This is a transcript of a presentation I made on October 3 at Met@Morph, the first annual Web Comics Comic-Con and Conference in Second Life. I've taken the liberty of editing the transcript by removing the time stamps, condensing some of the short lines into paragraphs, eliminating system messages that popped up in the chat-stream, transforming urls to links, adding missing links and cleaning up some of the typographic and grammatical errors. Outside of what I've listed, no new content has been added and nothing of consequence deleted. The images are linked to flickr.com, with high resolution versions available.
Botgirl Questi: Thank you. For those of you among the 99.999999999999% of the human population who aren't familiar with my life story, I want to take a minute to briefly introduce myself. There we go.
ICS Netizen: Are we doing the creators' commons session now?
Chimera Cosmos: no it's botgirl
Botgirl Questi: I am speaking to you not only as a creator of comics in Second Life. But also as a virtual identity who emerged from this virtual world. The birth date on my Second Life profile is January 24, 2008, but I didn't wake up as the being that stands virtually before you until I launched a blog a little over a month later. For me, both blogging and comic creation are powerful tools I use to help make sense of my experience
Michigan Paule: this is the Creators' Commons session, and Botgirl has the floor!
Botgirl Questi: And feel free to comment or question anytime during the presentation. I have the walls too and don't you forget it!
Madinkbeard Constantine: ba dump
Botgirl Questi: For the first month, my blog was a semi-private diary since almost no one else visited. I explored my world and identity primarily for my own enjoyment and development. On April 9th, without warning, Second Life's largest online publication ran a story with the headline "Who is Bot Girl?" I was suddenly thrust into public view, with hundreds and eventually thousands of people stopping by to see what I was up to.
ICS Netizen: Is the presentation just through typing or will botgirl be speaking
Chimera Cosmos: typing
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Text
Botgirl Questi: This is an Extropia SL style salon. Text is God in SL
Michigan Paule: I've never heard botgirl speak!
Botgirl Questi: Or Goddess
Botgirl Questi: It's the mystery of me
Botgirl Questi: Enough about me. Today, I'm going to share some of my experiences using Second Life as a platform for comics. Not just for the creation of graphics. But also to develop characters. To generate and discover story ideas. And to display finished works in a virtual environment. I created my first comic about three weeks after the blog's launch. As you can see, I somehow managed to take cutting edge technology and create something with the look and feel of a bad Mad Men era print advertisement. Nevertheless, I persevered.
Botgirl Questi: are the slides rezzing okay?
Charlanna Beresford: yes
Abacus Capalini: yes
Botgirl Questi: Again feel free to chime in at any time
Feldane Klees: rezzing fine
Chimera Cosmos: yes
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Never voice, but I have however seen her roll over and beg!
Botgirl Questi: My first ambitious work was the Botgirl vs. Human series. I started with the first page you see here that ended with the (yawn) big cliff hanger. At first, I created all of the images in a program called Frameforge, except for the shots of Botgirl. I'll get into the software a little later if we have time. Suffice it to say that I took this approach for the sake of speed, not image quality.
Botgirl Questi: Time is my biggest enemy. I usually don't work on anything that takes more than a couple of days to put together. Just about every active Second Lifer I know suffers from lack of sleep
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: LOL
Botgirl Questi: Anyone out there have that problem?
Chimera Cosmos: SL = Sleep Less
Michigan Paule: i suffer, regardless
Botgirl Questi: :)
Charlanna Beresford: whistles innocently
LeeDale Shepherd: Too much shopping is usually my problem.
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: "Sleep"? What is this sleep you speak of?
LeeDale Shepherd: runs out of money. Again.
Jezzica Benoir: looking 4 perfection
Botgirl Questi: Over the next couple of months I put out a dozen or so pages. I had to aims. The first was to explore human and avatar perspectives by setting the characters upon various topics and letting them rip on each other. The other was to try and come up with one or more approaches that led to commercial-quality comics from graphics created in Second Life.
Botgirl Questi: that's two aims
Botgirl Questi: 2 am typo
Botgirl Questi: I personally have a hard time connecting with most comics I've seen that are based on 3D modeling rather than drawn art. But since I can't draw that well (yet) and don't have a great comic artist at my command, I thought I'd fiddle around a bit and see what happened. If you take a look at the comics on my smackjeeves site, you'll see a pretty diverse range of styles. And I've just touched upon the possibilities.
Abacus Capalini: Doing good for 2 am. :-)
Chimera Cosmos: how did you choose Dale for the morphee?
