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 Entry #17

Howdy folks! Although I don’t really have anything of substance to say, I thought I would post something just to let you know I still exist… plus I think people like knowing the boring, mundane things that go on in people’s lives… I know I do.

I’m still writing scripts for “Habitat” pretty much everyday. Even when I’m feeling uninspired I force myself to write a strip. Amazingly enough they turn out to be pretty funny (to me at the time.) I’m enjoying my time away from drawing the comic. I know that since I’m a cartoonist I should like drawing but I find drawing for an audience or for a goal stressful. I believe even one of my heroes, Chris Ware, said in an interview he rarely finds drawing pleasurable. I’m rarely pleased with how my stuff turns out so I struggle at making drawing pleasurable for myself as well. So every time you see my comic, be aware of my inner struggle to make it better! LOL

You’ll notice in the next comic (on Friday) that there is just a little bit of computer shading added to each panel. I’m thinking of doing a basic “talking heads” sort of comic for awhile until I can master drawing the faces of the characters. I started out the comic thinking I could be as detailed as Walt Kelly with “Pogo” but, now I think mastering one aspect of the comic at a time would be best. So in future comics you’ll probably see a bit of a de-evolutionized “Habitat.” I’m bringing it back to basics: just two characters from the waist up, text, speech bubbles, and gray background. I’m just letting you know so that when you see the upcoming comics you don’t wonder what the hell is going on. It may be more boring to look at but I’ll try to make up for it with the writing.

Lately, I’ve been getting up early to work on re-teaching myself algebra. I got myself a book from the library and I’ve been working on it every morning. This sounds insane but I do a have reasoning behind it. First, I’m trying to knock the cob webs out of my brain and trying to become more knowledgable of math and science. Second, If I do have to take any placement tests for math in college, I want to try to test out of as many math classes as possible. Thirdly, if I ever have a child it would be nice if I could help him or her with algebra homework.

I’ve blabbed for long enough. Thank you to everyone who continues to read my junk. LOL Stop by on Friday to see the new comic! PEACE!

Journal Entry #11

Hello all! It seems that I always start these journal entries by saying I don’t have much to say and then go on babbling longer than expected. This post will be about little things that are going on with the comic that may not have much importance to you but is good for me to keep track of.

Sketchbook drawing. Possible idea for t-shirt.

Sketchbook drawing. Possible idea for t-shirt.

First of  all, I’m starting to get to the end of my sketchbook. It feels good to have a document of the past couple of months (5 months, to be exact) since starting “Habitat.” The whole sketchbook is not just “Habitat” stuff but it still feels like I’m accomplishing something by nearing the end of its pages. I used to try and make every sketchbook drawing/page “perfect” but now I’ve just been using it for drawing practice which I think sketchbooks should be used for. I’ve finally discovered that (unfortunately) not all of us can start off with sketchbooks like R. Crumb, Chris Ware or Gary Panter. It takes patience and practice to create sketchbooks that are as artfully done as these guys.  It will be awhile before I will be able to trade my sketchbooks for a country house in France a’la R.Crumb. LOL

This past week I’ve been pretty stressed at work and that will continue for the next couple of of weeks. This worry and stress has unfortunately, resulted in missed strip writing days. I started with the mindset of writing a strip every day but I have missed a few days this past week. I’m not too worried though. I don’t feel like I have fallen into the habitat of being lazy about script writing. With the additional stress at my day job I tell myself that I don’t need to stress about writing everyday. I try not to feel guilty about not writing everyday but I think it is healthy for me to just relax and not worry about ANYTHING for at least a day.

In the next couple of strips you might notice that I’ve discovered a ruler! LOL I actually use the ruler a lot in my comic but usually trace over the blue line freehand. I’ve started to ink the comic using the ruler. It’s amazing the difference a straight edge can make! LOL I’ve also started using an oval stencil for the word bubbles which make the comic look way more professional. I started off this comic wanting to create everything (beside panel borders) freehand but now I use whatever I can to help me make the comic a little sharper.

I think I mentioned this in the previous journal entry but I would like to start a “Habitat” store soon. I haven’t researched all my online sales possibilities yet but I’ve been sketching ideas for t-shirt and mug ideas. I don’t really want to jump into the sales thing too quickly. For one, I think it could cheapen what I’m doing. I don’t want it to look like I’m only working on this comic to make a buck. (Although some money would be nice.) LOL Another reason I’m not jumping into sales too quickly is I want to take the time to create something that I would actually buy. I don’t want to create crap and expect people to buy it.

