534 – Hunting the Hunter: 01


Hey! What the hell’s up with this?

I’m glad you asked!

This is the final planned change to the comic, and to the website. While I made the plans to do this a month or so ago, I figured it’d be best to break it all in slowly. That’s why the switch to 3 days a week, (2 weeks ago) and then to B&W.

First… I loved the color. I loved the inked look, and I loved the way the comic popped with all the bright colors and shadows and even the highlights I was starting to be able to use. However… easily 60% of my time on the comic was inking and coloring, and this seemed like the best compromise between killing myself and killing the strip. Plus, I apparently can’t afford to print color books anyway!

I know that many folks will stop following, and to them I wish a happy farewell — I was glad to have you here for as long as you stayed. If you want to complain below I won’t stop you. (Unless you’re just all flamey and mean in which case I will delete you. 😉 ) I know it looks a little rough now, but I expect to grow into the new way of making the comic as I did the old way.

For those of you who will stay, I am excited to have some extra time now to work on and polish the writing behind the comic. We’re heading into some turbulent skies in our flying ship, so sit tight and buckle in… it’s a long way down!

And now… Religion in Lesser Earth

Elves: Elves and Eladrin largely worship their swishy nature fairy gods that don’t need or want organization like a “code of ethics,” or a “church,” or any other trappings of mortal religions. Howl at the moon, stand in the rain, plant some crabgrass and you’re square. Elven clerics watch over their congregation like a shepherd watches over his flock, making sure that no one gets lost and the births go alright. Since everyone thinks that Eladrin are elves there’s not much distinction drawn… though Eladrin clerics do tend more towards navel-gazing.

Dwarves: Dwarves proudly worship the only other sanctioned pantheon in Brighthaven besides the human gods. The worship of Lageron and his heavenly concubine G’ale is a prominent minority in the north, about half the religion in the middle country, exclusive in the mountainous dwarven lands, and non-existent in Berel and Chaim. Lageron crafted the world from the silt at the bottom of his personal beer keg, and set it spinning in the heavens to show up his brother. The two had been having a contest to see which of them was the better craftsman, and Lageron won, taking G’ale as his prize. Soon after, Lageron’s brother (known in the mythology only as “the Brother”) realized that Lageron’s creation was flawed and slightly on the shoddy side, and pledged eternal vengeance on his sibling for stealing the fair G’ale.

Most humans who worship Lageron do so because he is also credited with the creation of beer, and their ceremonies are so much more fun than the church of Berel’s.

Humans: While the church of Berel contains a whole list of deities, demigods, heroes and saints, Berel herself is the only one most people concern themselves with. That’s because while it may be okay to pray to Gumshine the Wizened to find your lost hatpin, formal worship of any god or goddess other than Berel is strictly forbidden. (It is okay to worship the pantheon as a whole, but do it on your own time.)

In the church of Berel, everyone is a sinner, and dancing, drinking, recreational sex, and hand puppetry are strictly forbidden. Magic of any non-priestly kind is forbidden, as are fruits that resemble human genitalia. Music is forbidden, though slow, sonorous chanting is okay, and exceptionally chipper songbirds are to be frowned at. The observance of any holy days of the church of Lageron is extra-double forbidden, and being a dwarf (or just short in general) is considered unseemly.

The church of Berel represents by far the largest religion in Brighthaven.

Halflings: Halflings are forced to worship Berel, although they are taught that they are all going to hell anyway for being halflings.

Dragonborn: While individual clans of dragonborn might actually worship a specific dragon, (and even gain divine spells from it!) typically they worship Fahallun, the god of the dragons. A typical ceremony lasts around twelve hours and involves a lot of subvocal humming and standing absolutely still for hours on end contemplating the nature of the great dragon. For this reason NO-ONE else worships Fahallun other than dragonkin. Oh, and it’s all honorable and stuff.

Tieflings: While a majority of tieflings don’t worship anything, among those that do most any religion seems to be okay. Those that hate themselves go to Berel, those that don’t end up with Lageron, and those who’d rather spend the day alone end up in the woods singing to squirrels.

42 Responses to 534 – Hunting the Hunter: 01

  1. While I’ll miss the color, obviously, the reason to read this comic is most definitely the storyline. I say good for you for sticking to what matters!

    • I agree wholeheartily. There are some webcomics that I follow that have *TERRIBLE* art but have a storyline that I’m enjoying. There are also some great looking comics that had a bad story that I never even finished reading the archive for (I have to read in order, so when I find a comic, I start with the beginning of the archive and catch up).

      Even if you went to stick figures and post-it note word balloons scanned at a low resolution, I’d still follow. (Hmmmm that might be a good gimick for a webcomic….sort of like XKCD but more primitive. Still have to deliver good content, though.)

      That being said, I preferred the every day and in color…..but fully understand the time sync making a web comic for us leeches can be.

