Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Webcomic List Awards Pt.1

I've been emailing and posting about The Webcomic List Awards all over the web recently, the reason being I'm the silly person who offered to head up the organising committee.

A bit of background is in order I think on exactly why we have The Webcomic List Awards in the first place.

The Webcartoonists' Choice Awards ran every year between 2001 and 2008 and during that time they became quite a big thing for a lot of webcomic folk. Unfortunately things went awry and come last July people were starting to question whether or not there were going to be an awards at all for 2009. Specifically, people were beginning to question it on The Webcomic List forums, where I spend a large amount of my time deleting spam and occasionally telling people off.

It was actually Luke Surl of that first made the suggestion of starting up our own replacement.

"How about starting a TWCL awards?" he wrote, "I'm actually serious, talk to Ash and see if he'll give the full TWCL endorsement. We can then use our combined resources & contacts to create the necessary system (be it a select jury of esteemed persons, a closed election of peers, or an open election of general public). Thoughts?"

Other people starting chiming in with ideas including Zoë Robinson, Oliver Knörzer and future fellow forum lacky Chilari, who ended up as part of the organising committee. In a moment of madness I offered my support for the idea, sought out the approval of my higher ups on the site and suddenly, and reading through the threads in question, without any big decision I was organising the thing somehow.

I thought, and still think, it would be a terrible shame not to have anything like the WCCAs or TWCLAs around. I believe in things that can bring the webcomic community, or communities, together in some way and I think things like the awards offer that.

We held a poll to pick the name of the awards. The Webcomic List Awards won. After that there were several public polls on the forums, a committee was formed and barely organised chaos ensued. Eventually the awards took shape and on the 1st of November the nomination phase went live.

Nominations were collected, massive amounts of emails were answered and sorted, judges were recruited and given comics to judge and artists were given things to draw for the site. Somewhere in the middle of that I moved house and my intenet was accidentally disconnected when it wasn't meant to be, but somehow we pulled it all together and the ceremony went live on the 7th of February this year, only a little bit behind schedule.

On the 8th of this month nominations opened for The Webcomic List Awards 2010, a new, bigger and better version of the awards.

So far things are going well. We have a really good committee and selection of judges aboard and nominations are coming in at a steady pace already.

All in all, I'm very happy with how things are going this year.

So, one final word before I get back to work, go check out the site and if you happen to be involved in creating comics yourself or reviewing comics or distributing comics or are in any other way actively involving yourself comics then go nominate some webcomics that you think deserve the recognition.

Just make sure to read the insturctions first, okay? :)

That's all for now. I'll post more in the next couple of days. Right now I have some work to be getting on with.


Saturday, 11 September 2010

Midi .2 EP

Here it is the long awaited (well, for two weeks) follow up to Midi .1 EP, the twenty-something minute, slightly silly instrumental EP unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

This new follow up consists mostly of reworkings and reinterpretations (different enough for the most part to still be interesting I hope) of the tracks from Midi .1 EP, but also contains two brand new tracks Tin Dog and Winter Bells. Hopefully you'll find it all quite interesting.

the second and final phase of the musical experiment

01 - False Starts
02 - Wake Up Again
03 - A Brief Conversation Between a Piano and Some Drums
04 - Tin Dog
05 - Demented Dance of the 8bit Fairies
06 - Revamped Theme
07 - A Minor Return of the Musical Giggles
08 - Winter Bells
09 - One Minute Thirty Seven
10 - The Drums Get The Last Word
11 - Closed Again

Edit: The links all pointed to a subdomain that hasn't existed for a while now, but don't worry I fixed it. ^_^

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit returns and the world's greatest sport

Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit, my far too infrequently updating webcomic is back!

It's been away for a while, but now it's back and updating every Tuesday and Friday. (For those of you reading this and it's still Monday, it's Tuesday already here in the UK.)

Also, Bunny Hopping is the greatest sport ever. How can any sport ever beat that?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Midi .1 EP released!


So, firstly, I'm really bad at updating blogs aren't I?

Secondly, I have music to unleash upon the world!

Midi .1 EP is a short collection of 11 midi tracks I created recently. It started off with my decision to revamp a piece I wrote for college. It was a by the books Renaissance piece. Alright, but a little boring, so I decided to have a go at creating a midi version of it, but this time breaking a few rules along the way and the result is Dance of the Demented Fairies.

That's the oldest track on the EP, with parts dating back ten years and the rest dating back to this March.The newest one is Sketch Ditty Ditty, which I only declared finished a few days ago. The whole record is a big pile of electronic silliness and I hope that you (whoever you are) enjoy it.