OK, I think I’ve taken this far enough. Before I go I want to thank all of you again for reading “Habitat.” It feels good to create something like “Habitat” for myself but with an online audience it makes it even more rewarding. I want to let you know I appreciate every single view, follow, comment and “like.” See you Monday! Peace.

What’s Been Going On Lately

A lot has happened since the last time I posted. I will start with the unfortunate event of our pet rat Harvey being put to rest. A huge scabbing lump had formed on his shoulder and when we brought him to see the vet we learned that he had lost substantial weight as well. The vet said most pet store rats live 2 to 3 years and we had had Harvey for 2 good years. He began sleeping more than normal, he wouldn’t eat as much as he used to and his back legs were becoming lame as well. Last Monday we (Sara and I) decided that it would be best if we end any suffering he may have and have him put to sleep. His death hit me harder than I expected it to. You kind of take for granted the joy a pet can bring you until he/she is gone. Sara wants to keep the cage up awhile before we clean it and put down in the basement. For me I get a little pang of sadness every time I see it. We buried Harvey in the flower garden and planted a stargazer lilly over him to remember him by. He was both of our first experience with a rat and we certainly will never have another great rat like Harvey. Rest in peace buddy.

OK, Hopefully that wasn’t too sad and depressing. In other more positive news. I hit the 100 page mark in my graphic novel script. I’m considering myself done with the script even though it is not fully complete. I told myself at the beginning of this whole idea that if I can write 100 pages of a script that will give me enough confidence to finish the book completely. There are still some story lines I didn’t finish but I figure I can figure out how to fit those in during the rough layout process. The rest of the script will be kinda a write as you go sort of thing. I will continue to keep you posted on how the book is going.

Another little goal Im working toward is reaching my ideal weight. I’ve become pretty pudgy since turning thirty. I have definitely discovered that my metabolism is not what it used to be. I can’t eat Taco Bell all day and not live with the results anymore. It makes me feel older but it is also good because it has forced me to pay more attention to my body. I’m starting to eat more vegetables, drink more water, cut down on my meat and over-all portion sizes. I’m hoping by Christmas I’ll be around 130-40lbs. That’s the goal anyway.

One more little bit of personal news, I began reading the “Steve Jobs” bio a couple of weeks ago. So far, it’s pretty interesting. The book goes Jobs’ Zen fascination which has kind of rekindled my interest with Zen meditation and Buddhism.

That it all for now. I’ll keep you updated on whats going on in my life… until then. Peace.

Chicago Wizard Con 2012

Hello everyone. I’ve been slowly chugging away at the graphic novel script. I made it to page 87 today so I’m looking pretty good for my weekly goal of 90 pages! Writing is not unbearable for me but, I still can’t wait to move on to getting more involved in the visual aspect of the book.

I hate photos of myself and this one is no exception. I guess I’m not used someone being that close to me for a photo. 🙂

Last Saturday Sara and I attended Wizard Con 2012 in Rosemont, ILL.  Usually Sara’s dad drives us there but this time I took the wheel and got us lost but Sara navigated us back on path. This year was just as crowded as last year with the new floor layout not helping the congestion much. For some reason they decided to put the autograph area right in the middle of the floor so you had to go around the most congested area to get to the artist alley. The first stop was to get six Superman comic books signed by George Peréz, who was very nice. It was fun to watch him whip out Superman drawings and other super-heroes in about 10 minutes each. For lunch we ate over-priced turkey sandwiches ($10) at the cafeteria… it’s kind of a tradition. After lunch we met Lou Ferrigno and got a glossy signed by him. He didn’t talk much but it was still fun to see “The Hulk.” There were some vendors that were at C2E2 but not at Wizard con so that was a bummer. We’re not really really sure if we’ll pay the inflating price to go back next year. C2E2 may be our only Con visit next year unless there is a cool horror con or something like that.

Well, thats the news for now. I’ll keep you updated on the graphic novel. Thanks for dropping by!

Goals and Inspiration

It’s been about 2 weeks since my last post and I am still in the process of writing the graphic novel. I initially wanted to post something every Wednesday but I found I really had nothing to post about since I didn’t want to give away much of the story. I’m at 72 pages now which I am pretty proud of. I never really thought I would get this far in the writing process. I’m starting to relax on my writing schedule a little bit. It’s getting hard for me to wake up so early every morning and be able to write. I’ve been sticking to my goal of 10 pages a week. I figure as long as I get 10 pages done a week it doesn’t matter what schedule I keep.

