A Stray to Botaram updates on Tuesday and Thursday. The comic is being upgraded; size and resolution may change.

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Turning a New Leaf

The logjam is broken; I have produced the next page of the story. It seems I have not lost my touch after all this time.

The story is still set to resume on February 26th. I will continue to compose pages so that I have a workable backlog to keep posting on a regular schedule. I ran myself dry and ragged last time and don’t want to repeat this mistake.

I can’t discuss too much of what is going on behind the scenes without giving spoilers, but in general, there are three projects that need to be done for the story to fully move on to its next phase, and I have completed one of them so far.

This first project was the background work necessary to portray the new page that I just made. I have mentioned before that Botaram is somewhat analogous in presentation to a puppet show, with the shapes and characters on invisible supports. Some scenes only require some ground under their feet and some mountains in the distance, and I simply call this a background. When I render the background of the world in deeper detail so that the characters may interact with it, I call that a ‘set’. Over time, the sets have dramatically grown in complexity as I create more details about the world and strive to keep the art varied and interesting within its constraints. The first two of the three projects involve building sets where the story will happen next.

The third project is on track due to the skills, help and encouragement of my partner Hamachisn’t, and it will form part of the backbone of the story’s next major segment.

Apart from these concerns, there are a few technical issues relating to how the comic will be presented henceforth. The story got its start in GIF format, with images 530 pixels wide due to the space constraints of my old art blog, pageatatime.com. Times have changed, and I plan to upgrade the graphics and resolution as well with a move to SVG format. None of these details will stop the story from moving forward.

That’s all I have to report for now, I will provide additional status updates when there is more to say. Thank you very much for reading!

Status of the Dig

The first phase, that of locating and ordering my working documents for the story, has gone well. A mass of written and hand-drawn notes had gotten misplaced during a move, but I had the foresight to scan them and so nothing significant has been lost there. I also have multiple copies of my text file of notes for the story, as well as the working files.

Botaram is composed mainly in Adobe Illustrator, the tool I’ve used for most of my working life as a graphic designer. My tangram / puzzle piece approach to the art has led to most of the working files looking like sprawling jigsaw puzzles in progress. I am sifting through these at present and looking for clues for what I had in mind at the time. It has been both fruitful and somewhat frustrating, but I am confident that I can resolve the prior issues and get the story back on track to its very strange conclusion.

I plan to start posting entries again in February 2024. Some of them will be repeats for those who may have read the story before, so I ask for your patience as I recover my stride. Thank you for taking the time to read my odd little tale.

What a Short Strange Strip

I’ve been away a long time, a reintroduction is in order.

This comic was the labor of my heart for a number of years, stretching between 2006 to 2014. There were a number of factors that led me to cease work on it, but from a storytelling perspective, the primary reason was that the plot was being sidetracked. I had a goal for the story that required certain things to happen, but I was not succeeding in getting these rendered and the work I needed to do so seemed daunting, and so I engaged instead in a certain amount of creative worldbuilding. This was fun but was not advancing the story where it needed to go. At a certain point, I felt I had written myself into a corner and was blocked on how best to continue, and once I stopped updating regularly my feelings of guilt and shame conspired to keep me from returning to it.

To give it the best chance of restarting successfully, I have rewound the story a bit while I consider the best path to take next. After almost ten years, it is a task akin to sifting through an archaeological site; when I stopped work on it I laid my tools down haphazardly and wandered off, and it is not always clear to my time-fogged brain what I intended to do with them. I still have all of the working files and notes I made, but they are a skeleton of what was going on in my mind at the time, and I need to do some work to reconstruct the flesh upon these bones.

I am also no longer the person I was ten years ago. I wish I had the ability to speak to him directly, not to tell him that everything would be all right (true in some ways but not others), but perhaps to give him some better way to face what he was going through, and help him to appreciate what he had while it still enriched his life.

For better or ill, I now take up his torch again. He had a power that I hope once more to make my own.

Botaram is returning.

Missed Entry and Question.

I dropped the ball on Thursday; I”m regrouping for next Monday.

I’d like to get some feedback on the following: When I do a text entry, I do seem to move the story along a bit faster than I do in graphic mode. The text is also somewhat easier for me to prepare. Thus, I have considered making Botaram a text novel with occasional illustrations.

