I'm back!

I haven't blogged in more than a year, but that will now change!

A little after my last blog post, I strained my wrist by programming for eight hours and drawing comics for five hours every day for a week. For a few months, I could barely type – so I stopped blogging, and when I got better, I was busy with other things. Like college. I graduated from Colby College this year, and despite its many structural problems, I think I managed to squeeze a good education from it.

Let me tell you about some of the things I've done in the last year. Leave a comment to tell me which ones you want to hear more about!

Before this summer

Watched a lot of anime. Solved all the levels of Fish Fillets. Got paid to tutor some people in math. Did a lighting design for a short dance piece. Worked on Lasercake a lot and released a prototype. Did BDSM with a partner for the first time. Ran a tabletop RPG for the first time. Played a tabletop RPG for the first time. Learned (and invented!) some useful knots. Wrote a 10-minute play and had it produced by the Colby theater department. Participated in some student activism. Built an exellent new device to carry my stuff around in. Initiated five other people into Eli Dupree's Cult of DOOM. Designed a sexual board game, and learned a lot about Inkscape to do it.

Since the beginning of this summer (May 18)

I'm at home now, with nothing but free time to do awesome projects all the time!

Reorganized my room. Reorganized my computer stuff. Started improving my diet, inspired by Rob Rhinehart's “Soylent” project. Learned to use a sewing machine. Got back to working on my comic. Started using an EMG biofeedback device to help me draw without clenching my hand. Set up an exercise bicycle we have and improved my bicycle endurance a lot. Continued work on Lasercake and the board game. Updated a Battle for Wesnoth add-on (“Era of High Sorcery”) that I wrote years ago. Bought a used monitor, built a wooden shelf, and rearranged my workstation [picture].

Some things I'm going to do soon

I'm going to finish Voldemort's Children, finally. It will probably take me at least a month, and I'm going to do all the remaining pages as a batch (so I won't be able to post any until it is all finished). But it is coming!

I'll redesign this website a bunch. Writing it from scratch two summers ago was a great experience, but now that I've used it for a while, I've seen a bunch of flaws in its current design.

I'll leave it at that for now. I don't know what else I'll do next, because there are so many different things I want to do next! But you will hear from me soon. I will blog more, I promise! I'm going to try to post at least one awesome thing each week, possibly more.

– Eli

Social standards of dress

I wrote this for a discussion on an Internet forum, in response to a person saying that it was “disrespectful” to violate social standards about what clothing to wear in specific situations.

It's easy for you to say that if you have the ability to conform to those social standards of dress (either at all, or without going to prohibitively large amounts of effort).

For instance, “dressing up” is a (not entirely anymore, but still mostly) gender-segregated thing: There isn't a way “to dress up”, there's a way “to dress up male” and a way “to dress up female”. This causes me two problems:

  1. Since I'm agender, there is no possible way for me to dress up.
  2. Even if I could, I wouldn't, because I hate gendered conventions with a fiery passion.

I personally deal with this by never going to a venue that requires me to dress up, but not everybody has the luxury of being able to avoid such venues.

And to some people, “dress up” means “buy an extra garment you can ill afford”.

Or “Battle your depression into letting you spend lots of effort dealing with clothes and body stuff, using energy you would rather have spent on the actual task”.

Or “Spend all day trying to overcome social anxiety to go ask some social person to help you choose clothing because you cannot seem to understand what the conventions are”.

Or many other things.

My moral system says it's intolerable to pressure someone into doing the above things merely to make them look “nicer”, so I cannot agree with a set of conventions that does that. So maybe there are two options left:

  1. Pressure people to do that if it's easy for them, but don't pressure people if it's too hard for them;
  2. View clothing conventions as optional and don't pressure anybody to do them.

Option A is completely impossible, since you cannot actually know how hard it is for people (unless you're going to go around asking them all the time, which would be a total waste of effort and probably a form of pressure in itself). So, lacking any other choice that isn't repugnant to me, I take option B.

– Eli

A look at Lasercake, one of my upcoming projects!

[Update: This project now has its own website at lasercake.net]

I wrote the following (slightly edited for the web) as part of an application for the “Senior Scholars” program here at Colby College, which will allow me to earn academic credit for doing this project.


Lasercake is an educational computer game project.

