It was famous comic people night in Anne’s head

I had a beautifully long post here about a very strange dream I had.

I met comic author Lea Hernandez and her son at the supermarket, and they helped me find the right yarn for the project I want to knit (it was in the refrigerated section between the Coca Cola and the milk), and we all got free cookies that Fox picked out because i won a contest at the supermarket.

Then I went to a party with my friend Steen and her daughter at a ski lodge, where some of the guests from another party, including Neil Gaiman, thought our party was cooler so they joined us. (Neil had planned to hang out with Scott McCloud and Amanda Palmer, but Scott was sick and Amanda was in New Zealand. Scott, if you’re reading this, get well soon! Amanda, I don’t know if you’re really in New Zealand right now, but it sounds awesome.)

Then we all went back to my house (which wasn’t my house – it was located where my parents house is, but it was my friend Camille’s parents’ mountain cabin from that trip we took 20 years ago) but we got lost on the way. This happens so often in my dreams that it didn’t even stress me out (this time). Friends shouldn’t let friends dream and drive. But if you have to dream and drive, it helps to invest in a good dream-based GPS, which apparently I had with me, in the purse I carried in high school.

Once at my house, we figured out who would be sleeping where (Steen and her kid got the big bed because there was a Tinkerbell decal with “Christine” over the bed, and Neil Gaiman was totally OK with taking one of the two twin air mattresses on the floor. My brother took the other one.) and we got down to the task of partying, which consisted of some people jamming on the guitar, others talking about writing, and still others playing Killer Bunnies.

The reason I wrote this beautifully long post was because as I wrote it, I realized that a whole bunch of situations that would have totally stressed me out when awake (like, how do you ask an autistic kid to help you at the supermarket? Is it rude to just assume he could and would help? And how do you say “Just pull up a chair,” to Neil. Fucking. Gaiman? And is it really OK to give the only guest bed to the person with the kid when you have people with bad backs and people who get cold easily and famous people in the house? And why do all my dream parties look like high school theater cast parties?) totally failed to stress me out at all.

In fact, I woke up because in the dream I was starting to stress out about what I looked like and suddenly had the need to put makeup on (which, by the way, I screwed up. I painted lip gloss on my eyeball, trying to use the lip gloss as eye shadow) and guests started asking me questions like “Do you really think Neil Gaiman wants to be at YOUR party?” and I realized I must be dreaming because I hadn’t been stressed out about this stuff the whole night and it was stupid to put on makeup just because someone famous I wanted to be friends with was at my party.

It turns out I am a much better person when my left brain is asleep, because my right brain doesn’t care if people might be offended or might think I’m a no-talent hack or stupid or ugly or I haven’t updated my comic in months. My right brain says, “say hi, be polite, and you might get something awesome.”

My left brain tries to put green lip gloss on my eyeball to make me look pretty for my guests, all the while telling me I can’t possibly look pretty enough for them to like me. Like whether I look nice was going to matter to Lea Hernandez and her son.

And then I had to exit the post for a split second because of an incoming text message, and WordPress ate the entire goddamned beautiful post.

I lost easily a half hour of writing, nuance, and description on a dream that it now rapidly fading from my mind as it’s replaced by grouchy dog whining.

So goodbye beautiful post and beautiful dream, good morning world, and fuck you WordPress app. I’m going to go feed the dogs.

This train adventure

I’m one of a small number (40?) of people attending a seminar on storytelling using comics today and tomorrow in New York City, run my none other than Scott McCloud.

(I’m on my iPhone so I’m not looking up the URL for his website. If you’ve never heard of him, google him.)

Anyway, I’m really excited – or I would be if I hadn’t had to get up at 4:30 to catch a train. The last time I was on a train I was knee high to a grasshopper and I find myself extremely nervous even though it’s an almost brainless trip to get from here to NYC. I don’t even need to change trains in philly.

A good part of the nervousness so probably because I’m travelling alone – something I never ever do if I can avoid it.

The weather is grey and damp as if the sun isn’t sure why it’s up this early either, but the train conductors are friendly and everyone seems to know where they’re going. The seats on the train are comfy – a lot like airplane seats but with more leg room.

Aaaand we’re in Philly… Roughly 30 minutes from when I left Paoli. Not bad, beats driving.

All in all so far I’m liking this train adventure.

On comics, from two different angles

First, I think I might have actually found a way around the now-infamous elevator comic that has stalled Night Fugues for months.

Second, I spent a significant amount of time today harassing my fellow Information Architects about a Boxes and Arrows podcast that implied there was a difference between storyboards and comics, at least as far as the artifacts of the design process are concerned. Since I’m coming from the comic side of that dichotomy I thought it would be important to know the difference between a “design” comic and a “normal” comic, especially since I thought storyboards were comics. A storyboard is a piece of sequential art that expresses design and behavior of a system through a story that provides insight into the user’s mental/emotional state, which pretty much defines “comic” , so what the heck?

A conversation with my mentor led me to a conversation with another excellent IA, which led me to a printout of a presentation from this year’s IA Summit discussing how you could use a comic instead of a storyboard to present design ideas. That presentation was done by Kevin Cheng one of the creators of OK/Cancel, a design-oriented webcomic I’ve been reading for years, and it recommended the same books for writing comics to express design that I own in order to improve my comic production skills — Will Eisner and Scott McCloud and company.

So, having read the presentation and worked with storyboards for design (even though I’m not first-hand familiar with either one from start to finish) I’m willing to take the chance and summarize the difference between a storyboard and a comic when it comes to design.

Storyboards are comics by the definition of any comic author anywhere. But in storyboards, the panels generally concentrate on the screens and their functionality, business and user goals, and similar sawdust-flavored information.

A comic (as stated above) is is a piece of sequential art that expresses something through the act of telling a story. A comic (like any piece of fiction and some nonfiction) is generally showing the growth of the main character through their interaction with other characters, their environment, or themselves. A comic visually provides insight into the user’s mental/emotional state as well as that interaction with their surroundings.

A design comic (which is where we use the comic to express the design of a piece of software) keeps the same character focus that we find in standard comic strips and comic books. It uses sequential art to express high level design ideas (probably pre-wireframes) to add clarity to the growing user scenarios and situations, and share the user’s growth through the

Or to sum up really quick and easy, storyboards are a) more likely to be higher fidelity detailed designs or wireframes, b) more likely to express business goals and user goals in the margins instead of in the comic, and c) really really boring to read.

*Updated 4/24 at 7:12 am when I not trying to type on the iPhone while falling asleep, and thus could correctly link and close tags.

Where does the time go?

Someone asked me the other day what I do when I say I didn’t do anything a given weekend or evening. Well, there’s…

  • writing or drawing the comic
  • working on the Online Comics Day 2007 site
  • working on this site
  • reading comics
  • reading books about drawing comics
  • knitting
  • playing Final Fantasy 12
  • cursing at the laptop because it froze up
  • taking walks with my husband
  • date night
  • playing Final Fantasy 3
  • reading my email
  • hanging out on the forum
  • playing with the pudge dog
  • playing Solitare Til Dawn
  • watching Nighthawk play Oblivion
  • baseball!
  • and I’m sure a bunch of other stuff I’ve forgotten.

So my apologies that I haven’t been around much… some of this stuff will be dropping off the list as I either finish it or lose interest again. The comic and the blog aren’t going away, just sometimes I get quiet.