Remember that idea I had of making a round-robin webcomic? Well, I’ve finally launched the site, with a strip to start things. It’s called The Ants Parade, a name that, I believe, illustrates what I want to achieve with the comic: collaboration, a succession of authors, whose works, together, contribute to a bigger opus. Not that big, of course –we’re not talking elephants here–, but hopefully worth everyone’s time.

The first strip is already almost not a comic strip, which is how I wanted to steer this from the beginning. Not that I mind traditional comics, but I wanted the project to explore vastly different ways to make a comic. If we’re talking many authors with so many liberties, the least we can expect is radical diversification. So I hope that my first strip, regardless of its quality, can inspire future contributors to go wild.

The site incorporates one rant per strip for the author to voice his thoughts, as long as they’re vaguely related to the comic. There’s also a blog, which, honestly, I don’t foresee getting used much, but it’s there for the different contributors –who might not even know each other– to discuss anything at all. Anyone can comment on posts, and I can promote registered users so that they can create new posts. It’s almost a message board, really, but those are generally too hermetic to outsiders, so I wanted something that was transparent, with a quicker flow.

The technology I use is Pixelpost for the strips and Chyrp for the blog. I had used Pixelpost before, and it’s as easy to set up as ever–even if it lacks versatility, reason why I had to edit the script’s code at times. Chyrp, on the other hand, I will admit, was a big pain. Its theming language is really poorly documented, and the little documentation there is seems to assume that the reader is familiar with Chyrp’s code. Errors in the themes’ syntax don’t even receive a helpful error message from the parser, which just breaks, so bug-catching is a slow process. In all, the experience was pretty terrible, but once the language (called Twig) gets some decent documentation, it might become very usable, since it’s quite flexible–but hell if I know how to tame that flexibility right now. The engine itself is very economic, with none of the bloat of WordPress, but, then again, with the limitations one would expect, which are partly offset by its modules (add-ons). What that means is that the blog can be exactly what you want it to be, with none of what you don’t need; in theory, because it’s rather difficult to get it to be what you want it to be in its current form.

But the site is up now, so whatever happened in the process doesn’t matter. It still needs to be improved and polished, but it’s perfectly usable right now…, I believe. All it needs is some more strips.