Theeeere we go. Took a few tries to get this thing jump-started this week, but now it’s turning over. Brains!
Anyway, I’m not really sure I didn’t use a “let your hair down” joke at some point previously, but I think it was probably at least a year ago and, hey, it felt right.
Really, having a telepath around in mixed company seems like a really bad idea for everyone except the telepath. Think how frustrating it must be to play Pictionary against her. Think how annoying it would be for the DM to want to fudge a roll for the sake of the story.
In wholly unrelated news: if you enjoy screenshot-based inter-franchise media juxtaposition humor with Futura-font captions but are in the mood for something in more of a contemporary-drama-meets-classic-sitcom vein, you may enjoy this dumb thing I did last night during a fit of mania:
Click on through there for the full FULL HOUSE of CARDS image set, there’s seven or eight total. I’d have done more of them but it turns out there are very, very few memorable lines from Full House and also I really don’t care very much because, ugh, Full House.
One of the tricky things about adding Lwaxana to the strip is that I don’t necessarily want to make her actually move the conversation forward productively, game-wise, because it’s kind of fun to have her just be her nosy, brash, flirty busy-body self. I could probably just write her playfully bickering with the crew for a month without getting into any DS9 stuff, if I wasn’t careful. But we got things to do, so she’ll just have to behave a little.
She’s also not exactly easy to manage screenshots for, compared to most characters. Majel’d been on TNG as Lwaxana all of six times (and DS9 three) across the whole run of the shows, which means there’s not a lot of episodes to choose from, and worse still she changes outfits between every commercial break. So getting a suffient crop of different expressions in medium close-up shot with consistent costuming and lighting is way more of a challenge than even for one of the more fashion-mobile regular cast members like Deanna or Wes or Bev. It’s workable, it’s just a lot more work.
God bless Picard and his bald fringe and Starfleet uniform. Helping a dude out.
Keen students of TNG will sense the deep, dark undercurrent in that “only daughter” line, given the revelations of the season 7 episode Dark Page; keen students of Larp Trek will remember that if it ain’t happened by mid-late season 3, the Golden Rule says it’s at best a future possibility out in probability space, so we don’t have to worry about it here beyond maybe wincing a little bit. I do kind of wish my opening exchange here would have found its way into an actual earlier episode of TNG, though, because that would have made for one brilliant nasty subtle callback once Dark Page came along.
Decided to turn these into proper last-minute valentines, here ampoule so, here you go:
It took like six weeks for me to get around to having Lwaxana show up, but here we go. We’ll get into it properly next week. Fun fact: Majel Roddenberry is actually naked in that screenshot (I’ve got to put some actual time into getting decent Lwaxana screenshots this weekend), though I’m pretty sure Lwaxana’s got something shoulderless on in the strip continuity.
Anyway, it’s Valentines Day, so here’s a couple of poems I impulse-tweeted that you are welcome to charm the pants off the nerds in your life with:
Roses are red
And so is your shirt
Let’s make like an ensign
And writhe in the dirt
Roses are red
And we fall back.
The line must be drawn here!
I am guessing y’all can come up with some more.
I think the lesson here is pretty clear: don’t violate the boundaries of space-narrative if you aren’t ready to have a lot of suddenly self-aware non-people angry at you and not really sure what to make of themselves. If I didn’t already have a pretty clear idea of what Larp Trek should be about, I might explore this whole situation in its own right further, but I’m pretty much ready to put this weird trip to bed and get back to the actual DS9 stuff. I miss colored backgrounds.
But this has been an interesting diversion for me, because (and there’s a decent analogue here to the dilemma of a free-form game, really) as soon as you start lifting the constraints on something there’s both a wonderful freedom to Do Whatever You Like and a seriously terrifying realization that freedom to move means freedom to muck things up in profoundly new ways. How meta is too meta? How much more of a problem is consistency when you’re flying all over the place? What are the rules, what are the metaphysics of this storytelling environment suddenly unburdened from its more or less reliable boundaries? Does it work? Is it satisfying? Is it actually a story or just a lot of faffing about from one conceit to the next?
