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Author Topic: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!  (Read 5042 times)

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Offline Rob

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Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« on: January 13, 2010, 07:31:33 PM »
So pretty much everyone has introduced themselves and in building the site and saying hi to everyone who came in I never actually did it myself.

Oops.

Mine will be a bit longer than others. Why? Diarrhea of the mouth? I love the sound of my own voice? I'm a pretentious writer and feel anything worth writing is worth reading? Well yeah!

But also because I would like you all to know who it is that you are dealing with when I chime in to your conversations. What kind of experience I have and hopefully, through understanding we can become better friends.

I'm 39 years old and the oldest of five kids. I've got a step brother (also 39 and a Baltimore City Cop); a sister who is three years younger, the mother of two great kids and a nursing student; a half-sister who is  almost twelve years younger and is a college student and a half brother who is thirteen or so years younger who works in home improvement.

When I was 17 I quit high school and shortly thereafter I joined the Army. My family has a lot of military service in its history. One Grandfather was in WWII, another was a Marine during the Korean War. My sister was in the Air Force, as was her husband and the aforementioned step-brother was in Army Intelligence around the same time I was in.

I was in the infantry. Specifically 11HE9. Which means I was a T.O.W. anti-tank missile specialist. All told throughout my three years and three months in the service I visited fourteen different countries; was shot at on 3 continents; served in three wars (three if you consider Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield two separate conflicts like the Army does, two if you don't consider my tour on the North Korea/South Korea DMZ a contribution to that conflict even though I got a special ribbon and a certificate for it and one if you basically just consider me a Gulf War vet, I don't really care; I leave interpretations to others more interested); earned a respectable amount of medals (although nothing all that special); was promoted three times; shot and blew up a bunch of cool stuff; jumped out of some planes and a lot of helicopters; and received four permanent injury ratings.

After I got my honorable discharge I thought things would really be looking up for me back home. I was a war veteran of a really popular war. But the only thing I ever got out of it was a free haircut. Once. And my military benefits of course.

I found myself working for Radio Shack for $5.15 an hour (I could earn more on commission but the pay thing was complicated and you don't care... I don't even care; I mean, the computers I was selling were running Windows 3.0 for pete's sake and I remember telling customers "a 120 Megabyte hard drive is huge.... you'll never need more than that for what you're doing").

I worked a lot of crappy and often weird jobs. If you care I'll tell you about them some time. I eventually got my A.S. in Criminal Justice (Focus on Law Enforcement Management) and my B.S. in Justice and Law Administration (Focus on Pre-Law). Never went to law school. Ran out of money. I'm glad I did in many ways. I fucking hate lawyers. I don't like to make generalities like that. I really don't. But being a lawyer isn't about the intent or spirit of the law; it's about finding the gray areas and exploiting them to your or your clients advantage. Any lawyer who isn't willing to operate in this fashion won't be a lawyer for long. The clients push you to be this way; and the reward for your efforts is money and power in proportion; if you are lucky. Just as often your reward is a client trying to find your gray areas so they can avoid paying you, other lawyers representing your former client in trying to blame you for when things go wrong or or the general dissatisfaction of doing a good job without anything but the jealousy and enmity of your peers and the distrust of your clients and the fear and hate of those you have vanquished. I have seen the law turn good people bad. And I hold it accountable.

My last job was as an office manager/paralegal for an immigration law firm. I actually liked the job a lot. I worked mostly alone. I had a lot of clients I met with on my own. I dealt with loads of federal agencies and congressional offices and what's more Immigration Law is like a really complicated version of the DMV. It's all forms and paperwork. Not a lot of ways to screw with the intent of the law there and when it did it was rarely my problem.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that in this nation our bucket overfloweth with immigrants right now, most are here illegally and there is no law on the books that can do much of anything for them. We thought we were going to get Immigration Law Reform in the last year of W's reign. When that didn't happen business slowed to a trickle and I was laid off. Then the economy shit itself near to death and I've been out of work for almost two years now.

