Comic 1500 - Webcomic Day - My Impossible Soulmate Preview

9th May 2022, 7:46 AM in Special
Webcomic Day - My Impossible Soulmate Preview
Average Rating: 5 (7 votes)
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Author Notes:

Jocelyn 9th May 2022, 7:46 AM edit delete
Jocelyn
Apparently, today is Webcomic Day. Most people probably didn't know that (including myself until very recently), so I probably could've gone the day without saying or doing anything. But it does give an opportunity to offer a little bit of a preview for things to come, and collect some audience input.

This is an actual page from the rough draft of the script for My Impossible Soulmate (so it may look and/or read differently by the time the comic starts). It's also very early on, and one of the few I can actually share on its own without spoiling anything. But it's a very convenient page too, in that it allows me to finally start to share some tidbits about these characters and some new ideas I'd like to work with. If you have thoughts on anything I'm about to discuss, I encourage you to share them. Again, nothing is finalized, so your input could be incredibly valuable. ^_^

***

Firstly, speech details. In Rain, I used the simple Arial font for dialogue, but I've heard many people express their dislike for it over the years (some folks find it hard to read, while others just think it looks boring). It's serviceable, but it seems no one's really a fan. Although I'd been hesitant to change fonts midway through Rain, I have been mulling over what to do afterward for a long time. I wanted something that's both legible and perhaps not too dull. And a friend recommended to me Gosmick Sans. I've been recommended a few fonts so far, but this one's clicking best for me, at least.

I'm also now using different colored speech bubbles for different characters. Nothing too extravagant; it's mostly just some basic light colors to add a little extra pop. Pages with lots of speaking characters should be delightfully colorful. It might get tricky to differentiate colors from one character to the next if the cast gets as large as Rain's, but at this time, I'm trying to keep the main recurring cast comparatively small.

Similarly, the story is narrated by our protagonist, Chiaki. While there won't necessarily be narration on every page, it will come up often enough that I wanted it to be something that can stand out from the other speakers. And for that, I went with a simple transparent white bubble.

***

This brings me to the next big detail: Chiaki is an interesting narrator. She's prone to daydreaming, and often lets her mind wander even when people are talking to her. I wanted there to be some kind of clear distinction between the situations that we see that are real, and the situations that we see that are in her imagination. Sometimes, things get to be a lot for her, so she escapes into her thoughts. Sometimes, things are complicated, and she comes up with a more familiar scenario to liken it to, to make it more digestible for herself. And sometimes - like in the first three panels - she simply shows a comparison of what she expects/hopes will happen, versus how things actually play out. There's a lot of uses for this, for both comedic and dramatic effect. I decided to make the difference be that her thoughts have kinda scribbled scrawly lines and colors, rather than the cleaner, smoother lines of "real life".

Fun fact: I actually tried a small test run of this towards the end of Rain too. ^_^

***

The final thing I wanted to bring up today is page length. Sometimes in Rain, managing the length of the page was very restricting and frustrating. It made things easier for me later when putting books together to have pages all be the same static size, but I think it actually, occasionally, changed the way the story was told. It most often came out in the 2-pagers and 3-pagers, where I had a lot I wanted to say, but didn't necessarily want to separate them into different posts that couldn't stand alone on different days. It did happen the other way sometimes too - especially early on - where I felt like I really didn't need much space to express the complete thought of the page, but still needed something to fill in the rest of it, or I'd just have a blank half a page (although I did do this once as an experiment).

Here, I'm making it so that pages don't have a static length. They're simply however much space I need to complete my thought. Some might be exactly as long as a standard Rain page. Some others may be a bit longer (this one, is like a page and a half of Rain, but the current script has a few that might go a fair bit longer). And others may yet be much shorter, maybe even a page someday with just a single panel (perhaps for a shocking reveal or an establishing shot or something). I think the versatility of pages being however long I need will allow me more freedom for my writing. I can have characters go into big explanations without having to take up half the page with a single giant non-indented speech bubble. I can spread it all out; even if it's the same amount of information, it's just being presented in a more palatable way.

Fun fact: I also dabbled in variable page lengths in Rain for the the week of pages depicting part of the Black Wings Kaminari anime.

