Away From Reality

April 30, 2015

Fan favorites part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — tabulacandida @ 12:00 PM

For a few years now I’ve had a running gag in the comic around Winter Vale: Alaxia and Hurgon keep having to restrain their friends to try to stop them from killing Greatfather Winter. Here’s the whole sequence.  Not sure what I would have done next December.





Fan Favorites part 1

Fan Favorites part 3

April 29, 2015

Fan favorites part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — tabulacandida @ 3:07 PM

Here’s some favorite AFRs picked by fans who commented on last week’s posts.

There’s a story behind this one, as you might imagine. You see, a few of my comic titles had some risquee puns, and a few more were perfectly innocuous but just happened to have an unfortunate combination of words, so for a while I was getting a lot of search hits from people who clearly were not looking for WoW comics. When I made another punning title (involving ERP, or erotic role-play) commenter Tokkar pointed out:

Of course you realize that the title will bring out the people who are searching for naked blood elves again…

At which I threatened to start naming all my comics: “Statistical abstract of projected fire hydrant maintenance outlays for fiscal year 1972.” Commenter Coffinshaker then came back with:

awe man, I came here looking for erotic statistical abstract of projected fire hydrant maintenance outlays for fiscal year 1972 pics! wtf? I call bait and switch!!!

After that, this was kind of inevitable.


Poor Hurgon. He’s usually the butt of the joke. But here’s one comic where he gets to deliver the punch line.


This one is about Scarlet Monastery. From today’s perspective, this comic may not make much sense, but back in the old days, before the Cataclysm revamp of Azeroth and the dungeon finder system, if you wanted to run Scarlet Monastery as an Alliance player at the appropriate level you had to run through several high-level zones and the Undead starting zone just to get there. For many groups, just getting to Scarlet Monastery took more time, more planning, and more resurrections than the dungeons themselves. This comic may not work so well in today’s Azeroth, but I still think “Heal yourself, flag boy!” is one of Hurgon’s best lines.


Early on, Thizzible’s running gag was that she role-played as Jewish.  Although she officially switched role-plays later it’s always been there in the background for her (and when her mother started playing there was definitely some Jewish mother humor going on). This comic played on that role from a different angle, invoking the People’s Front of Judaea. (There’s a callback many comics later, by the way, when Thizzible was experimenting with being a battle pet.)


So, this comic, about the chess game in Karazhan, is basically the tactical deployment of Calvinball. For the record, the games that Thizzible and Targe invoke are: old Star Trek‘s 3-D chess, checkers, poker, tennis, darts, horse racing, cold-war-era Olympics, some weird foot-basket-hockey-ball amalgam, Latin American football announcers, and the casino game dabo from Deep Space Nine. And yes, this is exactly how Targe and Thizzible would play chess, even if they were just having a friendly game one afternoon.


Fan Favorites part 2

Fan Favorites part 3

April 24, 2015

My favorite AFR comics: The leading pair

Filed under: Uncategorized — tabulacandida @ 7:07 AM

Here we are with Gord and Alaxia, the first two characters of AFR who have remained the leads throughout the life of the comic.

Alaxia the restoration druid (191 appearances)

Choosing a favorite Alaxia comic is really hard. I think Alaxia is my favorite character and she’s the one who has the most of me in her. I picked this one because I think it’s one of the best Morgatha-Alaxia friendship comics, and the relationship between those two characters is one of my favorite things in the comic. It reminds me of the relationship I had with my best college friend.


(Behind the scenes: The last panel of this comic is the first time I ever had the “tail” of the dialogue box cross behind another character’s dialogue box. I agonized for so long about that. Should it go this way? What about over here? Should it be thicker? Thinner? A different color? In the end, I think it ended up being perfectly clear who was saying what, and all that fretting was for nothing.)

Gord the protection warrior (246 appearances)

I thought it was going to be really hard to figure out my favorite Gord comic. After all, to the extent that AFR has a main character, it’s him. He’s in more than two thirds of the comics. And yet, this was the easiest pick of them all, because there is and has always been one defining trait to Gord’s character: he’s Azeroth’s everyman. He’s the guy who can’t catch a break. He’s Charlie Brown trying to kick the world’s football. He’s Donald Duck. And no comic shows us that side of him better than this one.


