Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Special Short Story

As far as cartooning goes, I'm proud to be the creator of two comic strips, Knight and Day, and The Inquiring Minds.  Some time ago, it just seemed to make sense to merge those worlds into one, and so Iris became the daughter of Steven and Amy Knight, and all kinds of possibilities and crossovers occurred. I'm really glad, because eventually my short story, Iris, came about.

Iris was created for the SPACE Anthology 2012, and is a special story for me.  Now I am proud to announce that this story is now a finalist for the SPACE prize 2014!

For a limited time, I'm making the story available to read free, at this link. Consider it an early Christmas present, and one I'm happy to share.

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

PS I also have an Inquiring Minds short story in SPACE anthology 2013, and hopefully will have another story in the 2014 book.  And just maybe some in other places, so stay tooned!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The HappyGlyphs Shop, New!

I've been running my own online shop for some time now, which has been great thanks to the PayPal shopping cart.  However, as my inventory has grown, the shop has grown, and that means adding or updating multiple pages of HTML.  I haven't had any problems, thank goodness, but I do wonder if new customers have any trust issues, or security concerns, and updating when inventory is low sometimes takes a while.... well, there's a list of minor concerns.  So... I am considering moving to a new shop.

After searching, and researching, I came across Storenvy.  It has a similar PayPal shopping cart, and similar type of layout (although I can't change the header for every page, can I?) and several features which I think can save me lots of time in the future.  For one, it updates pretty quickly, and for another I get pages nearly instantaneously, without me having to do the HTML thing, and testing them in different browsers.

There is also a way to add coupons, link from my facebook page, and it actually keeps track of inventory for me!  Plus, even though it's still my shop, Storenvy is like an overseer, to give you that extra sense of security. I maintain a professional reputation, but here that will hopefully be more visible.

I'm slowly moving all of my current products into the new shop, and best of all, I'm adding new stuff, especially original art, since it's easier for me to add new products.  I'm adding my best original art, and have already sold one piece, so don't hesitate if you see something you like.  Original art is one of a kind, so once it's gone, it's gone.  And look for other fun items I'll be adding now that I have the ability. :0)

So, new shop, and so far it's working well.  Is it perfect?  No, but it is comfortable, so far.  And it's t0o early to tell if the social marketing aspect of the shop works, or if the marketplace fees will affect prices in any way.  As always, it helps me if you check it out, click 'envy' on products you like, and of course, buy stuff.  To help you get started, here's a coupon I'm currently running. (if this is an old post, I can't guarantee the coupon will still be active)

Use the code "SHEEP" to get 10% off on all items!

And here's the link to the new shop!

Any questions, concerns, comments?  Please let me know.
Cheers,    JOHN :0)

On my iPod?  Fish, A Feast of Consequences

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Con Game, Part Two

All set up, with banners, table runner, art portfolio, book stands...

So you're a cartoonist, comic artist, or something similar, and you want to get your name out there.  In my last post I briefly mentioned some of the reasons why you might want to attend a local comic con as an exhibitor.  One last thing you'll need to check, though, is do you want a booth or a table?  Smaller shows may not give you a choice, which is fine, since their entry fees will be free or low.  Bigger shows will have prices ranging from Artist Alley tables to large exhibitor booths, and sometimes set-ups in between.  Check the rules to see what you can sell at each.

Artist Alley is usually the best place for beginners, if they don't have rules about what you can sell. If you can only sell artwork, then make sure that's all you have.  If you're trying to sell your first comic book or graphic novel, you can do that at some shows.  Every comic con has packets you can download online, and usually a number to call to ask questions.  Do your homework, be comfortable in your choice, and then send in your check.  Then get ready for showtime!

Your first show may just be you, a sketchbook, and some comics or art prints on a table. Later, you may have a banner or two behind you, book stands to prop your books up, and maybe some other merchandise... anything to get people to your table. Do you need all that stuff?  Sometimes.  You need to remember that you are competing with the entire comic con. You need to convince people that you might be just as interesting as Stan Lee, or the Batmobile, or the guy selling Doctor Who t-shirts nearby.

