I'm new to the strip, where can I jump in without going back to episode #1?
Each episode is part of larger stories that mostly run together so there are few breaks in the ongoing narrative but they do happen. The last time a new story arc began was episode #2090. This would be a good point to jump in. The previous story arc began at episode #1914.
What do the character designs change after episode 1913?
The software used to create the characters went through a major redesign at Bitstrips.com and I felt it would be smarter to go with characters using the latest software as support for the older character builder will probably trail off with time. On top of that, the new designs look better and are much closer to my natural drawing style which is a bonus!
When did Local Patrol start?
About 8 PM EST on July 2, 2008.
Why did you decide to make a web comic?
I was recovering from a serious illness and happened upon Bitstrips.com. I needed something fun and I just started playing around with a strip as an amusement. I loved doing it so much I just kept going.
Where did the idea for Local Patrol come from?
I used to be in a sketch comedy group in and after high school called "Industrial Cardboard" and I came up with the idea back then but we had no way to do anything with it. The characters were different and much of the setting but the roots were there with the star being "Dr. Van Cefferon" who would become the Professor and Captain Shelly Fate in command of The Thrip.
A few years later in 1982, a friend was a DJ at a university radio station and I did a short run radio series with me creating all the voices and sound effects recording to a four track portastudio. It was still quite different but the roots were there. Buzz appeared with a different personality and a version of Zed, then called Sparky.
Over the years, I thought the concept had possibilities but never did anything with it. When I discovered Bitstrips.com, I developed the idea further into Local Patrol.
For my 2000th published strip at Bitstrips, I did a strip showing the earliest version of what would become Local Patrol. See the strip here: '2000 Bitstrips!!!'
Where do you get your ideas from?
My ideas come from a lot of places including thin air. Although I think out larger story arcs, the strip is more or less adlibbed and what goes in is what occurs to me at the time. Some things come from personal experience or the media or just the way the characters interact. I’ve changed story arcs because of on the spot occurrences in a strip. I’ll use what ever seems right at the time.
What are your influences?
The main ones are probably Star Trek mixed with Monty Python, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and Seinfeld from TV while comic strips like Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes have been big, too. After that, the odd thing from just about anywhere has influenced me.
Are your characters made up or based on real people?
They’re made up but some are more influenced than based on people. Aspects of both Zed and Moe are based on me though neither is actually like me. I’ve unfortunately known a Len or two in the past. Some are just types of people and some are just made up.
Do you know what the characters sound like?
I try to imagine the character voices as I do the strip as a way of keeping the dialogue correct for them. As a result I have a pretty good idea of how they should sound.
Why does Moe say crazy things? Why no “real” swearing?
I had no need to swear right away and when I introduced Moe I realised that this was somebody who would but I wanted to leave the strip open to as big an audience as possible. Once I came up with the idea of these crazy expressions, I realised that this was much funnier than swearing anyway.
How do you make a strip?
The Bitstrips website has a series of tools for creating characters, scenes and strips with out requiring the person to draw. Put in the hands of people who do have artistic talent, the results are quite good though you feel the limitations much more. I’ve come up with work arounds for many things in the strip. I do pretty well considering there is nothing of a sci-fi nature made available to the user.
Are you able to draw?
Actually, I can but I haven’t for many years so I’m very rusty (I’m working on that now). I had intended to be a cartoonist growing up but when the course I was taking in college cancelled the cartoon course, I found myself in animation. I could draw but as more sophisticated movement was required in the course animations, I was having trouble and after many all nighters doing thousand upon thousand drawings only to have the movements not quite right, I lost my love of drawing for years. Local Patrol is making me want to draw again.
How long does it take to make a strip?
It depends on how complex visually the strip is. Usually about an hour, though, if it’s simple I could do it in a half hour, if not it could be more than an hour. If I’m experimenting visually with an idea, who knows.
I see typos and spelling mistakes in the strips?
Mostly because I make mistakes like anyone else. I try and keep an eye out before publishing but once I have published, I let them stand since it’s too late. I really should have an editor but there you go.
Do you make a living at this?
Nope. I wouldn’t mind though.
How often do you do a new strip?
I am now doing one strip a day as I've found a job. While recovering from my illness, I did as many as nine a day when I first started and had cut back to three a day.
Do you have any other strips or series?
Also at Bitstrips I've done the occasional one off strip which I collect under the series heading of Inside The Boom Box. My main other series, a semi-autobiographical/non-autobiographical strip, is called Boom Times! and it's sequel series Playing The Game.
"Hard at Break" On top of that are Master Thespians (a couple of arrogant, shallow, Shakespearian, party-animal actors), Theme Park and Son Of Theme Park (strips based on the Bitstrips theme of the day), Look See Look See (spoof kids book poking fun at modern life), Meet Dr. Boom (A Mad Scientist and his created assistant), Boom Speaks (a collection of interviews and announcements), Strangely True (humorous true stories taken from news sources and the Darwin Awards), Producteria (fake ads for fake products), Adventures In Time (a scientist takes his nephew for travels in his time machine) and Boom Bits (a collection of strips, fake ads, what have you, all having to do with Bitstrips.com).