Chainmail Bikini: The End. Again.

 By Shamus Feb 8, 2010 26 comments

Last week I added a page describing my webcomic adventures, but I didn’t bother drawing attention to it. In that list I describe Chainmail Bikini:

[...] I teamed up with Shawn Gaston to create Chainmail Bikini, a much more story-driven take on tabletop gaming. The best way to find out what happened to that comic is just to read it. Shawn and I did a strip-by-strip commentary and now the comic is basically a story within a story within a story. There’s the story of the game being played, the story of the people playing it, and the story of the guys telling the story.

This morning the last of the story notes went up, which brings the tale to a close. Er. Again. I must say I feel much better about it this time around. If you’ve never read it before, then now is the perfect time to start. You can probably plow through the whole thing pretty quickly: It is about a third of the size of DM of the Rings.

It’s less about jokes and more about a goofy story, and I see a lot of good in it. The people who enjoyed it the least were the ones who just wanted more DM of the Rings. The ones who got the most out of it were the ones that didn’t go in with those expectations. One of the big mistakes I made was leading or encouraging people into being the former. (You like DMotR? Then read Chainmail Bikini!) I connected characters from one series to another instead of letting the thing stand on its own. I guess I was afraid people wouldn’t read it? I was still learning how to handle a large audience. Today I try to distance my new work from my old stuff, instead of trying to graft the new stuff onto the old. (The hard lesson: No matter what you do or how funny you used to be, you’re only as good as your most recent work.)

Anyway. CB is different from everything else I’ve done, and it’s one of my very few collaborative efforts. Give it a look. You can see Shawn grow by leaps and bounds as an artist. (Compare early strips to later ones, and then compare that to his recent stuff.) And in the end I think the tale has a decent wrap-up.

(We’ve still got one more bonus strip planned, though!)

20626 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Yeah, I ‘met’ you through DM of the Ring but converted over to CB where I could see you guys go through the pain of dealing with the original design specs of the project. Thanks for the closure.

    And your story-telling was good enough to make me hate Casey with all my heart… I would hunt down such GMs and make them take obligatory ‘I’m not a novelist” sensitivity training. :)

    Good job!

  2. Mike Has Answers says:

    I’m not a fan of Shawn’s art, but it kind of worked for CB.

  3. midget0nstilts says:

    The moral of the story is: if you can’t draw, make your comic a stick-figure comic :) Hey, it worked for xkcd and OotS. Or, you know, you can do screencaps, too….

    Seriously, though, I enjoyed CB… again, because I forgotten about half of the jokes! I look forward to the bonus.

    • Mike Has Answers says:

      The moral of the story is: If you can’t draw, learn to draw or use screenshots or don’t make a comic. If you’re just drawing stick figures then why use a visual medium at all?

      • James says:

        You may have missed the part of that post where Order of the Stick and XKCD (easily two of the greatest webcomics around) were mentioned.

        No, seriously. Go read one or the other. You’re missing out. :-)

        • Mike Has Answers says:

          I’ve read both and like neither. OotS has the most labored, inefficient writing I’ve ever encountered in a webcomic. xkcd, on the other hand, has passable writing but could be posted as a script without anything being lost.

        • Meredith says:

          Pretty sure both those guys can actually draw, though, and chose stick figs for their comics for artistic reasons. Still, there are plenty of ways around lack of drawing skills when making webcomics.

          I can’t imagine how difficult it is to collaborate on a comic. I’ve worked with people to write stories before and it’s unbelievably maddening to wait for their bit to be done or to feel it’s not quite up to my standards. Then again, I’ve never played well with others. :)

          • midget0nstilts says:

            Yeah, Rich occasionally draws a picture the way you think an artist would (i.e. not stick figures) and the characters will say something like, “What kind of crap drawing is that?!”

            Just so everyone’s clear, my point wasn’t that anybody’s drawing skills suck or that anybody shouldn’t be making a comic. It’s just like Meredith said, it’s rare that two artists don’t have creative differences. It’s exactly what happened to MegaTokyo. Even though Largo and Fred (or whatever his name was) both had great ideas, Largo essentially wanted two gamers on a couch and Fred wanted a sort of shōjo manga (not my cup of tea). Obviously, the comic ended up going through a phase of schizophrenia and suffered for it.

            Likewise, Shamus and Shawn had two different ideas about what CB was, even though they’re both nice people and have done/still do good comics.

      • Cragfire says:

        I’m pretty sure Penny Arcade works just fine with one of the people responsible having no artistic skills.

        It is at the very least a proof of concept when it comes to collaborative comics.

  4. Dev Null says:

    There was an Australian band (Regurgitator) which I was following for awhile when their first album was a big hit over there. They pre-empted this kind of reaction by mocking it; the biggest track on their second album was titled “I like your old stuff better than your new stuff.” Your story about selling CB to DMotR fans reminded me of them.

    (Unfortunately, they were also right; I _did_ like their old stuff better than their new stuff…)

    With CB I thought it was such a different thing that it defied comparison to DMotR. I would have liked to see it go further. But it was less punchline-driven, so you had to work harder for your laughs; I think it was always going to have a narrower appeal.

  5. Ell Jay says:

    Love the ending– can see it has real comedic promise. If only there were screencaps to fit your own pace… G-Mod CB?

  6. Kdansky says:

    I loved CB when it came out, and it is the reason I now listen to Fear The Boot and half a dozen more gaming podcasts. Thanks Shamus! :D

  7. Susie Day says:

    I started with DMotR after it had already ended. When I finished reading it, I moved on to CB – it was only a few strips in at the time. At some point I realized that I like the commentary at the end even more than the comic itself and started reading the blog. keep up the great work! and thanks :-)

  8. Zukhramm says:

    I never really got into Chainmail Bikini. Not because it was bad, but because I kept forgetting to read it. I remebered it sometime, and pretty much read it in five page pieces rather than single updates. This happens to me with most webcomic. DMotR was easier for me to read regularly because you posted other interesting articles. Sites containing only comics just keeps drifting out of my mind.

  9. I do love the ultimate planned conclusion for Chainmail Bikini. It’s actually appropriately climactic, while still being a comedy of errors.

    Only with no juggling.

  10. Twosday says:

    Ja ha ja ha, “Links.” Is good.

  11. Arkady says:

    I really enjoyed both DMotR and Chainmail Bikini. I was really disappointed when it finished.

    Maybe (hopefully?) some other artist will take your notes and finish the artwork.

  12. Arthur says:

    By the way, that bonus strip… when’s it coming out? I thought it was due yesterday?

  13. Shawn says:

    Sometime soon. I’m still drawing it, between work and making Clockworks. It’s going to be an epic double sized comic of epicness, so the art is taking a while. Once I’m done with the B&W art, I’ll shoot it off to Shamus to finalize the script, and work on the color while he’s making the funny. It will be up next week, not sure when exactly yet.

    • Arthur says:

      Delayed artwork and missed updates? Creators making episodes at the last minute rather than doing it when they had weeks’ worth of comics ready to go in the backlog? Truly this rerun is an authentic webcomic experience. :)

      I kid because I love. ;)

  14. David says:

    So, um… it’s been a month. You’ve apparently had the art from Shawn for a few weeks. Any news on progress on the bonus comic? It would be a huge shame if the last memory of CB is a broken promise.

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