Friday, September 16, 2011

Tragedy Series Breakdown

I thought it might be fun to do a walk through of how I make my posts for the tumblr I started in recently. Hopefully this won't ruin your enjoyment (if you do enjoy them- I shouldn't assume) of the 'tragedy series.' It would be a shame to ruin it for you like when I found out that Rivendell is a bunch of foam and Christmas lights and now I can't stop seeing that.

If you want to preserve your neutrality on their development and execution you should stop reading now!

Number 222 is a good example of how these little notions I get can become a thing I was proud and surprised that I made. First I try to think of a subject I haven't done yet that falls within the parameters I've set for myself (that I will spell out more clearly in a bit.) As I progress it gets a bit harder but generally it can prompt something unexpected, since I'm trying actively to avoid clear repetition.

In this specific instance I had thought of a news story Lindsey and I saw while we were in Lincoln city, for our anniversary, about a safari park here in Oregon where they have lions that like to play tug of war. That image is enough in and of itself! once I have a self evidently odd or funny situation then I try and compound that comedy if possible. In this case I tried to imagine what sort of opponent would be funny. It occurred to me that a group of kids in a scout troop might do but they had to be capable or else it would be too close to something genuinely sad (the first of the tenents I try to uphold; No genuine tragedy) At that point I write it down to be addressed later.

I generally do a little drawing (like the image of #57 seen above) if I can't fully imagine it but in this case I had it pretty firmly in mind. It is at this point that I will do an image search to find good refrence that coincides with what I have sketched. I lucked out and found these two images:

Even though I had the elements of the final image, the phrasing wasn't quite there yet though and I went through several iterations of what would work best. I often ask Steve Lieber for advice; this questioning runs the gamut from 'should I buy a house?' to 'what sort of pen do you use to ink nostrils?' He is also a super funny guy who gets how to translate humor into drawings because he has studied it extensively for his own development so I go to him first for comedy.

I had written out a bit about 'ragamuffins' challenging a hungry lion to tug o' war but that seemed too plain. It struck me that a 'rematch' would be funny but it didn't quite fit yet. Steve said "Rematch is funnier if there is evidence of the previous encounter...make some of them amputees." I was hesitant to go there but the more I thought of it the more I realized that he was right about the necessity for notes from the first lion vs. kid showdown. I put a few shoes and scraps around the lion and Steve added the cherry on top the sundae by suggesting that I wrap the ragamuffins in bandages and give a few of them ragged clothes. He was so right! Once I did it the whole thing came together and I got this:

There you go. Thanks for sticking with me through that description. Also much gratitude to all of you out there who support my tumblr and read this blog. I am a lucky guy.


  1. I very much enjoyed these tragedies. However, you mean 'tenets' rather than 'tenants'. It's a little vocabulary tragedy, right there ;-)

  2. Indeed that is an error! I corrected it; thank you.

    I will say that it isn't so much a vocabulary failing as it is a spelling mistake. I am frequently guilty of that. I do try to know what the words I use mean even if I spell them incorrectly. Sometimes my paranoia extends to the point of looking up something I'm 99 percent certain of like 'circumspect.'

    Now I know I need to continue being extra careful!

  3. What strikes me is the use of that ninteenth century vocabulary going on (i'm not sure if it's from that time but it's kind of archaic i guess), that message from another tumblr (dryingthebones) about how she "aspirated her tea" and your reply made me spill my breakfast, that's what i think is the most hilarious thing about that tumblr, and the drawings are just amazing. Keep up the great work!

  4. I especially loved #222 and your break-down of the process of developing the idea into a coherent, amusing and tatterdemalion pictograph was a very engaging read.

    And now I've just discovered Tales from the White Pony. As it has non-Dungeons and Dragon styled trolls, something I've been trying to bring back into my roleplaying/fantasy writing, I am going to have to spend a good stint of my free time consuming your wonderful art with my eyes. Well done.