It is through the efforts of two gentlemen that the existence of “Reclaimer”:http://reclaimercomic.com is possible. The first is Tyler Martin, who has created the beautifully designed “ComicPress”:http://mindfaucet.com/comicpress/ theme. Tyler’s design makes it eminently easier to produce a regular comic using the powerful WordPress platform. I’ve long been a fan of WordPress, and I’ve wanted to produce a Halo comic since Halo 3 first hit store shelves, so I’m very grateful to Tyler for making it that much easier to make it happen. With the release of “ComicPress 2.5”:http://mindfaucet.com/comicpress/2008/05/19/comicpress-25-released/, things are even better. Tyler built five different layouts, with the graphic novel layout being the design of choice for Reclaimer – and by the feedback I’ve received from you, my readers, it’s been a very positive change. So, my thanks to Tyler for putting the effort into creating such a great tool for producing webcomics.
John Bintz has added another great tool to ComicPress 2.5 that makes it even more efficient to post up new comics. It’s a plugin for WordPress called “ComicPress Manager”:http://claritycomic.com/comicpress-manager/ that goes hand-in-hand with the ComicPress theme. Before, I had to make the comic, use Filezilla to upload the file to the comics directory, then go into the WordPress dashboard and create the new post, write the title, write a little blurb about the comic, add tags, set the category, and set the date and time so that the comic publishes only when I want it to. With ComicPress Manager, all I have to do is create the comic, make sure the file name contains the date and name, and use ComicPress Manager to upload the file. From there, the plugin automatically sets the date and time for me, pulls the post title from the tile of the comic file name, and even creates thumbnails for the comic archive and the RSS feed. I can set my tags and blurb right there. What took me about five minutes before now takes literally 30 seconds and adds more features than were previously available. It’s a powerful little plugin that makes it even more fun to produce a comic by taking away a lot of the ‘pain’ in posting.
Again, my thanks to these two gentlemen for producing these great tools and volunteering their efforts to the webcomic community.
Over the weekend, I spent some time with Photoshop, Filezilla, and a couple of my favorite text editors to put together a complete visual redesign on “Reclaimer”:http://reclaimercomic.com. I’ve picked up a few new Photoshop tricks in the last few weeks, and I upgraded to the latest ComicPress theme release for Reclaimer, so I figured it was time to finally tailor a custom look for the site and really make the comic its own entity. It was extremely helpful that Tyler Martin, the creator of the ComicPress theme, was generous enough to bundle five different variations on the theme, one of which is a graphic novel version – perfect for Reclaimer. Since he’d already done all the hard work of coding the layout, it was a relatively simple matter to simply fit some background graphics to the theme to make it Reclaimer-specific. I’m extremely happy with the final result, and I’ve already received a lot of positive comments about it. The Reclaimer site also sports a new forum (at the request of a handful of my readers) that runs on bbPress, which is by far my favorite forum software since it’s so lightweight. Feel free to check out the redesigned site, catch up on the comic, and join in on discussion on the forum.
I’ve really kind of gotten into the whole webcomics culture lately. The more I write “Reclaimer”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com, the more I like the whole notion and business of webcomics. I like to write, I like to play around with visual graphics, and of course, I’m a total Web-head. I’m actually thinking about starting to draw and write another webcomic in addition to Reclaimer. That’s still a thought in the development process, though.
So, I came across something called “Bitstrips”:http://www.bitstrips.com today (thanks to a news post on Boing Boing). I doubt very highly that I’ll ever choose to use Bitstrips as a final comic-making outlet – while being quite flexible, it’s still a bit more limited that what my imagination requires – but it is kind of fun to mess around with. I made kind of a lamely comedic comic today, mostly just to run the thing through its paces:
Feel free to go check it out, and if you end up producing a comic with it, let me know! I’m always looking for some new, quality comics to read.
Over at “io9”:http://io9.com/358406/5-reasons-scifi-does-better-in-movies-than-in-tv, there’s an editorial about why science fiction does better in movies than in TV. Disregarding my own opinions on which is better and more enjoyable, this quote picked out of the list touches on my approach toward my “Reclaimer”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com comic:
bq. Joss Whedon famously said that a television show is a question, but a movie is an answer. That’s why Firefly spun out tons of mysteries, like what happened to River in her special school, or what was the deal with the Reavers. And Serenity, the movie based on the TV show, had a self-contained plot and answered all your lingering questions in the course of two-ish hours. TV shows, especially in this era of arc storytelling, spin out endless plots that reward obsessive viewers — and scare away casual ones.
Comic books are a lot like TV shows in that they drag out plots and sub-plots over an extended period of time, usually raising more questions than they answer. For those whose attention spans can handle that kind of lengthy story-telling, this is a lot of fun because you can mix intense action in with intricate storylines indefinitely.
This is pretty much the way I’m hoping to approach _Reclaimer_ – a lengthy storyline that presents plenty of action while raising lots and lots of questions. In the end, I expect to have something along the lines of a graphic novel with a story arc that’s been brought to a relatively firm conclusion. Whether or not I’ll continue into another story arc with the protagonist remains to be seen. Everyone who has been following the story so far seems to be enjoying it, so I suspect that a lot of that decision will be based on how much my readers want _Reclaimer_ to continue.
