Friday, May 20, 2011

COMIC - File #140: "Arcade Hoops Reignited"

To make this one, I had to go buy some figures -- FROM DOWNTOWN!
Dig in, gang.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Tinkering Under the Hood

I've been real productive today. There are some changes to site, but most are invisible, so to speak. Well, a visible one is the swapping of the overly-large header image for the A25U logo. I haven't changed that header since the site first went up. I should probably make a new one. But for now, the logo itself will do. Let's call it a minimalist design, yes?

More important change has been the effects of clicking on things, as vague as that sounds. Previously, when you clicked on the title of a post containing a comic (the text in bold that says COMIC - File #blahblablah: "Non-Witty Title"), you would be linked to the page of the image hosting gallery where the comic's .jpg was hosted, instead of the post itself. And clicking on the image of the comic in the post would just show the image itself in its full size. Neither of those were very practical. Sorry, guys... I know, I know, I didn't think it through.

Well here's how it is now. When you click on the title of a comic, you will be brought to the page containing that comic's post, where you can read the comic, leave a comment if you want, use the previous/next comic buttons, and once this feature has been added for every strip, you will be able to jump to that comic's Archive entry, where you will find additional information on each strip (cast of characters, explanation of references, story arc information, other crap you might not have known). This feature already works for the first 49 comics.

Another feature that I AM working on (seriously, trust me on this one) is the new and improved Archive, the comic browser. You longtime readers will remember it as a page where you could, well, browse through every issue of the comic. Each strip had its own entry, with information on it, what story arc(s) it belonged to, the cast of characters, explanations of references, links, a preview image, a short blurb, etc. It was intended for you to be able to find comics easily. Let's face it, navigating through the back issues is NOT easy, even for me. And I make these. That's saying something.

I'd update the Archive every week so it was always up to date. But one week, when I updated it, it didn't update. The page was blank. When I checked the code, there was nothing there. The whole page was lost, and my last backup only had about 50% of the content. Since then, it comic has grown by another 50%. Trying to catch up and fix it has been a hell of a task, and I'm not done yet.

But it will be worth it. Why? Because I'm not just remaking it, I'm improving it. Story arcs will be listed at the top for easy access to every issue of a story. Each comic will have a link to its own Archive entry for quick reference. I know it must seem like I've abandoned the Archive, but I haven't. It is the most important page of the entire A25U blog, and I am determined to get it back up and running this summer. And better than before, too. With blackjack. And hookers.

Thanks for not losing hope. Hell, if Duke Nukem Forever is coming out this summer, then you know that the Archive can be ready, too. There are other things I want to fix, too, such as improving the layout, shrinking those nav buttons on the left-hand sidebar, adding a page for the Arbco Islands metagame, etc. The first order of business is the Archive. Well, and this week's comic. So keep voting for who you want to boot off, and please don't be alarmed if you see any noticeable changes on the A25U blog. Let's do this!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Q&Ages 25 & Up #25: May 2011

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Who is ready for another Q & A? Monkeywrench and the Quizmasters, that's who!

Question #1 - Monkeywrench asks:
We have several summer “blockbusters” coming out this year. Which movie are you looking forward to the most?

1337W422102 answers:
To be completely honest, none of them.

Question #2 - Monkeywrench asks:
It’s amazing the great poses that you're able to pull off. I get frustrated just putting my figs on stands. What comic frustrated you the most? Also, how did you react? Did somebody get launched across the room?

1337W422102 answers:
Thanks a lot! Posing them is a pain. You'll notice I often don't show characters' feet so you don't see stands.

The most frustrating one would have to be #100 "Brothers In Silence" because of the sheer amount of photos I had to take and because I couldn't always hide the feet. I don't throw the figures around because then I'd break them and lose sidearms. Instead, I curse. A lot.

Question #3 - Monkeywrench asks:
Dr. Mindbender seems to be getting frustrated with Cobra Commander. What’s the chances of the good doctor turning on CC?

