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Anonymous said: Question: Who is the other person that always pops up in your comics?

The guy with the goggles is loosely based on my good friend and roommate Dana. I chose him because I needed a second protagonist and had been planning an animation called “Dave’s Guide to Dating” in which he was the main character, so he was already designed and I was lazy!

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Valentine’s Fun

This was a lot of fun to make.  While not one of my personal favorite holidays (Columbus Day can’t get here soon enough), Valentine’s Day is a nice fit for the comic. Dating is a common theme (or sexuality or something) for MercWorks so I wanted to capitalize on the holiday with a tale so romantic it would give the cold, empty souls of my readers a taste of the warmth of a love that they can never experience. Nailed it.

Our protagonist fails with women pretty frequently (inspired almost entirely by real life!) so I decided to go with something I would consider “classic MercWorks.” I wanted him to feel like he actually had a chance for once, which panel one sets up and panel two achieves pretty effectively.  Originally I was going to put dialogue in the fourth panel, but I found the abruptness of silence to be much more effective (and it’s one of my favorite panels as a result).

Originally the waiter was just going be some generic, good looking guy, but the cook at the local coffee shop said he wanted to be in it and I couldn’t think of a good reason not to use him. I actually use him fairly frequently in various ways, though I’m not entirely sure why. I guess because he cracks me up. Thanks Kevin.

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Money vs Passion

It seems like it’s always time to pay everything.

I went through a bunch of different ideas along these lines before arriving at this one. Some were dialogue-driven, others were action-oriented, but everything seemed to over-complicate what I was trying to say.  In the end, I combined a bunch of those original ideas into something beautifully simple and I’m proud of the result.

I made a lot of notable changes to the original sketch - changes to cropping and scale of panels especially.  The most distinctive change is probably changing the character’s direction from left to right in the final panel.  I decided on that to sort of symbolize his mental change of direction, and it made the whole thing flow better overall. 

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hogwartsmustache-deactivated201 said: hey :) i really like your comics. do you know other webcomics with a similar style? (not drawing-wise) thanks in advance

Hi! Thank you!! I’m not sure about webcomics similar to mine, but here are some comics I find inspiring that you might enjoy:

Enjoy!

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Looks on the Bright Side

This was a total joy to make and is an instant favorite of mine. I think everybody has a tendency to validate themselves against the failings of others, probably without even thinking about it. Try not to judge, people - we’re all the worst.

Things were pretty cut and dry because I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do with this comic.  One thing I hadn’t planned from the get-go was including the usual protagonists in the background of the third panel, but it made perfect sense as I was sketching things out. Adding them rounded the comic out nicely, and it’s probably good to include familiar faces whenever appropriate.

I failed hard at participating in Hourly Comic Day today.  I was up at 6am hoping to finish this comic early and get on with making comics for the day! Unfortunately, by the time I finished it, I had to sort out important business matters for the rest of the day and never got the chance to break away. I think I may do it tomorrow, and be a rebel without a reason.

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Reckless, but Effective!

My good friend and roommate Dana is often concerned that the knives he uses are not sharp enough, and frequently busts himself open trying to find out if they are.  I am continually perplexed by the fact that he has failed to learn the lesson that a properly sharp knife will cut his flesh, and equally perplexed by whatever logic led to this habit in the first place.  Still, he always finds out, and that got me to thinking about other ways this reckless disregard for one’s own safety could be useful.

The thing that worried me most about this comic was the colors.  I felt like the previous comic really fell flat in that regard - to the point of it negatively affecting an otherwise already bad comic.  Luckily whatever groove I had lost was returned, and the colors didn’t turn out too terrible at all. 

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Sledding

I’ve gone years without a sled, though I’ve done my fair share of high-speed sliding over snowy terrain despite that fact.  We’ve tried a lot of different things to maximize our potential for fun, and it would seem that, if you’re going to be super, super poor, the most effective sled-alternative is dressing yourself in a trash bag and sliding head first on your back down a hill.  I think if rollercoasters have taught us anything it’s that danger = fun, so it doesn’t get more fun than that.

I’ve been itching to do snow comics since November, but there hasn’t been any snow and it just didn’t seem appropriate.  It did, in fact, snow the other day, which is why the past two comics have both been in that setting.  Artistically I wanted to do something akin to Bill Waterson’s style, which I pulled off pretty successfully.  I had a great time with it and I’m looking forward to more experiments along these lines.

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Pandering

I picked up Making Comics by Scott McCloud recently and I’ve had a hard time putting it down.  I had already been thinking about a lot of the stuff I’m learning, and it’s nice to have those ideas reinforced by a comic supergenius.  I’ve learned a whole lot of new tricks, ways to improve my process, and even things that will improve my writing.

I received what was perhaps my favorite comment ever on this comic.  I decided against the seppuku and jagerbombs, but ibenx made some good points about the comic and it’s accessibility that I’m going to implement over the next few weeks.  You might notice, for instance, that the comic is larger!  I’ll also be doing away with the blog format soon and go with a more traditional webcomic setup.

I do apologize for the pandering, but I had to make up for Monday’s failure (it worked).  Also sorry this post wasn’t funny. I kind of tried.

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Weird Weather!image

I think everyone hates this kind of small-talk, but weather is the one thing that everybody has in common so it tends to come up pretty naturally.  The only thing that’s worse is when some stranger starts talking to you about politics, as if an opinion were as universally understood as the weather.

This could have been a nice, easy comic, but I’ve been trying to get into three-point perspective and masochism.  Perspective isn’t terribly hard, but it’s a lot more precise than what I usually do (which is ignore that perspective exists). It’s fairly time-consuming, but I’ve got it in my bag of tricks if I need it.

For a while I thought the comic would be more accessible without profanity, but I read through the archives the other day and realized that things started off pretty recklessly in the first three comics. Then I realized that I never gave a shit in the first place.  It feels good to be liberated from the shackles of modesty.

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Jeffrey the Ghost of Self-Loathing

Writing was the hardest part for this particular comic because I had been plagued by Jeffrey for some time prior.  I had written and even sketched out an entirely different comic yesterday, but it was bad enough that I scrapped it altogether and slipped into a bit of a negativity death-spiral.

It wasn’t much use trying to be funny when I was depressed so I figured it would probably be best to just embrace it.  I thought of a ghost on your shoulder, akin to the angel/devil archetypes, whose sole purpose is to make you feel terrible all the time.  In exposing him I experienced the sort of catharsis I needed to shut him the hell up.  

Sketching was awesome.  Designing Jeffrey was easy (sort of an emo-kid version of our leading man), though I worried by the end that perhaps I’d gone too creepy with him.  Originally he didn’t have pupils and it made him a lot more terrifying.  

I had a nice opportunity to use perspective (which I’ve been wanting to play with for a little while) in the final frame and I think it was successful in conveying the mood I wanted.  I actually tried a few different variations on it before I settled on one that I liked.

And just so everyone knows, I’m actually even better at sex than I think I am.