Shawn’s Thoughts on Chainmail Bikini

By Shamus Posted Monday May 26, 2008

Filed under: Personal 17 comments

Shawn has a lengthy writeup on what it was like working on Chainmail Bikini and some of the frustrations we faced in our collaboration. Worth a read if you followed the comic.

Now that Shawn has indulged in a little navel-gazing I feel like I have leave to do the same.

He mentions collaborating long distance. Being a techno-hermit, I’ve done quite a bit of collaboration over the years. Since 1995 I’ve been working on projects with people hundreds of miles away. At my current job, I worked for my boss for two years before I even saw a picture of him, and it was two more years after that before we actually shook hands. Once in a while I’ll see a comment like Shawn’s that will remind me that my approach to things is not at all normal.

He also mentions the art demands of the comic. The ideal load on his end would have been about three or four panels, a sensible number embraced by a great number of webcomics out there. For whatever reason, I write jokes that require eight. (Although later today I actually have a four-panel comic, go figure.) We usually met somewhere in the middle, and neither of us was really completely satisfied with the compromise. He had to do a lot more work and I had to leave out some funny. There was never any rancor, but I recognize now that if I ever collaborate again I should find someone that can produce in bulk. Shawn probably needs someone with at least a rough familiarity with the concept of brevity.


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17 thoughts on “Shawn’s Thoughts on Chainmail Bikini

  1. The demands of art and just how hard it is to produce bog a lot of webcomics down.

  2. Allen says:

    Admittedly, we love your big build ups to jokes, as well as long winded rants about nothing in particular. It’s why we keep you around, Shamus.

  3. JFargo says:

    Definitely an interesting read, and helpful to someone who’s thinking of starting their own zombie-based webcomic. A good perspective from that side of things.

  4. Jim says:

    Very interesting writeup, as someone who draws stick-figures poorly I really enjoy getting a glimpse of the artistic process (thought, mechanical, or other).

    On the subject of long-distance collaboration, I’m curious how much of your job requires you to work with others. Like are you frequently editing the same source as other people in the same period? Or is it more often “your” piece has to interface with everyone else’s? Or is most of your work basically independent and stand alone?

    I have a couple of long-distance co-workers both on my team and on teams we work with directly. And even with clearly defined “take these inputs, give these outputs” modularization it sometimes feels like we are trying to sprint through oatmeal to get stuff (even simple stuff) done.

  5. Matt` says:

    Nitpick: the bellybutton is your *navel*

    Naval-gazing would be looking at sailors or boats or something.

  6. Allen says:

    Maybe the man likes to look at ships and the sea. Give him a break!

  7. Jeysie says:

    A lot of interesting and good advice in there.

    I have to admit I disagree with him that online collaboration doesn’t work, though. I’ve had creative collaboration both online and offline (and I roleplay online in IRC), and, barring if you have to deal with extreme time zone differences, the only real difference I’ve found is that it’s easier to pass artwork around offline.

    In fact, in some ways online collaboration is much easier. You don’t have to worry about getting ready to go out and driving to wherever, so you can meet pretty much any time everyone’s awake and at a computer. (You can also e-mail back and forth for the times you *don’t* have everyone available.) And you don’t have to be worried about being lucky enough to live near someone who just happens to have the skill set and interest you need to help with your project.

    I think the important factor is personality compatibility… if you have that, then online/offline is irrelevant, IMHO.

  8. scragar says:

    I worked for my boss for two years before I a picture of him…

    Mind me asking what that sentence is supposed to say(I’m guessing something like “I worked for my boss for two years before I saw a picture of him”, but I could be wrong, always better to ask :P).

    Distance is not the problem, it’s communication, without good communication even face to face workings can go very wrong.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I say keep making screencap comics. You’re already good at it! But I was mean to Shawn and made him sad, so what do I know.

  10. Shamus says:

    “Navel”, misc stupid mistakes: Fixed.

  11. If you can find artists who draw “in bulk,” please let me know!

    -The Gneech

  12. I have to agree on the editing. My sister and I write our comic and the script always ends up longer than the episode. Sometimes I’m able to turn it into 2 or 3 episodes, but sometimes I just have to cut script and that sucks.

    I really liked Chainmail Bikini and honestly still have it opening on my ‘morning tabs’. I really need to take it out since it won’t be continued.

    It seems your ‘screen cap’ comic has been copied by others like ‘Darths & Droids’ but that’s ok. There’s enough to go around I’m sure. ;)

    Let us know about your current projects so we can enjoy your regular insanity and logic.


  13. Craig says:

    I think with the way you write, screencaps might be the only webcomic you make. However, whenever I read chainmail or dmotr I feel like I’m reading a graphic novel, which your writing style is perfectly paced for. If you were to come out with an entire book, I think it would work well. Your stories always seem to come completely organized in a novel format anyway.

  14. Davesnot says:

    both writing and the graphic arts.. well.. both are arts.. and when an artist is comprimising his art.. well.. he ain’t having fun.. and if you ain’t havin’ fun.. it ain’t gonna be funny.

    I think your material would work with stick figures.. I think Shawn is extremely talented.. and shows emotion well in his characters… I think you are both leading men.. and a movie only does well with one leading man..

    I hope you two have electronically shaken hands and can go on knowing you’ve affected the world in a positive manner.

  15. Namfoodle says:

    Long distance webcomic collaboration isn’t always doomed to failure. There was something called A Miracle of Science that completed a full story arc over five years even though the writer and the artist were living in different cities. And they eventually started publishing a graphic novel version a few months after the story was complete. The “follow-up project” has been in a holding pattern for close to a year, however.

  16. Kevin says:

    It’s tough, no doubt of that. Two person projects are always four times as difficult. I write and draw on my webcomic, ( and while that has made it a lot easier, it isn’t the only factor that keeps it going. I believe that you have to be able to be as faithful to the comic as you would be to a job, even if it is a job you love. Since the only real reward you get for it is the pleasure of having done it, if you’re not completely into it and aren’t getting that buzz from having something cool out there with your name on it then you simply aren’t going to keep doing it. Reading his write-up this is obviously what happened to Shawn. He seems a bit embarrassed by it all and is creating some excuses for himself… but really he doesn’t need any. There is no law saying you can’t have other priorities.

    Shamus, I enjoyed CB but it wasn’t the best you have done “” nor will it be the best that you do moving ahead. I am looking forward to watching what you create here in the future!


  17. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    I haven’t time to read all the comments today (just started a new job and I’m finally catching up on my Twenty-Sided reading), so I hope this particular observation hasn’t been put forward already.

    I find it somewhat ironic, Shamus, that you deride yourself for a perceived lack of brevity in one of your shortest posts to date… :)

    Keep up the good work!

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