Losing my amateur standing.

| 64 Comments

keith.png (From Gossamer Commons. Click on the thumbnail for full sized... holy crap, I wrote this!)

This isn't a snark. It's about a webcomic, but it's not a snark. Because...

Well, because it's for Gossamer Commons.

Like we said last week... today's first strip is four strips worth long. It's a full, solid prologue, highlighting the beautiful artwork Greg Holkan's done. I couldn't be happier with the way things have turned out.

Is it any good? Not my call. But with a little luck, people will like it. In any case... I hope you come on over. I hope you like it.

It's the last day of my vacation, so I'm driving back to Maine. We'll see you when I get in. (Assuming I don't snark stuff between now and then.) The whole trip, I'll be looking forward to checking my statistics tonight.

Thanks, everybody. I'll try to shut up about it now. No promises, though. I'm entirely too excited about this.

64 Comments

Good stuff, and I look forward to seeing what comes next. :)

This definitely has a better beginning than most webcomics I've seen, but I think it's too early to call either way. Being the loyal type I am, I'll just stick around and see what happens.

On a side note, I've always liked the literary trope of hearing one side of a conversation. Maybe that's why I've abused it in my own writing.

Good, solid begginning. Great artwork, effective characterization... kudos, the both of you. I can't wait for more.

So what are the permanent links for these four installments?

Interesting start. I've had that phone call with my parents before. Repeatedly.

So this seems to be a post-college story, about becoming an adult and accepting responsibility. Or something like that. There really aren't a lot of webcomics like that. And Keith looks very appropriate for the role. In particular, he isn't a thin guy who looks like he just got out of high school.

How tall is Keith? He seems like he's 5'2" or so.

(Stocks some whiskey in the archives minibar.)

Bo -- waiting for AWednesday as we set up archiving fully ;).

Wow, thats really good stuff there. I love the art. And of course the writing makes me want to know where it's going.

I just assume here.. and just assuming and I'm probably wrong-- I assume he had a crush on the girl, and uh, accidently hooked her up with his roommate. Either that or his mum is down on him for not shacking up with her. Sigh.

This is where I say "RSS feed!"

It doesn't have to have an IMG tag to the strip (in fact, people often prefer when it doesn't), just a permanent link to the new strip, and possibly the strip title (if it has one).

There will be an RSS feed. Hopefully by the end of the week.

Congrats on the new comic Eric and Greg! I'm excited to see where this story goes.

So far there's a hell of a lot of exposition and not much else.

If I were to comment in a Websnark stylee it would involve the words in media res and so when is something going to happen?'

When you set up the archive, Weds, please give the current Archives page its own special place in it. It'd be a shame for that to go away entirely once there are comics there...

I like the art and you've started with an interesting hook, so I'll come back for more.

It's probably a bit early to hope for some 88 x 31 link GIFs (or PNGs), isn't it?

No one gets anything filled until I've been to the store for Diet Coke with Lime!

And Kraft Dinner. I am so all about Kraft Dinner.

Huzzah! Now make banners. Some of us wnat to thrust onward with the linking.

Mmm, Kraft Dinner. You know what's really great? If you take a can of devilled ham and stir it in at the same time you're stirring in the cheese sauce. Macaroni and ham and cheese dinner, yummy. Just had me some this weekend.

Oh and. Gossamer Commons. It's neat. I like it a lot. Especially the art style, which does a good job of representing apartment clutter. Looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

I think the launch of Gossamer Commons rates a de-lurk.

I like it so far, but then again I like slow-to-medium pacing. I love Marvel Comics by Brian Michael Bendis, because in a six issue-storyline, he will have four issues of characterization and plot before one action-packed issue. ANd then he always has a denumount.

And I drink Coke for breakfast, too. Unless that isn't breakfast.

Do the four double-row strips feel like eight to anyone else? Its like I came knowing I'd get four strips worth of content, and found double that. I tingled.

It might be noted that exposition is not the same thing as characterisation.

That is true. But both are necessary for depth and motion of story. I prefer my characterization full bodied, but not all in one go. And so far GC has given us characterization of Keith (and Ma) as well as hints towards three other characters.

