Comic books are traditionally printed on paper, either as regular saddle-bound issues or in hardcover compilations. If you wanted to read them on a low-resolution screen run by an 8-bit computer, you were usually out of luck. Until now! Enter StripStream, the comic book reader for the Commodore 64.
StripStream runs on a stock PAL C64 system, using the Datasette interface. A PC program is used to compose a comic into a suitable format for the C64. It then generates a .TAP file which can either be played in a C64 emulator, or recorded onto an audio tape for loading on real hardware.
According to [janderogee], who created the software, just 34 minutes of tape can store over 300 images and 1200 lines of subtitle text. Cassettes were chosen for the storage method as standard 5 1/2″ C64 disks could only hold 165 kilobytes of data per side, meaning two whole double-sided disks would be needed to store the same amount of data. Plus, the linear nature of tape makes sense for a sequentially-read comic story. Just don’t get any ideas about doing a choose-your-adventure thing here, as StripStream isn’t built for random access.
If you don’t want to read regular comics, you can always use a tool to automatically generate them from existing media. Incidentally, StripStream is a great name, but we would have called it Comicdore 64.
Continue reading “Read Comic Books On The Commodore 64 With StripStream”
You might think it is strange that a story about technology would start off talking about Wonder Woman. When you realize the technology in question is a lie detector, you might think, “Oh, that’s right. Wonder Woman had the lasso of truth, so this is just a lame association.” You might think that, but you’d be wrong. Turns out, Wonder Woman and real life polygraphs have a much deeper connection; both the polygraph and Wonder Woman share a common creator.
It makes a good story to say that William Marston — an internationally famous psychologist — created the polygraph, but as you might expect it wasn’t the result of a single person’s effort. However, Marston played a key role and also was behind promoting the technology. So, too, even though he is credited as Wonder Woman’s sole creator, the truth is probably a bit more complex.
Continue reading “Wonder Woman And The Real Lasso Of Truth”
If there’s one thing that’s more fun than a comic, it’s a randomly generated comic. Well, perhaps that’s not true, but Reddit user [cadinb] wrote some software to generate a random comic strip and then built a robot case for it. Push a button on the robot and you’re presented with a randomly generated comic strip from the robot’s mouth.
The software that [cadinb] wrote is in Processing, an open source programming language and “sketchbook” for learning to code if you’re coming from a visual arts background. The Processing code determines how the images are cropped and placed and what kind of background they get. Each image is hand drawn by [cadinb] and has information associated with it so the code knows what the main focus of the image is. Once the panels are created, the final image is passed on to a thermal printer for printing. Everything is controlled from a Python script running on a Raspberry Pi and the code, strip artwork, and case is all available online to check out.
Now that the comic can print, a case is needed for the printer and controls. [cadinb] designed a case in Illustrator after creating a prototype out of foam core. The design was laser cut and then coloured – the main body with fabric dye and the arms stained with coffee!
Now [cadinb] has a robot that can sit on his table at conventions and a fan can press a button and have a randomly generated comic strip printed out before their eyes! We have a neat article about printing a comic on a strand of hair, and one about bringing the Banana Jr. 6000 to life!
Continue reading “This Robot Barfs Comics!”
Whether you’ve been following Retrotechtacular for a while or have firsthand experience with the U.S. Army, you know that when they want to teach something to a someone, they’ll get the job done in spades with a side of style. The era between WWII and the Vietnam War was a golden age of clear, simple instruction that saw the Army use memorable material to teach a wide array of topics. And speaking of golden ages, the Army found success with comic book-style instructional magazines drawn chiefly by [Will Eisner] of Spirit fame.
The first of these rags was called Army Motors, which premiered in 1940. It introduced several memorable characters such as a Beetle Bailey-esque bumbling soldier named Private Joe Dope, and no-nonsense gal mechanic Connie Rodd, a sharp cookie who’s as brainy as she is buxom. Educational and entertaining in equal parts, the magazine was pretty well received.
Its successor, known simply as P.S. started its run around the beginning of the Korean War in June 1951. These magazines were intended as a postscript to the various equipment maintenance manuals that soldiers used. They offered all kinds of preventive maintenance procedures as well as protips for Army life. The eye-catching depictions of Connie Rodd demanded soldiers’ attention while the anthropomorphic equipment illustrations encouraged them to listen to what their equipment told them.
Additional artists including [Joe Kubert] and [Dan Spiegle] were brought in to produce P.S. on a monthly basis. As the years marched on, the magazine’s character base expanded to include representatives of other military branches solving specialized problems. The bumbling idiot types were 86’d pretty early on, but cheesecake was served well into the 1970s.
Did we mention that they’re still making P.S.? Here’s the February 2015 issue and a friendly PDF warning.
Thanks for the tip, [Itay]!
Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.
Here’s an odd little footnote we found while perusing the Comic Tools blog. [Matt Bernier]’s blog is dedicated to drawing and inking tutorials for comic artists. He uses a lot of example photographs that involve both hands. This week, at the bottom of his post on cleaning brushes, he included a photo to illustrate how he takes all of these point of view shots. The camera is strapped securely to his head using an old lanyard. He can see the display and access the controls on the back. After composing his shot, he just sets the timer, and you get a picture of what the process looks like from his perspective. Sure, it looks silly from this angle, but it really helps out the posts.