And Two Final Zombie Vs. Twitter Comics

We’re nearing the end of the Twitter Vs. Zombies virtual game that has been unfolding all weekend. I’m a little tired of being a zombie, to be honest, so I am sharing out the last two comics that I created as part of Digital Writing Month. Tomorrow, I am back to a regular ol’ human being with a regular appetite, and fairly normal tweets (although that is a judgement call on the part of my followers, who must be wondering what the heck is up with all the zombified tweets this weekend)

Digital Writing Comic14

Digital Writing comic15

 

Peace (in the comics),

Digital Writing Month: Running from Zombies (Comic)

Digital Writing Comic14 zombie

If you are just joining me here, you may be wondering about my sudden fascination about zombies. Well, I am taking part in a weekend Twitter-based game called Twitter vs. Zombies as part of Digital Writing Month. (You can see my post about it from yesterday).  And I figure, as long a I am in the game, so, too, should the characters from the webcomic I have been creating as part of Digital Writing Month.

And so, Shirley is on the run from her friend, Dave, who has been bitten and is hungry. In this game of text and tweets, you can’t trust anyone. Not even your favorite blogger.

zombdog

 

Peace (in the adventure),
Kevin

Digital Writing Month: The Audio Comic Strip

CLICK ON THE CIRCLES TO CALL UP THE AUDIO

The other day, as I was working with Thinglink on a media piece about digital writing (you can still see what I did and add your own thoughts) for Digital Writing Month, I had this brainstorm of using the site to add an audio track to a comic strip.

So, I did it.

Actually, the process became a bit more complicated than I first thought. Here’s what I ended up doing, and try to view the process through the lens of digital writing. In this case, I was thinking of the audio engineering as ‘writing’ and how I worked to manipulate, and then embed my voice, was part of the compositional process. I can’t make it all visible here, but it had me thinking and working/reworking the concept I started with.

First, I decided that the comic should include an audio storyline, so that the content of the comic would coincide with the ways I was composing the piece. I decided that one of the kids would turn in a report, all as an audio file, and this would cause the teacher to struggle over ideas of traditional grading.

audio in comic

Second, I opened up Audacity. I read through the speech bubbles. I began by creating a file, and then creating a second file, for the same character, but ran into problems when I began to change the pitch with some Audacity tools — in order to give the kid a higher voice and the teacher a lower voice. After one round of recording Dave in the first frame, I could not match his voice pitch for the second frame. Ack. I went back to square one, and deleted all of my work, starting over again. This time, I made one master file with all of Dave’s speech, added the pitch change, and then tinkered with cutting/pasting editing of that one master file to create MP3 files that all had the same pitch.

I did the same method for the teacher, but here I had a little conundrum: the thought bubble. I knew that the voice should change — the voice in our heads is different from the voice that comes out of our mouth — and decided that adding some echo/reverb might aurally indicate the thinking of a character, as opposed to the talking. I think those words got a bit muddled on me. Later, I thought about how I should have tweaked that a bit more. Oh well.

After making all five MP3 files from the various speaking/thinking parts, I uploaded them into my Box storage site and grabbed the direct links. Then, over in Thinglink, where I had already uploaded the comic (which I created over at Stripgenerator and then hosted over at Flickr), I layered in links near each character’s speech, so that clicking on the little circles will bring you to the audio file.

Or, if my words were a bit too rambling and unclear, maybe this image will help, showing the path of creation.
Audio Comic Process Overview

It’s not perfect. Far from it. For example, I don’t like that a new window opens up, but I don’t see any solutions to that problem. But in the end, it was a fun exercise in the possibilities of mixing media and compositional practices using digital tools.

What do you think? Does adding character voices change the comic reading experience for you? (or are you tired of me creating comics?)

Peace (beyond the frames),
Kevin

Digital Writing Month: Twitter vs. Zombies

Digital Writing Comic13
I’m going to try to take part in an offshoot Digital Writing Month activity this weekend called Twitter versus Zombies, which is described by some of the organizers as “epic zombiefied experiment in Twitter literacy, gamification, collaboration, and emergent learning.” I have no idea what will entail but I have wanted to dip my toes into this kind of emergent game and see how they unfold.

So, I am in.

And it made sense to have the kids in my comic in, too. Plus, there are plenty of little zombie-like creatures in the comic creator site that I use (Stripgenerator). In fact, it’s almost as if it were built for zombie comics. Hmmmm.

