Friday, January 29, 2010

Cartooning 101: Props and Models

I remember as a kid getting a new plastic model kit like the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes or MPC Pirates of the Caribbean model kit with Snap Action! I'd tear open the box, twist pieces from the sprues, start gluing the pieces together, and then read the instructions that say "never twist pieces off the sprue" and "don't glue piece a to piece b or your model will not work" and "paint these pieces before gluing". Well, fortunately I sometimes find a bit more patience now than I had in those days. :0)

No matter what kind of Cartooning or Art that you do, chances are there will come a time when you'll need a model or prop to help you draw or paint something. In the old days we kept a photo morgue of all kinds of people and objects in various poses and situations, and now of course we have the internet where gazillions of photos can be brought up at the touch of a key. Still, photos don't always do it for me. Sometimes you just can't find a certain angle, or a high enough resolution to work out a detail. A solid understanding of how an object is made is usually necessary to draw that object correctly, or having that object readily available for study.
{Update: I've added the above cartoon which I did a long time ago, just to illustrate what happens when you can't find good reference! I had to keep the boat way up front to hide details off screen, and ended up using an unatractive aluminum skiff. The boys definitely deserve better. :0) ]

Well, with The Inquiring Minds especially, I find myself needing to draw boats, and boats are tricky! All those curves and such... and yes, there are plenty of photos of boats online, but I've never been satisfied with any of them. You can buy toys, of course, cheaply, but sometimes toys take shortcuts, are not realistic, or just don't have the details you're looking for. So... I found a wooden model kit...a Do-it-yourself from bottom up model of a skiff, which honestly left me feeling like a dinghy at times. :0)

Midwest Products Co, Inc has a line of beautiful looking boats of all sorts. Now I have a lot of projects going on, but I just couldn't resist "The Skiff" all wood display model, with a skill level of 1. HA! Okay, it wasn't that bad, but there were times I thought I was crazy for attempting this. The instructions are actually very detailed, and mostly straightforward. There are a few places I took notes where they needed to be clearer, but overall the boat came together with a lot of patience, a little cursing, and a lot of gluing my fingers together.

No, it wasn't easy, but it was rewarding. Even though the wood split at one point, and wouldn't bend at another, I had the smarts to work things out... and hope that paint would cover anything else up. :0)

And since my boat is being used by The Inquiring Minds, a few scrapes and scuffs make it all the more realistic looking. Now.... if I could only think of a name? What would two young boys interested in adventure name their boat?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Monday, January 25, 2010


A diagnosis of cancer is a frightening life-changing event, and one that unfortunately occurs every day, quite possibly to someone you know. For the last couple of years I have seen more and more women suffering, and hopefully recovering, from breast cancer. I have also seen friends and family suffer different types of cancer. It is frightening, and affects the person with the disease and all those around them quite profoundly.

I don't know what to do about it. I'm not a researcher, and frankly not at liberty to donate much time or money myself. I want to do something, anything, to help people with cancer, so to start with, I have created a fund raising page, in which I hope to raise $1000 for the American Cancer Society. Hopefully we can do more than that, but let's be conservative. I chose the American Cancer Society because there are so many different kinds of cancer out there, and the society fights the disease on so many levels.

I'm not sure how my company HappyGlyphs Comics can help, but I am thinking of ideas. I can't afford to match gifts, but maybe I can gift those of you who donate, with either special artwork or a book. Any ideas? Please let me know. Meanwhile, I will try to think of something special to thank you for your donations.

Track my progress or make a donation yourself at my fundraising page:

Thank you very much for your support, JOHN :0)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Interview

Since it is about time that the world learns what a great interview, and interviewer, I can be, today I've decided to interview myself. Pay close attention because in this interview you will learn everything that I want you to know about myself and HappyGlyphs Comics. Almost.

HappyGlyphs Comics (HG): So, John, let's start with a tough question. If I could only buy one of your books, which book should that be?

