About Life Is A SitCom

Life is a SitCom... Hmmm where to begin. Life evolved from a primordial ooze in the early 90's from a strip called B.O.A.T.S. or Based On A True Story. The cast is for the most part the same. Not completely but the same. The foundation of the strip was simply fast food resturant and it's employees. The resturant was called, yup you guessed wrong. The Burger Palace.( The resturant has been called that right up until April 2004. When the name officially became Burgatory.)  Now where was I, the stories are similar to the ones I am working on now. I needed some ideas to kick off the strip, so I went and found the original 60 scripts. I pared them down to 20 and rewrote most of that. Now BOATS was a complex arrangement of people. 30plus characters were to be used full time. The art was over detailed and extremely inconsistent. I believe only 4 strips were done when I realized this sucks. I didn't even have a simple drawing of the cast. So it was scrapped. 

Then in the mid 90's I was no longer working in fast food. I had graduated to the "Casual Dining" sector of eateries. I worked mostly on really bad novels, which were based on comic book characters and stories. Which is funny for my own reasons. I adapted the setting of The Burger Palace to be more like "casual dining", red robin, chili's, tgifridays to give a few examples. Now once again I tackeled the strip, now called Burgatory. Again, it was to complicated, to much work to be something I thought I would like to do on a regular basis. I had never inked anything. I prefer pencils to draw and color with. So I got myself some markers and drew. I traced pencil drawings. I drew with pens and when all was said and done, I hated this phase too. But I did par down the cast to Bob as the main and Joe. Bunny, Sandy, Dave and the Twins were really all that was left over from BOATS. A half dozen other characters were still involoved but they were the ones I had no interest in.

At the turn of the century I began to doodle some more. I designed the cast and took more of an interest in overall design of the strip. The look of the cast. Body types and shapes. Personallities. And did some research into drawing techniques and medium(??). The cast was set. I went back to the past and added Tommy, a character from jr.high. I don't have any of the old drawings but I rememberd him and thought what would he be like now? Guess what? He's a metal head with spikes and tattoos. The title changed in 98 to Life Is A SitCom. I also began to draw with really good techniques. Not. I did a strip with a non-photocopy blue pencil and then traced it with a sharpie. I found that this was a bad thing. I also learned about paper quality and ink bleeding. It was like water being absorbed into a paper towel. You could watch it spread. Then I discoverd the usefulness of not being a member of AOL. There was more than chat rooms.

I began to experiment with various inks and paper. I found a nice drawing pen with the type of lines I like. Clean and thin. It matched my pencil lines. My drawing skills may have improved over the years but the basic style is still there. I like being able to tell that was my pictures. Doodles done 20 years ago have a very distinctive style much like today. Which brings to the latest version of the strip. Life is still the name. Burgatory is the name of the resturant now. In fact if you look closely, the logo on Stephs shirt goes from BP to just B, the logo changes on a few other things. I changed the name in march '04 when I began to concentrate more on the strip. It really began in the spring/summer of '03. I redisigned the main cast. They are easier to draw with consistency now. The over all look is right. After doing the first 10 strips, which are on the website somewhere. (I'm working on a way to display them monthly, daily, archived and other things to use my javascripting skills for.) I put them out where people could see them. The overall opinions were good. The biggest complaint was lack of quality words.


The biggest thing to change the strips was my use of the computer. In march '04 I've gone bonkers with it. I use an iMac dv se 400 with photoshop 5. Old stuff. But hey, it's paid for and with OS X running with some simple addons, I spend more time tweeking Life on the computer than drawing it. Of course right now none of the strips are inked yet. I found some new pens I like and finally decided on a size to draw the strip. From the first strip to the last, I've tried four different sizes to draw the strip. From 3in x 13 to 4.25 x 14.5 inches is what I have choosen. I start out by jotting down ideas, story outlines and then I script them down by the strip. I edit down the dialouge to fit the panel and begin to figure out what the panel should look like. All of my strips are framed out first in bulk. I do 20 at a time. I hate drawing boxes. I use a medium drawing paper and pencils to do the roughs. 

