Archive for ‘The creative process’

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.


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September 8, 2015

A month of Kanban


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”.

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November 4, 2014

Not as rusty as I thought

I had the chance to do some actual life drawing yesterday, and I was pleased to find out that I wasn’t as rusty as I feared I’d be…


“Quick! Draw Degas!” was the November theme for the gathering of the Thieves Guild, a locally-grown artist collective. Trained ballet dancer Dolly D. Imples of Foxy by Proxy was the model, who “twist[ed] and turn[ed] into poses inspired by French artist Edgar Degas.”

It’s been a good 20 years since I had my last life drawing class– and I haven’t done all that much observational drawing since then, either– but I dug up some newsprint and charcoal and gave it my best shot. After so long drawing cartoon dogs that don’t look even remotely like real dogs, I wasn’t sure how switching to such a different media and such a different drawing method would work out. Especially given how unforgiving a medium charcoal is compared to the cut ‘n paste/whiteout/PhotoShop cleanup method I use in my comic strip. But it was actually liberating to not labor over a panel and just make the most of a 2/5/10 minute pose. It’s a good exercise for me to step back from the more complex issues of panel composition and story pacing and just enjoy making marks on paper– to remind myself how much fun drawing is!


It was a blast! I  had such a good time, I definitely intend to be back next month…

July 19, 2014

Why create anything?

whyIn a recent USA Weekend essay by Michael Wolff, he posed an interesting– and as a creator, a somewhat daunting– vision of the near future as more content becomes more freely available:

This is, curiously, a crisis for the media business– a business that, even as we felt it encroach on our lives, actually thrived on scarcity. We wanted it more because there was relatively little of it. … Now everything is available at any time– there is not only more media, but soon all media that ever was will be instantly servable– vastly diluting the attention for, and value of, any one media experience. Supply has overwhelmed demand.

So in a world where my humble Watusi comics must compete with not only other currently active web cartoonists … where the $1.00 outlay for a physical issue must measure up to two great fifty-cent bin comics … but where even the time it takes to read my comics must compete with more widely available classics from Kirby, Toth, Aparo, Buscema, Gottfredson, and so many others … why should I work so hard making my own comics? Why create anything?

I asked this question of my fellow Dime Bag Comics creators, and here’s what they had to share:

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July 16, 2014

Setting the scene

When I write my comics, I like to have a good sense of where the action will be taking place, even it doesn’t always end up on the page visible to the reader. Case in point is the location for the current sequence in my Watusi comic strip, “Archibald’s Antiques”:

strip269clippedI wanted readers to see that it was a classy establishment, in direct contrast to the junk shop esthetic of Watusi’s friend Eric George’s “…Another Man’s Treasure” that played host to earlier scenes in the storyline. So I spent a bit of time to work it out before I had to draw it into a panel of the strip. Unfortunately once that time arrived, in order for the Watusi figure to be large enough to have any sense of expression, there wasn’t room to show as much of the building as I’d hoped, which is why readers saw so little of it in the strip. At least I should be able to convey a better sense of the richness of the store as the sequence moves inside beginning this week.

Still, I don’t see that prep work as time wasted, as it better informs my sense of setting, which helps me picture new sequences in my mind before I start putting pen to paper for the final art. In fact, I do this quite a lot, and often use buildings I’ve been in or pass by regularly as a source of inspiration for these locales. In this storyline alone, I’ve used a flea market I frequented when I lived in Wichita as a kid, my local senior services building, a stately house I pass by on my way to work, and a downtown shoe store (mixed with elements of an antique mall in downtown Topeka).

My original mixed media (watercolor, color pencil, laser print) drawing of “Archibald’s Antiques” was displayed in last fall’s Drawing Frenzy exhibit in KC, but for those of you who missed it, here it is once again: