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Strip 571, Volume 4, Page 49

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< Piro >

part of a layout sketch for the last comic.

"scribblin'"

Tuesday - June 15, 2004

[Piro] - 13:34:00 - [link here]

Bleah.

Sometimes writing rants requires as much or more creative energy as writing a comic. Writing a decent rant, at any rate. I've been sitting here typing random words for over an hour and I've come to the conclusion that my brain isn't empty, it just suffers from a complete lack of cohesive, ordered thought. I think this might have to do with an odd feeling of anti-climax I've been feeling recently.

I've done a lot of traveling this year. Japan and AX Tokyo, Katsucon, Megacon, a book fair in South Bend, a lecture at MIT, Sakuracon, Anime Central, Fanime, A-kon.... that's over 9 trips in six months. I won't count Penguicon because that was a local convention :) That count also doesn't factor in the fact that Sarah and I were in Las Vegas when the new year began ^^;; If you look at last year, I spent most of that traveling, as well as the year before. I feel like I've been on a 3 year promotional tour, and it's finally come to a close.

Since I'm not going to Otakon this year (figures, Koge Donbo-sensei will be there. (sniff) ;_;) and SDCC is over a month away, arriving home from A-kon felt like the end a long journey. I am kinda looking forward to being home for a while.

As much fun as traveling and seeing MT readers all over the country is, there is no question that it's had a negative impact on the comic. My general feeling has been, many times, I've been squeezing the comic inbetween other things. Granted, there is a lot going on - the new store, books, the new website, new and inventive ways the cats develop to destroy the apartment... all of this has had a tendency to cut into my work on the comic a lot more than I like to admit to myself. Now, add all this travel into the mix and it just makes things a real mess. Maybe without all that travel, things will be easier, and I can focus on some of the sillier things, like, say, the comic.

Of course, I expected myself to become instantly productive as soon as I got home from A-kon. I planned to dive right in and work diligently on comic development, scripting, drawing, coloring and other things that I've been dying to devote huge chunks of time to for months. I'm eager to reach the "comics done on time" goal, and maybe even that elusive "get a few comics ahead" grail... or even, in my wildest fantasies, ahead enough with Megatokyo that I could work guilt-free on other projects. Sure, there is still tons to do for the new store (we have boxes of new shirts that came today - the new designs look pretty cool) and I still need to get cracking on new content for the website backend... now that I'm going to be home for a while, I can do it all, right? No worries right?

So here I am, sitting at my desk, spinning my wheels, barely capable of writing even a simple rant. :) Nothing will sap your creative energy faster than staring at a blank piece of paper or looking at an empty word document on your screen.

...

Kind of a pointless rant, isn't it? It has no real structure, doesn't say much of anything, and much of it is stuff you are probably sick of hearing me whine about :P I write rants like this from time to time, and usually I just toss them aside and give it up as feeling I have nothing worthwhile to say today so why post it. The time spent sitting here struggling to write even that is time wasted, right?

Well, not really. I'm finishing this rant today because maybe even worthless ramblings like this do, in the end, have some value. I've said many times that if you want to put your work up for people to see, you have to be willing to post the bad with the good. Not because you want to cause people pain (I have dom for that), but because even seemingly worthless stuff has a purpose. When climbing a ladder, the lower rungs are just as important as the top ones, for without them you can't reach the top of the ladder. A pathetic rant, much like a random throw-away drawing, is sometimes just part of the process towards writing or creating something better. This rant got me off dead center today. It got me thinking. That's a good thing. It had a purpose.

Most times when I do this I tend to just delete the rant and move on. Its part of why my side of the rant column seemingly lacks rantage as much as it does. Oddly enough, I've found that random thought dumps do have a purpose, and are far more important than I though they were. In fact, I've incorporated the concept into how I break loose my pathetic excuse for a brain so I can write. A few months ago I started a word file that is more like a diary than a real development document. It's writing for writing's sake, and it's not anything I ever expect anyone to read - in fact, I doubt I'll ever go back and re-read it myself. If I'm smart, I'll make sure to delete it when they come to take me away someday :) It's like scribbling to loosen up a pen to get the ink flowing. the scribbles are hardly worth keeping, but without them, you'd never get the ink flowing.

So pardon my little scribble today. It helped me get going this morning.

Just one other bit of randomness before I go. We're busy pulling together information for the Megatokyo Community pages for the new website, and we're trying to gather as much info as we can on all of the MT related websites, blogs, fan-art pages, cosplay, random silliness related to Megatokyo. The hope is to pull it all together and maintain it so MT readers can see what other MT fans have been up to.

