Archive for ‘The creative process’

August 16, 2017

A meal fit for The King!

And not The King most people in Memphis think of, either … but the one and only Jack “King” Kirby!

2017 marks the centennial of Jack Kirby’s birth, and I’ve been working on projects to celebrate that anniversary. Some are coming along better than others, but one that is complete is my contribution to Crosstown Arts“Potluck” exhibition, on display during the grand opening of Crosstown Concourse.

This piece, which is a tribute to Kirby’s character and machinery designs (and his co-creation, Galactus), was a good challenge that stretched my creative muscles a little. It’s been quite a while since I worked in 3D, and in the process I used materials and tools that were new to me. I’m happy to say that it turned out pretty much how I envisioned it– if not better! Come see it (along with 80 other artist-created place settings) this Saturday!

And look for other upcoming Kirby-celebratory pieces from me, both online (like this) and in print…

Advertisements
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:

surveychartc-d

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:

read more »

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…

recipe-chili recipe-cutting recipe-pantry recipe-teapot

read more »

July 20, 2016

Taking a break

I’ve been sticking to a twice-monthly schedule of posts here for a full year now, and it’s been a good exercise for me. I’ve been happy with the range of content I’ve included, finally devoting time to topics I’ve meant to write about for quite some time (such as APA-5, my stencil coloring method, my interview with Tom Cherry, and even SpongeBob Comics). As with my webcomic, I appreciate those of you who take the time to read (and even comment on) my ramblings here. Some posts turned out to be meatier than others, of course, which was part of the variety I was aiming for. But I’ve decided to step back from that frequency for the foreseeable future…

It’s time for me to rein extraneous activities in for a bit, and buckle down to my drawing table. I’ve got big plans for my fall convention schedule (confirmed: Memphis Comic Expo, Oct. 22-23 and Air Capital Comiccon, Nov. 12-13) and holiday market events that will I feel will be a better use of my time than posting just to keep on a set schedule. I’ll continue to pop in from time to time with some art or an update on my project, but it will be on a less rigid– and more infrequent– schedule.

What project is so important, you may ask? Well, I’ve never really gone back and revisited or edited past work before, but it’s high time (past time, actually) I collected my Watusi webcomics in a print edition. It’s been an interesting challenge so far: looking at the work as a completed project, but giving it a final edit separate from its original creation, and adding new scenes or tidier drawings where needed. I’m excited about the form it’s taking and feel it will be worth the effort. Here’s a teaser image to tide you over until release (which I plan to have ready for this fall’s events):

WebTeaser0716

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your summer!

June 1, 2016

It really was “The World’s Finest APA”!

APA-5logoThis month marks the tenth anniversary of my last “Larry’s Kitchen” zine as a part of APA-5, the world’s finest APA!

An APA (or Amateur Press Association, for those of you who don’t know) is a group where individual members create their own zine, send it to a central mailer who assembles them all into a single publication and redistributes it to the members for comment and enjoyment. APA-5 was a great environment for me at a time when I felt disconnected from other cartoonists, and wanted feedback on my work. For over seven years I was an active part of this group of amazing creators, including Drew Boynton, JB Winter, Larned Justin, Mike Leuszler, Michael Munshaw, Brien Wayne Powell, Dan Lauer, Tom Davidson, Steve Willhite, and others.

I was happy with much of the work I created while in APA-5, and enjoyed it as a venue to share work in progress with other creators for feedback. In the years before social media posts and “likes” became the accepted way to interact online, we were able to get into meaty discussions and give thoughtful critiques of work in the pages of APA-5. As it became easier to communicate virtually it took its toll on that level of discussion, and it soon felt like the writing was on the wall for not only APA-5, but a few years later to the Small Press Syndicate’s Rap Sheet as well. While I was only able to get in on the tail end of the storied histories of both APA-5 and the SPS, I treasure the time I was able to spend as part of those groups. Not only for the improvement it brought to my work and my work ethic, but for its sense of camaraderie with fellow creators, many of whom I still collaborate with from time to time today.

The work in my 77 “Larry’s Kitchen” zines (+ assorted jams and other projects) remains largely unscanned, and unshared beyond the active membership at the time. In fact, that was one of the reasons that I moved Larry’s Kitchen into its own freestanding digest format comic in 2006– so I could share it more widely, to creators and readers not part of the group. Unfortunately, my situation at work changed, and after two more issues I didn’t have the time to commit to both Larry’s Kitchen and my Watusi projects. One had to go, but I think I chose wisely.

