Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hotspot #15: Comics, Time-Flows, and The Things That Happen In Between...

Something I read on my friend Xmung's blog today got me thinking about how the timeline in webcomics travels at a speed so differently from our own. I forget the exact wording but he was talking about his comic Magellan and how his latest chapter took 3 years to finish.

3 years in a long time in real life. At least it was for me during my self-imposed withdrawal from the webcomics world while I struggled to adjust with changes in the real world. In that time, all sort of astonishing things happened apparently, ranging from Comixpedia becoming Comixtalk to make way for the wikipedia of Comics,  to Eric and Weds  getting married! 

In that time, I had changed from an idealistic university student to an adult with a full-time job and responsibilities and all those things that appaarently happen to you when you mature. Well I say "mature" but my colleagues at work tell me I still make random funny faces from time to time for no apparent reason (I was thinking of how to draw an expression). They still haven't adjusted to my penchant of breaking into a melodramatic evil cackle (BWAHAHAAHA!) whenever I successfully complete something that has been giving me trouble for days, either.

Things online change too. I couldn't help but notice that when I returned to webcomics that the trend for webcomics communities seem to be less host-based now, and there are more individual webcomic subgroups that I remember there ever being. Heh... I remember a time when most of the webcomics you could read on the net were on this hosting service called Big Panda... and then Keenspot and Keenspace (Now known as ComicGenesis). Now more and more people are hosting their comics on their own webspaces, or group up with friends and share one.

While in some ways it might be an improvement, I also I feel a pang of sadness whenever I visit the ComicGenesis forums now. I remember the state of organised chaos they used to be in, and while things were always crazy back then and some flame wars got a bit out of hand sometimes you could always count on something interesting happening every day... or even every hour!

And in the real world too, well, you have whole other cans of worms people wish they could forget: ranging from coup de etats in various countries to the sticky subprime mortgage crisis. Events that will change the world drastically have come and gone...

...And in all that time, less than a day has gone on in a comic.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? The difference in how time elapses hit me particularly hard when I realised that one the characters in my own comic whom I used to think of as "a few years older than me" is now several years my junior and I identify with him less as compared to the older characters now.

And the characters in some comics I read now feel too young to me. I go back and read my own comics and smile at how different I used to think as compared to how I think now.

A family member forwarded me an old photograph the other day. It shows a shy and gawky teenage girl with a sheepish grin, sitting at a table strewn with papers and inking with a marker. Sadly there is no date on it. The picture is at least 8 years old, but I suspect it is closer to 10. 

Yes, that's me as a teenager. You could say I was a bit on the shy side back then...

If you squint at the page she's inking, you would recognize the very first page of The Longest Sojourn, my experimental 'learning' comic that I'm still working on today. Yes, that picture captures a particularly significant moment for me, because it was the ever first time I  had ever worked on a comic that I planned to show to other people and not just myself.

I counted the days in the passage of time in the comic and was startled to realise that less than a week had passed in the lives of the characters.  Less than a week! And it took me more a third of my total lifespan so far to get that far!

It's humbling, and scary in a way. I wonder if any webcomic creator out there ever sits back and wonders when they start a comic they might well be still working on the same thing 10 years later? If they will even finish telling all those stories before they outgrow their own creations and lose interest? Or when they get seduced by a better idea and start on another new comic? Or when the real world calls and they have to give up their pet project? Does anyone think that far ahead. If they do, do they ever get discouraged and never start at all?

I did think about this for a bit and realised something. Even during my time away from comics, I still thought about comics. The doodles on memo pad at work can attest to that. Sure, life took up most of my time and my comic output slowed to a trickle. Nowadays I think about comics more than I make comics, but I never could really fully stop thinking about them. And I suspect I never really will.

There will come a day in the future when I'm old and gray and retired and whatnot. When that time comes I'm pretty sure I will be sitting in front of a table, probably with paper and pen, or tablet and computer, or maybe a holo-pen or whatever art device they will have come up with by then. 

And I'll still be making comics. 

I'll have to be sure the take a picture of myself grinning sheepishly then. 

Hell, I might even throw in a BWAHAHAHAA!


  1. "And I'll still be making comics." - I'll take that as a promise ;)
    BTW: Will there ever be new Jaded comics?


  2. Awesome post! Me too, I'll be an old grandma hobbling in from the garden, picking up my futuristic hoverpen.

  3. Hi Fokko,

    Yes, I do plan to finish The Jaded, though as I have posted elsewhere before, I will be finishing The Longest Sojourn (which is currently) on its 2nd last chapter, first.

    The planning of continuing the script for The Jaded has been the hardest so far, due to the time discrepancy... I write a script, look back and feel differently about it due to time lapses, and bin it and start anew.

    Mos, my editor is still heckling me about NOT binning it before sending it for editing so at least I get a second opinion before "Ping the Critic" destroys the script before she starts XD

    Hey Colby,

    *high five* YAY! We'll keep each other company as comicking centegenarians XD. Well or so I like to think, for the sake of alliteration.

  4. Great article, Ping. ah yes... the good old days! The Golden Age of Webcomics (hehe)!!

    And yes indeed - I have wondered more or less the same thing many times. The (almost) three years you mentioned it took me to produce 300 pages for that one Magellan chapter covers about two weeks in the life of the characters! When I first started Magellan back in 2004 I set it in 2009. It's still 2009 in that world and almost that in this one now - from their point of view about two months have passed. At this rate one might expect that 2009 will never end in the Magellan-verse however I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get the timeline moving along at a faster pace. Personally, I hope to keep doing Magellan for some years yet, I'm having too much fun to stop - so unless real life intervenes there should be many more adventures.

    I too am looking forward to seeing the return of The Jaded... it will be interesting to see how you handle it having had a few years off.

  5. Toothy grins and thunderous laughs... yes, you do act like a comic character in real life, Ping... but why not? Live like the comics you fantasize/create in your real life, I say!

    I'm still waiting for the Jaded, believe it! There is also my reason for not wanting you to bin your old scripts: cos they are there to remind you what has changed in the new one and compare what did/did not make it to the final comic! Like those deleted scenes in movies... maybe?