has dates, and those who don't have already resigned themselves to not going and never considered the lonely teen as an option and aren't prepared to now. What I mean to say is that I wildly overestimated the interest of others in this little project. Moreover, my go-to funny people all write the Chappie with me, and we put out two issues in the past nine days, so I was in no position to ask anything of them.

Maybe I took the wrong tack. Maybe instead of approaching funny people, I should have gone after the Stanford Roleplayers. But this teen isn't that lonely, and I think it would only be a matter of time before they were requiring attack rolls and saving throws in fictional bounty hunter hand-to-hand accounts.

Excuses excuses! BUT, the unfortunate timing of this assignment is what has convinced me to keep it going. I just signed a three-month lease on this lamentable URL, so I will keep playing with it and see if any new ideas for it come to light.

In terms of my writing process, I pick a character and formulate an opinion or anecdote about him. I keep a list of all my characters beside me and then think about what they would say to what I have just posted. It's as straight-forward as can be, and more spontaneous than I would like actually. I feel like the spontaneity is making it too homogeneous. That's been a tough part: striking that balance between the groupthink of a dedicated community of bounty hunters and the individual differences of opinion that Internet discourse so readily exposes.

Also, I don't really know how to present a non-linear thing like this, so I am just going to read a few threads tonight.

Otherwise, I'm afraid I have some very bad news.

"No longer progressing" is just another way of saying done.

So I guess I'm done. Not done in that I'm satisfied with everything I have but I'm not really sure how to change it anymore. For example -- I really dislike the title "Run" but I don't know what to change it to. This project was... exhausting. At one point sketches covered my room. Everything took an exorbitant amount of time. That first real panel with rabbit silhouette's running? Pretty simple but it took me an hour to figure out how the rabbits should look when they run and actually get an inked version out. That doesn't even account for the whole scanning and coloring in of that 1/5 of a page.

As to how it was done, I sketched and sketched and sketched. I came up with the sketch I wanted and penned over that. Sometimes I would trace that to get a good version other times I would just call that first version good enough and try and erase the pencil marks. That was usually lower quality but it's hard to maintain the exact expression if you get it really good the first time. I used photoshop for coloring in -- that was fun since I hadn't used it really since junior high/early high school when I got a bootleg copy for making websites. I kept the same paint palette with the selection tool (and I think that helped keep characters straight).

I pre-wrote a script but I wish I had planned the panels better. For some I assumed that 'x' number of panels would fit on a page and they comfortably wouldn't. I'm assuming my pages are about half a size of standard paper so making the panels any smaller felt like a waste -- like they couldn't capture enough. This meant I added pages/panels for things that just didn't fit like I thought they would.

I really enjoyed this project. But my eyes felt like they were bleeding (and did actually become bloodshot) on several occasions. I kind of wish I was more stylistically-oriented in a lot of my choices but live and learn. I also really don't know what I'm doing with this now. Do I leave it on the internet for a few random people to look at? What does one do with graphic short stories?

Despite my hesitance to put it on the internet, here it is: Run. Enjoy, (or run in horror (haha). Or just wait until Tuesday and see it -- I'd probably prefer that one). That the low-res version anyway. The high-res version is on my computer if I get in printed out.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Hey guys,

I finally freaking figured out how to get my graphic novel and my sound clip on the web so that they could be shared, and not without help. Anyways, the graphic novel is done, and here it is! But first, click here to hear Troy tell his own story (please excuse and ignore my silly giggling in the background.) It's an mp3 so it shouldn't take up too much space to download. It's six minutes long.

The texts are not quite ready for primetime yet, but I sincerely hope to have them on display by Tuesday's class.

Can't wait for our story sharing extravaganza! (Tom, Adam, please let me know if I can bring anything in terms of refreshments or snacks or whatever.)

Chadé's Process

I can' remember how much we were supposed to post about our processes, but I have a good amount to say, so here goes.

