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Networking

  Okay. Let's talk about art for just a moment. I received a lot of notes on the art last week, along with several concerned emails from folks wanting me to revert to my 'old style' again. This IS still my style. I didn't switch styles or dump an old style for a new one, I assure you. This is my regular drawing style. I just spent more time on it and tweaked a few things I wasn't happy with. I wanted the characters to have a bit more definition in their faces, and a allow more opportunities for light and shadow in them (noses and lips.) I also made Ellie's eyes a bit more enclosed (but still open) and gave her individual eyelashes. That's essentially it. I did laugh when someone suggested I was shooting for an Adam Warren look. I am, and have been, a huge fan of Adam Warren for years. But I wasn't referencing any of his work when modifying the characters. I did, however, reference various ways some artists were drawing eyes, and used what I liked. I looked at some Disney character sheets for drawing Ashliii's eyes glaring through the fish tank, and some stock photos for body poses.. but that's nothing unheard of for artists. We're entering a new story, and with that I did another forced 'art push.' You can see one I did further back here ...where Ellie looks very off-model for this time in the strip. Typically with my these instances, my art fans out a bit far with detail, then reverts slightly as these new details become more ingrained in my drawing habits. It eventually finds a median look until I do another. I consider an 'art push' or 'quality push' something different than regular art evolution, since I'm forcing it instead of it gradually happening. It HAS gradually happened quite a bit with Shotgun Shuffle. To an extent, I think art evolution is a natural occurrence, but it's only natural if it's something the artist genuinely wants. Latent or otherwise. This is not to be confused with an artist's style 'settling.' Settling is when an artist has drawn his comic or creation long enough, he's no longer struggling to keep the characters on model. The entirety of what they're doing is becoming more refined through repetition. I'm not content with stopping at that. I treat my art the way God treats me. Just when things get comfortable, I throw more obstacles at it. It's the only way either is going to grow. You gotta keep your thumb on it and expect more than what you're getting out of it. Always. I've actually brought a future panel with me from 2025 where my art has become so advanced, it appears photo-realistic: Shotgun Rave On a side note, the panel where Ellie has the fat pet store animals behind her is actually one of the first times I was truely content with how Ellie looked. Now don't go taking anything the wrong way with what I'm about to say, because I'm not one to denigrate other cartoonists' craft. A comic that has art that both the artist and their readers are content with, is a good thing. But... webcomics that have idled art styles are everywhere. I'm being very very frank about what I see in comics I like, and comics I don't. But there are some cartoonists out there that have settled into their styles, and I feel some styles plateaued before they should have. This is where my concern is. I won't ever name names, but sometimes getting comfortable can be a bad thing. An even worse thing, is when cartoonists actually start to regress. I used to think the former was bad enough, but the latter is happening more than I ever would've thought nowadays. Sometimes we need a break, sometimes we have to just get to that deadline. Other obligations arise, I know, I get it. Priorities differ. But an increase in income as things get better, should never mean it's time to relax. An increase in fanbase means it's time to double your efforts. There are some big-namers out there that have left me a bit confused with what they're doing to their creation... or don't care to do anymore. (Just one man's opinion.) You'll hear many times in blogs and webcomics, Content is King. Yes, but Quality is Queen. What I have to show for my time, for my stress, and for my sacrifices while working on this comic, are always going to be the best damn quality of work I can possibly produce. Sometimes you'll get to this site, and the comic's not up yet. Sometimes, I may post an update that it's delayed. I hate it just as much a anyone, but each comic has to be better than the last. I cant post anything halfass. This is MY body of work. My ART that represents what I want to convey to my READERS. Love for both. Thanks everyone.  

58 thoughts on “Networking

  1. You sir, can do whatever you so please art wise, on the condition that every now and then it’s this. Seriously, I don’t care what you do, do it however you want to, screw the naysayers (but not literally). Your comic is funny, sarcastic, snappy, weird, random, and many other words I’ve decided not to think of right now. Basically, it’s awesome, and thank you for sharing it with us.
    Okay, now, story wise, how many more ominous images of Quinn are we gonna get, the suspense is killing me!!

