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2017-06-26 10:14 am

The Elves of Orbis Leonis

Writing this as part of my World Map Project for the Storm King's Thunder campaign. Chunks of it will go into the gazetteer handout for the players, but I'm also posting it here for my elfy players (lookin' at you, Plotline and [personal profile] laurie_robey).

Elves are always a joy, and always a problem. Every campaign, and every edition, has treated them differently, to the point where it’s become a giant blurry mess. So for Orbis Leonis, my “grand unified D&D setting,” here is the definitive word on elves.

Earliest Days


In prehistoric times, the elves were a single people. They have a variety of creation legends, but they are largely biased and contradictory. What is known is that there was once a wide-ranging high elven civilization throughout the region now known as the Marches, ruled from the great spiraled tower Elfspire. Before the foundation of Elfspire, even the elvish histories are lost, other than that the elves fled from some calamity across a seemingly-endless plain– a plain that would have to be where the Gulf of Irul Kinthé is now– only to stop in despair upon sighting the eastern reaches of the great desert of Xadar. The Elfspire was created, the story goes, when the Maimed King, Iearendir, prayed to Corellian Larethian, who appeared before them and commanded a unicorn to touch its horn to the ground. From that spot sprung a well of miraculous healing powers, and around it grew the Elfspire in “an echo” of the unicorn’s horn. This happened, according to the elves, “hundreds of centuries ago.”

For an indeterminate (but presumably very long) time, the elves ruled the region. How the elvish realm interacted with other ancient kingdoms is open for speculation. However, roughly 30,000 years ago, according to what elven records still exist, there was a bitter internal conflict among the elven gods, which was in turn echoed by enclaves of elves in the mortal realm. This conflict led to a massive event the elves call the Sundering, that splintered the elves into the eladrin, high elves, wood elves, and drow that the world knows today. (Some scholars point to this as also being the origin of the orcs. Orcs deny this. Often via manslaughter.) This event also ended the elvish dominance of the region and seems to have led the decline of the entire elvish race.

Note that this story seems to conflict with the giants’ tradition that there were no civilizations of note on the surface other than Ostoria during its heyday. Either the elvish record is incorrect, or the giants’ idea of what is a “civilization of note” is disputable. Which of those may be true is left as an exercise for the reader.

High and Wood Elves


Of the elven kindreds, high elves and wood elves are closest to each other, with their differences being purely cultural. A high elf raised by wood elves, is a wood elf, and vice versa. They are called "high" elves because they prefer to live on the surface, or even better, in trees or tall spires, but also because they did not follow Lolth into the Underdark. Although the stereotypical high/wood elf is of fair complexion, with very fine, straight hair, there is more variation than people generally think. In the Sea Kingdoms and realms further south particularly, elvish complexion ranges to a copper or deep brown color.

Eladrin


Eladrin ("noble elves" in their own language) are the most powerful of the high elves, with the strongest attunement to the realm of Faerie, to the point where they are infused with its magic. They are closer to elemental spirits to mortal beings, being tied to the passage of the seasons and the movement of the sun, stars, and planets. Although physically similar to their more terrestrial kin, Eladrin are readily discernible because their eyes are solid orbs of color with no visible pupils, and their bodies often radiate a visible aura. Tales say they can speak any language, and step between the mortal world and Faerie/Feywild at will, and while this may certainly be true of individual eladrin, it may not be true of all of them.

Drow


Drow, the "dark elves," followed their goddess into the Underdark. Before the Sundering, the elf goddess Araushnee was a patron of the stars, destiny, and craftsmanship, whose emblem of the spider represented her weaving of the fates. Her favored followers, although still high elves, would undergo a ritual transformation that altered their skin to an intensely dark blue and their hair to a shining white or silver as a mark of their devotion. During the great conflict that caused the Sundering, Araushnee forsook the light of the stars and fled the realms of light (or was banished, or simply left, depending on who you ask), taking her followers with her into the Underdark. From that small pool of common ancestors came the modern drow.

(Note: Araushnee's daughter Eilistraee, a high-spirited goddess of moonlight and dancing, shares her mother's appearance, and what few drow who have forsaken the worship of Lolth for its wickedness and cruelty, have generally turned to her as their new patron. A small cabal of drow worshippers of Eilistraee can be found in Myth Talminden, and it is something of a "promised land" for discontent drow of the Underdark who would flee their dark mistress.)