JOHN: Excellent question! Of course, the answer depends on taste, but I would probably recommend our flagship title, "Take Me Away From All This!!" This was my first book, and still sells consistently. Based on the first year of marriage, there's a lot of day to day humour that many people can relate to. And if you like that book, you can always run out and get the sequel "3 Knights in India."

HG: And what about The Inquiring Minds?

JOHN: Why? What did you hear?

HG: Um, nothing... except you've got a comic book coming out?

JOHN: Yes! The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake! The story is in production, and should debut in completion sometime next spring. You can download part one for free, of course, and read more at our homepage.

The Inquiring Minds have several projects in the works, including a card game, and a "Complete Inquiring Minds" which will be a full color book just loaded with comics. We also have right now a small collection of color comic strips simply called The Inquiring Minds #1, available for a low low price at our shop, and a ridiculously high price at our Lulu store.

HG: Why the difference?

JOHN: The cheaper copy we had printed ourselves, while the more expensive is a Print on Demand book. The more affordable copy is still very good quality, but we managed to eliminate some of the overhead. I did add some new material to the more expensive book just in case someone accidently buys it, and it is a little larger for those who need large print.

HG: So, please tell me more.

JOHN: All of my work is character oriented. For instance, I've heard people say about 3 Knights in India, "I'm not interested in India, so I'm not interested in the book." Well, tish tosh to that, I say. The book is about relationships... the people in our lives who basically drive us crazy, and yet make life so interesting... friends, lovers, parents, children, etc. The Knight family travels halfway around the world only to find themselves dealing with the same issues they had back home. All of this is set against the beautiful background of exotic India, with all of our favorite characters from "Take Me Away From All This!!".

HG: And The Inquiring Minds?

JOHN: The Inquiring Minds are childhood as it was, as it should be... pure adventure and fun... the innocence of children that makes everything seem possible to them. Of course, their adventures don't always lead anywhere, but hey, the journey is what it's all about. I love this strip, and I think that shows in the work.

HG: Anything else you'd like the world to know?

JOHN: Yes. HappyGlyphs Comics is a professional business, with a worldwide reputation. Yes, we self-publish, but not all self-publishers are the same. It gets tiring when people 'assume' you're working out of your Mother's basement, or associate self-publishing with vanity press. Everything this company does is professional. I have clients who are quite pleased with my work, and my work can be seen in many venues across the globe, from newspapers to magazines to textbooks, and more. The same quality that goes into my freelance work goes into any product with my name on it.

HG: Well, thank you! Anything else?

JOHN: Yes, but not too much. Let's leave a little mystery, shall we?

HG: Haha.

JOHN: I do have one history book out... a collection of photos and essays about the Stonhenge environs of the UK, and another book in the works about the Mound Builders of Ohio. And then there's John's Shorts... short graphic narratives that involve different characers and situations from my two main comic strips.

There are a lot of projects coming through the pipeline, but only one of me, so the key word for 2010 is 'focus'. :0)

Anything else can be learned in my blog, or at my site. If you haven't visited, then there is a lot of comic goodness for you to explore.

HG: Time for one more question: if you were'nt running HappyGlyphs Comics, what would you be doing?

JOHN: Another good one! It's no secret that I'd most likely be an Imagineer over at our competition, Disney. I'm a great troubleshooter, have a scientific background, and my artistic talents lay in many directions, from modeling to animation. If I wasn't working for myself, working side by side with the tremendous talent of Disney's Imagineers would be very rewarding, I believe.

HG: Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Steventon.

JOHN: Not at all! My pleasure. Please, have a mint. Would you like some coffee?

HG: Sure, and if you have any original art laying around?

JOHN: Okay, I'll give yo this one piece from The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake, but only AFTER this interview comes out. I need to make sure I'm seen ina positive light.

HG: Absolutely!


John Steventon is a professional Cartoonist, Illustrator, and overall creative person whose work can be seen worldwide in a variety of venues. You can learn more about him, his work, buy his books, or hire his talents at his official site,