Did some Blockhead. Made a lil' Mastermind. Co-created Madness: Project Nexus. I love you so much!

Michael Swain @The-Swain

Age 41, Male

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Philadelphia, PA

Joined on 9/16/05

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Lessons from the Fans

Posted by The-Swain - March 20th, 2008

Ok so here's the issue, fellers'. Today I wanted to get some feedback from you guys on a few topics, namely my present and future approach to cartoons. I've always made it a point to read the reviews my audience leaves me for inspiration, motivation, and direction on my projects, but with my toons being released more slowly as I learn how to up their quality, I get that user advice less and less often.


Ok, this is for you Blockhead viewers out there. My darling little Blockhead has been around for years and years, ever since I was a wee lad of about 12 or 13, but making his cartoons is such an involved process that I've had to make all kinds of new decisions about how to portray the character. It was different when I was sketching still comics on notebook paper between classes in junior high. Since then, all these new windows for exploring the Blockhead character have kinda taken my attention away from the fundamental qualities that he had in his earlier episodes.

My problem here is that when I go back to my old cartoons to remind myself of the "oldschool" Blockhead, I sometimes confuse the poor quality of the cartoons with the character humor that I used to find funny but am now bored with because I'm too used to it. Basically, this means that it's hard to tell the difference between what parts of my cartoon sucked outright and what parts are just played out...then, when I make a new cartoon, I start to steer my characters away from what might actually be a funny theme. For example, you'll rarely see the Conscience character saying "You're stupid," or "Shut up idiot," etc., because even though he has no actual reason to stop saying it, it's a played out joke for me and I don't like reusing it, even if Blockhead's fans love it every single time.

I hope that underlines my problem for you all. I think it's an issue a lot of people have with their creative work - I was watching the BBC3 program "Mighty Boosh" the other day, and I noticed that their third season is remarkably horrible compared to their BRILLIANT second season, and for those of you who have seen the show, you'll probably agree that they recycle too many played out jokes while avoiding the elements that made the second season so funny (which is worse even than MY problem). I felt the series would have turned out much better if they'd stopped to ask their fans for a reality check.

So THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, I wanted to get a solid set of opinions from all varieties of fans, be you old or new to the Blockhead world. What are a couple things in the series that you like most about the older and newer episodes? Was it better for you when Blockhead sat around the house and was picked on by his Conscience? Do you hate the house scenes entirely? Do you care for the Weevil, or does he sneak into your dreams and creep you out at night? Do you like destructive Blockhead, mean Blockhead, crazy Blockhead, etc. the best? Give me anything you can think of that you love or hate the most about the series, and I promise I'll pay attention.

Flash Graphic Novels

Speaking of novels, I'll try to keep this section short. Now I know I've kinda asked this question before, but I want to get some solid opinions on what you guys think of the Graphic Novel scene in Flash. I'm talking about cartoons like Thamesis or Broken Saints. Even if you haven't watched them, then let me know that, because I want to have a picture in my mind of how popular they are. If you have, is there anything redeemable about them, or do you maybe look at them as intrusive elements in the Flash world? I am of the firm stance that Newgrounds is a FLASH site and not an ANIMATION site, and that what a person does with Flash is up to them so long as they're doing it to entertain people. My goal is to figure out if these graphic novel toons are succeeding.

This, by the way, is to improve my approach to Starkston Crusade, which will be more like my Blockhead Ani-comic theme than any graphic novel. But I'm not fool enough to confuse them for being completely different.


Ok, time to do some actual work now. Below is my next project, TRY TO GUESS WHAT IT IS JK ITS MASTERMIND 3.

P.S. New Racist Vampires webcomic...I guess it's Easter themed, I just dunno anymore.

Lessons from the Fans


oh my fucking god, swain...that drawing is just beautiful. BEAUTIFUL.

If every background I drew took me as long to make, the cartoon would be done in 1010397531076310976 years.

Do you have a drawing tablet? If not, you must be a god.

I am just a man. A man with a Wacom.

I like Blockhead being more outdoor now. As long as you keep him in his neighbourhood, it's allright. I could care less about the weevil, though. I loved Blockhead most when he's just dumb and destructive. Dumb as in the "STOP sign" scene.

Oh yeah, about Conscience, he is best when he is right, not when he wants to be right. For example, when he learns Blockhead how to put the tape into the receiver. Don't bring back his suicides though. Mysterious revivals in cartoons are overused.

