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!

 

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!

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.