MUSKRAT RAMBLINGS 10.5.10 – Twitter is my Co-Pilot

Muskrat Ramblings
Twitter is my Co-Pilot
posted by John

I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but suddenly I find myself a month ahead on Dork Tower.

Well, OK, I’m partly sure. Much of it came in a series of Tweets last week that turned out to be fine comic-strip punchlines (no, not the ones about bacon and vodka – more’s the pity).

In part, I use my Facebook account and my Twitter stream as a testing-ground for material. If I throw off a line, and it plays well, there’s a decent chance it’ll make it into Dork Tower in punchline form. Or maybe a throwaway line will see life suddenly as a spiffy new t-shirt. The Internet’s become something of a virtual sketchbook, for me. And ya know what? The system works!

It’s also a direct line into Geek Though. When the news broke from Skywalker Ranch, I had to quickly – QUICKLY – cobble together a series of Star Wars 3D gags quickly, and bump back the strips I’d already done. With the advent of social networking, humor is more like a fish fillet than ever: if it’s not fresh, it starts to stink. The humor cycle on Twitter is maybe – MAYBE – 24 hours.

And ideas are not to be sat on. Somebody, somewhere, will Tweet what you thought was your polished gem, should you wait too long on it. Publish it too late, and you’ll get a couple hundred messages telling you that your “original” strip went viral last Thursday when Joe Pigfarmer from Iowa had the exact same line, but got it out there before you had a chance. Oh, and by the way, you’re lame, you suck, and you probably ripped it off him. Pigfarmer hater. Loser.

In the old days – you know, five years ago – you’d do a strip for a magazine or a newspaper, and it wouldn’t run for a month or more. You could plan for the future. You could relax. Sit back, Have a cuppa. Now, of course, you’re up against everyone on the planet with WiFi. This cartoon ran back in February, but it really is how I feel some mornings:

Dork Tower 793

So I’m a month ahead. I’m not sure that all the cartoons this month are classics. But I like a lot of them. I think I hit the “one-in-three” ratio, and then some.

Being a four-weeks ahead certainly allows a bit of breathing room. If I go over the strips, and realize that the Dork Tower scheduled to run (saaaaaay) two weeks from this Friday isn’t the best thing I’ve ever done – indeed, doesn’t work at all – I have some time to try and come up with something better.

But on a day-to-day basis, it also means I don’t have to draw a cartoon every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday on deadline, and can just sit down and crank them out when the ideas hit.

It also means I’ve got nice large blocks of time to think about the big projects for the month: Munchkin Zombies needs to be off my drawing table by the first week of November. I have a screenplay to begin, and a television pitch to work up. And finish off two games I’m creating. And try and get “Ooze the Cook” artwork off my “to-do” list. And complete some paintings that were commissioned. And…

Of course, this is all in an ideal world. Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t always the final word on humor. Sometimes (saaaaay, two weeks from this Friday) a strip will go up run that just KILLED online. But in comic form, it falls flat. The timings off, it doesn’t translate, or, in the immortal words of the Smiths, “that joke isn’t funny anymore.”

And when a cartoon runs that isn’t as HI-larious as I thought it would be…or I realize I uploaded something that’s not my best work, well, that’s a gut-churningly sucky feeling. I just want to crawl under a rock.

And hide from the world.

And Tweet about it.

Twitter is my co-pilot.

I just wish it knew how it ink, as well…

Yer bestest pal forever,

====== John


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