***

But again, let me know what you think of all this. I'm someone who struggles with changing things halfway, so now that I'm between comics, this is my chance to get experimental again. In case it's another 11 years before I finish My Impossible Soulmate (though I'm trying to avoid that), I just want to try out some different approaches to my presentation while I can. Likewise, while My Impossible Soulmate does tie in to Rain (it's actually technically a prequel), I want it to have its own identity. But I also want to make sure that these new concepts actually work and are appreciated, and that I'm not just fixing what ain't broke because I can change things. So your input is extremely valuable. :)

Also, I primarily focused on design details and whatnot rather the characters of Chiaki and Fumiko on this page, so please feel free to share your thoughts on them as well. ^_^
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Comments:

Tokuben 9th May 2022, 9:13 AM edit delete reply
I can't wait to read the entire version.
DocMesa 9th May 2022, 9:20 AM edit delete reply
DocMesa
She kneaded more time to think.
evagrimm 9th May 2022, 9:43 AM edit delete reply
evagrimm
Dough! I should've thought of that pun! If only I hadn't been loafing around and read this earlier T_T
RazorD9 9th May 2022, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
RazorD9
At least you are on a roll now.
ThisTransGuy 10th May 2022, 5:46 PM edit delete reply
LITERALLY BEST BREAD PUN🤣🥖🍞
DocMesa 11th May 2022, 1:00 PM edit delete reply
DocMesa
Why thank you. Puns come naturally to me - I was bread for them.
evagrimm 9th May 2022, 9:56 AM edit delete reply
evagrimm
My initial thought regarding Chiaki's narration is you can save the color white for other character's colors if you go with a rectangular box instead (like you used in Rain, really). Perhaps this is just because I'm used to reading other comics, but when I see a rectangular box, I automatically default to thinking it's narration. This isn't to say what you've chosen to do here doesn't work (it was clear without explanation), but it may be helpful to save colors for later.

I'm all for the changing page sizes if it means you're more comfortable telling the story how you want to tell it! I'm curious though: You said you kept a static size before for the purposes of the printed volumes. When you reach that point with My Impossible Soulmate, how will you address the varying sizes? Splitting across pages? Compressing onto one page?
Jocelyn 9th May 2022, 10:17 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@evagrimm

You're not the first to bring up rectangular narration boxes (and I did consider it myself), but you do bring up a good point with saving colors. This is definitely something to give further thought to. Thank you for that. ^_^

When it comes time to make print books for MIS, I think splitting them will work best. I can break down the longer pages to the ideal page sizes by just using as many panels as I can fit on a page (without stretching or compressing), and spreading them across the subsequent pages as needed. I may need to play with it occasionally, as I can envision scenarios where it might cause some weird pacing (like if it leads to a big reveal sitting anticlimactically in the center of a page or something). But I think utilizing blank space occasionally will work better in the books than they do online. It shouldn't be as distracting because you can just turn the page when you're ready.

To be fair, I could be wildly mistaken too, and future books may be much harder. But like I said, I'm willing to play around with it to see what does or doesn't work. ^_^
evagrimm 9th May 2022, 11:46 AM edit delete reply
evagrimm
Happy to help!

I think that makes sense to just split panels between pages when printing! Like you said, if you need to insert some white space for the sake of pacing, then seems like it probably won't be a big deal.

I forgot to chime in on the font before! I think this font looks great, but just in case you still want to consider other ideas, I'd also recommend taking a peek at Garamond. It's a great all-around font that doesn't look boring and isn't hard to read.
Allison (not that one) 10th May 2022, 6:44 PM edit delete reply
Colors in speech bubbles (or elsewhere) being used to distinguish things: if you're going to continue publishing paper copies in black and white, color differences will vanish or, at best be very slightly different shades of grey. This was an issue with Rain -- the different grades used different colored lapels, but that is impossible to see in the books. BTW, the way you did flashbacks in Rain _was_ visually distinctive. Maybe wavy frame boundaries for imagined scenes?

