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Frequently and Seldom Asked Questions

Why do you do these comics?
What is this "Xaverian Weekly" you keep mentioning?
Wait, so why is it spelled "The Xaverian"?
Do you get paid?
What's up with comic # (whatever)?
What sort of supplies do you use?
Why don't you have a PayPal button?
Where is your forum?
The way you draw eyes looks familiar...
What was with the big list on your July 1st, 2003 comic?
Why a beaver?
Oh, so you're a furry?
I want you to draw something for me...
Can I use your character(s) in my comic?
Why Keenspace?
Where did you get so-and-so's name?
Are your characters based on real people?
OMG! Why don't you have a link to [insert popular webcomic here]???
How did you create <insert each character's name>? (Joanna Davidovich)
Is Vanilla based on anyone in real life? (Joanna Davidovich)
Wait, RoxiKat is a big inspiration to you. Doesn't she have a...?
What's up with Scott's head, anyway? Do you know nothing about sharks?
How did you get so much gift art? Are you paying people?
Hey, there's a typo in comic (whatever)!
Why don't the previous/next buttons appear under the comic on some pages?
What the heck is up with the "Get Pumped" pages!?
Where is the Plugged Nickel store?
What the heck IS a plugged nickel anyway?
HAI! You should draw Mycroft and Aeris having SEX! OMG LOLLERCAUST!!!!

Q. Why do you do these comics?
A. Well, I've always loved cartoons. To me cartoons are not just a form of entertainment, they're also an art form. I also love to make people laugh, it was my way of fitting in during high school and it just sort of stuck with me. Also, the Xaverian Weekly needed a new cartoonist, and I was the only person who applied.

Q. What is this "Xaverian Weekly" you keep mentioning?
A. The Xaverian Weekly is St. Francis Xavier University's newspaper, published weekly (duh). It is free, of course, and only the editors get any sort of revenue from it. St. FX U is the university I attended from 2001 to 2005.

Q. Wait, so why is it spelled "The Xaverian"?
A. To be honest, I have no idea. It probably has some logical latin-based answer, but I just like to think that it was a typo and no one would admit it.

Q. Do you get paid?
A. Ah ha ha ha ha ha! Ah ha ha. Ha. No. In Western society, you have to do good work to get paid.

Q. What's up with comic # (whatever)?
A. Check out the blurb under the comic, and there should be an explination. If there isn't, then you should probably be able to get the joke; which means that if you don't then you're probably a bit slow.

Q. What sort of supplies do you use?
A. Surprisingly enough, I do use actual art supplies when I make these things. The paper I use is just regular printer paper, usually Legal size so that I have that extra space. I clip the paper onto a legal-sized clipboard and draw the panels using an architect's ruler. Each comic is drawn using a 0.5mm mechanical pencil, although sometimes I'll use a 0.7mm one. The comics are then inked using Pilot and Staedtler drawing pens, starting at 0.8mm and working my way down to 0.5, 0,3 and sometimes 0.2 for very tiny lines. The I take a big ol' white eraser and get rid of all the pencil lines. I scan the whole page on my old Artec AS6E scanner at 300 dpi in black and white. Then it's off to Photoshop 6 where all the smudges and stray lines are cleaned up. The comic is converted to greyscale, rotated into alignment (my scanner always seems to scan crookidly), panels are added, it's shrunk down to about 700-770 pixels wide (or roughly 1/3), and text is added. Then it's saved for web as a 32 gif dividend or something, uploaded to my keenspace workspace and given the name of the date I want it to appear, like 20050101a.html
Simple, eh?

Q. Why don't you have a PayPal button?
A. People actually donate money to webcomic artists? Eh, I've seen some pretty crappy comics with big ol' PayPal buttons, and I decided that I wasn't going to do that. This is a hobby, not a job, and I don't take it seriously enough of do it in a professional manner that deserves payment. If you REALLY want to send me money (ha) we can work out some kind of arrangement... but I'd honestly prefer it if you sent me your old Transformers toys instead, or comics, or whatever.

