I Like Nathan Fielder.

Direct YouTube Link

I’ve been trying to keep the weekly updates to this blog “on topic” (that topic of course being ME, ME, ME!!), but last week was busy and exhausting so I didn’t really have time to write anything.

So this week’s blog entry is a few links to YouTube videos featuring Nathan Fielder. The above clip is from his current show Nathan For You. It’s essentially a prank show, only funnier and less mean-spirited than the typical fare.

The second season of Nathan For You premieres on Comedy Central on July 1st. Check it! And if you enjoyed the above clip, here are a few segments Fielder did for the CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes:

Continue reading I Like Nathan Fielder.

Genuine Imitations

proofcloseupPictured: Tonoharu: Part One Proof Detail

Until the latter half of the twentieth century, most books were printed on a letterpress. Rows of raised metal letters were arranged on a block, inked, and then pressed into the paper. The pressure required to transfer the ink created an indentations on the printed page. Master printers strived to have the letterpress “kiss the paper”; to use only as much pressure as was strictly necessary to transfer the ink, leaving the paper as smooth and indentation-free as possible.

These days, laypeople reproduce documents on photocopies and laser printers, and most books are printed using offset lithography. These technologies leave no indentations on the page at all, and are considerably cheaper, easier, and more versatile than a letterpress.

So when letterpress printing is employed now, it’s for aesthetic rather than practical reasons. The designer wishes to evoke a traditional/classic feel that letterpress printing imbues. And the main characteristic that distinguishes letterpress printing from modern methods is the indentations.

So rather than try to eliminate them, modern letterpress printers try to make the indentations as obvious as possible. They use durable, thick paper stocks, and apply as much pressure as they can to really dig those letters in. What was once a defect has become a feature.

These thoughts occurred to me as I was preparing files for the forthcoming Tonoharu: Part One paperback. The hardcover editions Tonoharu were printed on cream-colored paper stock, but I’ve since learned there’s a more cost effective way to get a similar effect. It’s actually cheaper to print on the interior pages on standard white paper, and then coat the page with cream-colored ink to simulate cream paper stock.

At first blush this seems completely counterintuitive. Can you imagine trying to save money by doing this on an ink jet printer? But commercial printers play by a different set of rules. And if makes sense when you think about it. Mixing inks is a lot easier and cheaper than making colored paper from scratch, so rather than having small qualities of a million different colored papers, they can just buy white paper in bulk and custom mix ink to whatever hue their customers want.

The simulated cream paper is cheaper than actual cream paper, but it’s not free of course. Giving the pages of Tonoharu the cream treatment added about 10% to my production costs.

So basically, I’m paying a premium to make the pages of Tonoharu look like they’ve been yellowed with age; to give them a more “natural” feel than the artificial, bleached white paper. It’s kind of ironic, right? I’m taking great pains to obscure the actual paper stock in order to foster the appearance of authenticity. I thought that was kind of funny.

2012 Year in Review

Pictured: The key to happiness (apparently).

At the end of July 2011, I started teaching English in Japan for the second time. The first time was from 2003 to 2006; this experience that served as a basis for my ongoing graphic novel Tonoharu. I enjoy teaching (for the most part), but that’s not why I returned to it

As documented on this blog, I spent a couple years drawing comics full time. This endeavor was fairly successful when looked at through a certain lens. It spawned two sold out printings, a decent amount of media coverage, and French and Spanish language editions of my work.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t as successful in financial terms. I managed to make *some* money off my work, but never the opulent heights of a sustainable living wage. As such, my savings slowly but surely dwindled as the months went by. Eventually they reached an uncomfortable low. I needed to regroup, refill the coffers a bit, and decide where I wanted to go from there. It was time to bite the bullet and get a day job again. Teaching wasn’t my calling or anything, but it’s a decent way to earn a living. So back to it I went.

The teaching program I’m in has yearly contracts that are renewable annually for up to five years. From the get-go, I figured I’d do at least two years; I didn’t see the point in uprooting my whole life and moving to the other side of the world for just twelve months. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what I’d do. I figured I’d see how the job treated me and decide based on that.

