• Moe Cheegers and Genki Wolf Girls (My K-On! Obsession, Part Three)

    In 2014, I missed Suburban Jungle so much that I decided it was time to return to it. But I couldn’t just pick up with Tiffany, Leonard and the crew seven years later. Tiffany’s story was finished, and as she was the star that the rest of the comic orbited around, there was nowhere for it to go except to just sort of string along as a zombie franchise. So I decided instead to for a “next generation” idea, and Rough Housing was born.

    I freely admit, I had very little idea what I was doing with it at first, so I just tossed in a bunch of things that I liked and figured it would gel. Possibly not the best way to start a new project, but it was also true of the original Suburban Jungle and that seemed to go fine. My initial vision for Rough House was a lot more pure OTT zaniness and parody. Issue two pretty much exemplifies this, with the S.S. Plot Device and “The _______ of Cangrejo Diablo!” being typical of the kind of jokes I had in mind.

    But for whatever reason… I just didn’t love it. Scripting was constantly a chore and instead of wacky hijinks I kept wanting to write shippy or emotional moments. By the end of issue three and well into the scripting for issue four it would be fair to say that Rough Housing was having an existential crisis behind the scenes. This resulted in the scripting for issues four and five taking forever as I wrangled with it.

    I knew from the beginning of the “Best Bodies Contest” arc that the big payoff moments were Parker getting up on that stage, and Leonard’s final decision. But I also clung to the idea of wacky hijinks, envisioning lots of sabotage at the contest, Charity doing ridiculous things to stall Leonard and Morrison, and so forth. But while the emotional moments flowed quickly and easily, for the hijinks I ended up with whole pages of script that said things like “FUNNY SCENE HERE.” Fortunately I was able to lean on my wit to come up with gags on a page-by-page basis, but it was a frustrating way to run a railroad.

    But as I was working on issue five, two important things happened. First, I began streaming my art sessions, enabling me to get real-time feedback from some of my most engaged readers and see what they responded to and why. Second, I was watching and falling in love with K-On! and examining how I responded to that and why. And when I spotted the overlap, everything clicked.

    See, here’s the thing: K-On! hits the sweet spot perfectly. At its core, it’s a remarkably subtle, character-driven story about connections, loss, savoring the moments of life, and so much more– but it sneaks all this past you by being adorable and laugh-out-loud funny. But the humor isn’t the GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK humor of Love Hina or Sgt. Frog. The girls spontaneously forming a cheerleading squad for Ritsu as she tries to eat a receipt they don’t want their teacher to see gets me every time, but it’s also a completely realistic moment.

    This was the eye-opener for me. The original Suburban Jungle was very comfortable with the GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK style, with its very tenuous fourth wall, aliens hiding in the sun’s corona, and all that jazz, but when people talk to me about it today, what do they talk about? How Tiffany, Drezzer, or Leona impacted them personally. The connection they felt to Mikey and Wally. How they identified with Dover’s codespeak.

    The people in my streams, similarly, talk a lot about how adorable Charity is and wanting to give her a hug, being proud of Parker’s overcoming his fears, or how fun it is to see Rufo wanting to make out with anything that moves.

    In other words, the parts that were coming the most easily, are the parts that work the best anyway. XD So! Lesson learned.

    Langley and Ritsu... separated at birth?

    Langley and Ritsu… separated at birth?


    The influence of K-On! has already worked its way into rewrites and page layouts. This Langley/Rufo moment, for instance, was not in my original script. It was inspired by the chemistry between Ritsu and Mio and tossed in to spruce up an otherwise dull page, but it’s just as great a moment for these two goofballs.

    But the lessons I learned from K-On!, and the realizations I made about Rough Housing along the way, are going to have big repercussions moving forward. Issue six will see a shift away from “this issue’s funny premise”-style writing to focus more on the characters’ goals and fleshing out generally. I also hope to move away from being quite so much focus on Charity to being more of a proper ensemble with stories about the rest of the cast. (Who is Bounce? What does he do all day? What’s the deal between Langley and Rufo?)

