Tag - howard & nester

Read Only Memory: Howard & Nester & Metroid!


After a few months off and a complete overhaul of what I already had completed, the latest episode of Read Only Memory is complete. Thank heavens! Watch the video and then feel free to read below.

I’ve already said so much about this short by this point that I almost don’t even know what to write!

When I conceived this short, the idea was always that the ending we have now, in which Samus turns out to be the fabled “Metroid” was always the end game. As work moved along on the short and I redid the script for it, I thought maybe I shouldn’t do that ending and started to shy away from it. Would people actually find that funny? I mean, it made me laugh when I thought about it, but I didn’t know how people would react. As a result, I decided to have Samus stay as Samus and then wrote some speaking lines for her as she was originally not supposed to say anything. That’s when I got Rinry involved, and after hearing Rinry’s work, I returned to that idea of making her into Metroid. Hearing that voice come out of a buff cyborg seemed even funnier to me, so I sent her a request to give me a Kirby style “Hiiiii!” It killed me when I matched it up to what I had. I feel bad that I sort of left Rinry in the dark as far as her playing the part of a male cyborg, but I’m hoping she’ll get a kick out of it.

The idea of doing this ending was the result of not only a common Metroid misconception, but also something I dealt with in real life on several occasions. I can vividly remember drawing pictures of Samus in High School and people asking “Who’s that, Metroid?” To save face, I would just go along with the person and simply agree with it, shaking my head. With this short, I finally wanted to visit the idea of this fabled “Metroid” character.

I’m glad I stuck with this ending too, because the alternate ending was Howard simply informing Nester of Samus taking her clothes off and Nester replying with “Oh, my ankle is suddenly starting to feel better!” That felt cheap to me, I didn’t want to end with the two of them just being pervs, I needed to have something for the audience to react to, for better or worse. Considering people were very receptive to something like Pizza Links, I’m hopeful they’ll like this too, but you never know.

Aside from the ending, I managed to work in a bunch of Ace Attorney nods throughout the short. As I’m playing lots of Miles Edgeworth lately, I worked in some classic Ace Attorney poses, but as I moved along with the project I decided to really give it more of the flavor of those games. I figured there are some similarities in the static presentation of both the game and the short, and Howard’s classic purple suit just has way too much in common with Edgeworth’s suit to ignore it. It’s a strange mash up, Howard & Nester, Metroid, and Ace Attorney, but I think it gels together well.

So there you have it, the finished the short. I hope you enjoyed it for what it is, which is simply a take on the old Nintendo Power comics with a touch of Shamoozal style humor and storytelling. Now, let’s move onto the next short!

Few words on ROM#06


Haven’t spoken about Howard & Nester & Metroid in a while so I figured I’d throw a few blurbs out there. It’s actually kind of hard to think of something new to write about! I feel like I’ve written about this short so damn much that I’m out of things to say! So, I might be going over the same territory again, I apologize if that’s the case.

First, no new photo for the top of this write up. You get a new photo in the form of that little “coming soon” ad over there. If I show anything else, there won’t be many surprises for you now would there?

It’s kind of amazing how I wanted to make a motion comic because I thought it would actually be easier than animating a whole short, but in a way it’s probably taken me more time than any other ROM short yet (with maybe the exception of Pizza Links, another one that gave me trouble). The other three episodes of ROM were all kept pretty basic, just a background or two, a character model I was able to use for most of the shots, and very minimal animation. Little did I realize that making a bazillion different illustrations would take just as much if not more time. Okay, a bazillion is pushing it, but there’s a lot to draw and paint here.

I don’t have much experience with comics, so making a motion comic is kind of new territory for me. I had a long debate about whether or not I actually wanted any of the art to move (like a head tilting to the side for example) but I decided that the images should be mainly static. That brought up another issue, now things were sort of boring to watch. I spent a lot of time coming up with a whole aesthetic for it asking myself how I can make it interesting without the characters actually moving. How do you make a static image come to life? Well, there are plenty of amazing pieces of art out there that tell a story, so the hurdle is in trying to make interesting pictures. I hope that I was able to do that. I’ve also tried to use interesting camera movements and the way the panels appear over one another. So while the images aren’t animated themselves, there is plenty of motion going on, and plenty of things to look at.

I’d say at this point I’m halfway through all of the main illustrations. Thankfully with the animatic I was able to pretty much build the entire flow of the short, so I’ll simply be plugging in the final art and most of the short will take care of itself. I have a few timing issues I’ll need to iron out and other effects to add, but I’m hoping it won’t be a huge deal. Of course whenever I don’t think something will be a big deal it turns out being a big deal!

