Terror Island
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Terror Island Production and Publishing Guide

Here's our process, carefully presented in such a way that "Art" is divided into three of the five steps:

Step 1: Writing
We start by working out the basic premise and then writing a loose script over AIM. Storyline ideas are worked out months in advance, but without very many details. We bounce ideas off one another until we get something we can agree will work, then try to fit it into four panels. The punchline usually comes last, and often changes during the later steps.

Step 2: Staging
Next, I take the characters the strip needs, as well as whatever props we're using, and set them up on a nearby surface. This can be as simple as "Sid and Stephen standing next to each other on a table" or as complex as Jame's restaurant, where I had tables to arrange, a hat to make, lights to position, &c. Even that wasn't all that intensive, though, since I don't spend anywhere near as much time on this step as a professional-type photographer probably would.

Step 3: Photographing
This is the simplest step. I take a few pictures (generally 10 per panel), moving the pieces in between as required by the plot. I try to keep in mind where the speech bubbles will end up being, so that the composition doesn't get too messed up, but as you may have noticed, I don't focus on this too much. The dialogue tends to change from the initial script anyway.

Step 4: Photoshop
Once I've chosen the pictures that I'll use for the strip, I open them in Photoshop, add text and speech bubbles, scale them down, crop as needed, and put them on a template consisting of a white background with the URL and copyright. Most of the time during this step is spent tweaking the dialogue to be more ellipse-shaped.

Step 5: Webmastering
Once I have the completed file, I send it to Lewis. He lets me know if he sees any problems with it, and then I fix them. We think up several ideas for title text, pick the objectively best one, and then write our comments. Finally, Lewis goes through some process that puts the strip on the website. I'm not sure how that's set up.

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© 2008 Ben Heaton & Lewis Powell, All Rights Reserved