The Birth of an Epic … Fail
This section is about me and what influences led me to create the fantasy webcomic ‘Epic Fail’.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…
My Parents are very artistic and I was always encouraged to draw and paint. I didn’t really need much encouragement: it was something I loved. Once started I just kept going, usually very slowly and meticulously; I wanted it to be perfect.
I have loved stories for as far back as I can remember. I recall comandeering the classroom assistant at least once per day during primary school to relate some story I had made up. Suprisingly I had very little interest in books. Struggling to interpret all those letters into words merely to discover ‘The dog has a ball’ (which I could see quite clearly from the picture) was an unrewarding experience, and I was frequently distracted by my much-more-interesting daydreams.
Concerned that I was unable to learn this key skill the school sent me to special classes. We played games and watched T.V. Fantastic!
“Through the Dragon’s Eye,” a BBC Look and Read production, was my introduction to fantasy. Through it I discovered that books could be really interesting – a portal to, well, just about anything. As with art, once started there was no stopping me. I guess first loves stay with you all your life.
I’ve frequently fought inner battles between visual art and story-writing. Clearly I chose art, studying it all the way to degree level. All my readers will immediately conclude that a comic or graphic novel was the obvious solution. Alas, it was not one I reached quickly.
I didn’t ‘get into’ comics before webcomics and the internet. Print comics cost money and were usually about superheroes. Webcomics are free and about almost anything. I found stuff I liked. Funnily enough a lot are now on my bookcase. I even found comics about role-playing games…
A series I devoured in my teens was Dragonlance – the novels that is. I didn’t know much about RPGs other than the controversy over suicides and devil worship. But in one of the these novels Weis has written something on the writting process. She mentioned playing an RPG. I was interested.
Years later, at my University’s Fresher’s Fair, I searched frantically for the Role-Play society. My geek-dar led me unerringly to a modest table with nothing on it save a few books and two young men, looking slightly embarressed, sitting behind it. Elated I asked them when and where they played. The following week I went there. They had moved.
For four consecutive weeks I tried to hunt them down. Eventually I accosted a guy in the bar who turned out to be a player. I followed him to a University building that turned out to be locked. He phoned someone on the inside who came to open the doors. Then I played my first game. Five years later I am still playing, as is they guy in the bar.
I have a confession to make: this is not my first attempt at a webcomic. A year or two ago I started one called ‘Real Realms.’ It was pencil drawn, scanned and uploaded. I had nothing preprepared; I thought I could make it up as I went. After 16 pages I hated it and had no idea what should happen next. That was the end of that.
Afterwards I played around, drawing one offs for the fun of it and learning to colour in Photoshop. I bought some books about drawing cartoons and looked for tips online. There is a wonderful webcomics community and they encouraged me to try again. I thought hard about what I’d like to do as a long-term project and came back to my game: the wonderful stories and engaging characters. I asked the players if they would mind. They thought it would be cool. So did I.
Our game, being long-running, has become known as the Epic Campaign. ‘Epic Fail’ is a term we use pretty often, when the odds are stacked in our favor yet we manage to screw up anyway. Screw ups are funny, and the comic will have plenty of humour.
I will take this opportunity to state that Epic Fail is not a Gamer comic. Though gamers will probably enjoy it – and may recognise some gaming elements – it is a fantasy story and should be accessable to anyone. The jokes are based on the characters not a set of rules.
Well, there you have it. I started posting the comic online on January 9th 2009. Everybody loved it and it lasted for many years, bringing peace, prosperity and happiness to all.*
* May not reflect actual events.