Of course, APA-5 had been going strong for over a quarter of a century before I joined and it went on for a number of issues without me. Among its storied roster of past members are names familiar to fans of comics and television: Mark Verheiden (who founded the group in 1972), Paul Chadwick, Frank Miller, Chris Warner, Randy Emberlin, Cliff Biggers (Comic Shop News), Mike Richardson, Tak Toyoshima (“Secret Asian Man”), Bill Nichols, Sheila Wilding, Robin Ator, Brad Kurtz, Mark Badger, Michael Monasmith, and many, many more.

While APA-5 as I knew it may be gone, it exists online here and here, and carries on in spirit in the pages of T. Davidson’s Fiver Fun Comics. Below are glimpses from a few of my favorite APA-5 moments from 1998-2006…

February 17, 2016

Well said, Patrick McDonnell!

Comics are both art and commerce. I believe in the former and live with the latter. With the comic’s inflexible daily deadline there is little time for rumination. You do the best you can and then you let it go. You don’t live with a piece; you live with the process.

Patrick McDonnell (from Mutts: the comic art of Patrick McDonnell. Harry N. Abrams, 2003). The best of many insights of what goes into his strip every day to be found in this beautiful volume. I’d definitely put this book in the same class as those by Schulz and Watterson I wrote about last month.

January 20, 2016

Learning new moves from experienced strippers

I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between comic strips and comic books lately.

Even though I’ve essentially been writing & drawing a comic strip for years now, I’ve always thought of myself as a comic book creator. And, while I haven’t yet collected the “Watusi” strips like I’ve planned, my end goal with these stories has always been for book-length (or at least issue-length) collections. Which only makes sense, given how much more my storytelling sensibilities and influences have always come from the pacing of comic books than from gag-a-day comic strips. Still, I’ve found myself paying a lot more attention to comic strips than to books lately. Partly this is because there aren’t that many ongoing monthlies that appeal to me right now, partly because my own collection is largely inaccessible in my current studio space, and partly because the (how to say this kindly?) “vintage” graphic novel collection at the Memphis Public Library includes a lot more “Alley Oop” than Saga. And they only have one “Alley Oop” book…

But I’m enjoying what I’m discovering– not just in classic adventure strips that lean naturally toward my comic interests– but also in gag strips, both those being published today and what I’m rediscovering in older strips.

read more »

November 4, 2015

“InkTober” 2015: my month of model sheets

When my friend (and Watusi jam participant) JB Winter first pitched me “InkTober”, a drawing challenge to do one ink drawing a day for the entire month, I wasn’t initially interested in participating. After all, I figured, since I draw in ink all the time, it’s really not that big of a challenge to me. After checking out Inktober instigator Jake Parker‘s website on the project (including his review of his go-to inking tools), and seeing some of the amazing drawings that participants produced during the first few days, I figured I could at least do the “5K” option of posting once a week. So I decided to indulge my general love of model sheets and draw up some decent ones for four members of my Watusi cast. If nothing else, having that reference should help me be able to keep my characters in proportion to each other! For those of you who missed them on my twitter feed, I’ve collected them here for your enjoyment.!

The first choice was a no-brainer:ModelSheetWatusi

read more »

October 7, 2015

In another life

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with my career as a self-publishing cartoonist. It’s afforded me the freedom to tell my stories my way, and craft a finished product that reflects my sensibilities without the intrusion of outside ads or editorial mandates. But if there was any publisher I could see my work fitting in with, it would be Harvey Comics of the 1970s.

Harvey21Cover

read more »

September 8, 2015

A month of Kanban

kanban2

I recently tweeted about how I’ve been using Personal Kanban to help me get– and stay– organized, and now that it’s been my “to do” method of choice for a full month, I thought a more detailed look would be useful. Who knows, it might even inspire you…

As I was setting up my new studio and work routine, it seemed like the perfect time to shake up my organizational scheme as well, especially since it wasn’t really working that well for me. Undone tasks would just pile up and get moved from one week’s (and then month’s) to-do list to the next. Kanban had a real appeal for me because of its visual focus (I’m pretty much an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of guy) and the inherent narrative of its “to do/doing/done” structure. I’ve based my use of it on this great Lifehacker article “Productivity 101: How to Use Personal Kanban to Visualize Your Work” by Alan Henry. He summarizes it with just two rules: “Visualize your work” and “Limit work in progress”.

read more »