Thanks for all the kind words on the occasion of this site’s anniversary. You guys made my throat all lumpy. Or however that saying goes.
I wish I still had the earliest ToastyFrog files on hand. They may be on a CD-ROM somewhere at my parents’ house, but since I burned everything back then to cheap-o CompUSA discs and Zip disks for backup, I’m pretty sure that data has been lost to the ages — bit-rot and death-clicks and all that. I relaunched the site in earnest in May 1999, and I can only find a small handful of files predating that by a few months… basically, an indication that I worked on the site launch for four or five months before actually going live with it. How uncharacteristically disciplined of me.
These are the oldest Wacom doodles I can find. First, a sketch of ToastyFrog as Solid Snake that I never liked enough to complete. Wow! Bonus archival content! You guys sure lucked out today… for a certain value of “luck.” Then there’s the Japanese version of the site logo, which isn’t as weeaboo as it may seem; the site was launched as “ToastyFrog Jump,” which was meant to encompass the ethos of Japanese magazines like Shounen Jump — the color scheme and layout were loud and garish, and each section was “printed” on differently colored “paper.” Almost clever, but sort of stupid since it was the web satirizing print and most readers back then were unfamiliar with the original Jump anyway. Oh well. And then there’s a quick doodle of Rorita; it never occurred to me that she should reflect any sort of ethnicity at the time. Living among Texas crackers all your life will do that to you! (Sorry, crackers; I still like you.)
This was the announcement placeholder image for the site relaunch. As if anyone cared! I did at least learn a lesson from the disastrous 100K GIF of the initial site by working entirely in Illustrator with flat colors to keep graphic file sizes way down. I cared about your bandwidth, you guys. Because I’m a loving creator.
And this fake G.I. Joe file card dates from a bit later, but it reminds me that while my writing has improved over the years my artwork has really gone to hell. Hm. Also, I kind of miss having site mascots. The place was more fun with them around.
Speaking of art, I’ve switched up the theme of the next GameSpite bonus book (which I’ll be mailing along with the previous one to most people, since due to my chaotic schedule over the summer the last book didn’t go out to most recipients). The next book will be an illustrated field guide to the wildlife of 8-bit video games featuring hand-drawn and watercolored art and printed with Blurb’s new color option. It’ll probably only be 20 pages to balance out the addition of color, but hopefully that’s OK. I’ll also be sending along the original illustrations to the longest-time supporters by way of thanks. I realize that sending drawings whose quality I’ve just impugned by implication in the preceding paragraph is a sort of crummy way to say thanks, but it’s all I gots, guys.