Then there was the issue of voice work. I rerecorded Howard’s line so many times. I have audio of me doing about four different voices for the guy. At one point I had the entire thing timing out to what I thought would be Howard’s final voice. However I let Frank check out the animatic and he suggested redoing his lines. I gave Howard another voice and this changed up the flow of the animatic drastically. I needed to retime nearly the entire short, but I think it was worth it. It works better, even if his newest voice isn’t as goofy as it was before.

Anyway, I’m still hopeful it’ll be done by the end of the month. I’m able to get about an hour to an hour and a half on it a night. I’ve been going strong with that for about three weeks now taking a few nights off here and there.

All I know is that the next one is going to be a lot more focused and smaller in scale than this one. Or so that’s what I tell myself.

I’m talkin’ about the beat goes on, YEAH! The beat goes on….

Nester gives Samus the point

Time distortion. Space is the place. Going down that lonesome highway… but the beat goes on.

At least, that’s how I feel right now. I’ve mentioned before how I’ve scraped what I did so far with Howard & Nester & Metroid, and tonight I “finished” my first redone shot. I use finish in quotes because it’s not nearly finished, there are still a few more drawings that go along with it and of course it needs to be timed out properly to dialogue. So yeah, it’s not nearly finished at all! But the beat goes on.

Last night when I started this shot I had another struggle that is likely the reason I’m not happy with the artwork I already created. In fact, when I pulled up the image I previously did, I was actually trying to trick myself into thinking it would be okay to use that art again. I seriously almost tricked myself, but something just didn’t feel right about it. So I looked at it for a while to try and figure out what I thought wasn’t working.

Nester is upset with Samus

The issue, I found, is that I was too interested in preserving the original look of the characters from the early Nintendo Power comics. Instead of having fun with the characters, I posed them rather plainly and used the old comics not only as a point of reference, but essentially redrawing some of the shots from them. I was being maybe a little too true to the source material. These images needed a little more “me” in them, so I ended up belting out a bunch of Nester gesture drawings in order to get into my OWN groove, and I think it helped me. I was so stuck on making it look like the old stuff that it never came into its own. Though, the result isn’t too original and it’s telling that I’ve probably been playing a bit too much Miles Edgeworth as of late, but that’s part of the fun here.

Nester gives Samus the point

Most people would probably look at the two images together and think I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Just know I’m happier with the second one and that should be good enough! HA! Samus by the way, is based on her appearance in the original manual for the NES game. Considering the idea behind this is that it was supposed to be made during the days when NES Metroid was new, I felt that designing her around that look would be fitting. Plus, I think the more cartoony Samus fits in better with Howard and Nester’s designs.

Original Samus Designs

Also, I really wish I was better at inking stuff. Though I’m not too sure I could actually ever be good at inking anything because my hand is just too damn shaky. I find that when I draw I can only make good figures the faster and quicker I made my strokes, which is probably how it is for most people. Yet when I go back to ink those lines they always look like garbage, things aren’t much better here but I’ve tried to allow myself a bit more freedom by letting things be a little messier.

It’s kind of amazing that when I planned this short I decided to do it this way in an effort to cut down on my work load while I adjusted to life with the babies. Yet here I am finding myself once again saying “There is never an easy way out.”

But the beat goes on.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back… or something

nester isnt happy

nester isnt happy

Well I’ve officially started working on ROM Vol 2 again and hopefully I’ll be able to keep a steady pace now. I’ve spent the last week or so trying to condition myself into staying up later than normal which so far hasn’t killed me, so that’s good.

I say I’m working on “Vol 2″ because I’m actually already in the process of creating the package that will tie the four episodes together. When I was doing the shorts for Vol 1, I knew I always wanted to combine them, but I was never aware of just HOW I should do it until I sat down and thought about how the four shorts could possibly link together. With Vol 2 I’m thinking ahead and have already pieced together exactly how this thing is going to tick. As a result, I have more work done on this than on the actual shorts, which is kind of strange but will make sense when you actually see it. I’ve also gotten permission to use some really great music for it too, so I’m pretty pumped about that.

So the bad news. I was looking at what I had created for Howard & Nester & Metroid a few nights ago. I looked through my final drawings and skimmed through the storyboard sequence. It’s kind of nice getting perspective on things after a few months. I found myself extremely unhappy with most of the drawings, and in rereading the script I found that it was not only too long but also lacked an ending that actually worked well. I’ve decided to scrap everything I’ve done so far (so the above image will not appear in the short), rewrote the script and have rethought how this entire thing is going to work. I’m still going for a motion comic look with this one, but I think I’ve given it more personality. This is actually the third time I’ve rewritten this short, and in looking at the amount of “panels” (or shots) I’ve gone from 17 to 13 and finally settled on 11. It’s hard trying to picture how everything is going to move around in your head while writing drafts, but I think this is the best take on it that I’ve come up with. I just hope I can pull it off.

