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Journal #40

This is my ALS water bucket challenge comic which I'm sure we are all sick of by now.

This is my ALS water bucket challenge comic which I’m sure we are all sick of by now.

Hey everybody! It’s been awhile but I decided to write a short post just to brush the dust of the ol’ keyboard. I hope you have been enjoying the new Habitat comics. I’m still learning how to master the graphic tablet. I’m already craving a higher end tablet like the Wacom Intuos Pro but I’ll keep practicing with my Monoprice tablet before I spend anymore money on something that isn’t making me any money.

About a month ago I wrote up a proposal for a cartooning class to be taught at the Kenosha Public Museum. The head of education with the museum system got back to me and said he’d mention in the mid-September meeting. So hopefully if everything goes well, I might be teaching a 3 day class to 10-16 year-olds during the Winter semester. It’s a little scary to think of getting up in front of a bunch of youngsters waiting to see something but I’m pretty confident in the subject so I think it will be a good experience. I’ve already started collecting a few materials to be taught in the class. My goal is for the class to have enough info to start their own comic strip series and to finish at least one comic strip in the class.

Well, that’s all for now. Keep reading Habitat and I’ll keep making them.

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Journal #39

Hey everybody! It’s your favorite cartoonist back for another installment of My Life Is So Interesting. I’m being sarcastic, of course. I would like to spend a little time giving my opinion of the state webcomics though. I must preface this opinion with the fact that it is my OPINION and that I hope I don’t offend anyone. I also realize that this will probably be a very unpopular view but I would like to state my case…. because that is what having a blog is for…. bitching basically.

I just recently came to the discovery that MOST webcomics suck, for the lack of a better word. To the few cartoonist friends I have, I am NOT referring to your comics. A couple of days ago I visited the webcomics list website (of which you can now view my new comics) and I actually took some time to read some of the comics listed. I must say that out of the 8 or 9 webcomics that I saw only 1 that I would come back to read again. I have searched for other webcomics before and never really had much opinion over any of them but now it seems that everyone puts out webcomics whether it’s good or not.  OK, I realize I’m adding to the pile of webcomics but at least I care how about value of my comic and I am my own harshest critic. A lot of the comics I read didn’t even seem to make much sense or were really confusing. And that is the #1 most important part of a comic is for it to easily understood!

I come from a newspaper comics background and I still think that to be a good web cartoonist you need to follow the same principals that a newspaper cartoonist would have. To me, a GOOD webcomic needs the following:
• Good art
• Even better writing
• Likable, well thought-out characters
• And must be funny or at least understandable on it’s own
Even with popular webcomics I don’t understand the appeal. Take Dinosaur Comic for instance. To me, that comic was none of the above. It’s a crazy idea to have the same six panels over and over but is it a GOOD idea? The art is “meh,” the writing in my opinion is even more “meh” and it has no likable characters. I honestly don’t know why it’s so popular. Is it because of the idea and because it is an early webcomic? I blame webcomics like Dinosaur Comic for the proliferation of crappy webcomics today. It seems like anyone with a little time on their hands can whip out a crappy digital drawing and call it a comic. And I suppose that goes for all art forms now such as writing and music. Everyone is an “artist.”

With the freedom that the internet provides cartoonists with now they are able to have their comics be about ANYTHING. I do like the variety of comics out on the web now… I just wish they were better. I’ll give two more examples of the webcomic biggies that I don’t really care for. First is xkcd. I just don’t get it or think this comic is funny most of the time. OK, the guy is doing his thing and making comics about stuff he is interested in but you have to be him to understand it or think it’s funny. Another huge webcomic that I don’t really care for is Penny Arcade. It’s a sin, I know. With Penny Arcade I at least get why so many people follow it. If you’re into the “gamer culture” you’ll enjoy this comic on a regular basis. For me, only a few of the comics are humorous and that’s when they’re not swearing (which isn’t often) and when it’s not about gaming (which is the same as the swearing thing.) The art is nicely done but they are definitely writing for a niche.

I’ll speak briefly about the swearing “free-speech” aspect of webcomics since I brought it up. I think it’s great that we get to say anything we want to say on the Internet but as a wise man once said “With great power comes great responsibility.” I don’t think you need to swear to be funny and “Calvin and Hobbes” proves that point. I think it degrades a comic when there is gutter talk in it. Yes, I know swearing is a big part of our culture now but that doesn’t really mean it’s a positive thing and it doesn’t mean I have to like it or use it myself.

To sum up my long meandering thoughts… Yes,  there are tons of great webcomics out there. I don’t mean to poo poo all webcomics. I just think we need to be more thoughtful about what our eyeballs take in. But more importantly aspiring cartoonists need to put more time and thought into what a great webcomic can be. You want to make a webcomic that only you and your 5 friends will think is funny? That’s GREAT! Just don’t expect me to look for it on the web. In my opinion, if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing it well. I feel this way about webcomics. Thanks for reading my rant and I’ll have a fresh pile of my own webcomic on Friday. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open!