Botgirl Questi: I'm a typical comics fan who can't draw. Frustrated up until recently by not having a slave artist handy.
Botgirl Questi: One unique aspect of Second Life for comic creators is that all the stories and characters you could ever want to explore are walking around and waiting for you. Lots and lots of drama. Oh my! My most recent comic project was based on a blog post from a Second LIfe resident about getting vehemently angry at her avatar after a romantic break up. This was my most ambitious project to date with three acts in six pages and ultimately ten gigs of Photoshop files. Unlike most prior work, the entire project was "shot" in Second Life with sets created specifically for the comic.
Botgirl Questi: Ten gigs of files for a little six-page comic
Charlanna Beresford: what about the early diagrams on your blog? where do they fit in, Botgirl?
Botgirl Questi: They are more Vizthink. Which is using drawing to see things in a new way. I'll grab a link for the organization that puts on the conference around that.
Botgirl Questi: You can take a look at the finished work on Issuu. I also posted the full resolution images in my flickr stream.
Botgirl Questi: Visual Thinking. I'll get the web link now
Chimera Cosmos: I get their emails
Botgirl Questi: http://www.vizthink.com/ That was easy. It's a "movement" to allow not-artists as well as artists to use visuals to think through and communicate ideas. It's worthy of a separate presentation.
Botgirl Questi: A few of you have seen Botgirl's Identity Circus. Second Life is also a great platform for exhibiting comics in a larger-than-life manner. I was fortunate enough to be invited to create an art exhibition at the New Caerleon sim. "Botgirl's Identity Circus" That's me with the orange hat. My friend Val and my chatbot Majic are sitting on a large comic panel and behind them is Botgirl vs. Human on four meter tall display boards. Until the closing of this event (Sunday, Oct. 19), feel free to teleport over and take a look. The sim's owner, found me on Facebook and invited me to exhibit.
Botgirl Questi: It was a lot of work, OMG
Michigan Paule: LOL!
Botgirl Questi: Instead of just taking all of my available work, I decided on a number of new things.
Botgirl Questi: Chances are, you can find a virtual set in Second Life for just about any idea you have. I do advise asking owners for permission if you shoot on "private" property. One of my friends just got banned after being caught red handed using someone's private residence without asking. For characters, you can either register an alt or two, or find others to be virtual actors/models. Just about any prop you can imagine is available, either as a "freebie" or for a fraction of the cost of commercial 3D models. Check out http://www.slexchange.com
Botgirl Questi: For education, I think this is one of the most exciting aspects, because it provides a practical means of creating comics in a relatively short amount of time. Also for collaboration between students.
Botgirl Questi: For those of you as artistically challenged as me, you can tell your story with no drawing chops whatsoever.If you are willing to spend some time in post-production, a little (or a lot of) work with Photoshop, Gimp or even flickr's photo editing tools can create just about anything you can imagine. I've recently played around with digitally painting over images captured in Second Life. I'm still a newbie at this, but it's a lot of fun and has a lot of potential.
Chimera Cosmos: it would be cool for learning SL--comics on the basics
Botgirl Questi: Yes
Davey Luminos: That'd be sensational.
Botgirl Questi: Google just launched their new browser with a comic
Chimera Cosmos looks around for Torley...
Botgirl Questi: Scott McCloud did it. It's really worth catching. It was a masterful communication of very technical stuff in a compelling and understandable and fun manner
Botgirl Questi: The current release candidate allows you to capture images at greater than screen resolution. I've managed up to 6000 pixels wide on a PC (my mac crashes at high resolution captures.) I've recently started paying more attention to lighting and effects in-world, to cut down post production time. There's a great tutorial on using debug menu setting for special effects.
Botgirl Questi: And by the way, that's me! That's me rezzing on the screen
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Pretty!
Botgirl Questi: So you can play all of the parts in your own comic if you want
Botgirl Questi: male, female, human, animal,
Botgirl Questi: truck
Botgirl Questi: or whatever
Chimera Cosmos: where is that stream?
Botgirl Questi: I honestly don't remember
Chimera Cosmos: hehe
Botgirl Questi: It's all a big blur
Botgirl Questi: I was only born in January
Chimera Cosmos: lol
Chimera Cosmos: such a fast learner...