Not a lot of call for paralegals who only know Immigration Law. Even less for office managers.

For extra fun the state passed a law while I was a paralegal requiring anyone working in security to take a course and get licensed before you can work. And since there is a glut of folks who already have the license those who do not... like me, aren't having much luck in that field either.

I became very active in an online community called Rooster Teeth.com. They make machinima films in Halo (the video game series) and that was my first taste of large community management on line. They had me running a league for their in game custom game called "Grifball." I made videos, did podcasts, Photoshopped well above my skill level and generally kicked ass. It was the most exhausting, fun, frustrating and informational experience I have ever had on line. My friend, on line mentor and founder of Rooster Teeth, Burnie Burns once told me, after a particularly trying ordeal where I banned some kid for racism "you are no one on the internet until you are compared to Hitler."

So I guess I've been "someone" on the internet for just under two years now.

While at Rooster Teeth I tried, along with several others, to convince an extremely talented artist named Luke McKay that it would be a great idea for him to start an on line webcomic. I had discovered them the previous year, had become a regular reader of the bigs like PA, QC, S*P, and PvP. The more I learned about it the more I thought it was a great idea and as someone who fancied himself a fairly accomplished amateur writer I thought we could pull it off.

I wrote some scripts for him, about twenty over the period of two days but in the end he told me "I appreciate that you have my best interest at heart but I'm a nurse and that's all I'll ever be. I love my job and I'm going to stick with it." As anyone who knows Rooster Teeth is aware, Luke is now the "in house" comic artist for "Rooster Teeth Comics" and has just released his second book of strips (year two) through a contract they have with Diamond. I'm told they are selling like hotcakes to the more than 3/4 of a million registered users at the site. If you care, he has also created his own comic on the side called "Balls to That." If you seek it out I hope you like blue sketch pen. He leaves it in as part of his "style" for this comic.

Once I was out of work I brooded for awhile. Until it became financially necessary to move in with family (my wonderful sister and brother in law have been absolute saints about the whole thing despite my cactus like personality, and getting to know my 3 year old niece and five year old nephew has been an added bonus). My brother in law suggested an internet project. We had done some little stuff before but since I now had... lot of time on my hands I could think a bit bigger. I had gone to some webcomics conventions and was struck by how nice and supportive everyone seemed to be. I mean, the first Connecticon I attended was practically Kum-bi-ya time everyone was so nice. I met Randy Milholland, Jeph Jacques, Jenny Breeden, Cique Johnson, James Hatton, Brion Foulke, Ed Ryzowski, Dirk I. Tiede as well as many others I've probably forgotten. I talked to them. I purchased their wares. I found them all enchanting.

I bought a copy of HTMW and Remedial Comics was born. I started looking for an artist. My brother in law and his friend started work on the site. I started spending loads of time on Webcomics.com. Especially in the forums where I met, well quite a few of you.

Now things haven't exactly gone according to plan over the last year. The artist I brought in, well his life was as big a mess as mine. About four months into doing Remedy he started a new job and had to move. Updates became sporadic; the buffer was hit hard and then was gone altogether. I was traveling. I was trying to find work by going around the U.S. Mostly to places I would rather live than the frozen tundra that is New England. Honestly, 39 year minus my time in the service is enough of this shit. I hate the cold.

I spent a couple weeks in Austin and got to hang out with the Rooster Teeth guys. Then I went to Arizona for a couple weeks. Then I spent a wonderful month in Mexico on the Baja Peninsula (where I ironically received my only job offer of the trip) before heading to California. It was in the middle of this time in Mexico that we broke the first rule of webcomics and missed our first update. I continued to blog and write the strips but Jason just couldn't be counted on for art anymore. He decided to go his separate way and that was that.

When I originally advertised for an artist to partner up with I received dozens of interested applications. We design and pay for the site, do all the hosting and blogging and content. I write the strips. All the artist has to do is draw and, if he or she wants, contribute to the story here and there and deal with the community only up to the point he/she is comfortable for one third of whatever revenue we collect after costs. Some very good artist were interested before the economy went bad. When I went to the boards to replace Jason I was all but called a crook. And that was before it got mean.

