Friday, October 24, 2008

Six Pack - "Hypercolor" - Page 1

Page 1 of the first tentatively titled "Big Kids" story (other suggestions welcome - I'm not totally sold on the title.) Basically, the first of a couple of mini-stories, where I tell some infamous stories from my family history, and from growing up with my five siblings.

Trying to let go of control here. So no rulers, even though it was assaulting my perfectionism that the lines got wavy in places. And just trying to use the brush and ink and go slow, and trust that I know my anatomy. And have a little fun with it.

Next page will be finished over the weekend - I try to work at least one hour a day, so it takes a while. I think just keeping at it is a good start, though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

SPX and Big Kids

It's been a few weeks now since SPX, and I didn't write about it like I said I would, so I'm doing that now whilst I'm sleepy and alone in my coffin-office.

I don't know if I can emphasize enough how much that convention changed my opinions, inspired me, and really made me feel like I found a community I fit into. Artistic, slightly-to-full nerdy, some shy, some friendly, most with a weird sense of humor, just trying to get their stuff out and make some contacts - how is that not me? I wish I could hang out with those people all the time.
Those conversations I had with certain artists (as listed in a below blog entry) really made me come out of my shell and try and present myself and my stuff with a bit more confidence. It was rad.

I'd never actually been to a comic convention before, so to have two full days of slowly persuing the tables, the artwork, and going to panels that focused specifically on art and the independant comic scene was awesome. I have to say that the panels weren't as good as I was hoping - the topics were kick-ass, like a panel on Small Press Publishing, a Center for Cartoon Studies workshop, and Q&As with people like Bryan Lee O'Malley of Scott Pilgrim. But I found that despite the topics, most of the people on the panel, regardless of their great qualifications to be on said panel, really had trouble speaking. That is, they were quiet, vague, didn't really answer the questions all the time, and generally gave off the impression that they'd rather be somewhere else. Which was disappointing, for the most part - I was hungry for information and it came in small moments. Though I did get some good advice here and there.

Like on the Small Press panel: if I'm going to do this, I have to get more web-savvy. Put up sample pages and free previews. Cross-promote on other sites. Maintain the blog and have the ability for people to order things online. And promote the shit out of my stuff. I need more output, so I have a variety of things to show people (and publishers) rather than just one dinky book. There was some talk on how to sell on Amazon, how much ISBN numbers were, and how getting reviews from people in the community for back-cover quotes are key (must look into that). Going to lots of shows, trying to sell in lots of shops, just getting it out there is key. One guy said it took five years for his small press to accumulate enough of a backlist to really make a profit in selling.

I learned a lot from just going around the tables too. Everyone, it seemed, in addition to their books, had some kind of other promotional material that was really cheap. Buttons, stickers, T-shirts, original art. One girl had scones for sale with her books. There was one guy selling teeny comics for a penny (and they were actually some of the best comics I'd read!).

And probably the comic guy who had the most influence on my attitude was James Kochalka of American Elf ( Now James is a guy who M and I have been reading online for years and years, and so we were a little star-struck when we first went into the convention, and there in a hot pink T-shirt is James to the right. I was still wicked shy, so I didn't say anything when we both the newest book from him. But I went back later and looked at his mini-art, and had a bit of a conversation (slightly surreal to talk to someone that you feel like you know, but clearly you don't). He was very nice, if a little shy seeming (like me, I guess).

In his Q&A panel, James said something that made everyone around, both Pas and Bean, give me elbows in the side. He said: "The best thing is to not care if your art is good or bad. You have to get to the level of confidence where it doesn't matter to you, you're just doing it." He also said "People come up and give me their mini-comics all shy and saying it sucks - but if you don't think that you're awesome, who will?"

Point taken, James.

So while working out American, Eh? #2 in my head, I've taken on another little project.

I thought, for a change, it'd be cool to do some really mini comics - 4 pages or so. As you can tell, I was really inspired by SPX, and got all these ideas of mini-comics I could do, and to do some really small stories while I'm plotting out and drawing AE #2 would be fun.

So I've sketched out a four page comic, and it might be the first of several stories about growing up with my brothers and sister (6 of us in total); I'm tentatively calling it "Big Kids."

