Episode 416 - Making cuts

Mar 4, 2019

The entire team is here this time, no one was cut… So we're chatting about CUTTING, as in cutting out scenes to make a story cleaner, leaner and less flabby, but also NOT cutting because in a webcomic you don't have to, and when you cut badly you end up with a “D movie” effect where story scenes don't follow, don't make sense and plots seem to go nowhere or happen for no reason.

Topics and Show Notes

In most stories you can cut out lots of bits and pieces and get a leaner, more streamlined result: the reason is that an audience will interpolate the missing information between two factors and create their own rationalisation for the events that lead from one to the other. Often this can get them a little more involved and invested in the story because of it. You can trick them into thinking it's a better, cleverer story than it is because they did some of the hard work themselves. Introductions and long establishing scenes can be cut, but also the “things” that happen between or lead up to something:
A murder for example. You don't need to show how it was done, just the intent to commit it and the discovery of the body the next day.

You have to be careful when you cut too much though because events and motivations will stop making meaningful sense and your story will turn to garbage as the structure begins to collapse. I'm sure we've all seen the DVD special features where scenes were cut to streamline the story and you realise WHY the finished product didn't quite make sense in its final form and that it would have been SO much better if they haven't cut that bit out…

Webcomics are a unique medium: they thrive on content. Commercial products have a lot of boundaries and rules they have to stick within, especially movies, so cutting content makes much more sense for them than it does for webcomics. But it's still an interesting thing to try, especially if you want to make your work more commercial in future, i.e. write it up as a screenplay, release it in 30 page printed issues, or even just go for a more cinematic feel.

Don't fall into the trap of pruning a story just for the sake of one element like “action” though, or because you want to rush from one scene to another. Stories benefit from having variation in the pacing. This is why action movies like Ronin and Diehard are so awesome: extreme action is beautifully contrasted and set up with slower scenes that let you take stock and rest (- https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/22/the-action-non-action-ratio/ as in Tantz's newspost last week). The film Van Helsing was well made and entertaining but the breaks between the non-action parts were insufficient, meaning that the impact of the action suffered because of it.

You often hear on DVD commentaries “We cut this part because we thought it was diverting from the main plot” among other rationalisations… Well sometimes that works in film and sometimes it doesn't. Webcomics though often benefit from the freedom to explore side-plots so be careful what you choose to cut.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Aikornia! Double, triple, contrabass, octobass cello! The big guns are coming to play for you now, ushering in the footsteps of doom. It’s like the knight’s dance from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, but as if it were written for ents instead!

Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
My Cute Wish - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/26/featured-comic-my-cute-wish/

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Pit Face - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/

Featured music:
Aikonia - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Aikonia/, by Aikonia, rated E.

Episode 413 - Breaking structure

Feb 11, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

It's just Ozoneocean and bouncy Banes today. This time we're chatting about breaking and subverting structures, formulas and conventions in webcomics. Commercial creative projects need to use formulas and familiar structures because that's what audiences expect, it's also what studio executives, creative editors, publishers, producers and all the people that greenlight those projects need and expect as well. The Hero's Journey and other conventions and formulas aren't just used because they make good stories but because of the commercial realities and risk averse nature of the industry (there's a lot of money and jobs on the line). Webcomics don't have those pressures so we're talking about why webcomics shouldn't necessarily adhere to popular formulas and structures and why many don't.

Episode 376 - Comic Tutorials

May 28, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

kawaiidaigakusei makes a return to the Quackcast! Together with the crew we chat about some of our favourite comic making tutorials on DD. Yes, there IS a tutorials section on the site and people have created some amazing and clever tutes on how to both write and draw better when making your comics. There are some cool instructions on how to make better pages, write scripts, do rain effects, all sorts of shortcuts and clever tit-bits of info to have you creating like a pro. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Potato and Kraut. Feel the gigantic weight this music layers onto your shoulders. A synthesised torrent of gravity, followed by the heavy, deep notes of a piano dropping on top of you like frozen slabs. The torrent slowly eases, brings light and relief, then fades away.

