Saturday, 26 April 2014

Eventuality Zero

For the first time in almost eight years, you and I are on an equal footing.

I began writing Cylinder and Miserable way back on the 9th of June 2006, and about a year ago I finished writing Series 3 (as noted in this other post); since then I've been publishing steadily without writing any new material, and as of today I have released all extant episodes (2126 of them!), up to and including the end of Series 3 - which means you know everything I do.  Well, you know everything apart from the [MASSIVE SPOILER] which I'm planning for the as-yet-unwritten Series 4... but that doesn't count, because it doesn't really exist until I get round to producing Episodes 2127 onwards.

The previous two times, there was a big lump of overlap: I started writing Series 2 before I'd finished publishing Series 1, and I started writing Series 3 before I'd finished publishing Series 2; not so this time.  In a way, it's apt that there should be a bit more separation between Series 3 and 4, as I'm planning a few changes next time round.  (You'll have to wait and see what those changes are, though.)

Thing is, though, it's not just Cylinder and Miserable.  It's very nearly everything.

Grace and Caffeine wrapped up back in 2010 (noted in my third-ever post on this blog), and despite me having notes for dozens of potential new episodes, I've never got round to producing any of them.  Knowing It's Called Aspergers seems to have reached its natural endpoint as of last summer.  Alien President was only ever a limited-time deal, and is long since completed.  Tim, meanwhile, has put Brothers in Shells on an indefinite hiatus, and long since finished his C&M spinoff Sidewards.  The only other significant comic strip (or project in a similar format) either of us have been involved with is Fort Paradox.

If you've been reading Fort Paradox, you'll have noticed that we ran out of episodes at the beginning of last month.  Again, completely ran out, with no overlap or buffer - Episode 180 was published, without Episode 181 having been written.  We scripted the next thirteen strips a few days later, though, and earlier this week Tim illustrated Episodes 184 and 193, which is the only thing that stopped us reaching "Eventuality Zero": the point where every single one of our comic-strip projects has completely run out of finished-but-unpublished episodes.

I expect the new Fort Paradox strips will take a while to see the light of day, as it's unlikely that we're going to finish the next two chapters in any sort of hurry, and hopefully C&M Series 4 will be in production before FP runs out again, so Eventuality Zero should still be at least a year or two away.  Beyond that... who knows?

In the meantime, though, I intend to enjoy being able to discuss C&M on an equal footing - at least with Tim and Sarah, even if nobody else is paying attention any more.

- The Colclough

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Expanding the Paper Horizon

I finished a drawing last Tuesday.

Normally, finishing a drawing isn't such a big deal, as I do quite a few of them.  But this one was different: for starters, it was a whole year (a year plus four days, in fact) in the making.  It's impractically large, at nearly 1.2 metres (4') long.  The scariest statistic - which I only just finished calculating tonight, a week later - is that it contains 150 people.  Although when I say 'people', I don't mean fully-detailed humans, I mean little box people in the same vein as the cast of Papercuts.

I drew a bunch of pictures when I was about 9 to 11, showing various small towns populated by fictional creatures of my own design.  I enjoyed them at the time (all 15 of them!), but in retrospect there are all sorts of problems, such as there being far too many doctors' surgeries despite very few people appearing to be sick or injured, or such as a depressing lack of architectural variation from village to village or from building to building.  But somehow, despite the numerous flaws, I still have a bit of a soft spot for these creakingly awful doodles - but I'm still not publishing them.  I bring this up because in some ways, my new work is essentially the same project, just being tackled again 16 years later by an older and wiser version of me.  Okay, so I've transferred the whole thing into a different fictional world, re-populated it with a different species, and generally shaken everything up, but the basic idea of drawing a portrait of a fictional high street remains unchanged, and the new picture contains all sorts of (usually inconspicuous) little nods back to what I was drawing in the late 1990s.

But despite the fact that it radically reboots my "Let's sit down and draw a town off the top of my head" project, Papertowns: Desmonton isn't a whole new world coming into being from scratch, but is actually an expansion of another world which I began a couple of years ago and which I'm very fond of irrespective of its relatively small size: the world of Papercuts.

The seven Papercuts episodes released so far collectively form what I've started referring to as 'Phase I', and they're pretty self-contained, with few or no hints at what the surrounding world might be like.  I'm planning a few changes for 'Phase II' (Episode 8 onwards), such as making an alteration or two to the title-sequence visuals and letting Tim remix the theme tune; another change which has been less consciously planned, but which I suspect will happen anyway, is an increasing awareness of the bigger universe.  Tim's written a script for Phase II which name-drops Desmonton, for example - in the context that Desmonton, as you see it in the new drawing, is the nearest town of any significance to the Papercuts characters' residence.  I've started thinking through details such as how their currency works, which is briefly hinted at in Episode 7 Debt of Gravy-tude and might become more significant in future instalments.  I haven't yet decided which story will lead the charge on Phase II, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the new material develops, hopefully later this year.

Meanwhile, their world is growing in other directions, the first and most significant of which you can see here:

That's Desmonton, sorta - I don't know why Blogger has darkened and dirtied the image so badly.  I'd very much recommend that you go and look at the higher-quality version I've uploaded to DeviantArt, and click the picture there for full resolution.

And I've already started sketching another town... but more on that later.

- The Colclough