One year at SPACE, a kid just sat down and read one of my comics!
While I don't encourage blocking the aisles, it was nice to see my work appreciated. :0)

Do you need gimmicks, and t-shirts, and booth babes?  That's up to you.  I try to avoid gimmicks, and anything not directly related to my business.  However, and this is the truth, it can be very difficult to sell at conventions, and there are times when it WILL get frustrating.  Half of the crowd is going to be in a hurry to get somewhere else, and will rush past your table. They may come back later, but at the moment you're thinking about the cost of the table, and how many sales you've made.  There will also be times when there will not be a single soul walking around, because of an interesting panel or a costume contest.

And there will always be a guy next to you, or across from you, who is selling all of the time, leaving you to wonder how and why.

There are a few things you can do to call attention to yourself, so don't panic.  Number one, is to never let it get to you.  Stand there, smile at people, and engage people who stop by.  The biggest mistake anyone can make in trying to sell stuff is to sit there looking sad or angry, crossing your arms, or drawing in your sketch pad or worse, being on the phone, when people are walking by.  Nobody is going to want to engage you in conversation if you do not look friendly.  Now, if you're not a friendly person, then you probably shouldn't be trying to sell stuff.  Each person who comes to your table is a potential customer, sure, but they could end up being a friend, a fan, or both.  Yes, sales are great, but knowing your audience, talking with them, seeing their likes and dislikes... it's all very interesting, and all very important.

At Baltimore Comic-con, I was asked to draw on a shoe!

Other things are your display.  Make sure your table is neat, and your stuff looks professional.  Stand your books up in book stands so people can see them, and maybe get a banner (if you plan to do a lot of shows) that shows what you are about.  And have something nice that people can take away with them, to remember you by.  It can be a business card, a photocopied pamphlet, a postcard... just make sure it looks nice.  Give people something that you would like, something that they will want to keep, something that won't end up in a garbage can.  If you have a web-comic, or an online portfolio, then point people to that.  They may be rushed at the convention, but they just might look you up at home.

Honestly, that's a big thing of what selling at a comic con is all about; meeting people.  Friends, fans, fellow artists... it's all good, and just may leave you feeling better about what you're doing.

And if things do not go well?  Then you've learned another lesson, and should either change what you are doing completely, or find a way to do it better.  Just don't fool yourself. Not everybody sells a lot of stuff at conventions, and that's okay if they've made new friends, learned a few things, and most importantly, had fun.  It's not for everyone, though, and that's okay.  You do need to be a salesperson to do this stuff, especially if you're working alone.

And that's another good point.  If you do know someone else like you, then maybe you can share a table for your first show? You cut down the costs, have someone to watch your stuff when you run to the bathroom, and two people can engage the crowd better than one, and can help each other out.

There's a lot more I can say on the subject, so as always, feel free to ask questions. :0)

JOHN :0)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Con Game, Part One

Humble beginnings...

So you're sitting in your studio, probably working alone, as always, and hoping to strike it big one day.  You have some art to sell, or maybe even a comic book or, very ambitiously, a graphic novel, and you have a web site and you're wondering where the sales are.  You keep reading about people doing great at comic cons, and you're wondering "Maybe I should try selling my books at a comic con?"

That is a very good question, and something anyone trying to make it in the comics world should consider.  The answer isn't an easy 'yes', though.  Here are some things you need to consider first...

First of all, it is very hard to sell anything without a ton of marketing and promotion, which adds up to a lot of money, all of which could be wasted.  You need to ask yourself first, is this a business or a hobby?  If you see yourself as a business, then you need to be spending some advertising dollars. The first mistake many self styled business folk make is not putting money into a business.

Advertising is an entire discipline to itself, but advertising takes on all kinds of forms, including exhibiting at a comic con.

Second, be honest and ask yourself... is your stuff good enough?  Yes, you can sell stuff that is badly drawn if it's interesting enough, or sell good art with bad writing, but you'll do a lot better if you have a professional product that looks like it belongs out there.  If you have a comic book, it should look right at home in a comic book store.

So now, you're in business, you have a quality product, and you're getting nowhere with sitting at your computer all day on facebook.  Time to look into conventions near you.