It would take Fred Gallagher a month to get Keith from the computer to the kitchen. I'm just sayin that I like it (Eric and Greg's pacing) is all.

But maybe I should have used exposition when refering to Bendis. That is my bad. (Though the man can do characterization... and this is WEB snark. So I'll take my talk about Marvel to the comic shop.)

Oh, and on an entirely irrelevant note, your websnark item pages appear to be missing a Oh, and on an entirely irrelevant note, your websnark item pages appear to be missing a Oh, and on an entirely irrelevant note, your websnark item pages appear to be missing a Oh, and on an entirely irrelevant note, your websnark item pages appear to be missing a

Interesting start. It is a tad slow, but hey, I'm a novelist. I understand slow. *wink*

I'm not sure just yet if I like it. But there are few strips I've gotten into from the basement floor... *thinks* I can't honestly think of any. Well, there was Sore Thumbs, but I gave up on that one fairly quickly because it just didn't interest me that much. And I'm not sure if Shortpacked counts as a new comic or a continuation. *chuckle*

I've been (and am) in the same shoes as this writer though... looking at a screen with part of a scene written and just being unable to continue. Knowing what happens next and yet being unable to write it because each time you try it just does not work. *sigh* *chuckle*

Anyway, I look forward to your future updates. We'll see if I continue to be ambivalent about it or if you manage to get the hook in and draw me back to the boat. *smile*

Take care, and good comicking!

Robert A. Howard, aka Tangent

I hope you're prepared for quite disproportionate amounts of review, critique, and analysis.

Oh please, Bo, I'm not *that* bad.

Am I?

Quick review:

Okay, it's another "writer writing about a writer" strip, in which said protagonist is out of work and suffering from writer's block to boot. Even with four installments' worth to kick off, I just don't see anything that grabs me. Like the comics.com strip Level Path, about the only reason I'm going to keep reading is the name on the masthead. I hope Eric has something coming that will better set this story apart, and I'll hang on a few weeks to see if it happens (or if he manages to make me like it despite the lack of set-apart-ness), but if I didn't know Eric and just stumbled across this launch, it'd be the only strips I read of the comic.

Actually signed up for a typekey account so I could comment....

Now, one strip, even an extra-large one, isn't really enough to base a full opinion on. But as first impressions go, it's wonderful. The art is different enough from other webcomics I read for me to take notice. I've bookmarked the site, and look foreward to the next update.

I think alot of us have had that kind of conversation with our parents...

I'm with Dave on this one.

First, I read webcomics for escapism. The very LAST thing in the world I want from entertainment reading is to find my miserable life mirrored in what I'm reading. I don't want to connect, I want to -escape-. I already know life sucks, and I don't need reaffirmation of that in my reading material. Obviously I am not Gossamer Commons' target audience- at least, based on the first installment.

Second, the beginning is extremely slow. There's nothing unusual, exciting, outrageous or intriguing to make the reader eager to see the next installment. Instead we have a standard, repeated-so-many-times-before set piece: the college dropout loser talking on the phone to an unseen stereotypical nagging mother. There are a few shadows of conflict (writer v. blank page, college dropout v. labor market, son v. mother's expectations), but no humor, no twists, no drama, no... originality.

The artwork is nice, a good medium between realism and abstraction... but it adds little or nothing to the writing, and the writing is what this strip appears to be all about.

I'm hoping things pick up somehow, or that something new is added quickly... but I'm no fan of Kochalka, I'm no fan of American Splendor, and it looks like I'm not going to be a fan of Gossamer Commons, either.

Sorry, Eric.

(Oh, and the link is my idea of how, under ideal circumstances, a web comic should begin. }:-{D )

I of all people won't tell people what they should and shouldn't feel in regards to a webcomic or what they think of it. I accept all comments as they've been made.

I do want to point out, however, there's a reason this one was titled "prologue." ;)

I was talking about attention coming from every direction, not singling you out, Tangent. See the associated link below for an example.