1337W422102 answers:
While Mindbender was disappointed in the Cobra Commander in #134 "Artistic Vision," I don't think it's likely that the doctor would turn on the head snake, at least not yet. Remember, Battling Animated Dudes And Sassy Skirts is the Commander's overly-elaborate scheme to get revenge on Destro, who overthrew him and controlled Cobra for an entire year. If Mindbender were to betray the Cobra Commander, he'd have to do it in a spectacular way that would either not point back to him, or kill the Commander altogether.

Not that Mindbender isn't able to do either (if not BOTH) of those!

Question #4 - Monkeywrench:
Kitty Pryde was quite the looker in #135. Where did you obtain her figure and were certain features of her enlarged in Photoshop?

1337W422102 answers:
Kitty is one of the figures available in Hasbro's Marvel Universe series. Unfortunately, many of the female characters use the same basic body, and as such, Kitty's appearance, curvaceous as it is, doesn't really suit the character. She was not digitally augmented at all. She's all natural, baby.

Question #5 - Flint-wo2 asks:
Will Clutch be able to save the Joes before Cobra Commander can launch his plan?

1337W422102 answers:
Technically, the Cobra Commander's plan's already in motion! After being captured by the Joes in December 2009 and in prison until December 2010, he managed to escape thanks to an elaborate scheme involving Bionicle robots. The first thing he did was kill a bunch of traitorous Cobras on New Year's, then he checked up on Dr. Mindbender's evil progress. Shrinking down Destro and some of Destro's posse was part of the Cobra Commander's revenge and money-making scheme.

Unfortunately for the Joes, another part of this plan involves pitting Destro team of shrunken cartoony Cobras against captured Joes who have underwent the same shrinking/stylization process. The plan's already launched, so Clutch and the boys are going to have act fast before things get worse for their friends!

Question #6 - Night Viper 143 asks:
Which new figs out of this summer's blockbusters' line-ups are you looking to add to your cast of thousands?

1337W422102 answers:
There's only one I can think of (a Green Lantern figure), and that's just to make a Batteries Not Included strip making fun of the character. Not sure if I really want to buy a figure I don't care about just to make a single comic, though.

Question #7 - Freedom asks:
Since Ages 25 & Up is a dio comic, and centers around 1:18th dios of all kinds, any chance you would share it with the talented dio makers over there?

1337W422102 answers:
I'm not familiar with that site at all. Do you think they'd like it? I mean, my comics are hardly dioramas. Most of the sets are either lazy printed backgrounds or that HQ playset, you know?

Question #8 - Freedom asks:
When the hell is Beard Force returning?!

1337W422102 answers:
I wanted to save Beard Force's return for a mission that would require their particular brand of over-the-top justice.

When Cobra shrank, cartoonified, and captured Beachhead's team in #131 "That Shrinking Feeling," Clutch took it pretty badly. He did not appear in that comic because he was told to keep the APC's engines running. Beachhead told him to "wait in the car."

In #132 "The Two That Got Away," you could see that Clutch was obviously pissed at leaving his friends (and fellow Beard Forcer Shipwreck) in Cobra hands. He was so driven that he decided to take the rescue mission personally, rather than wait for Hawk and the rest of the Joes to come up with a plan.

In #135 "Old Favours" and #137 "Bomb Squad," he tried on his own to assemble a team to help him out. All he could gather were three Autobot spies, but after conferring with the rest of the Beard Force in #138 "Hairy Suituation," it seems like team's ready for action.

I know that Beard Force's return has been a long time coming, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't planning on them coming back. I had planned a story in which Cobra hires the A-Team to take out Clutch and the guys, but the A-Team toys never hit retail in Canada and I did not want to pay specialty shop prices to get them all and their van. Beard Force does have enemies, though, and not just Cobra, either. But that's a story for another day. For now, let's rock. The Beard Force is back.

