The Newbie Guide to Surviving the Comic Genesis Community
And no, the answer is not 42
So you've signed up, introduced yourself in a thread (like so many before you...), and even done some reading and posting yourself. Now what? Well, by coming here you've taken the first positive step to fitting in with the community! The Wiki is a repository of the cultural knowledge of Comic Genesis, dating back to Keenspace time. If its a reference you don't get, there may just be a Wiki page. Of course, a good number of these entries can be out of date cause we're all too lazy to keep on top of things.
Some things to check out include: The #keenspace IRC chat where regulars go to talk outside the forums! WikiJam, where past "Joint Adventure Madcap Stories", aka "J.A.M.S." reside. Here is where a lot of the culture and history of the community can be found, plus help in participating in a jam properly. Forum Avatars, where you can learn more about individual Genners who've taken the time to make a profile. Maybe you should, too so we can learn about you!
It's very important to realize that many people here are not...normal. What is normal? Everything we aren't. I mean, you may think that some of us are normal, but they're the ones you REALLY have to watch out for. For example, cannibalism is tolerated. As are furries, to a lesser extent. Porn is always approved of and in some cases encouraged. Things that explode, always a plus. There's so much wrong with us it'd take forever to list it all here. Some things just can't be learned from reading a Wiki, crazy as THAT sounds, so keep your mind open and your eyes peeled. Welcome to Comic Genesis!
So You Wanna Jam?
You've heard of them, and now that you're a member you want to be in one. Jams. They give the opportunity to draw crazy stuff, engage in some wonderful comedy, and they help build and establish community relationships and continuity. This section will offer advice on how to best participate in a jam in a constructive, rather than destructive, manner.
What's a Jam?
A jam is any collection of art along a related theme. Maybe it's a "Draw X!" type Jam where all you have to do is draw the aforementioned thing. Doesn't matter what, so long as it's that thing. Typically, a Jam refers to story based jams. Here, an overall theme exists as a plot. It will typically start small with a random thread and some art work, then someone adds on to it, then someone else, and soon you're building a storyline and a jam is born. That's what this will focus on.
1. A Jam is first come, first served. There's generally no "placeholding" so you better be fast with the pen/pencil. Doesn't need to be your prettiest art, and you can always go back and color it once it's up. The key thing is to not let it stagnate.
2. Jams are improvisational. They're a form of improvisational theater and there are some basic tenets to that which will be discussed later. These are key guidelines that insure you don't fuck it all up and become ostracized.
3. Jams are roleplaying. You're a character in this, and that character is a persona you (and others) have established. Remember that your contributions should be from that perspective, only involve characters you are capable of interacting with, and follow certain basic rules of fairness, similar to those of improv.
4. Jams are fun. Make jokes, be funny, be silly, do things that get a laugh. Go ahead! It's okay! Not everything has to be a sidesplitter, but if it gets a chuckle then great! It doesn't even have to be comedy, it could simply be good clean fun that everyone enjoys. Just remember that this is a community effort and you better be prepared to take it if you're gonna try and dish it out.
Obviously, improv is made up. No one is planning and organizing the plot or storyline to these things, everyone is simply doing it as it comes along. That being said, it can all go awry if you aren't helping the process. Here's some helpful hints to consider before you participate in a jam.
- "Yes, and..." - Whatever someone puts out there, you need to go with. Say 'yes' to it and accept it as fact. Maybe you don't like it, but it's been put out and if you ignore it or refute it then you're "blocking". Sometimes blocking is okay for comedic purposes, or even essential when there's "god moding", but generally you should avoid it because it slows things down and creates strife in the scene. Also, don't just accept something but add on to it. Build tension, character, plot, scenery, whatever through your contribution.
For example, a contribution is "That house is on fire!" Blocking would be, "No it isn't". Blocking for comedic sake might be, "Wait, no it isn't. That's a jelly bean eruption!" A 'yes' is "You're right, it is on fire!". A 'yes, and...' is "You're right, it is on fire! And grandma is in the attic!". By adding on that there's more than has been stated, the plot is progressed, a character is introduced, tension is created, and the improv can continue.
- "Give and take" - Be aware when you're the focus and when you aren't. It's okay to be a supporting character because it shows your willingness to participate. People notice and appreciate your contributions more, then are willing to use you in bigger stuff and accept when you do bigger things. The spotlight isn't big enough for everyone and sharing it is always a good thing. This also means don't try to seize control of anything and dictate what happens. Allowing for an open ended situation provides others the opportunity to create and contribute and can introduce new characters, situations, etc.
Also, don't be afraid to do a quick scene where you force into what's going on to break up monotony, or "waffling". Maybe a certain part of the jam is languishing because no one has any ideas or isn't being creative enough on progressing the plot. A sudden gear change can jump start plot and progress. Create tension and don't be afraid to be an antagonist, or simply create it using other means. Once things get going you'll lose control of your character and you may not even be involved in doing part of the story your character is involved in. That's part of the fun of a jam!
- "God mode" - Also a roleplaying mistake, God mode is the ultimate form of blocking. Making your actions too powerful, too dictative, or simply seizing control of a scene is "God moding" and will ruin a jam and your reputation. If you're being ignored, you're probably god moding or not contributing. If you're god moding, fix it and humble yourself.
Examples of this can include: killing characters outright, especially if there is no real reason to do so. Injury is usually sufficient for comedy, or find an alternative to removing them from a scene. People don't like being killed, so don't do it; Refusing to die. Similarly, if you're being killed over and over then maybe you need to stay dead. You probably are jacking things up and need to get more practice before you contribute.
These are only some basic examples of things to remember in Improv, and it takes practice. Remember that you're writing a story alongside other people. You do a bit, they do a bit. This is very much a round robin style experience so you won't always be in the limelight, and the more experienced people dominate simply because they've had the practice. Pay attention and have a little humility and you too can become one of the big dogs.
What is what?
Alright, you're cruising the forums and come across Off Topic. Lo and behold there's a billion topics under discussion? Which are important? What are they about? This section gives some info about the major threads that never say die.
- Alter Egos
Currently on it's 11th iteration, Alter Egos is where you go to post pictures of YOU and things about YOU. Then other people comment on them. Doesn't matter what you're doing, so long as you're doing something. Heck, you can even camwhore and put up multiple pictures. Make a story out of it! Challenge others to match your camwhoring!
- Happy Thread
Go here to tell everyone what's making you feel happy! People will be pleased and possibly comment on your situation, or ignore you and share their own happiness.
- Unhappy Thread
Doesn't take a brain surgeon, this is where you vent about what in the real world is getting on your nerves and making your life miserable.
Right, so you drew something awesome and naked. Wonderful! We have a place for it to go!
Finally, somewhere to upload and share your scribbles, unfinished works in progress, and all your other pieces of random art. People love to comment, so go ahead and share!
- Fanart Thread
Technically not in Off Topic, this is the main persistant thread in General Discussion. Feel free to make fan art about other Comic Genesis folks, then put it up for all to see. You'll earn mega kudos, and possibly get some in return! Keep an eye out...
- Search Strings
Also part of General Discussion, this isn't so much a persistant thread as a reoccuring one. Every start of the month, someone starts a new version for everyone to post the search strings stat list from siteadmin. You can see some funny stuff on how people reached your comic, and its always worth a laugh to read through.