The sheer volume of sites and material has been more than I've been able to deal with up to now, so I'm getting some friends to help me put it together. ^^;; If you have a MT related site or know of anything you think should be listed, please email us at this email address: community@megatokyo.com. We won't be linking to or posting EVERYTHING, of course, but we can't put it on the community link pages if we don't know about it. It's been a long time coming, and I'm looking forward to finally being able to acknowledge all the hard work MT fans have been doing over the years.

< Dom >

And it even has a silencer!

"We need bigger guns"

Sunday - June 13, 2004

[Dom] - 21:26:00 - [link here]

It's been two weeks since my last rant. Wow. So, uh, there's a lot to catch up on, and I'll get started right away. But first, a blatant plug for my buddies in the Shadowfist gaming community. I missed out on seeing them at KublaCon this year, which was a bitter disappointment--I just bought a box of the new set, Seven Masters Versus the Underworld, and I'm absolutely in love with the card art. Great job as always, Z-man, and I hope to see you at Gen Con SoCal later this year.

Two weeks ago was Fanime, and to be honest, It doesn't really stand out in my mind. The MegaTokyo panel was disgustingly early but as fun as usual, but the rest of the con was just my usual thing. I've been going to Fanime for some six years or so now, and given that it was held only a couple miles from where I went to high school, it's rather homey. So I relaxed, had fun, and realized that I only have two more cons this year before I'm free... a comfort, since I'm also going to be unemployed soon--my contract with Wired expires on June 30th, after which I become a freelance writer again. And that means I can't really plan very many trips.

So anyway, other things I've done in the past two weeks? Well, I've done a whole lot of writing--Asmodeus introduced me to a 2channel saga called 電車男(Train Man), about an otaku who meets the girl of his dreams, and comes to a giant BBS for help on how to woo her. It's sweet, it's only slightly improbable, and it's wildly funny. Too bad it's all in Japanese, or I'd be able to share it with all of you.

Wait, I said I was writing, not reading. Well, the point is that Densha Otoko/Train Man has inspired me to start writing again. If something that crazy can happen in real life, after all, it can definitely happen in one of the many screenplays I have floating in my head. So I'm writing again, because deep down inside, I'm a squishy little romantic. And that squishy little romantic has awakened from a long sleep and said "DUDE! I have this GREAT idea for a story, you should TOTALLY write it!"

Yes, the romantic inside of me is a goofy Californian with a sunny grin. What did you expect, a tuberculoid Brit with a black rose? Edit 6/14: I've gotten a couple of e-mails misunderstanding the thrust of my joke. This is not a knock on the British--it is rather a reference to an old literary movement known as the Romantics, who saw the symptoms of tuberculosis--weight loss, chest pain, the flush of fever, uncontrollable sweating--and saw the same features of a pining lover, and used it as a symbol in literature. Sorry for making a joke only English majors would understand at first glance ;)

Anyway, back to writing. I'm one year out of college. I consider myself an average writer at best--I just have good editors is all. I mean, look at the quality of these rants. They're my natural voice, and they're erratic in quality, ranging from uninformed rubbish to amusing rubbish. And so when several people responded to my request for history books about the early days of computer games by suggesting that I write one myself using the Wizardry saga as a beginning, I was taken aback. A book is a huge project, and I'm still cutting my teeth on magazine writing. But who knows? I might get an urge to write longer non-fiction some time.

As for the books that I WAS pointed to for the early history of computer games, here are a few names with ISBN numbers for others who're interested:

Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic, by Brad King and John Borland (ISBN 0072228881), which is... well, about what the title says.
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, by Stephen Levy (ISBN 0141000511), which has a section about Sierra (specifically, Ken and Roberta Williams) and about Lord British.
Masters of Doom, by David Kushner (ISBN 0375505245) which is about id (obviously).

As for High Score! and Supercade, I remember those from my GamePro days... I think Dan Amrich told me that they weren't so hot, but I'll definitely hit him up for more advice on what books are good and what books are crap. Game Over was a recommendation of his that I highly enjoyed, so we'll see if he liked any of the others that I didn't put on the list.

Hmm, what else... well, coming back to card games, I got silly with Hamusutaa's cards the other weekend and created a "Sad Robots in Snow" deck for MT fans who play Magic: The Gathering, which you can view in our forums here. I don't claim to be the best player in the world, and I know that the deck isn't good... but dammit! Sad robots in snow!

Meanwhile, I've been trying to fit Shadowfist back into my schedule, which has been hard... but will get easier with time and unemployment. Hurrah for monkeys!

Stay tuned until next time, when I talk about video games (especially why I prefer City of Heroes to Final Fantasy XI) and manga.

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