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The Making of GWTP

You all asked for it, and here it finally is.. well, no, actually no-one asked for it. But we can read your mind and we just know you're wondering how we make this strip.

Step One: Write or Die
This is the part where Gijs threatens me (Jan. I'm a d00d, and it's pronounced Yahn) with sorts of unpleasant things if I don't have a script ready for the next strip. I sometimes end up frantically thinking of something mere minutes before he arrives.

I use a little program called Notespad to write the strips (you are writing this down, aren't you?). The finished script looks something like this (note the clever use of three dashes to separate panels):

48. Pssst..

"evil is afoot in the subterranean audio lair..."
(ci & ch tied up, back-to-back)
ch: this guy's a whacko!
sg (offscreen): i heard that!
"lala lalalalalalalala" (wavy, little music notes :-)
ci: yeah well, you'd have to be to play the smurf song looped!
sg (offscreen): i can *hear* you!
ci: and those stupid britney spears posters!
ch (embarassed): ehm, yeah.. how can anyone like *her*? i just keep looking and looking at them in disbelief.
ci (dryly): so i've noticed.
sg (offscreen): hey, would you mind not insulting me?
ci: this guy is just really, really sad.
sg (offscreen): helloo?? person with extremely good hearing over here!
I print out the script and Gijs gets cracking.

Step Two: Um, it involves pencils, I think...
Our artiste takes a LOT of time for every strip, and it shows. I believe there are a lot of scary technical details involved, so I'll let the G-man take over for this part:

Well, no, there aren't really any scary details involved, save for the phantoms, goblins, dragons, and other foul creatures surrounding my evil lair of art, where I do all my drawing (also known as my room).

One page takes me about 3 to 4 hours to complete and this time is divided into three phases which roughly take about the same ammount of time. In Phase one I begin with drawing the frames of the strip, this is very light, because in the end we'll add them with the computer for a crisp resultTM. It always takes me a lot of time to get started on a comic for some reason, so at this point we are about 10 minutes down the line. The frames are done, so it's time for the real work, drawing the characters. In phase one I only do the outline of the faces, position of the body and hands.

Right, that was phase 1, time for a break. When I drag myself back to my desk an hour (or more) later I start work on phase 2. In this phase I'll basically finish the drawing. I'll finish the faces (add eyes mouths, etc), draw the clothing and finish the hands. Also, this is the time when I do backgrounds. Now, most of the times there is very little in the way of backgrounds, so that usually doesn't take too much time.

End of phase 2. This is also the end of the first day, so the next day I start work on phase 3. This is the phase where normal cartoonist would pick up a black marker, pen and indian ink, or brush and indian ink. I don't. I don't ink, I hate inking, I suck at inking. My solution to this is, to trace the whole comic again with pencil. To get this as black as possible, I push very hard on the pencil (I frequently brake the tip) consequently it also ruins the paper. Erasing the pencil lines would still leave you with the outlines visible in the paper. On a sidenote, I use a 0.5 mm filler pencil and 180 grams paper.

And there you have it, when phase 3 is done, the "art" of the comic is done. Oh, and the picture below gives you an intermediate view of the comic, Cheng is still in phase 2, Cindy is in phase 3. Back to you Jan.

Step Three: Mailing the obvious
Well, when it's time to scan the new strip, I mail him or he mails me. We have actually developed a complicated system of numbers to efficiently get our message accross. An example:

Gijs mails me, saying "23".
I mail Gijs, replying "1".
Confused? Why, it's simple, when you have the translation:

23 = If you don't have a strip ready for next thursday i'll kill you!
On a related note, we need to scan today's strip. What time is good for you?

1 = Aaah! Don't hurt me! I, um, of course I have a strip ready! It's just that there's this OTHER stuff I have to do so can we please wait till 17:00 to scan the strip?
You see how optimized our correspondance is? That, folks, is the cornerstone of any succesful strip-writing/drawing duo.

Step Four: Scanning, cleanup and mumbling
When Gijs presents his new masterpiece, I go all "ooh! pretty!" and we scan it into Photoshop at 300dpi. We use the Threshold function to convert it into a clear black and white picture.

Then we add the frames, either using standard 4-panel frames or drawing new ones in Illustrator.

And I mumble while doing all this. It seems to be an essential part of the, strip-making process, so I know better than to change it.

Step Five: Balloons...
We started using Adobe Illustrator for the text balloons a while ago. It saves Gijs a lot of time and it allows us to resize the balloons to fit the text in. At this point we sometimes have to scrap a few words because they don't fit into the picture.

This is also when Gijs jokes about my overuse of ellipses (ellipsisses?)... Which is crazy... A well-placed ellipsis says more than a thousand pictures, after all... Don't you agree...?

Step Six: Wrappin' it up and takin' it home
After this, we flatten the picture and save it as a .TIF file for printing. Then we resize it to a height of 600 and save it as a .GIF for web publishing. No, there aren't any plans for an album yet, but as soon as there are, we're ready for it!

After we upload the strip, we check the statistics and the messageboard, and then it's time for some Atomic Bomberman! And guess who's da man? Yep. * -->