Q. Where is your forum?
A. It broke. No one talked there anyway. A new one is possibly in the works. I won't get my own individual PN only forum because I don't like that idea. I much prefer large forums with subsections devoted to specific comics, such as the system utelized by The Nice. It just gives readers more opportunity to comment on various comics without having to join 20 different forums.

Q. The way you draw eyes looks familiar...
A. Well, it's not exactly a very complex way, is it? Male eyes are based somewhat on Krillen's eyes from Dragonball Z (yes, I know many people hate that show, but Krillen is such a simple character, I like his look). Female eyes are... well, they're always changing. I've based them largely on Isabel (Gonzalez) Marks' style, but other sources such as Soronada or other online artists have had an influence too. I recently noticed that they also resemble a much more dumbed-down version the style used by Martin Wagner in his comic series "Hepcats", but this is merely a coincidence.

Q. What was with the big list on your July 1st, 2003 comic?
A. It's just a list of different types of jokes I don't find particularly funny. I mean, how many comics have you seen that are just basically saying "Bush is stupid" or had jokes about Survivor or All Your Base? I may not be the most origional cartoonist out there, but I do have some standards.

Q. Why a beaver?
A. Why not? Seriously, there are a number of reasons.

1) I am a Canadian, and the beaver is a symbol of Canada.
2) It's not all that common in comics featuring anthropomorphic characters (there are other animals besides foxes and wolves, furry-cartoonist-guys).
3) Beavers are kinda cute. They have big flat tails, little eyes and little ears. Plus they're brown and plain, like me.

Q. Oh, so you're a furry?
A. Short answer; no.
Long answer: The whole furry debate is arather grey area. There is no clear definition of what constitutes a furry, and what people mean when they use the term. Just as how there is no set definition of a Trekker (or Trekker as some prefer to be called), there are many subsets of Furridom. There are people who believe they do have the souls of animals, and they're all fine and good. Do I think I have a beaver spirit in me? No. I just like to draw cartoons, and animal characters are fun to draw. I don't try to preach any sort of furry ideals through my work, but I don't condem them either. To me it's the same as being into Star Trek, cars or superheroes.
I do draw things other than anthro characters, it's just that that is not what Plugged Nickel is about. Most of my other "human" comic ideas I could try and do, but I am not comfortable with my abilities just yet and these ideas require a great deal of detail and work. In closing, I think to be labeled a furry you must give yourself that label. I do not consider myself a furry. But I do have many friends who do, and they're nice folks who give me art and encouragement and porn.

Q. I want you to draw something for me...
A. Don't hold your breath. At any one point I have between 10 to 30 pictures I've promised people, owe people or just want to draw. I don't really take requests, because that means I have to actually do them. And commissions are a no-no.

Q. Can I use your character(s) in my comic?
A. Well, that all depends on a few factors.

1) Did you ask me permission first? I don't want to be surfing around and suddenly find my characters in some sort of story arc of a comic I've never heard of before.
2) Is there content that I might find objectionable? I'm a pretty easy-going guy, so I would probably let you do what you wanted, but if you have to think twice about it then it's probably best to just ask me if it's okay.
3) Will you do your best to portray my characters accurately? I'm not talking design-wise, but character-wise. I've lent out my sprite characters to people's comics, only to find them used it situations and acting in ways that they would never act (often having to do with getting drunk or being stupid).
4) Will you show me your comics so I can get an idea of your skill and story-style? I'm sorry, but if I don't really find you comic well-drawn or humourous/entertaining, I don't want to be a part of it.
5) Will you allow me to showcase these particular comics on my site as giftart?
6) You must respect my ownership of the characters in question. Each one is copyrighted to me, and as such I have the final say in their use. So, if you decide that you want to publish your comic in print form and include my characters, I'd just like to know and maybe get a mention in the credits or something.

