Journal #42

IMG_0044

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.

IMG_0881

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 #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 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.

Journal Entry #26

About a 2 hour sketch from my sketchbook.

About a 2 hour sketch from my sketchbook..

Hey everyone! Hope you are all doing great this year. So far this year has been pretty good. I have been trying to stay productive. Part of my productivity includes working more in my sketchbooks. I have plenty of empty or half filled books laying around that are just begging to be filled. So I told myself that I’m not buying another sketchbook until all of the ones i have are filled. I’ve been working on the human form a lot because I have trouble drawing it and I’m never satisfied with the way I draw it. I’m trying to make my drawings a little less stiff and more life-like, especially with body movement. I want this to be the year that I really get involved in drawing and hopefully I can track my progress.  I’ve been watching a lot of youtube videos of people showing off their sketchbooks and that has inspired me… and discourages me sometimes. I see all these art school animators showing their sketchbooks and there doesn’t seem to be a stinker in the bunch… even when they point one out that they don’t like.

So yeah, not much else to say. I hope you’re all liking the comic. I really need to get more used to the graphic tablet though. I like drawing toward myself and it’s hard to get used to a stationary tablet that doesn’t have much movement. That is probably the biggest challenge, I think I’m pretty used to not seeing my hand drawing it’s just not being able to turn the virtual paper that is weird to me. If there is anyone that has advice please let me know. Thanks for reading and I hope you come back for the new comic on Monday!

Journal Entry # 25

sketch layerHey everyone! It’s time for another quick journal entry! First, I want to say thanks for all the views and likes. It’s always nice to know that someone is out there reading this stuff.

I feel a little bit like I’m betraying the comic strip by going digital but it is so much easier and I feel I get better results. Going digital makes it much easier to look professional. One example of that is the lettering of the comic. My hand lettering was horrible but now I use a typeface that is much more attractive to look at. Yes, it is cheating but I feel that if it makes the comic better, why not? Drawing is still involved and I still go through the same process of sketching out in blue first and then going over with the black “inked level.” It’s just way easier to fix a mistake. The comic is still not perfect but I hope that as i go along the character design will solidify and I will be more courageous with the posing of the characters.

2014 is going to be my year of “creation not consumption.” I want to be way more artistically productive. That means more sketchbook work and less television and internet (unless it is productive.) I’m going to save my money and create instead of consume. I believe we are creative animals and it is more natural for us to create something than it is to spend money on something. I don’t want shopping to become my pastime which it seems has become the national pastime. So my new motto is consume less and create more.

Alright, that’s all I have to jabber about for now. Thanks for visiting and I hope you keep on visiting. See you Monday when a NEW comic is posted! Peace.

 

Journal Entry #24

Hey y’all! Just so you all know, I’m back doing “Habitat” as a twice a week comic! I’ve made it my goal to keep pumping out comics twice week. They’ll post on Mondays and Fridays at 10:30am CST. If you haven’t already guessed, the comics are completely digital now and IN COLOR! I’m still getting used to the tablet but I’m sure it will become second nature to me as I keep doing the comic.  The new designs of Finn and Morton are still pretty rough but I do feel more comfortable drawing the more simplified forms.

So, I do have a few New Year’s resolutions. I’ll share my 3 main goals of 2014.

  1. Lose 20 lbs. Yes, it is the obvious “lose weight resolution” but this is actually the first time I’ve resolved to lose weight. I started tracking my calories on a handy dandy app (which will remain nameless.) I’m hoping by summer I’ll be down to my ideal weight and I can start working my on shaping up my abs. I’ve alway admired guys with defined stomachs and I’m sure my fiancé wouldn’t mind it either.
  2. Find a better paying job. Yet another pretty popular resolution but I really need to get out of the place that I’m at now. Right now, I feel that to move on in life I need to find a better job because I’m stuck at a dead-end job now. It’s great that I’m doing something that is in my field but I feel if I stay there much longer I will become obsolete.
  3. Create my own website to promote myself and my work. This year I would like to get more freelance design and illustration work and having a working site would help promote that. I’ve been researching web design and I think I’ll be able to make a pretty good site once I set some time aside to actually do it.

This year I have also told myself that every morning I will keep in mind three things. To be fitter, happier, and more productive. If that sounds familiar, it’s from a radiohead song. 🙂 It’s kinda silly but those three things are what I’m really concerned with in life.

OK that’s all for now, thanks for stopping in and reading. NEW COMIC MONDAY!

PS… Eventually I will have to re-design the header image but for now it will have to be the old character design.

Journal Entry #13

Howdy folks. As I’ve stated in a previous post, this past week has been pretty crazy. Working by myself is no fun. Being the only full-time person in the art department is stressful because I’m pretty much responsible for how the publication turns out. I’ll definitely be glad when my supervisor starts working full-time again. That’s enough about my job though… I don’t need to clutter up my blog posts with garbage about my stupid day job.

I do have a new Habitat comic coming up on Monday. It took me longer to create than usual. I usually like to finish the comic off all in one 2-3 hour block of time, but this time I took a break from it and went back to it later. It’s nice to have a break sometimes and come back fresh. I didn’t feel rushed like I normally do when I work on it straight through. Usually towards the end of the comic I start to get antsy and I just want to finish the thing so I sort of settle for the rush job. In the future I might be a bit more leisurely with the comic.

In other news, I might be teaching my own cartoon and comics class in the near future. My future father-in-law told me on Friday that there will be a cartooning class opening up for about 30 girl scouts at our local museum. I’m not sure of al the particulars but he made it sound as if I would teach the classes and he would help me out with them. I’m pretty excited if I’m able to teach my passion to a bunch of kids. 30 girls is quite a bit for someone who has never taught a class before though. Those little girls could eat me alive! 🙂 I’m excited but nervous. I’m already planning out in my head what the class would do. I’ll let you know more as I get more information.

Well, I don’t have much else to blab about so I’ll end it here. As always, thank you for everyone supporting me and my little comic. It’s nice to know that someone is reading them. Have a good day!

Journal Entry #10

Another sketchbook entry. I was inspired by Walt Kelly's self portrait in ink so I thought I would give it a shot. I'm satisfied with how it turned out.

Another sketchbook entry. I was inspired by Walt Kelly’s self portrait in ink so I thought I would give it a shot. I’m satisfied with how it turned out.

Hello again. In the coming weeks I’ll be making some changes to “Habitat.” I want to start working larger. I’m beginning to think that the comic can be a lot more interesting if I was given more room. I currently  have been able to fit two comics on to 11 x 17 in. Bristol board but each panel was only about 4 x 5 in. That makes for a pretty skinny panel. You will notice a change to Monday’s comic which I used on whole sheet of Bristol board for one comic. Each panel is now 6.25 x 5 inches. You’ll also notice it is very hard to read which I apologize for. I’ll be experimenting with panel size and layout in the coming weeks. I’m thinking of shrinking the comic down to 6 x 5 inches and maybe keeping the comic in two rows instead of making one long row that could make everything small on the website. For now, I want to stick with the 3-4 panel format but maybe a year from now I’ll start doing more adventurous layouts. I have always liked taking baby steps and seeing how things evolve.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of having a contest to celebrate/promote my 100th comic strip. I was thinking of giving away a piece of original art to either the 200th follower or maybe at a certain # of “likes.” I haven’t decided if i’ll even go through the trouble or not but I thought it would be a good promotional gimmick. I hope I can even make it to my 100th strip! Ha-ha!

Well, thats all for now. Thanks for reading and I hope you like the next comic. Look for more changes in the future! Peace!