< Piro >
Monday - June 2, 2003
You'll note that today's comic is in a different format than usual. No, it's not a filler, it's part of a little experiment I'm playing with for this chapter.
This style of comic - the vertical top-to-bottom format is called a '4 koma' or 'four panel', and is a well established comic style in japan. Fans of Azumanga Daioh know that most of Azumanga is a 4 panel comic (with some special parts in normal manga format). I also have an incredibly fun book of Kanon 4-koma comics that has been amusing me since a friend gave it to me at Acen. One of the main inspirations for me when I started doing Megatokyo was an online japanese 4 koma strip called 'Quarter Iceshop'. It was these 4-koma strips that made me think it was possible to do an online webcomic like MT.
Anyways, getting off track here. When Megatokyo started, it was a four panel comic. In fact, Largo and I went back and forth on the vertical vs horizontal format (American vs. Japanese format) till we did compromise on the square format (similar to PVP Online's old format). Remember this Naze Nani which explains it? The most amusing thing about it is that the very next comic did away with this four panel format and opened things up into the more flexible manga format i've been using since.
The way humor comes across in a 4 panel strip is different than it is in a full page comic. 4 panel comics have a far different kind of comic pacing, a different structure, a different kind of ordering. The manga style layout offers a lot more flexibility and complexity in which to weave a more complex tale - i think Megatokyo has only benefitted from the change. But there is something about a simpler format that leads to types of humor that just isn't possible in a more complex layout. Yes, MT has been missing this kind of humor.Hence my little experiment here...
The title of the comic is 'Aida Ni...' which basically means 'meanwhile...'. The idea is that I intend to use a smattering of 4-koma strips quite deliberately to touch on some things going in and around the main storyline thread. Literally, 'meanwhile, kimiko is doing this...' kind of thing. There will be a series of these following Kimiko's day, and there some of the other others characters as well. The page format here is pretty standard, too - 4 koma comics will either be fit 2 to a page, or one with a title bar. Ideally, these 4 koma segue will be like a combination of old style MT humor and Dead Piro Art days, all threaded quite nicely into the sequence of comics.
Like i said, this is an experiment. We'll see how it works. MT is NOT switching to this format - these are going to be interspersed in chapter four here and there when appropriate.
It's funny how going from 4 panel to manga style helped break free some ideas - and here it is two years later and i'm finding that going back to the 4 panel structure is a refreshing break. :) It's actually quite common for manga artists to do 4 koma comics as omake or 'extras'. Me, I'm just threading them right into the story. I actually did a new drawing for the left side of the page but... it came our pretty bad. Ok, it sucked. No, it really did - this drawing of kimiko looked far better, so i left it in.
Are strips like these easier to draw? yes. Are they cop-outs like DPD or SGD strips? no. Is it nice having some time to work on other things? yeah, it is
Speaking of that Quarter Iceshop comic, Here is the strip that influenced me the most... and what for some reason prompted me to take on the 'piro' nickname. The comic is back online again (yay!) but i'm going to contact Himuro-san first and see if it's ok to link the site... i don't want to kill it by linking it ^^;;; Please note that i stored the linked comic locally to not cause Himuro-san any problems ^^;; megadotting a site is not nice if they don't know its coming ^^;;