Frequently Asked Questions

Here's where all the basic "this is a conversation about Far Out There" stuff that doesn't fall under a more specific topic. In other words, the main forum

Frequently Asked Questions

Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Joined: 30 May 2008, 20:32

02 Jan 2012, 23:35 #1

Okay, so I keep saying how I want to tweak the website layout, and one of the things I'd like to add is an FAQ page. And to do that, I need some questions! I mean, I do already have a little list of things I've been asked more than once, but the more the merrier!

So, if you've got anything you've always wondered about Far Out There (be it a plot question, or a behind-the-scenes thing), start asking away! Baring any spoilers, I'll answer everything here and incorporate what I can into the FAQ page.

(Unfortunately, because I suck at planning and time management, I'm posting this this right before a convention and right after my page buffer ran out. Thus, it may take a little while before I can get around to actually answering anything. But hey, it's not like these forums are overflowing with activity anyway)
FAR OUT THERE: the webcomic where things happen... IN SPACE!!!

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all died; and he that died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 1 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Joined: 03 Jan 2012, 15:14

03 Jan 2012, 23:45 #2

Alright, an excuse to post something:

A few character questions:
Stilez:
- Why doesn't she have an active disaster zone declared everywhere she's headed? I would think someone would follow someone that destructive around just to keep tabs on her (like two insurance workers) and she couldn't move without mass evacuations.
- You say in her bio that she is "one of the most dangerous humanoid beings in existence." What non-humanoid terror is more dangerous than she is?! Cthulhu?

Vengeance:
- What are those things on his ears? The only other characters with metal ears are Bridget and Alphonse, which leads to other questions...
- Is it true he has arms and legs, or was that an alternate dimensional illusion?

And a question that is more relevant to Conventional Wisdom, but oh well:
What do you bring to a con, or rather, what is the most important thing that someone going to their first con might forget?

Thanks!

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Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Joined: 30 May 2008, 20:32

05 Jan 2012, 05:40 #3

Hey wow! I actually found time to answer something before leaving!

That's actually a good point about Stilez, which probably ought to have been more clearly addressed at some point. My explanation as to why no one tries to follow her is that no one wants to get close enough to do it (though, technology being what it is, that's not entirely satisfactory) Besides, Space is Big, and there's lots of it for Stilez to get lost in, so I just imagined that she slipped out of sight during the confusion she leaves in her wake. But there again, the ease with which other characters travel from planet to planet makes space seem a lot smaller, so that answer's not to satisfactory. Meh, I'll probably just make up some mumbojumbo about Stilez being stealthy when she wants to be or hard for sensors to track.

Also, I SO can't believe I never thought of a Stilez/Vash connection until you mentioned it. NICE!

What non-humanoid terror is worse? The one I'll make up if I ever write a story where Stilez has to fight something even worse than her. :P (Actually, since Far Out There has no aliens, that line is kind of nonsensical)

Regarding ears, the answer to Bridget and Alphonse's is a lot more interesting than Vengeance's. See, those tykes are still kind of works in progress. For example, they aren't SUPPOSED to be mute, Tabitha just hasn't gotten something between the speech center of the brain and the vocal chords to properly regenerate yet. Likewise, something in the auditory canal's not working right either, so the pointy ears are a kind of highly advanced hearing-aid. (Tabitha HAD designed a vocal apparatus too, but it was too bulky and uncomfortable for them to wear)

As for Vengeance... I dunno, I just thought they made him look cool. If there IS an answer, it lies somewhere in his mysterious past... and while I DO know that, I'm not gonna tell just yet :ph43r:

Yeah, those arms are real. We just don't see them very often.


And while we're here, I totally hadn't even thought about doing a Conventional Wisdom FAQ. That's a great idea! HEY EVERYBODY! Ask those too!

What's most important not to forget? A towel. Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of a convention, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with. :lol:

Seriously though: if you're rooming with more than one other person, bring your own towel (and not a white one). Those things get used up FAST and it's easy to lose track of which one is whose. Same goes for pillows, or blankets if you don't just bring a sleeping bag.

Second, if you've got a room with a mini-fridge or microwave or whatever, bring food. Yes, convention centers have restaurants, but they're all overprices. If you have the option of bringing your own food to your room, DO IT. You will save SO much money!
FAR OUT THERE: the webcomic where things happen... IN SPACE!!!