The front cover here is mostly for my own amusement, because it's far too small to actually print up.

Midi .1 EP - Being an experiment in learning to write music again.

01 - False Beginings
02 - Wake Up Sleepy Head
03 - One October Morning
04 - Extended Theme From a 1970's Children's Art Show
05 - A Brief Conversation Between One Piano and Itself
06 - A Minor Case of the Musical Giggles
07 - Sketch Ditty Ditty
08 - A Brief Reprise of a Prior Conversation
09 - Dance of the Demented Fairies
10 - One Minute Twenty Six
11 - Close

I will be uploading 'Midi .2 EP' in two weeks time.

My next record after that will actually contain real instruments! : O
It will probably take a very long time.

Edit: The links got all messed up, but now they're not, so that's good.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Omnipresent Temporal Plot Hole

No. It's not the title of a Muse song (but on the subject of Muse I did pick up the tab book for their second album for £2.99 the other day - bargain!). It is the title of a very long blog entry about Doctor Who. If you only ended up on this entry because of the Lego tag I suggest you just scroll right on down to the bottom.

So, generally I've been a big fan of Doctor Who since it was brought back to TV in 2004. I have a small collection of Daleks in the office and it got me watching the old version of the show for the first time in a long time. It's the only current TV show that I watch on a regular basis these days. Apart from that I mostly end up watching reruns and documentaries on Sky Arts.

That said, I didn't think much of the 2009 Torchwood mini-series, Children of Earth. I think it pushed things further than they needed to go.

Generally though, Doctor Who has been my favourite show in a long time, which is why it's so disappointing that the current series is making me question if Steven Moffat has lost the plot a little.

When Matt Smith was announced as the new Doctor I was pretty sceptical about the decision, but, happily, my scepticism was unfounded and I have to say he is brilliant in the role. A great bit of casting.

Unfortunately, I'm less happy with some of the rest. Beyond the normal Doctor/companion situation we seem to have three big, long arcs going on; River Song, the new Daleks and of course the crack in the univers that likes to eat everything in sight.


Now, as much as I like the individual episodes all three of these things have been giving me problems. Doctor Who has a well earnt reputation for having somewhat flexible continuity sometimes, but the new series is pushing it in my opinion.

In River Song's first appearance she recognised the 10th Doctor and at first appeared to think they were at the same point in each other's relative timelines. Then she died. This brings up a question to me, because I over-think this kind of stuff. If she thought the 10th version of the Doctor was at the same or similar point in their relationship as her how come the 11th Doctor has not yet lived through it? How did she look at his next incarnation and know he was too young?

It doesn't really make sense and Moffat did admit in one of the corresponding Confidential episodes that she wasn't originally written to be a recurring character, which I think shows.

The second issue is the Daleks.

Daleks are awesome. They're viscous, half insane, alien squid things in personal tanks with plungers for weapons. What's not to like?

Well, the new tanks look a bit naff to be honest. They look a bit too plasticky and I'm not really sure why they look like they do. The logic is that they are 'pure' Daleks whilst the others are remnants of the messed up hybrid Daleks from the Game Station in series one. That makes some kind of sense I suppose, but why the different tank design?

Doctor Who,Dr Who,Daleks

The way the copper coloured Daleks were treated within the show was as if they looked like normal Daleks. The Doctor never questioned their appearance. UNIT never questioned their appearance. Captain Jack, who had also witnessed Daleks before, never questioned it either.

That gives a pretty strong suggestion, to me at least, that the old style Daleks had been retconned in favour of the newer, updated style. Out were bright colours that screamed of the sixties and seventies and in one more sombre, more suitably military colours and as far as anyone let on this was the way it had always been. All of this makes the return of the bright colours and the introduction of the bigger, bulkier tanks all a little weird.

doctor who,daleks,dr who

Finally we came to the thing that this post is named after, the crack in Amy Pond's bedroom wall. Anything absorbed into it ceases to have ever existed. Okay, got it, but isn't it kind of odd that the thing has next to no regard for cause and effect?

And what about those big unchangeable points in time. The Daleks stealing Earth was the first in an unbreakable chain of events that led to or will lead to or will probably lead to the first human colonies outside our solar system. Does that mean that almost all of the episodes set in the future have effectively been retconned and what happened to Donna? Donna who was only dropped off of the TARDIS because of what happened to her during those events. In the adjusted timeline did she ever leave the TARDIS? If not then she's just ceased to exist too.