*laughter* Yes, but I am renowned for my lengthy discussions of comics on several forums (most especially the CRfH forum). I mean, give me a minute to type up something and next thing you know I'm writing an Essay-length article nitpicking small details. *grin*

But yes, people are swarming, aren't they... still, as Eric said, it /is/ called a Prologue... there's likely a good reason for that. *wink*

Rob

Losing my amateur standing.

So you're getting paid now are you? ^_^ *Ducks thrown objects*

I saw this as the stretches before the marathon.. the singing of the scales to warm up before the opera.. the cracking of fingers before you tell someone what you REALLY think of them via your keyboard. It was the warm up, the "The good stuff is coming next..!"

And as a warm up it was pretty darn good. It set the stage. It introduced the players. It didn't overwhelm us.

The art is very nice.. I find his short legs out of proportion but I'm sure I'll get used to it. ^_^ My **only** real critisism is the lettering is hard to read in a couple of places. Take pity on those of us with less than perfect eyes please. ^_^

I sum up with "good show" and "hurry up and get the rest up!" .. Yes, you're going to get to live with David Wright has been living with years.. a Canuck demanding more and faster. ^_^

There is a subtle difference between humor and comedy. while this "prologue" may not have the latter, it certainly had the former. Anyways, when you tell a story, (and as Eric said, this is decidedly a story comic) you begin with stasis. Nothing is happening yet, and here we see what constitutes normalcy in Gossamer Commons. I, for one, was sufficiently grabbed.

I kind of like it. I haven't seen enough yet to know if I'll be sticking with it, but I'm not disheartened by the seemingly prosaic beginning. I just recall one of the earlier pieces about Gossamer Commons here, with the image of Sonata, and I know it's going to go somewhere I'm likely to enjoy. Even if that pixie (fairy? sprite?) isn't real, the fact that one's going to be appearing says something amusing and odd will start happening.

That, and I like finally being able to say I've been reading a comic since it started.

Hmm, this kind of reminds me of the opening of the Stuff Sucks comic.

But anyways, art is good, though the lines seems kind of heavy. That and the early pacing make it seem a bit ponderous. Perhaps it is a contrast to the more fantastical stuff to come.

The one-sided dialogue seems true to life. It does seem to be violating the literary notion of drawing them in with the first line though. Glad you posted this all at once though, if this had been spread out over multiple days it would have been harder to stay intrigued.

Good luck in any case, webcomics are one form where it is hard to judge on just the first page or so. Let's see where this is going.

Nice wee Nemesis reference in strip #4. :P

Nice start, Eric. I'll be reading.

Stasis is the very worst way to begin a story.

If you want perfect structure, you can't do much worse than John Milton. Begin with a plunge into Hell, and don't tell the backstory until halfway through.

I would have thought that a self-proclaimed fan of Aaron Sorkin would understand that. Does A Few Good Men begin with an expository prologue? Does The West Wing?

But this is getting unnecessarily catty. I just couldn't let such arrant nonsense as 'when you tell a story' go unchallenged.

Stasis. The very idea!

*grin* had to check the cast page to see if I caught the name right. :p

Interesting choice..

Well, here are my likes and dislikes - in earnest, because I figure that is what Eric would appreciate.


I like the first three panels, and the atmosphere they set. There is a moment of silence - of a calm about to be broken. It is tangible and that is impressive.


I like the crisp layout of the site itself. Nifty logo, key links easily found, nothing to distract from the content itself.


I am torn on the lack of borders. I like the simplicity it helps reduce the page to, but I think it would lend a sense of visual cohesion - though I suspect that it will not be as big a deal without the full-page spread.


I find, like some others mentioned, that the first page entirely fails to grab me. I can understand the need for exposition and setting up - and as exposition goes, it is well laid out. I see a lot of common pitfalls evaded with precision and grace. Constant action and motion from panel to panel. Detail throughout the scene, yet not an overdose - several panels easily capture all they need to with simplicity.


Unfortunately, the immediate 'set-up' doesn't pull me in. Too much of the mundane. Understandable, if the comic will be setting up a contrast between the mundane and the magical. But if it had been someone unknown starting it up, I'm not sure if I would come back for more.