A little Reclaimer fun I’ve had in Photoshop today:
I’ve been toying with the idea of taking advantage of the new Facebook feature of pages, and I whipped up this little screenshot with title and URL for that purpose.
A smaller version of the above, with the URL moved, for use as either linkto button or a forum signature image. I’m using it currently as my sig image on the “TTL forums”:http://forum.tiedtheleader.com.
Yeah, I love playing with Photoshop, and I don’t even tap into _half_ of that program’s power.
On a day when everything is a bit on the rough side, “a ray of sunshine”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com/2007/11/14/reclaimer-chapter-one-part-eight-more-than-genetics/#comment-22 appears. There’s nothing a writer loves to hear more than a comment like this, and it certainly pushes the clouds aside a little bit.
I love doing the _Reclaimer_ comic. At the moment I enjoy even more than writing a short story or a piece of flash fiction. _Reclaimer_ is letting me tap into several of my interests and hobbies at the same time – writing, graphical manipulation, Halo 3, web design, and more. It’s kind of like the best of all worlds bundled up in this little nutshell of yummy goodness.
I was worried initially that I wouldn’t be able to produce a comic that would grab the interest of veteran comic book readers. I’ve never really been into comics all that much, never had much access to them as a kid, other than the ones that appeared in the Sunday paper. I’ve read a comic book here and there over the years, and I do subscribe to several online comics now, but relatively speaking, I’m pretty new to the comic book genre. So you can probably imagine that it’s intensely gratifying to be producing a comic series that continues to generate positive comments. I look forward to every writing session and to setting up the scenes in Halo 3, capturing the necessary screenshots, and then manipulating them in Photoshop to produce each page. It’s a relaxing process for me, and one that I enjoy more and more every time I do it.
Have any of my readers here tuned in to the comic? I’m curious to know if the comic has been able to break the barrier past the gaming community.
“I love this”:http://halo.bungie.org/news.html?item=20941, because it’s exactly the right question to ask here.
My Halo-based comic “Reclaimer” continues today with more expatiation from Ferial. He is continuing to fill the Reclaimer in on the Viper Project. The question asked in the link above, just “[w]hat does Ferial know?” is one of the best questions that can be asked at this point. It is certain that he is telling less than he knows and that he knows less than he implies. But just how much _does_ he know, and what implications does that knowledge have?
As the writer some of this I know; some of it- well, some of it even _I’m_ going to have to wait and feel out and see what happens. Should be a nice adventure for all.
Ok, apparently, I’ve been terribly neglectful of my blog these past few days. I’ve actually got two entries in draft form that I just haven’t quite finished yet. So, in an effort to catch myself up on some of my happenings the last few days, here’s a short bullet-list:
* Remember when I posted a “visual writing prompt”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/09/14/writing-prompt-1/? Well, at the time I didn’t have any takers and so I just never quite found the motivation to post up another. The MasterKidderMinster “wrote a bit of flash fiction”:http://masterkidderminster.net/?p=46 that he told me about a few days ago. It’s a pretty good read and a lot of fun to see the direction he took the image. He’s requested that I continue the writing prompts, so plan to see a new one show up on Friday.
* My “Dune book giveaway”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/10/24/book-giveaway-dune/ has been met with a somewhat lukewarm response – six entries. I’d love to see at least a few more folks enter the contest to win this wonderful science fiction novel by one of SF’s greatest. The contest is open until Wednesday, so there’s still plenty of time.
* Awhile back, I read Jayne d’Arcy’s lament on her blog about needing a new custom theme but having trouble finding someone who could produce one at a reasonable cost. Well, I volunteered to build one for her for free, since I love building WordPress themes so much, so that’s part of what kept me away from here so much last week. If you want to see the final product, head over to “Jayne’s blog”:http://jaynedarcy.us and check it out.
* I’ve also started a couple of new projects, which are the other parts of what has kept me from blogging much lately. The first is called “Mendicant Bias”:http://halo3.shamuswrites.com and is a repository of Halo 3 screenshots I’ve captured. None of these shots have been modified in any way, other than to resize them down a bit. There are a lot of creative ways of taking interesting shots in Halo 3, and it’s been fun trying to find them. The other project I’m working on is a Halo-based comic built exclusively from screenshots. This project is called “Reclaimer”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com and is something I’m planning on producing on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future. We’ll see how things go on that front.
* “Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com has relaunched and there has been a pretty good response, both in stories submitted and in readers who have commented. I’m always looking for new writers, stories, and readers, so if you fall into any of those categories, head over there and find out how you can get involved.
There are a few other things going on right now, as well, but I’ll announce those as they present themselves. I’m looking forward to getting back to doing some actual writing, both blog-wise and fiction-wise. I’ve got a great dark sci-fi piece I want to start on this week and a couple of other small pieces.
Lots of good stuff happening. I can’t wait to share more of it.