Christmas At Blocksberg
by Reinder Dijkhuis

The war on Christmas is ON! Christmas at Blocksberg

Christmas at Blocksberg front page. Click to go to the comic and see the page in fullIt's the time of year again to highlight some of the Christmas-related comics I've worked on over the years. Christmas at Blocksberg is not my creation. I was involved in it as a translator and editor. The artist is Norwegian painter Daniel Østvold and the writer is Geir Strøm, also from Norway. It's a story from their Chronicles of the Witch Queen series, and featuring the regular characters from that series: Queen Elspeth, queen of the Witches; Countess Alcydia, her arch-rival, and the dim-witted Baron von Fieffelfalsfaffel. In the Queen's real, the Undercity, it's Christmas Eve like everywhere else... but where's Santa? Where is the replacement Santa? Where is the replacement replacement Santa? Will Christmas be canceled this year? And what's this giant scissor thing?

The comic was originally written in Norwegian in 1995. I first published a Dutch version of it in a fanzine I edited, the Christmas after that. Years later, in 2005, I did the English version for digital publication. Geir and I would later work together on two other Christmas comics (and I would also become the artist on a few Chronicles of the Witch Queen comics), but this one is still my favorite: a treat for people who like comics, who are interested in mythology and generally Scandinavian/pan-European things, or who believe that Odin is the reason for the season!
This is not my next book...
by Reinder Dijkhuis

...nor are these proper product photos of my next book. Instead, these are snapshots of the proof version of what will one day be the Rite of Serfdom book. We are pretty much learning how to do this as we go along, and there are many things that we still need to fix.

The cover of the book, showing Kel in front of the Grimborg. Click to see bigger

For example, the title font looked correctly aligned when we were looking at it on the screens. Turns out that when you cut off the margins, it doesn't always work out that way.

The interior of the book, with right and left pages flipped

We're working with a printer in Egypt. They can give us excellent printing quality for the price. The downside is that we won't be anywhere near them when they print the book, and because this is their first comics project, they don't necessarily always know the expectations. Here you see the interior, with extremely large outer margins and very small inner margins. The reason is that they didn't count the pages as we intended: they started with a left-side page instead of a right-side one, and so all pages that were supposed to go on the left side of the book ended up on the right, and vice versa. Lesson learned: make it really clear where your first page of content is going to go. This is our responsibility, not theirs. On the plus side: the colour accuracy is pretty good—see the first of these two pages on the website for comparison.

The thickness of the book

The book is not very large, but it is very thick, with 348 pages of content, making for an imposing physical object. We do need to double check with the printer that they're going to use a stronger binding than on this first proof, because we need to be sure it won't fall apart when the reader cracks it open.

The proof copy arrived with a larger shipment of printed goods from Egypt, which was held up at customs for a while. This is annoying but unavoidable as we do not have a huge budget for the book, though if we'd realized the extent of the delay in advance, we'd have ponied up to have it mailed to us instead. Another lesson learned.

This weekend, our original plan was to go through the book page by page to look for layout issues, typos, colour problems and other issues in greater detail. Unfortunately, Aggie was ill this weekend, which meant that we had to change our plans—she spent two days in bed while I did a modest amount of work on other ROCR-related things. At this point, I'm not convinced we'll have it ready for Christmas, especially if the final version gets delayed like that again (please note that the delays are unavoidable as we're doing this on a shoestring budget); however, when it does come out, we will probably be selling it at conventions and events for a year, so Christmas is just a blip in the schedule.

The last time I put out anything in print, it was black and white, photocopied and stapled, and only 48 pages. Even at this early stage, it amazes me that we can do a book like this now.

24-hour comic!
by Reinder Dijkhuis
I took part in 24-hour comics day on Saturday, October 20. As more or less expected, I failed to reach the goal of writing and drawing 24 pages in 24 hours, and I failed pretty badly at that, finishing up with only 11 pages drawn. However, I do think the material I came up with was worthwhile. I had had an idea in my head for a while, and this 24-hour comics served as a pilot for it. Set in the same world as Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and Spun Off, it is nonetheless very different in tone from both of them.

The pages are collected on my latest Comicfury website, Reinder's 24-hour comic for 2012, so named because I went into the event without a fixed plan of what I was going to do. I ended up simply piloting an existing idea, but I could have gone a number of other ways. Unlike with most of my comics, the home page has the first comic page on it instead of the last, so you can read the comic in order from there.
August voter incentive
by Reinder Dijkhuis
It's August 1, and there's a new ROCR voter incentive over on Top Web Comics. Vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan to see a preview of the cover art for the book of the Rite of Serfdom storyline. This 343-page story has not been published on this ComicFury site but has been on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan main site for years, and we're now finally getting it into print.

When you vote, you will be asked to identify a comic character in an image. This does not mean you're voting for that character; it is merely how the Top Web Comics system verifies that you're not a bot. When this little hurdle is completed, you will have voted and you will see the image.

Vote for ROCR now
Book announcement
by Reinder Dijkhuis
July 21, 2012: This is about a storyline that's available on the main website, but won't be rerun here for another two years. However, it is big news that I want to share with everyone. I just posted the following on the main site:

The Rite of Serfdom remasters are now done, at long last. All 342 existing episodes have been given a makeover, with new lettering, new more organic looking gutters, a size upgrade, a colour depth upgrade and more. "More" varies from little bits of touchup here and there to a complete redraw of a whole page or even a sequence of pages. One thing left to do is the addition of one page to a redrawn sequence, because upon rereading, the scene seemed to shift too quickly. That will get done in the next week or so.

And then it'll be time for the next stage of this big project! I will have 343 high-res, full-colour master files with lettering, plus one cover illustration done years ago that was never included in the archives. What am I going to do with them? Why, I'm going to make a book! With the help of Aggie Janicot, who is now interning at a graphic design shop to bring her expertise on digital publishing and printing up to date, I plan to release The Rite of Serfdom in multiple formats, including both ebooks and print. We still need to figure out a lot, including such burning questions as "What's possible?" and "How can we make it work without breaking the bank?", and we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are pushing ahead with this, one way or another. If you want to read more as we work on this, and if you want to find out more about our other work in progress, join the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan Facebook page or follow RoguesClwydRhan on Twitter; both channels are updated very frequently with the latest news.

This is a very exciting project for us to be working on. All we have at this time is the materials, a tentative release date and the sweat of our brows. We will keep everyone posted as we work past each milestone for the release.