Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We all have a story

A few days ago I read an article on NPR's website by Glen Weldon titled Question: Who's the Longest Running Fictional Character Ever? (If you don't want me to spoil the answer then read the article before continuing!)

The answer was Superman who has been fighting bad guys with his super strength for 70 years now. The point of the article, it turned out, was to illustrate how Superman is a bad example of an open ended story gone awry. Stories, according to Weldon, are designed to have an end. They are not intended to go on forever or they just have to rewrite their own rules, throw in cheesy gimmicks and end up turning into soap operas - even if the characters can fly and wear spandex.

While I see Weldon's point, I have to say that I don't agree. I have loved to write and tell stories for as long as I can remember, and I think I can safely say that the same applies to Andy and Jason. One aspect of story telling that we have discussed numerous times is how we hate to see a story end. Once we have created a great set of characters and come to the end of a tale, we anxiously await their next series of events.

I even do this when I watch movies or read books. When I really fall in love with the characters in a story and then come to the end, I imagine what life is like for them beyond what I just witnessed. Will they go on to have more adventures? Will the new couple stay together? Is the villain really defeated? And I feel this way every time even though I know that sequels most often disappoint.

I've thought about why this is, and the conclusion I keep coming back to is that each of our lives is a story. Maybe not the kind of story you'd read on the news or turn into a reality TV show, but it's a story nonetheless.

Think of the elements any story needs, they're all a part of our every day lives: good characters who develop over time, a setting, a plot (sometimes many of them), conflict (often more than we really care for), antagonists, protagonists... it's all there. Maybe the only thing that isn't there is a climax and a resolution. Sure, there are major events and turning points in our lives that ultimately get resolved, but unlike a movie or a novel the story doesn't end there.

Now, in some situations I can see Weldon's point. Certain stories are more plot-driven than character-driven and end when the plot comes to a close. Take a fable like The Tortoise and the Hare, for example, no one is really interested in the Hare's back-story, it's the plot that moves things along. And some stories serve to convey a point that is much bigger than book or the film. Take Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird, while it contains great characters, the point is to serve as a commentary on racism in the South.

But what about Superman? Or The Adventures of Hatman and Indigo for that matter? While at times these stories may contain a moral or an over-arching point, the heart of the story will always lie with the characters themselves. We long to see what will happen to them, how things will develop, where their lives will take them. And I believe we do this because of an innate belief that our stories are bigger than the events of our lives.

Yes, as Weldon says, this may tempt the author's of these stories to "jump the shark" in order to keep viewers, and this is a sad reality. But I don't believe it changes the fact that we can relate to stories that don't necessarily have an end. It just means that as writers, we need to work even harder to continue telling new and great stories without losing the essence of the characters that made them great in the first place.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Getting To Know
The Faces Behind

Chairman & CEO
Jason Kuder
WE ARE A Tooned-In and Animated Staff
working to bring a little more color into your life.


caricatures by: Michael J.Lude

Blog-back on soon, more faces to come.
-Michael J. Lude

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comic layouts

One of my many, many tasks at 3twins is doing the comic layouts. I am not the only one who does this, but part of being the "big cheese" is making sure things get done, and if everyone else is too busy to do something, then I take that "thing" on myself.

Now, I'm not complaining, I actually like doing this, although, it is quite creatively taxing. You see, we write Hatman & Indigo in a script format because we have actors who come in and read the lines. However, since it is a comic book it needs to be layed out as such after the actors have read their lines. I know this is different than say, Marvel Comics, does it. But they don't have actors record audio for the characters, do they?

Anyhow, I take the script and break it down into pages and panels with little descriptions of how I see the panels in my head. Sometimes the artists actually follow those, other times they use them as a guideline. I call this part the "Text Layout".

We have a nifty little program called "Comic Life" its only $30 for the delux version and I highly recommend it for anyone even remotely interested in creating their own comics (there is a version for Mac as well as Windows). It is an incredibly helpful tool for drafting what I call the "Panel Layout".

For the Panel Layout, I put the script with the completed Text Layout on one monitor and Comic Life on another monitor. (I also highly recommend multiple monitors for anyone who would like to work in any type of media, it makes life so much easier, but if you don't like that sort of thing, it's your call. :) ) I read through the "Text Layout" and either choose from the many template layouts that come with "Comic Life", or tweak my own to fit the script. Sometimes, I realize that something won't really work the way I had layed it out in the script, so I tweak it a little bit. After I get the Panel Layout finished, I send it onto the artist who does the really magical part, the art.

I have a lot of these to do, right now, so instead of working on them, I blogged about it. I guess, my stalling is pretty much done and I'd better get to it, huh?


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bringing a Vision to Life

Here at 3twins we work hard to make sure the characters you have come to love are as great as the story lines that depict them. As seen from our previous blog you know we are striving for a greater excellence, an excellence that truly expresses both the level at which we have grown to as storytellers and the level of passion you feel when you share our vision.

When my favorite stories or heroes are recaptured, whether it be on big screen, a Tv mini series, or in the latest issued comic; I anxiously await hoping that the people bringing these stories to life yet again are able to capture the very essence and passion that first captivate me as a loyal viewer.