I start with the heads and faces. Position usually begins with who's talking first. Then I draw bodies and then the elements relating to the scene. If nothing is really needed, a picture, piece of equipment, something in the background that is totally irrelevent to the story is put in to fill blank space. Some times space is prefered. After all of that is done, I go through and clean up the page. Make an arm look better, smooth a line, make things consitent from one panel to the next. Now I have really bad handwriting, the biggest complaint. So I go in and scan the strip in to the computer. Because of the paper quaility and it's usually smeared with pencil smudges the scan is yellow and dirty with no words. I clean it up using photoshop filters and the fill tool with white. It's then resized to the correct size, this is done with a single keystroke.the photoshop actions are cool. Almost done. I then type in the words. The hardest part is getting it to fit. I try to keep it a larger size so when it's shrunk down it's still readable. Now with photoshop layering and the type tool, it's easy to adust. The balloons, are another simple thing. I select the words with the marquee tool and again with one keystroke bam! The balloons are made. The first time I did the balloons took forever. I would forget my settings, sizes it was horrible. Then I got to playing with the actions. Cool stuff I tell you. Just had to do the arrows to the person talking and done. After saving it, I push another key and it automatically resizes for the web site. Save it as a gif and Life is near completion. 

 I do like the way the penciled works turn out. But they are dirty faded and not the best work. The fininishing touches will be when the strips are inked. I use a light box and trace over the penciled drawings using ink pens and 2 ply 100 lb bristol board. Talk about ink friendly paper. With every thing else already done, I just have to scan it, and get to the correct size. The words are done, there is very little clean up. Add the copyright stuff and it's done. Inking will be done in bulk. It's kind of like working in a resturant. Assembly line here I come. Sort of. 

Now the strips about the Resturant Times were done on an 8-1/2 x 11 in paper. But was inked so they have clean lines. It was something to take to work, (I do work in a resturant) The original versions were not the right size. I had to modify them some. It was nice to know that I can resize and alter the images without making them distorted or loose characteristics. These four strips really began the rebirth of Life. Life takes years. So did this. I'm sure it will evolve more. It has since the first week in april 04 when I did all of the computer, strip designs, drawings to get it all formated the same to Easter when some new ideas with old charaters helped open the door to more and more stories. Life Is A SitCom is based on bits of real life. It changes, just as I do.

Well change is good right. Around July of 2004 I ran out of ideas. The comic grew stagnate real quick. I wanted week long stories but they ended up going on and on and on and on and on... I like linear stories for novels and maybe even a two week story would be okay. 6 weeks from start to end. No good. Even For Better or For Worse stories focus on a week here then next week something else. So I began the process of starting over again. While trying to come up with a new angle on SitCom, I noticed the girls are taller than the boys. Way taller infact. So I redisigned the cast to the point where everyone is about the same hieght. Now more important stuff.

Burgatory is once again a fast food resturarant. Fast food places are interesting in the fact that some people think they are way too important for their job and the place would just fall apart without them. Okay that only happened at one place I worked but that was because they got rid of anyone who could cook and was more compitent than the new kitchen manager. Ooooh, story idea. See how this works. Any way where was I? I relocated the Cast back into high school. Sex and drinking are funnier in high school, back when as long as it's neckad and says booze, it's party time.

I have aquired a new computer, an Apple Mac Mini, Adobe's Creative Suite 2 software and kissed the pc and microsoft goodbye. I knew microsoft stuff was bad but when I switched from Front Page to Go lIve for my web site development, I found my site contained so many errors I needed to pull it off and start over from page one. So SitCom's web site is a little different because of correct coding. And now I might have the tools for better toon production. So that's the history of Life Is A SitCom up to July 2004 in 104 degrees of non air condintioned developement. OOOh. Story idea...

What has happened since the last update two years ago? Well, alot really. I have restructured the strip again, and again, and again, and again... I'm currently adding a new lead for the strip. Which has returned to a name of the past, "BURGATORY". The restaurant is going to be somewhat of at hybrid fast food and casual dining. That way more options are availble. Should be fun.

The end... Life Is A SitCom Returned to that name and will stay that way. In October of 2007 I was dealing with carpel tunnel and shoulder problems that caused numbness in my hands. It was hard to hold a pencil for more than a few minutes. It was depressing and I allowed Life Is A SitCom to fade to black. In early 2008, I still wanted to make comics, drawing was no longer fun and enjoyable, just painful. So I decided to take my vice, Lego's, and develope them into a comic. Friction Fit Theater was born. I didn't like the direction of the story and stopped production and retooled it to fit what I wanted to do. And one of the things I chose to do was rekindle Life Is A SitCom. Burgatory was reborn in Lego form. Many of the same faces are there, some won't be for a while. Life may never truely end. I may even someday return to draw new strips. Bob and company lives on...

Until then,


James Miller