  2. Normally I’m a color freak- gotta have color, colory colory colorful color..
    Buuuut I actually like your pencilled style better. The colored comics, while crisp and bright like I like things, seemed a bit.. stiff, I guess is a good word for it. Today’s comic sorta.. flows more naturally, more livelyly.

    Now pretend everything I said was in vague but widely-acknowledged actual art terms.

    Anyway, I support the art change!

  3. I don’t care about the color. The drawings used to be decent without the color. This new look takes us back to the first strip in terms of quality. Just horrible, horrible artwork. Can we at least go back to the same style that we had before color happened?

  4. Hey. We had B&W before. But the pencils only is a bit hard on the eyes. Would it be asking too much for you to at least stick with inked versions or whatever it was you did in the beginning? I’m not trying to be rude but the pencils only is just really unappealing.

    Even I’ve been looking to get into webcomics (and back into drawing and other artsy stuff for that matter) even I could probably take a penciled copy and “ink” it in photoshop and maybe even add a few shades of grey so it looks like the stuff back in the beginning. (I’d offer to color but I haven’t gotten the shading down. I know how it is supposed to work, but I just can’t apply it yet)

    Just my $0.02

  5. I’ld like to offer up a couple of my impressions concerning the new look of the comic. First, the text is slightly too small in my opinion. I had to squint to be able to read. Mind you, my eyesight is a fair bit away from perfect. Second, about the pencil-only drawing…in the second panel, Fleece looks as if she is semi-transparent to the stone wall behind her, it makes her look a bit insubstantial.

    Lastly, seeing as they are behind the temple of Lageron and dwarves are considered to take some pride in masonry and stonework…In the first panel, the wall has a certain brick and mortar feel to it, while elsewhere, it looks to be made of larger stones. I might not be an expert dwarfologist, but aren’t those little guys quite keen on uniformity and set structures? Having a temple to their chief god composed of mismatching stonework seems a bit at odds with their sense of order.

    I’m working on my constructive criticism, although any artistic endeavours from my side usually gravitate to stick figures in the end, so take my impressions with a fistful of salt.

    “Ugh! New Fleece is a tramp.” I’m going out on a limb and say that’s not a new occurence. Actually, the characteristics Martin has chosen for his Fleeces seem to reflect more on the nature of Martins player than anything else.

    • No problems Alrek, your opinion is what the comments down here are for.

      As for the walls, the smaller bricks are the outer wall, while the larger stones are interior. (If you’ll notice, the last panel where Freya and Zobbie are standing outside the secret door is the same small bricks again.) I really should have made some kind of mention or explanation of that. I think Fleece looks insubstantial because you can see the line work that went into constructing her, as Ron mentioned. That’s a feature, not a bug. 😉

  6. Well, a sketchy comic is better than no comic at all.

    I do find today’s comic has a raw and unfinished look. Which on one hand, is interesting because it gives us a glimpse into your process (I can see where you begin each pose with a stick framework then build the fleshy forms from that, then drape the clothing over it), but on the other hand it makes me want to ask why it wasn’t finished. Which you’ve already explained, but my subconscious mind still asks anyway – my subconscious can be a little dense.

  7. Thanks for being so accepting, guys. I have been very, very anxious about the comic coming out today, but you have already made me feel much better about it all.

    As worried as I have been over this, I have been equally excited about the new projects I will now have the opportunity to pursue. I’ll be sure and let everyone know here as soon as I have any actual news to report!

  8. “I am excited to have some extra time now to work on and polish the writing behind the comic”.

    Huh. I didn’t know you had anything planned, I thought that you just wrote the first thing that came into your mind…

    Since I know how proud you are of your adventures which take you only 45 mins to plan, and yet are better than the ones which take a while to write, does that mean that the writing for the comic will actually get worse rather than better?

    So are you going to be spending your time on another comic / online project or are you going to get a real job?

    Since you re-use a lot of your art, won’t it take longer to draw a lot of these comics than it did before?

    Another thought, how about having colour backgrounds similar to those photo ones that you used before just to add variety to the image?


    • Let’s see…

      Writing stories is very different from writing adventures. The comic has always suffered whenever my schedule got too full and I couldn’t spend the amount of time I wanted on it. So, the comic should get better, not worse.

      I have three new projects that I am undertaking, all of which are relatively low-impact, and one of which does actually pay me.

      The comic will take longer to draw, but the gains I pick up in inking and coloring cover the losses in drawing by around 500 to 600%.

      In order to add the color backgrounds, I would have to do some additional computer editing, which would pretty much blow my time gain. I imagine that’s not really going to be in the cards. However, I am glad that you are interested enough to take the time to suggest it.

  9. Just dropping a vote in favor of the pencil style, especially keeping in mind that as you do more of them this way you will find ways to polish them into a more finished style.