The view from behind the table.

We've all heard of Comic Con International... the show is huge.  New York Comic Con is probably just as big.  Wizard World is producing mega pop culture events across the country.  SPX, APE, CAKE, Baltimore Comic Con, and probably a few others are out there running their own shows.  I'm not familiar with them all, but I've attended my share.  My point is, if you want to try a show, there should be one close to you.

And yes, the choice is "Choose a show near you".  Any show is going to have expenses, but unless you're already selling a ton of stuff on the internet, and to local shops, etc, you may not recover some of those costs, so right away reduce your travel costs.  It makes no sense to have your first show be 6 states away.  Ideally, you want something very local so you can skip the hotel costs as well, or be able to stay with friends or family.  Remember, a business is aimed at making money to support itself... it makes very little sense to spend $400 to make $50 in sales. (although sometimes it does, just don't make a habit of it.)

So, I'm saying this to you:  If nothing else is working, try selling at a comic-con near you.  The benefits are many, if you're prepared.  Meeting fans is the best part, listening to what they like, and seeing how they respond to your work.  If no one is buying, then you need to rethink what you're doing.  On the other hand, they may be eating your work up, and that's a great feeling.  There's also a chance of networking; meeting other creators, and maybe even editors or publishers.  It can happen. :0)

In Part II, I'll talk about what to do when you get to your next con... how to sell, how to display, what to do right, and what never to do!

See you then,    JOHN :0)

On my iPod?  Fish - A Feast of Consequences

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Story in an Image

If you know me at all, you probably know me as either a cartoonist or as an illustrator... usually not both.  You either have an image in your mind of beautifully rendered ships on magazine covers, or of goofy looking people sharing those everyday moments of life that we all can chuckle at.  To me it's all the same... stories told with pictures.

With a cartoon, the pictures and words work together, as partners, to tell a story and to conjure up some emotion: usually a laugh.  With an illustration, the image tells the story alone, and I must use visual clues, symbols, and carefully chosen props to convey what I want to say.  Lighting and weather play a big part in this, since a lot of my illustration takes place outside, usually on large bodies of water.

I'm trying to reconcile the two worlds, or at least bring them closer together.  They need to be separate, though, and since both are important to me, I guess I'm trying to bridge the two so that you, my audience, can see and enjoy both sides with me.

I'm not sure where I'm going yet, so your comments, likes, shares, and commissions are important to me.  I must do what brings me income, but I work within that framework, so that I'm happy with the work.  I appreciate the challenges that come from clients, and I do love telling stories, and I do love sharing my work.

So with that in mind, I'll be sharing some online galleries with you, and adding some new artwork as time permits.  I've got a new line of comic art coming out, that takes a cartoon one step further, telling the story not with words but with more elaborate illustrations, with more time and detail put into them.  Of course, there will be more stories to come, if things go well, and hopefully much more of my fine illustration.

And some other stuff, of course... photos, and art outside the other two realms.  And I have a great idea for this year's Holiday card, which I hope to find time to illustrate.

Meanwhile, I'll be at the Ohio Comic Con in Columbus this Friday through Saturday, with the new comic book, a new art print, and some special workshops for kids on Sunday.  So come by and say Hi and let me know what you think, huh?

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mermaid's Cove: A Special Illustration

I am very proud to announce a new illustration that I hope will become part of a series. This began as my tribute to the California coast, and turned into a very special piece for a very special someone.  And yes, that is Flash the studio cat, sniffing at the bucket of fish. :0)

Mermaid's Cove is my own creation, but after leaving Comic-con in San Diego this year, I drove up the coast and visited many strange and beautiful places along the California shore.  I'd love to go back and explore some more, but for now I'm there in my imagination.

Mermaid's Cove is now available as a print at my DeviantArt Gallery, where you can see it in better detail.  The print will also be available soon in our shop and at conventions that we attend.

 Please let me know what you think of this illustration.    Thanks,    JOHN :0)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Comic-con International 2013 Pics!

