Friday, March 31, 2006

Timing is Everything?

April seems to be my busiest month of the year, and most American citizens can guess why; no, I'm not talking about Easter, or my Mother's birthday. It's tax time.

Each year at this time, when I suddenly seem to have more work and less time than ever, I sit down and spend a ridiculous amount of time doing my own taxes, and then checking each figure, crossing every t, etc. etc.

Sure, you're asking yourself, "Hey, why does Mr. Bigshot Cartoonist do his own taxes?". Well, Smartypants, I'll tell you. Doing my own taxes keeps me on top of my business, and frankly helps me to run that business more successfuly. This year alone, I've learned a lot of ways to run my business better, and I have been forced to look at how I have been running it, and what I could be doing better.

"We want examples!", you say. Well, for one, the very definition of Small Business is vital, and very important. Small Businesses get decent tax deductions, while hobbies do not. To be taken seriously as a Small Business, you have to prove that you're doing what you do for profit, not just for the fun of it. So... even though I absolutely love my job, I do my best to profit from it. Heck, I can't afford to do my job if I'm not bringing in money to pay the bills.

One way the IRS determines Small Biz vs Hobby is this; advertising expenses. See? Advertising expenses are deductible, and by doing my own taxes, I can see what I am missing by not advertising. Also, by paying for advertising, you are demonstrating a desire to reach a bigger audience, and therefore increase profits. Now, let's be honest. When YOU are your business, it's nice to put the money you make into your pocket. It's NOT nice to see how much it actually costs to advertise, and so you may put it off, but let's face it; the greatest book, or cartoon, or whatever is only going to collect dust unless people actually know it exists, so a business really cannot thrive unless the miracle of word-of-mouth advertising is enough to get the word out there. And even that takes advertising.

So there... that's just one example of how a biz owner can benefit by doing his own taxes, and learning how to run that biz better.

However, the title of today's blog is "Timing is Everything?", so why am I blabbing about taxes and advertising? Well, for one, my new book 3 Knights in India is now available for sale! But how many of my readers are aware of that fact? I need to get a Press Release put together (which is the best form of advertising) and I need to get books printed, and sent to reviewers, and find ways to advertise and get the word out. Oh yeah, I should also be doing some Cartooning, too, huh?

Timing, though. I gotta get those taxes done! I happen to excel in multitasking, so I am actually writing the Press Release as we speak I write this. However, I'm going to be out of the office quite a bit in the next month, so sending out Press Releases and stuff really isn't a good idea, if I'm not going to be available for comment!

So what's a boy to do? I always seem to be in this position each April.

And what's worse?

It's still only March!

Ay yay yay.... JOHN :0)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Some most excellent news from the HappyGlyphs Studios today!

First off, I received the final proofs for the 3 Knights in India Graphic Novel, and they're fantastic! I say final proofs, because when I received the first proof, I liked it so much that I went back and added a few extras to the book (as well as making about 2 dozen corrections! Proofread, then proofread again!)

So today's announcement? 3 Knights in India will be brought to you by the very fine folks at I shopped around, and believe me, I feel this is the best company for self-publishers. The quality of the books is very nice, and the price is very reasonable... I'm honestly at least 99% happy with everything so far.

My storefront address is The storefront is important because of my next bit of news; I am rereleasing my first book, "Take Me Away From All This!!", available soon from

"Take Me Away From All This!!" is the first Knight and Day Comic Strip Collection, and deals with the ups and downs of newlywedded life. There's a lot of great slice of life moments, and includes my first travel comics, as Steve and Amy go to England and France, and Oz the Ice Cream Man goes to Thailand. The events of this book take place eight years before 3 Knights in India, and you will be able to find more about this at as soon as I get the proofs back and approve the book for sale.

I will say this, though; I hate to do this to you guys who have been around a while, and purchased the first Edition of "Take Me Away From All This!!", but the new book will be a SECOND EDITION. First of all, the book has been digitally remastered because I really wasn't happy with the first book's production value, since the art was printed greyscale, and was slightly pixalated in places. I anticipate great quality in the new version. Also, this is a Second Edition because I couldn't help myself, and I went and added about 14 new comic strips that are not in the first edition. These comics appeared at the website sometime before I began 3 Knights in India, and make a nice addition to an already great book.

Both books will not be available at until late April, for those of you who wish to get autographed books, or pick up the new Inquiring Minds comic at the same time. There are lots of reasons for this, so I won't go into that right now.