Flash forward to August 2012. I had just gotten back from a vacation in the US, and was starting my second year as a teacher.

At that point, I was feeling pretty lukewarm about my whole situation. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, opting for a vague sense of security at the expense of what I really cared about. I had only just started my second year, and was already fantasizing about an escape plan once my contract was up.

But then in the weeks that followed, something changed. This change wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was profound enough to inspire me to not only to sign up for a third year, but to put me in a frame of mind that I’m seriously considering doing four or five. Continue reading 2012 Year in Review

Website Maintenance This Weekend

As I wrote in this entry, my website’s CPU usage is higher than it should be. I’ve optimized what I could, except for one thing: my website’s theme is pretty out of date, so I’m going to try update it this weekend with a new one and see if that helps.

If I were a web programming pro, I’d figure out how to do it offline and then upload it once I had it perfect. But I’m too lazy to figure out how to do that, so I’m just going to do it live.

My website’s content should be available all weekend, but it’s appearance etc. might be a bit weird while I’m tweaking it, just FYI.

5/20/2012 UPDATE: I’ve made fairly significant under-the-hood changes, which *hopefully* should improve my website’s CPU usage enough so I can start promoting it again without killing my host. Unfortunately, the host only updates my CPU usage once every 24 hours, so I’m still not sure if my changes helped (or hurt?) things yet.

So I’m going to keep this boring default wordpress theme up for now, and see how the site does. If my CPU usage goes down, I’ll probably go in and tweak the look of the site to make it prettier, and re-add in features like twitter feeds and nonsense like that.

It’s super-duper cool that my website is getting more traffic now (even ten days after reddit brought all that traffic here, my site’s still getting 3-5 times as many daily visitors as usual). But it’s also funny that because I’m so close to my CPU limit, I’ve had to postpone updates,  and haven’t been able to promote my work because I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. Ah well.

In any event, I will have a new comic up the first week of June, though not on this site. Can’t give any more details yet, but I’ll let you know when it’s up and where it is. Thanks all!

Out Sick

I’ve been fighting off a nasty cold for most of the week, so no blog entry today. Next Friday, hopefully!

***9/2/2011 UPDATE*** Feeling better, but decided to give myself another week off, so I can spend the time preparing for my lessons which will start on Wednesday. Hopefully I’ll have time to put up a new blog entry next week!

***9/9/2011 UPDATE*** Just in case anyone out there is waiting with bated breath for a new entry, I should be able to get to it this weekend. It will not be worth the wait. :-/

Lars Recommends: Retro Game Master

Retro Game Master Homepage

As I confessed in a previous entry, I enjoy watching people play video games. I don’t know if it’s because it evokes nostalgic memories of passing around the NES controller at sleepovers, or maybe I enjoy it for the same reason that normal people enjoy watching sports. Whatever the reason, I’ve spent countless hours watching YouTube videos of complete strangers documenting their video game playthroughs.

When I first started watching them, I remember thinking that this form of entertainment couldn’t exist without the internet. It was to too weird and niche; I figured it just didn’t have enough commercial potential to warrant mainstream production/distribution.

As it turns out, I was wrong. In 2003, Fuji TV introduced a show called Game Center CX in Japan. During its first season, GCCX resembled any old video game show, with developer interviews and game previews taking center stage.

Beginning with the second season, the focus changed, and the show began to center around the host’s attempts to beat classic video games, from start to finish, in just a day (or occasionally, two or three days). The funny thing is, the host, Japanese comedian Shinya Arino, kind of sucks at games. He’s just so cute and good-natured you can’t help but cheer him on. I’ve been a fan of the show since I first discovered it five years ago.

I’ve always wanted to recommend the show to my video game loving friends in the States, but since it was in Japanese I always abstained. So I’m pleased to announce that the video game website Kotaku has started running episodes of the show with subtitles (and a somewhat irritating dubbed in English announcer). So check it out!

Retro Game Master Homepage

My favorite episode that they’ve run so far: Solomon’s Key