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Hi, this is Wade Clarke speaking (typing) to you. I'm the guy who wrote and drew the 204 issues of webcomic Ocular Trauma between 2004 and 2005, and I'm here to tell you a bit about the comic and this prestigious archive. This bit you're reading now plus most of the comments you'll see under the comics were mostly written by me in 2006, but I've updated some of it/them over the years since. By the way, I harbour fantasies about recording DVD commentaries for imaginary films.
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The concept behind Ocular Trauma was for me to force myself to get out one self-contained humourous comic per day. I figured that in this manner I'd have a long-running comic before I knew it. I'd tried to launch one before in the form of joke sci-fi serial Plan 10 (11 issues and currently not online, but might be again someday) but unfortunately I don't possess the gene that allows for easy redrawing of the same characters over and over. It just takes me too long to get them right.

So for Ocular Trauma, I decided the artwork would favour punk passion over technical delivery to allow for speedy drawing. It’s easy to live up to this standard when you’re only using a mouse to draw stuff directly on the screen; it’s a terrible control method. However, when each issue is a one-off, you escape the requirement of having to be able to accurately redraw characters. I knew that the subject matter would be weird, gross, alarming, extreme, but always funny. I got the inspiration for this model from an MS Paint comic called Smellypines by an online pal of mine at Gamefaqs.com named Cory Hansen.
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A typical chat session from this era. Here, Jerec and I discuss how we might become famous webcomic artists.
I began to publish Ocular Trauma via Livejournal. LJ friends received the issues daily and encouraged me early on with lots of positive feedback. Thus the ball was rolling. The artwork improved moderately over time and I eased my schedule back in stages to accommodate this, going from seven issues a week to five, and briefly to three.

I tried all the usual mad tactics employed by webcomic artists during the noughties to hawk and further popularise their wares. I hung out at sites like
Digital Strips. I implored everyone to vote for me daily at Top Web Comics. I ran a competition, soliciting guest comics, in which I awarded a real prize, a CD by Ukrainian musical goddess Ruslana. I even bought a review by donating to charity. My efforts weren't to no avail, but they weren't to sufficient avail for my taste over the course of a year. Some outrageously popular webcomics that made me want to vomit my entrails up (e.g. Questionable Content) mocked me by their mere existence. Of course, 99% of webcomic artists feel this way. I don't mean about wanting to vomit up their entrails at the sight of Questionable Content, but that they struggle and struggle and find audience-securing tough.

Eventually I got tired of the situation. Not of being a comedian, but of drawing the pics. In moments, they'd grown moderately nicer over time within the style, but were still hailed as garish, etc., by people I bothered to ask to review the comic. (They were garish. They are garish.) In general, nobody in webcomicking was prepared to accept the comic the way it was: mostly ugly, the aesthetic that enabled it to exist. Some sample comments:

– "It doesn't even look like a comic. Where's the frame?"
– "What's with the amateurish Arial font?"
– "Why must that necrophilia cartoon be so tasteless?" *


* Question paraphrased by me to emphasise stupidity/annoyance factor
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So on Monday, 29 August 2005, I drew the last Ocular Trauma (by hand, not computer, just to demonstrate to onlookers that I could) and, with some relief, retired from the enterprise and shifted focus back to one of my other areas of creative work, making electronic music.

THREE MONTHS LATER:

One particular issue of Ocular Trauma (#185 - 'Find x') started being forwarded around the 'net. I knew something zeitgeisty was happening when a friend of mine said he'd received the comic six times already from different people. Requests started arriving by email from around the world. Teachers wanted posters. Magazines wanted to print the comic. A maths professor wanted to include it in the front of his book. A TV show in the UK wanted to show it. One guy even wanted to translate it into Norwegian, and did:
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Anyone born earlier than about 1998 probably needs to be reminded of the context of the times to appreciate the unusualness of the Find x situation. 2006, when all this was going on, was before social media had exploded and gone mainstream on the internet. Memes and internet memes were not things. To share the comic, you had to share its link in a personal email or on a forum, or copy the image and email it, or copy and post it on webspace that you personally administered. Sharing things required a lot more effort and the results weren't as disposable as they've become since.

So, though I'd finished with Ocular Trauma, I was suddenly having a measure of success with it. An ironic turn of events after all the pro-active thrashing about I'd done trying to promote the comic during its lifetime, but HEY!.. that's the way it goes in the old webcomic game.

While the timing wasn't ideal, I did get some recognition for OT in the end, and I'll always have that. Even if you try and pry it away from me with a pointed stick.

ABOUT THE 2017 RESTORATION:

Something I used to have (2006-ish to 2016-ish) was an OT website powered by the Server Side Includes (SSI) of my friend Bryan, aka Dedsune. The SSIs eventually ceased to work in the Lightspeed-powered house of my new hosting overloads, so I had to rebuild the site myself in 2017 with Rapidweaver. Thanks Deds for your decade of OT-hosting.

On the plus side, the need to rebuild from the ground up caused me to dig through my OT archives. In the process I found lots of new things to add to the site, including the so-called Bonus Comics and the comics submitted by readers for the first (and only) OT Competition.

I've also been able to restore twenty-five issues to higher resolution versions of themselves. Back when I was doing OT, internet speeds were a lot slower than they are today and I only had a dial-up modem myself, so keeping file sizes down was important. This no longer being the case, I've replaced some JPEGs with the lossless PNG source images they came from. And in the case of some issues that are basically nothing but text, I've replaced that text with a new rendering in the same font to make it easier to read.

The following issues got a JPEG to PNG upgrade:
63, 85, 102, 105, 118, 122, 125, 168, 177, 183, 184, 190, 191, 192, 196, 200, 201, 202

The following issues got a text upgrade:
90, 101, 167, 186, 198

The following issues got a whole new version of the source image:
107 (image is now its original size), 204 (made a fresh copy from the original scan)

Now, please enjoy yourself as you relive the onslaught of eye-gouging humour which is
OCULAR TRAUMA!

- Wade

Epilogue: Today I do many things (how vague) including producing electronic music as
Aeriae. The animated clip for the track AMay may somehow remind you of Ocular Trauma. Visit wadeclarke.com for links to the rest of my work and other onlinery.
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Except where noted, entire content is copyrighted material belonging to Wade Clarke.
(The classic SSI CGI programming by Dedsune, circa 2007, powered this site until about 2016 when Lightspeed done broke it.)