So I got into 3D. I've completed the training program for a software program called Animation: Master and I've done some pretty cool things in it. Slowly, I'm transferring my main comic over to 3D. I'm also starting another one from an idea my brother in law had that all the modeling is done for and it's simply a matter of me nailing him down and writing a bunch of scripts so I can start cranking out comics. Since he is largely responsible for this site existing, from a technical perspective, that has been a bit tougher but we'll get to it.

Lastly I do a comic entirely of my own mind that is the product of whatever that strikes my fancy within the limits of my crappy art skills and time; with terrible art and worse jokes that I call "Badly Written, Badly Drawn."

All of this is under the "Remedial Comics" umbrella. I've tried getting others who want to create webcomics to join us as a collective. Pretty much everyone thinks I'm trying to screw them in some non-specific way. So I don't try that hard anymore. I just kinda leave the door open.

We did a lot right with our site design. We did some things wrong, we left some things unfinished and tried some new things. For example, the side of the comic navigation buttons. Mechanically they are superior to most comics (and were my idea and therefore I am to blame for their utter failure). You can read through our entire archive without scrolling and those buttons make that possible; something that is nearly impossible with all other comics. But the buttons aren't where people expect them to be. So they hate it.

Chad came up with a brilliant way for people with larger monitors to enjoy the art of the comic a little more by integrating a flash and java based viewer that will expand the comic to pretty much as large as your monitor will allow. You can find that by just clicking on the comic and it's pretty cool. The buttons are my fault. I was in a hurry to launch and we weren't really ready. So we went with some buttons that didn't look great. If it matters to you the new interphase we have planned for the site revamp is more in line with the traditional, with nav buttons underneath the comic; and it looks slick as hell.

So that pretty much brings us to today. I've been in and around the webcomics world for about two years now, been a fan a bit longer and a creator for about a year. Now you know.

Offline Rob

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Re: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2010, 07:42:07 PM »
As my one (and hopefully only) act of self indulgence here at this site I'm going to sticky this so that whoever comes here will see it on top and know the buck stops here.

Metaphorically speaking... ya know... cause the site is free.  ;)

Offline Chadm1n

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Re: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2010, 11:39:46 PM »
Quote
... and it's simply a matter of me nailing him down and writing a bunch of scripts so I can start cranking out comics. Since he is largely responsible for this site existing, from a technical perspective, that has been a bit tougher but we'll get to it.

Good grief... You need to tie that dude down, bitch-slap him a couple of times, and insist he get his priorities straight. Oh... wait a minute - that's me. Dammit. Here I am posting comments when I should be scripting comics.  :o

Quote
Chad came up with a brilliant way for people with larger monitors to enjoy the art of the comic a little more by integrating a flash and java based viewer

To be fair, Rob had the idea for the viewer. I just had to figure out how to make it a reality. PHP, HTML, JavaScript, and Flash ActionScript. What could go wrong? Oh, that's right - everything! And for anyone who views Badly Written Badly Drawn in the viewer, well... you brought that on yourself. Nobody made you click that comic. :)

Offline amanda

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Re: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 12:12:48 PM »
Well hello!  XD
/

Offline LegendWoodsman

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Re: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2010, 11:47:44 PM »
Wow, Rob! I look forward to learning more about you and hopefully a meet and greet at a convention sometime. Thank you and Chad for your hospitality.

Offline Rob

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Re: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2010, 01:22:30 AM »
Thanks guys. I'm really trying to blend into the background and let everyone do their thing here. A self sustaining community is what I'm shooting for but I thought it somewhat important that everyone know who is ultimately responsible for our new home.  ;)

Offline vaslittlecrow

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Re: Rob Tracy - AKA Your Host - Long post!
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2012, 11:03:10 PM »
*n00b Waves*  Hi ya!
I am a fearless visual artist.  My webcomics are NSFW.  Check them out at http://catnose.com/ and http://velvetrasput.info/.