As per usual with the 100s, a lot to talk about here, so let's get right into it. Starting with... well, one particular aspect of Bar'd that has become a signature of sorts. And I don't mean starting every third page with the words 'How To:'...
SHOCK AND HORROR, THE COMIC IS LATE. Only, this time it managed to be late, like, twice. Though only one time was really my fault!
The first lateness was... well, okay, I didn't set a date for when I'd START updating Bar'd 400. Still 4/5 months is a preeetty large wait for a single page. I mean, it's not like I wasn't working on it this time, this isn't another case of 300 where I lost motivation or whatever. Simply put, the whole issue just wound up being waaay longer than I expected.
Uuunfortunately, the main delay came after having already posted up the first two parts. For part 3 (which - due to file size - eventually had to be split into parts 3 and 4) I wanted two panels to be drawn up. Pretty major ones and ones I felt I couldn't do justice or represent well through simple spritework. Unfortunately... Well, I ain't much of an artist myself, and thusly I implored an artist friend to assist with such a matter! Weeell, one thing lead to another and... Well, to cut a long story short things weren't really materialising - and thus we mutually agreed after an unfortunately long period (around 7 months) that perhaps it were better for us both to move on.
And so, then I hit up another friend of mine, one Electrisa! And well... two weeks following that, and 400 was all ready to show you! And well... there it is! Elec did a fantastic job of getting things done super quickly and bringing us back on track to getting Bar'd updating once more - huge shoutout to her!
-MORE LI'L MAXIMILLION-
That's right, young Maximillion and Shelia are back! And this time featuring much more prominently than they did in 300, what with a whole 3 scenes being dedicated to flashbacks - this time sorta going into the parentage of the characters!
First of all worthy of mention is Shelia's father, who made his way off to war. He's... actually been a pretty significant figure in Shel's backstory for a while, so it's cool to actually bring him up at last. I admit to being... slightly worried about the huuuge exposition dump on him in part 1. Still, hoping the dialogue sounded at least VAGUELY natural - and that at least some insight has been given to Shelia's own personal insecurities! Believe me - there's more of that to come.
At the other end of the spectrum, part 3 gives us Maximillion's own marble-mad father. He's, uh, an interesting character. Originally, when setting out to do the script, he had a very straight-forward character direction. Super-stern, super-serious businessman, who would suffer no fools. He would be bland, monotone and grouchy - his purpose to be the overbearing scrooge-like figure that would further explain the Maximillion of today. And whilst he certainly probably does still lend to explaining some of that... mid-writing he transformed into a VERY different character. One who's empty business life can only be filled by marbles. ALL OF THE MARBLES.
The last things worth mentioning is probably The Little Mary itself - the little boat by the dockside! Not loooads to say as of yet on it... Only that it evidently means a lot to Shelia. And what with how things went down in Part 2? It's also evidently not the last we'll be seeing of it.
Yep, the Outcast Mercenaries are still at it! Kinda. After ol' Godmodern/Silas left the group, things are obviously gettin' a liii'l bit more desperate.
When the cameos were first sent to me, the group were... a set of anti-heroes of sorts. Their owner had an Outcast Mercenaries author comic at the time, with the whole ordeal being that they were people doing... rather disreputable work in the hopes of earning the money and reputation to turn their town around for good. So, good intentions buuut... still mercs, still doing shady shit - including a li'l bit of killing here and there. In the comic itself it was mainly just killing... well, the corrupted business officials that had drove their city into the dirt. But here I thought... well, I'd explore the group if they were given LESS favourable jobs.
Sooo, yeah. It's always been an interesting challenge with them of 'Okay, where do their morals lie? How far are they willing to go to get what they need? Are they willing to sink another city into problems to try and save their own?' This issue obviously finally gave some time to address that - though we're not... fully done with them yet. The Outcasts shall appear again!
Ooor at least one of them will.
-FIRE IN THE OLD BAR-
Okay what sells? Nostalgia.