 

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Journal #38

Hey guys. It’s time for another blog post! I’ve got some good news. I just finished my new comic yesterday and should be posting in just a few minutes. As I might have mentioned in previous posts, I won’t be posting comics on a regular time schedule. Not all of the comics will be in this Sunday strip format either. I’m debating on going back and forth between a 4 panel strip and a Sunday strip just to keep it interesting. I would like to post at least one comic a month just so people know I’m still alive.

Inking the comic in Photoshop CS6 works for me but I’m still curious about Manga Studio 5. I haven’t done any serious work in it yet but I really want to start learning more about it. Coloring the comic takes the most work and I’m still not 100% pleased with it. I think coloring is a weakness that I’ll have to work on.

With this new comic I’ve come up with a few questions that I’ll ask myself before I put it on the web. They are the following:
1. Is it good enough to send to Bill Watterson?
2. Does it pass the “so what?” test?
3. If the art is not up to par, is the writing good at least?
4. Is this a strip I would want to follow?
5. Is there a part of myself in the comic?
6. Is there anything that I can do to make this strip better?
7. Does this strip make me proud?
8. Would I consider this strip good art?
9. Did I accomplish what I intended with the strip?
10. Is this strip better than the one before it?
I stole this question idea from Stephan Pastis (creator of Pearls Before Swine) who also puts his comics through a little test before he knows a strip is ready for syndication.

To explain #2. I learned about the “so what?” test from  Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. It’s basically asking the question is it worth putting out to the public? Is there ANYTHING worth while about what I’m putting out there. If a comic can put a glimmer of a smile on someones face or touch someone in some small way it’s worthy of being seen. I just don’t want to talk to say nothing.

Here is a list of movies/books that I have been an inspiration to me lately:
Show Your Work! By Austin Kleon
Steal Like An Artist By Austin Kleon
Stripped Documentary (About comic strips)
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes
Jiro Dreams of Sushi Documentary

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the new Habitat!

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Journal #37

Howdy folks! After some thinking and a suggestion from a reader, I’ve decided just to expand the world of “Habitat” instead of creating a whole new comic. Yesterday I made the first new “Habitat” comic since losing my old computer. I’ve redesigned the characters once more to make them more animal-like. I’ve also domesticated them more. Morton and Finn are no longer without a home. They now have a family to take care of them and that is how I’ll introduce humans into the comic. I prefer comics that have very few characters so I’m planning on adding just 3 more humans into the strip. I spent more time coloring this strip than previous strips. I admire the watercolor look of “Calvin & Hobbes” and I was trying to achieve that look with this strip. I think what I came up with has my own look which I am pleased with. This one single panel strip took about 3 hours to complete which is about 2 hours more than my previous strips. The next strip I will do will be the size and format of a Sunday newspaper comic strip so it might take even longer to finish that one. That is why I’ve decided not to rush these comics and to limit the comic to once a month. Quality over quantity is my new motto. So thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy reading the new comic. ‘Til next time, keep you eyes, ears, and minds open.

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Journal #36

It seems like awhile since I last post something so I thought I’d give an update on my life to this point.

Yesterday I helped teach a comic class with my fiance’s father. This class was for a girl scout troop of about 20 girls. Sara’s dad often teaches cartooning classes through the public museum so he is quite good at it. I didn’t say too much and mostly helped hand out papers which was fine with me. I also helped if any girls had trouble drawing something. I brought my new iMac and graphics tablet to let the girls draw with it. It was fun to see the girls draw and they were all well-behaved. Afterward, I wondered if my drawing skill was any better than their’s at that age. I would have liked to believe that I was a little ahead of the curve in the drawing department anyway. Someday, I would like to teach a class on comic strips or web comics but I don’t know if I can overcome my shyness to really do that. We’ll see… maybe someday.

As you can see, I’m still taking a break from “Habitat.” Right now I’m just mulling over ideas for a new comic. Comics with kids in them have always appealed to me so I’m thinking of starting a comic with a 10-year-old boy has the main character. I want there to be a side kick character but I don’t want it to seem like I’m blatantly ripping off Calvin and Hobbes. I’m not sure when I’ll be posting my first new comic but I want to make sure it’s up to snuff before I post anything. It will be color and probably be the size and format of a Sunday newspaper comic strip. I’ve got the character’s name and now all I have to do is design him, think of up his personality, the setting, the supporting characters, font style, and the overall look of the comic. Not too much to do. Ha-ha

Well, I should get off this computer and actually do something today. Thanks for reading. Til next time, keep your eyes, ears, and minds open.

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Journal #35

Hey everyone! I’m back! The reason for my absence is my macbook refusing to work anymore. It was old and I figured it was time to get a new computer. I tried to restore the hard drive with no luck. I could have brought it into an Apple store to see if they could fix it but I think I just wanted a new computer anyway. I now have a new iMac running OS Mavericks. It’s nice and speedy and has plenty of hard drive space.

Along with the new computer I bought Adobe CS6. That has yet to arrive in the mail. It is a lot of money to be dumping into a computer but I see it as an investment in a possible career.

Unfortunately, when my computer crashed it took my children’s book illustration I had just finished the week before. I’ll check my external hard drive to see if I was smart enough to back it up but I don’t think I did. So I’ll probably have to start from scratch on the spread.