    I personally like the pencils because it looks/feels like each panel was drawn fresh. The color/halo’ed comics left me feeling like I was looking at a Colorforms comic. I don’t know if you were actually re-using poses as much as you appeared to be, but it felt like massive reuse. This is not necessarily bad, but fresh drawings feel fresher, and once a habit of art re-use settles in, it tends to lead to situation and joke re-use as well… So I’m glad to see the all-new work.

    Lastly, I never quite “got” Bunker’s gold armor, so now I can go back to thinking of it as some kind of silvery metal again.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. I like the penciled look. Very cool. Different.

    Text could be a mite bigger though, for those hard-of-sight among us.

    • Hunh. Okay, I can go up a point size.

      I was going to explain that the text hadn’t changed any and was still exactly the same size… except that it isn’t. When I altered the width, I ended up reducing the comic a bit more than I did before, and that shrunk the text a bit extra.

      Go figure.

      Next week’s comics will be like this one, but after that I’ll start increasing that font a bit. Thanks guys!

  11. I’ll miss the color, but that’s not what kept me going through the archives and why I keep coming back. Do what you gotta do, man. I appreciate your passionate, funny work.

  12. Color or Black and White, don’t matter. The storyline is what counts in my book and it’s been great so far. I’m sticking around.

  13. I’ll have to say I’ll miss the color too, but color isn’t a necessity for me to read a comic. One thing that comes up that I see sometimes in B/W comics is when it becomes hard to distinguish one thing from another. There have been some comics I’ve come across where I’ve squinted at the screen trying to figure out where someone’s arm really is, whether that’s a foot or part of a building, etc. That’s the only thing that’s bothered me occasionally in B/W comics. As for your B/W stuff, that’s not a problem here nor do I remember it being an issue in your older stuff (it may have happened a few times but not enough for it to stick in my memory). Anyways, I’ll be glad to see the comic keep rolling out.

  14. I don’t mind black & white, though it does look less polished than before. I expect that’ll get better with time. IMO a comic is a comic and this one is going to retain its spot somewhere in the middle of my list (liked; not favorite nor almost-not-read).

  15. Only negative point here with this new ‘style’ – the panels above look a bit cramped but I guess that will improve – likewise the definition of depth.

    The good thing about that less polished looks that raw pencils with rough shading look a lot more alive than black outlines with flat colours IMHO.

    I think you are on the right track, Kevin.

    • Lena’s going to find me some blue-line pencils for the underwork, which if I can use them well, will also improve things.

      Already the pencils are improving. One thing that’s unexpectedly nice is that I can portray a lot more action and change of viewing angle. It’ll be fun to throw off the constraints I had created for myself by reusing so much of the art.

  16. Meh, clolrs can be overrated, I like this comic..hate 4.0 though but don’t hate me for it XD. Anyway, I’ll still be a loyal reader for this, as well as my other daily/weekly comics. Keeping me sane at work….infuriating MLB fans who want to watch MLB.TV…….IT”S NOT M FAULT IT DOESN’T WORK SO STOP YELLING AT ME FOR TRYING TO FIX IT!!!!!!*pants and falls over* =@_@=

    Your skunk FURRY fan

  17. 😐 Um, the panels I see up there, they’re a draft, a preliminary drawing, right? Please tell me they’re not the finished product we’ll see in the future. 🙁 While your drawing style has certainly evolved compared to the old art at the start of the comic, this feels like a step back. I’ll miss the color, but I can live without it… but if the comic is going to be black-n-white again, I prefer the drawing style you had before the comic first turned to color.

    Add me to the people who feel the text size is too small now. Letters used to be noticably larger and easier to read. Simply increasing font size would leave less room for longer sentences, so why don’t you increase the size of the panels and the characters inside as a whole?

    The bad: What happened to Fleece in the 2nd panel? Sorry, but she looks rather ugly, like a transvestie anime elf cosplayer.

    • Okay, this is definitely a step backward, and no two ways about it. However, I promise you it will get better, and hopefully everyone (who decides to stick around — no judging) will come to appreciate it for what it is.

      This is new for me too, and I have to get used to and comfortable with the new style. I have a lot fewer steps of correction than I used to, but for me the benefits far, far outweigh the losses.

      (I think Fleece got hit in the head with a bug-zapper.)

  18. It’s not the colour I’ll miss as much as the digital inking. Since I’m sure the colour is only a small addition of time on top of the digital-inking I’ll just have to kvetch a bit here: These pencils have a few too many construction lines and minor editing tweaks to go before they would look ready to print in black and white, and if you use the comic as an advertising/promotion demo of your work (or get clients from it, which a number of web-artists do) then you might want to reconsider putting sketchy pencils on the front page instead of something that has a clean look. I’d point you at the MacHall successor webcomic of Three Panel Soul for an example, but you’re probably already familiar.
    I would suggest looking into one of those display-tablet gadgets which show you your picture on the surface you’re drawing on (a vast improvement over olds-school tablets) but they were kilobucks for decent models when I investigated two years ago and still inadequate in the development curve (i.e. check your warranties and reliabilities and try one on a computer you bring in before you buy). Maybe the price has come down a bit now that LCD display tech has matured somewhat.

