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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Or more accurately: 1994 in a town in Buckinghamshire…

Vince: I’ve had an idea for a comic strip

Mark: Okay, what is it?

Vince: I thought it might be good to do a sci-fi themed strip, based around the stereotypical grey Roswell aliens. I’ve made a start on the first strip in Coreldraw…

And so it began. During the next couple of years we worked (very slowly) on a few more comic strips, and a nice presentation pack, in the hopes of selling our wares to some magazine or newspaper. Unfortunately our enthusiasm waned, and we only ever got around to sending out one pack – to which we never received a reply.

Fast forward a few years. The Greys were dug out of the cupboard, spruced up a little, and put onto greetings cards. A few were sold, some money was made, but yet again our enthusiasm waned (are you noticing a theme here yet?).

Skip ahead again, to 2008. Both of us independently started to think about resurrecting The Greys in one form or another. Mark, being a bit of a Free Culture fan, suggested turning them into a web comic using an open file format (SVG), and letting people download the original source files under a Creative Commons licence.

Any remaining Coreldraw comics that had survived through the hardware updates and disk crashes of the preceding 14 years were imported into Inkscape. The results were not pretty, so we imported them into Adobe Illustrator (which has better Coreldraw 4 import filters than Inkscape), then exported them from there as SVG files, which were finally loaded into Inkscape. The results still weren’t pretty – but they were prettier.

The following six months was spent tweaking and adjusting the files by hand: multiple gradients were optimised into single gradients where possible; aspect ratios were changed; a new border design was added to carry the Creative Commons icons; any old clipart that we’d used was redrawn from scratch to ensure we would have the right to release it in our SVG files. We also added Easter Eggs to most of the comics, as a further incentive for people to download the SVG files and have a play with Inkscape themselves.

The original plan was to release one comic per week – but the time needed to hand-tweak the old comics soon put paid to that. More realistically we decided to launch with fortnightly updates – though we still hope to move to a weekly schedule once we get more into the swing of creating new comics.

On Thursday 7th May 2009 the first comic went live. It was one of our favourites from the old collection – and one that had proven to be popular with other people through the years – so it seemed like a good starting point.

And that’s our little story. We hope that you will come back to the site from time to time (every couple of weeks would be good). We plan to mix our comics up a bit – some old, some new, some that only a real sci-fi fan would understand, some that should have a more general appeal. If any of them take your fancy, feel free to send them around to your friends and family, or pass on a link to the relevant page. If you want to grab the SVG files and go hunting for Easter Eggs, then please do. If you want to modify, print or otherwise use our files, then that’s generally okay too – see this page for more details.

You can leave comments after each of the comics – let us know what you think of them.

– Mark & Vince