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  1.  (7352.1)
    You all know R Stevens. The webcomic DIESEL SWEETIES, and fun clothes like the HAPPY()SAD T-shirt.

    I've invited him in for a week to post some of his favourite stuff, talk about his process in things like building the comic and designing his merchandise. Ask him anything. In quiet times, I imagine he'll start talking about Art Bell and the Greys.

    -- W
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009 edited
     (7352.2)
    Greys? Nah! Art's into electomagnetic pulse weapons these days. We're one attack from living in the Stone Age and losing 90% of our population!

    ***

    I'm gonna go invite my Twitter chums to come in here while composing a little starter post. Feel free to ask questions
    • CommentAuthorsteevo
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.3)
    Hi R,

    Do you mind if I call you R? Is that the name you go by in real life, or is it just a signature thing? Anyway...

    I love Diesel Sweeties. How is being your own boss? Do you find you're harder on yourself than old bosses were? Do you ever day-dream of firing yourself just to make an example out of you?

    Sorry, for the rapid-fire, weirdo questions, but my brain is half fried today and these were the first things to spring to mind...you're used to weirdos by now...right? There's at least one real, serious query in there, I leave it to you to decide which one it is.
    •  
      CommentAuthormoali
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.4)
    greetings,

    can't think of any questions right now though...maybe later..
    • CommentAuthorjhjester
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.5)
    Why did you start your webcomic and how did the style come about?

    Do you drink as much coffee as your twitter feed suggests you do, and what is your favorite coffee?
    • CommentAuthorBig Rob
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.6)
    I don't have any good questions at the moment, but I wanted to thank you both for getting this going.

    I'll be interested to see what comes up in this thread in the near future.
  2.  (7352.7)
    Mr Stevens! Hello!

    Will we Britfolk be seeing you at The Thing again in 2010, or was your appearance this year a sort of one off?

    You've occasionally loosened Diesel Sweeties from its usual 2 dimensions - for example, the first two panels of this strip, this delightful snow scene and Uncle Grandpa's Big Wheel. Do you hold back on this sort of thing until you've got a really great idea or joke that has to be realised this way, or is it simply incredibly time consuming for you as a daily publisher?

    I had another question, but I forgot it. I might remember tomorrow.
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009 edited
     (7352.8)
    steevo says:
    Do you mind if I call you R? Is that the name you go by in real life, or is it just a signature thing? Anyway…


    "R" is actually a holdover from my first email, a university VAX system that gave you first-initial-lastname usernames by default. I thought it would be ha-ha-larious back IN THE YEAR 2000 if I were to use an initial to keep my gender ambiguous. Girls on the pre-bloggonet were rare and I like to be creeped out.

    In real life I am generally "Rich" or "Richard". You will never hear me say my name or very many other first names aloud. It makes me superstitiously uncomfortable to use real names. I'm a big nickname user.

    For example, if I ever met Ariana I would probably cough from all the smoke and shout out, "YO! MICROCHIP!" or "Heyo, A.0.!"

    I love Diesel Sweeties. How is being your own boss? Do you find you're harder on yourself than old bosses were? Do you ever day-dream of firing yourself just to make an example out of you?


    Thanks!

    My dad has been self employed my whole life. I worked for myself as a kid doing paper routes and the like, then compared that to working for the man. Didn't really enjoy doing work for other bosses.

    I definitely work 5X as hard for myself and very rarely get mad about it. It's my time and money, so I can be as efficient or as generous or as slow or as stingy as I want. You have to watch yourself for overindulgence but it is very satisfying to be in charge of yourself. (as much as you can in the modern world)
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009 edited
     (7352.9)
    jhjester embloggens:
    Why did you start your webcomic and how did the style come about?


    I'm trained as a graphic designer. One of the first things we learned was to start with concept and content, then factor in your limitations, then try to find the most natural and effective way to approach your project.