All in all, I can see the quality of the piece. And though it hasn't grabbed me yet, I suspect that once it does get rolling, it will pull me in without remorse.


On a more technical note (not intended as criticism, but as something I randomly noticed), the 'archives' link doesn't work from the 'creators' page.

I like it. The dialog is real and the art is fresh and quite good. I especially like the layout too. I kind of like the mundane start up and the dry humor is great. ThatÌs about all I can say for just one strip, still it does look interesting.

Well, I look at this, and I don't actively see anything BAD per se. But there's definitely something about it that's a wee bit... jarring, if you will, and I think I've finally put my finger upon what it is... the fact that it's a conversation, not an essay/snark/blurb/what have you. It's undeniably Burns-type writing, but it's such a different format than I, personally, am used to seeing from him that there's a small disconnect in my brain, which I think is what's causing this slight "Nothing's wrong, but something's not right" feeling I'm experiencing. You can definitely hear Eric in there if you've been reading Websnark for any length of time, but to hear him as half of a conversation rather than a self-directed monologue... well, it'll take some getting used to.

That said, I definitely look forward to the chance to get used to it.

I'm grabbed. Gossamer Commons has taken its place on my Daily Read Firefox Tab. :D

The dialogue is perfect - it's natural. Far better than I could come up with. :) I AM in agreeance with people who aren't fond of the lack of borders. It took me out of things a bit to try to pick and choose where the panels were. The art is FANTASTIC - but a little visual separation would be nice.

And hey - way to write about what you know. First rule of creation. :) It's always more fun when you can see the personality of the writer come through.

The question is - when it earns a biscuit, do you just open the pack yourself? Or does Wednesday have to give it to you? Or are you exempt from biscuits? These things NEED ANSWERS. :D (one day... ONE DAY I will earn my biscuit. Oh yes. And it will tast GOOD.)

It's odd. While the strip is not bad at all, kind of blank slate at this point, I got more humor from reading the About, FAQ etc. I don't know why I found it so funny, maybe it's the cognitive dissonance... What the hell is cognitive dissonance?

I'd think it would be semi-amusing if Eric joined the crowd of us who fear snarking. ^_^

I don't know if it's biscuit worthy, but I LOVED the chibi drawing on Sunday Greg. Tho there should have been a warning you were doing a Saturday and Sunday comic. (Sorta :) Have some maple toffee. ^_^

First of all, Gossamer Commons seems to totally rock out so far. You already have TONS of comments and advice on exactly HOW much it rocks, though, so I won't add to that.

I will say though that I noticed that the "FAQ" assumed that most readers question how the writer and cartoonist work together. I bet most readers don't think of this--I certainly wouldn't have. I would have just taken it for granted that there was a close relationship between the writer and artist in terms of creative control (It might help that the writing and drawing seem to match well, don't seem forced, or whatever).

I could be wrong though. I don't personally know many people that read webcomics, much less how those people feel about co-authors. Anyhow.

Hm, I think we broke the server.

I'm exhausted and hungry and stuff, so I should go to bed, but I'll throw back some responses first. In no particular order and no promises I even understood the question.

I love the comments. The positive, the constructive, the negative -- all of it. You guys are fantastic. Thank you so so much!

I'm not of the opinion that In Media Res is the only way to start a story. In particular, GC's meant to resemble a novel structure more than a short story structure, and a very standard method of creating that structure is to establish the normal and then to break said normal. The prologue was meant to establish the normal.

That being said -- SK's comments on Exposition haven't fallen on deaf ears. Fortunately, I suspect the next couple of strips will make people happier.

One warning -- I write dialogue. It's that thing I do. Expect a lot more talking than werewolves kidnapping people. I once had a friend claim that if I wrote a novel about Roundheads and the Cavaliers, Oliver Cromwell and the King would end up spending two chapters talking in a coffee shop over lattes.

On open panel style -- that's Greg's thought and, after he discussed with me, I'm in agreement. Keep an eye on borders over the next couple of weeks.