Q. Why Keenspace?
A. Well, Keenspace represents certain things to me. Keenspace, when used properly, is a very easy and rather nice place to showcase one's work. Keenspace has also hosted/hosts some of my most favorite comics online, and to be even on the edge of their greatness is somewhat flattering to me. And it's free.

Q. Where did you get so-and-so's name?
A. A lot of the more unusual first or last names are from characters from the Sherlock Holmes series. Mycroft was Sherlock's smarter, lazier brother. Of course, a lot of these Holmes-named characters don't actually appear in this strip, so it's a bit moot. Some characters are named after people I know, such as Cori Calinor and Kate the Astrogirl, but that is rare.
As for the Nickel... check out the background.

Q. Are your characters based on real people?
A. Yes and no. Mycroft is based on my own opinions, attitudes and habits, yes. Most of the others are not, with the exception of Scott. He's named after my cousin who is also one of my best friends, although the character design doesn't really look like him. The conversations and situations are often based on actual events however.

Q. OMG! Why don't you have a link to [insert popular webcomic here]???
A. Well, there are a few reasons. One may be that the comic in question doesn't have any link banners or anything up, and I'm rather fond of those little link banners. Another reason may be that the comic has been around so long, and has so many issues that I just haven't decided to go and read through the entire archive. I have an odd policy; I must read a comic's archives before linking to it. Or, perhaps I HAVE read the comic and I didn't really like it. I tend not to get into the more mainstream comics like everyone else.

Q. How did you create <insert each character's name>? (Joanna "Jo the Freakazette" Davidovich)
A.Well, the first character I ever created was called Samurai Onion Man, but seeing as how he's not in the comics I'll just skip him and the others until I get to Mycroft.
I had been tooling around with the idea of creating an anthropomorphic character based loosely on myself since I read John Barrett's RoxiKat comic (who also happens to be the inspiration for me drawing in the first place). Origionally, I had been thinking of some sort of monkey, but fooling around one day I just sketched a beaver face with glasses, and I kind of like how it looked. But, it got filed away with my other doodles and was never to be seen again. So, about a year or so passes, and I start university. I also start reading webcomics a lot more. One of my favorites was (and still is) Funny Farm by Ryan Smith. I liked his style because it was simplistic (a bit simpler than what he does now, it WAS 2 years ago you know). I started doodling based on his style, and suddenly one day in class I had a design that I liked.

It wasn't much, but it was a start. I built on it slowly, giving him a basic design and personality, the latter mostly based on myself. He went through different phases, his nose grew, his head widened, his ears lowered, and his glasses became more complex. He became a hopeless romantic, a wise-ass and a genius.
I applied for space at the VCL (hey, Barrett is my hero, remember? He's there too) and that prompted me to do a lot of sketches. I started coming up with little comics and such, and before you know it I'm applying for the school newspaper.
Irving was based around the design of Krillen from Dragonball Z, simply because I like the character. I liked the idea of characters with antennae, and just on a whim I decided to make a bee. As far as the hands and feet go... I just wanted him to be a bit different. I guess as far as they go he's based on the Ninja Turtles.
Scott was just an experiment with another type of animal, but because I drew him tall and skinny the first time, I decided to name him after my lanky bristle-headed cousin.
And Ron... well, Ron was just an attempt to draw myself. I have no idea where I got the hair from. But the basic face and glasses design were based on the characture that Drake Fenwick does of himself.

Q. Is Vanilla based on anyone in real life? (Joanna Davidovich)
A. Actually... she may have been at one time, but she went unused for so long and her design and personality have evolved enough that any ties have been severed.