Fonts: a lot of the popular sans-serif fonts are visually confusing, especially when there are any imperfections in the rendering (e.g., image compression) or it's rendered in low resolution, because the difference between letters often ends up being a single pixel. Arial is a prime example. A frequent problem is when "r" + "n" ends up looking exactly like "m," but things like a mixture of "i" and "l" end up looking like just a bunch of vertical strokes.

Narration: the color difference did not register with me, at least not until you pointed it out. I figured out what was narration by the sense of the text and the fact that the balloon for narration doesn't have a tail.
Long-Time Lurker 12th May 2022, 3:52 AM edit delete reply
Seconding the white rectangles. The way it's formatted, I didn't even think of it as narration until I read the comments. I just read it as a thought bubble. Except, since the fading doesn't show up great on my phone, I actually read it as a speech bubble on my first two reads before finally figuring out who the "thought" bubble belong to and why no one was responding to it.
Kittysoup 9th May 2022, 10:18 AM edit delete reply
Reading this on phone, though I didn't typically read Rain that way. If you want the daydreams etc to be sketchy, commit more. Use a crayon textured brush with opacity to a lesser percentage and "badly" color it in, creating varying color with each pass over. Otherwise, I hadn't noticed on that Rain panel, and a lot of people read their comics on mobile now and details get lost. I've always wanted to do a comic like the Mario Strykers key art, so that's my experience messing around.

Typically, comic font is a sans serif like Ariel (or comic sans, obvs), but I don't have strong opinions there.

The speech bubble color coding sounds like a good idea and could be reserved for chars you know aren't one scene wonders. I'm not sure about the page lengths, it sounds a little webtoons/tapas. Will you still plan to compile for print? I remember manga that'd use extra doodles in the corners for pages that only had a few panels (and be otherwise blank based on flow) on it from however it was published in its original print (like sitting next to a rant or ad). (Example like...seasalt ice cream laying melting at the end of chapter in the Kingdom Hearts manga or a deck of cards in YuGiOh.) Not sure if you were accounting for that, just don't mind me if I seem to tryhard on the feedback.

Anyway, I'm not sure how interested I am in the story yet, but I'm keeping an eye on it and look forward to giving it a chance. It's nice to see where you start with all this experience behind you. Still so used to unfinished stories and disappearing creators. This is exciting seeing a comic planned.
Long-Time Lurker 12th May 2022, 3:46 AM edit delete reply
I definitely want a second this regarding using crayon or something else very unmistakable for daydreams. I didn't realize the first half was not-real/present until I read the second half.
Tani 9th May 2022, 10:19 AM edit delete reply
Am I seeing a garlic bread joke?
Zaranthan 9th May 2022, 11:00 AM edit delete reply
Let's just say I'm not not posting those three panels on an ace meme community.
Jocelyn 9th May 2022, 11:11 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
Well, she is demisexual - which is ace spectrum - making her legally obligated to like bread (garlic or otherwise).* XD

* By the way, this is just a dumb in-joke stereotype, like trans women and pickles; please don't beat yourself if you're ace and don't care for bread.
bgb16999 12th May 2022, 10:28 AM edit delete reply
bgb16999
Oh heck yeah there aren't enough demi main characters!
ThisTransGuy 12th May 2022, 6:32 PM edit delete reply
ace demi me:🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍🌈❤️
Tami 9th May 2022, 10:21 AM edit delete reply
Yes, anyway you slice it, you should rise to the occasion and not leave your puns half baked, least you spread yourself too thin. :)
bgb16999 9th May 2022, 10:59 AM edit delete reply
bgb16999
I did a double take as I thought these characters were Maria and Chanel at first. Excellent preview.
b 9th May 2022, 4:11 PM edit delete reply
same!
Selix 9th May 2022, 12:57 PM edit delete reply
“i like bread”
RazorD9 9th May 2022, 1:07 PM edit delete reply
RazorD9
Who doesn't like bread?