  2. I love frame 2. Besides the artwork, it looks like Ellie is looking into a crystal ball and Quinn is a specter lurking in the background. Was that intentional? It also kind of has a campfire stories with a flashlight look, too.

    1. Yeah, I wanted the faint imagery of a horror flick with the murderous lunatic just behind the victim, alluding to Ellie’s impeding doom if she doesn’t get it together.

      1. Well done! On a side note, and if I am wrong this is going to sound really random, but is KK currently in Orlando? There’s only one place I know in Central Florida with that weird unceiling thing in the background in panel 3, and it’s a 7-11 off of East Colonial.

  3. Quinn’s totally gonna stab her. There is absolutely no denying it now.

    Three things about the art rant:

    1) If I’m going to be frank, I do not like how the characters look now. The detail feels too forced, and it pushes them slightly into the uncanny valley. I vastly prefer the more cartoony, happy look that we’ve been getting for the last year. It melded very comfortably with the ethos of ShotgunShuffle. This current style, I feel, clashes with it.

    2) When I think of an artist who does what you say here, with the constant self-challenges and changing of the art to build on the skills of the creator, I think of Gabe from Penny-Arcade. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the comic, but Gabe’s art is a constantly flowing, evolving thing, and he very clearly pushes himself year after year to become a better artist. Unfortunately, I hate his art nowadays. I was in love with the way his characters looked back in 2008, and I strongly believe that that year was the pinnacle of his comic. However, he kept pushing his artwork and changing it to grow as an artist, and I honestly believe it’s damaged his work. I can’t stand how it looks these days, and I really long for the days of classic Penny-Arcade.

    3) I really, really liked how Ellie looked in that fat pet panel a few comics back. If that’s the look you’re going for, then I whole-heartedly approve of you working towards it and I support the changing art style.

    1. 1. I feel Rusche changes up the style depending on the situation the characters are in. As for the overarching style, I think the new style is nicer, and when Rusche wants to give a certain feel the style will undoubtedly shift, like the middle panel here.

      2. There are some people who think Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure had better art back when every character was a hypermasculine muscleman. It’s better to improve as an artist over time for those moments I mentioned above that you want to convey a certain way. If you don’t try out new things, it’ll limit your abilities for the panels that really matter.

      I think besides simple technique, planning out exactly what you want the readers to get out of a panel is equally as important, and I think Rusche has good judgment on that.

  4. It’s probably a bit off topic, but you’ve not just created a webcomic with fans, Rusche. This is a community of human beings who post here to show how much they love your webcomic, and you generally treat us all with respect and kindness. I suppose that means Kindness is something like the advisor? All I know is I’m here to stay with my sometimes-unrelated comments. At least I’m not like that whale guy who posts about whales all the time. What was his name? AnonymousOnonymous? Probably. That guy was weird and smelled like whale blubber.

  5. Panel two is gorgeous!!! Holy crap I love the lighting in it! I can’t wait to see how Quinn looks with the new style too. That’ll be fun. Also, hilarious “photo-realistic” panel there. Where’d you get the picture if you don’t mind me asking?

    1. A disturbing pair, no doubt. An unemployed Barrel will likely be little help in terms of getting Ellie new work. And Danny there doesn’t exactly look like a killer job reference.

      1. Actually, I think it is very possible that Barrel will get her a job.

        A few months back, there was a vote to determine the future of the comic, and the vote-winner was a picture of Ellie looking like she was a booth babe at some sort of trade show or convention. It could be that Barrel will get her the job as booth babe. He could be helping out at a con, or he could be networking in the business world and might know some company that has a trade show coming up.

        Ellie is a legit babe, and she has a decently nice personality to go with her looks. But I imagine that being a booth babe will be very trying. She’ll like the attention at first but it will become a nightmare of people with poor understanding of boundaries.

