There is nothing more destructive to your narrative than having a bunch of players who know the rules of the game you’re trying to run. They will usually demand you do things like understand and abide by the rules, and that’s almost as bad as letting them control the story.
The best way around this is to just change games as often as you can. When faced with a new system, sometimes players will be so ignorant that they won’t know which dice to roll and won’t understand any of the numbers on their character sheet. This is situation is known as the GM’s “Sweet Spot”.
One of the challenges we hit early on in collaboration was that Shamus’s previous comic was this huge sprawling thing where he really took advantage of the Infinite Canvas, and took the time and space to do these fun layouts that could go on forever and cram in all of the dialogue he wanted to tell his jokes. My previous comic was a detective story that was paced with a series of linear panels, each the same size and not a single word balloon in the entire strip, just narration.
To say we had to spend a bit of time accommodating our previous styles to each other is an understatement. I think we eventually hit our stride, and strip #40 is a perfect example of how well we eventually fit together, but early on I know there was a lot of wrangling to try and fit Shamus’s Wall of Text in to my idea of “Every Comic Is This Size, and Generally Just 3 Wide Panels Stacked On Top Of Each Other”. I think you see some of that here, in clunky flow. We were just finding our sea legs for the first few strips. The tricky part was we had to do it while several thousand people watched.
I find it amusing that Shamus is now doing a comic that’s just equal sized panels stacked on top of each other, and I’m doing a comic with more of a comic book style layout. At some point we met in the middle, and then each went on to where the other one began. Shamus still takes as many panels as he wants to tell his jokes though, and I’m super anal that every Clockworks comic is the size of one comic book page.
Nothing else really to say here, aside from how much Chuck looks like a bad Garfield clone in that last panel.
The time I spent on DM of the Rings really did spoil me in a bad way. Apparently it’s easier to hit the “capture” button on a movie than to sit down and draw, ink, and color a scene? Who knew? I was used to being able to just take as long as I wanted to get to the point, because page space was free. This came back to haunt me when it stopped being free.
But learning brevity made me a better writer in the long run. I had to learn how to figure out where the joke was, and trim things down until I didn’t have more than I needed. It took a while, and in the meantime we got strips like this one.