After 66 puns made into comics daily since mid-June, I have decided it is time to punt The Pun After till another time.
The Pun After is the first comic I’ve undertaken since my freshman year of college, when I wrote and illustrated The Drivel. The simple form of unchanging art and pun-based jokes was intended to be a jolt of creativity for each day. By focusing on the setup and punchline instead of the storytelling and art like the longer-form Fantastic Ballads, I’d remove variables and develop one skill at a time, instead of being distracted by a dozen.
Though I’m falling shy of the 100 (AKA the one pundred) that I originally intended for this project, I am happy with the outcome. There are some other opportunities that have cropped up recently that I’d like to nurture, and that simply means some current projects need to go on the back-burner.
The three and a half months that I’ve worked on The Pun After have been entirely pleasant, and I want to take a few minutes to recap the project and what I learned throughout before saying goodbye.
The idea itself for a new comic came during a lazy afternoon in Portugal. Curious to see what kinds of strips I might be able make on a regular basis, I wrote out a list of ideas. Some were to be photo comics, some illustrated, and some were rehashes of old projects.
The first draft of The Pun After was called ‘The Pun Punt’ , and I described it like this:
“A kicker has to endure a pun from his placeholder. The quality of the pun dictates the quality of the kick, and the point after is never good.”
The art would remain the same in each installment, and the words would change, but the overarching punchline was the same: no pun would ever be good enough for the ball to score.
I knew from the beginning that this project wasn’t meant to hone my artistic abilities. Still, I had to communicate the idea to the people who would be creating the art, so I sketched out my “vision.”
From there, I found some images that captured the idea…
… and contacted a handful of artists through Fiverr to recreate those images with pixel art. Below were the top contenders.
… and finally, with words and speech bubbles added in Photoshop, came one of the first installments of The Pun After:
The Pun-and-Done Process
To write these jokes, I would sit for an hour and come up with 10 jokes a time, repeating the process 2-3 times a week. Of these 10 jokes, usually two or three were even in the ballpark of decent. The rest went in to the ‘Never-ending List of Unused Jokes’, which you see below.
After repeating the 10 idea session as many times as was necessary to craft 5 usable jokes, I would batch the work for creating the actual comics on Sundays, spending a few hours creating them in Photoshop (you can see the text placement process below), and uploading them to The Pun After, where they were set to post at midnight on weeknights.
The batch process worked well by freeing up time during the work week – it enabled me to meet my self-imposed daily deadlines without relying on having free time each morning to write and Photoshop.
The downside of concentrating the work, for me at least, is that it led to me feeling disconnected from the project, and it became easier to push off the work of generating ideas, and when I lost the consistency of thinking of ideas, and my weekends grew busier with other commitments, my grip on the project started slipping.
Deciding to Punt
There are a few factors that went into deciding to leave The Pun After behind. One is my recent acceptance into Smartly’s MBA program. Though the MBA program doesn’t seem to be as intense as a traditional one, I want to ensure I spend the appropriate amount of time on the lessons and connecting with classmates. TPA took between 4-8 hours a week, and having that amount of time to dedicate toward education is more important over the next few months.
I also didn’t want to get into the rut of creating for the sake of creating, of producing just to be productive. In a way, I avoided the challenge of earlier comics by removing the artistic component and focusing on writing. Writing is what I’ve always done; art, whether drawing or taking photos, has always been more challenging, and I have a track record of finding ways to avoid it.
Any Given Punday
I am very pleased with these few months on The Pun After. It’s the longest I’ve worked on a daily comic before. Not that quantity should ever best quality, but this is the most installments of a strip I’ve made. I hadn’t ever taken advantage of a batch process before, and while there are certain downsides I didn’t expect, I’m happy to have experienced it.
Plus, it’s a simple idea, and it was a delight to execute. The project I had attempted before, Connect A Book, was time-and-money intensive, so The Pun After was, in a certain sense, a course correction and a project palate cleanser. I needed a light, funny little thing to recalibrate.
I leave it behind feeling refreshed, and though my current job may keep any larger-scale projects on the horizon, I’m excited for what comes next.