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Thursday | August 22nd, 2019
TODAY'S COMIC: Moose River Gaiden – 6 – Fake Tears

Uh… I’m still here! Well, I’m trying not to set back into my old ways, but I’ve just been super busy this past couple weeks with work, and I barely have had much time to myself outside of resting up after doing tons of work.

Anyways… lol, I’m back to my old habits of disappearing for two weeks at a time between updates. Hahaha! Well, I don’t want this to be a habit, but life is today as it has always been: busy. In fact, this page has been on my to-do list for ten days… I had drawn it but never finished it into comic form until just now. That said, lemme share a few things about this page.

First off, since this takes place during high school, I based Shea and Anne’s clothing off their high school look in panel 3 from Page 50 (specifically Shea’s indescribable compulsion to wear a blue blazer). This incidentally was based on something similar that happened to me and my friends during high school as well; that said, I don’t want to get into how our classmate died, because that part is irrelevant, as it is to this story. If you need to know, then let’s just say Zack died in a car accident.

Secondly, I tried something new with this page; specifically, I drew everything on my smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy Note 4). Frankly drawing comics digitally that’s the reason why I got it way back in 2014, but this would be the very first time I would actually use it for that purpose, lol. It came out pretty well for a first try, IMHO. It gave me pressure-sensitive line thickness, as well as let me change the line thickness later on; this gave me the ability to select characters in the foreground and background and change their thickness to show their distance from “the camera”. Hopefully that shows.

That said, the lines do look a bit too smooth… it seems to lack a sort of “roughness” that I get if I draw on paper. I don’t know if I don’t like this or not… I’m gonna give this another couple tries before I know for sure. Maybe I’ll use it exclusively on an upcoming multi-part “Moose River Gaiden” episode coming up as the ultimate test run.

Finally, I’m not gonna saw this gives us a view into Anne and Shea’s friendship, because it makes Shea look awful for not exactly responding properly to Anne’s quite touching response. It is high school, afterall. However I only just noticed myself that Anne’s hairstyle hasn’t exactly changed at all between high school and her 30’s. I guess she has more on her mind than hair styles…

FUN FACT: Shea’s locker number is actually #667. The designers of the school deliberately skipped locker #666 (as well as #13, #4, #44 and #444). When Anne and Shea were choosing their lockers during Freshmen Orientation, Shea obviously tried to claim #666 but was obviously disappointed. Shea didn’t let that deter her though as she chose #667 and simply considered herself one better than the Beast. Anne, however, chose #699, which happened to be directly across from Shea’s locker, but also because it looked like “G 99”, which is the racing number and the first letter of the name of her favorite Motorball racer.

THE BJÖURNAL: Daily News Du Jour

Betty & Jorge’s Story: Complete! (According to AI)

September 21st, 2019

I have SO MUCH story left to write, but I have so little time do write in in. In particular, I never got around to finishing Betty’s story with Jorge… and I’m worried that the three most obvious possible endings are, well, obvious.

But fear not! I’ve decided to let an AI finish the story for me. I found this cool online utility called “Talk To Transformer“, which claims to use “modern neural network” in order to complete a piece of text that start off with. After inputting some basic facts of Betty and Jorge’s story, it finished it off for me, and I couldn’t be happier. THE FOLLOWING IS OFFICIALLY CANON!

DAMMIT! WHAT DOES SHE SAY?! Shit, looks like I’ll have to write the story myself afterall!

Seriously though, this utility created a few gems. These include:

