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Portland On Fire / Toonlet

Raven Zachary started Portland On Fire at the beginning of January. It's a site that self-profiles a Portland tech-related person each day. I had my reservations, but it turned out it's quite cool. I'll submit my profile as soon as I can get a decent picture taken of myself.

One of the profilees, Craig Schwartz, posted a link to his new website toonlet, which promises to make it simple for anyone to put up a webcomic. It's a great idea, and he got some great art to work with. The editing is mostly pretty intuitive, and there's enough graphical elements available to make it possible to do some things.

In the end, though, the formatting proved too constraining and time-consuming, and I had to give up on reaching my dreams of having my own bad webcomic for now. You can check out my trial comic at the toonlet site. Fob



Hi, Bart Thanks for checking out the site! I'm a bit bummed that the site didn't click with you, but we are still building up features...

I was hoping I could get some more info from you on how to make the site better. Would you be willing to provide us with a little more information on what you didn't quite like about the site to get you coming back to make some more strips?

We're always looking for ways to improve our overall experience, so lay it on us, if you're so inclined. Don't be afraid to be harsh, too. The most important thing for is that we get honest criticism and feedback, so don't hold back.

Thanks! -Craig

Like I said in the original post, even though I stopped after my first strip, I actually had a pretty positive experience.

I liked the selection of art packages a lot. I tried the beta package, and maybe I should have gone with a different one; there were a lot of great elements, but there were some issues with initial scaling such as teeny tiny eyes that made it some work to get my character the way I wanted. The ears were particularly bothersome—it would be nice to have separate left and right ears so that the scaling and spacing is independent.

The movement, scaling, rotation and flips were really nice. I didn't feel like it was too hard to put the elements in the configuration I wanted.

It would be nice to be able to move and scale the character as a whole rather than the individual parts. There's probably a way, but I couldn't find it. The alternative of moving and scaling each part in turn was a bit tedious.

Things on my most-wanted list (again, some of which may already be there but I didn't notice) would be:

  • A way to do 1..3 panels.

  • A way to include more than one character in a panel.

  • Backgrounds.

  • Customizable balloons and narrative panels. Treat them just like the other elements, rather than as a separate post-phase. Include at least thought balloons.

  • Scale fonts to fit balloons rather than scaling characters. (That shrunken head in my last panel looks a bit weird.) Auto-wrap fonts even if line breaks were inserted. (The line spacing in my last panel was horrible.)

  • A way to preview the resulting cartoon. A way to post-publication edit it. A way to get a bigger view of it in the viewing phase.

  • It would be a lot of work, but make sure that character elements have left, right, and center facings, and give a button to auto-face the character. It might require maintaining hand-tweaked character facings in the character sheet, but at least all the elements could be given the correct facing with a single button.

A lot to ask, I know. Obviously some of this is above and beyond the basic idea. But I feel like I need something like this level of control to get an aesthetically acceptable result. Otherwise, I'm just producing ugly collages rather than the ugly drawings I'd produce with a paper and pencil. Fob

This is interesting and I am thinking of checking this site soon, as I might like doing webcomics too. Also looking forward to more of your site's improvements.

Is this a spam, or are you for real?

I don't recall saying anything about improving the site, and no one has looked at this post forever. On the other hand you are local, and if it is a spam you probably need to fix the link so that it actually works. Smile

In any case, if you're a real person, thanks for the comments! If you're just trying to spam for Dr. Thompson, fie on you. Fob