Journal #43

Hey everybody! Happy New Year! First, I must apologize for the lack of comics and blog posts. I got kind of busy towards the end of 2014. I got a few freelance jobs off of Fiverr. For those who don’t know what Fiverr is, it is a website where you can sell your services for $5 a pop. I know that doesn’t sound like a very good deal but it is a good starting point for someone like me trying to break into the professional world of illustration. Through Fiverr I got a much high paying gig to illustrate a whole children’s book! So it does pay (literally) to be on Fiverr. A few other smaller jobs have been piling up as well so I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to work on “Habitat.” I want to start finding time to do the webcomic again and as soon I can, I will.

For Christmas I got a new Wacom Intuos 5 Pro from my parents which couldn’t have come at a better time just when my illustration work is taking off. I love it so far. The touch dial on it is awesome and makes doing things in Photoshop so much easier. I thought I would use the touch aspect of the tablet more but at least in Photoshop it just kind of gets in the way. The pressure sensitivity is great and I like that it detects at what angle you hold the pen at. My Monoprice tablet was great for the price but this new tablet makes working on the computer so much easier. Although with this book project I’m working on, I still pencil and ink the drawing traditionally and then color it on the computer. I’m still not comfortable actually drawing with the tablet. It seems just easier to do it the ol’ fashioned way.

In other news, I’m now officially a “Big Brother.” I had my first meeting with 10 year old, Keith on Dec. 17th. The two times I’ve hung out with him he’s been pretty quiet but that’s really to be expected. He is polite though, and puts up with all my questions. He has trouble reading so it is one of our goals to get better at that. Our 2nd meeting I took him to see Big Hero 6 which I probably wanted to see more than he did. Haha We both had a good time though. I’m hoping this can be a long lasting relationship filled with mutual respect. Only the future holds that answer.

It is now official that I’m teaching a Comicstrip class on March 7th at our local museum. No backing out now! Ha-ha. Yet another thing I have to get ready for but I’m still excited about it.

2015 will be a busy year but that is alright with me. It is good to be busy and not have too much idle time. I just have to make the most of my time and not find excuses for procrastination.

OK, I’ve rambled long enough. Hopefully my next post will come sooner than this one did. Till then, kepp your eyes, ears, and minds open. Peace.

Journal #42

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Howdy Folks! This is my first post since getting my new phone. I didn’t really need a new phone but that new iphone 6 was calling my name and so I purchased it. The iphone 4 I had was only 8 Gig and I was running dangerously low on memory so I decided to do an upgrade. I still worry about space on the phone but not nearly as much as with the iphone 4. Unfortunately I was too late for the free phone deal and the Verizon store would only give me $30 for my old phone so I sold it on craigslist for $125. I’m hoping that maybe with all this new technology I can possibly do a few quality video blogs for you guys.

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So Autumn is officially here! Halloween is just around the corner! As you see Iggy Pup is ready for Halloween. About a week ago Sara and I made roses out of fallen leaves. She saw youtube video and wanted to give it a try. It’s a cool idea and they turned out pretty good but they barely last a day before they dry out and need to be tossed out. I gave my  leaf flowers to my mom for her birthday along with some actual flowers.

Well, I’ve been scheduled to teach an actual cartooning class for March 7, 2015! It’s exciting and I’ve already started a Powerpoint presentation for it. I get nervous and excited just thinking about it but it should be pretty fun. My main goal is to have the class complete at least one strip. I just hope they take their time drawing it out and not just rush through it to get it done and out of the way. My attention span was pretty good as a kid and I could spend hours just drawing so I’m hoping I don’t get a bunch of ADHD kids ha-ha. It will be a 3 hour class with a 10 minute “break.” The first 2 hours is actual “teaching” time where I show the class stuff and have them do class exercises. The last hour of class will be individual drawing time for them to actually work on their comic strip. While they are working on their strip I plan to show “Stripped” the documentary on comic strips. I’m basically doing this to see if I can do it. It’s something I alway WANTED to do but was never sure I COULD do it. Now I’ll be given a chance to see if it’s something I’m good at and would ever want to do again.

I’ve gone through the application process for Big Brothers Big Sisters, now I’m just waiting to be matched up. I’m nervous but excited as well. I keep thinking of all the things we could do together and that gets my pretty pysched. It’s scary to think of myself as a “mentor” but I think I can handle it. All I need to do is be myself and be a positive friend to a kid that my not have that in his life. So hopefully I’ll be getting a call within the next week. I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going.

As for the comic. I’m still working about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I don’t write strips as much as I would like but I’m happy with how most of them turn out and I’m comfortable with my schedule. I’m hoping to get out blogs post at a more normal schedule. It seems that I’m averaging about 1 post a month but I’m hoping to get one out every Monday. I’ve designated Saturday and Sunday as my “Social media” day in which I blog, and post stuff to various social media outlets. Wednesdays I have designated as the day I do the bulk of my comic strip (if not ALL of it.) So hopefully I can keep this schedule up and continue on my road to someday being syndicated.

Thanks for reading. Keep your eyes, ears and minds open!

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.

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!