AVALON - By Josh Phillips
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About Avalon

This is the story of the students of Avalon High School. It is an exploration of emotion, relationships, and the experiences of youth.

It's also supposed to be funny, dammit. :-)

To be a bit clearer... Avalon is a daily comic strip, published on this site every weekday at midnight (Eastern time). The comic started on November 8, 1999, and at that point I wasn't sure when it would end (or even how long it would last). Also, back then there were just a bunch of loosely-connected characters, thrown together to tell some jokes.

A year later, Avalon has become something much greater. It is now a cohesive, long-term, suspenseful story. The characters have grown up a little, and will continue to grow as they approach graduation (and the end of Avalon) in August, 2002.

Despite the serious undertones of the continuous story arc, Avalon always strives to amuse the reader. If you're a high school graduate, you'll probably end up with some sort of fond recollection of those days. And if you're currently in high school, you can just shake your head and curse your own horrible experiences. ;-)

Inspired by the Japanese visual medium known as anime, and by creators such as J. Michael Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame), I originally started Avalon for my own personal benefit. But the comic has since attracted thousands of fans, causing me to change my motives - I now dedicate my work to the faithful readers who make creating Avalon so worthwhile.

So if you already enjoy Avalon, I thank you for your support! And if you're new to Avalon, I invite you to start from the beginning, ignore all my propoganda, and discover it for yourself!


[Sep. 20, 2000]

About the Artist

[Picture of Josh]I'm hesitant to call myself an artist, actually... more of a cartoonist wannabe. :-) But nonetheless, my name's Josh Phillips. I'm 23 years old, I live in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently attend Carleton University in 3rd year Communications Engineering.

So why the hell am I doing this? Because I don't know enough not to follow my whims. I got hooked on Internet comics about a month before I started Avalon, and was terminally inspired. So now I'm trying my own hand at it.

I've been cartooning off and on for about 10 years now. I've been improving to some degree (just check out the first few weeks of Avalon), so please don't be scared off by my artistic skill, or lack thereof. :-)

But beyond cartooning, I have vested interests in web site development, the sport of curling, and the science of duct tape.

For more info about me (but not much more), you can visit my home page.
[Feb. 14, 2002]

The History of Avalon

This story began several years ago... I've since forgotten what the initial inspiration was. It was certainly founded on my interests in anime (Japanese animation), which probably shows in the artwork.

I originally intended the story to be an animated television drama, though I never expected it to fly (and even if it does now, it'll be a comedy anyway...). I've actually had several ideas for animated television dramas; with any luck you might be watching one of them someday. :-)

At some point I was introduced to anime fan-art, specifically amateur manga (Japanese comic books). This inspiration led me to believe I could create such a comic book myself, and Avalon found a new direction.

That idea bombed. :-) I wrote a whole honkin' script and everything, but never took pencil to paper. But at least the characters had been fleshed out, and a foundation was there.

During the fall of 1999, I stumbled upon an online comic strip while looking for Futurama quotes. And everything started from there... I was fascinated by the concept of a daily Internet comic strip, and developed an unhealthy addiction to several of them (see the Links section for a sampling of my favorites). It then became apparant that I could start my own comic strip, and I decided on using Avalon for this fell purpose.

The biggest change was from drama to comedy, which meant changing some of the characters I had already become so familiar with. But the process is now complete, and all that's left is to see where it goes.

About the name, "Avalon": it is not derived from the legends of King Arthur, of which I'm actually not quite familiar with. It's actually based on an old comic idea I had once dabbled with, which was set on the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland. I just thought the name was cool, so now an imaginary town along highway 7 in Ontario bears its name.
[Nov. 8, 1999]

The Making of Avalon

(Conveniently located at the bottom of the page, left only for any people who might actually care. :-) Thanks to David Willis of Roomies/It's Walky for starting me out with a similar rundown)

I am so cheap when it comes to art. My favorite tools are a 0.5mm mechanical pencil and 8.5x11" copy paper. I've upgraded slightly for the purposes of this comic... I now use 2B leads. :-)

I usually just draw heavy pencil outlines, then lightly shade with the same pencil. Unfortunately, this results in a bit of smudging, which makes it hard to get any kind of decent contrast when the drawings are scanned.

For the Avalon comic book, I was planning on pencilling, then inking the outlines. I would then do shading using a variety of different grade pencils. I tried it on some sample drawings, only to discover how bad it looked at the end.

My current process for drawing Avalon is as follows:

  1. Using a ruler, lightly draw the panel outlines.
  2. Draw the outlines of stuff inside the panels, and do lettering, using the 2B mechanical pencil.
  3. Get the ruler out again, and draw solid lines around the panels to finish the work.
  4. Scan the image in black & white, at 600 dpi (just in case one day I need the high-quality scans for print publishing).
  5. Open the scanned image in Corel Photo-Paint 9. Clean up the artifacts left by dust and smudging. Crop the image to just outside the panel frames, then convert to greyscale.
  6. Use the fill tool to apply colouring to the image. Then use the pen and fill tools to add light/shadow effects. Then do any big gradient background fills.
  7. Reduce the image to 600 pixels wide (this also smooths out all the solid black lines, using anti-alias resampling).
  8. Slap the comic strip onto a template containg the Avalon title, date, copyright notice, etc.
  9. Upload it to the server, and let the Keenspot services do the rest.

I no longer use the crappiest scanner on the planet. :-) I used to use a Logitech ScanMan 256 (as in 256 shades of grey), a stupid little handheld scanner that you have to move as slowly as a three-toed sloth walking against the wind. I bought it off a friend for $10, so it was worth what I paid. :-) Unfortunately, it could only go up to 400 dpi. And it also conflicted with other devices in my computer. So I eventually got an AcerScan Prisa 640P. It works like a charm, but parallel port scanners kinda suck. :-)

If anyone cares about how I made this web site: I do all my HTML editing using CuteHTML, and I make all the graphics from scratch in Corel Photo-Paint. It usually takes me a while to get it all together, but in the end it's a lot better than a WYSIWYG editor could ever do. Back when I was hosting the site myself, I had written a slew of CGI scripts to handle automatic updating and archiving of comic strips. Thanks to Keenspot, this is all done for me now. :-)

If you want to learn more about how I put this all together, or need advice (or perhaps just more confusing info), feel free to e-mail me.
[Sep. 20, 2000]

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