Published on July 10th, 2012 | by Alasdair Shaw
In Print and Kasterborous
Some of you may read In Print. For those of you that don’t; it’s a web comic that I write and Jim Wilkins draws. Saturday’s strip featured a cameo from one of the writers here at Kasterborous. There’s a very good reason for that, aside from the fact that he threatened physical and temporal violence, but before we get to that reason I’ll need to go over a bit of the history of the strip itself.
The seeds of In Print took root back in 2004. I’d always enjoyed comic strips, Garfield especially, but in 2004 I started a new job and one of my new co-workers introduced me to several web comics that he read. Since then they’ve been part of my daily routine, I browse over them at breakfast in much the same way I used to browse the funny pages of my Dad’s Sunday Newspaper. PVP, Shortpacked, Questionable Content, Least I Could Do, Girls with Slingshots and Sinfest are the ones I enjoy most and I’m currently working my way through the Something Positive archives.
Along the way I would entertain the passing notion that I’d quite like to write one of these, the biggest problem of course being that I couldn’t draw. But the notion always passed quickly enough. Then the DWRS sprang up and quickly took up a lot of my time.
Then Paul Salvi Emailed me.
He’d chanced upon the DWRS and wanted to help in some way. Given that Paul drew a web comic I
instantly pitched him an idea I’d had for a Doctor Who book themed web comic for the site. Paul knocked me back equally instantly, mostly because he’s not stupid and already had a couple of strips he was drawing. What he did do, however, was some pretty cool caricatures for the Staff page. He does them on commission you know.
It was a simple enough idea. We knew from The Three Doctors and other multiple Doctor stories that he didn’t always get on with past versions of himself and if you presume that all the old personalities are kicking around his head in one form or another then rest of it writes itself really.
Pitching my idea to an actual web comic artist got me started though and I instantly went to another artist that I was friends with, Jesse Lax. Sadly, Jesse’s schedule was also too full to commit to a regular strip, although we did eventually start an irregular collaboration with Dangling Threads.
Having run out of artists that I knew I then approached Kasterborous and begged (I’m not proud) for them to place an open advertisement for artists.
It ended up being the best thing I could ever have done.
Apart from beginning the ongoing relationship between In Print and Kasterborous it also introduced me to Jim Wilkins. A decent number of artists applied for the role of artist, but none of them have the same drive and enthusiasm that Jim did. Even if his art hadn’t been the best I’d seen from the applicants (and it was) I’d have gone with him purely for his sheer enthusiasm.
Armed with an artist I let Jim work through the first few scripts I’d written before I started making long term plans for the strip, letting myself become familiar with his strengths and learning to play to them with the scripts. The strips quickly evolved from the simple three panel lay out that I had initially envisioned. Jim simply wasn’t content to draw three panels and would quite happily draw scenes that I had merely alluded to in the script. Usually I’d have the Doctors watching television and have dialogue in panels to allow the reader to guess what episodes they were watching, Jim felt it would be more fun to draw the actual scene and he really went for broke when I wrote a script calling for 10 Doctors to appear in it.
I should have seen that coming, especially after he drew the Prelude off his own back and had me write for it retroactively.
Since we started Jim has never missed a deadline. Although he came close once as I wrote a script that placed the Kandy Man in series 24 rather than 25. But I still maintain he looks like he belongs in series 24. I realised my mistake days before the strip was due posted, so to buy Jim enough time to make the corrections I asked Paul nicely if he would do a guest strip for us, he kindly obliged. Not that he needed to, Jim had the strip corrected in time and we ran Paul’s Guest Print in between strips.
Then we had the Christmas Special. I wasn’t planning one, but Jim was pretty insistent that we should do one. So I wrote a four page script and Jim promptly drew it over six pages. I still love it, especially the notion that John Barrowman dresses in his pantomime gear all year round. But it took it’s toll on our buffer. So I arranged for a short guest run to give Jim time to build it back up. Paul was more than happy to provide a second strip (which also featured the same cameo from today), Jesse didn’t take much convincing to supply one and for the last one I went to 2nd Fade.
I encountered 2nd Fade (not his real name, but he doesn’t want his real name online) when I wrote an article for The Terrible Zodin and they used a illustration from 2nd Fade for it. We got to Emailing after the issue came out so he seemed like a natural fit for the last guest slot.
One thing led to another and now we’re doing a spin off strip for the site called ‘The Prop Cupboard of Obscure Doom’. It should have started by now, but Jesse and I had a conversation that led to another Kasterborous article and this run of guest
comics. We’ll be starting 2nd Fade’s spin off strip once We’ve finished The Infinity Doctors.
From an notion I once had In Print is starting to grow into it’s own little world and I have some fun plans for how it’s going to evolve over the next few years.
I still write for Kasterborous. The Valeyard is due for more appearances in the strip and without the initial advertisement we may never have got In Print off the ground in the first place. So it’s only fitting the site itself gets to appear in the strip as well.
Thank you, Christian.