My experimentation with comic story telling while flying in an online squad is what gave birth to the idea of “The Blue Max Project”. I updated the blog this week to create links to the WWHFA Comics and The Bloody April Journal under the “Source” page. I will post later about “The Bloody April Journal”, but I thought it might be appropriate to give a bit of the story behind where the WWHFA comics came from.
Three years ago, I was stumbling along with the WingWalkers, trying to learn how to fly Rise of Flight and learn the joys of online play. I naively posted on Sim Hq that I was going to host a mission and invited anyone interested to come fly with us. This caught Fawlty’s attention at the Old Fokkers and he eventually called in The Black Haze. I remember the first night I offered to host I had no idea what kind of hardware was even required. The server speed was crawling slow but everyone was very polite and said they had a good time. The idea continued to develop, we got stronger hosts and various members created better missions for us to fly. What developed was six months and ten missions worth off competitive events with anywhere from 12 to 20 flyers. It was great fun and for me a great introduction to the Wingwalkers, Squad Life and the Flight Sim online community as a whole.
I still couldn’t fly worth a crap, I couldn’t build missions, I really couldn’t host, so I tried to figure out what I could do to contribute. I organized the events, I developed briefs and maps and creating “comic teasers” to advertise the events. I read my first set of AAR’s (after action reports) after the first event. This was new to me and I didn’t realize how much people put into these creative writing efforts. The AAR’s increased the immersion in the game by writing first person accounts of the action with a little story telling mixed in. It got me thinking about what I might be able to do……
By using the in-game recorder, I found I could hunt around for interesting dogfights in the game and save screen shots. The idea of doing a comic version of an After Action Report came to mind, and I spent hours digging thru the footage, much like a documentary producer, finding action that no one but the individual flyer may have witnessed. I pieced together these screen shots into a comic format and started building a story around them. The real joy was when random events in the game started creating story lines that I had never considered. The whole French Spy idea really developed when I accidently posted our strategy map on the enemy side before a key event. It was fun for the other flyers as well because they knew that their heroics or incredible failures might show up in the comics a few weeks after they played the game.
Needless to say, I spent a lot more time working on the comic than learning how to fly, but it cemented my relationship with the squad and helped me build lasting friendships with many other flyers in the online flying community! Please wander over to the “Sources” page and wonder thru these comics (Most are about ten meg pdf files)
The earliest comics where done in power point and really focused as mission briefs issued before the event and documenting the dogfights after. The story line was secondary.
Gradually I started to introduce stronger story lines in the comic and add images from outside the game, digging thru google images to find stuff that extended the story and the graphics. I also started using “Comic Life” software to give the graphics a more comic book look. I filmed the mission, took screen shots, modified in Photoshop Elements, pasted into Comic Life and finally converted it into a single pdf…..It took hours….
By the time I got to the final comic, I was actually doing mission building to create scenes to fill in around what actually occured during the event. I also used photoshop to manipulate the screen shots and add events that didn’t actually happen at all. The effort became much more story oriented.