Back-up Vocal~ We proceed with the next installment of a story that frankly, threw me a curveball. That can happen, especially when I leave an idea just enough breathing room for new information to fit itself in the larger picture. While reading the December 2020-January 2021 issue of “Rock Candy Magazine“- Issue #23, I got drawn into an article exploring Skid Row making one of their albums of the late ’80s. Honestly, I was never really a fan of their work. But long-time readers will know of my fascination with recording studio stories, regardless of the band in question. I was quickly rewarded for my time spent with those particular pages, as one of the group members discussed the need to quit “chasing the demo”. One needs to quit infuriating themselves trying to re-create the spontaneity they captured on tape with their original and often rough recording of a song idea. Attempts to replicate that moment when they enter a studio to record the song for real can lead to extreme frustration and gets financially costly fast. Studio time is a harsh mistress. While I understood what was meant, I had never heard the expression before, even in all my years of reading musician interviews. Time was on my side, as I read the article just a few months before starting to craft this Comic. Even more fortunate for me, I already knew that Soxx had to be the one to utter that magical phrase and I built all the dialogue around it. 

The previous “Viking/Disco” concept album story arc proved to be the start of a new approach to development. The first Panel of dialogue wrote the second Panel, the second wrote the third and the third wrote the fourth, whilst I followed and edited as I went. I make no claim to any type of genius in this particular style of yarn-spinning. It was merely the direction the machine took on its own. There are pros and cons to it. The downside is that the story can take its own sweet time working itself out and nothing I do will make it move faster. It could be weeks or months before I grasp it myself and the conclusion is often left to me to suss out. One of my most crucial jobs is to end the story before I write myself into a corner with too many active ideas stacked like pancakes before the tale is done. The upside is that a further direction may come to light, even while I’m hammering out the Comic I have in progress. Such was the case here. When I began Panel 4, I found there was still more potential for this current anecdote than I knew when I started it. That, Beloveds, is the road we travel next.

Finally, it is important to note that this Comic marked the beginning of a change for the future of “Mannyacs”©. Shortly before starting this one, I applied some of the Stimulus monies Uncle Sam afforded us, and bought a Samsung tablet. After brief experiments with two other graphic design apps, I spoke to a few fellow webcomics folk, and they each recommended Clip Studio Paint as right the program for my needs (it’s a free download, so the price was right). They deploy the program for everything they make. I wasn’t willing to go quite so far. All of my props and scenery have been done in Adobe software for years, and I felt no need to reinvent the wheel. It was vital to maintain as much structural integrity as I could to preserve the look and vibe of the world I’ve already got. The tricky part has been that since the app is free, there don’t seem to be official instruction books available- at least none that I’ve found. What I do understand of it has come from YouTube tutorials and exploring on my own. I’ve learned to use Clip Studio Paint by drawing for my Comics in it. The Comic above is the first one where I used the app and I’m still getting things figured out. From this point forward, my creations will feature my characters drawn in Clip Studio Paint, with most of the remaining ingredients-including speech balloons and dialogue-done in Photoshop and Illustrator. The look won’t be a drastic change, just a slightly updated approach that lets me eliminate some of the more tedious aspects of software work. Here’s hoping you all enjoy where we’re headed.