Quick explanation: so, I am an Apple user, and I upgraded the iMac that I use to composite and letter this strip to Mavericks.
This completely rendered my scanner temporarily inert. Thus..no strip Monday. Today’s strip was supposed to be for Wednesday, but..well…egh.
Anyway, here it is.
Lots of cool stuff coming. Prints, commissions..etc. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!
I’ve talked about this on twitter and Facebook a bit but haven’t had a chance to properly address it here. Last week, Friday’s strip marked my return to brush and ink. REAL brush and ink, as in a Windsor Newton Series 7 # 2 and Windsor Newton India Ink. For you completists, I’m working on Canson 2 ply bristol, vellum surface (the ONLY surface for brush work in my experience). I made the switch after reading a chilling article about an animation colleague named Sharon Forward and her harrowing experience undergoing emergency surgery to repair a damaged retina. Sharon goes on in her account to postulate, and reasonably so, that the cause may have been all those hours she spends with her eyes inches away from a Cintiq, the now required tool for her job as a story artist in animation. I immediately mentally gave my own work habits the once over. I don’t think I spend as much time at the Cintiq at work as Sharon does, but if you add in the time I spend drawing Chippy and Loopus in Manga Studio? Well then, we are there and then some. I sat here at my desk staring at the Cintiq 21UX I’ve owned since January of 2006 and contemplated my options. I turned my head about 45 degrees to the right and stared at the large Mayline table I purchased in 1999. It was covered in bills, scraps of paper and other detritus. My tool drawer was still brimming with pencils, pens, nibs, and most importantly, brushes and inks. The choice was clear: I’d go back to doing the strip Old School.
I’m not going to lie, it was intimidating, staring at that blank strip of bristol. I wound up missing Wednesday’s update due to this brief bout with performance anxiety. How did I do this again? I just kind of blocked in the characters, right? Yeah..but what If I get the sizes wrong? Well then grab that eraser, scrub down the board and try again. Finally, I began.
Holy crap, you guys. It was like…hearing Van Halen’s first album in vinyl again. I pencilled the strip, and after shooting a quick photo to record my progress, I dove into inking. I was rusty, at first, tenative with the brush. I gripped it too hard. Then, it all came back…and I started having fun again. I realized that while I inking with a brush on actual bristol forces me to pay attention to the drawing, to really feel it out. I read somewhere that Bill Watterson does VERY loose pencils and prefers to find the drawing in the inking stage, something that I found impossible when inking digitally. Not so with a real brush. I felt like I could improvise a bit with a brush, really improve the drawing as I inked. As I inked my way through the strip, I cursed myself for not pencilling a few more so that I could just keep inking. Then it struck me: this was why I always wanted to be a cartoonist. This was the real joy of cartooning. An ink-loaded brush on bristol. Finding those thicks and thins.
Why is it that I don’t find that joy in digital inking? I have a theory: you are disconnected from the drawing by at least one factor, possibly two. You are using a stylus, which is a reasonably balanced tool on a slick, glass surface. There is a proxy inking your drawing for you, a program helping force the pixels to behave in a way that simulates how you might ink this on real paper. But it ain’t real. It ain’t live, it’s Memorex, or worse. It’s all just 1′s and zeros.
I still use the Cintiq for compositing and fixes, I still use the font instead of hand lettering, I use the Manga Studio tones rather than cut out zipatone.
But inking, man….I don’t think I can go back. Maybe if I’m REALLY behind I’ll bust out my Surface Pro and jam on a strip, or if I’m traveling.
However, now that I’ve rediscovered the real joy in Cartooning, it will be very hard to do this any other way.
Thanks for listening.
This week, with the introduction of this new character, I intend to remedy something that has been wrong with the strip for since it’s creation: a dearth of female characters that are anything but either ball busting, castrating bitches or eye-candy.
Yes, I always go out of my way to portray the strippers against type. I ensure that they are keepers of arcane and useful knowledge, however, this is always part of the joke, (ha ha! hot girls are smart! isn’t that funny?). Truly, the strippers are there because A) they are fun to draw and B) my male readers like to look at them. Am I wrong fellas?
It’s odd that I do this, because my favorite movies have “strong female characters”. My proudest professional achievement is that I was part of the story crew that worked on Disney’s “Mulan”, truly a groundbreaking Disney heroine, a girl that kicked ass both literally and figuratively BEFORE “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” made it cool and fashionable.
The strip needs a good, three dimensional, nuanced, quirky female character. It will make the strip stronger, and I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror.
THIS particular girl took some work. She’s based on at least 3 women I have known personally, and one I’ve only seen on the Tee Vee. The biggest is my wife, Sara. Thanks again for the inspiration, Sara!
Oh, and yes, she DOES have a name. Tune in on Monday. You’ll see.
Have a nice weekend!
I have a large format printer here in my studio. I do! It’s a nice one too. I just need to go to Fry’s to grab a bunch of Photo-Cyan cartridges (why do THOSE always run out first?) and it is ready to go again.
I mention this because I want to start selling high-quality prints to people, if they are interested.
I’m also going to start posting drawings and paintings I do here on the side in the hopes that maybe one of you might like a commission. We’ll talk about prices later. Right now, I’m just trying to see if anyone is interested.
How about it? How would you like a print of say, TODAY’S strip hanging in your office or cubicle at work?
As Loopus says “You can enjoy the hilarity all day long!”
In other news, I binge-watched “Orange is the New Black”. Great show! Expect a comic about this soon!
Have a nice Rest-of-the-week!
Like Chippy, whenever I see the Back to School stuff in Target, or Ralph’s, I get this horrible feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. The stuff seemed to show up early this year. It showed up in mid-July this year. That doesn’t seem fair. Can you imagine, being a kid, and walking through Target with your Mom and suddenly you see four aisles packed with school supplies, banners triumphantly trumpeting BACK TO SCHOOL!
It seems like summer is over early, even though school doesn’t start until September, the second the idea of school enters their heads, summer is effectively over.
Actually, other than the school induced PTSD, I really dig fall. Fall is beautiful for all the reasons Loopus is talking about.
Well, I also dated my wife in fall. I met her mid-summer, but dated her, really courted her in fall.
Summer is great…but I’ll always love Fall.
Have a Week!