Dodge the Bullet is written by the seat of my pants on a day to day basis. That doesn’t mean it isn’t plotted tightly overall, it just means that while I know what the next sequence of events are going to be I don’t know specifically what happens next, what will be revealed, or what the joke is until I’m actually sitting down to draw the next strip.

That all said, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I don’t have things worked out long term. A good example of that is Thursday’s strip wherein it’s revealed that Rick is half-Jewish and his dad was Jewish. That wasn’t a bit, that was a joke I’d thought of in September of last year but couldn’t work in until now. Norman was supposed to make the faux pas that Elvis makes but I couldn’t make that strip work at the time and so I put that one on the backburner. Mainly because I didn’t think I’d built it up enough, hadn’t foreshadowed the reveal, hadn’t backed it up and made it make sense.

Which brings me to the Rosensterns; Artie was originally supposed to be a short, smart guy who intimidated by force of his personality and had a tendency to manipulate people through words, subtle actions and the law. But it wasn’t working for me so I changed it up and made Artie slightly taller than Rick (6’3 to Rick’s 6’2), partly to put them more on a level with each other in terms of status and partly because I felt I had too many short people running around in the strip. One of my pet peeves with some strips is that they often have a lot of characters who are the same height but now I know why they do that: Having a short and tall character tends to deform some panels and limits who can be in a certain set-up. Now, I could have made Artie even taller than that but that would deform the panel even further and I wanted Artie and Rick to basically be equally matched rivals.

Doing that lead me to think about Artie a little differently and how his friendship with Rick would change him. He’s a geek but because of being friends with Rick (who was an egotistical wide receiver, if you’re wondering), he ended up joining the football team and found that he had a significant aptitude for offensive lineman duties (O-linemen tend to be some of the smartest guys in football and his above average size, decent athleticism and well above average intelligence made him ideal for the position), but I decided that Artie wouldn’t quite be good enough to be a starter on a college team and that thought lead to the steroids reveal.

Artie was planned and plotted from near the beginning.