My Webcomic Writing Adventure

As I mentioned, last weekend, I headed off to Missouri to give a keynote talk at a conference at the Prairie Lands Writing Project. I also created a shortened version for their website and I figured I would share that out with you. (Actually, this is the main keynote and the smaller presentation on using Web 2.0 in Education I will share out later).

(You can also download a Powerpoint slideshow of this presentation, without audio. Click here to download the presentation)

Resources in my Keynote

Moving Comics into Movies

My friend, Glenn, is an inspiration to me for his work and thinking around comics. As another member of the National Writing Project, Glenn has published a regular webcomic with his regional newspaper that looks at local politics. It was called Nota Bene. I say “was” because after 100 comics, he is now moving on to a new comic strip project.

But he continues to think about ways to push the medium, and this week, he shared an experiment that moves comics into video, with narration. He has taken an issue — Merit Pay for teachers, and the possibilities of competition over students — and crafted this video. The voices are sort of creepy, which is the point.

Peace (in mixing mediums),

Some Comic Relief

So, today, my webcomic — Boolean Squared — got published on the website of the big regional newspaper and my venture into the world of creating comics is official. The newpaper (The Springfield Republican) also printed a short story in its paper version about the launch of the comic, so we’ll see where things go and how they develop.

Click on this image to go to the article:

Masslive Announcement by you.

And click on this image to go to the comic:

You can also subscribe to the RSS of the site where Boolean Squared will run each Monday with this RSS URL address:

I also set up a virtual storefront for Boolean Squared Swag through Cafe Press, just to see what might happen. (Check it out if you get a moment).

And check out the promo video I made with Animoto:

Peace (in frames),

Some Comic(al) News

I just found out that the big regional newspaper will be running my comic — Boolean Squared — as a webcomic on its site.  More info to come later on all that as I talk it through with them, but I am pretty excited to be on the path to becoming a published comic strip creator. Neat.

And I decided to keep the name, Boolean Squared, as the title of the comic. Thank to everyone who took my little poll (there was even the kind suggestion of renaming it The Adventures of Binary Boy, which is quite catchy, I admit). Here are the survey results:

(note: there were sixteen responses and the numbers here reflect percentages, not raw numbers. Not sure why that didn’t come out in my graph.)

And, some of you also suggested some ideas for my characters. Here are a few:

  • the school bought a new copier but didn’t have an electrical outlet to plug it into;
  • something about adults not knowing how facebook or myspace work;
  • some digital-age variations on “the dog ate my homework”;
  • teachers having a life outside of school;
  • dress down Fridays;
  • server down or computer overheating;
  • shared laptops;
  • reading buddies showing alter egos of older kids;
  • something about how a language teacher ends up stumping his class on a book report because he assigns a book SO OLD that there is NO reference to it digitally. So when the kids try to find a summary or anything, they can’t because the book is pre-digital age and is now out of print.
  • and a few others.

Thanks for the ideas. Some of them mirror my own and comics that I have already created (I have a year’s worth already done at this point).

See ya on the funny pages!

Peace (in frames),

ReConfiguring My Comic Strip

I am in the midst of reconfiguring my comic strip. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • I don’t like having to rely on an online site for creating the comic;
  • I don’t want to navigate copyrights if I can get my comic published, since the artwork was not mine but the property of the online comic creator site;
  • I wanted to add some color;
  • I wanted to change the name of the comic from Outerworld Web (which was fine when I first conceived the project but now has little to do with the characters) to Boolean Squared (which allows a focus on my main character);
  • I want to see if I can do this all alone.

And so, I went into MS Paint and made my own version of my characters. I also have begun using ComicLife for PC to see if that is a workable platform. It’s not perfect and I need to tinker some more. I am having trouble, for example, getting two images into a single frame, which is strange.



What do you think? I really would appreciate some feedback here, as I am moving into some unknown territory.

Of course, if the local newspaper shows an interest, things may change again. I’ll keep you posted.

Peace (in comics),

Reflecting on Creating a Comic

boolean by you.

I’ve been fully immersed in creating my new comic, Outerworld Web, and I thank everyone who has been giving me some feedback. It’s been mostly positive, which indicates to me that I am on the right track with my characters and my angle. Even my older son liked it, although he commented that he thought it could be funnier and that most comics have original art. Sure, kid.

On a whim, I wrote to the local newspaper and asked if they would be interested in an original comic strip from an area teacher (me) and I got a response back yesterday from the top editor, saying he was intrigued but would need to speak to the online editors. He also voiced concern that it might be difficult to keep a comic stip going over the long haul. I told him that I already have more than 20 of the Outerweb World comics done (it’s true), so we’ll see what happens.

As a writer, it has been interesting process. Three frames are barely enough space to get a character set up, a story moving and then the punch line that should come at the end. While I seem to have a lot of ideas, how to narrow and condense down into the structure of the comic strip genre has been a challenge — and quite enjoyable, actually. I think working with Six Word Stories and Day in a Sentence has been helpful, as those two activities force the writer to focus on the essentials.

At first, I thought that Mr. Teach would be a very central character, but he is not. Boolean and Urth are the centerpins of the comic, so far. I also thought that I would be Mr. Teach, and that is the case to some degree, but I am finding myself thinking more like Boolean and identifying with his urge to tinker and mess things up. I’m finding myself channeling parts of my personality through the characters in an interesting way. Mr. Teach allows me to introduce a concept, but Boolean allows me to poke holes in ideas and voice an off-kilter view of the world. I like that. Urth is Boolean’s friend, and literary foil, and his odd take on things helps spice up the story.

I am purposely narrowing down the cast of characters at this point, but I suspect that if I keep it up, I’ll have to bring in some blood to liven up the strip. I think I can do more with Boolean’s pet, Funk, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Finally, I am liking the minimal nature of the comic art design, but I wonder if others think there is not enough going on. Since I am viewing the comic primarily as a writer, I am focusing in on what is being said, and not said. Art has never been “my thing” and I would love to find an artist who could do the artwork for the comic strip (know anybody? Let me know). I even put out a call on Classroom 2.0, but nobody responded to the post.

Anyway, here is another installment of Outerworld Web (and you can always go to my home site). This may be the last one until I figure out what might or might not happen with the newspaper, as I am not sure if they will republish comics that I have already put on the Web.

Peace (in three frames),

Comics and Bears for PhotoFriday

It’s time for PhotoFriday (the collective Flickr photo sharing group started up by Bonnie) and I am sharing out two photos this week.

The first photo is related to my Slice of Life story the other day, as I captures a bear going through my trash:

The second one is another installment of my new comic series called Outerworld Web. (You can also catch up on the series at my new Google Sites home of the comic):

Peace (in pictures),