DMotR Deleted Scenes 1:
Original Comic #1

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 10, 2007

Filed under: DM of the Rings 53 comments

As I worked on the comic, I got better at using the software, better at finding good screencaps, and better at laying things out with clarity and comedic timing. After a while I began to cringe when I looked back at my earlier attempts. Eventually I went back and re-cut some of those early comics and started replacing them.

This was a very unpopular move. Most people charged me with “pulling a Lucas”, which I realized was true. Someone (Roxysteve, I think) pointed out how you can see the comic improve over time, and that inserting sexy new ones in with the early strips ruined this effect. I relented, and stopped messing with the early strips, although I did leave the new version of strip #1 in place.

Below is the original version of the first strip. Normally I reduce comics to 600 pixels wide so that it works with the site layout, but I’ve left this one its original size.

My first comic.


From The Archives:

53 thoughts on “DMotR Deleted Scenes 1:
Original Comic #1

  1. Carl the Bold says:

    Frodo Shot First!!!

  2. Dan says:

    What, no jar-jar?

  3. Sanguine says:

    lol carl

  4. Knastymike says:

    God, I loved Merry and Pippin!

  5. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    Gotta agree with the complainers (although, I came in around #15 or so and didn’t go back and read the early ones once I’d caught up so I don’t actually know if I saw the change or not) that preserving history “as it happened” is always better than revising it.

    “That way leads to madness” of a sort. And man, this is by far the highest up the list I’ve EVER posted. Where’d everybody go?


  6. roxysteve says:

    One thing I like about this particular layout is that it conveys the chaos of the not-fully-commited-to-the-campaign game group meeting for the first time, which reinforces the humor of them missing the backstory in a welter of inane interpersonal sniping, yet remains absolutely clear as far as figuring out who is saying their lines next. I know that anyone who reads manga is used to re-reading each frame and re-arranging stuff until it makes sense, but I’m old and crotchety and don’t want any breaks in continuity like that.

    Shamus beats himself up over the screencaps, and I agree his technique changed in this respect over time, but these aren’t too shabby in my opinion. I’m particularly fond of the ones of Sam saying “I’m not a hobbit” and Pippin in the last frame.

    The script was and still is inspired. I still laugh at it, and recognise the game I was in which it was based on.

    I’m sorry if my comments in the past caused an existential crisis in the author. That wasn’t my intent.

    Gad, I’ll miss this strip.


  7. Shamus says:

    I'm sorry if my comments in the past caused an existential crisis in the author. That wasn't my intent.

    Nah. I think I just needed a little perspective.

    Still, I DO wonder why I made Pippin talk out of his ear in the second to last panel.

  8. asterismW says:

    Any chance of getting the original and re-cut versions of the strips on the same page, to compare and contrast?

  9. Ozy says:

    The fact that the unpopularity of this move dissuaded you from carrying it out despite your desire to do so and the fact that, as the creator of this work, you have the right to do whatever you damn well want with the archives, does prove a point I had contemplated back when you posted a response to people complaining about your focus on SecuROM by referring them to the back button: as much as some bloggers might claim otherwise, you do ultimately only post to your blog because you desire the approval and/or attention of your peers. If you did not, you wouldn’t go through the trouble of making your writing public.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I certainly enjoy the approval and attention of my peers. But to respond in the way you did strikes me as reminiscent of Kevin Smith’s claim that Jersey Girl is “not for critics.” You blog is, collectively, as much a work of, um, art? Well, it’s as much a work-of-something as any movie, and so is, in fact, for critics.

    Now, the existence of on-blog comment threads may change things somewhat, but I suppose it’s just the same as if a movie company created a forum on the film’s website. It may seem odd that someone who didn’t like the movie would track down its forums, but that wouldn’t ultimately affect the validity of their points. In the case of blogs, though, where else but the comment threads will you find so many people who you know have just experienced the same post you just did, and whom you know have some interest in discussing it? If you have anything, good or bad, to say about a post, that’s really the best place to do it.

  10. George says:

    As long as you don’t exchange all the swords for walkie-talkies, edits are fine with me.

