The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    Im curious, how often do you find yourself planning out the specifics of one or more strips in a row, compared to just coming up with something on the spot that you think is clever?

    Or, I guess another way to phrase it would be are you more of a spontaneous writer or do you find yourself sitting down and having to seriously think about it before something good comes to you?
    All the plotting is done in advance, and outlined with each beat in a sequence assigned to a future strip. So, for example, the last few strips might look like this on my outline:

    977 - Gnomeland Security shows up, zaps Crystal with lightning. Uh oh- Superspeed golem!
    978 - Superspeed Crystal wrecks gnomes, chokes Haley: "I FEEL NOTHING BUT PAIN"
    979 - Haley throws the knife to distract her, runs away hasted
    980 - While running, Haley uses the truth to convince Crystal that Bozzok is using her as a tool. End with Crystal crashing in on Bozzok.
    981 - Grubwiggler refuses to help, teleports away. Crystal kills Bozzok in rage.

    I have that level of outline worked out dozens of strips in advance. Right now I have about half of Book 6 broken down in that way, with the second half broken down only by broad strokes, i.e. "Crystal shows up as a golem, fights Haley and Bandana. Haley talks Crystal into turning on Bozzok."

    Then, when it's time to write, I take that outline and write scripts for each segment. This is where I write dialogue and break the action down into what you actually are going to see on the page. This is also when I come up with the jokes, unless the joke is crucial to the plot (like, for example, the "Sorry, Your Gate is In Another Pyramid" gag), in which case it was probably already in the outline. This step involves a lot of wrangling to fit everything that needs to be in that strip before the next one—this is also where I either split an outlined beat into two strips or combine two (or more) into a multi-page strip. For example, if you look at that outline, you'll see that I originally gave a whole strip over to Haley throwing the knife to distract Crystal and then running away. When it came time to script, though, that felt like it diffused too much tension. The previous strip had ended with an escalation in stakes, and to post a strip that ended back in a chase scene ruined the momentum. Rather than drop the chase scene, though, I simply combined it with the next strip to create a single climactic story beat. This happens a LOT, as I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I "end" each strip on (even when it's not a punchline).

    Generally, when I sit down to write, I try to write four or five scripts at a time in order to smooth out the transitions between them and see if they all work as a cohesive whole. I often shift moments around from one script to another if it's not working. So when I'm doing art, I just pull up the next script and start laying the frames out. However, even then, I always go back over the script before I start the art to see if I've changed my mind about anything. This is the step where I can sometimes tweak a dialogue balloon to account for how readers reacted to previous strips, if I need to. I also sometimes have to edit the dialogue to fit the page (which I know probably comes as a surprise to the people who say I fill the page up with nothing but speech balloons). I'll reword speech to fit the oval shape of the balloon a lot; it's always a bad idea to end dialogue on a really long word.

    So I guess the answer is, I plan it out meticulously first and then edit it all on the fly.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Wow, if I would have thought you would actually answer questions in here, I would have asked something serious instead of sarcastic. Hopefully I get a second shot.

    Since it became much more popular (and much more work) than you originally intended it to be, do you ever regret starting OOTS?

    Did you have a strong emotional reaction to any particular moment in OOTS? If so, which one was the worst? (Mine was the death to Therkla, that really messed with me)
    Last edited by littlebum2002; 2015-04-24 at 02:29 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Zyzzyva View Post
    I like the fuller beard, though. Just say no to goatees!
    When I hurt my hand, I couldn't shave properly for months (I cut myself when using my left hand). I decided to keep it when I came out the other side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Czhorat View Post
    For those inclined to create such things, how do you feel about fanfiction or other non-commercial derivative works based on the OOTS universe? (I'd presume that your position on commercial derivative works is the obvious one).
    I'm not a huge fan of it. But then, I'm not a fan of fanfiction as a concept. It's probably a generational thing, but I don't really understand the point—what does the author get out of it? It runs counter to every reason I have for wanting to write and create, so it just seems like a waste of time.

    EDIT: To be clear, there are lots of things in the world I don't understand the point of, and if people enjoy fanfiction then cool for them. It's just not for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cristo Meyers View Post
    Has there ever been a low-point in all this where you wondered if it was all going to be worth it, where you just wanted to stop and move on? What got you through it?
    More than I can count. I'll let you know what got me through it when I stop thinking about it.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlebum2002 View Post
    Since it became much more popular (and much more work) than you originally intended it to be, do you ever regret starting OOTS?
    No, not really. I regret starting the art off so deeply crappy; I was going for an intentional childish vibe, but if I had known what it would become I would have started it closer to where it is was in Blood Runs in the Family. I think over the years a lot of people have dismissed the whole thing out of hand due to how bad those first few pages look. I also regret not starting with a strip that introduced the characters and their story rather than a joke that has become horribly dated.

