A History of Guinea Something Good (Part Three)
(Continued from Part Two.) Now, I thought it would be interesting to go through all the changes that have happened with GSG, and what they have meant for the evolution of the strip. As I said, it's been a constant evolution, dictated by gut feelings and intuition. With fTGP, I can very clearly tell you what the purpose of the comic is, what the format is, and what it's hoping to accomplish. With GSG, all I can say is, it should be funny, it should have Joe and George as central characters, and it should retain whatever it is that is at its essence. But beyond that, the intellectualization stops. The image above shows panels from every strip that took GSG into a new direction. 1 - http://joegp.com/signs/ - This was the first GSG strip made. 1.5 - http://joegp.com/like-one-of-the-family/ (not pictured) - The first strip to get rid of the GSG title card and in so doing, eliminate the 10th panel, bringing each GSG strip down to 9 panels in length. Also experimented with word balloons made of gray blobs. 2 - http://joegp.com/non-prophet/ - Here was the first instance of colored backgrounds and a brief experimentation with colored word balloons. 3 - http://joegp.com/lunar-letdown/ - Here was the first major shift for GSG. Up until this point, there was only one pose for Joe and George and all the random guinea pigs, and backgrounds were still mostly white. But with this strip, I had started taking GSG more seriously - I took it off of fTGP's Facebook page and given it it's own website, and was updating it 3-5 times a week. I wanted to be able to do more with it, so I created about 10 poses for each character and started drawing very simple backgrounds for every strip. 4 - http://joegp.com/dolphin-smarts/ - This was the first strip where I broke my 9-panel layout. Every strip before had either 10 or 9 panels. I extended this by 3, giving it 12 panels. 5 - http://joegp.com/eco-friend/ - In an effort to get rid of extraneous panels and tighten up the writing, I stopped making 9 panel comics. This was the first of many 6-panel comics. 6 - http://joegp.com/frozen-yoga/ - This was the first comic I allowed myself to resize the panel to open up the staging. Up until this point, each panel was made using Flash's default width and height. 7 - http://joegp.com/kung-fool/ - This was the first comic (I think) where I started experimenting with creating custom poses for individual comics. 8 - http://joegp.com/quotemaster/ - This was the first 3-panel comic. 9 - http://joegp.com/the-power-of-darkness/ - This comic marked a very dynamic shift in the presentation of the comic. Instead of presenting comics in page format, I decided to try to utilize the web presentation to its maximum effect, and simply stacked widescreen panels one on top of the other. This was arguably the biggest shift since creating new poses, as now panel count was completely determined by each individual comic. 10 - http://joegp.com/exercise-2-0/ - Here comes my first reversal. While the widescreen panels were great for a scrolling website that could stack images on top of each other, it made the possibilities of sharing comics across social networks virtually impossible. I decided to move back to a more traditional presentation, while continuing to experiment with panel layout. 11 - http://joegp.com/follow-along/ - The most extreme change yet. I replaced the dull, desaturated color palette from all the previous comics with a bright and colorful look. I hand drew each panel, shading the characters and giving the whole thing an extremely cartoony makeover. 12 - http://joegp.com/enthusitastic/ - After a few strips in the cartoony style, I decided it was just too anthropomorphized to retain the flavor of GSG. These were supposed to be real looking guinea pigs, not cartoon characters. I brought back the static images of Joe and George, but kept the bright color palette. I decided that I had taken GSG in the wrong direction - GSG shouldn't have expressive characters at all - it should have very clearly cut and paste artwork that looked stilted. I dropped all the poses of each character down to two each, and put shadows behind the characters and word balloons so as to clearly showcase how flat the artwork was. 13 - http://joegp.com/a-poignant-quotation/ - The latest change, enacted only two days ago. This is a compromise between the cartoony direction and the overly-flat direction. I decided I ALMOST got it right with both changes, but I needed something in the middle. The point of GSG ISN'T that the artwork is copy-pasted, that it's flat and lifeless. But it's ALSO not that these are expressive characters that are like cartoons. It's that these characters are, in fact, GUINEA PIGS, who by their very nature of BEING guinea pigs are not very expressive and don't move around very much. The copy-paste artwork simply REPRESENTED the immobility of guinea pigs. But how much better to actually show them AS guinea pigs - as much like guinea pigs as possible. Now, every time one of these changes happened, I inevitably heard feedback damning me for it. And I can definitely understand this. When you're following a series that you like, you want it to remain the thing that you liked. You don't want it to change into something you don't like. So any change is viewed as hostile until proven otherwise. I hope with this latest change, I can either prove it's not hostile, or learn that it is, at which point I would revert GSG once again to a more original state. These changes are not taken haphazardly or without forethought. On the contrary, I think about these things on and on, and perhaps never STOP thinking about them. My goal is to make a great comic, and now, with animated content and games, to make a great series. To be able to do so, I must be able to look ahead to where the series can grow, as well as back to what made the series what it was. Thank you for being a part of the journey.