As an artist at 3twins I want my art to speak to you as clear as the images you see and feel in your minds when listening to Jason, Andy, or Steve's stories. You, the audience are why we exist more importantly you are the reason why I Have a wonderful job that I love. In light of this face I ask for all the input and truth you can give. Here is just a taste of what is coming in the form of what I call new art, and what I suspect to only get better.

-Michael J. Lude

Friday, May 15, 2009

Star Fetch Episode 2: Pre-Production/Production

It takes a long time to bring a story into a fully animated version. Take Star Fetched episode 1 for example. It took Jason and I almost a year to finish the five minute episode. Everything you see in the show had to be created. Jason made most of the objects and characters.

The script was completed several years ago, but it needed to be edited. After that we had our actors record their voices for the characters. I then took all the audio and put it together so each character played against one another, kind of like a radio drama. Next we took the audio and matched the character's movements and mouths. That was the most time consuming part of the animation process. It can also get quite boring, listening to the same line over and over, trying to determine what mouth shapes should go with what syllables.

The final step was to make any of the visual effects. It wouldn't be very interesting just to watch five minutes of characters talking to themselves, so we put in exterior views of the ships, and showed the story that Bob and Jonas relayed.

Now after almost five months, we're still in the early stages with episode 2. This episode will be longer by more than 50%, so it will take us quite some time to complete it. Thankfully we learned quite a few things animating episode 1 as well as the several Midieville shorts we created in 2007 and 2008.

If you have any questions (or suggestions) about the animation process, please comment.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's Your Thoughts?

The last several pages of "Hatman & Indigo: Back to the Beginning" went on line today. This issue ends with a cliffhanger. I don't want to spoil it for you, but I thought it may be nice to see what you, our viewers, think is going to happen next. Go ahead and watch the entire issue (it doesn't take that long), and then post your ideas on where you think the story is going.
We already have the rest of the story finished, so don't think your going to sway the issue. It would be nice to see how predictable (or not) our stories are.

Thanks for your feedback,


Saturday, May 9, 2009

2006 Remastered?

Last Summer we brought you a remastered version of "Hatman & Indigo: Origin parts 1 and 2". Where we brushed off the old script, edited it some, re-wrote it a bit and created a whole new layout to hopefully tell the story better. This in no way was a slam against Chris Secondi, the original artist. But more that we had grown in our skills as writers and we wanted to really portray the Origin of our heroes in a more complete way. Origin Remastered was well received and we all feel tells the story we originally tried to tell.

We recently decided that most of our early stories could really use the "Remastered" treatment.
Again, this is in no way a slam to the original artists we just feel we can now do a better job telling the origins of our major villains.

One main reason why we have decided to do this is because that many people when they first come to jump to the very first comic, which is understandable. However, it doesn't portray our current skill level. So, the goal is going to be, that once we have remastered all of our original stories we will put them on the comic page, in place of the originals. "But isn't that rewriting history?" you may ask. Well, we've thought of that as well, and on the start page of the new version we will have a link to the original version.

But one more problem arouse, if we are going to replace the original 2006 comics with new "Remastered' ones then our numbering will be off because Origin Remastered was issues 29 and 30 and that will make the amazing issue 50 that we're currently working on be only issue 48. So, We decided that both the Zapman and Super Cold Frozen Man stories could use a major revamp to the point of making them 3 issues long each! This will fix our numbering and help develop the origins of those characters even more.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Story Creations

A lot of thought goes into writing a story for Whether it’s an issue of Hatman & Indigo or an episode of one of our cartoons, it all has to start with an idea. Often times, we will come up with the silliest ideas, and try to form a story around that. Sometimes, the end result has little or nothing to do with the initial idea.

Take “
Meet the Damsels” for example. We had discussed Blonde having a family, and we thought it would be funny if all the members of her family were named for their hair color. This concept led us to create Brunette, and Bruno as a funny paring, as well as the other family members.

This was back when we were using classic story concepts as a jumping point for our creativity (like "Freaky Friday" influenced "Heroic and Incredible"). I wanted to loosely parody Sherlock Holmes and write a mystery where Hatman & Indigo finally meet Blonde’s family, and then the dad (Grey) comes up missing. This was going to lead to the discovery of Bald, the black sheep of the family. We dropped the mystery idea and went with a more zany approach, that the family just didn’t like Bald. You can see how the story unfolded in last year’s issues of “Meet the Damsels”, or read more about the concept to story process in Jason’s earlier blog. ~Andy

Monday, May 4, 2009

The May 3rd Comicon

Yesterday (May 3rd 2009) Andy, Michael (both pictured left) and myself attended the Ash Comics show. As usual we had our comics and cartoons playing on a monitor for the attendants to watch.

This time, however, we were able to bring one of our new artists, Michael Lude, who has done some awesome work for us already (check out Hatman Clause pt 3 and Back to the Beginning for some of his art).

We all had a great time and we are getting ready for the next Ash Comics show, where Michael will be doing caricatures of the attendants!