So yeah, flipping sucks turds that I’m starting from just about nothing, but I know it’s was the right call to make. The time between working on it also allowed me to contact Rinry of GoNintendo/BlisteredThumbs fame to lend her talents to a handful of lines. This is the first time I’ve ever worked with someone outside of people I know personally to do voice work for one of my shorts. I’m looking forward to seeing how this thing all comes together.

Anyway, yeah. There you have it!

Read Only Memory on hiatus for rest of 2010

Howard & Nester Delayed

Howard & Nester Delayed

Well this is something I didn’t want to have to write about. After much consideration I’ve decided that I can’t move ahead with ROM episodes for the remainder of the year.

I have been working on the next episode, Howard & Nester & Metroid, since late August and since then I’ve barely moved along on the project. The simple fact is that having twins literally makes it impossible to work on it. The way my wife and I work together with the babies is that each night we’re responsible for one of them and we alternate which baby we have each day. I’ve tried to find work arounds (like bringing them into the office while I work) in order to get stuff done but it never works out. Lately, I’ve been getting maybe 15 – 20 minutes every two nights or so to get work done. I’m moving at a snails pace and in some cases its taken me an entire week just to do one drawing.

It has become extremely frustrating to do work on these shorts as a result. Tuesday night was the last time I attempted to work on the short, I wasn’t even able to get 10 minutes in before I had to stop. Thinking about how and when I’m going to work on these shorts has just added that much more stress onto my life. It was then that I decided I probably needed to take a break from doing the shorts.

It’s a bummer. I was set on getting the entirety of ROM Vol. 2 finished by January. That deadline is absolutely impossible at the moment. I can’t promise a return date, that all depends on when the kids get into a regular routine and I’m able to have time to sneak off and crank out some work. I’m hopeful that will be some time in early 2011, but I can’t count on it.

What I will be doing is slowly working on the short in the meantime whenever I really do get a good opportunity to work on it. Instead of releasing it when its finished though, I’m going to hang onto it a bit and start work on the next one. Once I get to a point where I’m comfortable enough I’ll be able to start releasing the shorts so they come out at least on a monthly basis instead of having to wait two to three months per short. This isn’t how I envisioned things going, but right now I have to do what I have to do. What really sucks is that this further delays the project I want to tackle after ROM Vol 2. Man I can’t wait to work on that one.

I’ll of course still update the blog (as I can work on a laptop while holding a baby, that’s no big deal) and we’ll try and get some more podcasts up for the year too. I also plan on uploading the rest of our back catalog of shorts onto YouTube (Candy Corns this month, Black Friday next month, and so on) so I’m not going to cease working on the Shamoozal completely.

So, there you have it. Crappy news, but as Chris Klein would say “that had to be done.” Damn, I was on a roll too.

First Look at ROM#6: Howard & Nester & Metroid

Howard & Nester & Metroid

Considering ROM#6 should ideally be released within the next few days (it’s a long ways off, trust me) I thought it would be nice to instead share a bit of behind the scenes stuff on the short in the meantime. Above you’ll see the first nearly finished “panel” for our next short titled Howard & Nester & Metroid. I say panel because instead of taking the traditional animation route with this next one, I’m going for more of a motion comic.

When I had the idea of doing a Howard and Nester inspired short my first thought was that it would obviously be handled in the way I did the other shorts. As I did research on H&N (meaning, reading every comic featured in Nintendo Power) the more I wanted to stay true to H&N’s roots. I really wanted to nail down the look and feel of the original comics (before another artist took over for Nester Adventures after Howard Phillips left Nintendo) so doing it the regular way just wouldn’t have worked. Instead, I settled for the motion comic idea so that I could more accurately mimic the source material. After lots of experimenting, I think I’m about as close as I can get to the original look.

Howard & Nester
A few panels from the first Howard and Nester comic.

Outside of making it look legit, I also want it to follow the basic H&N premise. In each issue of the comic, headstrong Nester always attempts to do things his own way, but he always needs the help of the always right Howard to get through the situation. Also, the original purpose of the H&N comics wasn’t just to entertain, but also include a tip on the game they were covering. I’m hoping in my script I captured that formula, but also put my own spin on the characters and story that make it fit in with the ROM series. Hopefully I’ll be able to share it soon!