Q: How come you call it Faux Pas, but pronounce it "Fox Paws" - ?
A: Back in the Olden Days, it was common for rural kids to mispronounce foreign words, especially when they were learning to read. (It hits adults, too - for example, if you've ever heard a new sports reporter try to pronounce "Grand Prix.") In any case: it was a family joke to refer to any social gaffe as a "fox paws." Since the strip is generally based on the sorts of mistakes that come about because of miscommunication, Faux Pas seemed unusually appropriate.
For those who don't know, "faux pas" is a French term referring to an embarrassing blunder made in the presence of other people.
Q: What does GMSA stand for?
A: Green Mountain Studio Animals. A "studio animal" is one trained to perform in TV or in movies, or in live shows (at a mall, for example.) GMSA is the farm where Randy and company live, and where they were trained prior to the farm being sold to their new owners.
Q: In the archived strips, what's with the "weeks" and "days" - ? Why not label the strips according to when you put them online?
A: Way Back When, the strips were originally written with newspaper syndication in mind. Each "week" contains six strips (Monday through Saturday; the Sunday strips are in a different physical format, and those are not included online). The date the strip went online is incidental, so we number the strips sequentially. If you're good at convoluted math, you can backtrack the strips to a given week/day - for example, strip #45 would be Week 8, Day 3 (Wednesday).
Q: How old are the strips?
A: The original version of Faux Pas goes back to 1979. The scripts currently used for the strips seen online are mostly from the mid-80s, with some refinements to accommodate current slang and popular culture. (We weren't going to do that originally, but strip #13 netted us a number of questions from people who thought Chico Marx was a communist dictator in Mexico....) A few of the transitional strips are relatively new because (we think) we write better now than we did back then, but most of the strips for the first few years were scripted back in the age of the dinosaurs.
Q: Why were the strips never syndicated?
A: Lack of talent, lack of drive/dedication, lack of confidence... take your pick. The strip is far from perfect, artistically, but we're much better cartoonists now than we were Back Then. We always had the "ideal look" of the strip firmly in mind, we just weren't able to render it that way, and didn't feel like dumping a hideously ugly version on the masses. Other projects came along which worked out better for them of us what are writers more than artists ("There were planes to catch, and bills to pay...."), so Faux Pas limped along; but it never went away. If a new venue opened up that seemed appropriate for it, we'd run some of the stories, strips, or a bit of random art.
Along came the Web and the Cat-alog, and suddenly there was a whole wide world of folks we didn't know (and who didn't owe us money) who seemed to like the cute little foxes and wanted to know whence they came. When we finally realized we weren't getting any younger and decided that newspaper syndication simply wasn't in our immediate plans, we decided to run the strip online - mostly to satisfy folks who'd seen pieces of it and wrote to ask where it was. (It pays to ask!)
Q: How far ahead do you do the online versions?
A: The original scripts go back 15-20 years, so that part's easy; the 'tweaked' online versions are usually run out 3-4 weeks in advance, 6-12 strips at a time. We work on that many because the storylines break down into week-long segments. (The Sunday strips are separate, and are not part of the "daily" storyline per se.) The scripts are printed in strip format so we can do thumbnails of the artwork right on the script.
As for how far ahead are the finished drawings done... uhhh, what time is it???
Q: How do you create the online strips?
A: The drawings are penciled and inked by hand, then scanned into Adobe PhotoShop where the images are composited, colored and resized. For a detailed example of the process, click here.
Q: Why don't you put up a new strip every day? Three days a week isn't enough!
A: Simple: we're not getting paid to do Faux Pas, and we have to make a living. (Sounds mercenary, doesn't it?!) We have to do Other Things so we can pay the mortgage and feed the kitties. We'd love to upload strips on a daily schedule, but few institutions accept online images as payment. If you really want to see more of our work online, help support its creators via the Cat-alog where you can purchase some prints!
Q: Are you going to do a book of Faux Pas?
A: You missed it. In November 2003, Plan Nine Publishing printed a B&W version of the book which included the first 48 weeks of daily strips, plus supplemental material and over 20 pages of material never seen online. When it was available the book sold well and received a number of very nice reviews. Printing problems persistently plagued production (say that five times fast!) and the book was out of stock more often than it was in. We concluded our contract with Plan Nine in September 2005, and that was that.
On the back burner we have some children's book stories (including some stories from the Faux Pas universe) which we're thinking of pushing at more-traditional publishers. Those are unrelated to the strips, however, and are an entirely separate issue. There are some non-strip stories that have seen the light of print (APAs, fanzines, comic book anthologies, etc.); and of course there are the many, many "original" stories from Myrtle's Universe....
Will there ever be another book? That's in the future, so stay tuned!
Q: I love the strip! Can I throw you a small donation to help keep it going?
A: We'd be honored; thank you! (As long as you realize a donation is not required, mind you; and don't spend tomorrow's lunch money if the peanut butter is running low!) Just click the Donations button to the right, and PayPal will help do the rest. And again: thanks!