I'm finally getting around to posting my Comic-con pics from this year, the first time I actually exhibited.
It's a work in progress, but you can see the to-date set here at my facebook page, and hopefully I'll find another photo-sharing site as well. (I can't seem to load to my Flickr account, so...)

I'll also get around to doing a full report, once I iron our a few problems, and find the time during what will be a very hectic fall schedule, with Baltimore and Ohio Comic-cons coming up, and some other exciting events!

I will say that Comic-con this year was exceedingly crowded with some very enthusiastic crowds that started lining up around 6:00 every morning, before the sun even came up.  Thanks to jet lag, I was up around 5:00 each morning, which actually worked to my advantage, allowing me to easily get into work and have my table ready usually an hour or two before the doors opened.

I will say that walking the show floor early, when the lights seemed dim, and few people were around was an amazing experience!  I was able to totally geek out walking past huge banners of superheroes and video games, a life-sized LEGO Iron Man and even Thor's hammer.  Unfortunately, because I was working the show, I did not see more than 20% of the show.

I did see lots of costumes, and met some wonderful people, and have a lot more to tell you when I get the chance.  And I got to do my first convention sketch, live!  I've done plenty of little sketches for people, but this was a complete illustration, penciled and inked as people walked by and watched, which I never thought I could do, so... I did it again, and plan to do more at future shows. :0)

Click that link above for the rest of the pics, and be reassured that there are a lot more to come.

All the best,    JOHN :0)

Friday, August 09, 2013

Convention Schedule 2013

SPACE and Comic-con International are over, but there's still a lot to come for us this year.  I'm still working on those photos from Comic-con International in San Diego, but here's where you can find HappyGlyphs in the coming months:

SPACE, Columbus, OH April 13-14
Comic-con International, San Diego, CA, July 17-21
Baltimore Comic Con, Baltimore, MD, Sep 7-8
Ohio Comic Con, Columbus, OH, Sep 20-22

I should have plenty of Pirate Packs available for these shows, but there are a limited number. We should have plenty of the new comic book, though, and I'm planning to have sketches and original art available for the first time.

Hopefully there'll be another event in there, and some of these are awaiting confirmation, so stay tooned here or at our facebook page for updates and further news.

And watch for lots and lots of photos from Comic-con International, coming soon! :0)

All the best,    JOHN :0)

Friday, July 12, 2013

See Us at Comic-con International 2013

As I mentioned in an earlier post, those wise and esteemed judges of the Small Press Committee of Comic-con International have awarded me one of the very select Small Press Tables!  Table K-03, to be exact, and Comic-con is just around the corner.  If you're one of the lucky 130,000 who got tickets, please stop by and say hello, and look at our many fine items, including a Comic-con Exclusive, the Variant cover of the new comic as seen above.  We'll have all of our books, and some art prints, and a few other cool things, and a really nice give-away(while supplies last).  We'll have a limited supply of the new art print, and the new Pirate Packs which feature the comic book (either cover) and some really cool Ghost Pirate booty. :0)

I hope to see you there!    JOHN :0)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Art Prints

Since I'm selling at Comic-con International for the first time this year, I wanted to bring along something special besides the brand new comic book, our first exclusive variant cover, and the all new Pirate packs of course. :0)

I've long been wanting to bring my fine illustration closer to my comics work, but with my busy schedule, finding the time to do that is difficult, not to mention finding the right ideas that will fit in with my current work. As per usual, I decided to compromise for now, and do something that would take my comic art a step higher.  I decided to take a comic panel idea and plus it... make it larger, and put more time into pushing it from comic strip to illustration, while still telling a story.

In this blog I'll show you the process from start to finish.

First of all, is the idea.  I've got tons of ideas, but not enough time to implement them. Since I have the brand new Inquiring Minds comic book, with another on the way, I decided to take an Inquiring Minds panel idea which would have been okay as a comic panel, and make it super as an illustration.  Once I had the idea, I thought about it, and made a list of all the things that I could add to it to make it better.  Since this was the kids in a boat with a sea monster, I thought of lighthouses, and rock arches, and schools of fish swimming around, and started sketching. (What you are not seeing is a whole page of notes about color, placement, etc.  Art can be a lot of thinking before actually doing.)