There is a good number of people who really liked the opening, and others who didn't like it at all. To both sets of people, I hope you keep reading -- the cards aren't out on the table yet. So some folks who didn't like it (Troutman -- I'm looking at you!) might like where it goes, and others who really liked the prologue might not like the daily. All of which is okay.

Greg -- I'm ineligible for biscuits, for the record.

I'm also highly conscious that a lot of people are looking at this... and I'm highly appreciative, too. Highly. So highly.

Tell you what - you do some cool shit, and I'LL give YOU a cupcake. Or maybe a Ho-Ho. If I'm feeling generous. :P

I was falling a little behind in my reading of websnark, so I took a guess at the URL of gossamer commons. Wow. My first reaction was "I must've got this wrong, this isn't a comic strip, it's some sort of graphic novel". And although I wasn't wrong, that's the impression I get. I love it. The art is great, and I can just _feel_ the story building up behind the dam of the release schedule, straining to be unleashed on us, the unknowing readers. Gossamer Commons has gone into my (fairly small) comics tabbed bookmark, to be brought up each day in the hope that there's an update. ;)

On that note, I'm a little disappointed - I had hoped that Gossamer Commons would be the, oh, second strip I read with an RSS feed so I could add it to my reader, but it appears I'm doomed to disappointment. Any chance of adding it? I'm happy to offer my skills with PHP, SQL, etc if they're wanted. I'm already the guilty party for User Friendly's RSS feed.

Don't mistake 'action' for 'werewolves kidnapping people'. Dialogue can drive action as well as, probably even better than physical action.

It's just that expository dialogue doesn't.

For dialogue that moves the story forward, I recommend studying Robert Towne. For dialogue that moves forward itself without being plodding exposition, Stoppard is a good teacher.

I also think you've misunderstood the comment about beginning in media res and 'establishing the normal'. The way to establish the normal is to begin in the mdddle of an action which, well, establishes that normal. Not by describing the normal.

Remember: enter every scene as late as possible, and enter your story itself as late as possible. It's beginner's advice, of course, but it's still true.

I thought most people's normal *was* "talk on the phone with your mother."

First, I think Wednesday should be able to give Eric biscuits... or snark about this comic. *grin*

Second... even if you're illegible for biscuits, *I* am in possession of Scandinavian Almond Shortbread Cookies, which are so delicious that once the recipe was created the Vikings stopped raiding other countries and stayed home for milk and cookies instead. *grin* So if you do good, you get a tasty tasty shortbread cookie. *big grin*

Robert A. Howard, Tangenting across the Internet

Considering shortbread was original known as "Danish Butter biscuits" .. :)

Tell you what - you do some cool shit, and I'LL give YOU a cupcake. Or maybe a Ho-Ho. If I'm feeling generous. :P

I do cool shit every day. I not only read 47 comics I do my own, 7 days a week.. the last time i missed one was when I had 3rd degree sunburns :P

I'm allergic to dairy, so you can keep the cupcake and the ho-ho. :)

Well, um... I already did give Eric biscuits. Back when he was eligible for them.

I should go to conventions and fling packages of British cookies and crackers at people, you know it.

"Hey! You! Troutman! CATCH!"

Only with my luck, I'd nail Aeire or Gav in the eye or something. "Noted cartoonist hospitalized by critic via application of savory baked goods."

It was a long drive, yesterday, can you tell?

"One warning -- I write dialogue. It's that thing I do. Expect a lot more talking than werewolves kidnapping people. I once had a friend claim that if I wrote a novel about Roundheads and the Cavaliers, Oliver Cromwell and the King would end up spending two chapters talking in a coffee shop over lattes."

First: in media res is not the only way to begin a story, but the -best- way to begin a story is with a hook- something that immediately draws the reader's attention and, hopefully, interest. In media res is the easiest way to do this (and, for my money, the most effective), but there are other ways.

The method BAR-1 and I took for the start of Peter is the Wolf is partially in media res, and partly a side-action- an exciting and humorous sequence which holds the reader's interest while establishing the status quo. In this specific case, the hook is the contrast between the werewolf legend and Peter's reality, where he is the huntee rather than the hunter.