Botgirl Questi: And have posted around 150 blog articles
LeeDale Shepherd: It reminds me of some work I've seen done in Poser, actually
Botgirl Questi: and dozens and dozens of images
Botgirl Questi: Poser is good
Chimera Cosmos: and no sleep :-)
Botgirl Questi: But Second Life is FAST
Abacus Capalini: very busy for a 10-month old :-)
Davey Luminos: Poser?
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Precocious!
Botgirl Questi: Poser is a software program
Davey Luminos: Oh, right, ok. Thought you were calling someone a "poseur."
Spark Brewster: I know some Posers.
Botgirl Questi: Daz-3D is a free program that can do similar things
Spark Brewster: Exactly.
Chimera Cosmos: animation creators use it?
Botgirl Questi: Name names spark
Chimera Cosmos: Poser
LeeDale Shepherd: Used to pose 3D human figures
Spark Brewster: Ummmm - me.
LeeDale Shepherd: I used to model 3D accessories for it and sell them
Botgirl Questi: ohh, making money
Botgirl Questi: what a concept :)
LeeDale Shepherd: lol
Botgirl Questi: There are a number of good comic layout programs available. I've been using Comic Life Magiq recently. Another very cool program is Manga Studio.
Michigan Paule: are these free?
LeeDale Shepherd: No
Chimera Cosmos: I have comic life, but I suck :-)
Botgirl Questi: No, but relatively inexpensive
Chimera Cosmos: it's like $25 for the non-pro
Chimera Cosmos: $50 for fancier
Botgirl Questi: compared to many hundreds for Photoshop
Botgirl Questi: There's also Gimp
LeeDale Shepherd: Photoshop pricing is nuts
Michigan Paule: is photoshop the best, if you have the $$?
Davey Luminos: What if we already do, amazingly, have access to PhotoShop? Do these still deliver tools that we would want specifically for comics creation?
LeeDale Shepherd: Gimp, yes. Pixel is another up and comer, though it's not completely free.
Spark Brewster: Torrents
Spark Brewster: Who said that?
Botgirl Questi: Which is an open source photoshoppy software
Botgirl Questi: you did, Spark and I'm alerting the FBI
Michigan Paule: LOL
Botgirl Questi: Your IP address has been captured
Spark Brewster: Good - a place to sleep and three square meals.
Botgirl Questi: Practical, you are P)
Botgirl Questi: So that's my formal talk
Madinkbeard Constantine: I use Corel Painter for my comics
Michigan Paule: Mad, Botgirl: what is your ideal program?
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Applause!!
Botgirl Questi: me
LeeDale Shepherd: I've never tried Painter
Charlanna Beresford claps
Botgirl Questi: I use photoshop a lot
Madinkbeard Constantine: for me it's not the program its the drawing tablet
Chimera Cosmos: yea Botgirl!
LeeDale Shepherd: I teach Photoshop a lot. ;)
Botgirl Questi: Yes, I love tablets
Madinkbeard Constantine: I want the big Wacom tablet like Scott McCloud has
LeeDale Shepherd: Makes sense, especially if you can draw.
Chimera Cosmos: http://plasq.com/comiclife
Michigan Paule: so can you tell us a bit about this desire thing?
Madinkbeard Constantine: I've got the midgrade kind
Botgirl Questi: I think that SL is fueled by desire
Botgirl Questi: But so is life
Michigan Paule: your take on how we form attachments to our "selves" or others in SL?
Botgirl Questi: aversion and desire so they say
Michigan Paule: why doesn't SL leave us cold?
Michigan Paule: why is it, indeed, nearly the opposite?
Botgirl Questi: We see all things through our minds
Michigan Paule: I shouldn't say "us". It's my experience.
Botgirl Questi: No direct contact between people but through the mediation of senses and the mind
Chimera Cosmos: almost everyone comes to feel "embodied" very quickly
Botgirl Questi: But it's hard to see that in RL
Michigan Paule: that's the surprising thing.
Botgirl Questi: I like SL because it's easer to see how much our perceptions of others are based upon imagination
Botgirl Questi: fiction
Botgirl Questi: stories
Botgirl Questi: That's why I'm anonymous
Michigan Paule: it's a level i wouldn't have anticipated.
Botgirl Questi: I could be anyone
Botgirl Questi: any age
Botgirl Questi: any gender
Botgirl Questi: anything
Botgirl Questi: But you have an impression
Michigan Paule: It hasn't thrown my sense of RL into question yet, but it could.
Spark Brewster: What is it you wish to do with this creation? What is your goal - is it just for your personal gratification or are you looking to build the concept to a broader audience?