Orcs and Elves


How do the orcs fit in? The truth is that mortals don't know and the gods aren't telling, but there are clear signs of some sort of connection. First, is their shared mythology: the story of the battle between the orc god Gruumsh and the elf god Corellan Larethian, allowing some variance for which side you are rooting for, is remarkably similar in both cultures, and always highlights the famous cutting out of Gruumsh's eye. It is also worth noting that elves and orcs are both interfertile with humans and each other, unlike any of the other demi-human races. (It is rare in the extreme that an orc and an elf would have a child, but such a child would essentially be either a half-elf or a half-orc depending upon which parent they favored.)

Elvish Homelands


There are two major elf holdings in Orbis Leonis. First, and oldest, is the Elfspire, in the southeastern portion of Thessalaine near the Gulf of Irul Kinthé. This consists of a massive, spiral conical tower formed out of a unique mineral reminiscent of mother of pearl, a dizzying fifty stories in height and crowned with an ever-burning beacon. The mountainside below the spire is also populated by houses and fortifications in the high elven style.

The second largest is the western seaside realm of Myth Talminden ("Silver Lighthouse" in Elvish), a fair and green country on the westernmost point of the mainland. The city of Myth Talminden proper consists of several large stone towers inlaid with silver from Argent, in a curving spiral style that echoes the Elfspire, but on a much smaller scale (the tallest reaching only seven stories). The towers are connected by a dizzying network of narrow, gracefully-arcing catwalks that not only provide walking access from one spire to the next, but also reinforce the overall structure like a lattice.

There are many smaller settlements across the land, usually referred to as "havens." These include the wood elf settlement of Starsong Hill in Elsir Vale, Mother Oak of the Westdeep, or Dimhaven and Mistvale in Thessalaine. Of course, the drow have their own cities in the Underdark, but the names and locations of these are not generally known to surface dwellers.

-The Gneech
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2017-06-19 10:49 am

Let's Get This Show on the Road!

So, last week was a challenge. >.> Messed up sleep, a cat-in-crisis (Lady) dropped in our lap, job hunt frustration, and a general lack of fucks to give led to me basically chucking everything out the window (everything I could chuck, anyhow) and playing video games. (Other than Overwatch, because that particular game is often the opposite of relaxing.)

However, I only let myself do that with the promise that I would be back to work on Monday and get things done that need to be done. So step one is: organize! Thus, the Too Much To Do List for the next two weeks:

  1. Do some kind of workout.

  2. Take a shower and get dressed.

  3. Issue six page nine

  4. Job applications

  5. Blacktigr commission

  6. Overwatch competitive stream/Mastering Mercy vid

  7. Mooncat Timey-Wimey badge

  8. LKCMSL Timey-Wimey badge

  9. Graveyard Greg IBMBA commish (NOTE: send bill for this)

  10. PTBAF panel agenda

  11. Print for AC: button restocks, Best Bodies Contest flyer, Timey-Wimey badges

  12. BtA YouTube banner

  13. BtA Patreon banner

  14. Read books for Rainbow Awards


Right ho. Time to get started.

-The Gneech
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2017-06-09 06:04 pm

A Bit of AwesomeSauce

"Roughness in da House" by Vince Suzukawa

“Roughness in da House” by Vince Suzukawa


Longtime Suburban Jungle fans know that Vince and I are ol’ pals and mutual fanboys. We don’t get to collaborate (or even chat) nearly as often as I would like or as we used to, but we do still keep in touch when we can, and he recently sent me this, which I have been geeking out about for weeks now.


He finally posted it to his FA page, and so it’s time to share it with the world! Enjoy. 😉


-The Gneech

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2017-05-22 08:22 pm

Tigerdile and YouTube and Twitch, Oh My!

