86 Strings: A New Kind Of Web Comic
Welcome to 86 Strings, the first interactive comic strip dedicated to the bar and music business. 86 Strings refers to the industry term 86′d, restaurant jargon for when an item has been removed from the menu. String refers to guitar strings.
What’s happening with the strip? Why have there not been any recent strips added?
Here are the latest developments with what is currently happening with 86 Strings, what is planned, and what to expect.
The first phase of the strip involved creating the concept, developing the characters and picking a web hosting service to give 86 Strings an on-line home. Now that we have done that, the creators, John Sammel and Mike Lyman, know what improvements need to be made to the strip to bring it to the next level, and there is always room for improvement.
The next improvement to the strip will be making the website look much better, and making the strips easier to read. John Sammel handles the story ideas and social media, and my job is the website and drawing the strips themselves. I downloaded a comic theme, and have been experimenting with different techniques to scan the strips and put them on the site. I am learning this as I go; I am a strictly self-taught artist, and when John and I began this project I did not know a lot about web design, much less the best way to create a four-panel strip intended for on-line viewing.
So what’s next? I will be plunging into a self-taught, crash-course on WordPress to make the following improvements:
- Making better use of the home page so that there is not so much wasted space on both sides of the content area
- Improving the artwork of the strip by finding the right four-panel template format when I draw them. Each comic strip artist has their own working methods and techniques that work best for them, to produce the results that eventually come to define their style. This is my first web comic, and I am still developing my web comic mojo
- Adding a blog to the website that will have interesting posts about the strip, events, and the experiences of readers. Did you have a hilarious, strange or freaky experience while being out with your friends? You’ll have the opportunity to share it on the 86 Strings blog (anonymously, of course), and may even see that experience depicted in the strip!
- Configuring the comic strips so that they can be more easily read on a smart phone and/or the tablet computer of your choice. Our goal in promoting the strip is for people at bars and restaurants to be able to whip out their smart phones and be able to read the strips instead of having to wait until they get home and have to use their home computer.
- Set up an RSS-feed to alert followers to the latest comic strips and blog posts
Once the above steps have been taken care of, John and I will move onto the next phase: promoting the strips through appearances and events in bars and restaurants. Some of the ideas we are exploring include:
- A drawing demo where the next strip is drawn at the bar, as a way to attract attention to 86 Strings
- A podcast consisting of recordings of people relating their real-life wacky bar experiences, words of wisdom (or not), favorite jokes or best/worst pickup lines (my favorite: “I’m so glad I have my library card ’cause I am totally checking you out!”)
- Giveaways of 86 Strings-branded bar-related goodies such as stickers, bottle openers, key rings, and art cards
- Publication not only in the upcoming magazine BOH/FOH, but also in other publications as well
John and I feel there is tremendous fun and potential to be had in 86 Strings, and during this initial phase we are working out the kinks and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. To everyone who has commented, and checked out this website, thank you very much for not only your interest, but also your patience and support. As always, if you have any feedback, suggestions, advice, words of wisdom, lavish praise or want to buy us a drink, we are ALWAYS available.
What 86 Strings Is About
86 Strings is about the daily grind of a business filled with college students and drop outs, single moms, retirees, failed entrepreneurs, hustlers, and customers from all walks of life. A candid sense of humor and tough skin are what it takes to survive working with the public in such a politically incorrect, sexually charged atmosphere.
Co-creator John Sammel has spent the last 15 years behind the bar, observing moments that turn the concept of a normal work place upside down. His stories have been shared with thousands of industry workers over cold beers before, during and after work. He and his wife run a music booking business called CJS Productons. 86 Strings is illustrated by Michael K. Lyman, author and creator of the graphic novel Found Slides a Life Remembered. Lyman also is the founder of Magnum Arts, an arts-related business that involves drawing instruction, illustration and photography.
86 Strings is an interactive comic strip! We would love to hear your stories from the business; you may see your experiences depicted in the comic strip. If you would like to contribute a story, feel free to submit it via email Twitter (through one of our five characters). Speaking of which, let’s introduce our main characters of 86 Strings:
Spout: The head bar tender at Bar None. Spout has been tending and running bars for the last 16 years and would love to do something else but can’t seem to leave the bar behind. Spout is torn between his desire for job security and his misery as a bar tender.
Candy: Candy has a jaded, cynical edge honed from years of working with rowdy customers, yet keeps the crew of Bar None laughing, serving several positions while balancing school full time. She has begun to develop an obsession with Kurt…who knows where this will lead?
Kurt: Typical young musician who works three to four gigs a week and drinks six to seven nights a week. Kurt loves the bar scene but hates being required to play cover music. He’s at an age in which he wants the big payoff, but everything is a challenge…including authority.
Eli: Owns and operates the only music store in our small town, and was once a traveling musician, and a refugee from the Grateful Dead scene. Eli tries to help Kurt avoid the same mistakes he has made, and has formed a fatherly relationship with Candy, who sees Eli as the father she never had.
Herb: Proprietor at Mo Money Booking, and lives for fast money and easy women to the exclusion of all other factors. While despised by local musicians for his business practices, he books them anyway as alternatives for local bands are few and far between.