- Most of the Qs in the following FAQ section have never been A at all, let alone F. But never mind... hopefully they'll make interesting reading anyway.
- Since this site is now effectively stopped and archived and I'm not planning any more updates, some of the following answers may go out of date over time.
Q: why did you start writing Grace and Caffeine?
- A: because I felt like it. Honestly, there isn't any deep metaphysical or soul-searching reason, I just had an idea on the spur of the moment, and decided it was a good one.
Q: where did (/do?) you get your ideas from?
Q: what sort of answer is that meant to be?
- A: I guess that won't do, will it? Well, some of my cartoon ideas were inspired by events in real life, especially events happening at Yateley Baptist (several strips featuring things like baptisms, members' meetings, etc were timed to coincide with real-life versions of those events at YBC), while some of the other ideas just turn up in my head without a word of explanation. They just happened.
Q: what's with the 'rough draft versions' which some episodes have links to?
- A: now that's a much more interesting question. In some cases, the rough-draft artwork is an initial concept sketch, which I produced in order to record an idea for use later (eg. if I had several ideas at once, and knew I wouldn't be able to use them all up for several weeks, or if an episode would only really make sense if published at a certain date, and that date hadn't arrived yet); in other cases, I already knew what I wanted to do with the episode, but I wasn't completely sure how to draw it, so I did a rough version to check that my visual ideas would work, before I committed pen to paper to produce the polished version.
Q: some of the rough drafts are very different to the finished comics - why?
- A: depends what the draft was for:
- If it was an initial 'note-to-self' sketch, then the ideas sometimes developed quite a bit before I got round to using them.
- As for the 'practice' sketches, they sometimes didn't really work, so I had to take a different approach with the finished version. In those cases, the rough-draft artwork in the archive site offers you the opportunity to see what the episode might have ended up looking like, but didn't.
Q: are there any episodes which never made it past the rough-draft stage?
- A: yes, there were about 4 or 5 strips which I drew a rough draft for, but never completed for various reasons. Two or three were submitted to YBC's then pastor Adrian for inspection, and got vetoed for print publication. One or two others I just decided I didn't like. I might upload one or two of the vetoed ones in some obscure corner of the archive site someday, but I haven't managed to convince myself that it's a good idea yet.
Q: how long did it take to create each strip?
- A: it varied wildly - in a few exceptional cases, an episode could go from the initial spark of inspiration right through to the finished product within one or two hours; whereas others have been known to fester for weeks or even months before finally coming to fruition. Some strips I didn't even think up until the day I draw them, while others waited for quite a while before I finished them, for various reasons.
- The actual drawing process could take anywhere from 10 minutes for a very simple strip, to maybe as much as an hour for some of the more complex ones.
Q: was Grace and Caffeine drawn on paper or on a computer?
- A: mostly paper. I printed off the title, caption and panel borders from my PC (I used a Windows 98 machine for the first 90 strips, and a Windows XP one with a better printer from Episode 091 to Episode 178), then drew the characters and wrote the dialogue in by hand. Occasionally I added a couple of other details on the computer before printing, eg. the outline of the pie chart in Episode 061 and the narration in Episode 077).
Q: are any of the characters meant as parallels to, or representations of, real-life people?
Q: how do you decide which episodes to do colour versions of?
- A: for the first three years, I made the decisions on impulse.
- You might have noticed that the colourisations get a lot better from early 2009 onwards - this was because I developed a new workflow for colourising the episodes using the GNU Image Manipulation Program. In early 2010, I decided that it might be a nice idea to colourise all 48 episodes from Grace and Caffeine's final year using the GIMP workflow.
Q: why did you stop?
- A: there were several reasons why I decided to stop producing Grace and Caffeine in Summer 2010. The most significant was that it was getting harder and harder to keep the comic fresh and think of relevant things to say.
- Then there was also the fact that I had just finished my degree at Farnborough Tech in June, and I really didn't have much of an idea where my life would be heading in the next few months, so I didn't think it was a good idea to commit to producing a fifth year of G&C when there was a fair chance that I would have to drop it at short notice half-way through. I wanted to let the project end in a planned and controlled way, and with a certian amount of dignity. Well, insofar as it was ever able to attain dignity.
- And of course, the termination decision was also influenced by the fact that producing the strip was a time-consuming ongoing commitment, and after more than three and a half years, I needed a break.
Q: will you ever start again?
- A: I really have no idea. Not before mid/late 2011 at the very earliest, as I want to take at least a year off before starting to think about writing new episodes.
- I think Grace and Caffeine as we know it, in its paper-based format, is gone for good. If I do ever restart, then I will probably switch to an entirely digital production process (i.e. drawing the cartoons on the computer), and move to an online publication model with new episodes appearing on this site before they appear anywhere else, effectively turning Grace and Caffeine into a webcomic.
- If the project does start up again, it will as like as not remain a weekly thing, as I will probably never have either the time or the inspiration to be able to produce it on a more frequent basis.
Q: is there any Grace and Caffeine merchandise out there, e.g. books, calendars, t-shirts, teatowels, mugs, things like that - like a lot of popular and famous comic strips have?
- A: Grace and Caffeine isn't popular and famous. Or at least, not that popular and famous.
- But I did produce a 2009 calendar once. Not available any more, I'm afraid.