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Monthly Archives: March 2010
Bride of Thrilling Tales

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

As planned, I’m working now on both the book layouts for the first Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual volume, and on finishing up the Thrilling Tales web site.

There are some technical features on the site that I couldn’t really work on without actual content (and boy, have I got that now!) There’s also a feature that I decided to add after I’d started in on the art. You can see that at the upper right: big pop-up versions of the illustrations.

That in itself wouldn’t have been difficult except that I had to retrofit the existing pop-up window code – not written by me – to be much more flexible. I was already using these windows for big info panels about items you pick up in the course of the story, and I plan to use them for the save/load panels, too. So I had to teach the system to be happier about taking content in different ways and to accept the dynamic content that is 90% of what happens on the pages.

Thrilling Tales: The Web Site
Thrilling Tales: The Book

The surprising thing is that although the technical tasks weren’t easy, they haven’t taken much time at all, now that I look back on them. Still some more of that stuff to do, but it’s going well.

At the lower right is a working layout for the book pages. Just arriving at a basic layout that looks great and works across all those pages is more difficult than you might expect.

Because book pages (unlike web pages) are all the same size. I need to present a certain amount of information like the items and options shown across the bottom of the page for each node in the story. In a few cases I’ll need to go to a two page spread – I’ve always known that. But I want to keep those to a minimum so there’s a lot of trial and error with the page layout to see how it works for a variety of story nodes. Inevitably there are some that are just slightly too long – way too long would have been better. Slightly too long is complicated.

Anyhow, that process is nearly done. Soon I’ll be laying out all of the pages for real. And then – because in its way this is an interactive book – I’ll actually have to test it. Strange but true.

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

In June, We Shall Rejoice

Filed under Found on the Web, Reading / Watching / Consuming

Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual Hits the Home Stretch

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

ID Card from the Future That Never WasWith the last three "inventory" illustrations (which I haven’t been counting) I’m now, honestly, finally, completely 100% and no-foolin’ done with the art for the first story at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual. It’s ALIIIIIVE!

Or, you know, the art’s done, anyway. I still have two other tasks to wrap up before the site’s ready for the general public. But this single massive task has been keeping me going since late August. Out of the past seven months I’ve spent about one month working on other things. So forgive me for busting out the beer a little early. Or I would, anyway, if I could find Red Hook ESB anywhere in this county (state?)

So, yep, I’m still on track for a site launch sometime in April, with the live (free!) web version of Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves, the book version of the same story, various free bits and bobs like the Sci FI Pulp Title Generator (the Title-O-Tron), and all of that to be punctuated with the animated trailer which is still in its state of "maybe I’m done". That sly minx.

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

Thrilling Tales – Brains Tubes on Parade

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

In the Brain Repository of Retropolis

Still going, still going… my goal for the week is to finish both the Thrilling Tales trailer and the redos and post work on the story illustrations for Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves.

This was probably the last of the more difficult redos for existing illustrations. Probably. Most of them just need some adjustments to contrast and brightness: that might have been needed anyhow, but the matte paper for the book tends to dull down the contrast of the images and as I’ve seen, that means they need some more lovin’. I stand a pretty good chance of getting through the rest of them in the next couple of days.

The trailer may be finished. I’m not sure yet. There are a couple of things I might like to try differently but the thing that I like least is something that it would be very difficult to change, because it has to do with the pacing and length of the period musical score. That isn’t flexible. About all I could do would be to try a completely different score (after finding one I could use!) and that would lead to a brand new complete edit and, I’d guess, at least a week of new work. This idea does not excite me. So I watch it, and brood a little bit, every night. We’ll just see.

If I meet this week’s schedule, then, I can move on to finishing the web site – several technical things to do there, along with adding non-story content – and I’ll also get to work on the book layout for the print edition. Proofing and finalizing the book is likely to be the real bottleneck. I’m still aimed at a launch for the Thrilling Tales web site before the end of April, and I believe I’ll get there on time.

I’m not posting often here just now because I’m not thinking about much of anything else. Talk amongst yourselves. Confer. Relate.