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all died; and he that died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 1 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Joined: 17 Oct 2011, 09:44

08 Jan 2012, 08:40 #4


Personally, I think that with very little tweaking, the question concerning monitoring Stilez can be answered to a somewhat satisfactory level.
Firstly, I think it can be made a lot simpler by assuming that usually Stilez is kept under observation and "Stilez Inbound" warnings sent to participating governments, etc. However, it is also true that in certain cases they could lose track of her, for example if everything they were using to observe her was destroyed in the general chaos, panic, destruction and pandemonium she tends to leave in her wake. Now, it is also shown that it does still take a few days to get anywhere, which is a lot shorter than a few centuries I grant you but it's still a measurable amount of time, and it could be the case that once a ship has left a planet, station, or other known point it would be nearly impossible to track or find them if they change course even slightly (because, space is big). If I remember correctly, the only time we've seen Stilez in a situation where we know that there were no warnings of her presence given was the space station near the start. So, it could be that the chaos from Stilez's last stop also destroyed all their monitoring equipment, or she simply changed her mind on her destination half-way. Stilez also seems capable of destroying any tracking devices that may be attached to her or whatever ship she decides to use.
And of course, there is always the case that that space station didn't actually subscribe to Stilez warnings, and thus weren't informed about her imminent arrival.


Now that block of text is out of the way... Questions of my own, which hopefully don't have plot-importance...

-Do you have the background on how and why Ichabod became a nickpicker? I think there was a single flashback panel during the mad-science convention arc, but I don't remember anything else about it.

-What possesses you to do such mean things to your characters? Some of your stuff is even worse than what I've put some of my characters through...

-Going from the previous question, are you going to get someone to give Jenna a much-needed hug?

-Of all the cons you have been to, which has been your favourite?

-What about least favourite?

-Do you at all have a plan for how long Far Out There could run?

-Had you thought about just who Avatar was before she was kidnapped by mad scientists and modified to be indestructible and capable of holding all the information in the universe?


Hmm... Those should do for now :)

One day I will think before I post. Today is not that day.
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Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Joined: 30 May 2008, 20:32

09 Jan 2012, 04:26 #5

Oh man, you just gave me this hilarious mental image of, like, an interstellar weather map with a little Stilez icon on it like a hurricane tracker :lol:

Far Out There questions:

Ichabod's past: Very little has been said about Ichabod's past, and I kind of like it that way. I think he's more entertaining if he's kind of impenetrable. That said (and I don't think this counts as a spoiler) I do want to have more flashbacks like the one you mentioned, only keeping them very random and almost-but-not-quite contradictory. You know, to keep us from figuring him out TOO much.

Mean stuff to the characters: Funny thing, I HATE DOING ANYTHING MEAN TO ANY CHARACTER I CREATE! I just want everybody to all get along and have nice happy endings and everything be all cuddly and sunshine! Unfortunately, I'm also a firm believer that happy endings should feel EARNED, thus unpleasantness must be endured first. What's more, despite the above, I'm kind of a pessimistic person, so what I consider sappy and uplifting probably looks snarky and grim to others.

Oh, and one more ironic bit: I HATE reading other comics where this happens. I can tolerate the misery when I know how things will turn out in the end, just reading along blind makes me miserable myself (I've quit reading webcomics for long stretches because I didn't want to have a depressing plot bum me out every other day)

Jenna's hug: I guess the previous rant could be interpreted as a spoiler of sorts ("See? He said Jenna's gonna have a happy ending!") but this one I'll keep to myself.

(For the record though, I only mean that in a big picture, full character arc sort of way. I NEVER promise that a specific plot arc will absolutely end happily)

FOT's length: I don't have any sort of end game for Far Out There, it was conceived as something that could run indefinitely (in fact, I'd totally love to see it being drawn by someone after I'm dead and gone) That said, I DO have clear "endings" for most of the prominent characters.

See, I was putting Far Out There together when I first discovered Doctor Who, and the cast was built around a Doctor/Companion framework. Ichabod would be the Prime Mover of the plot, making everything happen but immune to any real character development, while the kids would be the companions who DO develop as characters and then move on. Thus, I already know how Trigger, Layla, and to a lesser extent Avatar will quit traveling the cosmos and leave the strip. Yes, that's right, the technical plan is for Far Out There to continue without ANY of them. I say "technical" because that plan was established before I knew how much the kids would take over the comic, or how long these arcs would take. As it is, it will probably take YEARS for any of those endings to roll around, at which point I might feel differently about continuing the comic. We'll have to wait and see.

