43 thoughts on “AFOL Follies (Blog or Die! Entry #8)

  1. This is so true. My strip would be a little different since I mostly wrote mine at work. It would be me trying to make sure no one sees what I’m doing when they walk by my desk.

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  2. This is also served as a good “MOC vs. Comic” experiment on flickr (and also “pop culture vs. day-in-the-life vignettes”). My Onith-wing Star Wars build got 225 favs in 2 days (175 pre-TBB bloggage) … the comic 23 faves (22 pre-Manifesto posting)…

    In short, I feel Dennis’ pain…

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    1. It’s an unfair comparison, this is a comic with minimal building to get the point across. You didn’t even tile the bloody floor! Make an effort with the build first. 🙂 Afterall, we’re here (by here I refer to the hobby, not the ‘festo) for the build, not for the text.

      You won’t beat sw (I have pure garbage sw stuff standing 250+ faves tall) but you won’t get 20 faves either.

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      1. That’s the point, really. They are never going to compare, fair or unfair. If someone wants to get some fave/view/comment action, don’t expect it to come from starting a web comic :). It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of LEGO builds (no offense, Bionicle). I had that weekly vignette series a couple years back, and I think even the weakest of those (studs for ground) generated more action over their first 2 days than this comic. It comes back to the fact that in this hobby, sometimes you just have to build things simply because you enjoy doing them.

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      2. The issue here is not the comics in my opinion, but the lack of effort people put in the actual builds. Show me one that’s actually an insanely good build and isn’t getting attention, because I haven’t seen them. Most of them are the equivalent of clone one a plate with text bubble. I don’t see them getting a better reception posted as a vignette. I don’t remember the weakest ones from your vig series, but there were some excellent ones in there, so it’s likely they got the hits for being part of a great series.

        Bionicle is a different fish, most builders are either putting out crap, modified sets or bionicle lore builds that appeal only to the fans. Look at builders like Eero and Djokson that actually do something fantastic with those parts; the last thing you can say is they don’t have the faves, even on non pop models.

        So, yeah, they’re not going to compare just as nothing really compares – and it’s not only the source, there are many factors in play, theme, scale, whatever – just like some of my best character builds don’t even come close in terms of popularity to mediocre mf scale pop stuff I’ve done, or are completely on a different page than me – my favorite bust from the ones I posted lately happens to be the least popular one).

        And building things simply because you enjoy doing them should be the main thing. Lately I’m doing exactly that, I’m building sooooo much of one thing, I probably get people fed up with it (again pointing to the busts… and I’m not even close to being done with them. :)) ) But seeing as they never get fed up with that damn castle cottage (THAT THING IS EVERYWHERE!!!), I’m sure they can take it!

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    2. I doubt it would add much to stats, but Flickr has been going wonky lately for me. Unable at this time to fave/post comment has been popping up quite a bit (in addition to a deluge of “Some honky ass emaciated half naked chick mentioned YOU in a photo of another white trash trailer whore covered in spray tan and parfum du jail bait.”) I’ve tried a couple times to fave your comic but constantly get the boot. Got the same this morning on one of David Roberts’ pics.

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      1. My observations were mainly during the “pre-skank attack” period, but duly noted. I will take that into consideration 🙂 (I just tried to leave a critique on a build and it didn’t go through – and of course I have to retype it all…). Flickr has been getting smacked around by the account spammers lately. My block list runeth over…

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      2. I second that emotion. I’m getting hit left right front and center with that tacky shite on flickr. Not really why I go to flickr… but the tackiness of it, suggests to me that flickr is sort of corroding. Settling slowly to the bottom of the lake, it’s body soon to be covered with silt and dead leaves… Similar to MOCpages. Not really dead, but going culturally terminal.

        Hisenbergian!

        Just trying to keep up with you man…

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  3. I like the comic. It was simple, direct, and it has an element that many comics rely on. That correspondence between the grief of the characters and the grief of the reader. When people empathies with the characters… they dig it.

    Most of us seem to regard these comics as something that is first and foremost a Lego effort, and only a narrative or a joke in the secondary sense. Hence the observations about the importance of the build and the presentation.