    This may lead to eventually changing up the cast somewhat, if existing characters aren’t working or new characters might work better. We’ll see. Rough Housing is sure to evolve over the next issues, but I finally feel like I understand it now. Giant monster attacks and wacky hijinks are not and were never going to be the strength of this comic, and really aren’t the strength of my writing generally. It’s the characters and connections, and the humor that naturally arises from them, that will make or break it.

    Giant monster attacks may still show up from time to time, who knows? But where before I was saying “A giant monster attacks! What do the Rough Housers do?” I’m instead going to start with “The Rough Housers want X. How does that pan out?”

    You’d think after being a writer for thirty-mumble years, I’d have learned that lesson by now. I guess I just need periodic reminders.

    -The Gneech

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  • Suburban Jungle: Old Enough to Vote

    There she is– Tiffany Tiger!

    So, Suburban Jungle launched 18 years ago today. Thanks to the strange time-dilation effect of comics, that puts Rough Housing as due to start happening around 2019 to put Charity at the right age. XD

    It’s been a long strange trip and I’m very grateful for all the friends, fans, and extended family I’ve made along the way. Thank you very much!

    -The Gneech

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  • Commission Price Sheet 2017

    Commission prices by type and size.
    (click through for full size)

    Trying to make my prices a little more easy-to-calculate and a little less “pulled a number out of Buster’s shell.” 😀 Subscribers to my Patreon get a 5% discount.

    When not at conventions, I can still sell the books and buttons but they’re easier to get through their respective publishers:

    Books: http://furplanet.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=196

    Buttons: https://snerksandquirks.com/

    Enjoy! 🙂

    -The Gneech

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  • TV Troops

    Fandom Guy loves you! And fish. He also loves fish.

    There was a kerfluffle, back in the dim dark past, during which some self-important pedant at Wikipedia decided that webcomics were not “worthy of note” and systematically went through and deleted them all. What I said at the time, and it’s still true, was that I was actually a lot prouder and happier that Suburban Jungle had a TVTropes.org page, because as far as audience engagement in the modern world goes, that’s a lot more significant.

    I haven’t looked at it in a while, but last night on a whim I decided to check it and was chuffed to discover that it’s still being updated, in particular making a note of a page in the current issue, posted in November, where Charity runs so fast she breaks the panel border. So, while Suburban Jungle‘s TV Tropes page isn’t the huge lots-of-subpages juggernaut that something like Firefly is, it is still current and alive.

    Charity welcomes you with a pineapple!This makes me happy. XD And I want to build on it. As with the Community Welcome Thread, I want to create a “third place” for people within Suburban Jungle, where people can bring their own creativity and energy to bear rather than just passively reading the comic and then moving on to the next link in their bookmarks. We’ve been there before, thanks to the networking powerhouse that was Mammallamadevil, but also because the word was being spread by folks like Hikaru, the Dirt Den Inn crew, HBar98, TK, and dozens of others.

    Rekindling the fandom is one of my big goals for 2017. The semi-regular streaming (generally Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday nights at 7:30 EST) is the first part of that. It’s up and running at full tilt, and either this week or next I’ll be adding a new camera so that I can record doing real media commissions as well. An even bigger piece is under construction right now with the help of several collaborators— but that probably won’t really take shape until March or April.

    In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep on keeping on, and I hope you’ll do the same. Get interested, and get involved! If there are ways we can build the fandom, I’d love to hear about them. But I can’t do it alone!

    -The Gneech

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  • SO. MUCH. STUFF.

    Fandom Guy loves you! And fish. He also loves fish.

    Skip a week for the holidays, and suddenly I have a billion things to talk about! Let’s jump right in!