    Also, I regret using my real name rather than just an alias, but given that a good deal of attention that I got in those early days was due to my connection to Wizards' setting search and my subsequent writing work, it probably wouldn't have grown the way it did.

    Quote Originally Posted by littlebum2002 View Post
    Did you have a strong emotional reaction to any particular moment in OOTS? If so, which one was the worst? (Mine was the death to Therkla, that really messed with me)
    It's difficult to have strong emotional reactions to the work I'm creating, because it's my job to weld all the seams together. I know everything that is going to happen months or years before it happens, so by the time the actual strip is ready to be posted there's not much to surprise me. Probably the closest was Durkon's death, because while I knew he was going to die, my first script draft had him going down struggling to the end. That felt wrong, and I rewrote the script and drew it in a single day.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    great answers, thanks for that.

    is there a joke or pun you're particularly proud of? (like not-nale's dialogue, or something)

    and do you sometimes read the votes on Porthos "stick awards"? I'm always curious as to your thoughts on our votes...
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    The main theme of the comic is, "I'm glad I have a job where I can work in my pajamas."

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by nogall View Post
    is there a joke or pun you're particularly proud of? (like not-nale's dialogue, or something)
    To tell you the truth, the jokes sort of fade out of my memory after I've told them. I remember the plot a lot more than I remember the punchlines; putting BRitF together involved me rereading a lot of jokes I had forgotten.

    Of recent stuff, I keep giggling over the strip where Haley buys the adamantine weapons, and also...
    Spoiler: for Therkla's Prequel Story
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    the Mik-Guh Fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by nogall View Post
    and do you sometimes read the votes on Porthos "stick awards"? I'm always curious as to your thoughts on our votes...
    Nope, never looked at them. In all honesty, while I work to make sure every strip satisfies when it's released, once the next strip comes out I no longer care how they hold up when considered in a vacuum.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Nope, never looked at them. In all honesty, while I work to make sure every strip satisfies when it's released, once the next strip comes out I no longer care how they hold up when considered in a vacuum.
    A healthy attitude to have. It probably wouldn't surprise you to see which ones "win" each set of a 100 anyway.
    Concluded: The Stick Awards II: Second Edition
    Ongoing: OOTS by Page Count
    Coming Soon: OOTS by Final Post Count II: The Post Counts Always Chart Twice
    Coming Later: The Stick Awards III: The Search for More Votes


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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Quild View Post
    Thanks for that serious answer to a silly question anyway!
    I'm envious, since I got a silly answer to my serious question. I choose to believe in my answer regardless, though - it is a good theme.
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    With the new art style, you seem to have a lot more tools available for the portrayal of various effects. If you could go back and redraw specific scenes with the newest style, what do you think you would want to do the most?
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Are you withholding MITD's species just for shock value, or also to beat Brian Cleffinger's longest set-up for a webcomic at about nine years for
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    the defeat of chaos by four white mages?
    Last edited by Xihirli; 2015-04-24 at 04:00 PM.
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    Supagoof took the most blows and incidentally took exactly the same damage Xihirli inflicted.
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    I'm good with eliminating Xihirli. I'm not sure how she has managed to live as long as she has.
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    Wow I missed a lot today. So, kill Xihirli?
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    I really wanted what Xihirli said to be true though.
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    That was a lot of awesome backstabbing.
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    I still prefer to see you as the dagger hanging over us all, Xi.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Xihirli View Post
    Are you withholding MITD's species just for shock value, or also to beat Brian Cleffinger's longest set-up for a webcomic at about nine years for
    Spoiler: 8-Bit Theater
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    the defeat of chaos by four white mages?
    I believe it's already been beaten, and also if he were to just up and tell us right now, I for one would be incredibly disappointed.
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  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    With the new art style, you seem to have a lot more tools available for the portrayal of various effects. If you could go back and redraw specific scenes with the newest style, what do you think you would want to do the most?
    Related: If you could have done a full-illustration comic (all things being equal, with the same amount of effort and time), would you have? Would that decision be different nowadays as opposed to in 2003?
    Last edited by Zyzzyva; 2015-04-24 at 04:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhaegar14 View Post
    I came up with a master ninja with a robotic arm that is simultaneously both a vampire and a werewolf. He is the first of his clan in a thousand years to master the Warp Blade technique, which allows him to bend space-time to his will. So in addition to being a cyborg werewolf vampire ninja, he's also a time traveler and functionally immortal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    ...kinda sounds like Samuel Haight got sent to the world of Rifts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    And we have a new winner!

