Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Little tear, little tear.

I got a fabulous 22-volume set of full color animal encyclopedias from the library's used book sale for $5. Today I experimented with the concept of opening a book to a random page and sketching the animal for warm-ups; working with animal anatomy loosens me up and makes human anatomy less intimidating. Trufax.

Well, I am just a mite lethargic under these drizzly, gray Michigan skies, so I indulged myself with a quick pencil sketch of a melodramatic death scene. If you're thinking "Oh, MUFASA", well, you get a gold star.

Meanwhile. #24HCD has totally reinvigorated my love of the comics genre, and I've been coming up with all kinds of schemes for the future. I feel more confident and like my goal of a finished product is not insane, as I once lamented. Yet I haven't actually worked on a comic strip since I got back. It's strange. Maybe I need a break? I do not know what is up with my motivation and energy, ever. Maybe I need a damn life coach or something. You guys. Being unemployed and vaguely artistic is really, really hard.

Well, I'm typing from a pretty lethargic (and therefore easy to become Anxiety Girl) mindset, so I'll just wind things down here. Bye! I'm off to self-medicate with chocolate and video games.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The benevolent tree.

My favorite in our local park. One day when I was feeling extremely depressed, I climbed and just sat in it for about 3 hours. It is a very, very kind tree. And today was a perfect autumn day - the last before it starts getting really chilly and unseasonal.

I really just want to capture how intense the lean is... it's boggling to the mind. You can just about walk up the trunk. I think continuing the blue stripe along the X-axis would have been a better design choice than the current rectangle background, but it's too late now! You win some, you lose some.

Meditative markering is one of life's pleasures.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I survived 24 Hour Comics Day - my first ever. And I am really not completely sure how I handled it so well mentally. I was never really tired for the whole 24 hours (tried to sleep, but couldn't), had only 1/6 cup of coffee (I do not drink coffee), and finished my 24 pages in 22 hours, well before the deadline. Saint Yaktopher must have been smiling upon me. The more I read about other artists' struggles, the more weirded out I am. Uhhhhh. How did I do this?

But. There are some things that I think helped fuel my success.

1) A cooler full of food. Nutritious food. I brought yogurt, trail mix, snow peas, goldfish crackers, cranberry juice, a Bolthouse Farms protein shake, green tea, string cheese, apples, and bananas. A few fellow artists said that their main downfall, besides inherited sleepiness, was the Taco Bell they brought. That must have been unpleasant. I basically kept shoving snacks into my face the whole time and so I never got hungry.

2) Arrange your sleep schedule beforehand, if you can. The day before, I took an extra afternoon nap and went to bed as late as I could so I could wake up at noon or later to feel charged by the 6 p.m. start time. Of course, this is easier to do if you're an unemployed slob like me. I also "fasted" and didn't draw for the 3 days beforehand, just to build up my mojo.

3) A page an hour. That's what you need to do. suggests sketching for 15 minutes and drawing for 30 minutes out of every hour, leaving the other 15 minutes for breaks, meals, proofing, stretching, and attempting to shake off those RMIs. Seriously do not fuss about details or making it look completely realistic and amazing. You are not Jack Kirby... and even if Jack Kirby was participating in 24HCD, his work might not look like Jack Kirby. It's not wussing out to use a single broad Micron pen and do it in just black and white on 8.5x11" copy paper. Having a clock in sight is a really helpful reminder, too; try to keep just ahead of that hour mark. If you can squeeze a page into 30 minutes, that's even better. See #6.

4) A support person. My husband helped me set up and came to visit me around 2 a.m., and again at 11 a.m. to see me through to the end. He was able to come back with stuff I needed or had forgotten, and kept up my morale.

5) Headphones and enough MP3s to easily last the whole time and then some. It's even better if this is on a smartphone. (I don't have a smartphone, so I borrowed one.) I had easy access to Google images, which saved my bacon on at least a dozen occasions. You wouldn't know it because apparently I cannot draw lions to save my life, despite references. But like I said... details. No fussy-fussy.

6) Know when to employ artistic tricks that will save you time. A full page spread can break up the story and create an illusion of elapsed time - a breath of fresh air. Also, busting out of frames periodically will save you from doing backgrounds. Silhouettes are another big help. This all, too, displays your prowess with the comic form.

Hugh the elephant wants to be a pirate.
Breaking the 4th wall let me be creative and tongue-in-cheek in telling the story.
It was a lot of fun.

So that's about it for now. I hope to post the whole thing on my site as soon as I can withstand scanning, cropping, and color-correcting 24 pages... and submit it to the 24 Hour Comics collection at Ohio State University! What an awesome event.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


WOW. I have not updated for some time.

Things have been pedaling along. I'm currently organizing a 24 Hour Comics Day event here in my city of Grand Rapids. It's been very exciting, and I can't wait to mutually suffer alongside other local artists. I really have no idea what or how I'll do (you're not supposed to formulate any preconceived notion of a story) but it will be a trial, to be sure. I hope to meet new friends and learn just how much endurance I have in me when I don't have time for self-doubt or whining.

Though I'm up to my neck in a Top Secret Gifty Project, as well as video game sprites (though less so at the moment - ah, deadlines!), it's hard not to go back to the idea of a long-form comic book. It's a constant cycle of torture! At least once a month I'll do some sketches and decide This Time I'm Totally Going To Do It. Nevermind that I'm bipolar. THIS IS THE ONE. Of course, once the depression kicks in, it's not. I suck, etc. etc. etc.

But I'm getting closer, I feel. These last few years have meant a lot of getting-it-together for me, and everything's getting easier. I've been working out regularly, managing my time between desperately-neglected household chores and projects, working with our family finances, and hunting for a job. These are all things that either terrified me or lasted in short bursts before I fell back into chaos. Now they're lasting months with few tremors.

Sometimes I worry that when I do things like dishes, vacuuming, and preparing meals, that's time I'm not spending making art. I wonder if you have to lead a slovenly, hungry, poor-hygeined, single-minded life to make good art. Am I getting too comfortable in a well-rounded, generally fulfilling existence without a desperate need to create art?! Do I enjoy being a housewife?! Heaven forbid! But that conflict is a subject for another, more lengthy, time. Back to comics.

The main hardship is solidifying a unifying style for my work. What I always forget (amidst the thrill of development and ambition) is that I'm a cartoonist at heart; realism is not my forte. As much as I love hyper-realistic and beautifully rendered works like Age Of Bronze - and dream of my characters jumping off the page in a similar manner - I just don't have the training or desire to work on that kind of technical scale. Never have, in any art form. I'm a hyper-emotional get-the-idea-across-in-one-punch-and-move-on sort of person. I need to tone down my expectations. That said, I'm trying to distill my delusions of grandeur into caricatured visions of my world and decide on how to best present that. Don't Call Me Candy has helped a lot with this - under the pressure, I think I learned a lot about the most attractive and efficient ways to express my ideas. Which pens to use, where, and when digital helpers can save a lot of time and heartache.

I really cannot get over how I never, ever tire of drawing my dear Mae'houn.
I take it as a sign that I have it in me to tell her story.

Anyway, I have been on quite a kick lately. A lot of it is due to ArtPrize, which I actually made an effort to visit this year. There were a lot of strong and varied works. It feels great to be so busy at my drawing table, now positioned between a sunny window and newly christened aquarium. (And not covered in crap that's drifted over from my sewing area.)