    But, what if we deliberately reverse that perspective? What if we decide that its a comic first (a super duper minimalist form of narrative). Really just a joke with a single punch line. Think about many of the popular two and three frame comics out there. The thing is the joke, and the art work is often total shite! Garry Larsons stuff? Funny yes. But the art? Sort of funny, but mostly very crude. Very simple. Just elaborate enough to convey the visual element of the humor.

    I don’t think the build need be elaborate in order to be a successful comic. I think we are a “Build-centric” audience.

    How would this comic do on a blog about comics? Or, how would a guy who went deliberately minimalist with the build do? Like a monochrome scene, or two figures talking in front of a featureless background? Not as well…on this site. But the world is larger than this group of curmudgeons (Jesus god it better be!)

    All of that said, I offer two observations about this specific comic.
    1. It is the BEST comic in the contest… by far! The single best! Of course… it is simultaneously the worst, the longest, the shortest, and the most volatile and the most politically correct…
    2. The second punch line… the one in the bottom margin of the last frame… that’s one word to many. I think a joke has one punch line, and only one punch line. It keeps the line strong. The punch line… and … Rim shot! But adding one more after that? No man! Keep THE punch line strong! A single zinger! Zip! Buh dump bump!

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    1. “But, what if we deliberately reverse that perspective?” Which is precisely why I said we’re here for the builds. If we reverse the perspective it doesn’t matter if it’s made from lego anymore; it could just as well be drawn with piss in the snow, if what matters is the punchline. And Ted’s posting for the Lego crowd, not for the comic crowd, hence the reason it gets no attention. That’s the point I’m trying to make, if you want to make web comics, you need the right crowd for it – just throwing lego into the mix isn’t enough to make them work with the lego crowd; we may love it, but that doesn’t mean we love everything related to it. And if you want to make it for the lego crowd, you gotta deliver the goods. NPU overload!

      So no, a build doesn’t need to be elaborate to be a successful comic (the dark knight returns is a perfect example to illustrate it, the art is absolute garbage, yet it doesn’t stop it from being one of the best comics ever written), but it needs to be to attract the attention of a Build-centric crowd.

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      1. I’m not following your logic here.

        If main stream comics can have sucky art but they can still be good comics…

        Then why cant comics have quick builds and be good comics?

        To me it seems like a parallel deal… unless we buy into your assertion that we are here for the build first and foremost. Yes, if we start from that assertion… then it’s kind of a no brainer… except… if we buy into that assertion, then WHY do Lego comics at all?

        Remember Ziggy? Stupid art, but impact in message. Again, Garry Larson? Lousy art. So… AFOL Follies… Cant be average art? It’s inconsistent.

        Yes… your assertion that we must consider the audience is well taken. And maybe why I’m the one scratching my head. I am proceeding from the assumption that the comic in question should appeal to any comic audience… like you should be able to publish it in a new paper and people would “get it”. Universal.

        That is probably where my thinking becomes less relevant. You are saying “nope” to universal, and “yep” to focus.

        But if an artist wants to illicit a powerful response, should he or she not build/write for the largest audience (and not the smallest?)

        Drawn in piss in snow? I disagree. Nobody is EVER going to be able tell what the hell is going on! Not unless you piss like two or three gallons… across a parking lot. Otherwise, you’ll never get the resolution.
        rowntRee? Consider that a challenge!

        Drink water.

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      2. That’s precisely what I was pointing out, it can be a good comic, lame build or not. But in order for it to be relevant as a LEGO comic, the Lego part has to be relevant as well. And in order for it to appeal to a lego-centric audience, the Lego part is key, because as I said, Ted’s followers are there for the Lego, not for comics.

        So if you’re not going to be relevant in the Lego part, then yes, like you said, why do Lego comics at all? Just for the sake of having Lego in it? Meh. Not everything is better with Lego, unless you take advantage of the opportunities of the medium. It’s like doing a comic with stickmen instead of proper art. They’re both drawings, so why the fuck bother, it’s the comic that matters, eh? Just don’t expect comic art lovers to give a damn. Or anyone with a penchant for aesthetics for that matter.