Besides working on the book I have also been working on trying to better myself. It’s good to have goals but I find myself becoming grumpy if i don’t finish a goal I have set for myself.   That is the main reason why I have done away with my strict writing schedule. I have also been meditating more which helps slow things down and puts things in perspective. I have also noticed That I’ve let my body go too soft so I have decided to do sit-ups every day to feel and look better. These are little things but they help me to be a happier person. http://personalexcellence.co/blog/101-ways-to-be-a-better-person/ This is the site I have been going to a lot lately. It is just another self-help site but I find it inspirational and I especially like it because there are a lot of lists.

So that’s it for now. Thanks for dropping by!

Keep on Truckin’

Hello all. I don’t really have to much to report but I thought I would post something to stay in practice. I am still writing. I have completed 44 pages so far in the book. I’m averaging 10 pages a week which is satisfactory to me. Most days I get up around 5:00 to sit at my computer for about 5 minutes and try to wake up then type about a page or so. I’m sort of amazed how fast my brain can switch to thinking about what I want to write. For being half asleep I don’t think I do too bad.

I know I’ve talked about this in previous posts but I’ve decided not to do a linear story line. Instead of going chronological, I thought it would be more interesting to work the story around topics that come up. Religion is a topic that I’m working on now. I thought I blab about my experiences growing up in the Catholic church. I took a little inspiration from Spiegleman’s “Maus” by going back and forth between the present and past. In one scene I could be talking to Sara in the studio and in another scene I could be narrating some embarrassing moment in my life. I originally didn’t want to do that way but I think it opens up the book to more possibilities that way.

I’ve been sticking mostly to writing the book lately. I haven’t been working on the layout of the pages or drawing anything yet. I figure that I’ll cross those bridges when I get to them. I don’t want to rush ahead of myself. When I get to the next phase in the book I’ll definitely keep you posted. Thanks for dropping by.

 

Graphic Novel Layout Process

Hello and Happy 4th of July! I’m back again to report on how the book is going. Amongst working a crappy full-time job and all the other stuff that needs to be done in life I have been chugging away at this graphic novel. As you probably already know, I’m in the writing stage of this process. The writing is more of a script. I don’t really describe what people or places look like because that will be accomplished throughout the drawing. In school I always enjoyed english class so I thought this wouldn’t be so bad. I consider myself more of an artist than a writer but I would like to think I can at least tell a good story. Writing is a chore for me but I get at least one page out a day. I have constant self-doubts but I try to push those thoughts out of my head so I can just get down to business. I’m only at 33 pages and I hope to catch up to 40 pages by Sunday.

Along with the writing, I’ve started a rough layout of what the first five pages will look like. All these pages were done in Adobe InDesign.

Title page.

I thought it would be nice to bring in a very small element of the book into the title page so I decided to pull an image from the web just as place holder to let me know I wanted a paper fortuneteller here.

Dedication page.

I’m not too sure when in the writing process professional authors decide to do their dedications but I decided to make a dedication page now just to get a feel for page layout.

 

First page of the book.

This would be the first real page of the book. If you’re able to read the text please don’t judge my writing too harshly. It is my first time writing a whole book and this may not even be the exact final wording.

I have taken several photographs of the Kenosha, WI area so I’ll be drawing lots of little scenes for everyone of these panels.

So there you have it.  The first five rough pages. It may not look like much but it is a start and you can start to see my process. From this point I will drop in photo references. Then from there i will begin to draw out the page. I’m still unsure if I will hand letter the story or do that on the computer.

Hope you found this informative. Thanks for dropping by!

Moving Right Along

Hi y’all. I finally broke the 20 page barrier. I’m currently sitting on 22 pages. My goal is to complete 10 pages every week. I don’t want to be too much of a page counter but I think it is good to set weekly goals. I’ve been trying to get up at 5 am and write but long work days like yesterday’s 15 hours definitely prevents that from happening. The book is going alright. I’m gaining confidence in what I’m doing but it  doesn’t come easy. I’ve decided that the book will be in non-chronilogical order because, firstly, I think it is more interesting that way, and second of all, it is easier. Today I plan on making a rough layout of the first 5 to 10 pages. I might post that next week so stay tuned in! Thanks for reading!