October 24th, 2006

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, eddiecanis!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

A substance contained in the juice expressed from the green shell of the walnut (Juglans regila). It is used as a remedy in cutaneous and scrofulous diseases; also for dying the hair black.
--Daniel Lyons's Dictionary of the English Language, 1897

United Nations Day
Birthday of Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879),

American culinary author and perhaps the Martha Stewart of her day. Unlike the creators of many of America's first cookbooks, Hale enjoyed a success that was due not so much to her domestic experience as to her writing skills, honed during four decades as editor of Ladies' Magazine and Godey's Lady's Book. Her 1841 book, The Good Housekeeper, included this recipe for a forgotten sauce known as "walnut catsup": "Thoroughly bruise one hundred and twenty young walnuts; put to them three-quarters of a pound of fine salt and a quart of vinegar; stir them every day for a fortnight, then strain; squeeze the liquor from them through a cloth; add to this one ounce of whole black pepper, forty cloves, half an ounce of nutmeg bruised, half an ounce of ginger, and a few blades of mace. Boil the whole for half an hour; strain and bottle it for use."

No wonder it was forgotten.

-The Gneech
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The Awesomeness of Sue

I've mentioned, I think, how happy I am to have susandeer on board for NeverNever. We've had four solid months of NN now, not a day missed, and beautiful work all around. And given the upheaval going on in our favorite doe's life, this is no small achievement. She's changing coasts, fer cryin' out loud!

Anyway, as awesome as that would be by itself, I've recently become aware of a change, and one for the better, that's come about in my writing for the strip now that she's on board: I've become more ambitious.

There have been times in NeverNever's past where what I ended up writing was not really what I thought would have made the best story, because I didn't trust my art to stand up to it. The early NeverNever strips were very visual, because they were written before I knew how good an artist I was (or wasn't). By the time of NN's first relaunch, it had become very sparse (e.g., this strip), because I was a) rushed, and b) had no confidence in the artwork. Or more accurately, I was quite confident that it wouldn't be what I wanted.

But that is so not the case with Sue on the job. Take a look at this strip, for instance: in the storyboard version I sketched for Sue, the school was basically a big, oblong box with windows. Sue's version actually looks like a school -- but an appealing, cartoony school of exactly the style I picture NN having when I write it, but am totally unable to draw myself.

What this means, among other things, is that I can just go ahead and write the strip I want to write, confident that something awesome will come back from Sue. The current storyline has blossomed from a little idea to what I think is a pretty neat action sequence (including cliffhanger) because I could spend my time thinking about what would make an engaging tale rather that fretting about how hard it would be for me to draw the warcats attacking Grognard -- or some of the even more complex stuff yet to be seen.

I'm very pleased with how NN is going. Thanks, Sue, for being so awesome!

-The Gneech

EDIT: X-posted to the SJ/Gneech.comics forum.
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