(Behind the scenes: Believe it or not, this was the first comic to feature all six of the major cast– Gord, Alaxia, Morgatha, Hurgon, Thizzible, and Targe.)

The background characters

The ensemble

Got a favorite AFR? Got a question about the comic, the characters, or how it’s all made? Let me know in the comments and I’ll write about it next week from a creator’s perspective and give you more glimpses behind the scenes.

April 23, 2015

My favorite AFR comics: The ensemble

Filed under: Uncategorized — tabulacandida @ 7:24 AM

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here’s my favorite comics with the major cast apart from Gord and Alaxia. I’ll cover the two leads tomorrow.

Targe the Legolas hunter (77 appearances)

Targe has a special place in my heart. I love writing Targe so much that sometimes I have to stop myself. Too much of him and his unique Targe-ness starts to overwhelm the rest of the comic. I think this one is my favorite Targe comic because it sums up what makes Targe so special: the normal rules don’t apply to him. Targe can do things that no one else can because he simply doesn’t know that he can’t– which also means things can happen to him that don’t happen to anyone else. Targe’s life has two modes: critical success and critical failure. Everything in between is just boring.


(Behind the scenes: This was the first comic in which Targe wore his yellow sash. The leather belt he wore before was one of many assets that I lost in a computer crash in 2009. It was after that crash that I decided I wanted to work on AFR seriously and commit to making a comic a week. I had to rebuild the Targe character model from scratch and I used that yellow belt because I didn’t have another one. I’ve sometimes thought of adjusting the character model to remove the belt (it doesn’t always pose well), but I’ve hung onto it out of nostalgia. I like to think Targe would understand.)

Hurgon the holy priest (96 appearances)

The very first character I made when I started playing WoW was a holy priest, so I have a great deal of sympathy for Hurgon. The traits I infused into his character– grumpiness, from healing teammates who insisted on standing in the fire; a bit of obliviousness, from looking at green bars all day long– came from my own experiences as a healer in Vanilla. There are a lot of good Hurgon comics I could have picked from, but I think this one is my favorite because it picks up on both of those characteristics so well.


(Behind the scenes: This is pretty much the only comic that has Targe and Morgatha making mischief together. It was hard finding comics to put them together in because normally Morgatha wouldn’t put up with Targe’s nonsense and Targe wouldn’t have the patience or subtlety for Morgatha’s usual kind of mischief, but having them both crack up at Hurgon’s cluelessness seemed just right.)

Thizzible the arcane mage (101 appearances)

Thizzible started out as a one-shot character with a joke about role-playing. She was, in fact, the last of the major characters to appear and it took a while for her to become a major part of the ensemble. At first she was just a role-player, but that characterization easily expanded to take in a lore obsession, and then a general enthusiasm for all the more narrative- and character-driven aspects of the game. Thizzible has given me a lot of great comics, but this one I think is my favorite, even with Thizzible only in the last panel. It gets Thizzible back to her role-playing roots, and I was amused by the idea of weaponizing bad role-play.


(Behind the scenes: As you may have guessed, I did have My Immortal in mind when writing Thizzible’s RP character, but I’ve seen enough bad role-play to provide plenty of material.)

Morgatha the warlock (128 appearances)

Morgatha is my go-to character for the dirty stuff, but that’s never been all of her character. From her first appearance she’s been snarky, self-assured, and not glad to suffer fools. Those are the traits on display in my favorite Morgatha comic. This comes from quite early (you can tell I was still figuring out the character posing). This was just after Targe joined the group and they were getting ready to run Stockades as a party. I’ve often wished that voidwalkers actually had this ability.


(Behind the scenes: It’s interesting to look back at this comic. On the one hand, the figures are very stiff and poorly posed. I was still getting used to the posing tools at the time and I was very bad with things like hands. On the other hand, it uses far more variations in camera angle than I usually did. I was experimenting at the time with posing my figures in full 3D environments, which I hardly ever do any more, since it’s much more time efficient to pose them against a static background. I kind of wish now that I had made the effort to use a moving camera more often in recent years because I like the effect.)

The background characters

The leading pair

Got a favorite AFR? Got a question about the comic, the characters, or how it’s all made? Let me know in the comments and I’ll write about it next week from a creator’s perspective and give you more glimpses behind the scenes.