    Avatar thanks to ThePrez1776.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    With the new art style, you seem to have a lot more tools available for the portrayal of various effects. If you could go back and redraw specific scenes with the newest style, what do you think you would want to do the most?
    Aside from just generally improving the drawing and avoiding things like tangents and wriggly lines and such? I guess the exterior shots of the Dungeon of Dorukan really bug me, including when it blew up. But honestly, unless I was going to redraw the whole first book (or two) there would be no point in going back to any one strip.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xihirli View Post
    Are you withholding MITD's species just for shock value, or also to beat Brian Cleffinger's longest set-up for a webcomic at about nine years for
    Spoiler: 8-Bit Theater
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    the defeat of chaos by four white mages?
    Neither. The reveal is a crucial part of the story and it will happen when it's time for it to happen.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zyzzyva View Post
    Related: If you could have done a full-illustration comic (all things being equal, with the same amount of effort and time), would you have? Would that decision be different nowadays as opposed to in 2003?
    If I lived in a magical land where those Five Foot Steps comics didn't take ten times as long as an OOTS comic at the time did? Maybe I would have made that decision then, but it would have been the wrong one. OOTS would not be where it is today if it were just another hand-drawn style, and I would never have gotten over a thousand pages in the can so far if OOTS didn't have some version of the stick figure art. I just wish the first hundred strips weren't so egregiously sloppy.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    I believe it's already been beaten, and also if he were to just up and tell us right now, I for one would be incredibly disappointed.
    If you count, say, the reveal of Jiminy as the polearm seller, that has 8BT beaten by two months. There might be others.
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  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    On the chance it got overlooked, I may as well ask again: was Xykon killing Fyron's son as well as Fyron retconned away? The son is completely absent from SoD yet still mentioned in the online comic, and it's puzzled me for years.
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    There is nothing more emblematic of this forum than three or four pages of debate between people who, as it turns out, pretty much agree with each other.


    Check this game out! Or at least give it a thumbs up.
    Why "because the plot said so" is not a good answer.

  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    If I lived in a magical land where those Five Foot Steps comics didn't take ten times as long as an OOTS comic at the time did? Maybe I would have made that decision then, but it would have been the wrong one. OOTS would not be where it is today if it were just another hand-drawn style, and I would never have gotten over a thousand pages in the can so far if OOTS didn't have some version of the stick figure art. I just wish the first hundred strips weren't so egregiously sloppy.
    Fair, and the bolded part was about what I expected. Thanks for answering!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhaegar14 View Post
    I came up with a master ninja with a robotic arm that is simultaneously both a vampire and a werewolf. He is the first of his clan in a thousand years to master the Warp Blade technique, which allows him to bend space-time to his will. So in addition to being a cyborg werewolf vampire ninja, he's also a time traveler and functionally immortal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Milodiah View Post
    ...kinda sounds like Samuel Haight got sent to the world of Rifts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    And we have a new winner!

    Avatar thanks to ThePrez1776.

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Rich,

    Do you have a "target audience" for OotS? Or did you ever? If so, has it changed over time?

    Thanks!

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by ti'esar View Post
    On the chance it got overlooked, I may as well ask again: was Xykon killing Fyron's son as well as Fyron retconned away? The son is completely absent from SoD yet still mentioned in the online comic, and it's puzzled me for years.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    If it's important and I haven't revealed it thus far, then obviously it will have some form of significance in the story and I would have no reason to tell you now. And if it's not important, then it's not important. Not all the i's need to be dotted nor the t's crossed..
    Let's not ask questions a second time, folks. If I skip over it once, assume I did so intentionally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gusion View Post
    Rich,

    Do you have a "target audience" for OotS? Or did you ever? If so, has it changed over time?

    Thanks!
    Well obviously, I started off targeting people who were deeply immersed in D&D 3.5 to the point of getting a joke about how the rules changed from one version to the next. As I moved beyond that, though? No, not really. I don't worry about who may or may not like what I write, I just write it and let it all work itself out.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    two questions for the price of one post :)

    - how is the hand doing ? did it healed well ? i cut my finger some ~15 years ago and the scar looks terrible today :/

    - which (side-)story arc are you most proud of ? the one you look back and think 'yeah, i totally nailed this one perfectly'
    Last edited by hagnat; 2015-04-24 at 05:07 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Since you dislike the "crappy" style of the early strips (Dungeon Crawlin' Fools), do you think you'd ever be interested in redrawing them at some point in the future? Not out of obligation of course, but for personal satisfaction?

  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Imagine a space colony of humans who would only be allowed to keep five works of earth-literature. Say you're the librarian, and assume that you don't have to worry about how-to manuals for survival, spaceship upkeep, etc. What works do you pick?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    More than I can count. I'll let you know what got me through it when I stop thinking about it.
    Heh, good to know I'm not alone. I look up to you and your musings on writing a lot. Thank you for answering.

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    I know where I would like Rich to be "interviewed": The Titanium Physicists

    http://titaniumphysicists.brachiolopemedia.com/

    They have one celebrity guest and three physicists explain some aspect of physics to the guest using whacky metaphors.

