top of page

How To Make A Spinoff Work - Flux-102 Transmission 01/09/2021

Updated: May 7

Engage Retroactive File Recovery

set-chronon-event C: /Joey's PC/ dir: Ellie The Artist __ 21:43 at 29 seconds, 15th September 2019


found in dir: silver-city.pdf , Concept:MaraPott.png, Concept:UnnatLee.png, authors-notes.txt

Establish Chronon-Event-Link Now

Ellie The Artist as a series is what I strangely describe as "the next logical step when a character has a mixed reception". I know right? Usually spinoffs happen for characters who were almost unanimously popular with the audience of one story; e.g. Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who, then Torchwood was a huge fan favourite. But with Ellie Dawkins and my webcomic That's How Sally Walks, it's a weird one...

Bit of backstory on the character; Ellie was a creation of mine when I was 17 and starting to write less fantasy-oriented stories. I wrote this "screenplay" of an embarrassing story of two nerdy Mary Sues who were creative artists, set in 2009 before Internet fame became the norm. It was an arrogant script made by me as a child, the less said about it, the better!

Anyway, years later when I started writing the Sally stories, her comics became somewhat popular on Facebook and Tumblr. After a couple years, I remembered that old story I wrote, and I thought it may be worth bringing the character of Ellie back and have her serve the role of a same-age friend to Sally. It was always confirmed Sally had a group of peer friends, but onscreen we only saw her boyfriend and her elderly lady friend, so it was good to have a breath of fresh air.

Ellie Dawkins' reception was polarized, and 50-50. Half the fans loved her, the other half HATED her! The main complaints was that she was a little too boy-crazy, a bit rude and bossy. To me, these are just personality traits that can be liked or disliked subjectively (also I know in my heart that she was never rude intentionally).

The other half that loved her said they related to her as a struggling artist and an LGBT+ person. Others enjoyed her as a slightly more abrassive and confident parallel to Sally.

Also, her relationship with Clarise is technically the first same-sex relationship in the Orbiverse canon. Although I am pretty bummed out that I didn't make Clarise a proper character; she's just a drawing without a single line of dialog. Representation was not good there; thankfully I'd soon have a platform to correct that....

After I realised how polarising Ellie was to readers of THSW, I was very disappointed as she's a character I've loved for a long time. I knew I had to do her justice, in the most careful way possible. So I announced a spinoff! *clown emoji*

Hear me out...

I believed it was the best logical step, because fans of Sally could continue reading their favourite socially awkward girl, without that pesky Northern 4-eyes interrupting every few episodes!

But more importantly, fans of Ellie coild see that awesome dorky artist girl grow as a person and establish more relationships with new characters and do her character justice!

The transition from That's How Sally Walks to Ellie The Artist is a swift, overnight job, but already flips the expectations on their head.

One night, she gets the train from Winchester; the next morning, she actually arrives in London after an overnight hiccup!

What's new? Everything!

-Horizontal to vertical

-2-tone to full colour

-More stylised background

For clear continuity, Ellie is wearing the same clothes she was wearing in her last THSW appearance (I was thorough!).

And to pass the torch, Ellie is on the phone to Sally herself. I was careful with how much mentioning/featuring of Sally I would do, so as not to lean on the parent series.

Another little touch I'm pleased with is in THSW #201, Sally mentioned the character Mara by name (ETA's deuteragonist), another subtle one-off passing of the torch.

As Ellie passes into Waterloo Station, she's greeted by a cosmopoliton crowd, sunlight through a glass ceiling and an online friend of old.

Then the next transition happens...

What?? Sally and Ellie's version of Earth has slightly adult language?? Mind blown!

My canon explaination is that Sally is unusually wholesome and avoids swearing well into her 20s, and most other characters respect her boundries and refrain from swearing around her.

It's clear that ETA is less accessable for all ages, and geared more towards teens and young adults as a wholesome comedy-drama and helper manual for real-life struggling artists.

Putting Ellie and Mara through real locations was a joy to make! It means that whenever you or I go back to those places, we can think "Those characters walked down this path!"

Though it just occurred to me, That's How Sally Walks and Ellie The Artist are set on the same version of Earth, but their writing styles are clearly different. Makes me wonder, what physically happened when Ellie transferred to her own series in London? Is the London of Sally’s world just more subtly written and slightly more adult oriented? Or is the small village where Sally lived just specifically more family friendly and more webcomicy than the rest of the world? Swearing doesn’t exist in Sally’s village, but it does exist mildly in the London of that world? And the Hong Kong of Sally-Ellie Earth is also more family friendly and a little on the nose? If Sally and Ed entered London, would they become more subtly written? Ellie was certainly written more webcomicy when she lived near Sally…. What physically happens in the universe to change the way people speak in certain locations?

Also a future episode of Ellie The Artist will see Ellie and her friends travel to Japan. Meaning that the Japan of Sally’s Earth will also have more subtle writing …

Maybe I should change this scene to Susie’s granddaughter saying “Omg I love Japan! Everyone is so much more subtly written over there! Sometimes I take a boat over just to let my hair down and be slightly less on the nose and more adult!”



Uh may have gone off topic there...

Anyway what is my final two cents on ETA? I guess it's that it clearly has its own identity outside its parent series, and they are clearly distinguishable from each other. You could comfortably enjoy one without needing to read the other. And not only is it a spinoff, but it's also a sequel to Ellie's arc in THSW, and narrative-wise, I believe it needed to happen.

Don't make a spinoff unless it benefits the overall story, and a strong bonus is having its own identity.

I could go more into the introduction of Unnat, but no. Just read ETA#1 for free at

You have the power!

P.S. If Ellie The Artist had a theme song, it'd definitely be White City by The Pogues! Fits it perfectly.

I'll just leave on an irrelevant update on a bit of animation I'm doing for a competition:

Ok bye.



bottom of page