With the prolog of Gossamer Commons, there's no hook. There's no twist. In fact, the prolog is agressively ordinary and conventional. By the end, one gets no hint of unusual events to come, changes in the main character's life just beyond the next update. It establishes the status quo very well indeed... but it offers no hope to the reader that the status quo is going to be shaken up, or that watching the main character deal with it will be entertaining.

Second: Cromwell and Charles Stuart talking over a latte could be entertaining, but not if it's two chapters of straight recapitulation of a history book. Likewise, at least for my mileage, having modern-day characters repeat, almost word for word, conversations I might have with my mother or grandmother is not entertaining to me. Conversation is only entertaining if it's novel... and the phone call to Mom feels closer to stereotype than novelty to me.

(Novel, in the sense of unusual and new, not in the literary sense nor in the humorous sense.)

Finally: I don't see the humor other commentators have mentioned. What I see is the quiet pain of a writer who feels frustrated at his craft, frustrated at a lack of jobs and an even greater lack of satisfying jobs, and frustrated at a mother who couldn't catch a hint with a net. I don't laugh when I read the intro; if I have any emotional response, it's sadness and depression.

If that was your goal, spot on, but I don't see any humor yet, nor do I expect to. Thus far, this doesn't seem like a humor strip.

Am hoping it will read less like real life once underway.

I fail to see what the problem with it being "real" is. I don't go see a movie because it has the promise of being unrealistic - I see a movie because it might have a good story. What I see in issue one of GC is the start of what could end up a good character-driven story, set in a believable, realistic world. It doesn't have to be un-real to be good.

Wednesday, my darling, talking on the telephone to one's mother is normal, but this particular talk isn't action. Action is when something happens. A decision is made, a crisis must be faced, an obstacle is encountered.

It doesn't have to be a big decision, crisis or obstacle. Something as simple as just meeting this friend and his girlfriend unexpectedly on the street: that would be an action showing what is normal.

Being exposited to about the girlfriend, that's not action. It may be normal, but it's not action.

Couple things:

1. Do we get a forum? A forum would be neat. It would definitely see some use.

2. In the strip with the attacking Coke can, I completely missed the 'DAMN!' on the first couple reads. Having it just kinda there, as opposed to in a speech-bubble (yanno, the jaggedy kind) or even just placed a little higher in the panel--maybe just under the SFX or something, so the eye lands on it more naturally in the text-flow of the strip--just doesn't quite work. Though it may in part be due to the bunch-of-strips-on-one-page layout--on its own, there's a lot less of an area to look over, and so it might not get missed as easily. I dunno.

Otherwise is is vurragood! ^^ Am waiting eagerly to see future installments.

"I fail to see what the problem with it being "real" is. I don't go see a movie because it has the promise of being unrealistic - I see a movie because it might have a good story. What I see in issue one of GC is the start of what could end up a good character-driven story, set in a believable, realistic world. It doesn't have to be un-real to be good."

Mr. Dean hits the nail on the head.

I love the artwork, I'm a little torn on the lack of borders as well. Or perhaps it's the way the panels are laid out without the borders. I don't know. It isn't really a big enough deal to effect overall quality.

I like that you have a cast page and FAQ set up from the beginning.

What is the update schedule on this going to be? That might also be some info you want to add to the FAQ.

One warning -- I write dialogue. It's that thing I do. Expect a lot more talking than werewolves kidnapping people.

Finally, someone who understands!

Eric gets a peanut butter cup. A tasty, chocolaty peanut butter cup.

Hm. The system tried to update, and we know the material exists due to all the talk about buffers, but something got buffered up, it looks like. :/ (As I type this, there's a "no strip to display" note on the page.)

Okay, working now. Sleepless Weds.

Alright, after reading the prologue comics on their individual pages and not lumped together the lack of borders looks alright. I think it was just something not asthetically pleasing about the different strips stacked on top of each other.

This is now in my firefox webcomic tab.

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