Bringin' the Awesome! Art and Gaming Streams by The Gneech


In an effort to broaden my reach and find more audience, I have begun doing livestreams of art sessions and of my Overwatch sessions, as well as posting recordings to YouTube. So far I’m still in the earliest stages of figuring it all out, but I’m a pretty quick study and I think I’m getting the hang of it! I will add these feeds to the sidebar links on Gneech.com (which is due for a massive overhaul, actually), but for now here’s a quick list where you can find Gneechy Video Goodness!



These time slots are fairly dependable, although if I’m at a convention or something similar obviously that will have an impact. Besides subscribing for notifications on the respective services, you can also follow me on Twitter for the most reliable updates. I try to Tweet at least an hour before I will start streaming to give people a heads-up.


Thanks for watching! Let’s have some fun!


-The Gneech


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2017-05-21 08:21 pm
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2017-05-14 10:04 am

Current Commission and Art Queue

For my own reference...

Commissions


  1. Friday PotG paid: yes; due: asap

  2. SnickerDoodle PotG paid: yes; due: asap

  3. Oshi PotG paid: yes; due: asap

  4. BlackTigr Ref Sheet paid: yes; due: "when ready"

  5. Graveyard Greg IBMB paid: no; due: June 30

  6. Alexa Timey-Wimey Badge paid: yes; due: AnthroCon


Other Art


  1. BtA Twitch Banner due: May 17

  2. BtA YouTube Banner due: "when ready"

  3. BtA Patreon Banner due: "when ready"

  4. Timey-Wimey Badge Template due: May 26

  5. Timey-Wimey Badge Flyer due: May 26

  6. Gneech/BtA Business Card due: May 31

  7. SJ Business Card due: May 31


I think that's everything. I sure hope so. O.o

-The Gneech
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2017-05-10 08:13 pm

Tutorial: Create a Tic-Tac-Toe Game in JavaScript

This exercise was created as a tech writing sample, but hey, it also made a playable Tic-Tac-Toe game, so I figured I’d put it up here for you to enjoy!


Tic-Tac-Toe has been around since at least the days of the pharaohs and has been played with sticks, pebbles, pencils and paper, but with these instructions you and your friends can play Tic-Tac-Toe on any web browser. A sample version of the game is here: My Tic-Tac-Toe Game.


The Basic Game


Tic-Tac-Toe is played on a 3-square by 3-square grid, as shown below. Players take turns placing their mark (an X or an O) until one player wins by putting three marks in a row, or until all squares are full. If all the squares are filled without getting three in a row, the game is a draw.

Tic-Tac-Toe sample games illustration

(click to enlarge)


How the Script Works


The pre-game stage draws a table with three columns and three rows and a label indicating whose turn it is. Each data cell within the table can have one of three values: “X,” “O,” or “blank.” At the beginning of a new game, which player goes first is chosen randomly and all cells are blank.


When a player clicks on a blank cell, the page assigns the selected cell to the player by filling in their mark, and redraws the grid.


If there is no winner and there are still blank cells, play continues, returning to step 2. If there is a winner, or there are no more blank cells, the game ends with either a message indicating the winner or that the game is a draw, and generates a “Start New Game” button.Read more... )

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2017-05-02 03:56 pm

Some Thoughts on Overwatch


Video: A way better Mercy than me.

While I'm sick and trying to shrug off some disappointments may not be the best time to talk about Overwatch, but I like to live dangerously, so I'm going to anyway.

As you probably know, I've been doing a video series on Learning Not to Suck at Overwatch, and I have learned a lot of things– not the least of which is that I have a lot to learn about being a good teammate.

I'm not going to go down a laundry list of my faults here. The main thing is that I have realized, upon watching my own footage with some remove, is that my attempts to be communicative and coordinate things instead have tended to come off as pushy, strident, lecturey, dismissive, or all of the above. Frankly, if I was on a team with me, I'd mute myself. -.-

It was kind of a sickening realization when it hit me, because it's exactly the opposite of who and how I want to be. So I'm going to start doing something about it.

As I mentioned in my last video I'm going to start concentrating on Mercy and Tracer. These are both heroes who depend on positioning and situational awareness– two of my weak spots in the game– and Mercy particularly has a very symbiotic relationship with her teammates, so to play her well you have got to be able to cultivate that.

