February 27, 2017

I’m now on Patreon, too!

Hi! I just wanted to share the news that I’ve finished one of my 2017 goals, and have launched my Patreon account. I could go on about it here, but the best thing to do is just show it to you; click here to see more. I hope you’ll consider my work worth patronizing.

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January 30, 2017

Where to go from here

This new year again offers me a bounty of creative possibilities, a too-long list which needs trimming down to a feasible workload. There are only 335 days left in the year, after all! Fortunately, my reader survey gave me food for thought which has been useful in narrowing my focus not only to work I will enjoy doing, but work that my readers will enjoy, too. In fact, my four word New Year’s resolution pretty much sums things up:

With that in mind, here are my priorities for 2017: Continue reading

January 25, 2017

Asking the people what they want

After all, I can’t very well give the people what they want if I don’t even know what it is, can I? With that spirit in mind, I undertook a survey of my readers at the end of 2016 to better understand their comic reading (and purchasing) habits and tastes. While the answers confirmed much of what I already suspected, I was a bit surprised by some of it, too…

Rather than present the survey results as just a series of pie charts, I also want to share what I was trying to find out with the questions I asked. The first section was gauging reader knowledge of my online comic. Not surprisingly, most everyone who responded (91.3%) already knew I published a FREE weekly comic online. I was more interested in their reading habits, and was pleased to find out how many read my comic every week, and that they tend to stick around once they do:

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82.6% of readers read the text blurb following my comic, too, so I’ll keep using that to plug upcoming shows and comic releases. I also like it as a way to provide context or commentary on the strip.

My next question was really a backdoor invitation to get readers to sign up for my e-mail list, follow me on Twitter, or friend Watusi’s Facebook page, just in case they weren’t aware of those options already: Continue reading

January 3, 2017

2016 in the rear view mirror

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It’s that time of year again, when I look back to last January at what I hoped to accomplish. And I’ve got to say that this year fared better than many past years have done, even for a year as hard as 2016. In addition to all the dire news of death and doom we’ve all heard on the national level, it wasn’t an easy year for me on a personal level: a death in the family, an emergency hospital stay, and uprooting my studio for the second time in less than a year. Getting resettled and back into a decent work habit has been a struggle for the last half of my year, but I’m still excited about what this new year has in store for me! More on that (including the compiled results of my reader survey) in future posts; right now it’s time to take one last look in the rear view mirror at my 2016 goals

1. My main creative priority continues to be my Watusi webcomic. Aside from one little glitch (my first missed strip in over seven years), I was able to keep on track with this. I was proud of the work that went into “The Ghost Dogs of Wonder Valley”, and am excited about what’s in store next. Not bad for a project that’s been going on as long as this, I think!

2. Get print publications back into the mix of my comic output. I was pleased to finally get the first long storyline from my webcomic in print (as “Watusi and the Emerald Serpent”), and have enjoyed the book tour that accompanied it. It was liberating to just talk about one concise story, instead of the whole run of Watusi comics (and all my other projects, too)…

3. Publicize my work better. I’m still not very good about this, but I did a better job at tooting my own horn than in the past. Certainly taking my work to new audiences (besides the audience of other creators and comic convention attendees) has helped.

4. Get actively involved in the Memphis art scene. This has been the highlight of the year in some ways. The fine arts scene here has been especially welcoming and enthusiastic, and I’m excited to get even more involved with it.

5. Clear old projects off my plate so I can move forward. Even if they didn’t see print, I made headway on some of these old projects. And considering how long I’d wanted to get “Watusi and the Emerald Serpent” into print, I think that counts, too…

6. Blog posts and website updates. While I didn’t finish the “about the cast” section on the Watusi site, I stuck to my posting schedule here. Stepping back to a looser schedule while I focused on finishing up “Watusi and the Emerald Serpent” was a good thing to do, though.

I may not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but I at least touched on them in useful ways, which is more than I can say about many years! Next time, I’ll present the results from my readers survey. Some of the answers may surprise you… they certainly surprised me!!

December 25, 2016

Holiday piece No. 29

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At the end of every year I send out a holiday piece to friends and family who have had an impact on my life that year, but since my audience* has grown to include readers (via website visits, fb & twitter follows) I don’t know personally, I wanted to share the joy with my “virtual” friends as well. Thanks for taking the time to visit this blog or follow my weekly Watusi webcomic. It’s much appreciated!

