If 2816 were a gag-a-day stripon February 22, 2011 at 12:01 am
I shared a studio with Jared Cullum for a few months and during that time he started Pea Green Coffee Cup. One of his goals with that strip was to just have something to build on and constantly work with. It was for him (and still is to a degree) a testing ground for experimentation and growth as a comic artist. Inspired by his success and diligence I decided to toy around with the idea of a gag-a-day strip. Captain Kittenface was a character that first appeared in my sketchbook and as a villain in the cliffhanger end of Retaliation: Cornelius and Ovy (another project with Jared). So I started with 7 strips and put them on r/comic_crits to get some feedback.
I got an incredible response from the good folks over there but simplegreens really took the cake.
To see the entire review thread click here.
Here are the strips I posted for review:
Here is what I got from simplegreens.
edited for length and to get to the point at hand. see link above for entire thread with full review.
Please take a look at this series of remixes I did of them to fix pacing a bit and compress the jokes into single strips. Anyhow, I thought I would share that with you before explaining why I think the strips work better this way. And by the way your writing is good and your jokes are funny, it’s really just pacing (and a bad habit of saving the punchline for the following strip).
Anyhow, here was my thinking as I was reading your samples (that lead to the cut-and-paste job above):
The first two strips seem to share a single punch-line; the first being all set up (but no real punchline) and the second being all sight-gag (but no set up). I hope you don’t mind but I’ve taken the liberty of “remixing” your comics to show you what I mean. I’ve put in both a 3 and 4 panel version of this one.
The 3rd strip stands well on it’s own. But honestly, for comedic value I personally (this is completely a matter of opinion) would not bother having the main character acknowledge that there is anything too strange about CKF. You already registered his shock in the last comic, and unless you’re going to riff on it in this strip (which would essentially mean you’re reusing the gag from the first strip… which is totally cool, just not so soon) it’s just eating up space that could otherwise be used for setup.
Which leaves us panel 3 of the 4th strip… which is a FANTASTIC opening panel. Add in the first two panels from the following strip and you’ve got a great 3-panel gag. You could include the 4th panel, but honestly I think it steps on the joke a little bit. Sometimes you’ve got to just throw it out there and let it hang in the air for laughter. Over-exposition runs the risk of killing the funny.
On the last two.. the first four panels are good and make a good strip on their own. The last two panels… I say ditch them entirely. I’m not sure where the strip goes on from here, but you’ve already got a couple of strips in a row that deal with the rent scene. Just as you ideally don’t want to repeat gags too often, you should also eschew using the same joke setup too many times in a row… you haven’t gone overboard here, so this is more of a caution to make sure you don’t than advice that you should dial it back per-se.
Completely floored by both the length of the review and the amazing remix of the strips I found myself at an impasse for about a week. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to let 2816 play itself out anymore. I’ve always been more of a storyteller than a comedian and I never expected to do a strip comic for lack of daily jokes.
After much debate and a great discussion with Jared I decided that I should take the route that feels right for me; that being the soapy comic 2816 has become. I have embraced the story element and won’t be doing a gag-a-day. I have however tried to take much of the advice given to me and adapt it to how I write 2816. While every strip builds on the ones before it I do make an effort to include some level of a joke with each strip. Punchlines vary in strength and I am determined to put the story first at the expense of a punchline when necessary. Honestly I imagine this in book form at some point so I try to pace it according to that medium.
Seeing what simplegreens had done with the strips showed what 2816 Monument could be with someone else at the helm.
Hopefully you’re enjoying the story so far and not longing for a gag-a-day strip featuring Kittenface, Remarkable, and Calypso. Thanks to simplegreens for the awesome review/remix, the great community over at r/comic_crits that put up with me and Jared for the inspiration to start this mess in the first place.