As part of my out-of-game research for the project, I came upon Scarletta, a Mercy main who does a really, really good job not just of mastering the character, but of acting as the team organizer, caller, and general leader. She does all that stuff I wanted to be doing, but she does it right, and so I have been studying her videos very carefully.

Of course, the week that I have decided to do this, possibly by jumping into the last weeks of competitive season four, my throat dies and a "grind in HotS for a really awesome D.Va skin" event drops. :P So I don't know how much Overwatch I'll actually be doing. It's hard to be team caller when you can barely speak above a whisper. ¬.¬

But I am at least putting that out there as an intention, in case anyone out there would like to join me for it (or would like me to join them, if they have a team looking for a healer). My goal is to go from "strident, lecturey, and dismissive," to "reassuring, informative, and helpful."

-The Gneech
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2017-05-01 12:57 pm

Because It's Been Way Too Long Since I Posted a Pony Vid



I kinda don't live in Equestria any more the way I did, say, three years ago, even if I still love the ponies like whoa. My attention span is just stretched way too thin to keep up with it all.

-TG
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2017-04-21 09:34 am

SJ Fan Art <3

Major Matt Mason commissioned this piece by NixieSeal. Fun! :D Reposting here because it's got a content rating at the FA site.

SJ Fanart by NixieSeal

Thanks, MMM and Nixie!

-The Gneech
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2017-04-12 06:07 am

The Delicious Sport of Pizza Tossing

Finally, a sport for me!

Tony Gemignani is equal parts chef and athlete. The Italian-American restaurateur is a pro at tossing pizza dough, and can perform complicated feats like tossing the stiff flour mixture high into the air, spinning it around his shoulders or through his legs, and even juggling multiple pizzas-in-progress at a time...


-TG
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2017-04-10 09:28 am

Ponies Required

Man, the internet was in a pissy mood at me this morning. >.> You people need to chill the heck out. Here, have some ponies, and other stuff.







Man, if that don't cheer the world up, it needs to re-evaluate its life.

-The Gneech
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2017-04-07 08:16 am
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2017-04-06 02:26 am

The Feminine Mind (Suburban Jungle and My K-On! Obsession, Part Four)



Source: K-On! Wiki


It was The Secret of NIMH that made me realize men were boring.


I mean, men can have their uses, and a few of us are marginally clever, but it wasn’t until The Secret of NIMH that I began to feebly catch a glimmer of the quantum differences between life as a man and life as a woman, even when dealing with the same things. [1] And from that point, women began to dominate my writing, and my reading too, when I have the option.


There are exceptions; NeverNever was theoretically about Arthur and Col. Beowulf (although the strip didn’t really come to life until Mopsy showed up, and I don’t think that’s an accident). Greg has sliiiiightly more focus in the Brigid and Greg fictionlets. Michael Macbeth had a long run as a character I kept trying to write about. But compare them to, say, Tiffany Tiger or Verity Anjo, and it’s probably easy to see where my creative interests lie. And as a general rule, in any given group, I gravitate towards and generally feel more kinship with the women.


I have been told that I write women characters well, for which I’m grateful. As much as this is true, beyond the obvious “write about human beings, regardless of their gender,” I suspect comes mostly from simply shutting up and listening to what women say, not just in public discourse, but also (and more importantly) to each other. This latter can be hard to pull off in daily life– women’s behavior changes when there’s a man around just as much as men’s behavior changes when a woman is– so I do it mostly by reading things written by women for a female audience. Doing this took me a long time to get used to, as I had to overcome a lot of social programming designed specifically to prevent it. But it has also taught me many, many things.


At a certain point, however, there are barriers I simply can’t cross. I know what muscle cramps feel like, and I know how changing brain chemistry can send my moods all over the map but I’ll never have a period or PMS. I can use my imagination to picture being shorter, lighter, and more flexible, but at the end of the day I will always be 6’2″ and one of the largest people I know. I know what it’s like to have people randomly dislike you or discount your opinion for no good reason, but I don’t get told I’m “dominating” a conversation when I’ve said one thing for every four things said by someone else.


