Thursday, July 23, 2009
Charbucks 10 Years Now!
It's been about ten years since I last published my all animated gif comic strip, CHARBUCKS!
It all started at a lunch in Pasadena where I was a guest of dear producer Arlene Sherman and some of her CTW buds. Everyone was very funny and most of them smoked. At the time Starbucks was this kind of creepy phenomenon, appearing suddenly everywhere, and one of the women called it Charbucks because the coffee was always burned.
That got me started. I wanted to put some kind of animation on the internet. I knew the requirements were that it needed to be a SMALL file size since everyone was still getting the internet through their phone lines.
I thought two women sitting and swilling the bitter brew might work very well, and for a couple of years I turned out episodes of their story. Before there was google or any easy way to find things on the internet, I think I was writing for a very small audience.
At a certain point I got very intrigued with the idea of interactive animation-- too bad in a way, because the really interactive pieces were all coded for browsers that no one uses anymore, and they don't work in the current browsers.
For instance this image is a map of a fictional Mesquite, Nevada, and originally it was utterly clickable with silly things all over the place. I even ended up sending Anita and Whinsey off on a cruise on the Titanic 2. All this was before I was aware of Flash, though I think it was in an early stage.
Those cups are all episodes--
But over the last two or three days I've reassembled the strip, and it's made me DIZZY!
Lots of things have changed, including screen sizes on computers. I had to blow up all the images 50% or it would have seemed like internet postage stamp animation, which meant recoding every page. As a result they are blurrier than I'd like. At the time gifs were the only thing I knew of to get movement in a strip, and they repeat endlessly which is peculiar, and some times they go by too fast. There used to be silly messages down in the status bar, but browsers today don't allow that. And I even had custom comet cursors before I learned they were mining information from viewers!
But what I discovered was these earliest Charbucks strips are really funny, dammit, it's true.
So when you have some time, you can start at episode 1- I've got about half of them on line now, in sequence, and checked them mostly for errors.
Oh, and Happy Birthday Whinsey! She was based on a woman I rode with, and this strip was written in the heyday of my riding days, when Pepper and I were showing and winning ribbons in jumper competition.