How to make a guest comic strip

So you've decided to make a guest comic strip. Excellent idea indeed, but we're left with the question as to how.

Is it sometime after the year 2000? Do you own a computer? Then you're in luck, your computer has whatcha need. Find the default image editing program, likely having 'Paint' in the name. Found it? There ya go, you're set.

But with that out of the way, we're left with the creation of the guest strip:

Step 1: Obtaining the sprites.
Dude, I gotta tell ya. I've tried linking to sprite resources, but those pages seem to come and go every few years. Rather than have half my links being broken or going to adware pages over time, I'll just tell you to check Google (who's web address is unlikely to change or expire).

Step 2: Creating the setup.
By setup I'm refering to how you want the comic strip to look. The default setup that I personally use is over here. It's basically comprised of four frames. If you wish for more or less, I'd suggest doubling the height of the image (and add 3 pixels for that grey bar down the center), pasting the blank strip over the bottom half, and go from there. You can even drop the rightmost frames if you only want 6 frames. Look, this really isn't difficult.

Step 3: Designing the strip.
Excellent. Now that we've gotten the layout and the sprites, it's time to ram them together in a beautiful orgy of messy sprite sex. Now, the ideas are basically up to you, except for about 4 points that I stand by. Y'know, do your own thing, but these are points that I personally adhere to:
Point 1: Try to avoid the toilet-humour. Generally, I don't care how good it looks... it the humour is stupid... just no. That said, toilet humour has a time and place, but it's meant to be used sparingly, at the paradoxically appropriately inappropriate times.
Point 2: Have it somewhat make sense. I shouldn't be confused as to what's happening. Does the idea travel from one frame to the next? Awesome, good start. Where's the characters? If they're moving, move 'em, if they're not, they should be in the same place. You might have to zoom in a lot to line it up nicely.
Point 3: No mocking/defaming/killing/etc. Kabutroid! And preferably not much talking for her. I've allowed this on only several occasions (Cyrus/Figaro) because it's not a direct crack or insult of me, and they do an EXCELLENT job making strips. Otherwise... generally no. Or at least ask first. I'm actually quite pleasant, despite the stern exterior. But if you want to make a good sprite comic, you must be militant with yourself. Every pixel counts!
Point 4: ABSOLUTELY NO ADVERTISING! If you put up the address of your page at the bottom or something, please make it tastefully small. Do you see a signature embedded in every one of my comics? No, you see nothing. It's there, but it's very tiny, and very dark. The comic is for the comic, not for you to boast about yourself in the comic. Unless the comic is about boasting about yourself. That's the story of my life. Zebeth is Zebeth. Except when it's not. There's some mixing happening right now, emulators are being left, it's complicated. See the FAQ section for general answers to general questions.

But other than those points, the rest is up to you. All that's left is making it look good. Here's a few rules of thumb that I generally try to go by.

Rule 1: Allow equal blank space. By this, I mean try not to stuff too many characters/items on one side of the frame, leaving the rest of it empty.
Rule 2: Word bubbles go top to bottom, left to right, at least in this language. That way we at least have an idea as to what to read first. And give enough white-space in the word bubbles around the letters to not have the letters connect with the background in any way.
Rule 3: Add a floor! Don't just stand people at the bottom of the frame! Give them something to stand on. And have them stand ON the floor... not slightly above it. Or indented INTO it, just... UGH. C'mon, take some pride in your work. This is a labour of love here.
Rule 4: Don't mix different Metroid game generations unless it's actually part of the humour. If you mix them for no reason whatsoever... it just looks bad. Modify the sprite if you must, just make it look good.
Rule 5: Check all of the strips on this site to see if the idea has already been done. If it's somewhat different, that's not too bad. If you're not sure, just lemme know the idea and I'll give you a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Rule 6: Use an appropriate font/font size. Generally, Arial with bold is good, and no smaller than size 9 for what people say (Microsoft Paint). Sound effects can go to size 7 regular, but no smaller. And if you use italics, use a good font that's easy to read in italics. If you have to squint to read it, redo it.
Rule 7: Use correct punctuation. Unless it's for a specific reason, no l33t-speak. Use periods, commas, semi-colons, quotes, dashes, capitals and the like correctly. It pisses me off to no end when there's no capital letters or periods. If you catch one in my comic, lemme know, and I'll see if I get around to fixing it :P. But no, seriously, I'd appreciate it if you could tell me :).
Rule 8: PLAY THE GAME! I can't stress this one enough. Know what things generally do, and how the Metroid universe works in general. Don't have Samus shooting enemies from her gun (I've seen this lots), or use Rinkas as explosions or anything. Know what's what. If you're not sure, it's probably just best to watch it yourself.
Rule 9: NO COPYING MY STRIPS! Specific items from the strips is fine, such as a specific sprite-edit of Ridley or Samus or something. Try not to copy from Subsector Hiroshi or anyone else's stuff though. Ask them first. But for Pete sake, don't copy entire frames, or partial frames! I will not allow it no matter HOW good the strip is. And I'll know if it's a copy. I made it for Spaghetti sake, I'm going to know.

Step 4: Final touches.
Well, now that you've got the strip made, it's time to give it a once-over. Read it entirely over and check for spelling mistakes. If you're not sure, type it in Notepad++ or something and correct the wavey-underlined words before pasting it into the comic. Also check for any colour differences frame to frame, covering up of pieces of other characters when copying/pasting, or random dots or something from accidentally clicking somewhere with a different colour. And if you're using lines to depict movement, make the lines curved or straight accordingly. Don't just use the pencil tool. And go with appropriate thickness. More/thicker lines indicate faster movement.

Step 5: Completion!
Well, you've got the strip made, looked over, and saved (preferably as .png, or whatever preserves the colours and pixels). It's time to post it! If you want me to see it, best way is probably to head to my Facebook page and post it there. You can email me too, but it might be a while before I see it or respond... pretty rare to see email used outside an office setting, really. And as a final note... compare your strip in general to those in Planet Zebeth, Subsector Hiroshi, and/or the Bonus section. If you see yours is definitely worse than them... you can probably keep it as a practice run. Post it if you like, but don't expect glowing praise or whatever. I can critique things, but otherwise, I just might not have much to say. I generally don't heap on unearned praise... never really got much myself growing up. And try to recognize your own mistakes. Don't go making the same one over and over and over again. If you see something you can easily correct, go back and correct it. I'd say 'within reason', but I'm pretty strict with myself. I'll let the occasional rare mistake slip... missing pixel or colour anomaly. Typos I try to go back and fix, if I remember. Generally don't go out of my way for it too hard, but I've softened up over the years. I've also gotten good at it.

Or just compare your strip to the HALL_OF_SHAME. If yours reminds you of any of these... just delete it already. And yes, I'm well aware that most, if not all of these were sent as a deliberate attempt to be put into here. That's fine, it let other people have to accept their terrible work being immortalized on the site, whereas I can correct mine afterwards.

Or failing that, I give you the greatest of the worst... so bad, it's actually awesome... TEEN ZEBETH SQUAD!

When in doubt, sleep on it. You can always get back to it later. Just don't forget about it.

And with that, thus concludes the lesson of how to make a guest comic strip. Use this knowledge wisely, young pixelshifter.

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