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 Stephen's Thoughts.
torrential
Posted: Feb 1 2006, 12:41 AM


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Visuals have improved rapidly lately.
Humor has improved, too, but not at the same velocity.

Stephen thinks the 13th Labour concerns itself too much in plot. Most people don't have the interest to check in daily on a plot that won't resolve itself quickly. That's why the friends of mine who read your comic check in maybe once a month and then read what they missed. For a while each strip was a bit more self-contained, and I began checking in more regularly. I'm not sure if you have any interest concerning how regularly people visit.

I'd like to see more experimentation in visual style, less-developed plots, and more attention to making each page work within itself, even if they have to be longer.

Now I will be critical. Your characters have always been scantly developed; they've each got one trick. The Grandma is a typical villain. Theo is conniving. Andrei is the usual stereotype boyfriend or husband. The more complex ones are still hard to relate to. Uri seems smug at best when she talks about her feats of Antarctic bridge construction. Glenn is funny; my fondest memory of him is that large phone book he carries in his trunk. But hyperbolic moments work best when in contrast with a relatable character. The most complex characters are Jordan, Odeda and Cecilia. Jordan, although angry a lot (lately), also helps her grandmother out of love. Odeda is seemingly the smartest character, which is ironic since he/she is not human.

I learned something interesting in my Creative Non-Fiction class today. If you develop characters really well, the plot will form itself. Read Anne Lamott. There's a whole lot more advice like that.
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Joey
Posted: Feb 2 2006, 06:13 PM


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Yes, but if the plot is ignored characters will be thin.

Yes, if characters are formed the plot is formed as well (I've been training Amarantha in Character development.).
THere actualy are two theories, Aristotle's and Shakspearian. Aristotle said that actio drives characters while the Shakspearian (THe one I fall into) says the opposite.

I've lead my life on developing characters. The biggest problem with the characters isn't that they have one joke, it's that they're muddled and often too similar. Also Amarantha has not been able to put the complexities that she has developed into the strip.

THe Grandma actually has some dimension, give Emu some credit.

Ye expert on characters.
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limmortal
Posted: Feb 2 2006, 07:55 PM


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I would like an argument between the two of you on the Grandma's characterization or lack thereof. Pretty please?
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libra_in_red
  Posted: Feb 13 2006, 12:41 PM


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I can help with this one. It's not much of an argument, but I can maybe give an outsider's opinion of it, considering I don't know you IRL.

When most people create a villain, they do it for the shere reason of making the main character's life a living pain in the butt. Alot of times, this villain has no real reason to be bad except for the shere fact "they were born that way." Most people want you to concentrate on the hero, and not have any like for the villain, so they tend to gloss over the deeper intricatcies of the villain's personality and plot, so you don't develope any feelings or understanding. You just want him to be bad. The best example I can come up with for this sort of villain is Shaun Yu in Disney's Mulan. He basically just wants to kill the emperor for the fact that "Oh, he hurt my pride." That's about as deep as it goes. All you see him doing is killing and hurting, and haveing no real reason for it. He is such a two dimensional character, that people instantly just forget he's there. He isn't a villain, but a simple plot device. This tactic can work well in a movie setting, where you have to keep an audience amused for an hour and a half, but when it comes to a webcomic, where long term goals need to be accessable, it can spell certain disaster.

Grandma is a webcomic Shaun Yu. She has no real reasons for world conquest except for the fact that it makes the main characters do something. No one knows why she is there, no one knows what drove her to do such things, and no one even knows her real name. (yes, I know that's not the point, but I was on a role. tongue.gif) I think what needs to happen is that very soon we need to have some sort of plot sidestory that would explain a few more aspects of what is going on with Grandma. Today I read the most current comic (2/13) and it occured to me that you have the perfect lead up to a bit of explaination on Grandma. Theo just mentioned that his father knew and worked with Grandma, but they had a falling out. I would reccomend using the next few strips to have Theo go into a bit of a storytelling mode with something his father told him about Grandma. About working with her. About the type of person she is...maybe even the fact that Theo's father was there when Grandma went bad. The one thing I have noticed is that alot of the characters have tended to be 2-D, and the plots (though you have gotten MUCH better in the past few months) have been placed as a factual "this is how it is" sort of basis. As a reader myself, I cannot stand to sit and read a comic that basically forces the readers to take the story for granted, and not explain how everything got there. This may work for a few one-joke a day comics, but 13th Labour is too involved for that. But, going back to Grandma, I could issue a few questions you could answer to help define who she is, and to make her a more beliveable villian.