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/01/10/ces_2014_what_it_s_like_to_be_a_booth_babe_at_trade_shows.html

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/02/27/heres-what-its-like-to-be-a-booth-babe-at-cybersecuritys-biggest-conference/

  6. To all who have a problem with Rusche’s current technique and style of art, I wish to share soemthing with you that I have picked up in my years of writing fanfiction. This is something for Rusche to always keep in mind and at the same time to pet things into perspective for everyone else.

    “Writers lie. So do tape recorders and video cameras. So does memory. As a fiction writer this doesn’t bother me at all. I only have to be true to my imagination, to the characters I create and the events that I cause. In fiction, the writer is God, without quarreling apostles, without competing deities, and without any foot-dragging villagers.” -Amy Bloom

    This is what many authors refer to as ‘Writer is God, deal with it’.

    On a seperate note, I saw what you did there with that photo Rusche, giving the shippers fuel lol

    1. I really don’t see why the shift in art got such a bad rap this time. They’re still recognizable as the characters.

      Wait. I forgot. I was an English major. For me, it’s about the story (which is why the long tangents like the movie mash-up and the Pumpagon arc are not my thing: it feels like the story is on hold. Not saying you can’t do them. Just saying they’re not my favorite). I should probably ask my daughter, who’s more into art.

      As Kenju said, it’s your comic. It’s not like people are offering you thousands of dollars to draw it exactly the same way as the first strip, or something. Your time, your art, your decisions. If they want to draw their own web comic, then they can dictate the parameters.
      As Jody said, Keep up the good work!

  7. Panel 2 looks like a botched summoning.

    And Ellie’s squared up face looks better now than when I last criticized it. specifically the chin and proportions.

    I just wanna see Quinn already! The suspense!

  8. Yeah, that hotel looks a little drafty, all right. But then, if you strung up a lot of mosquito netting and hammocks, you’d probably get a really sweet theme hotel sort of thing going.

        1. I’m not worried, they go dancing later.

          It’s sooo Totes that Quinn didn’t cut off Ellie’s head.

          She just used the knife to throw it through the window to kill John Belushi for peeping.

        2. I know but Ellie would be having better luck if she lived in North Dakota or Texas and not the sunshine state.

  9. Aww c’mon KK, we all want to see Ellie in a hardhat and one of those day-glo orange vests, trying to work some piece of massive construction equipment. You can’t tell me that wouldn’t be hilarious.

    1. And I thought you all just wanted to see Lavender in a sexy undies pin up. Make up your mind people!

      1. I see a way to combine the two. But I don’t know how many people would be pleased with the result.

        And I’m quite sure it would lead to a lot less work done and lot more accidents by distraction of any building site she would pay a visit to in such an outfit.

        1. I will stick with the holiday pin ups but that could be a nice idea for Shotgun Shuffle Halloween sexy dress up. Also ;) ;)

        2. Bing! Get-rich quick idea: threaten to stand across the street from the work-site every day in skimpy lingerie unless the building-managers pay you not to!

  10. I think the new look is pretty good. No complaints here. Makes Ellie look older and more her age. Ok, not totally true- Ellie now looks way too much like my sister. So slightly creepy, but not because of anything asthetic you have done, Chris. Keep up the good work!

  11. Rusche, like with everything it takes a bit to get used to the new style, but overall I like it. I love Ellie’s chin.

    Your 2025 style, however, is *totally* unrealistic: Quinn is *almost* smiling!

  12. Huh, I didn’t realize Quinn would be so much shorter than ellie in 11 years. Or is she just “boogeying down” at the moment? :p

    Regardless something to look forward to.

  13. Yeah it’s nice of your readers to advise you on how you should make your comic. I mean, who has the time to make their own creative works these days, especially when it’s so much easier to just hijack someone else’s? Remember Rusche, you’re making this comic for us, not for yourself. You are not sharing a part of yourself and your experiences so that we can understand you and learn and gain perspective; all you are doing is making something as we tell you to make it.

    So I think the words you should be looking for are “Thank you”?

    But seriously, you’re doing fine. There are certainly things I would do differently if it were my comic, and many of those things would probably not be any better off. Keep up the good work, and as always I’ll tell you if I have problems with the way you’re doing anything (more than just “I like such-and-such better do it that way”).

