Tag Archives: disciplinary action adventures

Disciplinary Action Adventures: Laws, Sausages, and Comics

I get a lot of emails asking me how I create Disciplinary Action Adventures each week. I thought it might be interesting for aspiring and fellow cartoonists, as well as fun for readers, to see what goes on behind the scenes to create a World of Warcraft cartoon.

1. THE SEED OF AN IDEA

The first stirrings of a comic begin when I think of something funny to write about. For me, this is almost always a single line or character facial expression that makes me laugh. Frequently I’ll wake up with a clear sentence in my head that demands to be explained, and it goes from there.

Insider Moment: For Episode #1, it was “WTB Boobies”, which I overheard on a crowded trade chat. In Episode #2, the phrase “SPLORT!” came to me during lunch. These things cannot be explained.

2. THE POST-IT NOTE OF AN IDEA

Once I have the key phrase, I generally flesh out the comic in an extremely poorly-drawn sketch. These are usually perpetrated on Post-It notes (which I always keep handy), or, if I’m feeling fancy, notepaper. They’re unlovely but help me block out the number of panels I’m going to need and firm up the actual text of the comic. I pull the Post-Its into general coherency with a final, single-page draft of the comic:

 

The horror! The horror!!

 

3. CREATING THE BOILERPLATE

My first order of business is to pull up my blank comic template in Photoshop and start sketching out the frames.

 

Good morning, computer! Computer?

 

I load in the header, which is the same for each comic, and change Liala’s talk bubble in the heading.

 

Clearly this is one was the product of sleep deprivation

 

The next part is certainly one of the most tedious for me, which is blocking out and then drawing the frames. I’ll reference my original sketch, but start to rework the flow if more or fewer panels are needed to keep the page looking uncluttered. The comic is organized by left page and right page, and then by frame within each page. It helps keep the multiple layers (having over a hundred per comic is not unusual) straight in my head.

 

Organization, I has it

 

4. ADDING THE DIALOGUE

After the frames have been drawn, I go into each panel and add the dialogue roughly where I think it will fall in each panel. After that, I go back to each piece of dialogue and add the talk bubbles to the layers underneath.

 

Note to self: Be funny

 

 

5. CREATING THE CHARACTERS

At this point I have a pretty clear image in my head of how each panel will look: the size and placement of the dialogue helps to guide the ‘look’ of each panel, as well. With that information in my head, I open up WoW Model Viewer and create my first character. For new characters, I play around for a bit getting their hair, face, and clothing right, and then I begin to pose that character for each frame.

 

What is dis I are doing here?

 

 

I cut away the non-character background noise, and repeat the process for each panel that the character is in. At the end of the process I’m left with a single file with all of that character’s poses for the strip.

 

It's cool, ladies, there's plenty of Kachunk to go around!

 

 

6. POPULATING THE COMIC

Once all of the characters have a sheet of poses for each panel, I import each pose into the corresponding panel. At this point, everything looks ferociously untidy, but in fact it’s the most fun part of the process.

 

Disorganization, I has it

 

After that’s all set, I go into WoW, visit the location I want, and take a few screenshots to use in the background. After that’s done, the background gets sized and pasted into each panel.

 

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills...

 

Then it’s back into the panels to move and resize the characters, add the tails of the talk bubbles, and paint the shadows. This is when I go back through and make all the little changes or add details.

 

This is usually when I notice something that requires rebuilding the entire comic

 

 

A quick final check, and then it’s ready to post for my readers’ amusement and edification:

Disciplinary Action: Episode #6

The entire process, from idea to finished post, takes about ten to twelve hours, which I tend to spread out over two or three days.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about what goes on behind the scenes here at Disciplinary Action Adventuuuuuuuuures!

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Cataclysm Comic Contest: The Full Comic

The grand-prize winner of the Cataclysm Comic Contest was a bit of a challenge. In our discussion about the comic, Rades of the inestimable Orcish Army Knife told he me his heart belonged to engineering, the Horde, PvP- all excellent orcish qualities. But then we discovered a shared contempt: we both hate paladins. I had already read Rades’ truly excellent post, A Friend Avenged, and we both knew exactly which paladin we detested the most. Rades (and Gerk), this one’s for you.

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Did Lady RNG not favor you in the last Comic Contest? Need a perfect (free) holiday gift for that WoW-playing loved one? The next Comic Contest is headed your way December 17th! Follow @DiscoPriest on Twitter to get the latest news, and in the meantime catch up on episodes of Disciplinary Action Adventures you may have missed.
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Cataclysm Comic Contest Winner: The Single-Panel Comic

The Cataclysm Comic Contest winners came from all walks of life: a blood elf, a gnome, an orc. The second-place winner, Gnomeaggedon of the incomparable ‘Armageddon’s Coming!’, requested that his one-panel comic also include some reference to his boon companion and sometimes-foe Squidly, a Dranei.  When looking up their exploits on the armory, I discovered that Squidly was a mild-mannered healing Shaman, while Gnomeaggedon was a fire mage with an offspec of… fire. Add to that the gnomic love of PvP Gnomeaggedon expressed, and the type of comic the two friends required became blinding clear. Gnomeaggedon and Squidly, this one’s for you.

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Cataclysm Comic Contest Winner: Character Portrait

The Cataclysm Comic Contest has at long last drawn to a close. Lady RNG was employed to choose the winners, and comic creation commenced immediately. The third prize- a portrait of the character of your choosing in the style of Disciplinary Action Adventures- went to WoW Insider’s own Fox van Allen. Despite his misguided attempts to play a shadow priest, we like Fox and were delighted to portray his belf Foxlight, fabulous member of the Choose My Adventure series and redoubtable teen idol. Foxlight, this one’s for you.

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