Once the sketch was done, I made a rough sketch on a large piece of paper and did tight pencils.  At this stage I had to make final decisions about placement, and what worked and didn't.  I still forgot a few things, and came up with new ideas later, but that's okay... the important thing is to keep moving forward.

Finally I did the inking, where line thickness and shading need to make the image stand out, even without color.

The coloring, to me, is the fun part... probably because you really see things coming together.  Again, there's still room to make changes and additions.  Not much room, but we're on the computer now, where changes are easy to make.  I realised that I had forgotten Albert's fishing pole, so that was drawn separately and added digitally.  Finally, I force myself to step back, and walk away for a bit.  Then, when I come back with fresh eyes, I can make any final corrections.  The coloring stage is a step where everything must balance, so some colors can change, will change, and some will be adjusted to give the piece an overall balance.

One of the first colors I lay down is the huge expanse of blue water that takes up most of the picture.  What I am looking for, though, is to make sure I have the placement of all the above water elements right.  The lake surface must be a flat plane.

Finally, since I gave myself a deadline, it's done.  Sure I could go back and tinker but you must learn to walk away so that you can go onto the next piece. :0)

I have plenty of other ideas for some exciting pieces, so please let me know if you like this direction, and if so, more will come.  Meanwhile, I'm off to work on the new comic book!

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

PS This will be an art print available in our shop, and at conventions.  For more info, please check out our website or especially our facebook page where there are lots of updates and art and comics posted.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A New Adventure Begins!

I've begun a new adventure of The Inquiring Minds!  My plan was to make this a regular series, but thanks to distribution issues, we'll see how it goes. Funny Pages #1 was a comic strip collection, and The Ghost Skeleton Pirates of Three Craters Lake was a giant sized Summer Special.  This new book will be number one in The Inquiring Minds series, with each book being a mostly stand alone storyline in full color.

As for when each issue comes out, it's really up to you, the reader!  Buy the comics, and most of all tell others about them,  The more we sell, the more I can write and draw... that's the reality of publishing.  I'll know more after convention season is done, but internet sales and others will have to continue to grow.

The Inquiring Minds is all ages fun... great comics for parents to read with their kids, or for kids to collect on their own.  Adventure loving grown-ups should enjoy the stories as well, although they are all family friendly... none of that violence you see in many comics today... just the fun and adventure that comes from getting out of the house and seeing what's out there!

More to come, so stay tooned!    JOHN :0)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Press Release: The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake!


CONTACT: John Steventon, Owner
Click here to contact
April 13, 2013 

The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake!
HappyGlyphs Comics announces The Inquiring Minds: The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake, a full color all-ages 32 page comic book adventure. 

The Inquiring Minds are three kids (Albert, Bobby, and sometimes Iris) who can usually be found exploring all things strange and unusual in their hometown of Three Craters Lake. This summer, however, they’re going to find plenty of adventure in their own backyard, as Albert, ever seeking fame and fortune, declares that The Inquiring Minds are going to build their own theme park!
Sounds crazy, but as Iris herself says, “Bobby and Albert just don’t know enough to let anything stop them!”
When the town’s Mayor decides to check things out, their success, or possible failure, comes down to one ride... The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake!

“The Inquiring Minds are not new to comic books,” says creator John Steventon, “but previously their exploits have only been available in comic strip format. When Funny Pages #1 came out, fans asked for a full length story, to literally see the characters in action and to get to know them better. The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake is the answer to that request, and exactly what fans have been asking for.”

Produced by HappyGlyphs Comics, The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake is a One Shot Summer Special designed to introduce the series to an expanded audience.  Those familiar with the Inquiring Minds will be thrilled to see them in their first full length story, while new fans will really get to see these characters in action. The Inquiring Minds have appeared in their own series of all ages, kid friendly web-comics, which spawned a comic strip collection entitled The Inquiring Minds: Funny Pages #1 and two eBooks available for the Kindle App.  Individual cartoons have been featured in a book about the great Underground Railroad, as well as an 8th Grade Literature textbook.