Avatar's past: Yes, actually. When the comic first started, it was just a mystery, but I've since worked out a complete back story THAT I WON'T BE TELLING FOR A LONG WHILE. Here's a fun hint, though: it involves a throwaway gag that's already appeared in one page. Have fun wondering which one! :P

Convention questions:

Most favorite: This is a very difficult question to answer due to the nature of how conventions are. For one, do you mean a specific weekend (say, Otakon 2009 or whatever) or an ongoing entity (like Otakon in general)? The latter would be VERY hard to judge since one year can be vastly different from another through even the smallest of uncontrollable circumstances. You can think you know everything there is to know about a con one year and have it all be totally irrelevant by the next. As for individual years... man, that's even harder. It doesn't take long for nostalgia to creep into my memory and make me say "Oh, it's all been good!" But it's kind of true, there's been SOMETHING I really liked about every con I've been to so far. Trying to single one out as "best" is really REALLY hard.

...well, okay, part of me REALLY wants to nominate MAGFest 2012 as a favorite, but since I just got back an hour or two ago, I might still be too jazzed up from the experience to judge properly.

LEAST favorite: This isn't as hard to come up with an answer for, but I have a much more definite reason for not wanting to do so. The convention world is FULL of people having drama with other people, I'm sorry to say, and I try my very best to avoid any of it. Thus, I do my very best to avoid doing or saying anything in my comics that could be taken as a personal attack on anybody (yes, I do lapse occasionally, but the key word is TRY). General things like big crowds or shouted memes or the simple existence of drunks can get mocked, but I don't wanna go after any specific, individual targets. That goes with conventions themselves as well. Yeah, there are some that weren't as well organized as I'd have liked or were too crowded or were in problematic locations, but I don't wanna go on record condemning a con for it.

Wow, I'm wordy when I need sleep...
FAR OUT THERE: the webcomic where things happen... IN SPACE!!!

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all died; and he that died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 1 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Joined: 17 Oct 2011, 09:44

09 Jan 2012, 11:49 #6

Thanks for somewhat answering my questions :P

I seem to like the idea of little random flashbacks to things in Ichabod's past, whether flashback panels or throwaway lines that hint at so much more but don't really say that much.

About mean stuff, that is kind of like with my stories as much as I don't really like to admit it. I once had a friend accuse me of being mean to my characters. I asked him to mention one I was mean to. He mentioned one that was teased and bullied to a large extent (implied to have lived with it constantly practically her whole life), then waylaid on her way home from school and almost killed. All within the first page or so. My reply was something along the lines of "Umm.. I was kind of teased like that too... and she's going to get her way in the end..." but it made me realise that some of my characters didn't exactly have nice lives.
(Of course what brought this about was mentioning to this friend that I was going to do something to a character that I had never done to any others... and I still wouldn't have if I didn't have the person responsible in the story receive a rather harsh punishment - my friend had wondered about just how bad it could be that I had never been willing to do it to a character before)

About length, I asked that question because unlike pretty much every other webcomic I read, I wasn't actually sure if you had planned an ending to it or not. All stories have a natural lifespan, and webcomics are no exception. Of course very often with webcomics the author gets burnout or simply loses interest and wraps up a comic early or worse lets it simply die. Even at times when they decide to wrap it up properly you can often tell that the comic's 'natural' lifespan was longer.
But with FOT, it didn't seem to have a natural lifespan, or I couldn't see it. I'd actually considered the possibility that it could just go on even after you'd stopped with it, but knew that it would be very difficult to find anyone that'd be both willing and able to continue it. More likely that it'll go the way of other webcomics in a few years (or decades :P) time. But we can hope against that.

Avatar's past, if I wasn't currently sick I'd probably be trawling the archives about now taking a note of every throwaway gag that even remotely concerns Avatar.

The con questions, yeah I understand you not wanting to answer them properly :)

---

So, more questions, since I probably should be asking some rather than just saying random stuff that could be confused for discussion :P
These probably aren't suited for an FAQ though...

About how many visits do you get on FOT? Were there years that had more than others? And have you noticed any trends about when you seem to get more hits?

One completely not FOT or CW related, are you going to do more comics about Becky and Gilb?

Do you mind those somewhat not short pseudorandom paragraphs I tend to include in these posts? I'm pretty sure I tend to stay on-topic at least.