Longtime readers may recognize this year’s holiday piece as a reworking of the one from 2009 … but since 2016 finally saw the print edition of that year’s Watusi webcomic storyline (as the 7-issue “Watusi and the Emerald Serpent” miniseries) and an accompanying book tour, it seemed like an appropriate recycling effort to represent the year that was.

Best wishes for a happy 2017!

(* I’d love to learn more about my audience! If you haven’t had the chance yet, please take my reader survey. If you complete it before the end of the year, you’ll get a code to download a FREE .pdf copy of Festive Funnies. Thanks for your help! )

December 7, 2016

Hot off the press: Festive Funnies!

Festive Funnies No. 1 cover art by Dale MartinInspired by my parent’s traditional Christmas letter, in 1985 I began a holiday tradition of my own, creating original holiday pieces to share with my friends and family. Sometimes these have been woodcuts or poems or die cut cards … but my favorite pieces (not surprisingly) have been comics!

For most of the past decade, these pieces have centered around Watusi the talking dog and his supporting cast from my weekly adventure strip (new each Wednesday at www.watusithetalkingdog.com), often tying into the storyline then running in it:

  • “Watusi’s White Christmas” (2003) was originally published as a minicomic.
  • “Wrapping up Christmas” (2008) came with a customized gift tag as part of its cover.
  • “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (2006) was the first solo Professor Harvey and Mitchell comic.
  • “The Green Line” (2005) had a hand-stencilled cover. It’s been fully colored for this collection. (And I laughed when I read it, in spite of myself)

Hapless hot dog vendor “Flamin’ Frank” (1999) was a character I used frequently before Watusi came along. Sadly, much of what would have been his supporting cast has been co-oped by Watusi, too! The original version of this comic came singed as my way of wishing readers “all the warmth of this holiday season.”

Likely my favorite holiday comic– certainly the most elaborate– is 2000’s “Three Wise Men”. Adapting my favorite part of the Nativity story, I did research into King Herod and the historical period, gaining new respect for the Magi in the process. Kings in their own right, they were crossing into the kingdom of a ruler beset with illness (Jewish historian Josephus described him as “suffering from uncontrollable itching, coughing, fever and worms”), haunted by the spirits of the wife and children he’d already murdered, and allied with the powerful Roman Empire. These men put their own lives on the line, all to pay homage to a newborn baby. It certainly gave me a new sense of their bravery and what a powerful effect that star had for them.

I hope you enjoy these comics with my best wishes for the season; they’re available in two formats:

  • A .pdf version is available in my online store for $2.00.
  • A print edition is available for $3.00 postpaid in the US (see address in footer of this page).

But, for those of you who read to the end of this post, you can get a .pdf copy for FREE! As 2016 winds down, I’m conducting a survey to better understand my readers, their reading habits and interests, and their thoughts on my comic. I hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts (survey starts here); complete the survey before the end of the year, and you get a code for a FREE copy of Festive Funnies. Thanks for your help!

November 8, 2016

Hot off the press: Smeary Soapbox Press-ents 100-Page Inventory Closeout Super Spectacular

ssp100pageI’m gearing up for my appearance this weekend at Wichita’s Air Capital Comiccon and I’ll be bringing a new comic (in addition to my “Watusi and the Emerald Serpent” roadshow) along with me. Well, maybe “new” isn’t quite the right word; here’s the story behind it…

The Smeary Soapbox Press-ents 100-Page Inventory Closeout Super Spectacular is my way of thinning out my backstock in a way that also pays homage to DC’s 100 Page Super Spectaculars of the early 1970s. Assembled from extra copies of my one-shot comics, each copy has its own unique mix of content (although I did make sure they each contained the characters mentioned on the cover: Watusi, Flamin’ Frank, FooF!, Professor Harvey, and the Guy with a Hammer!), as well as an original convention sketch. Given that nature of this collection, the material included varies, ranging from just a few years ago back to my earliest days as a self-publisher in the 1980s! The mix could include a sampling of my earliest superhero parody comics, a smattering of the annual holiday comics I’ve made since 1985, one-off comic “singles”, and/or comics featuring Watusi and his costars. The drawings may be rough, the stories may be silly, and they may even take me down a path I ultimately decided not to follow. But many of these comics are work I’m still proud of, if for no other reason than they led me to become the creator I am today.