As a game, Lasercake will be a open “sandbox” game – one where the player is presented with a world to experiment in, rather than given a specific goal to accomplish as effectively as possible. As an educational project, the [...]

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Introducing the Colby Sex Club!

This is something that I should have blogged about long ago!

The story starts on March 9, 2011. There was a campus forum on that day, on the topic of “Gender, Power, and Community” – lots of people were there, and we had a really good conversation about a lot of important issues, like sexual assault, silencing, and various forms of discrimination. I said, semi-jokingly, something like “We should have a 'Colby Sex Club' where people talk about the act of sex and what we want out of it! This seems like another silence that needs to be broken.” I dropped the idea at the time, because I was busy with schoolwork, and because as a person who's never actually had sex with another person, I didn't feel like the most qualified to start it.

Then, this semester – October 19, to be precise – I went to an event that made me [...]

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Let's talk about affirmative consent!

A couple of days ago, someone posted some evil, rape-excusing statements on one of my college's student/faculty/staff mailing lists. I won't talk about it much here, because I have a policy of not repeating evil things on this blog. However, it inspired me to draw this!

A brief introduction to affirmative consent.

(That's a link to an image (I'm putting it behind a link because it's fairly large). Click the link to see it. A transcript of that image is below.)

Transcript: (show)(hide)
ELI: Hello, folks! Let's talk about affirmative consent, and the myth of a “grey area” between consensual sex and rape! Consent is actually fairly straightforward, but people don't always explain it perfectly. Here, I'll explain it with an image!

Panel: Two cheerful people.
PERSON 1: Want to have sex?
PERSON 2: Yeah! Let's do it!
This panel is labeled “CONSENT”.

Panel: A cheerful person and an idle person.
PERSON 1: Want to have sex?
PERSON 2: Yeah, whatever.
This panel is labeled “NOT CONSENT”.

ELI: This isn't very hard to understand. If you ask someone fifty times, and ze says no fifty times, and then you ask a fifty-first time and ze says yes, that is not consent. Compliance is not consent. Compliance means that someone has decided that the trouble you'll cause for zem if ze doesn't comply is greater than the trouble of being sexed up when ze doesn't want it. Which is exactly the opposite of the positive, mutually beneficial relationship you want with a sex partner. Is there a grey area here? Yes - it looks like this:

Wide panel: At the left end is a cloud of grey smoke. At the right end is clear blue sky. The left end is labeled “GREY AREA”; the right end is labeled “CLEAR AREA”.
PERSON IN THE GREY AREA: Oh, no! With all this smoke around, I have no idea if ze actually wants to have sex with me!
PERSON IN THE CLEAR AREA: Thank goodness! My partner and I are communicating well and we both know exactly what the other wants!

ELI: The grey area is the bad area. The grey area is the one you want to avoid at all costs. The clear area is the awesome area of super sexy fun. If you do sex to someone while you're in the grey area, you might not ever know whether you've committed rape. That would be an incredibly stressful situation to put yourself into. You'd probably have a lot of cognitive dissonance because you don't want to think of yourself that way. And that would be very bad for you as well as for your potential victim. But the point here is not “If you're in the grey area, don't have sex”; although that is important... the point is, “If you're in the grey area... get to the clear area.”

Panel: Two people talking.
PERSON 1: I'm having a little trouble figuring out what you're okay with - sometimes I don't know if you're protesting or just playing around... So, um... Are you interested in making out for a while, and then having sex?
PERSON 2: Oh, that would be wonderful! Sorry, I've just had a bad day and so I'm a bit snippy. I could really use some good sex right now!
NARRATION: They then proceeded to have the awesomest sex ever.

ELI: Clear, honest communication is the only weapon we have against accidentally hurting each other over and over for no good reason. And it's also the sexiest thing since vibrating dildos. Use it.

– Eli

Recommended website: The Usual Error

(The Usual Error is a book. But it's freely available on a website, so I have no problem listing this as a recommendation of a website!)

The Usual Error is a book about how to communicate well! I know the authors have good ideas about that, because the book itself is an example of good communication. If you like my writing style on this website, you will probably like the book, because there are a lot of similarities between its style and mine.

I do have one qualm about it: Not everything it says is true for everybody, and it doesn't always do a good job of being aware of that. If you keep that in mind, it's a very good read.

The e-book is available here.

– Eli


This post is to give you some insight into how my creative process works!