  14. “[…] each comic has to be better than the last. I cant post anything halfass.”

    Just one of the many reasons I love this webcomic. It took a bit of getting used to, but by the second strip with the new tweaks I was really excited about it. Adding more definition to her lips just seems to give her a wider range of emotion. I feel like that panel where she’s staring at the schedule with a forlorn expression would have needed a more exaggerated reaction to convey the same emotion.

  15. Dude, don’t worry about the people who want you to revert to your ‘old’ style. Half the reason I love webcomics so much is because I can watch artists grow and evolve.

    You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself. Draw who and what and how you want.

  16. I think your artwork is awesome. At first, the expressions in the mouths were difficult for me to discern, but now it’s worlds better. Keep up the good work!

  17. Honestly, I kind of preferred the old style, but it’s such a subtle difference I can’t complain. It’s far better than the art when the strip started out, so this is a stunning improvement.

    Does Ellie have any other friends? We were introduced to her spending all night on Facebook, so who are her friends? We haven’t seen her interact with anyone besides her sisters, Quinn, and coworkers.

  18. Chris, as a person who has studied art and technical drawing, math, science, belly buttons, photography and the likes. I’ve seen the parts that you’ve been attending to more now before. It was like the negative space allowed for the existence of something, because it wasn’t the neglecting of it, just the lack of time to have a satisfied effort come from it to add to the overall design, right?

  19. Ellie’s phone used to float. The floating was powered by her self-esteem.

    Now it doesn’t float; she has to hold it up.

    I’m pretty sure this was intended, and I like it!

  20. As for the changes in art style…

    I like the changes to the way females’ eyes are drawn. The old way had just too much black stuff all around them and I didn’t like the look. I would suggest going even further and reducing the black stuff more… maybe just give females thicker eyelashes or something? (I’m not an artist, can’t really make useful suggestions, sorry.) I hate to ask you to change your style, so I’m not going to make many comments about this.

    I can sort of see the “uncanny valley” complaint but I don’t think it’s quite that bad. And I am sure that as the art evolves more (and we get used to it more) those worries will dissipate.

    I really like KK in the first panel, but I don’t like how she looks in the last one. I think it’s her teeth and lips.

    Overall I approve of the idea of pushing your artwork forward. And I love the comic, therefore I want you to enjoy making the comic, and therefore if you want to change your art I’m for it.

    But I agree with the person who said that the art in Penny Arcade has evolved too far… like that person, I have stopped reading Penny Arcade and the art changes had a great deal to do with that. I don’t think you are in danger of losing many people over the art changes yet though.

    But I definitely want to end this note with a public “thank you” for making one of my favorite comics. As I have said before, I care about your characters and I want to see what happens next.

  21. Holy cow, I just realized I missed a strip. Is the comic still M-W-F or is it T-F like in the banner? I thought that with the art upgrade and everything else that happened we’d be down to two strips a week for the foreseeable future.

    I’ve been digging back through the archive to look at the art evolutions, and I think I see the fluxes where things get new and then settle in. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the new art so much as there were a few details that seemed off because I was so used to the old style.

    I’m liking the new style now, and I’m excited to see where this story goes.

    I also found the first vote for which story you were going to do next, with the Star Wars or Ellie handing out fliers. I remember her losing her job was a result of that poll, are we going to see that plot now?

  22. I was holding on for the update but I’m not going to make it till noon, I have to sleep sometime… maybe…

  23. Late enough that it’s unlikely you’ll notice the comment, but didn’t want to degenerate future comic comment threads back to art.

    I’ve seen several webcomics that I’ve wanted to know what came next, but the author had lost interest. I wouldn’t have cared if the comic had continued photorealistic or stick figure, I just wanted to know what happened next.

    You keep yourself happy and enjoying making this comic and I’m good. If you ever go the other way and reduce the art quality, as long as expressions still communicate what they’re intended to, I won’t really care.

    I’ve intended any art-related comments (including many that got lost in site upgrade) to either be “relax” to someone else or “well, he did ask for constructive criticism” things.

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