    1. ZAP says:

      And add AT-ATs into the background. Man that joke brings back memories.

  11. Jim says:

    I miss it already . . . sigh.

  12. L6 says:

    Hmm I never went back and saw the new version of the first comic. The issue I have with the new one is that you changed the words. I can handle changes in most anything unless it’s the actual, verbal delivery. It’s like how in the new H2G2 radio series, Marvin says, “left-hand side” instead of “left side”, killing the familiarity of the old standing joke.

  13. Thenodrin says:

    I don’t know when I started reading these, but the comic above is the one I remember.

    I hit “First” and got the new one.

    I think that the original is much better. The new one makes for a good ad for the comic. If this were collected, I’d use the new first for advertizing, but the old one in the actual collection.


  14. txknight says:

    The story is what counts. So I’ve never had a problem with artists going back and revisioning earlier works. Often they are just trying to make it more palatable for a newer audience that normally wouldn’t bother giving the original work a second glance.

    For example, Peter Jackson’s “King Kong”. I wouldn’t doubt if few people from the younger generations had even heard of King Kong (let alone sat down and watched a black and white movie) prior to Peter’s remake.

  15. FakeFrenchie says:

    I agree with Thenodrin. The original is better at capturing the chaos of the “first game session”. Although, I do think that the expressions on the faces are better in the new version. I know, you need to combine the two! *ducks and runs*

  16. The Gneech says:

    I wonder how the hobbit players’ Star Wars game ended up going…

    -The Gneech

  17. Browncoat says:

    I echo the “I miss it already” comments.

    I’m also sorry that expressions like “Holy Epic Backstory!” were exchanged for “Sweet Conan’s Codpiece.” I complained about the Conan references before (BTW, Shamus, I did smile at the reference in the finale), and was told by another post (whose ID I am *way* too lazy to look up right now) suggested that there was a punchline forthcoming on those in the future. He apparently saw something no one else did, and I’d sure like to hear what he was expecting.

    BTW, what was the joke with Marvin’s “Left Side” v “Left-hand side”?

  18. Yeah, I’m sorry to say I’ve always liked the original #1 more than the revision. (And it’s nice to see it again.)

    I think the screen-caps were actually better in the original, the pacing was better, and the dialogue was better.

    For example:

    FRODO: Oh that’s helpful.
    FRODO: We’ll let you know if we need to tame a bear or forage for food.

    Is funnier than:

    FRODO: That’s really great. We’ll let you know if we need to tame a bear or forage for food.

    The “oh” immediately sets the appropriate sardonic tone for Frodo’s delivery in the reader’s mind; and the split in the word balloon supports the comedic timing.

    The exchange between Frodo and Sam (“I’m not a hobbit, I’m a halfling”) also benefits from being in a single panel — it creates a faster back-and-forth rhythm to the dialogue.

    Also, the transition from “halflings and hobbits are the same thing” to “Oh my gosh. The DM is still…” works better in the original for two reasons:

    (1) Pippin’s dead-pan face.
    (2) The inclusion of Frodo in that panel, which (in the transition from the previous panel) creates a sense that Frodo is turning from Sam to look at the DM and joining in with Pippin’s incredulity.

    And so forth. There are several examples of this throughout the comic. (For example, I think Pippin’s dialogue in the first panel is less funny because you decided to put some exposition of the strip’s concept in there. And having all the hobbits speak in that first panel was a way of binding them together as a unified group, before contrasting them with the great screen-cap of Aragorn. Splitting Frodo’s introductory contribution into a separate panel undoes that dynamic.)

    Justin Alexander

  19. Zaghadka says:

    I think the text of the original is funnier. The “historians or linguists” addition seems to throw the timing (and give the players more credit for intelligence than they deserve).

    Messing with the art/layout because you didn’t have full faculty with the design program is one thing, but messing with the text… well, you can’t claim you lacked facility with the language.

    I found it very interesting to see the revision. Thanks for sharing.

  20. John Wright says:

    Don’t mess with success. The original originals are better even if the layout or screengrabs are technically better for the second version. We love you for yourself just as you are!

