Lightning Made of Owls

Lightning Made of Owls castThis is the main cast of the webcomic Lightning Made of Owls, which I run. It’s different from normal webcomics in that I don’t make (most of) the comics. Instead, readers contribute them. Since 2008, collectively all of the contributors have managed to produce over 450 strips.

The concept is fairly simple. If anyone has an idea for a comic, they can draw it up and send it in. “Draw” can be interpreted loosely. The art can be made in any way that tickles the contributor’s fancy. Most are drawn, either by hand and then scanned, or on a computer. Several people have illustrated their comics with photo art. You can also use clip art, or re-use art from previously submitted comics.

Comics are submitted and published under a Creative Commons licence, so all of the art of previous comics is available for remixing and turning into new submissions. Another rule is that comics are approximately PG-rated. No words or images you wouldn’t want a 12-year-old exposed to.

The only other condition on submissions is that they use one or more of the characters from the main cast list. Each of the six primary characters has several distinctive, defining characteristics:

Holly wears big round glasses. You can see her green eyes through them, and she has messy, wavy, auburn hair of medium length. Her colour is green, which she tends to wear a lot, mixing it with floral or other plant-related prints. She’s young, bright, vivacious, and cheerful.

Delkin has long, unkempt black hair. Sometimes he wears it in dreadlocks. Sometimes it covers his eyes. The funny thing is, even when his hair isn’t in his eyes, something else covers them up – dark glasses, goggles, a mask. You never see his eyes. He wears purple and likes diamond check patterns. He’s a bit of a geek, and a joker, always poking fun and seeing the funny side.

Meridien is the mother figure. She is spiritual and mystical and caring. She has long blonde hair and hazel eyes. Her colour is yellow, and her patterns tend to be stars, planets, or mystical symbols. She always wears an accessory made of cloth – be it a scarf, a bow, a scrunchie, a ribbon.

Oliver is bald and has brown eyes. He is strong and noble, which leads him to careers like law enforcement, charity work, or being a superhero. Which is probably why he sports an obvious L-shaped scar, somewhere in his face. He tends to dress in orange and eschews patterns for solid colours.

Samantha is a firebrand. She lives fast and parties hard; she likes being the centre of attention and has a strong will and ambition. She wears red, matching her short, neat hair, and likes stripes (because everyone knows red stripes make stuff go faster). She also loves earrings, and is never seen without a large pair. Her eyes are grey.

Ambrose is the old man of the group. He wears patched clothing, predominantly blue in colour. He has grey hair, bright blue eyes, and a bushy moustache. He’s bright, but eccentric and unpredictable.

The faces of HollyThese characters form a sort of Commedia dell’Arte, or in more modern terms, a universal adaptor cast. They change jobs frequently. They change species. Sometimes they’re not even living creatures. They also exist in all time periods, from prehistory to the far future, and all places, from downtown Earth to the far corners of the universe. They’ve been microbes, and dinosaurs.

As an example, here are just a few of the ways in which contributors have portrayed Holly.

Now why am I writing all of this, in such detail? Because, my friends, even though we’ve managed to publish 460+ comic strips in this project, the contributions are starting to thin out. I’d very much like to keep it going for as long as possible, and to do so I need to rustle up some more contributors.

So, if you have ever wanted to make a webcomic, but haven’t been able to find the time or energy or web skills to do so, here’s your chance. We have ready-made characters for you to use. All you need to do is come up with a single comic strip, make it, and send it in (my e-mail address is at the bottom of the Lightning Made of Owls home page). There are no ongoing commitments or update deadlines that you need to keep. You can send in one strip, or a dozen. Or become a regular contributor. If you have even an inkling of a desire to make a funny piece of artwork, please give it a go.

And what would also be cool: If any of you reading this are actually established webcomic artists – how about making a guest comic for Lightning Made of Owls? It’ll be a nice change of pace for you, and it’ll give you a chance to plug your own comic. I’m happy to include links to your other work. I’d love to hear from you.

Being creative is fun, but I know it’s hard work. Contribute a comic – be creative for just a day, for fun. See how you like it. Thank you.

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