on Jan 8, 2012
It is a time of landmarks for webcomics. There are heroes on both sides. Enemies are everywhere.
Last Friday, XKCD hit 1,000 comics! In the alt-text, the comic said something to the effect of, “There are only 24 more comics until we hit a big round number”. I think like this all the time. It is rather telling that after a lifetime spent on base ten number systems, I find greater elegance, order, and symmetry in base two. (Or base sixteen.)
Heather and I enjoy collecting curious little pamphlets, cookbooks, and other bits of printed materials from the turn of the twentieth century. One artifact we’ve found is a pamphlet from a society lobbying to change our entire number system away from base ten… to base twelve. The reasoning was that twelve is divisible by both two and three, making it more useful for situations where you’re using a lot of threes. Still, base twelve sounds really screwy to my computer-coding mind.
The number two just overshadows everything else in my mind, because so many computer graphics problems involve dividing things into two. Heck, most FPS games in the 90’s used BSP technology, which stands for “binary space partitioning”, which is literally “dividing space in two”. From 3D graphics to database searches, everything seems to revolve around the number of two, so basing your number system on a power of two probably looks very appealing to a lot of programmers.
Where was I? Oh, right. Webcomics!
Today, Darths & Droids has begun covering Star Wars: Episode IV. The series is almost 700 strips long at this point. Amazing. The original three movies are very different from the prequel trillogy, and I’m anxious to see how that impacts the tone of the comic and the nature of the humor. The prequels have a lot of elements in play: Trade federation, General Grievous, Lord Sideous / Palpatine, the republic senate, the Jedi Order, Count Dukula, the clone army, Kamino, the Gungans, and the Naboo people. It became messy keeping track of what everyone’s goals were and how they related to each other. What did Doku think of the plan to pretend to kidnap Palpatine and confront the Jedi? What was general Grievous after, since he was apparently not in the loop on the whole Palpatine / Sideous thing? Were the cloners on Kamino still pumping out clones, and if so, who was paying for them? Who cares! Lightsabers! Vrrroooowmm!
We can argue about motivations or plot holes or patch things with our own guesses about what was going on. But the point remains that this was a very complex tale with a lot of moving parts, which naturally led to a similar level of convolution in the Darths & Droids parody. But the original movies (and A New Hope in particular) are much simpler, more focused tales. We have four or five well-defined characters as opposed to a dozen broad archetypes. We’ve got a very clear black & white conflict that tells a clear tale of redemption. Star Wars: A New Hope is about as complex and subtle as a fable. Darths & Droids is jumping from the most cluttered movie in the series to the most elementary. I will be very interested to see how this changes their meta-tale.
Circling back to the topic of webcomics, I decided to look it up and discovered that today is also the five-year anniversary of that one time Gimli failed at diplomacy. Yikes. Five years?
The Hobbit was announced recently and already people are asking me if I plan to webcomic it the way I did with the Lord of the Rings movies. Well, it’s a year from theater release, and probably another year from video release. So, I think that’s pretty far over my planning horizon. I’m not against the idea. It all depends on how much fun the idea sounds when the time comes.