  • Jorge, CEO of Durochi Tech, started dating Betty, Valedictorian of their high school Class of 1967. She treated him like trash, but he seems to have forgiven her. Now they’ve been dating for about a year, and Jorge asked Betty to marry him. She says yes. He tells the reader that she was very young at the time and is “just one of those girls that have to learn how to be a little bit different in this world.” Jorge then gives her a bouquet of flowers, one of which says, “Congratulations to you Betty, great girl!”
    The next chapter tells of what happened when Jorge had his marriage proposal. He finds out that Valedictorian, he now refers to as Betty, went up to the stage manager and complained to him about how she was “taking all those boys away from me.” The man tells her that if she doesn’t like it then she could just walk away, but she just walked away. They then get married when Valedictor asks permission and Jorge gives him the wedding ring (of Betty’s) saying “This is the best wedding I
  • Jorge, CEO of Durochi Tech, started dating Betty, Valedictorian of their high school Class of 1967. She treated him like trash, but he seems to have forgiven her. Now they’ve been dating for about a year, and Jorge asked Betty to marry him. She says yes. Jorge asks her to do the same for him, which she agrees to. Jorge and Betty soon find out that Betty has a thing for a boy who looks like him… the boy who wears his hair in a bun and is nicknamed El Barrio. The story is told in the form of a true-life soap opera as Betty and Jorge try to help El Barrio get what he wants out of life: to be able to leave his bun in the shed, but then marry a girl named Marisol and live a long life in the sun. Written by Anonymous
  • Jorge, CEO of Durochi Tech, started dating Betty, Valedictorian of their high school Class of 1967. She treated him like trash, but he seems to have forgiven her. Now they’ve been dating for about a year, and Jorge asked Betty to marry him. She says yes. The two have been married for four years.Betty was born in a small town of El Salvador. Her parents took her after her birth to an orphanage because she was very small. The orphanage was run by Catholic missionaries, and the orphans lived in tiny rooms with tiny windows. Betty had to go to school through the school of the nuns. Later, through an orphanage in Mexico, she met an orphanage worker, Rafael, who taught her all he knew about technology. Betty remembers that Rafael introduced her to computers. After about four years, the two decided to live in the US.
    Betty is not the only person with the same name. Other people with the same name have met Jorge in the years that have passed since their first meeting. They met during the early 2000s when a group of young
  • Jorge, CEO of Durochi Tech, started dating Betty, Valedictorian of their high school Class of 1967. She treated him like trash, but he seems to have forgiven her. Now they’ve been dating for about a year, and Jorge asked Betty to marry him. She says yes. Then she sees news that the Supreme Court has ruled that all the gay couples must be treated as second-class citizens.
    It turns out a high-school student wrote her a letter proposing marriage, and if there were a civil union, she could get married in the end.
    Now a man in Texas, Carlos, is trying to do the same thing. In the last few years, he’s created a website where people can create web pages that have identical text, but which are formatted in different ways to accommodate different genders, religious beliefs, political views, sexual orientation, and so on. Carlos and Betty started dating when Carlos was working during the summer, and after Carlos learned of the Supreme Court ruling, he decided he couldn’t continue with his work. Now they’re trying to come to an agreement with the government.

Wow, I didn’t realize Betty lived such an amazing, progressive life! Not bad for someone who’s been working at a sloppy diner for the past 20 years!

Minor site fix

September 1st, 2019

Another thing that has changed quite a bit over the last ten years has been the little nuances in web design. Back in the day, because sites were basically designed on a per-pixel basis, or at least web browsers interpret HTML code in pixels, I could just place site elements in a certain way and I’d never need to worry about how it’ll look when the page is resized. And that’s IF anyone needs to resize the webpage; if I did my job right as a web designer, the page should look fine on any computer, whether Mac OR Windows (lol linux).

But now webdesign is almost like document design, where web browsers can render elements smaller than one pixel, as if it treats webpages as if they are rendered at 400 dpi or something. This is further complicated by the different ways various devices can render a webpage, whether viewing it on a mobile device, or a computer with a Retina Display (ie 1 regular pixel = 4 “retina” pixels), or if they simply want to view the webpage at some percentage which subsequently resizes graphics to an freaky size (32 pixels * 133% = 42.56 pixels).

Basically I need to worry about how my page will look. A perfect example is how the “corners” of the main text area were rendered. This is what they’re supposed to look like (and have looked like back in the day):

But this is how modern web browsers rendered them:

What’s happening is that, since the 30 x 32px corner elements are being tiled in the 30 x 32px area I’ve allotted to them… but at larger scales web browers are resizing both of those 30 x 32px elements to something like 49.8 x 53.12 pixels, and so the web browser is throwing in 0.8 pixels x 0.12 pixels worth of the tiled copies of the graphics.

Basically it’s a needlessly complex situation that never would’ve happened in the past. So my solution was to basically not only turn off the tiling, but also expand the corner graphics a few extra pixels, such that if the web browser feels the need to include an additional 0.8 pixels x 0.12 pixels of the graphic, it’ll throw in the extra bits that I planned for it to see such.