All you need to know is that HappyGlyphs Comics will soon have all of our books available again, and that 3 Knights in India is on sale now at

Thank you for your support, JOHN :0)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Top 1000 books

I just came across this very interesting list of the top 1000 books held by libraries { that are members of the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center).} One thousand books seemed like a mighty big number until I scrolled through the list and realized just how many of these books I have actually read in my lifetime. I have definitely read most of the top 130 or so, and hold many in our own home library. Honestly, any educated person should have read at least 100 of these books, and your average voracious reader has probably polished off at least half.

Since this is a comic strip blog, let me then say how surprised I was by how many of these books are children's books and comic strip collections. (I was truly shocked to see that Garfield was one of the highest ranked books, but that's another column. And no, I won't be bashing Garfield... I actually think the first book is very funny. I'm just surprised that it ranked higher than Calvin & Hobbes and Peanuts.) Anyway, the point was children's books and comic strips.

One can joke about the decline of Literacy in America, but those would be fighting words :0) The truth is, comic strips are the natural child of the illustrated novel, and in particular illustrated children's books. And let's be honest... using the words "Children's books" is a rough categorization. Alice in Wonderland has great appeal to children because of the silliness of the situations and language, but truly there is a lot here going on on the adult level. Aesops Fables as well still has a lot to teach us grown-ups, but- hey, why am I defending the art form I truly love? Comics and children's literature need no defense, and besides, who says a great book has to educate us, or make us think?

As long as we enjoy a book on some level, then the author has accomplished something magical, especially if that book can reach so many people that nearly every library has a copy of it. It seems obvious, then, that most of these books must have something going for them, so I for one am going to scroll the list for one I haven't read yet, and check it out.

And although this isn't National Library day, or National Cartoonist's day, or anything like it, I will leave you with this; Why don't you check out the list as well, and find something good to read?

And if you want something really different, check out my personal favorite books. Oh, the list isn't complete, but this is a good list of books that have influenced me, or that I found exceptional.

Let me know if you find anything good to read, huh?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Monday, March 20, 2006

3 Knights in India: The End

Well... it's pretty much official now. I just sent out the last 3 Knights in India to the India Post, and before that I sent the final corrections to the printer for the Graphic Novel. Did I mention here yet that I received the proof, and that it looks great?

Paper, print quality, covers... everything looks fantastic. Once I saw the book, I added a few extras just because I was so happy with the way it came out. Because of that, I have to now wait for a second proof, so we have another week or so before I can start talking about where you can buy the book.

Trust me, it's great, and well worth the 3 years that I put into it.

And for those keeping track of these things, I did add an extra chapter. Like the prequel, it's only a few pages (8), but by separating the last bits from the rest of the book, it really gives it a strong sense of finality... a good ending to the book.

And for those of you who have had trouble responding to blogs here, may I strongly recommend that you write responses in Notepad, or something, and paste it into the blog? That way, if your response is lost at all, you don't have to type all that stuff in again, or worse, walk away and I don't hear from you!

More soon, my friends :0)

Friday, March 17, 2006

What's in a name?


Maybe you've seen the latest 3 Knights in India at the homepage, or are looking forward to seeing it in next week's India Post, but I just had to pull it aside for discussion.

You see, I love moments like this. They shine in a Creator's career, mostly becuase of their unexpectedness. Reading the strip, it appears obvious where the name 3 Knights in India comes from, and I actually did consider calling it 3 days and 3 knights in Bangalore. The point is, I didn't plan this particular strip. I knew the story was ending, and I knew I was going to give each subset of characters their final moments, but this particular idea popped out of thin air just when I needed it, and I had no idea that it was coming. It's perfect, of course, in so many ways, and a fitting ending for the strip, and so obvious to me the subconscious mind at work.

I remember reading that Bill Watterson enjoyed creating Calvin & Hobbes storylines, because he would set the characters loose, and often be delightfully surprised by where they went. Perhaps we creative types have a certain schizophrenia, but it's true that a point comes where your characters have a life of their own. They conduct dialogs in your head, and you find yourself just listening in, and waiting for the good stuff that you can mine for the comic strip.

No, I don't think we're crazy... it's just the creative process at work. The subconscious mind working hard on all the stuff that the conscious mind feeds it. It is wonderful though, when we can surprise ourselves; the artistic equivalent to the "runner's high".

And by the way, the guy in the top panel to the left is indeed the "everyman"or "Common Man" character created by RK Laxman, India's premier Cartoonist. No cartoon book about India would be complete without him :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Day in the Life...

Actually 2 days: That's how long it took to review and edit my graphic novel, going over all 148 pages to check that everything falls within the margins, that there are no spelling errors, or any other dreadful mistakes. I actually went over the book 3 times, just to make sure, because the first turn through revealed about 20 horrible mistakes my former editing didn't find. Then I had to turn the main document and covers into pdf files, and get them to the printer.