        Therefore, no, I am not saying nope to universal, on the contrary, I am saying cover all the bases in order to reach a larger audience by including both comic, lego and anything in between fans.

        And as I said, the art may not stop the dark knight returns from being a masterpiece, but I can’t avoid hating it whenever I imagine what a marvel it would be if the art was at the same level as the writing is.

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      3. The hell are you talking about? Drawing a full comic with piss in the snow would be fucking impressive. Now there’s a creative limitation!

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    2. Yeah. The audience is key. Can’t be LEGO for LEGO sake. The primary audience of people who follow me on flickr (and that I follow) are MOC builders… followed by the “intrukshuns plz” crowd. If you want to delve into comics, stories, etc. and want this crowd to respond, you got to deliver the goods on a solid build too… Otherwise, it’s like someone saying that they got you some LEGOS, and it turns out to be a watch, keychain, sticker book, carrying case, or some other disappointing merch that’s not a set.

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      1. Yeah. I don’t dispute your data. And I see the logic.

        But it’s also sort of self re-enforcing. For example, have you ever published your action in a decidedly non-Lego forum? A comic forum? (no idea if that is even a thing…).

        We all talk to other AFOLs about Lego. But what if we pushed the medium out into less welcoming venues? How would it be received as a Comic, instead of a Lego Comic?

        It would be novel… but funny? See in a non-lego forum its a wider (and I feel more threatening) battlefield. But if you established a following… it could be a mo-bettah battlefield.

        Does that make a skinny dam bit of sense?

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      2. Sure. My main point was just empathizing Dennis’ experience with Glomeshire. When he went to BrickWorld, he basically said no one gave a toss about the comic; They were all about viewing NPU MOC’s. I wasn’t saying the comics didn’t have an audience somewhere, it just may not fit the “programming” of the MOC-TV channel that is flickr.

        In the Venn-diagram of interests, it’s likely a small sliver of overlap between LEGO and comics. To expand that sweet-spot for both, have to deliver something to both the “I view MOCs-alone” crowd and the “I read Comic’s-alone” crowd. Since this is a LEGO-centric audience, my other comments are focused on expanding that into the MOC circle in the Venn-diagram, vs. expanding into the comics alone circle.

        Venn Diagram: The Happy Goddamn Writer

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      3. If you want to push the medium in the comic territory, then even more so you should focus on the Lego aspect. Why should the care about your medium, when you don’t bother with it yourself? What does it offer to the comic world that it should deserve attention? How would you capture the new audience, when you can’t even capture the one that loves your medium?

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  4. I think build quality of a LEGO comic is like a book cover. It can help pull people in (especially LEGO enthusiast), but it won’t hold them. The content has to be good/funny/relevant otherwise it isn’t a good comic, just a good build with some annoying text covering all the NPU. Conversely, A LEGO comic with terrible building can be good and successful. It is just going to have a harder time pulling readers in.

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    1. Inclined to agree.

      There is no shortage of MOCs or comics in the world.

      But the full potential of the exercise is the blending of two ideas that already exist in full and legitimate independence. The high ground doesn’t belong to the best MOC or the best punch line, but rather to the most effective use of both mediums together.

      effective use… of both.

      Losing that focus (“blending” as opposed to “either/or”) one misses the best potential of the exercise. I think Vitreolum and I are both chasing false choices when it comes to the priority. Emphasizing narrative over build, or vis versa will only capture you a greater share of a smaller audience. One or the other.

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      1. It’s the same thing I keep saying. You need both for a lego comic, that’s the whole point. I didn’t bother mentioning you need the text to be up to par as well because I assume it was implied. A good build with lame text will be just as incomplete as good text with meh build.

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  5. Ted. Yes, programming is like the “anti-though” of our time.

    Our expectations become so strong that they turn into GO/NO GO criteria. But I have to admit to being less than shocked about the comic not getting high marks at a fest. I think the event centered around models on a table will always be biased towards… models on the table.