Digging the font. Use to use Arial or some variant years ago and had settle for Laffayette Comic Pro for some reason. Might give Gosmick a try.
Tokuben 9th May 2022, 1:37 PM edit delete reply
Is this new series going to have some similarities to Rain? Like will it have people who have bad parents or has a character fall in love with a pregnant girl?
Wait that last part sounds a little weird. Why am I writing this?
Jocelyn 9th May 2022, 2:10 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Tokuben

I'm going to try my best to let both stories have their own identities. Like, I've already written the teen pregnancy thing, so I'll just let that be Emily's shtick. I can't guarantee there won't still be any bad parents, but there's generally not going to be quite as strong a focus on characters' families in MIS, so it might not be quite as prevalent as it was in Rain (and if it is, I'll find a way to handle it a little differently). Likewise, though Chiaki herself is not trans, there are trans characters, and I'd like them not to just tread the same ground I already did with Rain. There's a lot of ways to be trans, so I want to explore those instead of just writing Rain's character again.

Will there be any similarities, though? I have two personal rules:
1. I want every story I write to have a primarily LGBT main cast, and that will definitely persist in MIS. There will still be cis het characters as well, but I'm a queer trans person and I want to write about queer and trans people. XD
2. I also want every story I write to have at least one rabbit in it. I just love bunnies and I think they're underrepresented. But even in this case, we're not just looking at a brand new Puddle. I have a new kind of approach I'll be taking with this one. ^_^

What I will add to that, though, is that My Impossible Soulmate is an actual prequel to Rain. So if any "bland name products" from Rain have a reason to appear again here, they can (like Funtendo will probably get mentioned again, for example). The other big thing is you can expect to hear more about Black Wings Kaminari here. ^_^

If there's any other major carryovers I'm probably unable to talk about it right now because it might go into heavy spoiler territory. :)

But yeah, TL;DR - There will be some recurring themes or concepts, as well as some tie-ins or references. But I also want these to both be their own stories. I want it to be so that Rain and My Impossible Soulmate are both their own standalone stories, so folks can either read them in any order, or read only one of them if they want. That's my goal, anyway. ^_^
Tokuben 9th May 2022, 1:38 PM edit delete reply
Also I love the sketchy art style of the fantasy scene. Really good!
road-trip-girl 9th May 2022, 1:45 PM edit delete reply
oh this is awesome!! all the new meta stuff sounds great, and this is making me really excited for the comic actually starting! :D
Prezombie 9th May 2022, 2:39 PM edit delete reply
Chiaki having narrated and sketchy drawn daydreams, that is SO anime.
ValeryGraciela 9th May 2022, 7:24 PM edit delete reply
ValeryGraciela
I like the very unique artistic style you're doing with My Impossible Soulmate. I'm already excited to see the first pages of this new comic.

Regarding the font, I like the change, but I don't really dislike Arial, either. So I guess both are fine :3

Notes aside, I already love Chiaki
j-eagle12212012 9th May 2022, 7:56 PM edit delete reply
j-eagle12212012
Jocelyn has mentioned it being a prequel to Rain
And we will learn more about Black Wings Kaminari

I think I know what MIS is going to be but I won't say anything now Incase I'm right
Tundra 9th May 2022, 8:41 PM edit delete reply
The Author of Black wings: Kaminari was Chiaki Koizumi right?
Is this the same one we know from Rain, or a completely different Chiaki
Jocelyn 10th May 2022, 8:17 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
:)
Tundra 12th May 2022, 7:37 AM edit delete reply
:o
mersharr 10th May 2022, 2:13 AM edit delete reply
mersharr
Bratt?
Andrew 10th May 2022, 4:08 AM edit delete reply
With the narration I think it would be better to have true narration (things like "meanwhile..." Or "later that day") be white, and the thoughts of a character looking back (like this page) be the colour for that person. There might be instances in the future where you need to have the narration of two different characters, and it would be consistent to stick to their colours.
Also, it's not that clear on the last panel if the text is part of that retrospective narration, or if it's what the character is thinking in that moment. We don't yet have an example of a thought bubble to make this distinction if you were planning to make them different.
someone_else 10th May 2022, 4:10 AM edit delete reply
someone_else
Thank you for the sneak preview! I’m looking forward to the new comic!

As a print media designer and hoping for a print edition of your new comic, I’d advise against different page lengths, but you already addressed that in a comment. (When I once did the same for fun, i.e. making a print layout from a web comic with different page lengths, it was not easy to get nice page breaks; some pages were too stuffed or too empty.)