To put it in simpler terms, with the original corner graphic on the left and the updated graphic on the right:

Hopefully this makes sense.

Sorry if this was long a boring… but hey, I gotta populate this site with SOMETHING! (I know, I know, I’ll work on some more comics soon!)

Page Updates

August 25th, 2019

OK so one of the things I’ve been wanting to do for some time was update my pages, partially to undo the “3×2” format they’re all in (which makes them look like junk on mobile) but to also just clean them up in general.

Well I’ve done some of them already! I’m not necessarily doing them in order, but they mostly will be in order. That that I’ll focus on which ones I think are more worth updating before others.

The pages which I’ve updated are:
* Page 001
* Page 003
* Page 004
* Page 006

Page 006 was perhaps the most difficult of them all so far (though maybe overall to boot), as I had to remove the “line shading” I did on it. The line shading was something that has ALWAYS bothered me, and I FINALLY got around to fixing it once and for all. Here’s a quick before-and-after animation showing the changes I made to it, as well as an example of the kind of “remastering” I’m doing with the older pages.

Pretty nifty remastering, huh? I’m hoping to the same with the entire archive… though definitely not before I work on ACTUAL new comics. I don’t want to spend more time fixing the past than writing the future… but if I can do both, I will.

New comics! And I found more unreleased ones!

July 22nd, 2019

Yay! So I decided to continue working on “Moose River Gaiden” for the time being. I don’t know how long I’ll work on it for, and what it’ll cover… I’m just sorta taking this day by day. Today’s comic is literally the first brand new “Moose River” page I started-and-finished in one day since 2009. Hopefully it won’t be until 2029 until the next brand new page comes along, but I’m not making any promises. :3

That said, I am putting some new equipment and methods that I’ve picked up over the past something years towards this new comic effort. In particular, I’ve always wanted a large-format scanner (11″x17″), but I could never scrape up the $250-$300 for one. Prior to that my scanner was at least a Legal-sized scanner (8.5″x14″), but it was only compatible with Mac OS 9, and yeesh, that’s a long story. Since then I was stuck with Letter-sized scanners (8.5″x11″) which sucked trying to scan in high quality pages; I had to resort to drawing two frames on a single sheet of Letter-sized paper and merging them together in Photoshop.

But those days are no more! A few months back I managed to find a large format scanner/printer at Savers for a mere $25! Now I scan draw in a much larger format, allowing me to pack in more details! Take a look at the difference in scale that I’m now able to work with: the page on the left is today’s comic in raw form, while the one on the right is the raw for Page 184. Wow! That’s a lot of extra room!

Part of the benefit for this is when I use a brush to ink my pages with. Since I’ve switch to using a brush pen, but also because I’m still learning how to ink better with a brush pen, the extra room gives me a bit more wiggle room in order to ink in without the errors looking too bad. Hopefully though I’ll be able to have a bit better control with the brush and my comic pages will look far better than they’ve ever looked.

Finally, while digging around my old art files and trying to find old notes to work with (as well as ideas to turn into new Moose River Gaiden pages), I managed to stumble upon the very last three pages I drew for Moose River, which I intended for Chapter 7; they were intended to be pages 204, 205 and 206:

Of course I’m not gonna show anything, silly! Because now that I found them, I might actually ink them and finally include them at the end of Chapter 7, where they belong. Unfortunately they start a new story thread which may never see the light of day, but at least it’s something new! That said, if I do work on these pages and add them to the end of Chapter 7, I’m gonna ink them in my prior format (no brush, same line thickness, thick outline) in order to maintain a consistent look for them. Cuz I mean, who knows, I may end up finishing Chapters 7 through 9 afterall, and I want to make sure I keep a standard look and style throughout.

Anyways, that’s all I got to share with you for now. Sorry for not posting much over the past week… my work load had increased significantly and I had very little free time to draw with. But hopefully this changes over this upcoming week.

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Moose River
by Philippe Van Lieu
—Fully Charged - June 27th, 2019—

From the bottom of my heart (and the bottom of this page): thank you very much for reading my comics.

Nick15, all related subjects, and all text are ©1996-2019 Philippe Van Lieu
All else are copyright of their respective owners. Used without permission. Dang.