Friday, May 30, 2008


I’ve posting a lot about drawing recently.

The main reason my interest in drawing has been renewed is because I’d really like to start a webcomic

I decided to play things a little intelligently. There are a million webcomics out there and most of them are terrible. I think this is the case because so many people want to create a webcomic but miss the two most important points: You need to be able to draw, and you need a good idea.

Without those two things you have a terrible webcomic…usually about a crazy guy, a slightly less crazy room-mate, a hot female who’s inexplicably dating the crazy guy and some kind of talking robot/toaster/goldfish. Then they make jokes based on gaming and pop-culture.

Well, recently I tentatively decided that my artwork is getting close to good enough. Obviously I don’t consider myself anywhere near professional level, but I can draw well enough to draw consistent characters.

So, fighting the brain crack, I decided to start drawing the strip. If I left it in my head, waiting until I felt I was totally ‘ready’, the idea would never leave my head. I’m not planning on publishing these strips, I’m just trying to figure out if my idea will actually work. I’m figuring that if the idea works, I can always re-draw these early strips to publish them.

What I really want to talk about today, however, is the idea.

My main focus with coming up with this idea was to come up with something as original as possible. Bear this part in mind, because it’s going to be important later.

I was watching Spider-man 3 and my interest was piqued by a line at the very opening of the movie where Peter Parker says:

“The city’s been quiet lately…I think I have something to do with that.”

So an idea formed in my head. What if a Superhero was so spectacularly successful, crime literally dropped to zero, putting him out of work? What if he didn’t have a secret identity and had been earning a living by getting paid by his city on a ‘per-crimes-foiled’ basis? What would he do instead?

Originally the idea was that he’d start looking for crimes everywhere. A guy would sit down in front of his TV, turn on his Tivo and this super-hero would blast through the wall and be like “Ah-hah! This is it, criminal scum! Your days of recording Major League Baseball with only implied oral consent from the MLB are over!”

Quite quickly, however, I realized that there was only really one joke in the idea. ‘Oh noes! The Superhero just destroyed that granny’s car and hauled her off to jail for having a tail light out! Oh look, he just threw that guy through a wall for jay-walking!”

It’s work for a couple of strips, maybe, but it’s so formulaic that it would get boring fast. (Does anyone laugh at Garfield saying he hates Mondays any more?)

So I expanded on the idea. The Hero finds himself forced to take a stereotypically bad desk-job. Then it turns out his boss is a super-heroine who was put out of work by the super-hero’s success.

There’s a lot more in that idea. The guy’s a fish out of water. How does he adapt to an office job when he’s been a super-hero all his life? He can’t to anything important because he can do everyone’s job at super-fast speed, putting all them out of work…so he’s gone from saving the world on a daily basis to fetching coffee. He’s stuck working for a boss who hates him, wants to make his life hell, and isn’t impressed by his super-powers because she has powers as well. How would the normal office workers handle being in a situation where they’re telling a Superhero icon that they’ve literally hero-worshipped for years to empty their trash?

Decent idea, huh?

Well, now comes the bad part…

I prided myself on this idea being original. A Super-hero in a normal office environment! Hells yeah! Then I started listening to the ‘Webcomics Weekly’ podcast.

One of the guys from the podcast has a successful webcomic called ‘Evil Inc.’ Can you guess what it’s about?

It’s a strip about a Super-Villain who runs ‘Evil Inc.’ A corporation that supplies goods and services to Super-villains. In other words, Supers in an office environment.


Then I realized that my idea was also kinda similar to ‘The Incredibles’.

So here’s the thing:

As a literature student I know that there’s really no such thing as an ‘original story’ any more. I also know that my idea is significantly different to from ‘Evil Inc.’ and ‘The Incredibles’ in a lot of ways. They have the same elements, but a totally different context.

Basically, Evil Inc is about ‘Supers in an office’, but it derives it’s humor and storylines from asking the question ‘How would a Super-Villain organization work? What services would they provide? How would they hand;y X, Y, and Z?”

(It’s a great strip by the way, you should check it out.)

The Incredibles is about a Superhero who was forced into retirement and gets into trouble trying to recapture his ‘glory days’. Sure the guy has a desk job, but the movie is really about a Super wanting to be a hero again and getting his wish when Syndrome turns up.

My strip is about a Superhero who has no chance of recapturing his ‘glory days’ and finds himself in the situation where he has to adjust to a 9-5 job, a boss who hates him …and going from saving the world to sweeping the floor and fetching coffee.

So, there should be no problem, right? They contain a lot of the same elements, but saying that, Star Wars has most of the elements you find in classic fairy tales, ‘The Matrix’ is about a war between man and machines just like ‘Terminator’, ALL super-hero movies tend incorporate the same elements as well.

In other words, calling these ideas ‘the same’ is like saying ‘Harry Potter’ is a rip off of ‘Lord of the Rings’ because they both have Wizards in them.

However, I’ve been around the internet long enough to get a really bad feeling when I consider going forward with this idea. I can see myself publishing a few strips and getting nothing but “OMG! Ur totally ripping off (insert other work of fiction here)” comments and emails.

The problem with this idea is you’d need to understand the context to see that this idea is fairly unique…but you’re never going to get that context from a single strip…and when it comes to the web, that single strip is the difference between getting a new reader and someone leaving and never coming back.

So, what this all boils down to is this:

What do you think? Should I go ahead or (no pun intended) go back to the drawing board?


OzzyC said...

Go for it... what've you got to lose?

Paulius said...

Well, the problem is that I'm looking at this long term.

I hate to admit this, but I'm looking at this project as something that might be my full time job some day.

I'll be totally realistic and say that there's probably less than 1% chance of that happening, and if it actually does it'll probably be ten years from now.

My point is I don't want to spend years coming up with stories and creating good characters if the majority of the responses are going to be "You ripped off (insert franchise here)"

I dunno, once I get around 30 strips done I'll just have to 'test the waters'