Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Saga Continues...

Fall is here, but it's still summer in Three Craters Lake, and The Inquiring Minds Big Summer Adventure is in full swing with big changes and big events happening right now!

After all these years, will Iris finally become a full fledged member of The Inquiring Minds, changing the balance of power forever? Will Bobby and Albert ever get this theme park finished and running, especially now that a looming deadline has been imposed?

Don't know what I'm talking about? Read the strips below, and some of your questions will be answered. :0) And if you have no clue whatsoever, then please visit the official home page for The Inquiring Minds Big Summer Adventure for the whole story. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Learning Curve

It's my busiest time of year, and there are dozens of projects on the board. However, Fall has always been a good time to reflect, reinvent, and start something new. In that light, I've finally begun my new comic strip.

I know, I'm also in the middle of The Inquiring Minds Big Summer adventure, which has a long ways to go yet (although summer's almost over!). However, as much as I love this storyline, the audience hasn't been growing fast enough. I know, school has started, and everyone is busy, but a strip needs an audience, and I need feedback. Also, I'm so confident in this new strip that I need to get it started.

Twice now I've come close to syndication. With this new strip, I am 99.9% sure of it's syndicatibility. I would say 100%, but there's no such thing. Knight and Day might have been syndicated if not for a rival Syndicate offering a strip about newlyweds, and beating us to the punch by a few months. That strip is long gone, while I am sure Knight and Day would have thrived, but it wasn't my decision. The Syndicate made a judgement call, and my life changed... or didn't change.... depending on how you look at it.

Years later, I know what I need to do. I need to write and draw and develop every day until I have an irresistable package to present. I will continue to work on The Inquiring Minds, but at a slower pace. I also have a bunch of Freelance work to do, so I will have to budget my time accordingly. The problem with the new strip, though, is that I am starting from scratch.

Starting a new comic strip is exciting with potential, and frustrating with execution. I've got 2 notebooks full of notes on the new strip, but now that I have started drawing, it all takes on a sense of permanance. Once the characters are in ink, it will take a lot of work to change their look. Every word I put down becomes a part of the story, and the continuity. Exciting, yes, but one must learn not to sweat it. I'm not in the newspapers yet, so if I make a mistake now, I can always go back and rewrite, and redraw. Sure, this is frustrating when you look at the clock and see how much time is wasted. However, a Cartoonist has to look at the Learning Curve. Whether a beginner or a pro, you must see mistakes as the learning experience that they are. Make sure that you learn from them, or they will be a waste of time!

I began this new strip with a Sunday strip. I know... that sounds crazy, and a lot of work, but I wanted to start this right. I wanted this new beginning to be monumental! So of course I am already needing to redraw the whole darn thing, and not because of the characters, or the words, but because this is something new, and I'm learning what size to draw, what size text works best, etc.

I've drawn close to 500 comic strips in the last few years, and yet this is something new. New characters, new situations, and for the first time in years I am drawing with Syndication as the only goal. I need to follow newspaper formats, and it is hard to do, especially with the Sunday strips. Believe it or not, but I think I only drew 2 or 3 Sunday strips for Knight and Day. Back then I had problems, and I guess I avoided those issues at the time, so have to face them now. The Inquiring Minds have a different format, and I'm used to drawing them larger Suddenly, the new Sunday format doesn't seem to fit my paper! I have to draw smaller, and it is not working... yet.

Details. I've mentioned before that creating a comic strip right is not as easy as it seems. And if you want to go somewhere with it, you have to do it right.

I've got to get back to work, so please wish me luck. :0)

See you in the Funny Papers! JOHN :0)

PS Since I like to add art to these posts, I'll share with you the above. I love restaurants that give you crayons and paper tablecloths to draw on (you know, the really classy places). Depending on how slow the service is, you can get a lot of drawing practice in, and lately I've done some work that I'm quite happy with. Unfortunately, I don't always have a camera with me, but I finally got smart and just ripped this on off the table before leaving. Working in crayon is not easy, but I love monochromal sketches like these. Using more than one color just doesn't work for me for some reason, but I like stuff like this. That's Bobby and Albert, by the way, camping.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

Two morning's ago, I awoke, rather suddenly, to an explosion. There was a loud noise, followed by a whoosh, a thump, and lots of glass shattering. The sound came from the bathroom, and for a second there I assumed a shelf must have fallen. Why would a shelf fall suddenly? No reason, but that made a lot more sense than my shower door exploding spontaneously!

Or did it?

Research on the web quickly showed that shower doors are made of tempered glass... safety glass to you and me, and the proccess that creates tempered glass can occasionally create flaws that lead your shower door, or the door on your entertainment center, or your living room table, patio table... you name it, to explode. No kidding.

Thankfully noone was hurt, but the internet is full of stories of lacerations and stitches and companies saying "its not our fault... stuff happens".

Now, I don't want to attack anybody, but here's a thought. Car windshields apparently are tempered glass, but have a safety film applied so that the millions of tiny shards of glass do not coat your body in case of a problem.

My shower? Millions of tiny cubes of sharp shards all over the place, which continued to pop into smaller pieces, like popcorn in reverse, for hours.

The question? Why does a shower door not have a safety film? If someone was in there when this happened, there would gave definitely been injuries.

Perhaps safer doors aren't as pretty? Still, where is the responsibility? I'm sure each company has a little sign somewhere on the box that the contractor threw away that says "we are not responsible", which helps them avoid lawsuits, but how about their responsibility to the consumer? Each time a child is injured by an exploding shower door, does anyone wonder how this could be prevented? A car windshield doesn't do this, so why a shower door? Where are the lawmakers?

Who protects us, and where were they when my shower door was shipped to Home Depot?

Ain't life grand? JOHN :0/