1)Who is she?
2) What was her past (how was her childhood)?
3) Who did she marry to have Cecilia? How did she react to finding out she had Grandchildren?
4) What was her personality as a child?
5) Why was her personality drastically changed (if applicable) or, if she has always been so bent on running the world, how was she raised to get her to this point?
6) Why does she want to take over the world? Is it really because she just thinks she can run it better?
7) How does she feel about her grandchildren turning into strange creatures?
8) Why is she doing what she is doing?
9) What is her favorate color?
10) Other then piranas, does she have any other pets?
11) What happened to her husband?

These are a few questions to ask yourself. I hope I've helped out a bit.
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limmortal
Posted: Feb 13 2006, 04:35 PM


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I'm starting to think the big mistake I made was in trying to be mysterious without having good grasp of literature. I have answers to all those questions (except her favorite color, but I think I'll tentatively go with white), but I keep thinking I should put off the revelations as long as possible - and then wind up revealing nothing.

So now I'm tempted to go to the opposite extreme and dump everything I've got as quickly as possible. What's a happy medium? There's always that box. What does the character know and not know, what does everyone else know and not know. I should do a box for everyone.

Okay. Grandma background coming up. It's easy to insert - the next thing scripted is just dropping Amelia off. I just have to come up with the dialogue. And be a little more specific about where in the organization Theo's father was.

Assorted other backgrounds coming up. A little something to help those people who can't tell Sam and Glenn apart, hopefully.

White is less tentative now. I have three and a half good reasons for it, too. But I don't think they're very important, except they might reveal other things about her that ARE important - so I might make white a point to reveal soon. The next time we see her. I don't know why Theo would mention it while telling his father's story.

I'll go think over revelations now. "Something my father told me about her when . . ."

Extracurricular classes I want to take when I can:
Life drawing
More psychology
Advanced Lit

Why did I take Calculus instead of Literature? When will that ever be useful?
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Joey
Posted: Mar 1 2006, 03:44 PM


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Well if you're really good at calculus maybe you can get a job doing something in math down the line if you get tired of being a librarian.

I'd rather the Grandma's past should have come out of HER somehow.

See the film X-Men to see a good villian given a reason to be bad. Also the film that we watched Batman Begins has a good one as well (He's evil because he wants to get rid of what he sees as evil thus his actions are justified).

Good reasons for people being villans:

1. Hungry for power in order to right what they think is wrong.
2. Racist or otherwise prejudiced due to tramatic experiences.
3. Revenge due to a wrong that happened to them.
4. Mentally ill.
5. Afraid/paranoid someone is trying to hurt them.

Don't forget though even Shakspeare had Iago.
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limmortal
Posted: Mar 2 2006, 07:48 AM


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You know (grumble over terminology) the traditional means of planning, with everyone walking very quickly down a long hall, hanging on every word ofthe person in change? Well, how about that with The Grandma, only she can't walk very quickly - she'll have to use a walker. She'd almost retain more dignity (in the eyes of others) if she used the wheelchair - but she has her own pride, and part of that includes personal mobility.

Other terminology I considered:
Do you recall?
Remember
What about . . .
There is . . .
In regards to . . .
Regarding . . .
I was thinking of . . .

Unfortunately, I've got a much better means of using her in the next storyline. But then again, if I should be doing more exposition ANYWAY, why not throw it in?

So, I guess, there's a large amount of "no one but me knows how to run things" (which I will hopefully show as partially justified when you find out who IS running things), and a large amount of pride in her ability to still do the things she's always done - including inability to have faith in her delegation. Plus she's unbalanced, physically and mentally. I do think that I don't have a single sane character, of course. But how many sane characters ARE there in ANY medium? Insanity is very important in drama. If everyone were logical, such a lot couldn't happen. And there's a large spectrum of logical insanity.
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libra_in_red
Posted: Mar 16 2006, 11:58 PM


Rain of Frogs
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First thing...if it is going to be a flashback from grandma, NEVER start it with any of the exposition you have. It's too cliche and it looks like you are trying too hard.


Try something like this...

"Heh, child, I was the lifeblood of this company. I BORNE it like one of my own children....." Leading into the opening...and the flashback...

Nothing would make me turn to the next chapter faster then hearing grandma sitting against her walker saying..."Now I remember the old days....."

A few good films to really see what can drive "villians." are alot of the Miyazaki films, especially Princess Mononoke. The villian in his stories really have a good reason to be the way they are. You also have to decide if Grandma is really a villian, or if she is just the antagonist, and doesn't necissarily have evil intent, just something that is against the protagonists.
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Joey
Posted: Mar 18 2006, 03:47 PM


Rank: High Priest
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I suggest having the flashback start with an image rather than dialogue.
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