I think about this sometimes when I’m working on Suburban Jungle. I know I have women readers, but if I had to guess I would assume that my readership skews mostly male. Certainly, there is a tendency among some of my readers to want me to, as the saying goes, “cater to the male gaze.” This isn’t just things like wanting pinup poses or playing up the sexualization of any given situation (although there is certainly that), it’s also pressure to reinforce stereotypical gender roles such as wanting the men come to Charity’s rescue or attacking Langley for being “too bitchy.” It might not be male gaze so much as “want everything to fit into comfortable traditional pigeonholes” gaze, I suppose… but whatever it is, I can tell it’s out there.


I also think about a comment I read online somewhere about K-On! which strikes me as relevant. The comment, left on a review somewhere I have long since lost the link to, was that it was nice to have a show about girls that actually felt like it was about girls, and not just some guy writing his vague idea of the sort of things girls do and repeating all the usual things that sort of scenario usually leads to.


There’s a reason for that, of course. Despite being a show about high school girls, K-On! was originally created by a man for a primarily male audience. What made the K-On! anime a commercial success in Japan, and arguably one of the reasons why it is so much better than most of the other shows of its type, was that it was made by Kyoto Animation, a studio comprised largely of women, who added all that other stuff and gave the show tremendous crossover appeal. In short, K-On! was popular with women too, not just with the stereotypical moe-fan otaku. And when women get behind a thing, they go big. 😉


Charity is finally part of the gang. <3


And really, if I could arrange it, that’s the kind of reaction I’d want people to have to Suburban Jungle. Someone once told me that despite the obvious fantasy elements “When Wally Met Mikey” from the original SJ was the most realistic depiction of a fledgeling gay relationship he’d seen in a comic– which made me very proud. I don’t know if I can hit that level again with Charity and her friends, but it is the target I’m shooting for. And among other things, that means pushing past comfortable traditional pigeonholes, and being as true to the “reality” of the characters as I can.


-The Gneech


[1] See also Scalzi’s discussions of “straight, white male is EZ mode.” Not that it’s all sunshine and roses– being male in our society is a lonesome and painful business, as Norah Vincent so powerfully demonstrated. But on the grand scale of life, not being able to talk about your feelings or wear attractive clothes and constantly having to fight the effects of testosterone poisoning, don’t quite stack up to being in constant (if usually low-level) fear for your life and having to work twice as hard for 2/3 the pay and recognition. And also, any woman over the age of 12 is more badass than most men ever have to be. Ask anyone who draws blood for a living. They’ll tell you.

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2017-04-05 03:23 pm

Holy Crap, Anime Danceoff Time!

Please forgive the extraneous space, that seems to be Dreamwidth being strange.








...Whoof. I'm exhausted.

-The Gneech
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2017-04-04 08:17 am
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Welp, So Much for LiveJournal

I have not read the new, badly-translated-from-Russian LJ user agreement that people have been talking about it, but LJ would not let me stay logged in unless I agreed to it.

I don't know how bad it is, but at this stage, I don't want to have anything to do with it. So I was auto-logged out, and that's pretty much it, I guess.

So long, LJ. I'll miss the you of 10-15 years ago.

-The Gneech
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2017-04-03 08:08 am
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Weekly Weigh In: Ditto Edition Ditto

Today: 288.5 lbs
down 31 lbs from my highest weight of 319.5 on November 25, 2016
down 30.5 lbs from my starting weight of 319 on July 1, 2014 (143 weeks)
average lost: 0.21 lbs/week
next milestone: 287 lbs (10% loss)

I've been having difficulty with consistency. Instead of "a bit of exercise and moderated diet daily" I've been swinging between days of huge workouts and days of just consuming mass quantities. It's been like this pretty much since the switch to daylight savings, which always messes me up.

So my goal for this week is to try to put some brakes on the pendulum.

-The Gneech
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2017-03-31 09:55 am

Pop Art Prostitution

Pop art is a business. I know that. Comics were always intended to be entertainment-for-money, and any art that happened along the way was a nice bonus.

I'm not happy about it, but I also recognize it as reality.

But in this era of crowdsourcing, Patreon and the like, the relationship between the artist and the consumer is more tightly-knit and blurry than ever. The script I'm working on for issue six started out as a commission someone wanted me to do, for instance.

And in the world of webcomics, this is complicated by the fact that there is a certain "amateur hour"-ness about it. Some of the most popular comics are stick figures; some of the most gorgeous art is done by people who refuse to monetize at all.