Episode 352 - Help make DD better! Comment notifications! More play

Dec 11, 2017

3 likes, 0 comments

n this Quackcast we cover a few different things! FIRST up is our latest campaign to give YOU comment and reply notifications so that you can see who has commented on your comic pages easily, you can respond to them right away, then they'll KNOW you replied and they can respond back and so on. But before we can do that we need to raise money via Indiegogo to pay for it. YOU will be helping to pay for a feature that you want. That's how the site works these days, it's our site: yours and mine. In the next part of the Quackcast we have a series of short plays that we act out. They're based on comics here at DD. We start out with custom scripts written by Tantz Aerine for Without Moonlight and Brave Resistance. And then we have a go interpreting comic pages of The Epic of Blitzov, Bottomless Waitress, Typical Strange, and Pinky TA. Which brings us to our next thing: One of the perks you can pay for to help us out with our campaign will be a custom script based on your comic. WE will write it and act it out. YOU don't have to do anything but donate. Finally we have a note from KAM that we read out, informing us of the experience of adapting his comic into a script structure and we talk about that ourselves. If you'd like to write a script for us to act out on the Quackcast, just PQ me and I'll tell you where to send it. :) This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to Bram and Vlad: Welcome to the mysterious, echoing notes of a celestial funhouse. Then settle down to a demonic, yet friendly game of cards accompanied by a jaunty, yet cheeky tune on the piano!

Episode 321 - Cafecast

May 1, 2017

3 likes, 0 comments

We titled this one “Cafecast” on the suggestion of Pitface! Instead of chatting about a subject, we took ourselves off to a metaphorical cafe and all started drawing, working on sketches, our latest comic pages, and chatting as we did. We're all comic artists after all and we talk about doing comic all the time, it's only fair that we actually WORK on them from time to time! Gotta “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk”. We were also inspired by the video Pitface made of herself drawing her latest page of Putrid Meat for the 10th anniversary (vid linked in the notes). Watch it while you listen to this! So this is just a nice, informal chat from us as we draw. Next week we'll get back to more structured stuff when banes and I talk about how to do comedy and how to make comedic characters in comics. The music for this week by Gunwallace is for Half Hearted Headache. The theme fits very well with the comic title! It brings to mind a desolate wasteland in a post apocalyptic techno future, haunted by cyborgs and the hulks of burnt out military battle robots… Which is not what the comic is about but that’s what it paints for me: Jean Michel Jarre, meets knight Rider!

Episode 310 - Where to begin

Feb 13, 2017

4 likes, 2 comments

Where to start; in the past, present, or future? Will you structure your story in a linear way or do something more complex? This was the topic of Hyena Hell's newspost on Friday and in this Quackcast Pitface, Banes, Tantz, and I discuss and mull over the ideas ourselves, along with the responses of the clever commenters. Gunwallace has given us a theme to The Archer and the Squirrel, which just so happens to ALSO be our featured comic! - The theme launches abruptly, like an arrow springing from a bow, this tune follows a beautiful arching path against a bright blue sky of melodic, rhythmic flute that begs you to dance a jig with a great big grin on your face!

Episode 271 - Pitface’s tales of ribaldry

May 15, 2016

6 likes, 0 comments

What makes the “meat” of a story? What makes you fall in love with it, keep coming back for more watches or reads or whatever? I contend it has nothing to do with conflict or culminations or climaxes, those are merely generic structural plottings that are pretty much the same format no matter what story you read- you know they're coming and you know what form they'll take and once they're over it's not really that significant anymore; “re-playability” is low, they're just too tied in with the story structure to have much life away from it in your mind. What keeps me coming back to a story and fall in love with it are the Characters, exploring the world in which they exist, and the development that occurs during the story. Gunwallace provides us a theme to CTV Revamped, the new version of Charby the Vampirate! Good and creepy techno for Charbs!

Episode 253 - narrative order and the flashback

Jan 11, 2016

6 likes, 6 comments

Doing stories that start with the climax, then flash back, tell what happened to get there: the old narrative style of switching the first few chapters around to make a more interesting story. Sometimes it works GREAT because it throws you right into the middle of things and you have to work your way back to that point… It works very nicely in The Hangover for example! Often it's used very badly- in anime particularly, where they use it for foreshadowing and a tease to try and get you interested in the rest of the story- but anime story structure is so formulaic that all it really does is give you a cheap spoiler. Other times it doesn't work well is when the writer isn't very good so the viewer loses their way in the plot… If the writer is GOOD though you end up with Pulp Fiction. You'll love Gunwallace's theme here- a super funky jazz track for the comic Nothing Important Happened Today. Enjoy!


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