Peace (in zombieland),
Kevin

 

 

Digital Writing Month: Just Rick Roll Them

Digital Writing Comic4
There was someone in my twitter stream of folks participating in Digital Writing Month who was wondering how to merge that challenge with the National Novel Writing Month, and I whimsically suggested that they just make their novel just one huge hyperlink, and cover both challenges with one piece of writing.

It would work, right? (Although this gets to another post on another day about what digital writing is and should be, and all of that)

Then, I got to thinking about what link would you make a piece of writing like that lead to? In the case of my comic, Dave just wants to have fun.

Peace (in the rolling),
Kevin

Digital Writing Month: Inside a Novel-in-a-Day

http://upload.stripgenerator.com/strip/28/13/96/00/00/full.png

I’m sure others will have a better insider’s look at Digital Writing Month‘s monumental collaborative project from yesterday entitled “Novel in a Day.” The goal was to use a Google Doc to create a novel of 50,000 words in 24 hours by as many people as possible, writing vignettes. In the end, it was just over 41,000 words, apparently. And about 55 writers were writing on the document yesterday throughout the day (the theme was using the mascot of the month — Digi the Duck — in vignettes.) A collaborative planning session in another Google Doc the night before narrowed down the focus of the novel, which I thought was a neat way to bring many voices into the mix.

I added two pieces — Vignette 9, which was about the duck trying to write a poem but he can’t reach the keyboard, and Vignette 28, told through a text message in which Digi asks Mickey Mouse for some advice. I had an idea for a third piece, but my oldest son was hogging the computer with some friends (ironically, they are writing a collaborative movie script) and by the time they were done, I was nearly asleep. Ack.

Here are some observations from my own experiences being inside and outside the Novel-in-a-Day idea:

  • The novel is long. I know that is a “duh” moment but I was so caught up in the writing that I barely had time to read what others were up to. In that situation, the vignette concept was brilliant. But it often felt like I was more of an isolated writer than a collaborative writer. I also had a lot of other things going on during the day, so I wasn’t fully immersed in the experience. I’m pretty sure a few folks were working to tie threads of the stories together. I made an attempt in mine, but I am not sure I was all that successful.
  • At some points, there were more than a dozen folks just lingering around in the document. I think some people wrote elsewhere and then pasted their text in. I wrote directly in the Google Doc. I had this feeling of being watched. I didn’t mind it so much but it was an odd experience. Another time, I was trying to start a new vignette, but the person writing the piece before mine kept on typing, and as I was trying to write, I was messing up their text. I could “see” them pause, try again. I’d wait, try, and mess them up. After two times, I gave up, thinking Google Docs must be on a bender. I hope that other writer forgives me.
  • The collaborative element was a key component but I was hoping for more ways to push barriers with text, as part of the inquiry with Digital Writing Month. One writer did something interesting: using the idea of anchors, he created a series of “make your own adventure” choices for the reader. I may have missed it, but most of what is in the novel is traditional text. Odd storytelling, and very creative, but still very traditional: words on paper/screen. The third vignette that I did not write was going to be a story converted into html code, with a message embedded within the code. I really am sorry I missed that chance. I was hoping for a video vignette, or maybe some audio. There were some images sprinkled here and there. Of course, it was just 24 hours. I need to be realistic with my expectations.
  • Does this translate to the classroom? Yes, and I have done collaborative stories like this with my sixth graders on wikis, using colors to show a change in writers. What this kind of activity does is allows you to talk about voice, and collaborative technology, and the focus of a story (which often gets lost).
  • Was it worth it? Heck, yes. I love how technology can bring collaborators together to try new things. Although I was not one of the planners or organizers, who should feel pretty good this morning about the novel experience, I feel connected to the success of the writing experience. It’s not about the word count; it’s about the experience.

Peace (in the novel),
Kevin

 

Kicking off Digital Writing Month

As I have mentioned, I am going to be following Digital Writing Month, and I am creating a series of webcomics to go along with it. I don’t expect to meet the 50,000 words. But I hope to do some exploration and tinkering and playing around with mediums.

Here is a comic that I created yesterday:
DigiWriMo 2012

But then, I thought about the idea of using a webcomic platform to create a comic in a comic, in a comic. It was sparked by the thought that code might be text in this kind of challenge.

Digital Writing Month MetaComic Kickoff

Yeah. That’s how my month might be heading …

Peace (in the frames)
Kevin