    The Gneech on a surfboard shape with the title Bringin' the Awesome

    So you remember I wasn’t satisfied with the “Three Lions and an Otter” motif because it was too close to M.C.A. Hogarth’s “Three Jaguars?” Sure ya do, it’s like the next post down from here. Anyway! I happened to be looking at my LinkedIn page and noticed a little thing I had dropped into my bio: “I’m all about bringin’ the awesome.”

    Well… yeah. 😀

    So that’s gonna be my thing. Expect a lot more bringin’ the awesome in 2017! The three lions and an otter are still there– they’re how I organize my workflow and my thoughts– but they’ll probably fade into the background a bit.

    Commission Price Reorganization

    My last price list update was in the summer and was pretty vague and incomplete. Pricing your own art is always tough– it’s kinda like a magic trick, and knowing how it’s done makes you forget the work and practice that actually went into it. I was told by a few artists I respect that I was undercharging, and I think it may have actually been hurting my sales, if the table at Midwest Furfest is an indicator.

    So this is a heads-up, my prices will be going up a bit later this month, but they’ll also be more clearly defined, so it’ll be easier to look at what I offer, compare it to your budget, and decide what’s right for you.

    “Learn To Use Copics” Sale!

    Also! Part of my holiday splurge was to pick up something I’ve wanted for a while now: I bought myself twenty shiny new Copic markers, and I’m itching to learn how to use them! So in a week or two I’m going to open up slots for full-color real-media commissions at a crazy discount price, with the proviso that your piece will be a guinea pig for Copic practice, so the colors might be a little all-over-the-map. XD

    Streaming Is a Thing!

    The Gneech Streaming on TigerdileSo I have settled on Tigerdile as my streaming service of choice, and they’ve been pretty great so far. They’ve been responsive and friendly, and the site has a lot of nice features, with more coming in the new year. I’ll be streaming pretty regularly on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday nights, starting around 7:30 p.m. EST, working on commissions, the next comic page, or whatever else happens to be going on at any given time.

    Phew! I think that’s everything for now? If not, I’ll let you know. 😉 Thanks for reading, and stay awesome!

    -The Gneech

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  • What Do You Do When You’re Branded?

    Fandom Guy loves you! And fish. He also loves fish.

    As mentioned last week, I’m in the midst of something of a “brand overhaul,” which includes everything from my comics and art, to my novel writing career, to my business writing and graphic design efforts. Each of these categories need a slightly different approach, and I’m still banging out a strategy for that, but today I’m concentrating on the art end of things. Because this past week I set up a TigerDile streaming page, for which I needed some graphics to spruce up the place. To that end, I tossed together this banner image:

    Three Lions and an Otter! Art by John 'The Gneech' Robey

    Honestly? I like it. I like it a lot, in fact, except there’s one big problem, and that’s using “Three Lions and an Otter” as the central motif. It’s a handy model and I think there’s value in it as a touchstone for myself, but it’s not what I want to use for my “brand identity.”

    As I took pains to point out when I first started using it, the idea was shamelessly stolen from inspired by M.C.A. Hogarth’s Three Jaguars. This is not a secret. In fact, it’s kinda the whole point. It was intended as a respectful nod towards a brilliant conceit. But what do I immediately get every time I reference “Three Lions and an Otter”?

    “Say, are you familiar with Maggie Hogarth?”

    “Y’know, M.C.A. Hogarth did something similar. You should check it out.”

    “Have you seen Three Jaguars?”

    Okay, world. I get it. Message received. XD

    So I’m still casting about for a proper umbrella term to use for my “personal brand.” Don’t be surprised to see me “trying on” a few different ideas in the upcoming weeks! Some great ones I’ve seen over the years besides “Three Jaguars” include Michele Light’s Light Bright Studios, the OzFoxes, and so on.

    I thought about simply broadening “Suburban Jungle” to reference the body of my work, with the original comic and Rough Housing simply being two projects flying under that banner, but I worry that might be too confusing. Those two projects share a history and a continuity, which random bits of furry art or whatever might not.

    So… still chewing on it. I’m open to suggestions if you have any!

    -The Gneech

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