    So my question is: "What aspect of physics would Rich like explained?"

  25. - Top - End - #55
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    Is there any particular part of the D&D 3e rules that "gets in the way" of your story more consistently than others? I mean, it doesn't really get in the way because it's swept aside the moment it becomes inconvenient, but I hope the question makes sense.
    Last edited by Morty; 2015-04-24 at 06:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    Which Oots book did you enjoy the most?

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    Can you list all the material you created for the 3.5 books that you contributed too? IIRC the acid shark is one, but I don't know of any others specifically.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    I'm not a fan of fanfiction as a concept. It's probably a generational thing, but I don't really understand the point—what does the author get out of it? It runs counter to every reason I have for wanting to write and create, so it just seems like a huge waste of time
    I find this interesting, as I believe OOTS has things in common with fanfiction: you start from an established universe (the rules of D&D, the character races, classes, spells available to you) and then create a story within those pre-existing elements. You also have some characters (for instance the gods) that are your own spin on existing characters (Your Thor is not anyone else's Thor, but he has things in common with other Thors or he wouldn't be Thor at all). And while you follow what was established before you, it can all go out the window for the sake of plot (the minutia of the rules is less important than the story).

    So I would think that what a fanfiction author gets out of it is probably similar to whatever you get out of having the comic set in D&D universe rather than its own fantasy world, which may include for instance: using elements you like from someone you admire, sharing them with other people who also enjoy the original material, getting to poke fun at elements from it, "fixing" things you don't like in the original material by making it different in your own work, and telling your own story within it.
    And the fact that it was D&D based probably helped it take off, as people tend to be more interested in something the can recognize at least a little rather than something completely new. Similarly, I think a lot of writers write fanfiction not just because they like the original material but also because they get more exposure that way than with completely original work.

    This is a little bit different for you specifically because you did work on D&D stuff personally, but even that probably came from a place of wanting to work on something you loved (but didn't personally create in the first place).

    Now, OOTS is not fanfiction: it as many more original elements than "borrowed" ones, the characters are pretty much all completely original for starters. Characters based on existing ones aren't based on a very specific person with a specific personality, but more on a concept. The only thing Thor has in common in all incarnation is "God of Thunder", so there is a lot of room for you to write him the way you want. Nobody has grounds to point and say "You're writing Thor WRONG!" (although of course they do anyway).
    But I can see enough similarities that "I don't understand what they get out of it" was a surprising answer for me to read.

    Anyway, I don't have a question, but I would like to say that I enjoy how planned your work is. Every time I re-read it, I notice more foreshadowing and that can't be easy to pull off, especially one soon-to-be-dissected update at a time. I also appreciate that you are open to criticism but not slave to it, which means it's possible to have an actual conversation with you without either side bullying the other.

  29. - Top - End - #59
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    A few questions I have had rolling around in some form for a while:

    What's your impression of the webcomic as medium? How do you see it as different from traditional paper comics, both in advantageous and disadvantageous ways? Related, do you think that Order of the Stick ever loses something in being committed to print? What is the biggest gain you see in putting the books in print?

    There are a few different fan translation projects on the forums here. What do you think would be necessary for you to be interested in having your work translated and published in another language? Would you even like for that to happen anyway?

    Let's say someone wanted to teach a course on comic literature, and wanted to use one of your books as a required text for the class. Assuming the teacher chose to use all of the online strips as course reading, but wanted to include one of the books in print, would you recommend one of the print-only prequels, or one of the compilations, and which one?

    If there were one plot decision you could go back and change, what would it be and if it wouldn't spoil something for the future, why?
    Linguist and Invoker of Orcus of the Rudisplorker's Guild
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    Fantasy literature is ONLY worthwhile for what it can tell us about the real world; everything else is petty escapism.
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    No author should have to take the time to say, "This little girl ISN'T evil, folks!" in order for the reader to understand that. It should be assumed that no first graders are irredeemably Evil unless the text tells you they are.

  30. - Top - End - #60
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default Re: Interview Questions For Rich

    No time to get to these tonight, but I did want to say:

    Parodies, critiques, and pastiches of an existing work are not really the same thing as fanfiction. Such forms borrow just enough to hook into the reader's mind what is being addressed and then proceed from there. The critical statements being made about the original are a transformative usage. What I don't understand about fanfiction is that most of the time it seems like it has nothing much to say about the original other than, "I wish it had gone another way," or "Wouldn't this be cool?" which I don't see the point of. If someone is using fanfiction to make a critique of the original, then that isn't really fanfiction anymore, seeing as such forms have been around for centuries. Don Quixote is a parody and pastiche of the then-dominant chivalric novels, but you would never call it fanfiction of them.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick, coming in December! Pre-order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs). (Also the 2020 OOTS Calendar!)

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