    As far as the setting religion goes, you’re intentionally mocking the D&D religion concepts, right? If so, why are there no inversions or rebuttal concepts instead of only farcical exaggerations?

    • Hoping the blue line pencils will help with the construction lines. Next week is already done but we’ll start seeing after that.

      I have gotten work from the comic, but that’s not really the intention. I actually do the comic primarily as a means of entertaining myself and meeting people. I’ve pretty much given up on looking at it as a revenue stream.

      I really, really want a Cintiq pad… but the last time I looked they were thousands of dollars. That would allow me to work much faster and keep the cleaner look, but I don’t see it happening.

      I was not intentionally mocking the D&D religions. I’ve never played in a game that used them, so I’m really not all that familiar with them. I was mocking some larger tropes in fantasy religions, but I didn’t really see much need to make any kind of philosophical argument out of it. After all, the whole idea is that a world provides it’s own context. If you have to explain everything in terms of someone else’s work, you’re probably not doing a very good job.

      • Points taken regarding the art, I understood that this is a tradeoff you’ve already considered and I can’t recommend a Cintiq or other such because I’ve heard no good things about their operational reliability yet (my personal pool of digital artists mostly cluster in the amateur/underfinanced category).
        A quick price lookup online indicates prices for the Cintiq 12WX at around a kilobuck, which isn’t a huge chunk of change, so I ponder the viability of you performing the Milholland manoeuver: Challenge the people who hate the change (plus other loyal readers) to gather up the funds to pay for the Cintiq you need to do things better and faster. Can’t promise to help with that though, for reasons that should be pretty obvious.

        Regarding the religions, I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to broach philosophy as a background topic in a D&D game, you have to have the right players for that. I’m thinking that in addition to farcical exaggeration of the fantasy tropes I would’ve thrown in a mocking inversion, like making the elven religion an ancestor-worship death cult or that your dragonborn are practically Ieovah’s Witnesses–always trying to proselytize and people everywhere chasing them with swords and torches.

  19. I’m here to enjoy your work, and whatever it takes to keep you working…

    Nothing wrong with B&W, might just take you a few strips to find your way “back” to the style that look good without the timeconsuming inking and coloring… ? !
    In this way we can also get a better look into what is you and your abilities to draw and skip what is digital enhancement… might not be such a big loss – there’s also many other fun things besides color at this website!
    Weird animals inside fishies, teological dispute, weird congressman-desicions, snappy phrases and RPG-satirical dialogue… and jumping squirrels, YouTube-clips i never would have found myself, and so much more!

    I’m staying! 😀

    • Thanks Rasmus B, that’s wonderful to read.

      I was really expecting a lot more negativity than I’ve gotten, and it’s been a terrific surprise. You guys have surprised and made me happy yet again, and I truly appreciate it.

  20. On a different topic, the HOLE setting background info is getting more hilarious each time. :mrgreen: It’s still recognizable as a 4E setting but really takes the piss out of it.

    “…although they are taught that they are all going to hell anyway for being halflings.” Aptly put. Rush Limb-ear and Ted Haggard would probably feel right at home in Blighthaven, oops sorry, Brighthaven.

  21. Amusingly, (and it’s been modified a bit since then) Lesser Earth began as a setting for my GURPS game. That one was all about the merchant navy and pirates, with the PCs negotiating prices and protecting valuable employees from rival companies and such. It was a fun game, but very different in tone from what it has become here.

  22. well i read this comic because i like it not because its in color and im not going anywhere. Kevin as long as you keep posting new comics i will keep reading them. i really enjoy this comic and look forward to the updates.

    my $0.02

  23. OK, I’m going to miss the color and inking, I can’t lie. But there is something to be said for the pencil sketch look, especially in a comic that updates a lot so you really get a feel for the author drawing up a storm as the story progresses. One of my top favorite webcomics is Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, by Rich Morris. At least you skipped the hand-lettered stage and went directly to a legible font! 😛

    I still love your story-telling and characters so I have no plans to leave.

  24. I have definitely enjoyed how your art has evolved throughout this strip. The color was fun, but I won’t really miss it– there’s a certain intimacy and sense of movement to pencil sketches that gets lost during the inking and coloring process. But no matter what you want to do, I’ll be reading it, as your storyline and characters are fantastic.

  25. I’ll still be with you here. (and still clicking that vote button) even if you revert to stick figures. 😛

  26. so this reminds me of the old days, call me crazy kev but I miss samatha and ferris, whyed you have to kill sam!! =(