    When I started DS, I was a year or so out of college and had stopped doing freelance work in order to take a stable gig to ride out the dot com crash. (I worked for the local phone company building tech support sites, actually) One ride home from work, I realized I finally had the means to work on a comic for myself: time after work and enough cash that I could use this time after work drawing.

    I puttered and looked for an idea for a month or so and stuck with the "girl dates robot" concept. I realized that my inked line art wasn't particularly memorable and experimented with styles. Mod vector stuff, hand scratchings, pencil, marker, fake woodcut … and finally blown-up pixel art.

    The pixel art felt like it matched the cute/mechanical concept and compressed amazingly well, so I went with it and never looked back. It's easy to forget that back then a lot more people used dial-up. I firmly believe that 20-30k comic strips made a big difference in picking up my early audience.

    Of course, people are running faster machines and connections than ever and I still make a game of generating the tiniest files I can. My PNGs average 5-6k thanks to how horizontal strips of flat color compress in bitmap.


    Do you drink as much coffee as your twitter feed suggests you do, and what is your favorite coffee?


    If I blogged every cup of coffee I drink, I'd never get any jokes in!

    I usually brew 2-3 small 4-cup pots a day plus some iced tea or a Red Bull. My personal favorite is the French roast from a local place called Haymarket Café in Northampton, MA. (not the Alan Moore one) I usually make it about twice as thick as you can buy it. (yes, stronger than espresso)

    Believe it or not, Starbucks VIA instant is pretty good. That's my emergency backup coffee.

    I don't drink nearly as much coffee as Frank Zappa did. Booze makes me sick and sugar is not kind to my concentration. Coffee and tea are my only friends.
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.10)
    Old Moon Face threatens:

    Will we Britfolk be seeing you at The Thing again in 2010, or was your appearance this year a sort of one off?

    No plans to do the Thing in 2010. I'm actually trying to scale back on shows next year and focus on getting a lot of business crap and Projects I Keep Putting Off done. Odds are very low that I'll be at San Diego either.

    Shows I will almost definitely be at: MOCCA, TCAF & New England Webcomics Weekend.

    London was a lot less gross than From Hell led me to expect. We had the most amazing racist cab driver.


    You've occasionally loosened Diesel Sweeties from its usual 2 dimensions - for example, the first two panels of this strip, this delightful snow scene and Uncle Grandpa's Big Wheel. Do you hold back on this sort of thing until you've got a really great idea or joke that has to be realised this way, or is it simply incredibly time consuming for you as a daily publisher?

    I think you've got a handle on this one already. It really is all about the daily grind.

    I do comics very close to "live". Sometimes I get on a visuals jag or feel the urge to animate or simply want to write bad puns and focus on facial expressions. I'd rather spend a proper amount of time editing down a simple word gag than do inappropriate or half-assed huge visuals if they're not needed.

    It does make for some stretched of comics that aren't visually amazing, but I never skimp on the jokes or "acting." And damn does it make it satisfying to do the wilder strips when the joke allows.
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009 edited
     (7352.11)
    SO WHERE DOES I WORK?

    I work in a really cool building called Eastworks. No, there is not a sign on my office because I like to hide. There are loads of cool photos on Flickr.

    This place was a cloth covered button factory in the late 1800s when cloth covered buttons were all the rage. It later became a U.S. Department of Defense facility and a vacuum cleaner factory before the current owner Will (not Wheaton) bought it and converted it into offices and apartments.

    Back up for a second-

    The place where I sit and write fart jokes and mail out bacon t-shirts from used to exist for the sole purpose of manufacturing bombs to blow the shit out of Hitler.

    How cool is that?

    There's still faint "buy war bonds" stencils on some of the stonework. If you look closely, there's even evidence of where they bomb-proofed the building during the war. The woman in charge of maintenance and construction around here is a huge comics fan and sometimes lets me follow her into the old sub-basements and unbelievably steampunk guts of the building. (Hi Jen)

    We still have elevators which are NON-DIGITAL. As in, there is a big analog electronic brain of physical switches CLACK CLACK SNAP CLICKing up on the roof in a closet. It's gorgeously nightmarish. A logic machine built out of sparking wires and relays as thick as my fingers.