April 22, 2015

My favorite AFR comics: Background characters

Filed under: Uncategorized — tabulacandida @ 7:57 AM

The end draws near.

In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be posting the last AFR comic, but before it all ends, I thought it would be nice to look back and remember some of my favorite comics. So, in the next few days I’ll be posting a list of my favorite comic for each of the AFR characters, starting with the background players, moving on to the main ensemble, and ending with the leading pair.

Here we go!

In creating the characters for AFR, I made one character for each class, so that I would have the right person ready for any class-specific gags (like this one that required a hunter, mage, rogue, and warrior). Here’s the whole gang enjoying a class joke (minus Wufu, since this comic was pre-monk).


(Behind the scenes: The computer I was using at the time couldn’t actually handle this many characters in the scene at once, so each of the panels of this comic is made up of two separate images carefully lined up next to one another so it looks seamless. The division is between Korin and Anica. If you look carefully, you’ll see that no figure crosses the middle line of the panel.)

Wufu the brewmaster monk (4 appearances)

You might be thinking “Wufu who?”, since Wufu the monk was only in four comics. I guess I just don’t have a lot of monk jokes up my sleeve. Here’s my favorite of those, making fun of the monk ability Touch of Death. I like this comic for a few reasons. First, I think I conveyed Wufu’s nonchalance and Gord’s exasperation pretty well. Second, the joke is short and sweet and doesn’t take too much set up.


Korin the shaman (9 appearances)

You probably don’t remember Korin, either, because even though she was in 9 comics she was never more than a background filled in most of them. The only comic she really played an important role in is this one, a joke about shaman totems (which were a much bigger deal for shamans back in the day). Sadly, despite what Morgatha says, she never really became part of the cast.


(Behind the scenes: Do you remember the big blue dot I use to represent Blizzard in the comics? Well, that figure comes with two big white hands. I make the hands invisible for the Blizzard appearances, but the dope-slap hand in this comic is one of them, with the dot and the other hand made invisible.)

Elyssa the retribution paladin (10 appearances)

Elyssa never got much to do besides show up when a paladin joke was called for, but she managed to have a little bit of a personality anyway as a proud and pugnacious paladin (best seen here giving it to warriors for whining about class changes). In my favorite Elyssa comic, though, she’s the set up for some unintended (by her) innuendo. I’ve done some dirty jokes on AFR now and then (usually involving Morgatha– they’re kind of her specialty), but I think this one pays off the best. (It just requires knowing a little something about out-of-date paladin spells.)


Anica the combat rogue (13 appearances)

Anica often showed up along with Elyssa (it’s probably not a coincidence that my wife and I play a human rogue and a dwarf paladin as a leveling pair). Like most of the minor characters, she was mostly there for class-specific jokes, but she did develop a bit of a personality, cheerful and a little distracted. In my favorite comic she’s part of the ensemble running a dungeon. She plays her part in the comic, but the reason I love this one is because I think I got the knocked-out, tweety-birds-circling-head expression on her face just right.


(Behind the scenes: The background for this comic is just a couple props and some flat textures. I’m pretty pleased with how well they work to suggest a Pandaria dungeon.)

Zhanashkar the frost death knight (23 appearances)

Zhanashkar is the only AFR character inspired by an actual in-game experience: watching a death knight in early Wrath running around Elwynn Forest picking flowers. From the very first, Zhanashkar had a definite personality: he is so totally into the whole dark, gothy vibe of the death knight, but the world just won’t play along and keeps sticking him in sunny happy fields of flowers or has him recovering stolen carrots from bunny people.  My favorite comic, though, is where he reveals exactly what being a Frost death knight means to him. I can’t resist a good pun. (Or a bad one.)


(Behind the scenes: Zhanashkar’s spiky font and blue text were my way of trying to represent in the comic the distinctive death knight voice reverb. Since the font is harder to read, Zhanashkar’s text is slightly larger than anyone else’s. Zhanashkar’s glowing eyes are not part of the model; I add them by hand in postwork, which lets me make them a little more expressive. I always think of Marvin the Martian when I’m drawing them.)

The ensemble

The leading pair

Got a favorite AFR? Got a question about the comic, the characters, or how it’s all made? Let me know in the comments and I’ll write about it next week from a creator’s perspective and give you more glimpses behind the scenes.

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