Botgirl Questi: and respond emotionally to the visual information
Chimera Cosmos: based on appearance and virtual personality
Botgirl Questi: My goal is world dominance
Chimera Cosmos: lol
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: LOL
Spark Brewster: I mean after that.
Botgirl Questi: shhh
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: One pixel at a time
Chimera Cosmos: this world Botgirl?
Botgirl Questi: Oh, I just want to follow my muse
Abacus Capalini: Yes Brain?
Spark Brewster: Very good.
Botgirl Questi: And stimulate new thinking
Michigan Paule: you do that, indeed you do.
Davey Luminos: Well, you ARE stimulating!
Botgirl Questi: And get some sleep sometime
Spark Brewster: I'm all about stimulation.
Chimera Cosmos: and now for your Plurk presentation....lol
Botgirl Questi: I'm all bout simulation
Botgirl Questi: :)
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: They have attachments for that
Michigan Paule: the whole question of projection, intensely Freudian, is "old", but you make it new again.
Spark Brewster: Good minds and all.
Brunelle Laval: is the Web Comics comic con over?
Botgirl Questi: I think virtual worlds create a crack in the illusion if you look for it
Spark Brewster: It also takes the human factor out of it.
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Yes, virtual worlds are like crack! :p
Spark Brewster: Makes it less plausible.
Botgirl Questi: Wendy that's so funny
Botgirl Questi: Well, wait until you fall in love with someone in SL
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: OMG
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Don't go there!
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: :p
Michigan Paule: How could that happen?
Botgirl Questi: then you might be surprised to find it's realer than ya think
Spark Brewster: It's like masturbation - just not the same thing.
Botgirl Questi: It happens
Michigan Paule: I could understand lust.
Michigan Paule: but love?
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Yes, it does
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Yes
Botgirl Questi: Aren't you falling in love with me right now?
Botgirl Questi: ;)
Charlanna Beresford: Why don't you think it could, Michigan?
Michigan Paule: LOL!
Botgirl Questi: see
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget resists will all her might
Michigan Paule: Because I think in RL, it's hard enough to "love"
Botgirl Questi: I said "fall in love" I guess I meant romantic attraction
Michigan Paule: I think for the most part, we don't do a very good job separating who we love from who we think we love
Michigan Paule: i feel in SL, you could only ever love who you think you love
Michigan Paule: is that fair?
Botgirl Questi: Is love something you think or something you feel?
Michigan Paule: that's really hard.
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Feel
Michigan Paule: i think it's something i feel.
Michigan Paule: but feelings are weird
Botgirl Questi: Do you choose your feelings?
Michigan Paule: never
Botgirl Questi: Sucks, doesn't it?
Botgirl Questi: :)
Charlanna Beresford: Very much so! But isn't that also true to a certain degree in RL, too? Don't we think we know who the other person is?
Botgirl Questi: Sure
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Inhales vigorously at least
Michigan Paule: i think we usually love who we think the other person is, in RL
Botgirl Questi: That's why I love SL
Botgirl Questi: yes
Michigan Paule: sometimes the other person has a chance to intrude on our fantasies
Abacus Capalini: Harder to change your name in RL when things go bad :-)
Botgirl Questi: We feel an emotion and project it onto someone else who we believe makes it happen
Michigan Paule: and if that lasts, then maybe it's something true
Botgirl Questi: Yes, for sure Abacus
Charlanna Beresford: It can be possible to love who we think the other person is in SL, too....it's just a slightly different frame
Botgirl Questi: Love really has nothing to do with another person in a sense
Botgirl Questi: As in an objective being
Michigan Paule: i am suspecting that in SL, the ratio of illusion to actual person is more skewed to illusion
Michigan Paule: and i don't know what's true, i admit that
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Depends on the person, Michigan
Abacus Capalini: Being a SLer means that you
Abacus Capalini: have bought into the illusion
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: A lot of people in SL are very transparent
Botgirl Questi: "I guess I just don't now who you really are!!!" sob sbo
Abacus Capalini: lol
Michigan Paule: I think I'm transparent.
Botgirl Questi: that's a setting you can change, wendy
Michigan Paule: I think so!
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: I am too, Neko look aside
Abacus Capalini: I think it's a filter :-)
Botgirl Questi: So there's a lot of food for thought :)
Botgirl Questi: I'm way over time, yes?
WendyOfNeverland Fussbudget: Whole other seminar
Michigan Paule: there really is.
Michigan Paule: more than i imagined!