I had fun “curating” the material that went into these copies, and I think my binding comes pretty close to capturing the feel of those great old 100-pagers. Check it out if you’re able to make it to the Air Capital Comiccon– I hope to see you there! But if you can’t make it, here’s a selection of some of the better sketches that ended up in the copies…

October 27, 2016

Fall comfort food

This may seems like an odd post for a blog on “comics and comic creation”, but I’ve been working on new ways to monetize my existing cartoons and other artwork. Notecards are an easy application for the type of work I do, and since the finished product is a work on paper, it’s something I’m comfortable with. This series of illustrations  I did over 20 years ago for a set of vegetarian recipes makes a nice addition to my notecard line. But rather than re-typesetting the full recipe for the back of the cards (sometimes I really miss PageMaker), I decided to just post them here. While they may not be the healthiest of recipes, you could do a whole lot worse. And they’re all the kind of warming comfort food that feels great on a nippy fall day…

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Continue reading

September 30, 2016

Hot off the press: Watusi and the Emerald Serpent!

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Well, maybe more “warm out of the oven,” since I’ve taken this collection to my last two events (with two more on the horizon: the Memphis Comic Expo, Oct. 22-23 and Wichita’s Air Capital Comiccon, Nov. 12-13) . But with the print copies now in hand, and my shipping costs figured out, I’m happy to share these comics with those of you who aren’t able to catch me at one of my appearances!

Watusi and the Emerald Serpent is the story of an ordinary talking dog thrown out of his comfort zone into a crime-ridden island paradise! Watusi finds himself pitted against an outlaw gang and its lunatic leader in his most epic adventure yet! Inspired by the Kenneth Robeson Doc Savage novels and Floyd Gottfredson’s “Mickey Mouse” strips, this story may be my favorite project so far. Certainly my favorite Watusi story.

As I wrote a couple of months ago, I’ve been working on a print edition of this story, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. This print edition has been edited and expanded from the story as it was first published online (46 of its 84 pages have new &/or updated content), and I think the changes help the story flow much better. And look better, too! In addition to interior art improvements, I’m also really happy with the full-color covers– I think it’s my best color work to date– and the full-color guest art from JB Winter, Billy McKay, Mike Sullivan, and Tom Cherry really rounds out the package in a classy way. As you can tell, I’m trying hard not to overdo the hyperbole, but I’m really proud of these comics, and hope everyone who reads these issues enjoys them as much as I did making them!

You can order all seven 16-page issues (b&w interiors with full-color covers) as a set from my online store & have them delivered right to your mailbox.

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August 28, 2016

All hail The King!

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Today is the anniversary of Jack Kirby‘s birthday. His contributions to comics– both in terms of characters and stylistic conventions– have rightly earned him the nickname “King.” I first discovered his artwork pretty much right as I discovered comics, at a time when he was working for Marvel in the mid 1970s. While his Captain America was a little too out there for this 10-year old, I couldn’t deny the power of his artwork. At that time it was gracing many Marvel titles, from characters he created such as Fantastic Four and The Avengers to newer heroes such as a favorite of mine, Nova. The fact that interior art on many of those comics were provided by more conventional– though by no means not also great– artists such as George Perez and John Buscema made for a great package and they remain some of my favorite comics from that era. I later came to appreciate Kirby’s work more fully through his creations at DC just before I started reading comics: the New Gods cycle and Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, are amazing comics to behold. Like his later creation for Marvel, The Eternals, these works were able to (largely) stand on their own without interference from other editors or a need to adhere to line-wide continuity concerns. They are definitely worth checking out, especially since many of them have been collected in trade editions within the last decade.

Last year around this time I created the above piece for Jason Garrattley’s annual Jack Kirby birthday celebration on the Jack Kirby Museum‘s Kirby-Vision blog. It was a blast to do, and while this summer’s project (which is progressing quite nicely, thanks for asking) has kept me too busy to celebrate, I plan to do it again next year to celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday!

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