I never thought his suicides were mysterious or continuity errors, since he's intangible and doesn't really "exist". But you'll notice that I have kinda stopped with the suicides, probably because to me it's another played out joke that I'd hate to recycle...but not because I never thought it was funny. You can see my predicament here, I hope :D

My favorite Blockhead personality is the hyperactive one, or maybe the ADD one. It's a shame because I don't make him half as hyper as he used to be, like in the bus scene of Ep.5

I don't know how you make all the awesome backgrounds and whatnot in mastermind but its art. I just love looking at them<3
Could you please make some mastermind backgrounds for peoples desktops?
Cause that picture right there would be a sweet background :3

And about blockhead.. i love every single episode but i always feel like there is something missing in the new episodes even tough i think they are better than the last one, not just because of the better animation but i also think the humor gets better for each episode.
I guess the main different between the old episodes and the new episodes is the fact that blockhead is way more wild than before.. i think.

But i think blockhead is getting better and better for every episode you make and i think you should just keep making it your way and don't worry about people don't liking it cause you know how to make good humor.

You are the king of humor and graphic and i'm really looking forward for anything that you will make in the future :)

I was just now looking at this background in Flash and thinking that it would make a decent desktop background, funny coincidence. It's vector format too, which makes any level of size or zoom look nearly as nice as distant shots like these. I'll make that my next thing to do after I finish the episode!

The thing about Blockhead is that I wonder sometimes if I am doing enough to make sure that everyone who could possibly enjoy Blockhead, WILL enjoy Blockhead, ya know? My cartoons get a lot of attention on NG and I have lots of really incredible members on the site who completely support me, and its totally encouraging. But when you compare the views Blockhead cartoons get to lots of pop-culture themed toons (with video game or television references or orientations), there is no equal level between them. I think I want Blockhead to be pop-culture too ;)

I dont like broken saints.. but im biased because i dont like the feeling of a series in which i have to get engrossed in it for me to appreciate it. I feel its counterproductive to the web environment. Thats definately a personal biased opinion though, on the otherhand you could look at that aspect as a challenge, like as an opportunity to change behavioral norms of the internet attention span. I like blockhead because i can just jump in wherever and walk away enjoying it. It's a series but the episodes can work individually as well. Xombie was kind of like that early in its episodes, then late in the series it was all bout being a dicktease. DONT PLAY GAMES WITH ME.

In regards to blockhead, i never saw the artwork as anything that made or broke the series... i think its more about the humor. It's different from flicks like Dad's Home or MGA2 where the charm and delivery come from the way its animated

That'll be the problem with anything story-based, at least to some degree. The TV show "Heroes" loses about 15 minutes every episode between recaps from previous episodes, and lost airtime from characters having needless conversations that describe what their powers are for clueless new viewers ("That is a two day drive." - "You know, I could just fly us there. With my power. My power to fly." ....UGH!!!##!$), so apparently trying to pull in new viewers is always an issue. I actually fear for the future of Blockhead, because the episodes will have a singular plot from now on, although each episode will still have its own mini plot to keep newcomers entertained. Ultimately that's the most important thing eh?

I love flash graphic novels, and I love your Blockhead Ani-Comic Series. You should definately submit it to newgrounds.

It just doesn't feel like enough content, though I'd love to submit a compilation someday.

You don't need lessons from the fans.
I can never do that shiny/metallic effect you used on the buildings......


Metal/glass is easy, just pick the colors of the objects around the metal surface and draw them onto the surface, only make them wobbly instead. If the surface is round, use more light, bright shiny colors on the edges of the round surface where the reflection gets all scrunched up, with more light per inch of surface area.

Maybe for the humor, you should portray Blockhead's ignorance about the world...and maybe for kicks, it would be pretty cool to see if there's something really genius about him that he can do really well, it adds to the irony :) Your series is great though, keep making em

Well, he always gets away with his actions, so that's one thing he does phenomenally well.

