I made a comic for my dad's 60th birthday recently. It's the first time I've made a comic and the first time I've ever really dealt with making something in print. It was a lot more work than I expected, so I've got a whole new appreciation for comic book artists, inkers, colourists and writers. I basically learned a bunch of stuff that in hindsight should have been really obvious.
I screwed up:
- My margins. I just assumed that if I worked on Bristol board with an even margin on everything, I'd just be able to make it fit nicely when I scanned it and set the page. Of course, the physical paper size of Bristol board does not in fact match the aspect ratio of the classic printed comic book that I wanted to create. Thus, I have margins on the top and bottom of pages that are too large. Obviously.
- Where to focus my energy. I thought the colouring was going to be the bit that took forever. That, and cleaning up the line work and all that fiddly stuff. Turns out, Photoshop makes that stuff really fast if you just watch, like, 2 youtube videos and keep a simple palette (even then, I made some compositions overall too dark while others were too light). The bit that took me forever was figuring out what to actually put in the panels and then the physical act of hand drawing them. I should have applied what I'd learned from my actual career and lead with the user stories and got that bit down before worrying about the UI.
- The subject and style. Rabbits are basically expressionless blobs. They are terrible visual subjects for storytelling. I'd have had an easier time if I'd gone more cartoony and/or more fantastical.
- The story telling. I am not a writer. I do not know how to construct a story. I can barely string a blog post together. Comics are apparently 99% creative writing and creative writing is so, so hard.
I got an email a few weeks ago from a German technology magazine asking me some questions about Progressive Web Apps. I responded, but the email eventually bounced and I assume the sender never got my reply so I don't know - can a print magazine go out of business that quickly?
I was thinking about the questions, though, and the answers I wrote. They wanted to know how we came up with the name (it's really boring) and what I thought about native apps (meh), and would there be hybridisation (probably, inevitably).
I accidentally helped name this thing because it's essentially core to Alex's work these days. I'm more of a sounding board / humaniser than an active designer of the thing. Ultimately, we talk about it because I really care about the web - the open web - and sometimes I wonder if it's too late to save it - which we find a depressing topic, but one we dwell on a lot.
I mean, we can't even reliably do email still, apparently (I know they're not the same), and we've got bullshit things like AMP essentially screwing up what it even means to have a website at all. AMP is a symptom that someone, somewhere, thinks the web is failing so badly (so slow, so unresponsive) for a portion of the world that they want to take all the content and package it back up in a sterile, un-webby, branded box. That makes me so sad. PWAs, to me, are a potential treatment.
I keep seeing folks (developers) getting all smart-ass saying they should have been PW "Sites" not "Apps" but I just want to put on the record that it doesn't matter. The name isn't for you and worrying about it is distraction from just building things that work better for everyone. The name is for your boss, for your investor, for your marketeer. It's a way for you to keep making things on the open web, even those things that look really "app-y" and your company wants to actually make as a native app, 3 times over. They don't want you to make websites anymore, but you still can if you're sneaky, if you tell them it's what they think they want.
It's marketing, just like HTML5 had very little to do with actual HTML. PWAs are just a bunch of technologies with a zingy-new brandname that keeps the open web going a bit longer, that helps it compete with the proprietary, the closed, until the next thing (and hopefully the next thing) comes along to keep it sharp and relevant. It's for the next billion users who come online and open a browser and go looking for what's out there, for those users who have to pay per mb for their downloads, who have old shitty phones, who don't want to, or can't, be on a native-app-based operating system.
Remember, this is for everyone. The name isn't.
I became a US Citizen today.
I'm still British. It turns out that it's actually relatively difficult to lose your British status - you actually have to apply to give it up. "Dual-citizen" is one of those weird international legal grey zones, but at least it's understood and known to be a thing in both countries. Here's hoping I remember which passport to use when.
It's not a popular time to become American, not that being British (with all the colonial baggage that comes with it) is really that much better. The leadership in both countries is somewhat up the creek without a paddle at this point, but at least now I can actually vote (and yes, I am voting in tomorrow's UK General Election).
Plus, now Alex and I share a nationality and that security feels good. It's the end of a long administrative process we started in 2013 to ensure that we could always stay together.
I recognise the immense privilege I have to obtain a second nationality in another first world democratic country. You don't generally get the choice in your first nationality, and getting the opportunity for a second is basically winning some kind of life lottery.
One of the reasons I've enjoyed attending a school studio to learn oil painting is that someone else is setting constraints to push my skills. I'm a really, really slow painter it turns out. My first oil painting (the fox below) probably took me 20 hours, over a number of weeks. I'm happy with the outcome, but it wasn't helping me progress and try new things to paint this slowly all the time.
So, my constraint for the last month has been having to do an entire painting in one 3-hour studio session, working wet-on-wet (alla prima). Here's what I produced during this time.
It's been pretty liberating and I don't think they turned out too bad.