While the font is nice, it doesn’t work well in low resolution and looks broken and irregular, look e.g. at the lower arc of the d and the upper of the n. You need one that is hinted for screen use. Or it’s the subpixel font rendering of your art program that is broken. You could try 90% opacity in multiply mode to smoothen the edges.

As Kittysoup wrote, the difference between thoughts and “life” could be stronger. Either more sketchy or maybe blurry (thought/dream sequences are often blurred or smoothened).

I was thinking [sic!] about suggesting those cloudy thought bubbles, but that might be too much and not your style.

Use all the in-jokes you like, not everyone needs to understand them, but it deepens the connection with and the story for those readers who can. Similarly, I can like the story even if I don’t understand any anime references.
Long-Time Lurker 10th May 2022, 4:49 AM edit delete reply
Anyone else see the couple and at first think it was some cute MarNell "Rain Delay" type thing?

Regarding style, I like the faintly-colored bubbles, especially for the main crew. It's super useful when there's multiple people talking at once or someone says something from off screen.

I dislike the new font. I find it hard to read because it gets reeeally thin at points. (It also looks a bit airbrushed/blurred at the edges?? That's not helping.) I personally liked Arial, but most sans serif fonts are pretty legible. My preference is for boring fonts so you can "forget" the text and focus on the story and art, instead of getting stuck on the visuals.

I appreciate you're putting so much thought into this. <3
AmbiguousMouse 10th May 2022, 2:26 PM edit delete reply
And that Chiaki grew up into Roko Basilisk...
Jocelyn 11th May 2022, 6:45 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
Wut? O_o
Fourth Nate 11th May 2022, 8:39 AM edit delete reply
Roko Basilisk is an AI character in Jeph Jacques's long-running webcomic _Questionable Content_. She is literally attracted to bread. I don't think there are any other similarities at all
Jocelyn 11th May 2022, 11:41 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
Ohhhhhh! See, that makes a lot more sense. I didn't catch the QC reference (because I've read very little of it; not for lack of interest, just lack of time). And when I tried doing a search for Roko Basilisk, instead of a comic character, all I could find was a spooky thought experiment. And while interesting, all I could think was, "how the heck does this tie into anything?"

But it makes more sense that what I looked up was just the wrong one. Thank you for clearing that up. XD
doombird 11th May 2022, 12:35 PM edit delete reply
I came here to say this exact same thing, but knew in my heart it had already been said 🤣

For your convenient and direct reference:
https://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=3723
AmbiguousMouse 11th May 2022, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
Oh my gosh I'm so sorry for sending you down a ridiculous rabbit hole, haha! Yea, was just a joke about Chiaki's stated attraction to bread lining up with another character's active sexual attraction to bread.

I guess you got an impromptu intro to weird internet concepts! So... You're welcome...?
Melior 10th May 2022, 7:26 PM edit delete reply
When does MIS take place? I loved how Rain always had a consistent, specific time and setting. You could line out every chapter's events on a calendar. Is the same true here? We don't know how old Koizumi is during Rain's run from 2012 to 2013, but we do know that she's been publishing manga since around the time when Rain moved in with Fara, which I would guess puts her high school career somewhere in the 1990s during Japan's lost decade period.
Jocelyn 11th May 2022, 7:11 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Melior