    Don’t touch what you have: this is the harsh lesson every time traveler must learn! The original version of the time-stream is what led to our current glorious civilization in the far future year of 2007! Resist the impulse to go back and kill Hitler or something or you will accidentally shoot your own grandpa and create a self-negating universe destroying paradox! Have we learned nothing from the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE II?

  21. MOM says:

    In all the excitment I never asked how often the new comic would appear. I’ve calmed down now. How often will Chain Mail Bikini be posted each week? Also, ditto to comment #5. I kept hoping they would come back to the game.

  22. Henebry says:

    I’ll add my voice to those who like the original better, despite improvements in rendering (and the cool map in the background of page one). The comic timing is better in the original. Many of the screen caps are more expressive (see the look of boredom that accompanies “Oh my gosh, the GM…”, or the way that Frodo speaks to Sam dismissively by only half turning round to address him, rather than, as in the new version, facing him squarely). Finally, the chaotic layout nicely matches the sense of players suddenly plunked down in a world they only dimly understand (“No Sir, it says right here on my character sheet I’m a Halfling”).

  23. Marty says:

    By the way, the “Next” and “Prev” links don’t work in Chainmail Bikini…

    Why am I posting that here? Because I’m too lazy to register for forums. ;)

  24. haashaastaak says:

    I, too, like the original version better. And it was the original version I read when I first encountered this comic. I think it’s all of the things that previous posters said, including the fact that the revised version is prettier. I wonder if when I have revised my writing I have screwed it up every time. Naaah.

    this comic is good enough to reread after a while so I hope you keep it available for a long time. Besides, new people should get to see it.

  25. Scarlet Knight says:

    Aaah! That’s more like it! The original is always better than those new dang flammin’ updates! I’m suspectin’ it’s a trick to make us keep re-readin’ the comic to see what’s changed. Next thing you’ll be a’tellin’ me Dick Grayson’s no longer Robin!

  26. Froody says:

    I have to admit, I like the new one FAR better… the wording is better and the graphics too, and I never knew the old one sice I found out about this comic pretty late.

  27. Janwynn says:

    John said:
    “Don't mess with success. The original originals are better even if the layout or screengrabs are technically better for the second version. We love you for yourself just as you are!”

    I actually like the screengrabs on the original better. Not only are they cleaner looking, they’re consistent. In the second version you have hobbits in a sunny cornfield conversing with a ranger in a gloomy forest. What, does the forest just follow him around wherever he goes? :)

    And, like Marty, I’m posting here because it’s easier. I’m debating the whole forum issue, which I view with deep suspicion. I’ve joined a grand total of one forum in the past, and only stayed long enough to find out what kind of dog R.A.Salvatore has.

    Jan the Luddite

  28. Lycoris says:

    Huh, I’d only seen the original version. I agree that you got better at your screen caps.

  29. victor says:

    this is why i go back and reread the strip from beginning to current to truly appreciate the artistry involved, and the change over time.

  30. pdwalker says:


    I didn’t realize you updated the earlier ones.

    I definately like this version better. The revised page 1 is “too neat” in my opinion.

    Let your work stand on its own.

  31. Doug Williams says:

    Fascintaing metaphysical conundrums indeed! I actually love it when a director goes back and screws with his work, as long as I can also see the original. Apocalypse Now Redux, the extended versions of the Godfather that they play on TV sometimes, even the (evidently) reviled changes to the original Star Wars trilogy…

    I hope you’ll leave this strip up so I can re-read it for years to come!

  32. We would never consider criticizing a novelist for going back and rewriting their work before publication. To me this is a similar situation.

    I agree with previous comments that I would like to see the originals alongside the revisions, or at least available in the extra features; but it is the Shamus’ right to go back and make changes, especially considering how much we are paying for his work.

    And I must disagree with Zaghadka to some extent. Of course Shamus had mad English skillz at the beginning of DMotR, but is it reasonable to assume that he did not improve those skills during the run? I think not. No doubt the voices of the various characters became somewhat more solid in his mind, even given how fleshed out they were from day one.

    Shamus, do what you will. You can’t please everyone, and if your art doesn’t please you then there is no point to doing it.

    Unless it makes money.