What sells more? SETTING NOSTALGIA ON FIRE.
So yeah, it struck me as soon as the plan to change the bar over at around 200 that... well, something had to happen to the old bar, right? I felt that it would more likely've fallen into Maximillion's possession, and with that in mind... well, the plan to set it ablaze formed! I loved the image of the old bar going up in smoke - though it would be quite a striking visual on top of something something symbolism burning away the past something.
Of course, this wound up being a nightmare to put together. Not neccesarily visually - albeit, wow those fire effects are NOT consistent at all I had no idea what i was doing. But... dear god the plotting and scripting of the whole thing proved the real challenge.
There were various things needing to happen. I had to have two simultaneous scenes between what was going on inside the bar with Shelia, Chris and Vas - as well as what was going on outside the bar with Xavier and Jax. Certain moments needed to time well, needed to match up - I needed Xavier and Jax not to be looking whilst Shelia and Chris entered for instance. I also had to make it so the timing on such things was believable too - I couldn't do reams and reams of dialogue in one half of the scene and then a tiny bit in the other. The whole thing became a balancing act of having the right characters in the right place at the right time, without making the scene cut too aggressively. Everything needed to flow...
There were also a few minor things - for instance, how I'd trap Shelia inside. Originally I considered maybe the fire caused a roof cave in of sorts? But that would mean the fire would have to START near Shelia, and somehow the roof would have to come down basically IMMEDIATELY to trap her. There was the consideration too that... well, if the plan was to trap Vas or whatever, the Outcasts would probably have set something up themselves to purposefully ensure he stayed in there - so he couldn't just leave as soon as the fire started. It also needed to make enough of a noise to grab Xavier's attention - and needed to be something that could trap Shelia as easily as it could Vas, what with their vastly different body sizes/shapes. It also needed to be something they could trip themselves without input from the Outcasts, so Xavier wouldn't notice too early. Lastly, it needed to be something Vas could deal with to save Shelia - and something Shelia couldn't deal with herself.
Therefore, taking eeeverything into account, one conclusion was reached; Just attach a goddamn big rock to a rope and their foot catches the rope. ...Honestly I imagine the Outcasts should've had a plan which didn't rely so specifically on the complete obliviousness of whoever walked into the room, but there we go.
So yeah, original script was 'Cool then Vas breaks through the rock and grabs Shelia and runs free, yeah!' Then I realised the block I'd put down was waaay too big for that, so I was like; 'Okay, he could lift it!' followed shortly by '...Vas is not strong enough to just lift up a huge block like that!' Then I realised I put it on a rope, yaaay! Physics! Ooonly in practice to get the angle he needed he had to walk about halfway into the room soooo... Yeah I totally cheated the angle where he's holding it isn't right at all. BUT YOU CAN'T SEE THAT ON-PANEL SO IT'S FINE!
Ooonly then it wasn't high enough for Shelia to get past properly, and Vas couldn't grab her because he was... well, holding the huge block. And thusly, ACTION SLIDE! What I'm trying to say is, what originally began as me trying to keep everything all precisely scripted and in-line, instead became me floundering about desperately and improvising the whole scene as I went. YAY WRITING!
Although there is one last little funny story I want to share in this segment before I move on. Actually, between 200 and 400, someone hit me up via PM about the original bar. Y'see, they were wanting to start a small series of their own and... well, they asked my permission to use the old bar as their character's hide-out. When I asked if they meant if they could use the background, they clarified no, they meant actually have their hide-out be where The Leafy Bar once canonly was. I then rather cage-ily had to explain that, unfortunately, I DID have plans for the old place. So, individual who had messaged me in the past - if you're anywhere still around Smackjeeves - this is why I had to turn you down; BECAUSE I NEEDED TO SET EVERYTHING ON FIRE.
THE BIGGEST PLOT TWIST IN ALL OF BAR'D no yeah this one was obvious. So, this whole time Night Mare has just been Chris possessing Vas - though despite it being pretty obvious I have tried to drop some hinting here and there besides the pages where Night Mare actually appears. In particular, a few moments of this past day were sorta meant to be about putting two-and-two together in that regard.
