January 25, 2017
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:
read more »
December 25, 2016
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! )
July 20, 2016
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!
November 4, 2015
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:
read more »
October 7, 2015
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.
read more »
September 29, 2015
Today I’m publishing the final episode of my long (longer than I thought it would be) Watusi storyline, “The Case of the Purloined Pocketwatch”, and I wanted to give interested readers a little behind-the-scenes peek at my working method on this story. [WARNING: STORY SPOILERS ABOUND IN THIS POST. FYI.] Unlike most of my previous storylines, this one hadn’t kicked around my sketchbook much before I dived in. In fact, it first appeared less than six months before the first strips were published, with this notation:
Story idea– following ‘Sourpuss’? Done as an actual mystery (robbery, not murder) story, using clues, red herrings, suspects, etc. … if not too hard to write for that genre. May need some research into how to write for it; will probably need more planning than the seat-of-your-pants style that worked so well in ‘Isla Esmerelda’…
And of course, I did need to do research into how to write a mystery. While I’ve read a fair share of them, I’d never thought about how to construct one! By far the biggest help as I delved into this genre was Gillian Roberts’ book You Can Write a Mystery (Writer’s Digest Books, ©1999). This book was especially helpful in clarifying my thinking about red herrings (they are misdirection, not false clues), how many suspects to use, and how to play fair with the reader: present all the clues to the reader that Watusi has, but downplay them in such a way that their significance is not noticed at the time. She also had great tips that had me start the story with all the suspects in the room when Watusi first brought in the watch, and keep my dénouement as short as possible (Roberts quoted the King of Hearts advice to Alice on telling stories: “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.”)
read more »
December 25, 2014
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 (although it’s usually at the start of the new year by the time I complete them). This year I made just a plain ol’ greeting card, and thought I’d share it with my virtual audience, too. Thanks for taking the time to visit this blog or follow my weekly Watusi webcomic. It’s much appreciated!
July 16, 2014
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”:
I 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:
June 30, 2012
Back in the halcyon days of yore I used to “interact” with my characters a lot more than I do these day. While I really enjoy writing about characters other than myself, my recent sidebar feature in Lawrence Magazine gave me the perfect chance to do that once more. Even though it took me a lot longer to finish my self-portrait than it did for Jason Dailey to work his photographic magic for that issue, it was still good inking practice for me, since I use a brush so seldom these days…
Honestly, I actually like the photo a lot better; it has a nice Out of the Inkwell vibe going on…
The article’s author, Julie Tollefson, asked a nice batch of questions, and I thought it’d be fun to share the full interview here, too:
read more »
June 22, 2011
Yes, I’m going to start making better use of my urls, so the Watusi strip is moving to www.watusithetalkingdog.com.
What does that mean for http://www.smearysoapboxpress.com? Nothing for the time being, as I’m leaving the Isla Esmerelda storyline here for a while to catch latecomers. After that? Well, I’ve got a thing or two in mind…