The Sausage, as She is Made.

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Rather than take all the fun out of the fiction, I thought I’d give you a quick background on how Todd, Troy and I put together Arcanum. Everyone works differently on Thrillbent, but this is the general production template.

I write each episode, defining each slide and generally calling out the panels.  Every now and then I’ll just suggest something, not detail it out.  The fight between Cole and the Elven Swordsman in Episode 002 — or #102 if we’re using standard TV episode numbering, which probably makes more sense in this format — was originally scripted as “Give me as many panels as you think interesting, across as many slides, to show me Cole using stick-fighting to take this asshole apart.”  Sometimes I’ll call a editing pattern, which Todd then translates into page space. In today’s installment, for example, I called for a 50/50 to mimic a cross-cut between Subject Zero and the door to the vault opening. In my head they were side-by-side, but Todd designed it as a top-and-bottom spilt, which worked even better.

Todd then sends me layouts, a sample of which appears as the header for this blog post. I approve, he then does the full art digitally, combining colors and inks and what-have-you, whatever guys like him do to make the pretty pictures. It all seems very difficult, frankly.

When Todd delivers the color pages, I tend to re-script.  Not a massive re-write but sometimes I look at an action or an expression and realize I want to adjust. Sometimes I see that thanks to Todd’s art, I don’t need certain dialogue.  It’s a much more fluid process than print production, a bit more of a conversation.

With the script properly adjusted, each dialogue line being numbered so the letterer knows what goes where, I take Todd’s art and export all of that week’s installment into a single pdf document.

I load that pdf into Goodreader, my iPad doc reader and editor of choice. Using a stylus I lay-out where each dialogue balloon goes, or at least suggest it. Mark taught me how to do this, but I’m a sad dilettante compared to him. He can see the page layout instantly, has an almost musical sense of how comic page storytelling should work. I kind of galumph along.

Arcanum 006 panel one

This often leads to further tweaks to the script. With all that done, I upload the script, lettering-guide pdf and the original color art to our FTP server. Troy Peteri, our in-house letterer and general file genius, letters the comic, does the final image prep, and dumps it back onto the server.On the appointed day Lori Matsumoto, our general site coordinator, makes sure the comic goes live, sends out the appropriate texts, emails and tweets, and off we go.

We’re a little more complicated than most similar sites as we’re coordinating a giant chunk of continuous, new material. But I find it boggling and impressive that most webcomics are a one-person show, a single person tackling all that, often three times a week. There’s a reason we use them as our distribution/production model rather than print. That sort of hustle is what you need to move the model forward. Time will tell if we’ve learned the right lessons.

Go ahead and read today’s installment here.

May 06, 2013 In: Comics

I Spy

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Credit where it’s due: the novel layout of this week’s INSUFFERABLE installment (the Meg narration stuff) was suggested by Tom Peyer, pulling on our mutual love of the opening credits of the 1960s TV show I SPY, a program that I adore in concept and in casting and in opening credits and in music and yet, to this day, I have never been able to get past the first commercial break of one single episode.

Also, extra kudos to Pete this week, as I love the last-panel image of J. Alfred Nocturnus walking the beach.

All sorts of other new stuff up at THRILLBENT since last week: New DAMNATION OF CHARLIE WORMWOOD, new ARCANUM, both GREAT.  And free to read. Go.

Still sorting out downloads–what to offer for free, what we might need to charge a minimal amount for in order to maintain the site. Didn’t want anyone to think I’d forgotten the PDF discussion. Just swamped from the C2E2 convention this past weekend, where we received much Thrillbent love and announced our partnership with AW YEAH COMICS!, by Art Balthazar and Franco and friends, the geniuses who gave us TINY TITANS and SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES. We’ll be adding a kid-friendly sister site soon showcasing their work (and others’!), but in the meantime, we recommend that you rush RIGHT HERE to Comixology to purchase the first Chapter of AW YEAH COMICS!, available in the THRILLBENT section. It’s only $1.99, and it’s AWESOME.

And while you’re there, if you’re of a mind to become a Thrillbent patron, you can snag THE EIGHTH SEAL #1 and back issues of INSUFFERABLE, all of which have lots of unseen bonus material. We appreciate your consideration.

May 01, 2013 In: Comics, Site News, Thrillbent News