The Clues!
by -3-

Okay, on TIM017 i said "All the clues needed to determine who our guest star is are presented in this strip." So, here's the clues to which i referred:

1) A duck, urging him to "Say It!" Say the secret word/name - a reference to Groucho's long-running game show, You Bet Your Life. When contestants spoke the secret word, the duck would come down from above with money for them.

2) The bizarre hair shape - an exageration commonly used in old Marx Brothers movie posters, and in cartoon appearances of Groucho Marx.

3) Dialogue - changing the context meaning of what was said and turning it into insult on the speaker. "Oh! OH! You! You-" becomes "O, O, U, U" "You've got those vowels down..."  A trademark of Groucho's humor, often delivered in the form of a back-handed compliment, as done here.

4) Body language - bent forward, arm behind back, pressing rudely into someone's personal space.

5) Dialogue - this is really clue #3 repeated, taking "But - How?" and using that as a hook to comment on How that prodigous Butt got there.

6) Dialogue - "The One - The Only!" Full circle back to You Bet Your Life. Each episode, George Fenneman would introduce "The One - The Only - GROUCHO!" (Dialogue continued to panel one of TIM018)

And there you have it - The Clues!

Lesson Learned
by -3-

Okay - I promise. No More Barf-eaters!

Well, sort of promise. I try very much not to edit what flows from the stylus while working on this comic.  But i've had a stern talking to the crew in my head, and they say they'll try to avoid the critters as long i don't do a Roman feast scene.

So, Monday - because Tarny asked for it (yeah, sure, THAT's the only reason) - more nakedity! And the following week - our first guest stars! (Exciting, isn't it?) I'll tell ya - it's still terribly frustrating wanting to talk about strips that won't appear for weeks yet. I have to sit here and slap my hand every time i try to type something i shouldn't be saying yet. (But, i think the hand is starting to like and typing things just to get slapped!)

And yes, we will stop blind panic running Monday and move to new territory. And the following week we'll start sorting out some of the questions inherent in the strip.


New Improved(?) Publishing Schedule!
by -3-

Yep, i finally decided and i'm switching to a 3 times a week update. Starting Monday, experiMental Theatre will update every Monday-Wednesday-Friday. At least for a while. If i don't keep up the buffer, maybe i'll cut back. But since i want to get things moving for the readers a bit quicker, and i don't want to change the pacing of the storytelling - upping the publication frequency seems like the best option. And though it means settling for the lesser 3 obsession, it also means typically 3 extra strips a month. So that balances, right?

As things stand, i've actually increased the backlog to 7 weeks while getting ready for the new schedule. We won't be taking bets to see how that lasts.

Time Warping
by -3-

As you may know from reading forum posts, or maybe i mentioned it here before, experiMental Theatre is produced with at least a six week buffer of strips already cued to publish. Now, while this is a very good idea i learned from my much wiser than i publisher before starting this - i didn't realize what a frustrating idea it would be, too.

I did expect the little frustrations, like today's strip getting a comment that i couldn't respond to as i wanted without blowing the next strip on saturday. But i wasn't thinking at all about little long term gaps in your timeline and mine. For example, looking back from next year - i sit and wonder what you folks will think about a strip that doesn't run for a couple weeks yet; one that for me captures the spirit of the old undergrounds that inspired the original direction i set for the art on this strip. Or how you'll react to the guest stars who appear in the strip after Christmas. (I think i can make a fair guess about folks will respond to the one that appears in the middle of the month.)

The chronal perceptual distortion is inducing odd sensations that the system was not programmed to process. Adapting.... adapting... ad-ack!

On Drawing eMT
by -3-

I mentioned previously that my inks for experiMental Theatre are done digitally in a vector format. The truth is, it's all done that way - there are no pencils, no script, only direction and the moment. It's part of how i'm forcing myself to experiment here.

But a lot of folks aren't necessarily digital art tech savy to understand what i mean when i say it's vector based, and what difference does that make?

There are two basic ways that images are stored on a computer - bitmap and vector. Bitmap is a collection of dots (pixels, derived from "picture elements") laid out in neat columns and rows. Each dot has its own color value and they got together to make the picture the same way a dot-matrix printer uses tiny dots to print pictures on paper.

Vector based images, however, are stored as math. There are set points, and all the curves and angles are stored as formulae that connect the dots to build the image.

So what difference does that make? Let's take a look at a small section of the third strip in the series:

experiMental Theatre - Experiment One, strip 3 detail

(His TV Is Evil, but mine radiates fear. Think they're related?)

Okay - looks fine. But let's say later i decide i want to use this image as part of a promotional poster or something and it needs to be five times larger. If we enlarge it as a bitmap file, it looks like this:

That's going to print pretty hideous, huh? Even just doubling the size of something to re-use it later in the strip fuzzes out the edges. But vector format is stored as math, so when expanding to 5x size, it just moves the points further apart, and calculates the curves using the stored formulae, like so:

Just a wee bit better, eh? Even blown up to size to burn on the surface of the moon, it will still keep the sharp clean edges.

And that's what made the decision when i was looking at what software to use. I went through a lot of the software i keep onhand for my work - Photoshop, of course; Fractal Painter, and other natural media software were making me happiest. But when i realized i was going to be working in stark inks with no bleeds or tones, i remembered one other piece of software that started life as a natural media emulator.  It's since morphed into a form its designers scarcely originally envisioned, but for plain solid colors, when used with a pressure sensitive graphics tablet, of course - can't do natural work without something along those lines, it works beautifully. And it's completely vector based.

Would you believe - Flash? Yep, the popular web animation tool started out a very different beast, and it still has its excellent heritage at the core. For the kind of black ink work i'm doing, it's perfect. (Okay - it has some weirdness that i'd tweak, but that's just interface stuff. And i have urges to tweak everything.)