Nerd Boy behind the scenes

I realize that showing how I make a Nerd Boy strip might not qualify as a rant. A rant would include my personal opinions about something, preferably strong opinions. However, I have nowhere else to stick these things I decide to write, so let's just say that these are my personal opinions concerning how to make an ASCII comic strip.

This rant will give you a look behind the scenes of Nerd Boy. Specifically, this is behind the scenes of Nerd Boy episode 304. If you haven't already read it, do so if you don't want to spoil the joke.

Read it? OK, here we go. First I have some kind of idea. In this case it was the "klaxon" thing. I was standing in front of the mirror brushing my teeth, I think, when the first line popped into my head. So I jotted it down on a piece of paper. Later, I took that idea and decided to write a script.

   -N: "Klaxon" would be a good name for a villian.
    F: Yeah, too bad it means something.
   -
   -F: How about "Kleenex"?
   -
   -N: No.

Yes, I misspelled "villain" in the script. The "-" indicates a new panel, so there are two empty panels in this one. Those are of course pauses for some kind of comical effect. However, it doesn't work for me. I tried a few variations on the last line but they all sucked, so I scrapped it all and wrote something else.

   -N: "Klaxon" would be a good name for a supervillain.
 
   -N: Too bad it already means something.
    F: Yeah.. Wait, why are we talking about this?
 
   -N: Because you said something about villains?
    F: I was talking about Bob Dylan.
 
   -N: Why?

It starts off the same, with the subtle difference that only Nerd Boy is talking about Klaxon, and it's a supervillain now. There's more flow in this one, but it still kinda sucks. The last line is really weak. So I tried some variations, and then started changing it radically until I got "What kind of crappy supervillain is that?"

I thought that was funny, so I started drawing the strip, but before I had gotten very far I changed it to "Nah, that's a crappy name for a supervillain." It's clearer now that Nerd Boy is still completely stuck in the name thing.

Now to actually draw it. Most of the time, since I've written the script in JavE and at the top of the document, I don't have room to start drawing there. So I start drawing the last panel first. After a while, I got used to drawing the strips in that order. Now, even if there's no script in the way, I start with the last panel. That way I can arrange everything -- characters and background and stuff -- around the punchline and then use that arrangement in the preceding panels.

Here's an intermediate scribble that shows how lines change during the short journey from script to strip.

 
      -N: "Klaxon" would be a good name for a supervillain.
 
      -N: Too bad it already means something.
 
      -F: Yeah.. Wait, why are we talking about this?
       N: Because you said something about villains?
 
      -F: I was talking about Bob Dylan.
       N: Nah, that's a crappy name for a supervillain.
 
 
 
 
 
 
                             ,,,
                  OO         ..'
                  ||        .||.
          _______ bb _______ ||
 
 
                        I was talking          What? That's a -crappy-
                       about Bob Dylan!        name for a supervillain.
                                    `,,,               ,
                                     '..             OO
                                     -||-           ((
jg___________________________________ |\ __________ b b _____

Note that I moved the panel breakpoints so as to rearrange Fan Boy and Nerd Boy to change the flow a bit. The pacing just felt better in this version. Finally, since I liked the contrast in pacing between the two first and two last panels, I decided to accentuate that by leaving out the floor in the first two panels.

Well, that's it. Nerd Boy behind the scenes. Hope you enjoyed it.


6. The Nerd Boy language
5. Nerd Boy behind the scenes
4. PBeM tips, aka "Sorry, my mistake"
3. alt.ascii-art = forum
2. Rants, PHP and "geeky" comics
1. Scott Kurtz has a time machine?

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Copyright © 2001-2005 Joaquim Gândara. Fan art copyright © their respective owners.