The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake is available as several options; the book itself, a variant cover exclusive to San Diego Comic Con International, and as part of  The Inquiring Minds Pirates Pack, which includes the book, 2 mini posters, 8 postcards featuring 4 different designs from the comic book, a pirate trading card, a unique hand drawn sketch card featuring your choice of characters, and more!

Fans can learn more about The Inquiring Minds and other great HappyGlyphs Comics at, online bookstores like and, and at various comic conventions such as Comic Con International in San Diego
Art for this comic is available upon request. 

HappyGlyphs Comics offers fun & original comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels, and is the official home of The Inquiring Minds and Knight and Day comic strips. We also offer freelance illustration and other art and comic related services.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Finally, Some Announcements!

The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake is done, printed, and ready to go on sale!

That's the good news.  The bad news is that the book will not be appearing in comic book shops as planned.  Apparently, the book is considered a kid's book, and I've been told by the distributor that kid's books aren't being bought 'at the moment' by comic book shops.  This may change, I've been told, but for now, distribution is a no go, which means I now have to spend an incredible amount of time on Plan B, while trying to sell the book myself.

So far, everyone who's read the comic has enjoyed it, and I'm sure it will do well at conventions.  Basically, HappyGlyphs Comics is going to depend on Comic Con International and a few other shows like SPACE next week to make things happen until I can explore other options.  While disappointed, I plan on continuing The Inquiring Minds as a regular series, provided sales are strong enough to support it.  The next book is being plotted out, and I've actually begun work on the first few pages!  The regular series won't feature stories as long as The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake which, as a summer special, is a whopping 32 story pages long, so they'll hopefully appear more frequently.

Meanwhile, expect a press release very soon for The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake, which will announce the book going on sale.  I'm happy to announce right now, though, that there will be two options: the comic book by itself, or... a Pirate Pack full of all kinds of Pirate goodies, including one of a kind sketch cards of your favorite characters!

Sample Sketch Cards available with The Inquiring Minds Pirate Pack,
featuring your choice of Bobby, Albert, Iris, or a Skeleton Pirate!
Each card will be unique, so your actual card may not be one of those shown here.

And there will be a third option for those of you lucky enough to be going to Comic Con International!  We've been granted permission to create a variant cover for the comic, with the Comic Con logo on the front cover to celebrate our first year selling at the show.  More about that to come, but for now, the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo is upon us, and The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake will be premiering there!  So if you're in the Columbus, Ohio area, you'll have an opportunity to get either the comic book or The Inquiring Minds Pirate Pack.

And don't forget that the SPACE anthology features a brand new Inquiring Minds short story!  You can download it for free, or buy the book at their site here.

A lot more to come, so stay tooned!    Cheers,    JOHN :0)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Waiting Game

 The splash page from the new Inquiring Minds short story.

As a small business, it's important to give updates and announcements... to talk about what's going on, in the hopes of creating buzz, and just to let people know what you're up to.  Of course, you want your posts to be meaningful, not full of fluff, but what do you do when weeks go by and you're not in a position to share?

Well, I guess you blog about it.  The funny thing is, I have a lot going on, but I'm in a kind of limbo, where I'm waiting to hear from several companies and people about things that will shape my company and where I'm going with it.  Yeah, that sounds vague, but that's the problem!  A lot of you have been involved in The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake, and have a right to know what's happening; however, I don't have enough information right now to give you the whole story.

Another scene from the Inquiring Minds short.

The comic book is done, I can tell you that. I had some really big announcements to make, but some things have changed, and thus the future of HappyGlyphs Comics is changing.  And with that change comes a lot of Plan B's, which require extra time and attention.

So... please stay tooned. As soon as I can see the big picture, I'll share it with you.  Since my last post here,  I've written and drawn a brand new Inquiring Minds short story which will be appearing in the 2013 SPACE anthology this April.  I'll also be hosting my first panel at the SPACE show, which is quite exciting.

And I will tell you much more about these stories as we get closer to SPACE.  Meanwhile, I'm waiting and waiting for a few people to find the time to get back to me, so I can decide the future of the comic book, and the company itself.

Very frustrating, but that's business these days...    JOHN :0)

The completed story, laid out for review.