First and foremost, I had a really hard time coming up with an idea. What's hard about this class is that on top of creating a compelling story, you have to learn the proper format in which to tell it, and, in my case, teach yourself all about it. I had barely used Photoshop before this class. I definitely hadn't used ComicLife and I've never had my own webpage before. It's all quite exciting, but also quite time-consuming. I found that I often traded in parts of my story (parts that might lend themselves to versimilitude, consistency and plot arc) for the limits of technology, aesthetic or time. That's not to say that I don't like my story. I was quite fond of my characters by the end and, given that we've done a lot of extracting/mashing from other sources, it seemed appropriate that my idea came from McSweeney's.
As far as the nuts and bolts go, I was really flying by the seat of my pants. At the beginning I drew some panels that I just visually liked. the "MAX" head is an example, the first "OH SHIT" panel (not the one that made it in the final) was another. I just drew some stuff and then fit pieces of the story around it. I started arranging pages in ComicLife with blank panels in between the ones I'd already drawn and then went back to draw the other ones later. I found it wasn't that difficult. By the end, though, I was running out of steam and time so the panels became both less detailed and less particular about parts of the story. There are some places where I should have put in panels to clarify a small moment or highlight something important, but I simply couldn't.
The actual process of making each panel was a little complicated, but similar to what Gene Yang seemed to do. I sketched each panel with pencil, then inked it, then erased the pencil, scanned it into Photoshop, fixed the contrast, imported pictures for the backgrounds if necessary, colored it, then put it into ComicLife then added the word bubbles. I find that I tend to be quite anal about small irregularities, like where the word bubbles are, making sure they fit into the panel itself, making sure everything is level, that the gutters are even, that nothing is too symmetrical on the page unless there's a clear reason for it, etc. That kind of anality can be limiting and time consuming, but I'm picking my battles.
With regards to the storyline, I probably thought of about three different endings and I drew some tangents to the story that never went in. I planned a bunch of panels referencing when Max and Emily first met and their relationship itself, but it didn't move the story along and was gratuitous nostalgia. Then I struggled with the ending of how to make the underwear end up under the tree without her dropping it there right when she's talking to Max under the tree. I'm sure I could have thought of a better ending, but I'm decently pleased with it. Raccoons are silly and annoying. They steal things. Why not underwear.
Finally, to make the process story completely complete, I exported all the ComicLife pages as images then uploaded them onto my googlepages site. Quite exciting.
Not gonna lie, this "graphic novel" might be the most amount of time I've put into a single project in a Stanford class with the exception of my World Food Economy model. I have a huge stack of inked drawings now that I don't know what to do with. My eyes feel like they're sunburned and my neck hurtshurtshurts. But, all in all, I'm really happy I did it because it's one of the most concentrated and dedicated pieces of creativity I've ever churned out. Come Tuesday, I hope you all enjoy it. Till then, it's here. And if anyone has a better name than Underwear, PLEASE TELL ME. I'm so bad at titles.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tessa's and Carolyn's Process

Over the past 4 weeks, our short story has developed immensely. We didn't have much trouble coming up with a script, but we had some issues trying to find an artist. It was difficult to use found art to express the exact moments that we wanted to. But after presenting our first draft, we had some excellent feedback that helped push us along.

We decided to write the story in first person, rather than in third person. We also decided to no longer show Casey's entire face, but to continue to show her eyes to emphasize a connection with the eyes of the dead girl. We also added narration where we didn't have any before in order to help the flow of the story.

Overall, the story has come a long way, and we feel really good about what we've come up with!
We hope you enjoy At a Glance.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Longer Arm of the Law, Other Self-Service

Here is a link to my thing.

Y'all are welcome to post. That would be a lot of fun. Rich interaction awaits.
The constant logging in/out is making me stupid. It's fun though!

Also: Read your Chaparrals.

Also: On Thursday night at 7pm in the Terrace Room, there is a Levinthal reading. If you have ever wanted to hear five minutes of stylized nonfiction about my own life, then man, what an opportunity this is for you. I'm told there will be food and drinks, but you know how disappointing that can be.

Davin Felth

Here's a link to part one.

. . . oops.

And I just now realized that I totally never posted my goals. I really thought I'd done it! Um. At any rate, here they are now?

1. Goals as artist/impact on the reader: I want to show the process of adaptation and the means by which a piece of writing that belongs to someone else becomes your own. I also want to make the characters, especially the main character, real and sympathetic, while capturing some of the rights of the man who doesn’t even know that his own words have been stolen, but recognizes them anyways – essentially, showing both sides. I want to have some humor, and I also want to make the time period believable. Aside from all this, I want to turn several different kinds of media into an organic whole – use them as a way to tell different parts of the story, but still keep it recognizably text-based, user-friendly, and all part of the same greater thing (for lack of a better word).
2. Model/mashup: Obviously, I’m stealing from Shakespeare, which is a large part of the story. The poems, the basic framework, and some parts of the story are going to be stolen in format from Shakespeare and writing style if I can manage it, although for the dialogue I’d rather take from Stoppard than Shakespeare himself. For the modern-era parts, it’s going to read like a fairly standard teen fantasy genre novel.
3. Practical goals: there are going to be five versions of the poem that differ in various degrees from the original. The story itself will be told in five-act format, and each act will include one Photoshopped ‘document’, one script of two pages or so, and one section in straight prose from the modern era. Some may also have something in the voice of the main character.
4. To do: Write the different versions of the poem; figure out how to tell the voice of the main character; write up the documents, Photoshop them, and add marginalia; write the straight prose story; write the scripts. Study plays for this.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Interstellar Super Panel

Before you enter the final stages of your project, our outside review panel will be available to offer critiques and suggestions. They don’t know much about our class, our goals or our projects, so their input will be especially valuable. For that reason, Tom and I will mostly moderate and leave the opinions to those with fresher eyes.

Many of you will remember Jeremy Sabol from earlier in the class—he’ll bring his expertise in technology and his phd in literature to our panel. Chellis Ying is a local writer and vanguard of the SF publishing industry. Lark Pien’s beautiful comics, illustration and paintings have made her a premier Bay-area artist. Woody Lewis is a local writer, composer and technology expert. And Andy Hartzell’s graphic novels are available through hobocomics. Here’s an excerpt of his beautiful and dark Fox Bunny Funny.