Which got me thinking about Onna, and what she thinks she “should” have been 🤫
(Today’s/Sunday Gnomedays coming later, with prompt “Leader”….)
Time for another Patrons-only world building post! AND Happy Orctober the third: Rain.
This week we’re looking at what the Orcs of Tock’s world do when it rains.
Aaaaaaand Orctober the second, Flower. Featuring Onna’s glorious hair.
(I believe I promised a story about how this all started, as part of Seven Years of Tock, so here we go!)
Once upon a time, a young aimless illustrator submitted various drawings to an indie magazine called “Crossed Genres.” They had an open-submission policy that paid artists when their submissions were for publication, so it seemed like a good deal.
Unfortunately this was many years ago, so a certain….. skill level was lacking, and the illustrator did not get accepted. Still, she tried, and the people who ran the magazine were very nice and encouraging to her.
A while later, this magazine saw fit to hold a competition – seeking webcomics! If accepted, the chosen comics would be published online for their members, one page a week for 52 weeks, and then published in print in one big compendium. Even though I hadn’t gotten any of my illustrations accepted, one particular member of their team reached out to me (whoops, dropping the vagueness) and encouraged me to submit a comic.
I honestly don’t remember WHY I chose to submit – I was actually at a rough patch in my life, so perhaps I thought that creating a comic would fill a certain hole in my spirit. But that’s a different story.
Anyway, I did choose to give it a shot, but then the question was – about what?
My wife is very good at asking questions to get at the root of what I want to express with character and story, so when I came home that afternoon with that decision – the questions began, and Tock was born.
I decided I wanted to tell a story about a Gnome (surprise) who fell in love with an Orc (surprise) while going on an semi-inversion of the Prince Quest – off to rescue fair maiden in a tower, and all. Setting: steampunk, because yay ❤ So that meant airship, and thus a crew, including a pilot friend of her’s and a magic user of some kind, since the Orc would fill the warrior ‘slot.’
I came up with the vague description of the plot, with a couple of character designs and example images as instructed for submission.
However, without realizing it, I had censored myself – as you can see, Tock and Onna look a bit different from how they truly are. Due to my own worries about how the characters would be perceived (by the people in charge of picking the winning submissions, particularly), I thinned Tock out – so much for my size-positive mission. And in my excitement I didn’t think about why a “warrior class” person and a “mage class” person would look the way they do – so Onna’s fantasy armor looks very generic, and I didn’t have much of a reason for why Eunan wears robes like that.
I did not get chosen Retrospectively, I can see why – not only did I hold myself back in character design, but the kind folks who were interested in me enough to encourage me could see that AND that I didn’t push the story as far as I could have. Again, they were super nice about it though, even so far as to say that to me so I could learn from it.
That rejection did hurt, but you know what happened? I did it anyway.
Tock got redesigned – slight tweaks, but still noticeably more well-rounded (both metaphorically AND physically, as you can see!). Onna got the biggest overhaul of all – I actually went and thought about what kind of armor she would have, as an Orc in her kind of culture (nomadic, almost scavengery at that point. The Viking details came later). Bumble didn’t change at all, and Eunan’s robes slowly evolved into a more Celtic design – so still very magey, but with a reason.
The story itself also got expanded. Certain details – like an early idea of Onna getting magically shrunk down to Tock’s size to better accommodate their romance (I know, yikes, right?), and a secondary plot about the current Gnomish princess, eventually got scrapped – I looked farther out than the scope of Tock’s quest to see what else is really going on with the world, and why her quest might have importance BEYOND her own, selfish motivations. The plot of the quest itself was adjusted to incorporate a greater vision – new characters were added, certain old characters of mine were pulled in to give the world history, and voila! A much more solid story slowly began to take shape.
I created this website in March, 2010 to announce the project, with a plan to launch the comic on August 30th that year – which I did, and though progress has always been pretty slow – here we are still ❤
Page by page and bonus content by bonus content, things have still been evolving and growing. The importance of some side characters increased, and another new crew member was added to address the treatment of a certain beleaguered best friend, rounding it out from 4 to 5 (which flows better, in my opinion. I always felt like something was missing at 4. And also thanks to my lovely wife, who is very much inspiring Actia’s creation and actions).
More and more the cultures of the world have been developed, the perfect match of Vikings and Orcs eventually smacked me upside the head, Gnome culture and religion grew to encompass a fuller pre-quest life for Tock and Bumble – and also to point out problems with how the Gnomes view life, in addition to the wars and conflict that have already been mentioned world-wide.
(Psssst, there’s trouble with how ALL the races are acting, but any more details would be spoilers!)
My own spirituality has been informing the comic more and more, too, so how very Faerie the world is has drastically shifted – I didn’t plan on actually addressing how faerie-natured all the creatures of Tock’s world are, originally, but now that has become a huge part of the story and an informing factor of any of the foreshadowing we’ve seen so far.
I guess all I can say in closing is that I’m very grateful for how far the story has come, that I didn’t just give up on it – and even more importantly, that you all have stuck with it for so long!
Thank you so much for continuing to read the new pages as they come, and for your comments and likes and feedback on the bonus content I post. And especially to those of you who support it on Patreon – every cent gets us closer to more frequent updates! (And for those of you unfamiliar, there’s even more bonus work and world-building info up there, so please consider taking a look!)
Gratitude from the bottom of my heart once again, dear readers! And happy Seven Years of Tock!
All content © Rachel Terwilliger.
For my father-in-law, for Father’s Day last week.
Curious as to what’s going on with this significant-looking Onna hug? Keep reading the comic ;p
Also, if you like Tock’s story and world, please consider contributing to it’s Patreon ❤
Traders and traitors….
Language note! You might have noticed that the speech bubbles of Onna and the other Orcs look like this:
// Words! //
That’s to indicate that they are, indeed, speaking in Orcish, so Tock and Bumble don’t know what they’re saying. Hopefully the first panel clears that up too.
All content © Rachel Terwilliger. Do not use, alter or redistribute without permission.
So firstly, thank you to everyone who gave me feedback about my recent thoughts on publication for “Tock the Gnome,” and also to everyone who soothed my frustrations. I am very lucky to have followers like you.
After some very, very wise and welcome advice from people who have LOTS more experience than me, I am putting those plans on hold. I still hope to get published sooner rather than later, and I have a good handful of ideas for bonus material when I do publish, BUT I will not be taking the comic offline anytime soon.
I did let myself get way too emotionally involved in this idea, though, and as a result I am finding myself very burnt out and resentful. Impatience and perfectionism is just…. no.
I’m going to be taking a short break (like 30 days-ish) from making new pages, to recharge my batteries. The time that I usually use toward page creation (15 minutes a day, or more if I can spare it) will be devoted to some more lighthearted Tock work – just drawings, like the above WIP.
I will still try to post progress updates, notes, sketches, WIPs on illustrations, etc. on the Patreon page. And a month from today, work on pages themselves shall resume.
Thanks very much for your patience and for caring about Tock and her crew in the first place ❤
P.S. If you’re not caught up or haven’t read it yet, now would be a great time to start!
All content © Rachel Terwilliger. Do not use, alter or redistribute without permission.