    You know that feeling of being all alone in a giant school at night after class? That awesome free feeling of "I can wander around this huge space and so what if there's a vampire because I'm gonna CUT HIM"? That's every day for me.

    I really fetishize ugly, ultra-functional industrial things. Blocky, dangerous, helpful objects and places. It's kind of heaven to be able to live among such stuff while not working in an assembly line.

    more to come...
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.12)
    So you're actually a chick? Damn...
    •  
      CommentAuthorEthan Ede
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.13)
    Do you listen to music while you work, i bet you do. If so what were you listening to when you first began DS, and what are you rocking now?
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009 edited
     (7352.14)
    I've uploaded a few views of this post-industrial playland to Flickr.

    It could seriously be the cover to a Cherie Priest novel in the hands of a better photographer.

    views of eastworks
  3.  (7352.15)
    Mr. Stevens (Hi Rich) forgot to mention the HUGE battleship sized boilers that used to run for both heat and production lines when the building was owned by Stanley Home Products. He has seen underground (and above ground) tanks, a 90 year old water elevator (that still runs!), the hot room quarantine area behind massive fire doors and there is an old 1934 Defense Department safe that uses an impossible to open 4 digit combination to open. Oh there is also a 1950's fire pump that pressurizes the sprinkler system and has a huge underground 200,000 water storage tank as a backup in the event of a mill-wide fire. I recently removed a sprinkler head from 1916 on the 1st floor during construction. This place is old and still functional.

    p.s. I have a zombie contingency plan in the event this town is ever over run...and I am working on the vampire contingency plan. That one is a bit more complicated as they are somewhat smarter than zombies.

    p.s.s. I often run into Rich in the halls in the middle of the night. I have eyes everywhere :)
    •  
      CommentAuthorCaitlinK
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.16)
    Hi Mr. Stevens,

    When can we expect narwhal socks?
  4.  (7352.17)
    Hello Mr. R Stevens sir!

    Anything new and interesting on the nootropic front? I've just made the switch from choline bitartrate to Alpha-GPC; still testing, but I'll post in the noo-thread in a week or so.
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.18)
    I had a terrible brain fart tonight resulting in no ideas until I ate a ton of crap and took a drive. BRB, gotta try to make a "mondays" joke work within a scientific framework. Then, more!
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.19)
    For those interested in process, tonight's soundtrack is Feeling Without Touching on repeat. Glass Candy drives me bonkers. Someone from their record label hit on me last Comicon and I'm proud to say I was already a fan of the band!
    • CommentAuthorrstevens
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
     (7352.20)
    Ethan Ede inquired:
    Do you listen to music while you work, i bet you do. If so what were you listening to when you first began DS, and what are you rocking now?


    I don't listen to nearly as much music as I used to. I've become kind of a talk radio nut. Lots of Coast to Coast and NPR for "news" and News. Musically, I stick to weird stuff that is as much stimulant as anything. Glass Candy, Ssion & Fiery Furnaces a lot of the time. Hell of a lot of mashups like girl Talk because the twists on familiarity wake me up. Getting back into the severely underrated Lovage and Handsome Boy Modeling School this week.

    The biggest change from when I started this comic in twenty ought zero is I have almost ought zero patience for guitar-based music now. It's got to have a real gimmick/trick/virtuosity for me to pay attention. I've gotten weirder. Three songs at once is my personal happy place now.

    CaitlinK demanded:
    When can we expect narwhal socks?


    Oh sweet mother of Steve, another animal design to add to the list of animal designs I don't have enough cash to produce in the thousands necessary!


    AlephNought probed:
    Anything new and interesting on the nootropic front?



    I haven't changed my routine too much lately. Still daily Choline/Inositol with a small Piracetam dose. Added some 5-HTP because supposedly it is good for mellowing downer moods. Have not begged for death lately, so it either works or the placebo effect does! How's Alpha-GPC?