Q. Wait, RoxiKat is a big inspiration to you. Doesn't she have a...?
A. That is NOT why she inspired me! >_< It was a combination of her very cute design with her happy "bubbily" personality. I enjoyed the character not because she had big breasts, but because she was cute and funny. Plus, I didn't learn her BIG secret that until LATE in the comics. Not that there's anything wrong with that... >.>

Q. What's up with Scott's head, anyway? Do you know nothing about sharks?
A. I know a bit about sharks, probably more than the average prairie-dweller. I suppose you're asking why his dorsal fin is on his head instead of his back? There could be a really lengthy explination about that, about the cross-genetics in his parents and all kinds of other stuff, but that's just made-up for people who think that I put a lot of consideration into my characters' backgrounds before I create them. The simplest reason is... because I thought it looked cool.
It might also have something to do with Sharky the Shark Dog from one of my favorite older cartoon series, Eek the Cat.

Q. How did you get so much gift art? Are you paying people?
A. No, very seldom have I had to pay people for the art I've received. I've been blessed with some of the nicest and best friends online, who take the time and energy to give me such beautiful gifts. If you see an art piece that you like, please visit the artist's site and tell them how much you like their work. Believe me, they really appreciate it.

Q. Hey, there's a typo in comic (whatever)!
A. Yeah. I know. I don't fix them. Often time it messes up the rest of the text, so I just don't bother anymore. It's a given, I know it's there, I just didn't find it until after it went online.

Q. Why don't the previous/next buttons appear under the comic on some pages?
A. Origionally there was only one set of previous/next buttons. But if I put them at the top of the page, I got complaints from people reading the blurb under the comics who had to scroll ALL THE WAY BACK UP OR PRESS "HOME" OR "PAGE UP" OMG! So I put them below the comic, but because each update blurb is named like the comic (ie 20050101a.gif and 20050101b.txt) the buttons appeared UNDER the text, and people who didn't read my blurbs complained about having to scroll DOWN. So now written into into the update code itself is a second string of back/next commands instead of on the page itself. When I don't include a blurb, they don't appear, but then again there's no reason to scroll down either. MYSTERY SOLVED.

Q. What the heck is up with the "Get Pumped" pages!?
A. They're parodies of the infamous Real Ultimate Power website. There are literally hundreds of parodies of this site, spurred by his own parody where he replaced ninja with hippos. Check out the Neat Stuff section for the second Get Pumped section, Decepticons.

Q. Where is the Plugged Nickel store?
A. There isn't one. And there probably never will be. I don't have the readership, and I am not making one with CafePress. Maybe someday I'll have enough readers to get a few shirts done, but for now the only thing for sale are copies of the books I made of all the college strips, and they're $4 US plus S&H. Email for details.

Q. What the heck IS a plugged nickel anyway?
A. Plugs are the holes made in coins to extract some metal which can be used for other purposes. Coins so tampered with are no longer legal tender. Nickels being coins of small denomination lend themselves for use in this phrase. Essentially, the term means "worthless".
Basically, there's two origion theories. One is that these coins became plugged when the cost of silver increased. People hollowed out their nickels (then made of silver) and filled them with a lesser metal, then sold the silver. The second theory is that the term came from the Wild West, when cocky cowboys would prove their stuff by tossing nickels into the air and seeing if they could shoot a hole or dent into them, IE plugged. That would also explain how the term plugged came to describe an individual who had been shot. Of course, unlike the hollowed out explination, these nickels were most likely still used in commerce... as who is going to argue when a gunman pays for his lodgings with a fist full of plugged nickels and two six-shooters on his hips?

Q. HAI! You should draw Mycroft and Aeris having SEX! OMG LOLLERCAUST!!!!
A. No. Scott Ramsoomair would kill me. He gets mad enough when people give her boobs. In his words; "No boobs for stinky." They are based on his actual cats, afterall. I don't think he likes the idea of a beaver bummin' his sweet little fluffums.
Nothing is stoping you from drawing that, though.

Plugged Nickel is hosted on Comic Genesis, a free webhosting and site automation service for webcomics.
"Plugged Nickel", artwork and characters are Ronald MacKinnon 2001 - 2006.
Additional characters and images are their respective creators and owner companies.
Webpage design by Bailey Pilling 2005