20100131 (1) – THIRTY TWO lines of dialogue plus two time stamps plus two sound effects. THIRTY SIX individual chunks of text. For a single page, that’s a lot. Gibber, splutter, ellipsis.

Two things.

1. The rescript changes bits of this page significantly, and this page has already been changed significantly – venue anonymized, line art scrubbed, then tweaked…

2. One really hueg-like-xbox hunk of metadata, which manifested between 2 and 4 in the morning. Yes, Giant Wall Of Text Is Giant. And yes, I feel kind of good about the DCR.1 metadata finally rising to the levels of The Dualist. Here it is:

Note that in 1997, CD duplication was quite a bit more expensive and tedious than it is now. My first burner (in 1998) was about $400* and a 4x, and my first batch of CD-Rs (in 1997) were a dollar apiece – and that was cheap, as they’d been purchased in bulk and didn’t come with jewel cases. Now an ‘expensive’ “superdrive” (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, CD-R, CD-RW, etceteras) is $40 internal, $100-120 external, and the media… well, I can burn around 450 gigs for less than a grocery bill.

Eides is still around. They moved down the street, but they’re still in business as of this writing.

In other news, I’m old.

Whitehouse isn’t Mister Moral – he’s a quality snob. And he likes disc packaging. He’s also operating a pirate radio station – being a massive legal land-mine he tries to keep it as otherwise-legal as possible. This includes using low-powered directional transmitters pointed at the inside of the building, regularly testing to make sure his range doesn’t go beyond the parking lot, and broadcasting at 88.9. According to research (on my part), that puts Dead City Radio in an unused block between WRCT (Carnegie Mellon, 88.3 FM and very difficult to receive clearly in Bloomfield or Squirrel Hill, let alone South Side or the area of North Side in which DCR takes place) and WQED (89.3 FM and about as low as most people ever venture on the FM dial).

I’d know a lot more about local radio, but the fact is that Pittsburgh area radio is an iconic representation of Pennsylvania radio as a whole – you’ll hear what you hear here anywhere in the state, except for Philadelphia – a city with a much more developed radio palette.

88.9 WDCR is the antithesis of 102.7 WKSB in Williamsport PA – with an analogue tuner, WKSB blankets (or did, in the late 90s) the spectrum from 101.9 through 103.5 – if they juiced their transmitter(s) any higher they’d wash out 101.1 (halfway decent “alternative rock, a la 105.9 in Pittsburgh) and 103.9 (more or less the same format as 101.1). With a digital tuner this is a non-issue, but with analogue… well, there’s a reason radio stations transmit at certain power levels in certain directions – the WKSB transmitter isn’t so much limited by stations “nearby” in the frequency band as it is by the next-nearest station allowed to use the frequency.

The 88.9 above is a hypothetical and a case example originally researched when I was looking more at the spectrum than the law. If Whitehouse is broadcasting on AM, he’s covered under LPAM as long as he adheres to Part 15 regulations… and as long as the Student Apartments are considered “campus.” Legally they’re probably not – the school “campus” is a stubby skyscraper in downtown. But the students pay the school and the school pays Allegheny Center, so I’m sure somebody could make a case one way or the other.

Clearly I need a better understanding of the matter before the transmitter becomes relevant to the story. It matters quite a bit at the very end of chapter two and throughout chapter three – which means I need to get things sorted pronto. I don’t intend to Go All Hollywood and Not Do The Research – but the fact is, frequency allocation is (like so many plot elements) planned to be mentioned a grand total of Once… and The Fact Is, there’s a good chance that somebody with more than a “where NPR is” knowledge of radio could easily wind up reading a comic called “Dead City Radio,” scraping it for technical details. These details, when mentioned, need to be reasonably accurate. While the rest of ATC is sci-fi (in which a reasonably-researched asspull will frequently get the job done), DCR has slightly stricter standards it will need to adhere to.

Years of flinching every time Hollywood pulls up Hollywood OS or gets technical information Extremely Wrong and it’ll soon be my turn – throw in as much time as it takes on the research end for a couple of scenes and learn a lot in the process, or just Write It and move on – not much of a decision, really. Getting it Pretty Much Right will help underscore the “legitimacy” of the science fiction bits that the rest of the story hangs on.

Call it the Uncanny Valley of technology.

* SCSI, and I got a good deal of mileage… though I didn’t actually own a machine I could use it with until 2000 or so. For you younger non-historians, SCSI is the old Mac peripheral standard**, which they phased out in 1998-99 in favor of USB, Firewire and IDE. While modern SCSI maintains bandwidth superiority, there’s one thing all three of these interfaces have in common – you don’t have to be a voodoo priest to use more than one device on an interface controller.

** For you old historians, I know it’s Big Server Equipment. However, unless you either work in IT or you’re an enthusiast, your encounters with SCSI have likely been limited to either old Macs or old PC scanners. Or peculiar pieces of electronic music equipment. The horror, the horror.

20101225 – Original page metadata:

Near-peak DCR information density: twelve panels and around thirty lines of dialogue. Might be hard on the eyes at this size, but it’s proof that the information density experiment is working.

=====================

2008.04.19 – A wee bit of cleanup and some minor dialogue adjustment.

20101225 – Original strip metadata:

Strip 074, 20060713

Man, this strip took longer than it should’ve. I blame bda for hooking me up with Buffy The Vampire Slayer – the music is awful but the rest of it’s pretty entertaining (and hey, it’s only s1!).

Also, I have a headache. Headaches always slow things down.

Beaker – Heinrich’s roommate – actually exists. I have the dubious honor of having verified this firsthand.

Strip 075, 20060714

If you think I’m making this bit up, you’ve never eaten there. Not that you can now – the place was repeatedly shut down for exactly this sort of thing, and eventually disappeared.

Also, the tat on the chinless wonder? That says FUDGE, not MOM. <3

Strip 076, 20060715

Rivers of grease. No lie.

The inks are bit hinky – this is the second strip produced today (20060712), and I didn’t feel like doing two passes, so I used a heaver pen on a single pass. Not really digging the results, so I won’t be doing it again any time soon.

Strip 077, 20060716

The last we’ll see of the inside of Corleone’s for awhile. Ph34r.

20060716 17:24 – I just now notice that the first line of panel one is coming from the wrong character. I’ll get this fixed later tonight. 😛

19:03 – fixed!


Mastering notes, 2016.12.05 – Art tweaks to panel six, dialogue tweaks to panel nine.

Cast

  • Heinrich Von Lutz

    Stuck with the worst roommate in recorded history, Heinrich doesn’t much care for Pittsburgh. He doesn’t mind the company, though – Heinrich plays Dunegons & Dragons with Curtis and discusses the mod scene, electronic...

  • Jason Whitehouse

    The king of social engineering, the crown prince of noise, and a self-described “Post-American Electro-Snob.” Jason has a deep interest in industrial, electronic, ambient, metal and gothic music, and a well-researched interest in radio...

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