Friday, 31 July 2015

And We're Back

If you’ve been monitoring the Facebook page, I’ve been teasing at this return for the past week. But given there’s only 20 likes on that page, and the FB algorithm only goes to, I don’t know, 5% of people unless you pay, this announcement is probably a surprise for many.

I will use this post to address what I anticipate to be the common questions. Any I failed to anticipate, you can ask in the comments below.


A few reasons. The primary one being inspiration I received from ConBravo, which took place last weekend. It’s a convention of “Everything Geek” in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Guests include internet reviewers, webcomic writers, DJs... I plan to make several posts on my personal blog once this launch is complete. I figure, if they’re still at it, why not me too.

A second reason is “WeSeWriMo”: August is “Web Serial Writing Month”. (Like ‘National Novel Writing Month’ or ‘February Album Writing Month’, but for web serials.) You set your own ambitious goal (loose rule is try for 150% of a normal month’s output) and try to reach it. My goal is basically to launch this, and run it in parallel with my Time Travel Story. The irony is, I don’t feel I qualify for WeSeWriMo. More on that below.

Finally, there’s a lot of overhead necessary in doing something like this, from creating templates, to scheduling out a buffer, to trying to create some hype. It makes sense that I do this now, when I have TIME, in August, so that hopefully it’s gained perpetual motion once I’m back in the classroom in September. Related to that, my monthly education column “There Are No Dumb Questions” was pretty much a wrap as of May, so the time I used to spend researching there, has been going here.

It also occurred to me that some schools start in August, and I still have this vague idea that educators might like reading mathematical fiction. Meaning I can snare one or two before they’re too busy as well. Maybe. Eternal optimism, I know.


You might notice this isn’t “Taylor’s Polynomials” any more. It’s become “Any Q-bars”, except I have a devil of a time getting the Q to notate with the macron (bar overtop) in most online editors. Hence the alternative title, “Any not-Qs” (~ = not). Basically a parody on “Any Qs” or “Any Questions” (the #AnyQs hashtag being used on Twitter, mostly by math educators) and the fact that Q-bar is the notation for irrational numbers.

A partial reason for the change is a “reboot” of some of the characters. The person illustrated at the top IS Para. Given my fascination with twin tails, I’m not sure why I didn’t have the idea from the start. (Maybe because it’s a bad idea? I guess we’ll see.) But at “ConBravo” I commissioned some new artwork, based on preliminary sketches, and I think this can work.

I’d include that commissioned artwork here (as I once did in some prior posts on this very site) except my drawing is of lesser quality. And as my drawing is what you’ll be facing for the next several months, you’ll get to see their work later. To make it a “step up”, rather than my whole series being a “step down” from commissioned work. That said, check out Tabitha Yi, Meg Simmons and Oceantann to see why I selected them.


Yes. And no. It’s complicated. It’s a bit like when “Doctor Who” came back. Completely new cast, and a chance to pull in new fans... yet somehow, it will turn out to be in continuity with what came before. In my prior post in March, I said there were “At least two ways I can ‘resume’ (or even ‘reboot’)”, and this is one of those ways.

Hence why I’m calling this “Series 7”, even though it won’t immediately look like the same universe.


You’ll have to read to find out. Don’t worry, the reading will be less intense, we’re also shifting into a webcomic format now.


Yeah, this would be the other reason for the new title. It’s funny, when I started writing this mathematical serial, I didn’t know what a “serial” was, so I called it a “webcomic-like thing”. Now that I’ve found my niche, I’m breaking out of it towards what I might have done initially, if only I could’ve drawn. (This is why I said I don’t feel I qualify for WeSeWriMo.)

The explanation for the change should be obvious. Webcomics are more mainstream. Of course, it’s also massively more complicated on my end. But I have been doing research. I now know how to thumbnail a strip, about the “Crossbar Is” issue in text balloons, and I hope this will become more than an exercise in watching “talking heads”. Don’t expect backgrounds though. Cut me some slack, it’s still an unpaid hobby.

That said, if there’s something you’re finding horrible (font choice, ruler inconsistency, perspective problems, other) I’m open to feedback. I don’t want stuff like that to detract from the mathematics. I also don’t have the newest platforms (my phone is 15 years old), so if you see something I need to tweak technologically so that it’s visible on an iPad, let me know about that too.


Once per week, on Monday mornings. I figure it’s a good way to start the week, plus while I can bash out 2,000 words per week easily, the drawing component is now going to necessitate at MINIMUM a Sunday afternoon. Because thumbnails (a new step!) to pencil to ink to scanning to formatting (new step!) to text balloons (new step!) to colouring to transferring to my new computer (which has no drivers for my old scanner). Whew.

Did I mention I’m going to continue publishing my time travel serial on Friday afternoons at the same time? I am insane. But come on, teenagers with a time machine, and it’s like a combination of the movies “Interstellar” and “Tomorrowland”. It’s cool, you should really check it out! (OK, end self plug.)

At any rate, I may consider the occasional “special strip”, for noteworthy events or holidays, kind of like my “specials” in the “Taylor’s Polynomials” days. To that end, song parodies are liable to continue, because I’m known for it locally. Beyond this, we’ll see.


Because you like math? Because you like comics? Because you’re a writer looking for inspiration? Because you’re an educator who doesn’t think every blog has to make you think about teaching? Because you think it might be informative to watch someone implode from stretching themselves too thin?

Look, when it comes to mathematics, I know most readers prefer non-fiction. So if this is the last I see of you until my next “useful” post, so be it. But can I ask one thing? Please? Even if this isn’t in your wheelhouse, tell someone else about it. A colleague, a student, a role-play friend, hell, even an enemy, I’m not gonna be fussy.

Yes, I’m a niche market. But since 2011, this has been my “brand”, to use Sam Shah’s TMC15 terminology. Or to quote Christopher Danielson, it’s what I love, I’m doing more of it. So maybe, just MAYBE, there’s someone else out there who’s interested too. Eternal optimism. Ergo, if you’re not interested... RT for a friend, maybe?

I do read every comment. Quick shout-out here to those who have posted something - here or on Facebook - about the 200+ entries already out there: Scott Delahunt, Audrey McLaren, Christopher Burke, Jennifer Silverman, Education Realist, David Wees, Fernando Martinez, Carl Joshua Quines, Sue Van Hattum, RedBean, Elizabeth H, Not-a-furry and Slim Shady.

Thanks for reading. Here we go again.