Pushing that point further, any major change to the timeline could and probably would also lead to things like Captain Jack Harkness not existing, which means he couldn't end up going too far back in time, get hired by Torchwood, build a rift manipulator to keep the Cardiff rift in check, which ended up seeming to be the cause of the rift (depending on your point of view of course) and if that was actually the case then all sorts of crazy things wouldn't have happened, which further affects the timeline. In all likelihood a certain Professor Yana probably wouldn't have ended up on a certain planet at a certain time and even if he did end up there the TARDIS would probably not have ended up there without Jack and the Master would have never ended up on early 21st century Earth, so thinking about it (which I have been doing a lot) individual changes could lead to earlier changes happening as a result of the amount of time travel we're already dealing with. A change further back, for example Captain Jack not ending up in Wales a couple of hundred years too early, would cause changes to happen before the appearance of the crack, so when the crack did finally appear there it ends up swallowing something else, something that previously wasn't there, leading to possibly more of the same and rendering the entire universe into one great big, complicated paradox.

The biggest question of all of course is this: Why isn't the Doctor doing anything about it? Cracks are opening across the whole of space and time, taking entire worlds with them, making catastrophic changes and what does he do? He takes his companions on a trip to Rio, or trys to anyway.

That's not exactly responsible of him, is it?

Well, congratulations if you've actually managed to read all of that. Well done and on a side note, Louise Dade who does the excellent Lego webcomic, Tranquility Base, made a little something on the subject of the new Daleks that made me smile.

Also check out these awesome lego mini-daleks.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Unknown Strat Restoration Project Pt.1

So, I've been trying to think of a suitable first post for my new blog and I suddenly thought of a little project that's sitting downstairs in the front room.

Back on the 17th of this month me and my other half, Jess for those who don't know, received a reply to a request we put on Freecycle (or more correctly Freegle as it's now called - stupid name) for damaged guitars or spare parts. We have two guitars in need of some work and the wreck of an old Satelite bass that I want to turn into a new shinier, less plyboard bass guitar. Basically I like the neck because it's standard guitar scale and I can't stretch my fingers far. We were mostly hoping for some parts we could put towards one of those projects, but instead we got offered a (nearly) full guitar.

The next day we picked up this lot, all loaded up in a quite nice but rather smelly gig bag. Trawling through images and specs of Strat clones and comparing the exact shape of the headstock we think it's either a Tokai or an Encore, or largely one of those anyway.

The bag's had a trip through the washer and the guitar strap had three nice long soaks in the shower room sink, which eventually got the smell out, which backed up by the colour that came out of it, I believe to be the results of a very old beer spill.

The previous owner had them for quite a while, an abandoned project of someone else, but hadn't got round to doing anything with it yet, so thought it was time to call it time and hand off to another someone else.

As you can see below the wiring was a mess and was partially held together by sticky tape. The centre pickup also turned out to be dead and not exactly what it seems.

You see, that's not a twin coil humbucker in the middle, but a single coil pickup shoved into the twin coil's casing. Oh yes, and it's dead.

The bridge is also damaged, but won't cause a problem unless you want to hook up a whammy bar, so although we will replace it, it isn't high priority right now as none of our guitars currently have one anyway.

First thing to do (after going to the hardware store, realising our money was at home, going back to pick it up and then going back to the hardware store, oh and taking some photographs) was for us to head out into the garden with a blue sheet, some paint, varnish and lacquer remover, an old toothbrush and lots of dispoable cleaning cloths.

It seems to have been repainted quite a few times.

After that the body had a quick, and rather noxious, bath, was dried off and taken indoors because it was getting cold, dark and windy out.

It now looks like a candidate for the next Fender "Relic" series.

Next came five grades of sandpaper, scrubbing some gunk off the neck plate, disassembling and reassembling the machine heads to get them good and tight and then a good night's sleep.

This is what she looked like the next morning having taken around six or seven hours and several cups of tea to get there.

Two days, some more sanding, four coats of wood stain on the body, two on the neck and a bit more sanding later this is what we had:

The body's going to get three more coats when we can hook up a good way of hanging it in order to get a nice even coating and the neck probably four. Before the last coat it's going to get a custom decal applied. Due to the positioning of the humbucker, or the fake humbucker that we're going to replace with a real one, we've come up with some funky alternate wiring that requires a second switch installed, so it's really not going to be a Strat clone anymore, not truly anyway, so we've given it it's own custom model name, the JW-1.

I quite like the effect of the chrome coloured casing with the natural looking body. With the black finish it looked a bit hack-ish to me. Well, it still looks a bit hackish I suppose, but now that comes with a bit of charm I think.

Hopefully it won't be too long until we can get the parts to finish her off completely, but that might have to wait for a while yet with our money having lots of directions it needs to go out in.