There aren't a whole lot of us who make a sustainable living off webcomics; however there is at least one prominent one who's been in the business a long time and is making money by the bucketload. I'm being cagey about naming said artist here because some of this particular artist's methods really put me off but I'm not in the business of calling people out. I'm talking here about my own mind, not to pick fights with other people.

The artist's regular comic frequently includes what I call "Rat Pack humor," the sort of casually sexist and privileged crap that make Joel and the Bots on MST3K say things like "I would like to apologize on behalf of the entire male gender, thank you" or "I'd slap this movie if I could." It always annoys me to see this kind of thing get applause in the first place. Said artist then takes this a step further by doing what is basically a porn spinoff comic as well, that is behind a paywall.

(In fact, almost everything this artist does is behind a paywall of some variety. They really buy into the idea of "content sold separately.")

I don't object to adult comics; I've got no problem whatsoever with Oglaf (wow, that's a NSFW link) or Oh Joy Sex Toy (holy crap that's NSFW) for instance. Gene Catlow's silly sex-addled side-stories get a thumbs-up from me. But I am very uncomfortable with the prostitution of characters.

At a convention some years back now, when I was still learning what to say "yes" or "no" to, someone commissioned me to do a picture of Tiffany in lingerie with one of his OCs. The guy had sheets of OCs to choose from– all of them being variations of the standard comic book woman figure, in different cliché "sexy" outfits. (Insert rant about it always being guys who do this shit... later.) I was uncomfortable with the request, but as I say, I was still learning these things. I did the picture, but I was unhappy the whole time, the result was not very good art, and I ended up only charging a portion of what I would have normally asked for.

And... well... I felt like I owed Tiffany an apology. ¬.¬

According to the philosophy of the artist referred to above, this is exactly backwards. The correct reaction would have been to let out a whoop, charge an extra $75, and draw the Best Damn Tiffany Tiger Porn any fanboy could dream of.

Said artist has set themselves up as a kind of industry expert on webcomics, sort of like the business writer whose main qualification is that they sell a ton of books on becoming a business writer. I can't really argue with their reasoning I suppose, given that they are one of the few people making a ton of money as a webcomic artist.

But their actual content makes me itch. -.- Their business practices make me itch. -.- And seeing people flocking to them and emulating them makes me itch more. >.<

Everything they do, from the format the comic is shown in, to the pacing of every gag, is designed to maximize the money squeezed out of the audience. If the artist's blog is to be believed, even things like character design/story arc and personal connection with the readers are also weighed against this metric. I used to follow their blog and social media presence on the grounds that they were, y'know, actually making a living in a field in which I am not, but I have finally reached the point where I just can't keep looking at it.

If money is the object of the game, why bang your head against webcomics? There are easier and more profitable ways of making money without caring about what you do.

I don't pretend for even a second to have a viable business model for my own work. And yes, that's a problem. But I can at least look my characters in the metaphorical eye without wanting to slap myself.

-The Gneech
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2017-03-27 08:22 am
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Weekly Weigh In: Finally Progress Again Edition

Today: 288.5 lbs
down 31 lbs from my highest weight of 319.5 on November 25, 2016
down 30.5 lbs from my starting weight of 319 on July 1, 2014 (142 weeks)
average lost: 0.22 lbs/week
next milestone: 287 lbs (10% loss)

Didn't post last week because I was still bouncing along the same 290-ish plateau and my morale was down. I pushed a little harder this week, and it paid off. :) Hoping I can finally hit that 10% milestone next week!

-The Gneech
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2017-03-25 06:07 pm

Moe Cheegers and Genki Wolf Girls (My K-On! Obsession, Part Three)



In 2014, I missed Suburban Jungle so much that I decided it was time to return to it. But I couldn’t just pick up with Tiffany, Leonard and the crew seven years later. Tiffany’s story was finished, and as she was the star that the rest of the comic orbited around, there was nowhere for it to go except to just sort of string along as a zombie franchise. So I decided instead to for a “next generation” idea, and Rough Housing was born.


