Stolen Pixels #13:HypoCRITICAL

By Shamus
on Aug 19, 2008
Filed under:
Column

Stolen Pixels #13 is now up. Go now and read my thoughts on the wasteland that is internet humor, a problem to which I am an eager contributor. There is also a song, if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing.

Some director’s commentary stuff below, but you should probably read the comic first. But, you know, do what you like. I’m not your mum.

With apologies to Mike & Jerry.  Gabe’s text wasn’t intended to be a slam on the creators, it was just my attempt at Gabe being Gabe.  I also like the meta-joke about how Gabe “drew” his own shirt.
With apologies to Mike & Jerry. Gabe’s text wasn’t intended to be a slam on the creators, it was just my attempt at Gabe being Gabe. I also like the meta-joke about how Gabe “drew” his own shirt.

You can see my original idea for panel 2 to the right: Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade, along with a comment about how lame it is when people hijack characters from more popular comics in a desperate bid for attention. This was the setup for the “Hypocrisy” joke in panel 4.

The picture of Gabe and Tycho didn’t come out the way I’d hoped. I obviously have no artistic talent, hence the whole ongoing theft of pixels. What I wanted was a picture of G & T that looked like it was drawn by another artist, yet was still recognizable as them. I figured that if I very loosely traced the characters, while making a point of making sure my lines were all a little different, it would create the “same characters, different artist” effect I was shooting for. I started with panel 1 of this PA strip, used the curved line tool, and loosely copied the original with a bunch of Bezier Curves. Once complete, I zoomed out to survey my handiwork, and found that it looked way too much like the real thing.

I guess if I knew more about art I would have seen that one coming. Apparently the style is more about proportions than lines? Still, I am sort of proud how I managed to alter their expressions without mutilating them.

Further note: I colored them with simple floodfill, and then did the shading with the emboss tool. Took about ten seconds. I can’t believe I got away with that. It doesn’t look bad.

But art aside, there was a very real risk that the last panel could be misunderstood, and that “Hypocrisy” was perhaps referring to them, and not me. In which case my self-deprecating humor would be transformed into an editorial slam against PA. Others confirmed what I suspected: This could easily bring down way more heat than my fledgling webcomic was ready for. It was just asking for trouble. Not that I expected Jerry Holkins or Mike Krahulik to notice or take issue. Gabe and Tycho are as much cultural icons as (say) Kratos or Masterchief, and their creators have always been good sports about this sort of thing. But their fanbase is large enough to staff the Death Star, and if riled they would share their displeasure via a system of intensely passionate missives, delivered in bulk.

Anyway, hijacking characters from artists you don’t know is inherently dangerous. There is enough angst and drama in the webcomic world that even an innocent cameo can ruffle feathers and spark intemperate forum threads.

I wouldn’t bring all of this up, except that I spent like two and a half hours on that panel, making it the most time-consuming panel in the (short) history of the comic. And so I wanted to agonize a bit over this misspent time.

It’s just as well, I think the Lara Croft gag is funnier. I got to use “Guns” as a double entendre for “breasts”, which I think everyone will agree is the very zenith of sophistication and subtlety.

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