How long has that Contact link been there at the top of the website? I just found myself staring at it thinking "Why is there a blue link?"
I'm trying to remember if it has been there for a while and I've just not paid much attention to it, or if it's a recent addition.

How often do you check the FOT site and this forum for new comments or posts?


For questions I might not really be interested in but seem like they should be on an FAQ whether or not they are actually asked frequently or not, I'd probably have some something like these:
"Do you accept donations?"; "What kind of comic is this?"; "When does it update?"; "How long do separate story arcs tend to run for?"; etc etc
Most of those seem pretty obvious, but may as well be included for completeness.



Also, you know when you should get some sleep when you open a random page, read the comments and think "Hey, that's something I would say" halfway through the last one before reading the name and realising that you were the one that posted it.
(Also, when you really can't be bothered reading back through a post to check for coherence or relevance - or maybe I'm just always like that)
One day I will think before I post. Today is not that day.
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Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Joined: 30 May 2008, 20:32

09 Jan 2012, 19:56 #7

Yeah, it definitely throws off one's perspective on how "mean" a story is if one already knows what kind of ending is in store. This is something that trips me up more than I like to admit: "What? Why would you ask THAT? Don't you know that... oh right, you don't. NOBODY knows this fact that's only in my head right now. Oops."

If Far Out There doesn't have an obvious "end by" date, then I was successful in setting it up. I tried to go the route of setting up a universe that any number of stories could be told in, rather than writing one story and building a universe around it. I think that's for the best, too. Seeing how much Far Out There has changed over the years, it's quite likely that the latter would have become unworkable by now.

Okay, other answers (don't worry about whether or not they're "FAQ ready" or not, ANY questions give me an idea of what to address):

Hits: I WISH there was a pattern, 'cos I'd milk it for all it's worth. Unfortunately, Far Out There gets a very uneven stream of traffic. I GUESS it'd average out in the neighborhood of one or two hundred people a day, and I can't even begin to figure what the average page displays are (one single person doing an archive binge can cause the numbers to spark). Conventional Wisdom is easier to figure, since nobody ever reads that except for the big updates (at which point the numbers jump into the thousands)

Becky and Gilb: I WANT to be doing more right now! I've got a ton of comic ideas, it's just a problem of time. I've been struggling to stay on schedule with FOT and CW for a few months now, so extra projects have to stay on back burner until I can dig myself out of this hole. It WILL happen, though!

Long posts: Dude, look at some of the rambling replies I make! I'm in no position to hold anything against anybody. :D

Contact: That's actually brand new. It finally dawned on me that I needed a "work e-mail", since it's kind of hard to get a hold of me outside of forums or Facebook. I probably should be doing Twitter like the rest of the civilized world, but I'm just not hip enough for that.

Checking: Far Out There is actually my homepage, so I check for new comments every time I get online. The forum I check less regularly, once or twice a week, except when I know there's actual activity (like right now!)

Oh, and those are some good additional questions, too...

Donations: I SHOULD, and I would if I weren't too scatterbrained to set up a donation button.

What kind of comic: Why, the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind, of course! :lol:

FAR OUT THERE: the webcomic where things happen... IN SPACE!!!

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all died; and he that died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 1 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Joined: 03 Jan 2012, 15:14

30 Jan 2012, 17:43 #8

This topic isn't dead yet!
Just a few more random questions I have:
- How old is everyone suppose to be? I know Avatar's age is a mystery, but what about Trigger, Layla, and Ichabod?
- What was life like for Jenna and Kevin before Megaweapon? They both seem significantly older than Megaweapon so they must have had years being the only children.

Also, sense it was mentioned, doesn't Glib look a lot like Blib? Is this all part of some hidden alien invasion! It would be the perfect plan. Sell your soldiers as cheep novelty toys and spreed them all over the enemy territory, then at a predetermined time have them attack everything from the inside and win the war before the enemy even knows their fighting. It would also explain Blib's more destructive tendencies.
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Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Blitz
Master of Things What Can Be Mastered
Joined: 30 May 2008, 20:32

02 Feb 2012, 06:32 #9

YAY! More questions! :lol:

Age - I'm trying to leave the character's specific ages deliberately vague in the comic, mostly because time-related stuff has a habit of causing continuity problems. Example: I originally imagined Trigger and Layla would be the same age but never specifically stated it in a comic, which was for the best when I realized it made MUCH more sense for Layla to be older. Also, I always wonder how people would measure time like that in an inter-stellar society where there's no single constant for the length of a "year".