Ok, now seriously, about your problem. I love when Blockhead messes with the elderly, like that scene where he breaks into the old guy's house and sub-contiously tries to molest him XD I also liked that scene in Episode 10 when you could experience Blockhead and Conscience's conversation from the outside, because you get to be one of those poor victims on the streets listening to Blockhead babble on as if he was talking to someone, but in fact there's no one there XP

As for the Graphic Novel thing, I love the idea. Just wondering, were you planning on just taking the style, or also the seriousness. In other words, are you going to make a new serious series with it, or a new funny series, or one of your old series? Either way it's a fun idea :)


It would definitely be a new series, but it would be more accommodating with what Flash has to offer. I don't want it to be just a comic book with music, essentially. There will be a lot of motion but not necessarily a lot of FBF.

oh thanks, you stole my idea for a flash graphic novel now what the fuck am i suppose to do for pico day now.

oviously i couldnt compete with you swain

I won't be doing anything like that for Pico Day, it's a project I have sometime down the road.

wow... sounds nice...
& I liked the comic, was cool

hey... btw.. have you thought about making "video" lessons?

the blockheadedness has really upgraded if u watch blockhead ep. 1 then the ghostmas special. You have really drawn him well. It seems blockhead is starting to understand the Conscience guy better (or maybe not) Dont take this the wrong way, im not trying 2 tell u wat 2 should and should not do, im just an normal blockhead fan (cause blockhead rules, no second opinion there) Yet blockhead can do his same stunts (ghostmas, the hobos, and the absolute randomness about tongs) and it just never gets old! (im getting tired of typing so 2 shorten this up...) You are a humor GOD and blockhead is one of the best!!!
Well Done :)

I think my favorite Blockhead moment was in ep 6 when he was leaning over, further and further, biting at some lady's hat until he finally swallows it. More people walk in on the scene, Blockhead says random things to them, they slowly start freaking out, and Conscience is just trying to make some kind of sense of it all. So I guess I like it best when he's being crazy and messing with people. Seeing normal people react to Blockhead's retarded insanity is something that shouldn't change.

On the other hand, I don't really care for the Weevil. Blockhead doesn't need a recurring weird "friend" character to share the limelight. Conscience is necessary because he's a foil character and serves as a voice of reason among the nuttiness, powerless though he is to stop it, but the Weevil is not.

So there's my two cents. By the way, did you take classes to learn to draw like that, or is it just natural awesomeness?

Maybe you shouldn't look so deeply into the mind of Blockhead. You did add a lot of mystery in the early days. I was always curious of who the fat man represented. Now I understand him more but it doesn't turn me off his character, it made me love him more.

I think you should make fun of Blockhead having a deep mysterious character... because he really isn't that mysterious. You could look into his past, his mind, his soul and still... he's just Blockhead. Nobody tells him what to do or feel. He's himself. Continue making fun of that in every shape and form and I will continue to enjoy your movies.

Hope I explained that clearly enough. Thanks.

I sometimes forget that there were several months where I just never talked about who the "Fat, old man" was, leaving it up to the imagination of the viewers. Nowadays I forget that any of it was supposed to be mysterious and just blatantly call him "The Conscience".

Just as your style changes , so will your views, and sense of humor.
Thats just how things work which is fine. The end result might be funnier than the originals, or simply fall flat. But those are the risks you take when you are being true to yourself.

awesome BG btw, your reflections are amazing.

Thanks bud, and you raise a topic that hadn't even crossed my mind, but is actually just as relevant. As I progress down the road with this series, how much of my old humor is becoming bland to me, and how much has my sense of humor itself changed to compensate? Haha great, now I'm gonna be up all night worried about the unexpected future of my comedy.

And for some reason, window reflections I find easy because you can abstractly re-draw the surface's surroundings, but metallic reflections still throw me off a bit, especially if the surface is round. :O

ah lol

on a more serious note, i think that a flash graphic novel would be most awsome , i have been actualy been exploring the medium and sufice to say i find it very enjoyable if well done.

you need two essential things though

1. good art , i would suggest higher quality art then from your aniamtions or people would feel their being cheated.(look at your background it looks like yuove already sccomplished that)

2. movement , make sure it plays by itself and even though its just a still image, make sure its dynamic.


-speed lines when a character is attacking

-camera shaking when their a large explosion , or large force in general

I think the evolution of Blockhead has and will be coming along nicely - the somewhat more epic proportions to newer episodes has been a lot of fun...I trust you in wherever you may take our hero. That being said - more tongs.

AGREED. Can you believe I didn't even think about Tongs when writing up the skeleton script to Episode 11?!

You know, the thing that really drew me into the Blockhead series wasn't so much the content, though it is brilliant, as it was the voice acting. XD That, to me, is what makes a joke lame or funny. I find myself often going to the soundboard just to listen to my favorite bits. It's the way he says things that make me quote them at random times all day long.
'It's toaster time! Toot toot!'


I've been seeing your stuff here and there for a while now.. And damn man. I think you've really improved a lot.

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