    But the programming aspect of human behavior never ceases to amaze me. I’ve had kids run up and thrust there fat freckled faces and pig like noses into my dio (again with the Garry Larson imagery…) and say: “This is cool! Is it Halo?” And when I say “Nope”… they suddenly go blank faced, turn, and scamper off to another large gray colored object. Like most old men… I’m left standing there thinking: “Eh… ya gawd dam kids and yer’ X-box world view!” Often I shake my fist impotently at them as they disappear into the crowd. It’s pathetic really…

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    1. Which is why I find it unfair judging the genre in any way at this point; it never reached it’s potential, barely even scratched it. I for one never saw one that had a fantastic build, heck not even a good one comes to mind. Yours is a building masterpiece compared to what I saw after quickly browsing the site. Needless to say what I saw didn’t make me interested enough to bother reading.

      And it’s a shame, because the medium would allow people with no drawing skills, but able to make a decent build, the chance to tell a story in this form. It doesn’t have to be something complex, something like this would be perfect and the cartoony edge of lego is fitting for comics https://www.flickr.com/photos/vitreolum/30940655085/in/dateposted/

      (Shameless self promotion FTW)

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      1. “Needless to say what I saw didn’t make me interested enough to bother reading.”
        That sounds suspiciously similar to: TLDR…

        Based on your proffered link (upside down guy… I would totally have read any word bubbles in that pic) I would say you’ve described this cannon in enough detail… Now pull the lanyard and FIRE baby! Give unambiguous form to your verbal vision!

        Plus… if nobody else enters a comic… Andes wins in that category…by default.

        That would be… an absurd folly!

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      2. It isn’t anywhere near tldr for a simple fact – I have 0 interest in short comic stuff like that, so in order to draw me in you have to do something to attract my attention.

        You make it sound like I should give the time of the day to anything posted on the net; unfortunately I lack the immortality required for such an endeavour. And I just don’t wanna.

        I’m not the right person to put this into practice; I’m not on good terms with the writing part. :))

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  6. Official Contest Review

    Entry # 8

    Title: AFOL Follies
    Author: Ted Andes

    Views: 224 Comments: 35

    Favorite Quote: “I’m writing an article for an obscure LEGO blog.”

    Favorite Comment inspired by the entry: “I like the comic. It was simple, direct, and it has an element that many comics rely on. That correspondence between the grief of the characters and the grief of the reader. When people empathies with the characters… they dig it.” – Rutherford

    Single Sentence Summary: A glimpse into the Andes household as it relates to the Manifesto.

    The Good:

    1. Taking the actual content of the comic out of the equation for a moment, I was blown away by the quality of presentation. It looks exactly like the newspaper comic strips I grew up with. The cool title font , the signature, the date, the border and layout were all spot-on perfect. This is going to be a very short point of praise, but it was the first thing that hit me and I thank you for setting the bar of presentation so high. The photography was lights-out too.

    2. You hit just the right note with the content of the comic: the classic Lego nerd husband / long suffering wife interplay, as Roontrei said in the comments it hit close to home in the best possible way. You nailed the silliness of the entire enterprise, and offered sort of a meta commentary on the process of engaging with the contest and the blog in general. The bottom line is that your entry made me chuckle and that’s the entire point of the category, to entertain the viewer in three panels.

    3. Surprisingly, you scored my wife’s enthusiastic endorsement, which is definitely not an easy thing to accomplish. She has at least scanned all the entries and yours was by far her favorite. I like to take her opinion into account because much like your spouse, she’s not really that into the hobby except as a bemused observer and her impartiality is a valuable tool to me in the judging process. The married dynamic is a classic one and you clearly hit the mark in that regard. So kudos from the wife. Kudos also for generating such a vigorous discussion, I didn’t think your comic would generate such a deluge of responses (35!) or that it would develop into an engaging conversation about the nature of Lego comics themselves. In some ways you brought more to the table in that regard than the two essays devoted to the topic.