MIS's story will begin in the year 2000 (probably May/June or so). I'd like to follow the calendar again - like with Rain - as much as I can, and link things to real dates (especially if anything of note happens). It might not be quite as applicable here as in Rain, though. But I guess we'll see. ^_^
Mild Lee Interested 11th May 2022, 7:31 AM edit delete reply
Looking forward to MIS!
First, Chiaki's character design is very cute.
The font looks good, but as others have said, the excessive thinning at top or bottom of some characters doesn't really work. It sort of gives the impression they have been chopped, like the letter has been pasted one pixel row too low or too high.
I actually didn't notice the style difference between daydream and real (apart from the background) and still find it hard too see even now, when i know it's there. Maybe "rough style" frames would be more obvious?
Ari North who made the web comic Always Human had a lot to say about adapting her story to print. Even with the assistance of a professional editing it was a big job converting her free flowing webcomic style into a print edition. Being able to keep the different elements as separate layers in your drawing must be such a handy thing for this sort of work!
Fourth Nate 11th May 2022, 8:37 AM edit delete reply
Cute page!
I also didn't notice the style difference for the first sequence, although it didn't stop me from understanding that it was an imaginary sequence based on the narration. Looking again, I think the pink "dreamy" background helps set it apart, and if it's consistent throughout the comic I could learn to recognize the style change significance.
I think unless you need to reserve rectangular text boxes for something else, comic style conventions definitely allow narration from a particular character to be in rectangular boxes. It's what I'm more familiar with, and it sets the narration apart more clearly.
I absolutely support releasing the comic in variable lengths that feel natural. It will probably improve the online serial reading experience significantly. But I also think that it will be a lot of work to re-do the layout for print publishing later. Maybe that could be mitigated by thinking ahead of time about how a long page will be broken up eventually, or how a shorter page will eventually fit into the pages around it.
Thanks for your hard work! I'm looking forward to it!
Jocelyn 11th May 2022, 11:46 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Fourth Nate

"Maybe that could be mitigated by thinking ahead of time about how a long page will be broken up eventually, or how a shorter page will eventually fit into the pages around it."

Yeah, I was thinking something like this myself. No matter how long or short a page online is, perhaps I should have a separate plan for how I want them to be arranged in print while I'm already there. It'll probably save me a lot of time in the long run. ^_^
doombird 11th May 2022, 12:38 PM edit delete reply
And then Fumiko's like, bread?? BREAD KILLED MY FATHER. And it's a whole thing
Jocelyn 11th May 2022, 1:27 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
Well, that takes me back. XD

I wonder if I still have that lying around somewhere.
Maxwell 11th May 2022, 8:14 PM edit delete reply
Assuming Chiaki is who we all think she is, I love how much it immediately makes sense who this dreamy girl grows into. The sketchy style for her daydreams is clever for the same reason.

You're really good at characters, is what I'm saying.
ValeryGraciela 12th May 2022, 10:50 PM edit delete reply
ValeryGraciela
Besides, I think Fumiko may or may not have already appeared in Rain before.
ThisTransGuy 12th May 2022, 6:30 PM edit delete reply
Joselyn you made me cry thank you your comic… kept me living thank you🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍🌈❤️🥹
ValeryGraciela 12th May 2022, 10:32 PM edit delete reply
ValeryGraciela
I found an issue with the transparent thoughts.

I mean, it's a clever idea, but when for some reason the text has to be on the same row as the border of the panel, it kinda looks like strike-through text.

So I can suggest somewhere between 85~95% opacity and/or the same color of the character for the narration?
Jayfur365 13th May 2022, 10:23 AM edit delete reply
Jayfur365
OH MY GOSH CHIAKI IS SO CUTEEEEEEEEE
abitenum 14th May 2022, 1:38 AM edit delete reply
I really like this page. I'm looking forward to seeing more of MIS whenever it's ready.

One thing I will say is that the way you drew the eyes in the daydream section seems kind of similar to how you drew surprised / shocked for at least some of Rain. It does kind of look like they're constantly shocked by something in the daydream to me. Looking over pages of Rain, I couldn't find an exact example of what I was thinking of, but I did see that you often remove the pupils to indicate strong emotions, so maybe that's what it is for me. Perhaps adding a simplistic pupil (like a solid black dot or oval without the white highlight used for reality eyes) might help? I'm not sure; I have about zero artistic experience, so I could be way off. The fact that nobody else mentioned it makes me think it might also just be a me thing. I only mention this because you were asking for feedback in the author notes, so feel free to take this with all the grains of salt.
iHateFridays 16th May 2022, 8:10 AM edit delete reply
Ooo looking forward to this!
Rainsage 17th May 2022, 12:06 AM edit delete reply
Can I recommend turning up the saturation on the pink speech bubbles a little bit? I'm colorblind and the colors got a little confusing in the last panel-
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