Journal #41

At Mall of America doing the tourist thing.

At Mall of America doing the tourist thing. Oh and those pictures are made of Lego.

Howdy folks! It’s me again and it’s time for another bloggy post type thing. I just got back from a wonderful little vacation in Rice Lake, WI. It’s not really known as a vacation spot but it is in beautiful northern Wisconsin and the place we were staying was right on Rice Lake which was nice. We were about two and half hours away from Minneapolis so Sara got to visit Mall of America for the first time and I got to see the house Charles Schulz lived in! The motel that we stayed at had paddle boats so Sara, Iggy (our Boston Terrier) and I went paddling around Rice Lake which was fun. We also got to commune with nature, we both saw a bald eagle for the first time in our lives. I guess bald eagles are a common occurrence  up there but we juss city folk and never see nuttin’ in the city. So all and all it was a fun trip. We don’t get to go places very often so we make sure to make the best out of it when we do go someplace.

The Saturday we came back from vacation Sara’s dad invited us to a local comic auction event at our local museum. I went and got drawings from Jeff Keane “Family Circus” and Lincoln Peirce “Big Nate.” I also bid on a Simpsons print signed by Matt Groening with a doodle of Bart Simpson on it as well and it is dated from 1996 which I consider the glory days of the Simpsons. I got for $100 and it’s selling price was $450. I think I got a deal but I still felt guilty for spending that much money on something I can’t do anything with other than hang on the wall. It’s for that reason that I’m on a spending freeze for the rest of the year.

So as usual I’ve changed my mind about the syndication thing. I’m going to try for it again. For those who have been following me know that I started “Habitat” with syndication in mind, then I changed my mind and thought the strip wasn’t good enough for syndication. Now, I’ve changed my mind again and I’m pursuing syndication once more. I’m more comfortable with the strip now that I have a human character in it. I’m getting more used to working digitally as well. I’m making it a goal to have a comic strip “kit” ready to be sent to a syndicate by mid next year. One of the syndicates that I’m looking into wants around 6 to 7 weeks worth of daily comics so I’m trying to make at least two strips a week. I’ve also been attempting to write a comic script everyday so I always have ideas to dip into.

The last bit of news is I just sent in an application to our area’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. I have been thinking of joining for awhile but never really got up the nerve to join but I took the plunge and filled out the paper work, got references, and sent out the application yesterday. I wanted to join because I feel it’s a good way to help the community and give to society. I want to help a kid that doesn’t have a male figure to look up to and hopefully I can be that person. It’s kinda scary that it will force me to be an “adult” but I think it’s good training for fatherhood. So we’ll see how it goes, I’m nervous but I’ll keep you posted.

OK, that’s all I have for now. Keep reading “Habitat” and I’ll keep making them! Until next time, keep you 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 #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.

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.