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Critical Mass

Making webfiction explode

Monday, January 28, 2008Filed in Sidebars

Othar’s Twitter Interview with Phil Foglio (January 2008)


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The following interview was conducted via e-mail with Phil Foglio between 23 January 2008 and 26 January 2008. It is being published here as a sidebar to a review of his webfiction, Othar’s Twitter. Formatting has been applied, the e-mails have been merged into one threaded interview, and there are a couple of silent typo corrections, but it is otherwise a complete transcript of the questions and their answers.

[Main Article: Othar’s Twitter review]

CM: M. Alan Thomas II for Critical Mass
OT: Phil Foglio of Othar’s Twitter


CM: Is there a proper title to this work? I’m currently calling it “Othar’s Twitter” because that’s what it is and that’s how it’s referred to in the link from the Girl Genius sidebar.

OT: Othar’s Twitter is how I always think of it.

CM: Who has what sort of input into Othar’s Twitter? I’d like a name or names to put into the “Author” field of my database, but I’m also highly interested in finding out what sort of input other members of the Girl Genius team have. None? Veto power? Supply ideas? Actually write some episodes?

OT: Othar’s Twitter is written by Phil Foglio, with the occasional aside from Cheyenne Wright. Originally it started out as something that any member of Studio Foglio could contribute to, a sort of round-robin communal thing of amusement. As it turned out, I was the only one who bothered to take the time to write something every day, so it became, de facto, mine.

CM: What is the theoretical update schedule? (A glance through the update times suggests “daily when I can / semi-irregular.”)

OT: Once a day. It what I do after I read my daily slew of webcomics.

CM: Would I be correct to assume that Othar’s Twitter will not be appearing in a print collection?

OT: Why would you think that? If I’m going to do all this work it would be a shame to waste it. We’ll use it somewhere.

CM: I may have underestimated your commercial genius. Do you think that Othar’s Twitter will be significantly different when read in print and all at once rather than online and serialized? (Do you think that it will lose anything?)

OT: Not at all. As it has a narrative structure, reading them in sequence should only make it more enjoyable.

CM: Is writing this a paid exercise?

OT: Nope.

CM: Is it intended to indirectly increase Girl Genius popularity/sales?

OT: Yes.

CM: Is there any evidence that it does affect those sales, regardless of your intent? I’m ask these questions because some people like tracking the financial health of the webfiction world just as they do the webcomics world.

OT: Nope.

CM: If you have an answer to the canonicity question (”Is Othar’s Twitter Girl Genius canon?”), feel free to give it, but given the complexity of that question applied even to Girl Genius proper, I’m not expecting one.

OT: Sure. Why not? The Girl Genius world is so full of amazing things that I don’t see any reason why someone else can’t have a few absurd adventures.

CM: I was thinking of the fact that the readership has generally taken the narrator of Girl Genius to be a good storyteller but an unreliable historian, so the question of canonicity becomes confused by whether we’re considering “historical” or “narrative” reality. In the case of Othar’s Twitter, the narrator is insane and has trouble interpreting reality, which doesn’t help. (Okay, so that’s not really a question, but if you’ve got any insights, I wouldn’t mind hearing them.)

OT: You’re absolutely correct. A large part of the Girl Genius meta project is an attempt make people aware of the difference between “history” and “narrative”, and how different people see the same thing in different ways.

CM: Is the current story arc (the train) coming to a close, or is this merely a peaceful interlude? This might affect the criticism part of the review, but I don’t think that it will affect whether or how strongly I recommend it to readers.

OT: The train story is coming to a close. It will blend right into the next arc, just like the last one did.

CM: In your opinion, how does writing for a ≤140-character medium affect your writing?

OT: I have to think about what I want to say and I have to decide on the exact word or turn of phrase I need. I have to be very critical about whether something is really necessary or not.

CM: What techniques do you use to keep each episode complete and informative despite being so short?

OT: I have to craft each entry carefully, as opposed to just typing away until my fingers get tired.

CM: How do you keep things moving when you can only say so much per day?

OT: Don’t take yourself too seriously and always be willing to make it funny.

posted by CrazyDreamer  

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