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

Thrilling Tales – the Adventure Continues

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Jubilation in the Secret LaboratoryOkey Doke. As milestones go, this is the big one: I finally finished the last illustration for Part One of The Toaster With TWO BRAINS.

For the moment, I’ll ignore the fact that I still have three inventory illustrations to go; and having ignored that so successfully, I’ll pretend that I don’t expect to redo ten to fifteen of the illustrations I’ve already done; and while this ignoring thing is going so very well I will also neglect to remember that with all the art done I’ll still have a few weeks worth of debugging and finishing to do on the web site. And extras, like desktop wallpapers, to make.

Hey! Ignorance really is bliss!

On the other fronts I am pointedly not looking at the trailer because I’ve looked at it so much I can’t really see it any more. It’s pretty close to being finished. But I need to look at it with fresh eyes so that I’m sure what changes I still need to make.

I have a test book coming from the printer to work out any kinks in the printing process… so that once the art is really, definitely done I can put together the print version.

And I’ve continued to work on the Pulp Sci Fi Title Generator I put together for the Thrilling Tales web site… it’s continued to improve and it’s gotten a spiffy graphical facelift. And I’ve even made a Mini Title-O-Tron that people can install in the sidebars of their own blogs or web sites, if they like: I want to do a Facebook app version but so far whenever I look at their docs, my brain hurts.

So I guess I can take a deep breath for a bit, at which point I’ll need to stop ignoring those things I mentioned above, get them done, and try to catch all these balls I’m juggling at about the same time so that I can launch the site.

Rockets over Iceland

Update: the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site is now alive (alive, I tell you!) at thrilling-tales.webomator.com

The Dive of Death

Filed under Can't Stop Thinking

We have to thank Mister Doortree of Golden Age Comic Book Stories for this image (thanks, Mister Doortree!), which has reminded me of something odd from the past.

Back in 1977 I moved from Southern California to a great, small beach town halfway up the coast. Wonderful place… but I’m not going to say where, exactly, for reasons that may become clear.

For the first little while that I lived there, every time someone local found out that I was new in town they would always tell me: "Don’t go to Happy Jack’s!" I’m serious. This happened every time.

The bar called Happy Jack’s, it turns out, was The Dive of Death.

The only thing that anyone ever said… specifically… about why I should not go to Happy Jack’s was, I kid you not, that they sold knives at the bar. Because people in the bar kept finding out that they really needed a knife, apparently. All of a sudden.

The fact that virtually everyone told me not to go in there was good enough for me. A few years earlier or later, and maybe I’d have made a beeline for Happy Jack’s. But just then, I decided to take their word for it.

And after awhile, well, I was a local. And without even thinking about it, when someone new showed up I’d tell them "Don’t go to Happy Jack’s". After a couple of years I started to wonder why I was telling them that. I’m not sure if it stopped me, though. This says something about the way people behave in groups. Most of the things you can say about how we behave in groups are not very good things. This could be an example.

So eventually I moved away and had adventures, and mostly I forgot all about Happy Jack’s. But years later I came back to spend the Christmas holidays in the old town. And I found myself walking down the street right past the open door of Happy Jack’s. I had never seen that door standing open in all the time I lived there.

It was quiet in there. They had a lot of Christmas decorations up. I’m pretty sure there were little Santas. And it looked like a peaceable, quiet sort of place to drop in for a drink.

It seemed to me that there’d been a change of management in the fifteen years I’d been away and I was sort of sad to see it tamed. If it had remained a little dangerous it would have been a lot more interesting. I didn’t go in.

I’m still not sure if that was a mistake. And I’m not sure that it wasn’t just force of habit, either.

But then there’s this: what if Happy Jack’s had never been a dangerous bar where they sold knives to people who suddenly needed them? What if the whole thing had been wrong… and I’d been perpetuating that when I chimed in to warn off the new folks in town?

I find that I prefer to believe that it was all true. But then, that’s what we usually prefer, isn’t it?

[tags]happy jack’s, the dive of death[/tags]

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