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.


Brian Hughes said...

Good luck with your latest venture.

"I love restaurants that give you crayons and paper tablecloths to draw on."

Over here we call them creches.

John said...

Cheers, Brian. The new strip is coming along swimmingly... I just wish I had more time to devote to it!

I'll keep you posted, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


John said...

Cheers, Brian!

Thanks for reminding me....

JOHN :0)