    The Bad:

    1. Strictly speaking you broke the rules Ted: “Construct a 3 panel (minimum) Lego comic using LEGO elements only (no clones, no custom parts) and at least some text to go along with it.” The Manifesto poster on the wall is clearly NOT a LEGO element, it’s a clever, well executed but decidedly non-Lego attempt to curry favor with the judge. So although I did approve the entry and you are eligible to win the category, if it comes down to your comic vs. an entry of similar value I’m afraid the decision will go against you. Fortunately for you, there is no competition…yet.

    2. Although I’m a big fan of minimalism, especially where the comic genre is concerned, I think you might have stretched yourself a little more with the actual build. I’m not expecting genre-bending innovative techniques or a reinvention of the wheel but you’re a kick ass builder and nothing in the image really kicked my ass. The studded floor really bothered me, even though I’ve evolved beyond slavish devotion to studlessness, I found the shag carpeting kind of distracting. I think if you’d just included a rug pattern or even a different color for the ground it would have been an improvement. That single round plate under your wife’s foot is annoying too, because you can achieve the same desired effect of placing the minifig on an angle without the additional plate.

    3. I was confused by the text bubble in the third panel. Are they thinking exactly the same thing? Is the top sentence for you and the bottom for your wife? It’s probably clear to everyone but me but I had to puzzle at it for a while and that was kind of annoying. I’m prepared to find out that I’m the only one who was befuddled and perhaps I shouldn’t hold it against you at all, so take this one with a grain of salt. I’ll take an informal survey before I make a final decision, or maybe you can clear it up in the comments.

    The Whatever:
    I should probably have shoehorned this into the “Good” section but I really appreciate the way you posed the figs, it’s subtle but very effective. How does your wife feel about your caricature of her? Did you put together her minifig or did she? Was she involved in the process of the comic at all? I hope you take another shot at the genre in the future Ted, you’ve clearly got a talent for it, no matter what the metrics on Flickr may indicate. Maybe you should create a Star Wars comic and delight everyone.

    * I will re-post this review along with the rest of your competitors when the final results are issued.

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    1. So to address some of those points, and answer some of those questions:
      – For me, the joke is more important than the win, so had to make the custom stickers of Lego elements. It’s like Nnenn using non Lego parts for the looks he wanted – sometimes you gotta say “Screw the rules! I’m here to put on a great show! Let someone else win the Battle of the Bands.” It was also done with contest promotion in mind, and not to curry favor (of an obscure Lego blog). Wasn’t sure what side of the rule the hammer would fall, but sobeit.
      -For future reference, does that picture of you, Rutherford, and rowntRee gathered round the Enterprise count as a Lego element… Because I have ideas…
      – Why minimalism? Cause those damn chat bubbles cover everything anyway. It also why I did the combined chat bubble in the last cell, with both thinking the same thing. You are right that I should have done separate bubbles to illustrate that, but it’s an already crowded cell to begin with.
      -Your right that I could have covered the studs. I originally thought my crop would get them out of the scene, but those damn chat bubbles demanded more real estate… Take note, anyone who follows in my wake.
      – Wife was not involved in the comic, apart from the inspiration (and wanting to use the computer). Not sure she’s seen it yet, but she would approve. She’s not concerned about monetization of my hobby, but the time spent on it. She’d rather me go get an MBA, do some engineering consulting work, or something else on the side with that time.
      – Comments were slow in coming until I threw up those contentious stats. I probably took a lot of comments from those other entries, but to the replier go the spoils!

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      1. -For future reference, does that picture of you, Rutherford, and rowntRee gathered round the Enterprise count as a Lego element… Because I have ideas…

        Tora! Tora! Tora!

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  7. I’m not bothered by the exposed studs floor at all and can’t figure out why it was even brought up as an issue for this small comic, but the round plate on the bottom of your wife’s foot is still driving me nuts. 🙂

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    1. Yeah, in concept that was to be out-of-frame too. Once you start plopping chat bubbles around, you realize what will actually be seen, and what won’t, and how much more space you need for text. My home photography set-up is such a PITA, that I didn’t want to rebuild/reshoot. Should have tiled the floor and had the one stud connection, (but the reflections off tile can suck too at low-angles… )

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