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Awesome Marcus Ninja

Behind the Scenes:
So this was the first ever Marcus Ninja strip that was published. Not much to look at I know. At this point I had very little idea for what I wanted in the character, other than that he was to be very dramatic and clash with the values of regular people. I think romances reveal character so quickly that I might as well begin the strip with a blind date. The woman in this strip, Emily goes on to be a major character.

The reason why this thing looks so crappy is because number one, I'm a terrible artist and number two, it was rushed to meet the deadline of Absynthe Magazine, for which I was a production manager at the time. We were lacking in comics so I rushed Marcus to print to get our comic representation up.
Behind the Scenes:
Ian tells me that I resemble Marcus in disturbing ways, and I can't deny that I incorporate a lot of my own experiences into the writing of the strip. In this case I substituted Yahtzee for Boggle, which is my favourite game to play. I figured not many people would recognize Boggle so went for the laughs of a silly word like Yahtzee.

As a side note, Yahtzee enthusiasts may point out that the triple letter score is a function of Scrabble. It's true, I was trying to feel out what become later on important subtleties of the character. In this case, the idea is that he invites Emily back to his house and is unsure how to entertain her. He grabs the closest game and hopelessly misinterprets the rules, causing Emily's apparent frustration. A whoooooooole lot of subtext, yes. But I like to think after our 100th strip whether a reader might not call that for themselves..
Behind the Scenes:
This strip is the first Marcus I wrote that actually made me laugh. The thought bubbles showing how vastly different Marcus' thoughts are from what he is saying become a big part of the scripts... I really like the idea of showing how this unfiltered man chooses to filter his language.

I'd like the record to show that I would never let this strip by now... "chicks dig the lurk" is something that Marcus wouldn't say in a million years. If I were to rewrite the line it would probably be something like: "she stirs. Perhaps love's sweet kiss will outlast the carnage of this eve" or something weird like that.

Ian has offered to redraw these, but at this point we want to move forward rather than putting energy into old stories. Maybe one day they won't look like junkity junk junk...
Behind the Scenes:
Between the last strip and this one, I really started to get into Marcus Ninja. I had gotten some decent feedback and wanted to put a little more effort in. Typically for me that was exactly LITTLE effort. So the art still stinks but I really started to understand Marcus with this story-line.

I get a big kick out of putting weird logos on things... I guess #1 Dad isn't that strange, but I sort of got a kick out of juxtaposing it with "boss" on his desk... it's like he's obsessed with titles.

Another couple of firsts, the sound effects describing what's happening (i.e. polish polish) and a first and last instance of me apologising for the strip. I really can't draw a ninja polishing a sword while sitting in an armchair. And I don't expect that to change.
Behind the Scenes:
I had a lot of fun writing the series of strips with Marcus' boss. Originally I had imagined him as in a sort of oppressive cubicle job, but that reminded me too much of Dilbert. Instead I decided to go with the idea that Marcus is always constantly getting fired and finding new and weird jobs, each inappropriate for him in his own way.

At this point I also started to get a handle on his flowery sort of narrative... I like what Marcus says in the first panel. Punchline on this strip is a little weak, but I got a kick out of the idea that Marcus' words are interpreted as a threat... in his mind he's just being honest.
Behind the Scenes:
Not that Volume 1 of Marcus Ninja had high standards in the first place, but you might notice that the numbering is screwed on this one. So technically there are two number 5s...

This is also the strip where I decided that Marcus would NEVER be seen actually doing ninja like things. The ultimate tease of the strip is that he's this actually bad-ass sort of ninja but we never get to see him cut loose. In this case the strip begins after he's beaten the tar out of a bunch of security goons.

I thought alot about the punchline here because originally I considered the possibility of Marcus actually killing one of the guards... In the end I decided to leave it a little ambiguous though if you're really curious in my mind the guard is only severely wounded. I don't like the thought of Marcus murdering people, it seems too far for a comedy strip.

This strip was also the first time I started taking credit for the strip... since Absynthe was always looking for contributors I often wouldn't take credit for the stuff I made so that it wouldn't look like we just published our own work. It was a battle to the death against my ego and in the end... the ego won. Let this be a lesson to you, true believers... The ego is stronger than any force on earth.
Behind the Scenes:
I stepped up the art effort on this strip by actually doing pencils first rather than just crossing my fingers and inking. The guy in the strip is supposed to be Marcus' father/sensei... I was going to develop a storyline where he lives with his father who's always attacking him and whatnot to keep him on his toes. In the end I scrapped the idea because I thought it would get in the way of Emily character development stuff...

Though I still have designs to run some storylines where Marcus has to move in with his pops.

The punchline in this strip doesn't even really make sense, but the TCSA was the Trent Central Student Association if you're wondering. What's dumb is the joke is supposed to be about the notorious lack of interest in running for positions in the government, often resulting in presidents elected by default... However he actually implies that it's very hard. I can only claim idiocy on this one, but it was a good lesson in that shout outs don't need to make sense for people to like them. This strip got a lot of positive feedback even though it's non-sensical.
Behind the Scenes:
This is actually one of my favourite strips from Volume 1. Since no one was editing my writing I could take risks on the punchlines and go for something less traditional. I still think that better art would have sold this more, but I like the idea of an abrupt ending like that... I usually write one every 20 scripts or so just to keep things interesting.

This strip also leads into one of my favourite Marcus jobs which is at "The Botany Barn" a sort of White Rosesque sort of gardening supply store. Technically he still works there where we stand on Volume 2 though I have a whole series based around how he rises and falls within that organization.

You'll also notice Joe the Boxa my radio-show alter-ego up in the corner of the strip. I get a huge kick out of drawing huge nosed bald men with fat rolls on the back of their neck. Sue me.
Behind the Scenes:
Once again the numbering system gets hopelessly effed up as we jump from #8 to #10... Just goes to show how fly by night these strips were... a lot of them were drawn away from resources where I could check last issue number because I was in class or something.

This one's another favourite of mine... I get a kick out of how Marcus just puts the uniform on over his ninja clothes... After this strip it was settled in my mind that no job would ever convince him to take off his costume, only cover it with other things like ties or whatnot.

This one I went with another offbeat punchline but tried to make up for it with subtle jokes like "conifers, $7" and the sheath sound effect. I also kind of get a kick how she's looking at this pathetic little plant and thinking about what a tough decision it is.

Up in the top corner is another strip character I have been working on for a while now called Weiner and Foghat... the premise is a bald man who strikes a deal with a protoplasmic space entity which rides around on his head mimicking hair in return for protection. No I don't do LSD.
Behind the Scenes:
This was the last strip of the year and I felt I had something to prove so I put more effort in than usual... this was my first time experimenting with computer made voice bubbles and it made the strip look one million times more professional.

I also cheated a little with the art, though this is a technique I use in a lot of strips with the stop out panel. I really like the visual of repeating a panel exactly with a small change like the eyes looking up or an eyebrow cocked.

This is also the last Marcus strip with the 2x2 panel style. In volume 2 Ian and I decided to move to the traditional four across so as to be more printable for publishers.

This is probably the only Marcus I've ever done where I don't grimace when I look at the art... but I don't smile either so don't think I've got a big head or anything.
Dylan K (dylanio21) says: I liked the note.
Dylan K (dylanio21) says: Art got better....look at that clenched fist.
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