In particular, this page talks about Vas occasionally waking up on the opposite side of the gender spectrum; http://barred.smackjeeves.com/comics/2291329/gniob/
At the same time, it's shown in 399 that when Chris dispossesses people... they sometimes accidentally sorta leave them the opposite gender, whoops; http://barred.smackjeeves.com/comics/2345564/fleece-as-white-as-snow/
Back in the first link, Vas also makes mention of aching in the morning and such. Makes sense when you've been running all night, right? Plus, waking up damp too which... well, is to be expected when it's been raining recently; http://barred.smackjeeves.com/chapters/89904/burning-down-current/
Of course, Chris can't possess Vas EVERY night. Some nights Night Mare simply couldn't show up; http://barred.smackjeeves.com/comics/2108141/how-to-scan-for-lifeforms/
After all, it's hard to possess someone unawares when they haven't been able to sleep that night; http://barred.smackjeeves.com/comics/2127976/how-to-get-up-there/
Though when Vas does sleep... boy does he sleep. There are about 10,000 pages dedicated to the fact he could sleep through anything, including battles going on around him... ooor in this case, a ghost running around in his body. And one additional advantage to having a host who's already sleeping? Well... http://barred.smackjeeves.com/comics/1324963/how-to-teamkill/
...They're particularly hard to tranquilise.
So yeah, it's true, the whole twist that Night Mare was actually Chris possessing Vas is nothing too surprising. Still, pretty certain there were elements to this whole thing people will've missed - and happy to talk about some of these things more in-depth as to the hows and whys!
Ahahaha, oh boy, here we go. It's what some of you have been waiting for, and what some of you have been dreading! All probably presented in the worst way possible. Ghost stealin' your first kiss? Could happen to anyone!
Before anything else, wanna throw a big thank you to Electrisa! I mentioned it up above in 'The Delay', but without her work this moment would've... well, it wouldn't've been 'impossible'. But I'm pretty certain it would've been 'terrible'. Elec took this moment I knew I really couldn't represent well myself, and did a fantastic job of interpreting into art! And for your viewing pleasure, here's that art in full; https://i.imgur.com/kPNiuXl.png https://i.imgur.com/Cr7n2pV.png
So yeah! It's about time isn't it? I mean it only took us, what, 400 comics? Of course this evidently has been esseeentially part of the plan since the very beginning of Bar'd. I've been awfully patient - and so have many of you! of course, this isn't the big end-point or end-goal of Bar'd. But it certainly moves us into a new era of sorts, and is really gonna effect some character dynamics moving forward.
I do realise on the off-hand however that... well, there's gonna be some who don't like this development. There have definitely been vocal detractors of Vas and Shelia as a relationship in the past - some citing that Shelia's definitely been... less than pleasant to Vas in the past, and other citing the previous 'date' between the two. I've spent the last 100 or so pages sorta trying to address aspects of that, and I'm definitely not gonna claim that makes everything okay, or that these two are the perfect example of what a relationship should be, or even that they'll now be ready to move on without issues... But still, in a fandom where two people trying to kill each other can be the basis for shipping, and I've seen enemies literally headbutt each other 'til they kissed, I somehow think Vas and Shelia are... well, they're gonna be alright.
Still, I know you can't please everyone. And I'm sorry if you don't like this development but... well, this is the road we're on now - and this is the one we're travellin' down!
Unfortunately, yes, we'll be putting a halt to these for the time being! Whilst they were super fun, and interesting to world-build with, BOY did I keep running out of stuff. I spent a lot of time scrambling for information, and wound up with many of the later Infodumps only getting put together like... minutes before the pages were meant to go up. They were an enjoyable little extra, but for now? Yeah, we'll be avoiding 'em, at least for the next 100 pages. Maybe shall bring them back after that! Time will tell.