So... Instinct vs. intellectual understanding. Complex ideas are great. The only trouble with complex ideas is that you can't keep the whole idea in your conscious mind at the same time. So you need to just rely on the knowledge you already have, so you can build on it. The things you're thinking about actively, I call “intellectual understanding”; the things you already know, that you can use without thinking, I call “instinct”.

Of course, it's a good idea to go back and examine your instincts, from time to time.

I drew my last comic mostly by instinct. Especially the panel borders. I didn't think “What do I want this line to express and how do I accomplish that?”; I just thought “Hmm, this line doesn't look right... *redraw* ehh... *redraw* ooh, this works!”. In short, I had an instinct for what I wanted, but I didn't intellectually understand exactly what I wanted.

I love understanding things, so after I drew the comic, I went back and analyzed my own work! Here are some of my thoughts:

  • The flared border at the bottom of the second panel echoes the powers Tritia's using in that panel. It makes the concept clear that Tritia is having an effect on stuff, especially with the way it stabs into the larger image below.
  • The way the last panel is drawn “in front” of the others give it more emphasis (which is good, because part of the joke is the fact that such a mundane statement gets so much emphasis). It also puts it slightly outside the flow of the story, which is good, because the main flow is the fight with Tritia.
  • The way Jeva's katana ignores panel borders. It's a bit of a running joke to draw the katana above things that it would normally be drawn below, but it also works for me here – in the first panel, it helps capture the interrupted-ness of the continuation from the previous page, and in the last panel, it helps accentuate Jeva's droopy-ness. If it was in the panel, I'd have to move the speech bubble up, and anyway, having things break the normal rules usually helps emphasize them. Oh! And I hadn't even thought about the fact that putting the speech bubble at the bottom, curving down, added to the overall effect of that panel.
  • Some other things didn't work so well. For instance, there's no good reason for Sam's speech bubble to be all the way at the right side; it confuses the flow a little. That's something I can keep in mind when watching my habits of where I put speech bubbles. I also should have found a way to indicate more motion in the crevices (bits still falling off, perhaps?), to make it clear that Tritia just dug them. As it stands, you might think that they were there the whole time.

Anyway, one of the interesting things here is this: I'm finding it just as productive to study my own work as to study someone else's. That makes sense right now, because I've read a lot of comics already, but haven't written very many of them myself... yet!

– Eli

Some things

(This post is basically just a list of things. I could have written about each of these things individually, but I'm having some health issues right now, and so I don't have the time-and-energy to write nicely about all of them.)

This weekend, I participated in the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin1 Festival of Live Performance and Digital Media! That was a weekend-long event where three groups of six students each developed a 5-10 minute theatrical/dance performance that incorporated cameras, projectors, sound effects, and such stuff, all controlled through computer input. It was pretty awesome, and I hope I'll be able to work with some of this equipment more in the future. The faculty in charge made video recordings of all three performances; if they have time, and can get permission from all the right people, then I might be able to show you them.

I recently found a really nice interview with a person who's studying addiction, brain development, and mental illness. It's the first interview on this page, and it's 14 minutes long. A transcript is available. (I don't recommend the other two interviews in the video, but I couldn't find anywhere that the first interview was shown on its own.)

What happened with my seeking-another-course-to-take is this: The English department waived my English Composition requirement, so I don't have to take any version of that class. Then I didn't find another class to take, so I'm now taking three classes2 instead of the usual four. That's actually kinda nice, because it gives me more time to do other things, like my comics.

I'm still planning to post my novella as soon as I can, but my current health issue is making me too distracted to work. (Don't worry, it's temporary, but it's awfully annoying while it's here.) Ditto for posting comics on my regular schedule – we'll see how things are going by Saturday.

– Eli

  1. Those are names of colleges. I attend Colby College. back
  2. Well, two classes and an independent study. back

How I don't get frustrated at anything

Some moderately bad things happened, and I ended up dropping the English Composition class that I was taking. (I'm still considering what to replace it with – maybe another English Comp from a different professor, maybe another class entirely.) I'm not going to go into the details, but it was bad. So you might assume that I'd still be frustrated about it. But, I'm totally not! This post is about how I manage to not stay frustrated about things.

Now, you might be thinking “Aha! Eli probably has some sort of magical brain difference where ze just doesn't get frustrated in the first place!”, which would be a good guess because [...]

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