Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Palace: So This Is Where the Asians Hang Out? begins June 14 and concludes June 20 at

The Palace: So This Is Where the Asians Hang Out?, Chapter 2 by Jimmy J. Aquino

I hate inking my own webcomic. It takes forever to do. Instead of adding ink directly onto each original sketch that I did in blue pencil, I place a tracing pad sheet over the sketch and redraw it in ink. (Even though the time-consuming process drives me crazy, I prefer to do it this way because when I scan the tracing pad sheet, the redrawn strip looks more dirt-free and clean than the version that's in pencil, so I don't have to do too much digital editing.) If one of my knuckles brushes up against a newly inked line or letter, it can smudge, so I have to wait a few minutes for the ink to dry before I resume inking. I bet this is what shooting a makeout scene with a temperamental actress who hates being touched by you must be like: a lot of stopping and starting and having to make sure your knuckle doesn't brush up against her boob because if it does, she'll throw a fit and refuse to come out of her trailer, and everything's ruined.

While scripting most of The Palace's STIWTAHO? arc a couple of months ago, I Netflixed DVDs of the surreal early '00s Britcom Black Books. A former colleague once blogged about his enjoyment of the show, and he mentioned that one of its running gags was the lead character's hatred of cell phones--something I really identify with--so I always wanted to check out Black Books, but I kept putting it off. I finally got around to Netflixing the show and enjoyed the hell out of it.

I was surprised to find that Black Books covered some of the same ground I've covered in my webcomic. The Dark Knight watercooler talk ban that Connor--an Irishman like Bernard Black--enforced at his business in The Palace's In the Shadow of the Bat arc is like any one of Bernard's various rules at his bookshop ("No mobiles, no walkmans, none of that or any of the others...").

When I came up with the concept for The Palace, I set it at an independently run art house/repertory theater that's barely scraping by instead of a successful multiplex that shows current blockbusters because struggling or failing always makes for more interesting material than being at the top (a reason why I got bored with Entourage). Black Books star/co-creator Dylan Moran must have been aware of that too. He said he set his show in an indie bookshop because he was fascinated by the theme of doomed enterprise. "Running a second-hand bookshop is a guaranteed commercial failure. It's a whole philosophy," said Moran in a 2000 Guardian article. "There were bookshops that I frequented and I was always struck by the loneliness and doggedness of these men who piloted this death ship."

Separated at birth?

Is it me, or is Bernard a dead ringer for Spike Spiegel?

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