Wednesday, February 13, 2008
A Sideways Glance
Back in 1996, I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my life. I had been barely employed as a movie extra. I didn't want to go through a temp agency to get a job but I was having a hard time getting work through the newspaper ads.
Of course, I was working on Pipe Dreams. However I took some time off to evaluate what I needed to do with the strip to make it more marketable. I tried to improve on my brushwork. I also felt that I needed to retcon the strip.
I decided to streamline the strip. I took the character Julian away and would only have the main characters, no incidental characters in this set of Pipe Dreams. One of my rejection letters, again from Jay Kennedy of King Features, said my characters were too de classe (Yeah, I had to look it up) He had stated he had no idea where the characters were from, how they knew each other and what they did for a living. It's true I was deliberately vague about what they did for a living but I thought I was clear how they knew each other.
When I worked on my last set of strips I missed out on being one of of the many comic strips that would replace Calvin and Hobbes after its final strip appeared on December 31, 1995. The previous set to that wasn't good so I decided I needed to step up my work on this set of Pipe Dreams.
Anyway, the first thing I had wanted to do was to have all the main characters live in the same house. When I was in SVA, my PIC buddies would often talk about how if one of us were to win the lottery or come into lots of money, that person would buy a large house for all of us to live together. When I lived in Greenwood, I had four roommates sharing a large house. I used that house as a model for this set of Pipe Dreams. It would allow for plausible interactions for twenty somethings that had diverse backgrounds.
I changed the backgrounds of the characters a little to reintroduce the cast to prospective syndicators.
Gritzko was now a Gulf War veteran (Now known as Gulf War I), in my mind he was older than the rest of the characters, which was a little based on my Seattle friend Dan, who lived in the house in Greenwood.
Dirk and Anais were now brother and sister, but only for this set of strips. I didn't think it was necessary, but I felt that there needed to a background to who owned the house they lived in, and felt there needed to be siblings in the strips and the two of them seemed logical.
Rachel was now named Rebecca. That was because of the success of the show "Friends". I had come up with Pipe Dreams before Friends came on air but felt that if I had a character named Rachel in a comic strip involving twenty somethings living in a big city, it would be considered a ripoff. That also became the reason I put them in a house, instead of apartments.
Buck was introduced to most of the characters as though he were a new character. He had the same characteristics as before.
Skat didn't change much. He did become more of a caricature. He had a standard outfit and was now walking around with a bass guitar as though he was an aspiring musician.
I also clearly indicated that Dirk and Rachel(Rebecca) had a relationship that was now newly over.
The house I lived in had a car port with a room behind it. No one lived back there but I thought it would be neat to make that a room for one of the Pipe Dreams cast. Ever the cheap slacker, Skat fit the bill.
One other change I made was that I was going to present the strip to the syndicates in larger format. Before, I presented it on an 8 1/2 by 11 paper four to a page vertically on one side of the paper. The Syndicate requires a package of 30 strips in black and white. I decided with this set of strips I would flip it to a horizontal format, two per page. I did this in a subtle nod to what the format of how the Calvin and Hobbes collection books were presented since 1994. Since I was cheap I put the cartoons on both sides of the paper. I also finally figured out how to do it on the copy machines at Kinkos. This actually got praise from my priviledged friends who got copies of Pipe Dreams.
Anyway, I felt that this set of Pipe Dreams were the best I sent in, very consistent in the artwork and more coherent than previous sets. Some good visual gags were present and Anais was starting to look more sexy.