While my computer was down I had some time to think about the direction I want to take the comic. I’m unsure I want to continue “Habitat.” It has kind of turned into something I’m not really pleased with. The art is bad, the writing isn’t really that good, It wasn’t really taking advantage of being on the web and I’m not really feeling the characters anymore. I guess it’s not that rare for cartoonists to go through several different strips until they find one that they’re pleased with. I think I’m still going through that process. “Habitat” was getting to be a chore to do and I always disliked the outcome. I will be doing another comic but it will not be a weekly. This next strip will probably come out every other week because I don’t want to burn myself out trying to think up a new strip every week and just rush through the art like I was doing with “Habitat.” New computer, new strip.

One of the things that made me rethink my comic was watching “Dear Mister Watterson.” That movie made me remember how fun “Calvin and Hobbes” was to read and I want to create a comic like that. I want my strip to be the perfect marriage of art and writing.

Well, I think I’ve gone on long enough here. I do have more to say, but i’ll save that for another post. It’s good to be back. Thanks for reading. Until next time, keep your eyes, ears and minds open.

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Journal #34

New Facebook header

New Facebook header

Hey Everybody! Happy Memorial Day weekend. This past week was a killer at my day job so unfortunately there was no Habitat comic. I might post a new one on Monday to make up for it though.

I’ve been experimenting in Photoshop a lot lately and I think I found the look I want for the book. I’ve been interested in Quentin Blake’s illustrations lately and I’m taking inspiration from his work. I didn’t think you could get such a watercolor look in Photoshop but I’ve finally found a way that works for me.

Kids with bird

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. Thanks for the visit and I hope to see you soon. Til then, keep your eyes, ears and mind open.

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Journal Entry #33

Hello folks! I’m back for another journal entry. As you’ll probably notice, there will be no comic today. That is because I’ve decided to cut back to one comic a week for now. Instead of Mondays and Fridays, “Habitat” will come out just on Fridays now. This isn’t a permanent thing. I would just like more time to do the children’s book. I would also like to make some changes to the webcomic too. Right now it looks a little too “hand drawn.” I would like it to be a bit more polished. I’m tinkering with the idea of adding a human character as well. Weather jokes can only go so far, so I thought adding a human character would add some pop-culture reference to the comic. The idea of what the comic should be has changed so much since I started it but I think that that is a good thing. It’s better for the comic to change than to just say “oh, the hell with it, I don’t want to do this anymore.” I also would like to create a Facebook page for “Habitat” but I need to get a domain name and switch habitat one to a .com first. To be truthful, I really don’t want to spend the money and go through the hassle of switching sites. I’m thinking that I’ll make the switch maybe when I hit 100 comics but I’m not sure yet.

I’ve set a deadline of May 31 for the completion of the first children’s book spread. I would like to have one completed spread ready by then so I know what the look of the rest of the book will be.

Not too much else to say. I’ll talk to you all later . Thanks for stopping by. Keep your eyes, ears, and minds open.

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Journal Entry #32

Hello everyone. I must apologize for my laziness lately. This is the second week without any new webcomics. I totally understand that I don’t gain more readership by having a  sporadic webcomic schedule. I have been kinda not-so-proud of the comic lately. It feels and looks rushed which I also apologize for. I really need to learn to control the digital tablet better. I’ve been doing the whole comic about two hours before i have to go to work in the morning so that is why it looks the way it does. I will admit that the comic has been on the back burners since I started working on the children’s book. All I can do is hope that my laziness hasn’t affect any followers of “Habitat.” I’ll return to my Monday and Friday Hello everyone. I must apologize for my laziness lately. This is the second week without any new webcomics. I totally understand that I don’t gain more readership by have a  sporadic webcomic schedule. I have been kinda not-so-proud of the comic lately. It feels and looks rushed which I also apologize for. I really need to learn to control the digital tablet better. I’ve been doing the whole comic about two hours before i have to go to work in the morning so that is why it looks the way it does. I will admit that the comic has been on the back burners since I started working on the children’s book. All I can do is hope that my laziness hasn’t affect any followers of “Habitat.” I’ll return to my Monday and Friday schedule this coming week. Thank you to everyone who’s been patient with the comic.

Some good news is that I have finished the book dummy for my children’s book! I just finished putting the text with the drawings this morning. It feels good to have that part of the process completed. It is also nice to have a rough version of the book to hold and look at. It makes it more believable that I can really complete this thing and get it published somehow. The next step is experimenting with media to see how I want to create the finished illustrations. It will probably be the most fun step and hopefully I won’t stall out.

In more news, I went to C2E2 yesterday. For those who are unfamiliar, C2E2 is a comic convention that takes place in Chicago. I’ve been going with my fiancé and her dad for about the past 5 years now. It’s always fun and inspiring to see everyone in artist alley doing their thing. It has been kinda a dream of mine to be able to get a table in artist alley but that will be awhile yet. Maybe someday I’ll be able to promote my comic and books there but I’m not even close to being ready for that step yet.

Well, thanks for reading! I hope to see you Monday when I’ll have a fresh comic for you! Remember, keep your eyes, ears and minds open.