Q: Will you ever put the Sunday strips online?
Q: My favorite comic is ___________. Why don't you make Faux Pas more like that, because I'd like to see a lot more comics like ___________!
A: There is no really great answer to this, except that you're writing to the wrong people: write to the creator(s) of ___________ and let them know how much you enjoy that strip!
Faux Pas is what it is. Everyone is different, with different experiences and different preferences. Even if we decided Faux Pas should be more like some other strip and we copied that strip slavishly, it would still come out as our version of that strip. We don't think Faux Pas is perfect by any means; we just do what we do with the time and the talents we have. If it's fun, that's enough for us - we'll worry about Perfect when the perfect time comes.
Q: The online strips seem to start in the middle. Where are the origin stories for all the characters - their movie and TV careers, what Cindy and Dusk were like as kits...?
A: Patience, grasshopper(s)... these and many other things will be revealed in time!
Q: There are Cat-alog prints online of characters not in the current online strips. Who are they and what are their stories?
A: Some characters have appeared in the Cat-alog or in offline publications who will not appear until much later in the strips. There is more to Faux Pas than what is seen online, so not everything Out There is chronologically consistent with the strips currently shown. Those who are patient will be rewarded, never fear!
Q: When is Dusk going to show up?
A: At last it can be told: she first appeared in Week #85.
Q: When is Dusk going to show up again??!
A: When she feels like it. (Yes, she will reappear... 'nuf said.)
Q: How clueless are Randy's owners, not to notice that a chicken is ordering supplies, getting Randy to the movie set, etc.?
A: That depends on your frame of reference; most humans don't bother to investigate a situation until it goes wrong somehow. Diving into the storyline a little: Randy's new owners bought GMSA because they love living in the mountains, and they like animals. GMSA was not particularly successful, and most of the animals were basically retired when their former owner sold the farm. The new owners are not Hollywood types, so they assume there is an animal wrangler who drops in occasionally to handle the studio animals for them.
Beyond that... it's a comic strip. Allow for some poetic license where Reality is concerned, for the sake of storytelling.
Q: How come we don't see more of the humans in the strip?
A: The strip isn't about the humans. To the extent that Randy and company deal with humans (the owners, the movie people, hunters, the vet, etc.), those humans are around - but the strip is about how the animals deal with Life and each other in a human world. Short of getting into the underlying philosophy and hidden messages within Faux Pas, the best answer is that humans are usually around - they're just not the focus of the strip.
Q: Does the strip contain any inside jokes?
A: None that you would notice if you were not on the inside....
Q: Can I print copies of Faux Pas to show my friends?
A: We appreciate the interest and intent; for legal reasons, however, the answer is No. Read up on copyrights if you find that answer confusing; or better yet, buy a print or a t-shirt from the Cat-alog and support our work so we can keep creating the strip. But please don't "borrow" our work!
Q: Can I post Faux Pas on my webpage?
A: We appreciate the interest and intent; for legal reasons, however, we ask that you please not use our strip or any of our artwork on your site. If you want to link to our site, that's fine; the details can be found here.
Q: I love Faux Pas and have an idea for a story - can I write my own Faux Pas fan fiction and publish it?
A: Short answer: No. (The long answer is also No, FYI, but gets into all sorts of legal details and technicalities....) Briefly:
- We don't have the time at this point to write a comprehensive series guide to keep everyone "legit", nor do we have the time (or desire) to get into Faux Pas collaborations right now.
- There is a lot more to the series than what is shown online. We don't want to be accused of stealing ideas from fans in the event said fans post an idea online before our (similar) idea hits the Web or marketplace. Our lawyer has more than enough of our money as is.
- Give us some credit: we've created more than we've shown so far. Chances are we'll eventually get to stories you want to see.
- These are our characters and stories, with copyrights and trademarks. Go invent your own creative universe so we can be fans of your work!
Q: How about fan art? Can I draw your characters and post the drawings online someplace, or sell prints of them, or do my own comic story with them, or...?
A: Again, the short answer is No. As with fan fiction, the long answer is also No, except for one extremely qualified Maybe (which is also leaning hard in the direction of No) - so for all intents and purposes, we'll just say No.
Q: Animals can't read or write, so how is Myrtle able to order supplies and write stories? How does she hold a pen, or a paintbrush? How can Randy read signs? Why does Arthur have all those books? How do they use can openers when most of them don't have anything like human hands? How come the cats don't eat the baby bunnies? How can a chicken lift a bucket of water when a bucket of water weighs more than a chicken? How do cats open paint cans? Where does Brisbane get ice cubes for his lemonade? How does Arthur clean or adjust his glasses? And another thing....
A: To quote from MST3K: "Repeat to yourself: 'It's just a show, I should really just relax....'"
Faux Pas is a comic strip; it's entertainment. Some of these questions do have answers within the context of the strip, and some elements are fantasy. If you want Reality, turn off the computer and the TV, put away the magazines and comics and newspapers, and take a long walk outdoors. That's where Reality lives.
Inasmuch as anything is Real, that is....