And the tricky thing is that locking it back down to the old constraints may not really get rid of those questions. Cat meet bag, toothpaste meet tube, knowledge meet apple. Certainly I’ve given myself some things to think about in terms of how I plot and characterize in the strip. I think that’s all in all a good thing, but it’s also a weird thing.
Boy oh gosh! This is really getting out of hand.
Of course Barclay would find this all plausible.
Well now I’ve done it. Or, you know, the comic strip version of me. It’s weird writing myself, and writing myself being able to talk in my own voice and idiomatic style when I’m so used to trying to write these characters to the constraints of their TNG personas and at least a hazy, handwavey respect for the general tone and style of Star Trek.
It’s also really weird to “screenshot” myself. I took a bunch of photos this morning with my wife’s help so I’d have material to work with, and one thing that became very clear to me is that trying to knock out a bunch of types of dialogue reactions/expressions without it coming across as very hammy is tricky. I’d almost have been better off videotaping myself having a normal conversation with someone and then literally grabbing screenshots from that the way I do with TNG episodes, in terms of getting decent naturalistic expressions. But, heh.
Anyway, thanks for all the kind words and suggestions from the previous strip, folks. I get a little overthinky sometimes about this stuff, and every now and then I guess I just need a good vent, but I’m feeling positive about this author-insert digression and about getting back on track with the actual normal content of the strip once that’s done. I’ll try to remember not to take my arbitrarily-enforced deadline too seriously, because y’all are right: better to be happy and a little inconsistent than to get bummed out chasing down a deadline on a just-for-fun project.
Well, so. Yes.
The SS Larp Trek has been crashing up against the rocky shores of Writing a little bit in the last few months and a lot in the last few weeks, as any of you who visits on the normal three-times-a-week schedule have well noticed. I probably skipped as many nominal publishing days in January as I didn’t.
The good news is I still like Larp Trek, still want to be making it, and really enjoy it when it’s flowing. This is one of my favorite creative projects I’ve ever done, and one of the most consistent and long-running ones as well (and folks who have followed my creative wanderings over the years can attest many times over how notable me working on one specific thing steadily for more than a year is), and from a doing-a-thing-out-of-love perspective I’m still onboard.
The bad news is, reiterating that I like it doesn’t make strips that aren’t happening suddenly magically happen; I’m struggling to get this shit put together, and it’s frustrating. And it turns out that spending the bulk of a morning agonizing over not getting a strip written is actually kind of crappy. It’s crappy as a one-off thing; it’s crappier still as a recurring issue. I am actively bummed out by the situation, and end up feeling sort of torn between staring actively unhappily at a blinking cursor on the page and just sort of avoiding the whole thing entirely and just being vaguely, distantly unhappy about that avoidance. Until the next Monday or Wednesday or Friday comes around again and it’s unavoidable.
So. I’m trying to not come off like I’m catastrophizing here; I don’t feel like I’m at the end of my rope on this so much as I’m currently unhappy with the bit of rope I’m currently trying to traverse. But updates have been shaky enough for the last several weeks that I felt like it was time to actually talk about it at more length than just “whoops, no strip today” or follow-on radio silence for repeats of same.
I have ideas, and I just need to find my way past my mental blocks and get to them. And my wife’s been supportive, my friends have been supportive, y’all have been patient, and I appreciate that and have gotten a lot of value out of brainstorming and bullshitting about various things Larp Trek and that’s helped get things moving forward again at times when I wasn’t sure what to do with my next strip. I’m just gonna keep trying to figure out how to navigate the rocky bits and get back to it.
In the mean time, in the spirit of forging on with something, I’m gonna go ahead and see what I can do with a silly author-insert thing. No idea where that’s gonna go, but it’ll at least be going somewhere.