Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Three Panels



Is it funny, or is it not funny? Is it merely amusing, or does it make you wonder how I can fail so spectacularly at humor?

How do those webcomic makers do it, anyway?

Starting from Sassy Lawyer's original image, I figured that I could make three copies of the suman latik picture and add dialogue to produce a makeshift webcomic. This is the approach that is successfully employed by Rob Balder's PartiallyClips, which uses comedic script with copyright-free clip art.

On the other hand, I'm probably as far away from Rob Balder and his webcomic as I'm ever going to get at the moment.

It's strangely difficult, trying to write script for a comic whose three panels are all exactly the same. You lose quite a lot of development material right there. It's even more difficult, considering that written humor isn't exactly my forte.

I knew, definitely, that the primary speakers were going to be the unwrapped suman in the foreground ("Suman1"), and the one in the dark wrapper sitting just behind the plate ("Suman2", seeing that it was easy to pick out from the rest of its crowd). My first draft was actually somewhat risque:

PANEL 1:

Suman1: Have you ever realized that we, as suman latik, are representative of pornography as a whole?

Suman2: Dude, lighten up already.


PANEL 2:

Suman1: No, I'm serious, man. I mean, we're long and thick. We exude a sticky substance. People put sugar on us, and then put us in their mouths.

Suman1: We're practically walking phallic symbols here. If we could walk, that is.

Suman2: ...


PANEL 3

Suman1: What? Was it something I said?

Suman2: Whoa, dude. You're naked.


The punchline was completely out of left field, yes. Not quite what I was expecting.

I was prepared to use the comic based on this script for the longest time, but I think my personal censorship jurors got to me. (They apparently didn't stop me from putting the original script up, though.)

I spent two or three nights thinking up more scripts for the three-panel setup. While I knew that I wanted the result to be funny, I didn't know exactly how to make it work. How do those webcomic creators do it?

Interestingly enough, the scripts ended up becoming more and more wretched. I guessed that the loss of the original joke had hit my mental faculties hard, and now the ol' synapses were flailing for something - anything - that was even remotely funny. I did a few culture jokes, a couple of awkward ones... generally the stuff that I wouldn't show over here for fear that you'd sic the angry mob on me. :)

Here's one of the stranger results, for example:

PANEL 1:

Suman2: Honorable sensei, what must I do to reach true enlightenment?

Suman1: Seek the path without seeking the path, young one. Know the measure of the void. Contemplate the many faces of solitude.


PANEL 2:

Suman2: Umm... Sensei, that was what you told me LAST week.

Suman1: Enlightenment is not a goal that is easily attained, young one. You must transcend the self... the mind... the soul.


PANEL 3

Suman2: You're only saying that because somebody unwrapped you and slathered you in sauce.

Suman1: Omm... ommmmm...

Yep, this was one of the saner ones. Kind of makes you shudder at what the other entries could have been, right?

So I guess I'm going to be stuck being a writer for a while. I'll leave the funny three-panel webcomics to their established creators, particularly Rob Balder. If anything, this entire exercise has given me a profound appreciation for the nature of his comic.

But hey, look at it this way: I just got you to read over six hundred words on the usage of suman latik as a webcomic subject. :)

Peace, everyone. I'll see you next week, on the Suman Latik Web Ring:



Polio vaccine developer
French for "clearly"
Goo Goo Dolls hit from "City of Angels"
Toni Tennille's partner
Administrative officer of a college
Casey Jones in the Turtle movies
US College Basketball's "Human Highlight Film"
Texan Senator, Republican, District 31
Kamikaze feline
What you don't know

7 comments:

Jac said...

"What you don't know"? :)

Sean said...

Creative license. :)

Elbert said...

A nice caption for your suman latik photo would be:

Suman: "Dude, he came on you!"

Gaea's Apprentice said...

I hear there is a fine line between genius and madness...

Sean said...

Elbert: Ewwwwww. :)

Legion: I pray that, one day, I shall not only muster the strength to approach that line, but throw up on it in a drunken stupor. :)

schoolboy said...

somehow, they remind me of the tachikomas...

Sean said...

Hey, Ghost in the Shell! I love the Tachikomas!