Either way, a big thank you to everyone who helped out with those! It was a lot of people, and they've all helped to expand Bar'd and the world around it! And I can certainly say... some of those Infodumps will CERTAINLY become more pertinent in the future. Not that reading any of them is absolutely neccesary for understanding what's to come in Bar'd - but some of them mayprovide little teases towards the future.
For now though... Well, the bottom of Bar'd is gonna have something else in store for y'all!
And of course, finally, the nitty gritty!
Time It Took To Make: Juuust over 11 months - so less than a year this time! That's at least better than 300!
Number Of Panels: 340
Dimensions (Pixels): 671 x 26185 (Combined size)
Dimensions (CM): 17.76 x 692.81 (Combined size)
File Size: 11.85MB (Combined size)
So Bar'd is back, right? Yyyyeah, kinda. I don't think we'll be getting straight back to regular updates. STILL, there definitely will be updates, even if right now they may be a li'l sporadic. Still, let it be known that Bar'd is not yet dead. IT LIVES.
There will certainly be some things to address. A bunch of the html still needs redoing since the whole imagehost breakdown. Some bits may be scrapped, some bits... well, I have slightly bigger plans for.
Also gonna definitely be having a redo of the cameo list. It's... it's old. It's outdated. Rather than doing the wishy-washy 'Oh I'll put these on a maybe list, and these on a 'hit me up' list, and these over here, and these over there'... I'll be clearing the list. Some characters will remain, but very few - specifically those I already have plans for. Other than that, the slate's being wiped clean - and a new cameo form to fill in will be written up for all future incoming cameos. So... yeah, expect that to be coming up next page!
...Whenever that is!
So... for all of you who've read this, and stuck with this so far - and to all those who are freshly jumping on and just starting to read now - a huge thank you! I hope you've enjoyed Bar'd so far... and I hope you continue to enjoy it in future! There's still plenty to go!
MY ONLY WEAKNESS
I lied. One of many actually
My other weakness being rats let me hug Maxie
(fuk yu for making me squeak at my monitor, twice)
(also rip yu for obvious reasons)
(juses that's long)
*contains excited screeching at my own name in the author comment for later*
I'm disappointed that there was no brargh on hand too, can you imagine how much more majestic it'd look is vas carried sheila out twice as muscly?
But what if Quad tho? What if regular muscly but in f o u r arms?
he could like, carry each of her limb in one arm
in an x cross like fashion
actually that's not exactly majestic but would make sheila look like a sorta mobian jesus so that's still good
also spoiler but OH HEY THEY ALL LIVED IN THE END, GOOD
Holy crap, that was metal af. I actually /care/ about the Schlock Mercenaries there, and tbh, I feel for poor Orangie. It'd ve a raw deal having to take orders from a chump you're trying to overthrow.
At the same time, I still get why they'd do it. Jsidjfjejf MORAL CONFLICT AT ITS BEST.
And Vas and Shelia, I'm kinda glad they can sort it out between each other. They're both mature enough that I'm okay with them sorta kinda getting together so clumsily cx
Though I excitedly await what kind of workplace relation this will have. I bet Dejero will be livid c:
Also... Rip Max. His dad is cookoo bonkers dude, MARBLES FTW.
Buuut I can see how it'd make Max the way he is. Kaksjdhdhf Can he just /not/ skdhejfnd
Overall, very good. Worth the wait Dreggles. Thank you for the years of fantastic camek cx
And here's to many years more in the future!
(also shout out to Elec's first foray into lesbian kink art*shot*)
I've been reading your comic for five years now--I started when I was still a kid--and it just occurred to me I've never once commented on it. So here we go:
Most comics, especially in the sprite-based medium, you grow out of. This comic has just been so consistently good, though, from beginning to end, that I still list it as one of my primary inspirations in writing and video game development. I now have a job as a writer for a game, just one of many, I'm hoping, and would like to thank you for that. Your skills in character development, drama, humor, and simplicity are largely responsible for how and why I write nowadays. Thank you.