Question #9 - TJ Bang asks:
Are stories that are an homage to other mediums like the Metal Gear story you did early on still considered to be based in the same reality as the main universe you frequent in the weekly comic?

1337W422102 answers:
Woah, Plastic Gear Solid: Tactical Espionage Action Figures? That's some oldschool Ages 25 & Up, right there! Plastic Gear Solid was the first non-canon alternate-universe story arc I ever tried. It was basically a Joe-style take on the first Metal Gear Solid game with a lot of Street Fighter references. It went on for too long and wasn't that funny.

I also later did a film-noir Joe story, taking some familiar Joe characters and locations (well, one, anyway) and transplanting them in a twisted noir world. It was called P.I. Joe: A Real American Detective and was one of the few serious stories I managed to pull off. Granted, the strangeness might be a source of humour, but at any rate, it was more of an experiment than the usual "Joes'n'jokes."

Plastic Gear Solid and P.I. Joe are both alternate-universe stories that are not set in the main Ages 25 & Up universe, or "A25Universe," if you allow me to be a smartass. The characters and events of the main universe are not consistent with the ones of those story arcs. (If you really wanted to stretch it, you could probably try to make up some story about how the P.I. Joe universe's characters are the modern Joe characters' ancestors, or something. But that would be a bad fanfic based on a bad fanfic. So please don't.)

The Dash Faireborn vs Army of Plastic story was canonical with the rest of the A25Universe. It was a play on Army of Darkness which featured Flint as the boomstick-wielding prosthetic-chainsaw-handed hero who falls upon hard times after finding Zartan's "Book of the Dread" and ends up fighting for his life in a war between multiple species. And he has to rescue Lady Jaye and stop the Cobras, too.

That story arc featured life that exists beyond the usual borders of Ages 25 & Up, showcasing some of the other toys that we don't normally see in the comic (such as Green Army Men of Plastic and Stikfas). If anything, those other "species" give the arc more of a fantasy feel. (You can imagine that green army men are elves, or something if you want.) That being said, the story doesn't take other liberties with the Ages 25 & Up universe or contradict established rules or anything. It also wraps up nicely, unlike PGS and P.I. Joe, which leave a lot of questions unanswered at the end.

Question #10 - Azoric asks:
During your week off, we were redirected to "Batteries Not Included." Why was Captain Kirk being interviewed by Hans Gruber (the bad guy from Die Hard)? Please keep in mind that I did not bother to read the other "Batteries Not Included" episodes.

1337W422102 answers:
Don't worry, the BNI strips do not tell a continuous story. They are silly monthly comics, usually centered around a really bad joke. They're good for making your friends facepalm. BNI #10 was about the MegaCon convention, at which William Shatner was a guest of honour. So, for the occasion, I made a comic in which Captain Kirk was being interview at the MegaCon. I needed a character to interview him, so I put Episode III Obi-Wan's head on the SDCC Cobra Commander's body. The interviewer wasn't supposed to be anyone in particular.

That's it for this month, folks! Still have questions? You can post them in the comments section of this page, the A25U HissTank thread, send me an email, put 'em in the chatbox on the left-hand side of the A25U blog, ask Helix, or drop them in the askbox of the Crunching Numbers page. Check back this weekend for a new comic.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Batteries Not Included #10 and #11

Whoops, I feel behind! Batteries Not Included #10 and #11 are online for you to check out. Just follow the handy links below:

BNI #10 - Mega-Khaaaaan!
BNI #11 - The House That Rogue Built

If you're not familiar with Batteries Not Included, BNI is a monthly strip I make for, and it is usually pop-culture-related and pun-oriented. They'll make you facepalm rather than laugh, but that's on purpose.

There's no continuous story that spans the BNI strips, so feel free to peruse them in any order. You can find them all right here!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

COMIC - File #138: "Hairy Situation"

I have some other stuff to share with you, including a new Batteries Not Included strip and my Montreal Comiccon post-con article with photos and a video, but I want to give them each their own post, you know?

Here's the new A25U issue:

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