The Elves of Linden Hold

I’m having so much fun writing The Elves of Linden Hold! I want to show it to everyone but I’m pretty convinced by now of the virtues of schedule and buffer. I’m going to have an incredible buffer by the time I launch in January. It will feel like more than it is, though, because there will be three updates a week! Not including art weekends. With those and Dragon’s Fall, I will be posting 5 things a week to my comic sites! That sounds crazy to me, but I think I can manage it. This time I have a better plan.

Before I could not finish one page of Dragon’s Fall and two pages of LleuGarnock a week. That was too much art. Part of the problem was my attitude to DF being too perfectionist and not enough methodical. I believe I’ve got that sorted out. I stress a lot less over DF pages now.

Another problem was that too much of my process was digital. I was having to spend all my time sitting in front of my computer, and I get really sick of being hunched over the Cintiq. Every LG page got scanned in as a rough sketch, and DF sometimes not even that. Everything you could still see in the final work represented time spent on the computer.

Now I’m sketching DF all the way to a super-refined sketch. It means I have to do a lot less thinking in front of my computer. The more mechanical the digital work is, the faster it gets done. And I’m doing barely any digital work on my Linden Hold strips. They get inked on paper and remain black-and-white, so all I have to do is a little adjustment, touch-up and sizing.

The main problem was that it really was too much art. But the simplification in style I’m using in Linden Hold helps a lot with that. I’m doing 3 or 6 small panels, emphasizing the figures and faces, taking up a lot of the remaining space with word balloons and not sweating the backgrounds if they seem unnecessary. The art may not be as finished as what I’ve been doing towards the end of LleuGarnock, but I’m hoping to earn that freedom with my scripts.

I’m trying to learn how to be funny. It’s a process I started at the beginning of LG, and was making progress on before the story got all gloomy. But since the main goal of LG was to stay on schedule and finish the story, funny got left by the wayside for a while.

The priority of LH is going to be humor.

It’s still not something I’m great at, and I’m tripping up a lot in these first few mini-arcs. I try to set up a joke and suddenly everything’s all serious again and I can’t think of a punchline. I could justify this by saying that there needs to be a smooth transition between the drama of LG and the humor of LH, but really I just have a lot to learn about how to write funny stories.

Anyway, I’m putting a lot more effort into scripting LH than I am into drawing it, which really helps balance me out, because DF is really art intensive. Although I am co-writer for Dragon’s Fall, I’m not all that great at writing the main character and the main plot. In fact, I’m mainly responsible for all the multitude of side characters and branching plots it’s sprouted, and there are enough of those. So I haven’t been doing a lot of writing on that project.

I have half-finished novels I could be working on, but it’s good to be writing something I know people will get to see soonish. The wonderful thing about comic updates is there is a lot of motivation to finish in the short term, not just in the long term. The scripts I’m writing right now may not see the Internet until April or May, but that is a lot more concrete-feeling to me than a possible publication date years from now.

Yes, I am building a months-long buffer of LH. Of course I am. Experience has taught me that I will get stuck, or I will have to spend some serious time working on DF pages. I have to work on what I can work on while I can work on it, and right now that is LH.

I think I might get up to 6 months’ worth of buffer before I actually launch, which is a nice number. Any more than that and I might have to increase my update schedule. 6 months is a long time to wait for your latest comic strip to go live, even for me.

This is all set up so when I do receive more DF scripts, I will have the time and artistic patience to get the pages done efficiently. It’s hard to get really absorbed in a project when your other comic urgently needs updates drawn for it. I’m hoping to keep both comics generously buffered, but I won’t always be able to control my DF work schedule. So I’m hoping that with Linden Hold I’ve formulated a project that will always be a respite from whatever craziness Dragon’s Fall throws at me, and so will always have a buffer that can take the erratic schedule.

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