BUT, since this isn't technically in the comics, I can go ahead and give some ballpark figures. I imagine Trigger being just about 13, and Layla around 15 or 16. Ichabod... oh gosh, I change my mind about that a lot. Probably mid-30s or so. Old enough for someone in their teens to consider him over the hill, but not enough to be ACTUALLY old.

Jenna & Kevin - You know, I was just thinking about this myself the other day. (Incidentally, I haven't actually nailed down THEIR ages either, have I? They're probably roughly analogous with Trigger & Layla, at least two or three years difference) We know their family is rich, so they've definitely had a childhood of luxurious ease. I imagine their actual father died early on, early enough for Jenna to remember him as well as Kevin does. You'll notice that Jenna calls Dr. Hector "Dad" but Kevin never calls him anything better than "the Doc".

Speaking of whom, Kevin says Dr. Hector "showed up" a hear after their father died, though that still leave plenty of wiggle room regarding when he actually married their mother. The fact that Megaweapon is so much younger than the other kids would suggest a lengthy courtship before they tied the not... which kind of makes sense, since it would mean Dad no. 2 moved in right as Kevin was hitting that awkward teenage stage. Instant moody angst!

But really, I bet Kevin was a jerk to Jenna right from the start. I imagine their Mom, while well-meaning, spoils her children rotten, making Kevin the self-centered and entitled brat he is. I also imagine Mom remains willfully ignorant of how awful her boys are, because there's obvious NO WAY her precious little gentlemen could be anything other than perfect.

...wow, that was WAY longer than I expected.

Blip & Gilp? - Oh, now THAT'S an interesting hypothesis. It would be difficult to make it jibe with established the established Far Out There universe, though, since one of the ground rules set right at the start is the absence of alien life. Plus, while clearly futuristic, we've yet to see any indication that Becky's world is anywhere near as absurdly advanced as what we see in Far Out There.

...BUT, if we were to imagine that Gilb's "alien" race is actually a wildly advanced artificial intelligence that just THINKS it's an alien race, and they somehow fell through some kind of time/space portal and landed in the (to them) past... well, MAYBE. It's a crossover fanfic just waiting to be written! :D
FAR OUT THERE: the webcomic where things happen... IN SPACE!!!

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all died; and he that died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 1 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Joined: 17 Oct 2011, 09:44

04 Feb 2012, 11:18 #10

Coming back to this topic since someone else asked questions. Yay!

I'm slightly surprised at myself for not asking the question about character ages, even though your answer is what I'd have expected. The question about Jenna and Kevin's lives before Megaweapon was around was a good one that was also one that I probably wouldn't have thought to ask.

Also, about Glib and Blip similarities: Obviously they are invading the FOT universe from a parallel dimension (or possibly at an angle of pi/36 radians) using a hole in the fabric of spacetimevelocity using a transport vessel of four spatial dimensions shaped like a Klein bottle to travel through an artificial Alice universe that connects the two separate dimensions. Once they entered the FOT universe they realised that their best chance would be a stealth take-over, and especially didn't want any of the local mad scientists to decide to make four dimensional objects with only one side or pocket universes where there is no global definition of charge, since that could allow them to travel back to the universe the aliens came from, and they don't really think that would be a good idea since they want their home universe to survive.

Either that or they're a race of stupidly advanced AI toys sent back in time like Blitz suggested.
...Or possibly somebody's idea of a practical joke.

(About fanfic - hmm... sounds interesting, but I'm not about to write it)


Questions:

-Are you going to redo the cast page around the time you put of the proposed FAQ page?

-Do you have stuff about FOT that is planned or stuff about character back-stories actually written down somewhere, or do you keep it all in your mind?

-Do you have future story arcs planned? And do you tend to keep with those arcs in about the order you expect, or do you start other ones instead? (I'm not sure I made this question very clear...)

-Do you ever feel like your characters are controlling your comic more than you are? If they get out of hand, what methods if any do you use to get them back under control?

-Question?

-What's your favourite colour?

-What's your favourite confectionery? (Mine's Red Frogs, although I don't know if any company other than Allens makes them)

-Do you have any spare time? If so, what do you tend to do during that time? (Other than sleep)

-Did those last few questions surprise you at all?

One day I will think before I post. Today is not that day.
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