Another year, another “Watusi in Oz”-themed holiday piece! As many of you know, 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 my websites, FB, Twitter, & Instagram) 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!
This year’s piece gives a peek at some of the adventure that occurred in my Watusi comic in 2019. My Baum-length epic is entering its final phase, so check it out while you can (new episodes every Wednesday); I’d love to hear what you think about it, especially if you’re a fan of the original Oz books!
Besides that comic’s weekly presence in my schedule, I published seven other issues (including a collaboration with my friend Tom Cherry), helped kick off the Mid-South Cartoonist Association’s new ongoing comic series, made a dozen new prints, seven new paintings, and shared a gallery show with my friend Julie Nouwen. All in all, it was my most successful year as an artist yet!
Best wishes for a happy 2020!
It’s been a number of years since I last made a new comic for Free Comic Book Day, the annual day when participating comic book shops across North America give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who visits their stores. This year, I’m happy to say, changes that!
Watusi #39 is a special webcomic primer issue; after ten years and a dozen different storylines, a lot of content has accumulated on www.watusithetalkingdog.com, home of my talking dog’s weekly online adventure strip. I figured providing a little guide to all that content would be helpful to acclimate new readers (as well as being a good refresher for long-time readers who only visit the strip from time to time (versus living in it like I do!)) … and this project is what FCBD is all about– sharing good comics with new readers! It’s a 16-page black & white digest w/full-color wraparound cover.
I’ll be distributing copies at Memphis’ own 901 Comics (2162 Young Ave, Memphis, TN 38104) on Saturday, May 4th, FCBD! Can’t make it there? Then it’s still your lucky weekend, because on May 4-5, 2019 you can score a FREE .pdf version of this issue from my online store!
[May 2022 UPDATE: even though FCBD is over, the .pdf version of this issue is still available from my Gumroad store for $2.00; the print edition is available from my Square store (or old school mail order; direct order info on my Contact page) for just $3.00 postpaid in the US.]
Any day is a great day to read comics, but Free Comic Book Day is an especially good one; thanks for making my site one of your stops!
I’ve been busy finishing up my latest print projects (a new Watusi issue that will serve as a primer to the webcomic, and the self-contained print edition of Sultana), both of which happened to have a pair of crowd-filled scenes for their covers. That’s not really my strong suit (or maybe I just don’t have the patience it requires), but I was happy with how they turned out. Especially the Watusi cover which, I realized as I was cleaning up from these projects, still had all of its steps of production documented in some way. So I’ll share them with you in case you want to see some of my working process…
First, I draw up an initial idea in my sketchbook, fairly small. I did try a couple of different variations for this one (which I don’t always do), but landed on the idea of characters gathered in a library:
I worked that up to actual size with a more detailed drawing. To this, I added clippings from past strips & a logo so that I could share it with local cartoonists for feedback (on the whole issue, not just this cover):
I developed that drawing into more detailed pencil art. I wanted to give Emmett Elder something different to do and have Watusi leap more actively from the screen…
I then inked the artwork with my trusty fountain pen. This image is of the raw inks that I scanned in, which shows some rough areas & notes for myself …
… that I clean up in production to get this final line art:
I color that using PhotoShop, which took me a lot longer than I thought it should, partly because I had a hard time coming up with the right background color scheme. The Sultana cover went quicker, so maybe I learned a trick or two from this one! I added the logo (in this case for the Free Comic Book Day variant cover), and it’s ready to send off to the printer!
Keep an eye out for this issue when it’s released in early May!
[January 2023 UPDATE: this post originally appeared on my now-closed Patreon page.]
… if you already read my Watusi the Talking Dog comic online– or maybe especially if you DON’T– what kind of information did/would you like to know before you dive/d into a new body of work? After nearly 10 years and more than that many different storylines, I feel the need to provide an easy introduction for new readers … so I’m assembling a webcomic primer issue of Watusi to serve that function. While I try to make work that is accessible to new readers, I’m often too involved in the process to see things from the reader’s POV. I would love to quench your thirst for understanding (& give you a better reading experience)!
Chime in below & feel free to share …
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!
Of course, the irony is not lost on me that I had to leave Kansas behind before I got around to writing my “Watusi in Oz” story. But that’s what it took, I guess. And even if I wasn’t able to incorporate as many collage elements as I’d planned, I’ve been happy with how the story has developed, and think it pays proper homage to the work of Baum & Denslow. There’s lots still to go on the story, so check it out— I’d love to hear what you think about it, especially if you’re a fan of the original books!
2017 also saw my first dip into crowdfunding via Patreon (look for a special patron-only webcomic coming there next year) and stepping away from comic work to do more “fine” art– including paintings, prints, and even a 3D piece for an exhibit as part of Memphis’ Crosstown Concourse grand opening.
Best wishes for a happy 2018!
As I’ve been planning and working on Watusi’s adventure in Oz, I wanted to not only include some of Baum’s characters, but have my original characters look like they belong in that world, too. Fortunately, original Oz illustrator W.W. Denslow had a lovely cartooniness to his illustrations that are easy for me to translate into my style. John R. Neill‘s designs from later books are a little more more lavish, but I can still simplify those characters to fit the needs of cartoon storytelling (versus storybook illustrations).
I plan for the Tin Woodman & Scarecrow to look pretty much like they originally appeared, but I think I’ll play with Jack a little more: not only will his intelligence be determined by the particular pumpkin atop his shoulders, but his personality, too. The head in this sketch is a hipster head, but he may have another one if the story dictates it by the time he appears…
I also wanted to update the look of the Munchkins, Hammerheads, and Winkies for a story set 100 years after Baum (although a more traditional Munchkin garb will appear, too). The bottom row are my main original characters for this story; not sure about the title for the “Governor” yet or the rhyming name of Itsch’s brother (Kitsch or Etsch). Any thoughts on which is the most appealing?
Look for the first of these characters in today’s Watusi the Talking Dog episode!
[January 2023 UPDATE: this post originally appeared on my now-closed Patreon page.]
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:
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 “Asking the people what they want” →
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! )
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):
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your summer!
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: Continue reading ““InkTober” 2015: my month of model sheets” →