More cartoony, less detail than AE, and hopefully funny. This first one is about an infamously gross event between my brother Jon and I. I will post it when it's done.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Between Projects

I haven't done much of anything in about a week and a half, between this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and my family swooping in to stay at my little house, and preparing and attending SPX (which, now that the family is gone, I'll actually write about in more detail this week).

I got good responses on American, Eh? #1 at the SPX, as well as from family and friends, which is cool. Seems that most people want to know what happens next. So I guess I'd better figure out #2. I'll also be putting up scans of the first few pages of #1, I think, for people who are curious as to what the hell I'm talking about.

In the meantime, a bit of art. This was for my mum and her belated birthday - we went to Japan about four years ago together. In preparing this, I had a thought for AE #2 and keeping it affordable.

I went to Kinkos with the original art for the picture above - sized 11 x 14. I had the girl at Kinkos do two copies for me and reduce the image to 8 x 11- one on regular laser printer paper, and one on color cover copy paper (thicker and sturdier). On the second, I had her darken the copy, which ended up looking really good (and was the one I gave my mum). Cost of both: $2.

It gave me an idea. To scan the 14 pages of part for AE#1, it cost $45, and that was with a discount - should have been $60 or so. And that's without the cost of printing. The next AE will probably be longer, and therefore more expensive.

What if I took the AE art (also 11X14) and instead of scanning it, had the Kinkos people merely make sturdy color cover copies, the images reduced to 8 x 11. Then, I scan the reduced images myself on my little scanner at home, to create the JPGs needed to lay out the comic for printing? That would cost me maybe $20, and as long as I could scan them at a high enough resolution..... Hmm.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Thought Boys Didn't Like To Talk on the Phone

Just got off the phone with my little brother Jon, who turns 19 today. I'm quite proud of him. He's the fifth of the six kids, has been living on his own for a while with his girlfriend, and is doing really well. Sounding very rational and grown up lately - was excited that he got a new toaster for his birthday!

Anyways, I just got his new number from my mum, and don't you know he just yapped my ear off for 40 minutes. Told me all about work, his apartment, his girlfriend, some family drama, and how he was planning to surprise me for Thanksgiving this weekend, but probably can't do to work (what a sweetie - I would die if he showed up). I didn't say much - I just listened and let him go. Then he asks for my number and says he's going to start calling me every week.

Is this normal for a 19-year-old guy, to want to talk to his 29-year-old sister like this??

Funny stuff. I don't necessarily believe he'll actually call weekly, but just the fact that he said that made me a little mushy.
Actually, makes me think about doing a mini-comic with stories about my brothers and sister. I have a good one about Jon as a baby throwing up on me.....

So there's Jon. Last time I talked to my youngest brother Tom (17) he kept me on the phone for a good hour, same dynamic - he did most of the talking, I listened. Then a few weeks ago, I talk to my oldest brother Mac (32) and *he* gushes forth for a good hour about his upcoming wedding and job!

It's only something I've noticed recently, but what's with the boys lately? Everyone wants to spill their guts, it seems.
(All okay by me though. My brothers are cute.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SPX - Just a Taste

Some pictures to come when I get them from Pas, but in the meantime:

Weekend was so good. Very educational too. And the best people I met:

Ben Towle (Midnight Sun - - so nice! And spoke to me for a good ten minutes about art, was very patient when I asked him questions about his tools and scanners.

Mike Dawson (Freddie and Me - - This was early on Saturday, and I was still stiff with fear at handing out my comic. He was really encouraging and told me to get it out there, and not worry about it.

Alex Robinson (Tricked, Box Office Poison, Too Cool to Be Forgotten, etc. - Talk about being intimidated! I'm a huge fan - M and I have every one of his books, and he's one of the big guys exhibiting at the SPX. But the nicest guy! Really friendly and unassuming, chatted to M and I as he signed our book. We forgot to ask him what he was working on next.

All in all, I handed out about 40 of my comics to various people. And I got really good feedback overall! They seemed psyched to get it, which was cool.

It's a good start, and now I know I have to keep at this shit, and get American, Eh? No.2 figured out. Have ideas for other mini comics as well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

SPX This Weekend!

Not only am I going to my first real comic convention...

Not only is it specifically geared towards independant and small press comics, which is unspeakably awesome....

Not only do I actually have a mini comic of my own to bring....

But it's a road trip with the husband I love, friend that makes me laugh, and best friend from Canada, to a place I've never been before, through states I haven't driven through before.

What's better than that??