I freely admit, I had very little idea what I was doing with it at first, so I just tossed in a bunch of things that I liked and figured it would gel. Possibly not the best way to start a new project, but it was also true of the original Suburban Jungle and that seemed to go fine. My initial vision for Rough House was a lot more pure OTT zaniness and parody. Issue two pretty much exemplifies this, with the S.S. Plot Device and “The _______ of Cangrejo Diablo!” being typical of the kind of jokes I had in mind.


But for whatever reason… I just didn’t love it. Scripting was constantly a chore and instead of wacky hijinks I kept wanting to write shippy or emotional moments. By the end of issue three and well into the scripting for issue four it would be fair to say that Rough Housing was having an existential crisis behind the scenes. This resulted in the scripting for issues four and five taking forever as I wrangled with it.


I knew from the beginning of the “Best Bodies Contest” arc that the big payoff moments were Parker getting up on that stage, and Leonard’s final decision. But I also clung to the idea of wacky hijinks, envisioning lots of sabotage at the contest, Charity doing ridiculous things to stall Leonard and Morrison, and so forth. But while the emotional moments flowed quickly and easily, for the hijinks I ended up with whole pages of script that said things like “FUNNY SCENE HERE.” Fortunately I was able to lean on my wit to come up with gags on a page-by-page basis, but it was a frustrating way to run a railroad.


But as I was working on issue five, two important things happened. First, I began streaming my art sessions, enabling me to get real-time feedback from some of my most engaged readers and see what they responded to and why. Second, I was watching and falling in love with K-On! and examining how I responded to that and why. And when I spotted the overlap, everything clicked.


See, here’s the thing: K-On! hits the sweet spot perfectly. At its core, it’s a remarkably subtle, character-driven story about connections, loss, savoring the moments of life, and so much more– but it sneaks all this past you by being adorable and laugh-out-loud funny. But the humor isn’t the GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK humor of Love Hina or Sgt. Frog. The girls spontaneously forming a cheerleading squad for Ritsu as she tries to eat a receipt they don’t want their teacher to see gets me every time, but it’s also a completely realistic moment.


This was the eye-opener for me. The original Suburban Jungle was very comfortable with the GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK style, with its very tenuous fourth wall, aliens hiding in the sun’s corona, and all that jazz, but when people talk to me about it today, what do they talk about? How Tiffany, Drezzer, or Leona impacted them personally. The connection they felt to Mikey and Wally. How they identified with Dover’s codespeak.


The people in my streams, similarly, talk a lot about how adorable Charity is and wanting to give her a hug, being proud of Parker’s overcoming his fears, or how fun it is to see Rufo wanting to make out with anything that moves.


In other words, the parts that were coming the most easily, are the parts that work the best anyway. XD So! Lesson learned.


Langley and Ritsu... separated at birth?

Langley and Ritsu… separated at birth?



The influence of K-On! has already worked its way into rewrites and page layouts. This Langley/Rufo moment, for instance, was not in my original script. It was inspired by the chemistry between Ritsu and Mio and tossed in to spruce up an otherwise dull page, but it’s just as great a moment for these two goofballs.


But the lessons I learned from K-On!, and the realizations I made about Rough Housing along the way, are going to have big repercussions moving forward. Issue six will see a shift away from “this issue’s funny premise”-style writing to focus more on the characters’ goals and fleshing out generally. I also hope to move away from being quite so much focus on Charity to being more of a proper ensemble with stories about the rest of the cast. (Who is Bounce? What does he do all day? What’s the deal between Langley and Rufo?)


This may lead to eventually changing up the cast somewhat, if existing characters aren’t working or new characters might work better. We’ll see. Rough Housing is sure to evolve over the next issues, but I finally feel like I understand it now. Giant monster attacks and wacky hijinks are not and were never going to be the strength of this comic, and really aren’t the strength of my writing generally. It’s the characters and connections, and the humor that naturally arises from them, that will make or break it.


Giant monster attacks may still show up from time to time, who knows? But where before I was saying “A giant monster attacks! What do the Rough Housers do?” I’m instead going to start with “The Rough Housers want X. How does that pan out?”


You’d think after being a writer for thirty-mumble years, I’d have learned that lesson by now. I guess I just need periodic reminders.


-The Gneech