TV.4 Production Status Update: Fire rules!

Heh heh heh. Yeah. It rules.

When I produced the cover for Fire it was one of two ATC-related things standing in the way of new pages. The other thing was the script, and at the time it was easier to produce the cover. Around the time the cover went live the weather improved, and for the remainder of April Pittsburgh experienced a very brief spring, lurching from a frigid, sloppy winter into what seems to be a sweltering, soggy summer at high speed. During that time I wrote the script, laid it out. and got all forty pages of the chapter ready for production. There were a lot of steps involved in that process – steps that had previously been performed a page at a time, then a scene at a time. I think this is the first I’ve prepared an entire chapter for production in one go, and as of this writing almost the entire thing is ready for rendering.

I’ve never had this many pages ready for rendering before, though it’ll be at least a week or so before I get started – render setup is time consuming, rendering ties up my PC, and more importantly I promised a client I’d at least get their thing going before I started producing comics pages again. I’d like to do a bit more than that – I’d like to enter production with only my regular billable gig to schedule around and while a lengthy stretch of the chapter should enjoy that kind of scheduling it’s not going to start with it. C’est la vie.

I haven’t decided on an update schedule yet – normally forty pages would be forty weeks and normally that would be fine. If production had started in January or February I wouldn’t be writing this paragraph and I wouldn’t have to make this decision – I want this book done, and done this year. That could mean bi-weekly updates, that could mean multi-page updates, that could mean complete scene dumps. It probably doesn’t mean complete scene dumps, as I rather enjoy having a buffer… but I want it produced and posted in what I’d like to think of as a timely fashion and as much as I needed to take February off and as much as the script benefitted from being written in the park in nice weather there’s a bit of a time crunch and that’s something I’ll have to figure out while I’m rendering and processing the first scene. Which is a thing I’d like to be doing this time next week, with pages to follow hopefully around Memorial day – that nails the 12th anniversary and a holiday update. Something to shoot for.

Also something I’ll need to address at some point – the page I just linked to was originally posted May 25 2003, though it has a CMS timestamp of December 2008. That’s the second edition load-in date. The first edition load-in date and first edition metadata of The Dualist are presently hidden from public view – the formatting is a mess, the tone of the writing is inconsistent, and the writing itself reads like it was written by some kid who was high on cigarettes and mountain dew. Because it was. Some Dead City Radio and Transitional Voices metadata is also under the rug, though in those cases nothing of direct relevance is hidden away. I have no qualms about sweeping emotional damage under the rug. Saying “this page was posted in 2003!” when the post date is clearly 2008 – which is also accurate – is an information inconsistency, and that’s something that bugs me a bit. Something I’ll eventually need to do something about.

The script didn’t take long to write once I got to it – the biggest single issue was finding a way to get my head into a place where a script would result, and fortunately the change of seasons did the trick. Transitional Voices chapter four has been through a lot over the years – the original 2007 draft was a hazy alcoholic mess, and several later outlines never progressed beyond a loose statement of facts. At some point near the end of production on Dead City Radio I hit on what amounts to a bit of plot compression – moving a significant part of the story forward for dramatic effect. I toyed with the idea for awhile, untoyed with it for awhile, and eventually the idea became what happens. Late last year I hit on a bit of very literal plot compression – another optimization that in this case eliminates an entire book and indirectly allows me to completely restructure the narrative. Which is great – I can totally pass for an adult now and adult narrative priorities and interests bear little resemblance to drunken nicotine-soaked WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF.

Yes. Yes it would be cool if. Fortunately for the amount of work that’s gone into ATC the biggest difference between then and now isn’t the what it’s the how. The where evolved like a pokemon and while the long term result will be leaner and meaner it took some time for what was a straight-up punching-the-clock plot to evolve into a thing that hits several necessary marks. Fire will hit them and will look good doing it – it should probably be a fifty or sixty page chapter but at forty pages it already runs longer than the average issue of a comic book and it’s a bit of a talker. A reasonably well-paced talker, fortunately – the development method I used for the script really helped focus the writing, all but completely eliminating the traditional struggle to slice a script into comic pages. I’ll admit that the outline grid “focused” the script like a laser-guided bomb – Fire carries a lot more narrative weight than the average installment of ATC. It’s the plotting equivalent of strategic bombing. Carpet bombing, in some places.

And it should start before the end if the month!

That ain’t the only thing, either – I have some other ATC-related things to do before the chapter really gets rolling – things that should be done before production starts so that production benefits from said things being in place. I’ll blog about said “things” when there’s something substantial to blog about. This post is about the script, which is done, and about production, which until late last week was hung up on the script.

Pages and some semblance of an update schedule by the end of the month – that’s the plan!

Stay tuned!