  33. kamagurka says:

    Honestly, I don’t know why you felt the need to Lucas this up. Which is probably why they call it “Lucasing”. The fans like it just like it is, but the creator feels the need to futz it to death. Creators, listen to your audience. Not too much, though.

  34. KonEl says:

    I hadn’t seen the original #1 until today. While the original is just fine I appreciate how adding the map and a few extra frames freed up a lot of space. The original looks too cluttered with word balloons to me. Just thought I would pop in and add my 2 cents.

    Thanks for such a great comic.

  35. Scarlet Knight says:

    Can anyone help me. I vaguely remember a story of a French master who was not allowed in a museum because he kept touching up his works. Does any else know this story & who was involved?

  36. hotsauce says:

    See Shamus, here’s what you do: You package the original strips for each movie and sell them, then three months later you package up the revised strips, add a few more that you threw away because they weren’t really all that good, create a couple new ones, then package *them* up and sell them as the extended director’s version. The genius part of this is that you’ll be selling them to the *same people*.
    And thus will the parody be complete.

  37. Shamus says:

    hotsauce: I have the hi-resolution images as well.

    1) Sell them the crap they’ve already seen on the web.

    2) Sell them the “remastered” version with the larger images.

    3) THEN sell them the new strips.

    4) Then come out with a prequel comic which wrecks continutiy with the original.

    I’m going to be rich! Reviled, but rich!

  38. roxysteve says:

    Scarlet Knight Says:
    Can anyone help me. I vaguely remember a story of a French master who was not allowed in a museum because he kept touching up his works. Does any else know this story & who was involved?

    I know of a French master who isn’t allowed in museums because he keeps touching up the student teachers on school trips.

    Hang on. Do you mean “master” as in “old master” or “master” as in “tenured teacher”?


  39. SteveZilla says:

    Woot!! Mechwarrior Rules! :D

  40. Darkenna says:

    Shamus, don’t forget steps 5 & 6: Re-realeasing the originals in a new shiny package and calling it the “Classic Edition”; then waiting a couple of years, at which point you can put all the editions into one big shiny package and call it “The Complete Boxed Set”.

    You’ll make millions. Millions.

    Well, hundreds, at least. Maybe thousands. ;)

  41. Cestus says:

    Another vote for the originals. I hadn’t realized you had Spielberged the start of the series. If you want to do that, you should come out with DMotR Director’s Cut.

  42. Matthias says:

    I will say that I like the new #1 more than the old #1.

  43. HeatherRae says:

    For some reason, I can’t see it. *sighs*

  44. Ed Dunphy says:

    How do you do the screen captures in the first place?

  45. superfluousk says:

    I like both versions, really — but I agree that there’s a lot of value to be had in going back and seeing how the comic improves over the years. Makes people appreciate the work you put into it more.

  46. Cynder says:

    I think they’re both pretty good :)

  47. Andrew says:

    I read all of them.

    In one day.

    I have no life.
    But this was SOOOOO worth it.

  48. Robin says:

    The complaints happened back when people got to see three comics a week.

    That was a long time ago. Shamus, go ahead and re-do all of them. Post them three times a week. We’ll read them and the same people who complained back then will smother you with thanks for new ones now.

  49. Jenny Creed says:

    Ah, the first strip. I remember it like yesterday. Of course I read it less than three days ago so that may help.

    Dabbling in webcomics myself, I congratulate you on the determination to leave the original, crappy strips in place and make the improved version a kind of bonus feature. If I dared to have people look at my old stuff at all myself, I’d certainly do it the other way around.

    Oh, and thanks for making a hilarious comic and all that. I’m sure my neighbors the past days thought I was summoning the devils of Hell or something with all the deep-throated menacing laughs I got from reading it.

  50. peter says:

    Err, Shamus?
    Awesome as this is, the new layout kills it.
    It gets laid under the sidebar.
    Was an awesome comic, loved to re-read.

  51. Joe_W says:

    I like the new layout (sort of…) but it breaks the DMotR Deleted Scenes 1 comic. (Opera, Linux). The comic lies partially under the side bar.

    Just re-read (for the… third time?), I tremendously enjoyed it.

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