There are some arguments against it. I personally find that when I read a graphic novel and it switches to blocks of text, I don’t care for this and wind up skimming the text to get back to the word pictures. I don’t have this problem when I read a regular novel. What’s true for me may be true for others as well.

So, should I seriously consider reinventing Botaram as a text story?

Maintenance and Composition

I’ve been going through the site, fixing broken images and converting old posts to link to the new filehost. This work is almost done. If you happen to see any problems I have overlooked, please let me know.

I still have to review the story and my notes to prepare for the next arc. One reason the story came to a halt originally is because I was having trouble preparing this next section. I expect to do better this time, but it may take a while to get back to my old pacing. Story updates may come more slowly in this period, but I will continue to post content and status updates regularly.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Diversion

…And then the Khirrik popped like a balloon.

Aun and Chax stared at the scattered fragments, each lost in his own thoughts.

“Let’s go,” said Aun.

“We can’t,” said Chax.

“Why not?”

“…You know who we’re waiting for.” Chax spat irritably.

Aun slowly tapped his frenting rod against the ground, harder and harder, until at last he slammed it down and stood straight up.

“That’s it, I’ve had it. If he can’t be bothered to drag his ass down here and get things moving, we’ve just got to go after him.”

Chax smiled grimly. “I’m with you. Lead the way.”

***

Upon the top of a high shelf they stood, Aun pacing anxiously nearby as Chax scouted with his superior vision at a figure huddled over a laptop at a computer desk.

“What’s he doing?” muttered Aun.

Chax shook his great head, peered again for a time, then scowled. “He’s writing fiction, Aun.”

Aun sighed. “Why can’t we move, then? He’s gone to text mode before!”

Chax gritted his fanged teeth. “It’s… It’s not fiction about us, Aun.”

Aun stopped pacing. “Whuh?”

“Near as I can make out, it’s fanfic.”

Aun flung his frenting rod down. “Fanfic! Botaram redeem us! What kind of fanfic?”

Chax growled. “It appears to be fanfic of a show about tiny polychromatic hippos.”

The solemn pair gazed at each other.

“Nai, Nai…” said Aun at last. “That’s the show that ruins everything, isn’t it? It taints every creative mind it touches.”

“I fear that you’re right. It’s like a candy-coated virus. Once it enters an artist’s mind, the artist draws little else henceforth.” Chax shuddered.

Aun slumped his shoulders. “Then… There’s little to be done, isn’t there. Botaram… We shall never reach Botaram.” A great tear formed in his eye.

Chax reached out a gentle claw and lifted Aun’s chin.

“There was a time, Aun, when I would have seized upon any means to stop a Strasmin from defiling that noble summit. But caught with you as I am on your mad journey, I shall not fail in my resolve. I shall see you to Botaram, or die in the attempt. No matter how thick the skull we must pierce to make it happen!”

Aun took up his frenting rod with renewed hope, as Chax flexed his jumping leg. He grinned a cocky little grin.

“Aun,” he said, “grab my pointy-ear thing.”

Aun leapt on Chax’s back and seized hold as instructed.

Chax leapt strongly from the shelf, pouring his intensity and resolve into one dramatically extended claw as they flew through the air towards the back of the author’s head…

“ADVENTURE!”





Am I ready to resume? I’m not sure. But if I wait until I’m ready, I may never be.

New comic on Thursday.

2013 in Review…

It wasn’t a very good year for me. I’ve been suffering the kind of health problem where it feels like you’re going to die, but it doesn’t actually kill you, and things have not gone nearly as well after the move as I’ve hoped.

Furthermore, I found that, at a time when my life seemed very bleak indeed, Botaram became bleak in my mind as well, to the point where I was seizing upon excuses not to work on it. I’ve found myself putting my creative effort into more trivial and light-hearted things, by way of escaping. Of course, one can only run from one’s dreams so far, if one is to retain any self-respect at all.

I am still working on improving my lot, but one way or another, I mean to return. I may have to back the story up a few pages should I find that I’ve hit a blind alley. To those who have been inquiring, I thank you for thinking of me. I will try not to disappoint you.