Now I just have to wait for the proof to come in. If it looks good to me, then 3 Knights in India will finally be made available to the public, and I can see what everyone thinks of it.

Not that the work is over, of course. Still have to market and promote, but as I've mentioned, it's already strange not having this feeling that I need to draw or write all the time. Honestly, I've often worked around the clock on this, trying to keep the newspaper deadline, as well as self-imposed deadlines.

Wow... no more drawing 3 Knights in India... no more battles between text and images for precious page space, no more scambling for reference material through a table of photos and magazines, no more piles of sketches, or the scratching of the pencil on paper, or the smell of ink at 3 in the morning...

Fortunately, I have a dozen other projects on my list.

Back to the drawing board!

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Back Cover, Part II

A bittersweet moment is upon me! I'm drawing the final strips of 3 Knights in India right now, and finishing off the covers, and some extra interior illustrations. After nearly 3 years, it's hard to believe that I won't be working on this graphic novel anymore!

Oh, I'll be promoting it, of course, which is a full time job in itself, but it just won't be the same as writing and sketching on a daily basis for so long. Still, you have to let go of the apron strings eventually, so that each little book can go off on its own to make its mark on the world.

And I do have a list of other projects to work on, besides the Freelance gigs, so it will be exciting to start something new. More word on those as the time comes.

For now, I've got to finish this book quick; the story will complete itself in the newspapers in just a couple of weeks, and I want the book to be available soon after.

So here's the back cover, for those of you following its evolution here at the blog. I knew I needed a fancy border for the back cover, since nothing says 'India' like a fancy colorful border. I drew up a cool looking Ganesha, as well, but I won't post that here. I'm saving that for the t-shirts :0)

I added the new illustration to the back. Actually, this came from the back of the second comic book, so it's not exactly new, but I wasn't planning on adding it to the graphic novel, so I'm happy to find a place for it. I had something else in mind, but this illustration suits the back cover needs really well. First of all, it's small, so I still have room for a barcode, and second, it does show all 3 Knights again, this time in a more traditional setting than on the front cover. I like the modern India versus traditional India in the illustrations, plus the looks on Steve and Amy's faces goes very well with the starting text, "Ready or not, the Knight family is going to India".

All Most Comments welcome! Just click on the word comments at the end of any blog :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Censorship and Sensibilities

As if I don't have enough to do in getting my graphic novel completed on time, but of course, up crops an 'issue'. Okay, this issue had actually cropped up a long while back, but enough people have now brought it to my attention that it merits another look-see... especially since 3 Knights in India is going to print soon.

Okay, take a look at the comic ahead, and prepare to gasp in shock and horror!

All right, personally I don't see anything wrong with the image, but who am I to argue when my wife my audience demands asks that I perhaps change something in my work. Okay, personally I don't like being told what I can and cannot do within my own work, but on the other hand, I do ask for opinions, and appreciate them when I get them. So I listen, and weigh, and decide.

By the way, the point in discussion here is Rekha's t-shirt emblazoned with the words FCUK on it. All young upscale shoppers know that stands for French Connection U.K., and I've seen their ads in public places, and their stores in upscale malls. For me, I wanted my audience to look at Rekha and know that right away we're dealing with a firecracker here... someone looking for trouble.

So what to do? Do I stand by my guns, and risk offending, and even losing, members of my audience? Or do I see things from their point of view, and look for a compromise?

I could see Rekha wearing a shirt that says "All This and Brains as Well", but that's a little too long and distracting... and not nearly biting enough. And I suppose the words 'Bite Me' on the shirt doesn't really address the issue.

So again, what to do? I have a week or so to decide, so let me think about it. Meanwhile, your opinions are welcome, of course.

What will I end up doing? You'll just have to buy the book to find out :0)

Toodles, JOHN :0)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cover Story: Part III

So here it is, the cover to my forthcoming graphic novel 3 Knights in India. Compare this with the sketch in the last post, and the image for the back cover posted earlier. You can see that I stayed true to the rough sketch, but redrew the image to fit the book cover layout better. I made some small changes here and there, and changed some colors to create a more balanced and dynamic layout.

It's amazing to me that just a few days ago I had no idea where I was going to go with this cover, and now it's done and I can actually picture what the book will look like when finished. It's a great feeling when a book starts to fall into place.

And now that the cover is done, and the back cover in progress, I can begin creating ads and working on marketing. I already have an interview lined up, and will talk about that later when it happens.

Cheers, JOHN :0)